Friday, October 26, 2012

Are We Realizing the Promise of Technology?

Taking a break from the Common Core today to reflect.

Since I participate in a few professional learning communities, I am very fortunate to  have a rather large network. As a result, I see and hear about how teachers and learners around the country are using digital tools.

Last week, I spent several days learning with fellow Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainers from around the U.S.A. We are using protocols like LEAP21 to facilitate conversations with the educators we work with to step them through the process of analyzing their lessons. As a follow up this week, we spent an hour discussing what "collaboration" means and what it looks like in a lesson activity. At the same time, I am reading the book Fierce Conversations and thinking about the fierce conversations that a tool like LEAP21 will spark.

It's these conversations that will transform what is happening in our classrooms.

Today, someone in my network wondered whether we, as Mentors and Instructional Technology Coaches, are failing, despite the fact that we have been doing "this" for some time now. That question sends me back to a few years ago, when I challenged some instructional technology coaches to have fierce conversations with educators who said that they did not need a coach because they had their Masters in Educational Technology. I wanted them to ask these educators, "What do your lessons look like?" They told me that it was too soon to ask that question, because "change like this takes time -- at least 5 years."

Five years have passed since that conversation. The economy is bad.  Many coaches have moved forward into their own classrooms. Some are still working with educators as coaches or as peers. But the conversations are still the same. We are still working through technical problems, figuring out if websites should or should not be blocked, buying cool devices, and then wondering why education has not changed in any significant way.

To realize the promise of technology, we need our kids to collaborate, communicate, create, and use those infamous critical thinking skills. News flash! Not all of those skills require digital tools.

Back to the question. No, I do not believe we are failing. There are pockets of transformation that exist. It is up to us to make the classroom for today meet the needs of our kids who carry the world in their pockets. It is up to us to have those fierce conversations.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bias? Comparing Various Accounts in Different Mediums

Reading Standards for Informational Text /Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 
Grades 9-10 
7. Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a  person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are  emphasized in each account.    

Let’s continue with the United Stated presidential campaign theme. There are biographies created by those without bias. (Are there any?) There are those created for their nomination conventions. Then there are those created by liberal or conservative news sources. Searches on life of Mitt Romney and life of Barack Obama resulted in surprisingly few results. Some combine video and text. Others are strictly text.

Reading an online biography is very different from reading one in print. Most online biographies include embedded hyperlinks. Depending upon the interest of the reader, these links may very well take them off on a chase for content that is, for the most part, unrelated to the biography. Online biographies may also include videos, photos, embedded timelines, click-able timelines, music and other media. Each of these media have an impact on the message.

·         Wikipedia
·         Wall Street Journal
·         Video Bio of Romney from RNC
·         Timelines – search name timeline


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

CCSS and The Debates: Perfect Together!

Did you watch the debates? As I was reviewing the CCSS Reading Standards for Informational Text, I couldn't help but notice the relationship between the dates and the standards.

Grade 7 

7. Compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each  medium’s portrayal of the subject (e.g., how the  delivery of a speech affects the impact of the  words).    

Grade 8 

7. Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea. 

During this debate season, there has been lots of talk directly related to these standards. Many commentators have discussed how different some of the debates were if you listened to them versus if you watched them. Even John Stewart talked about what the first debate looked like with the volume on and with the volume off!

Our students have easy, almost instant, access to the audio, video, and transcripts of the debates. They can even respond to what is happening via Twitter. Chris Lehman, the Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, tweeted that he was following SLA students’ tweets about the debate.

In addition to Twitter, there have also been many live blogs occurring during current events.

·         The Wall Street Journal hosted one for journalists:

·         PBS posted their comments live during the debate:

·         I’m sure there were classes across the country doing a live blog during the live or recorded debate via tools such as Today’s Meet or Cover It Live.

The CCSS want our students to compare and contrast a text to an audio, video, or multimedia version of the text, analyzing each medium’s portrayal of the subject and to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums. As an exercise, take some time to look at the debate via video, audio, and text. If your students are in grades 7 or above, could they compare and contrast each medium’s portrayal of the debates? Could they evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each medium?

In addition to the debates, I’ve also included text, audio, and video of Presidential speeches and nomination acceptance speeches.

Presidential Debate

·         Video of the 2nd Presidential Debate, 10/16/12


Transcript and Audio of 2nd Presidential Debate, 10/1/12


·         Video of the 1st Presidential Debate, 10/4/12

·         Transcript and Audio of 1st Presidential Debate, 10/4/12

Vice Presidential Debate

·         Video of VP Debate

·         VP Debate using fact checks and graphics to take a closer look at attacks and assertions by Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan. This version also allows you to jump to key moments.

·         Transcript and Audio of VP Debate

From the White House

The White House website includes the audio, video, and transcripts for all Presidential speeches, press briefings, and weekly addresses.

·         Transcripts and Videos of President Obama’s weekly addresses:

·         Transcripts and Videos of President Obama’s Inaugural address:

·         Transcript, Video, and Audio of Remarks by the President on Osama Bin Laden


Nomination Acceptance Speeches

·         Transcript, Audio, Video of Romney’s Acceptance Speech at RNC

·         Transcript, Audio, Video of Obama’s Acceptance Speech at DNC


Monday, October 15, 2012

Which is better -- the Book, the AudioBook, or the Movie?

Reading Standards for Literature/Integration of Knowledge and Ideas   

The CCSS tell us that students should be able to compare and contrast a written piece to the same piece in a new medium. In particular, they should be able to critique it based on techniques that are unique to the medium.  

Grade 7 
7. Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia  version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique  to each medium (e.g., lighting, sound, color, or  camera focus and angles in a film).
Grade 8 
7. Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to  or departs from the text or script, evaluating the  choices made by the director or actors.    
The American Film Institute has a whole series of videos about those techniques. Their focus is on how students can create meaning using the same techniques film makers use.

The balance of this blog post provides you with many resources. However, before we go on, I encourage you to consider prior blog posts about students being able to strategically use technology to effectively communicate. In the list of resources below, you’ll also see student-created movie trailers and podcasts related to books they’ve read.

NOTE: Before you use movies in your classroom, be sure to check on the associated copyright law.

A list of movies based on books is available at:

Of course, you could pull out filmstrips, VHS tapes, and DVDs; however, most movie trailers are available online. Many movie clips are also available. Check your sources, since not all of them were legally uploaded. Also, check with sites that your school subscribes to.

Some other online sources include:
·         Movie Trailers
·         Movie Trailers created by students

·         Student Reviews of the Hobbit - from TeacherTube

·         Movies and Audio Books Available on Kindle/iPad/iPhone
·         Scarlet Letter videos on YouTube

·         Staged Productions

Great Gatsby examples
·         The Great Gatsby Trailer 2012
·         The Great Gatsby Trailer 1974
o   Many movie clips are available as well.

Audio Books

Sources for Streaming Video

·         Streaming Video