Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Friday, April 1, 2011

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Digital Literacy News April 1, 2011

Mount Vernon Digital Literacy News

April 1, 2011
Digital Literacy Workshop

Workshop:  Open Lab
Monday, April 11,
No Workshop: But there will be an open lab.  You are welcome to come and work on projects and get help with tech and integration questions.

Monday, April 18

Quick and Easy Digital Story Telling Ideas.  We will share some simple ideas for going digital with student and class stories and reports.  These ideas can be done in a one computer classroom working with your current curriculum.

See a schedule for the year.

Open Lab: 2:30 - 5:00

Resource Instruction: 3:15 - 4:00
Monday Afternoons, District Office Tech Lab.

Clock  Hours are available.

Links to Explore

Noun Project:  Great resource for non-linguistic representation.
Mirriam’s Magical Moments:  Love this blog by a young girl.  In her last post, while she was in Hawaii, she used Step Up to Writing to write her blog
Fakebook: From  A template for creating a fake facebook page.  Great way to do a report about a famous person or event. .
Kid’s Magnetic Poetry: Online “magnetic” poetry for kids.
Woodlands Math Games: Interactive Math activities for students.
Bitesize Science:  Neat interactives for primary Science exploration.
Creativity: Beyond the Standards

Think Outside the Boxphoto © 2010 Chase Freeflyer | more info (via: Wylio)

I’ve never liked words like systematic, standard, schedule.  All too confining for me.  I prefer words like creative, innovative, and spontaneous.  I crave to step outside of the box and do things in different ways.  But, as you know standards are the big focus right now.  And even though I’ve been reading blog post that say “Standards Are Crap” and watching Yang Zhao explain the pitfalls of standardized test, I have come to the realization that the standards themselves, when viewed for what they really are, are not such a bad thing.  

Standards are building blocks.  Standards map out a plan for students to achieve basic skills and understanding that they need in order to make connections and to move forward.  Students need to know and understand the standard content.  But it is important to understand and act on the fact as teachers, that standards are not a destination.  Meeting the standards gets everyone to the same place, educators who focus on standards as if they were the destination do not prepare students for the competitive global community.  It was imperative that the Wright Brothers have a strong understanding of the Physics “standards” in order to develop the first successful airplanes.  But standards alone did not get them to their destination.  Creativity and Innovation, lots of “I wonder” and “What if”  and “Let’s try something new”  is what led  to the development of the airplane.  (Not to mention a great deal of perseverance.)  As I mentioned in my post last week, Creativity is being touted as a 21st Century Skill.  But in reality, it has always been a skill that was necessary in moving forward in any time period.  As we work to help our students master the standards at hand, we should do so in an atmosphere that encourages creativity and innovation.  We should work to develop the attitudes of life long learning and innovation.  Students  should never feel that they have arrived, that there is nothing new to explore, manipulate, or discover. Students should have opportunities to create new meaning and understanding throughout the learning process. Not only after they have met the standard.  As Dr. Yang Zhao shares in the video below, creativity and innovation have always been the strength of the US.  What makes us great is not that we are all capable of doing the same thing, but that we think beyond the standard and solve problems and develop new ideas.  

The digital tools that we now have give us many opportunities to nurture creativity.  

Sandbox:  Digital technology is a great sandbox for learning.  Online simulations, design tools and editing tools give opportunities for trying out lots of ideas and angles.  Whether writing, investigating scientific properties or creating a piece of visual or performing art ,it is easy to to edit, start over and try new things on a digital palette.  No fuss, no muss. It is amazing to think how far the creation of new products such as airplanes and cars goes before it ever makes it beyond a computer screen.  Students can use simulations to try and tweak things over and over before getting them just right.  Often discovering new ways to do things along the way.

The Wisdom of the Crowds:  Another way that digital technology can encourage and enhance creativity is through opportunities to share and learn from others.  More and more the power is not in what you know, but what you share with others.  There are many great examples on YouTube where one musician will share a piece of music they have created.  Others will see this and add to and tweak, making different compositions or improving on the original.  This type of collaboration, building on each other’s ideas takes us much farther than each person reading the same “how to” book.  This idea is replicated in other arts, science, literature and even math.  We are learning from each other and building creative and innovative ideas.

In next week’s blog post, I will share more ideas about the skill of collaboration and share some ways that this skill can be enhanced by technology.

Be sure to check this blog each week for the links on the left and also check out the resources on my Digital Literacy Workshop site to get more ideas for encouraging creativity and innovation as part of the learning process.
Video of the Week

Teachers who attended the Northwest Council for Computer Education conference in Portland had the opportunity to be inspired and challenged by Dr. Yang Zhao.  Here is a video clip sharing some of his ideas on preparing our students to compete in a global workplace.

No Child Left Behind and Global Competitiveness from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

Tech Triumphs

We have several teachers putting in the extra effort of applying for the Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century Learning Grant.  This is a great opportunity for the teachers who are awarded the grant, their students, their colleagues and our schools in general. We appreciate your effort to continue to model new learning.

Digital Citizenship

Internet Safety Videos  : This is a collection of several videos found on the Internet about Internet safety and digital citizenship.
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