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 15, 2011

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Digital Literacy News April 15, 2011

Mount Vernon Digital Literacy News

April 15, 2011
Digital Literacy Workshop

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.

Upcoming Digital Literacy Workshop:

Monday, April 25

Creative and Efficient Ways to Use Google Spreadsheets Forms :  I will give an introduction to how Google Spreadsheets and Forms works and then we will explore lots of great ways to use them as an educator.

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

Free Children’s Books Online:  A great list of places to find books to read and to listen to free on the web.

ManyEyes:  A Cool site for creating infographics. Great way to visualize data.
A Google A Day: Practice your search engine research skills by answering Google’s Google a Day Question.

Filters and Bans:  Two Biggest Obstacles to Educational Innovation

Online Music Lessons: Quizzes, activities and other resources.

Collaborating in the 21st Century

Collaborationphoto © 2006 Chris Lott | more info (via: Wylio)
We continue to explore the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning.  As I stated in an earlier post, I hesitate to call any of these skills, 21st Century Skills because they are all skills that have been in the past and continue to be very important skills to have to be a successful citizen.  I think that the difference is the way that technology has automated some of the other skills that used to perhaps take priority in importance and pushed these 4 Cs (Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Communication) to the forefront, where they actually now have added importance.  These are some of the most essential skills needed to successfully participate in our global community.

The 21st Century Skills are not necessarily technology skills, but with technology we have opportunities to enhance and expand and transform these skills in powerful ways.  

As educators, we are aware of the power of a well executed cooperative learning activity.  Students are engaged in the activity, they are accountable for their learning and they learn from each other.  Add technology to the mix and the learning opportunities multiply.  With collaborative tools such as Google Docs, Skype, Wikis and more, groups of learners can work together and learn from each other and even the sky is not the limit.  Students can conduct experiments, gather research, create art and music and much more as they work and learn with each other.  Students can invite experts into the conversation, participate in world wide projects and more.  I get excited at the possibilities just thinking about it.  

So how do we get started harnessing the power of technology to increase collaboration?  

1. I think that the first step is to start seeing computers as more than a “tool for learning that sits on a desktop”.  Many teachers have students using computers only to practice skills through games or tutorials or perhaps for word processing or research.  Computers are not only a connection to informational resources but they are also a connection to people.  People including other students, experts and people with far different life experiences and talents to share.

2. Join in on projects that have already been created.  Get your feet wet by participating in one of thousands of teacher created collaborative projects already in the works.  By doing this, you can learn the framework and tools needed working with teachers already familiar with the process.  There are many projects out there and most likely there are projects in the works that already fit right in with your curriculum needs.
One wonderful example is the Rock Our World Project started by teacher, Carol Anne McGuire.  A group of students around the world created music together. Using Apple’s GarageBand, each country creates a 30 second drum beat.  Every Friday, that drum rotates to another country, where the bass guitar is added.  It keeps getting passed along, from country to country.  At each stop, one more instrument is added.  When it comes back to the original country, it has touched students from all over the world!

Check out some other project ideas and places to find projects here.

3. Once you feel comfortable participating in projects with others, you will find that both you and your students will start to see the classroom walls fading.  As you learn and question, both you and the students will start to seek answers beyond the classroom walls.  Your planning will include Skyping in an expert or collecting and analyzing scientific data using a Google Doc or a Wiki with other students in the district.  Even within the classroom, you will see students using the same tools to work together in class and at home.  

By cultivating and growing these skills and attitudes in your class, you are creating life long learners who will know how to successfully work and learn with each other to create solutions.

Video of the Week

I love TedTalks.  If you haven’t checked out Ted Talks before I encourage you to do so.  These talks are all about creative solutions and innovation.  How to solve the worlds problems.  You are sure to learn and be inspired.  I ran a cross a short clip this week of a teacher, Anne Marie Thomas  sharing a great idea about teaching  electricity to young students.  I can’t wait to play with this “Squishy Science” myself.

Tech Triumphs

Thank a DLC!

This week our Digital Literacy Coaches met together in our PLC (Professional Learning Community).  It is always wonderful to get together and share ideas and come up with solutions.  We all have so much to learn from each other.  It was encouraging to hear the creative ideas and tech integration that they see happening in their buildings.  It is also great to hear of the creative ways they are supporting other teachers.  Please make the opportunity this week to Thank a DLC.

Digital Citizenship

Copyright is always one of those muddy issues when we wade through what is “Fair Use” for education and what is actually not allowed.  Hall Davidson shares a handy dandy Cheat Sheet that spells out some of the issues that we are either not aware of or might not be clear on.  As teachers, we tend to think that if we are using it for educational purposes it is ok.  We as teachers need to be teaching and modeling correct behaviour in this area.  YouTube just put up a video this week explaining a bit about copyright and how that works on YouTube.  

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