Thursday, November 29, 2007

How Administrators Can Help

In the December issue of Principal Leadership, we take a look at the role school leaders play in supporting project-based learning. Paul Curtis, a former high school teacher who's now the chief academic officer for the New Technology Foundation, learned from experience that it's better to be in a school where projects are the norm rather than the exception. "You don't want to be the only one in the building teaching this way," he says. How have principals and other school leaders helped you move forward with a great project? When have they gotten in the way?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Making a difference?

Do you design projects that enable students to make a real difference in their community? Or maybe you know of students who are launching their own real-world projects outside school? Either way, your students could be eligible for up to $10,000 in seed funding to support their innovative ideas. Make Your Difference is a brand-new idea from Vancouver, B.C., but entries are not limited to Canada. Founder Kevin Lynch says there are no geographic restrictions. Entries are open until Feb. 15, 2008. A selection panel will narrow the pool of contestants, and then the online community will vote for winners. So it's a chance for students to test the power of viral marketing and social networking, too.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Touring Your Own Town

During our Tapped In session yesterday, Lynne Wolters mentioned a project site called Our City Podcast developed by Tony Vincent. Students post audio tours of their hometowns (and reach an authentic audience). The 30+ shows currently in the library are from U.S. classrooms, but the site is open to students worldwide. Teachers will find resources and classroom ideas here, too, including suggestions for creating a compelling script.

MYTOWN is another example of city tour as powerful learning experience. This Boston-based program was founded more than a decade ago by a young social entrepreneur. MYTOWN employs teens as urban tour guides, but here’s what’s special: the guides research and write their own scripts. They start by taking a walk around their neighborhood with camera in hand, snapping pictures about sites that interest them. Extensive research follows, leading eventually to a better appreciation of local history and a tour that’s unlike anything else in this city known for walking tours. Check out the MYTOWN video (on the program home page) to learn more.

Anyone Else XO'ing?

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Give 1- Get 1 Campaign has begun and with help from my friends I am sending an XO out into the world!!! It's exciting to imagine computers going into the hands of thousands of children worldwide because of this campaign.
Receiving an XO with its amazing design and innovative OS is pretty great too, and T-Mobile has pitched in with a gift. Anyone who purchases the pair (one to give, one to keep) gets free T-Mobile hotspot internet service for a year. Starbucks, airports... can't wait.

Are any of you participating in the campaign? I hope to join a community of practice around teaching with and teaching about the XO. The OLPC wiki space for teachers looks like a good place to start: I'll set up an XO group in Classroom 2.0, too.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Designing a Project

Click on the thumbnail to see the beautiful mess of initial project planning.
I am preparing a course I'll teach in the winter focused on project-based learning with technology. Teacher participants will learn an instructional design process in order to create their own projects and try out lots of new technologies. I also intend for them to engage in a full project-based learning experience AS STUDENTS because I'm pretty sure it will be the first time for most. The learning project uses postage stamps as its unifying theme but it is much, much more. Here's a snapshot of the first draft of the project. I'll be blogging (and asking teacher participants to blog) about the learning experience. I hope you'll follow us on our journey. I'm rounding up experts now.
Anyone know a philatelist?

The OLPC XO Computer Campaign Nov 12-26

Today's the Day!
Help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege.

The XO computer goes on sale today! During the two-week OLPC Give 1 - Get 1 campaign folks in the US and Canada can send an XO computer to a child in a developing country and get one themselves.
See the One Laptop Per Child Foundation Web site to learn more about the XO and this socially entrepreneurial scheme to get computers in the hands of children worldwide.
If you'd like to contribute to one school's campaign to give and get an XO, read this blog entry.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

AASL Standards - See a Pattern?

The American Association of School Librarians published its new Standards for the 21st-Century Learner last week at its conference in Reno. AASL president Sara Kelly Johns said, "AASL hopes that these standards will provide a foundation for a strong library media program in every school, where our students will research expertly, think critically, problem-solve well, read enthusiastically and use information ethically."
The standards have clear parallels with ISTE NETS*S, the Partnership for 21st c. Skills Student Outcomes, and other standards sets that shift from content knowledge to critical thinking. See the AASL Standards here.
Johns says the AASL standards are the backbone of a strong library media program, but I think their applicability goes beyond. With districts moving away from even minimal staffing for library media specialists, my question to AASL is: Without LMS agency, how do you share these important standards and help teachers and administrators put them to work?