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 29, 2011

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Digital Literacy News April 29, 2011

Mount Vernon Digital Literacy News

April 29, 2011
Digital Literacy Workshop

Digital Literacy Workshop will resume next school year.  Stay tuned for more information about our new plan for workshops next year and about summer learning opportunities.

I will continue to be available for open lab from 2:30 to 4:00 on Mondays.  Please let me know if you plan to come during that time.

Myself, and your DLCs are also available to help at other times as well.

Links to Explore

Technology Tools for Teaching and Learning about Identifying Similarities and Differences:
WolframAlpha: I’ve shared this before, but I love the idea of using this tool in the context of Identifying Similarities and Differences.  The real power is in the queries asked and the observations that spur further queries.  To get started, play with the suggested searched on the site. Here is some info on WolframAlpha.
Google Squared:  This tool puts your searches into a matrix making it easy to compare. Again, play around with the examples given.
Wordle: Again, I have shared this before, but I like what you can do with Wordle or other Word Cloud Generators to look at two pieces of text and identify the similarities and differences.  Check out my resources and ideas about Wordle.  

Other Resources Shared This Week:
LoopScoops: PBS videos of the history of stuff.
10 Self Help Sites for Technology:  Sites  with tutorials on tech applications.
National Geographic Education Site:  New site for teachers.
Powerful Thinking through Metaphors and Analogies

Analogy Activity shared by Ranae Meenderinck
This week Elementary Teachers involved in High Yield Teaching Strategies training explored the power of the strategy of identifying similarities and differences.  I think that as teachers we are pretty good at using Venn diagrams and that in itself is a good tool.  But I think what I learned through the training and my reflection is that there is great power in being able to organize and categorize our thoughts and language in many different ways.  Being able to make connections and identify many different attributes helps us to explore and grow our thoughts.  This type of thinking needs to become a part of our culture, not just a worksheet every now and then.  We need to develop a life long culture of thinking in this way.  Teachers seem to have a pretty good grasp on compare and contrast and classifying as activities.  Metaphors and analogies seem to be best understood as a language activity and less as a thinking activity.  All of these strategies would be much more powerful if practiced often in many different settings.  
Yesterday, Ginger Lewman, a teacher in my PLN who teaches in Kansas shared a funny story.  She was telling a corny joke to her students.  “If April Showers bring May Flowers, What do May Flowers bring”.  The punch line is supposed to be “pilgrims”, but one of her students made her day by responding with “Small Pox”.  Now I am not sure where that fits in with Analogies and Metaphors,  but it fits in somewhere.  This student was able to think through this corny joke and make a pretty sophisticated connection.  And, this student was able to do this on the fly.  This was not a worksheet, or a teacher directed activity, this was just a fun conversation.  It was apparent that this student had the skills of identifying similarities and differences down to a learning habit.  They could think on their feet.  Very fun to see.
Teachers in our district have been working really hard to incorporate and refine powerful teaching strategies in our classrooms.  That is a great first step, but the real power is and will be when students start taking these learning strategies to heart and make them their own life long learning habits.  

Video of the Week

I love the metaphors in this Ikea Commercial.  

Tech Triumphs

I am thankful that our district sees the importance of tech professional development being tied directly to curriculum and high yield teaching strategies.  It is exciting to get to work and share with teachers in their curriculum or focus area.  It helps me have a good handle on what is going on throughout the district and how I can best serve as a resource and support.  It also gives me the opportunity to share just in time resources and ideas that illuminate the transformative power of tech used intentionally to increase student learning and engagement.
Digital Citizenship

ATT Internet Safety Game
Dispelling Myths About Blocked Sites: Straight from the Department of Education
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