Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tech Girls to the Rescue

In a post at Spiral Notebook, I interview the creator of a new resource to combat cyberbullying. Debbie Heimowitz developed Adina's Deck, a 30-minute film geared to middle-schoolers plus online resources for teachers, while she was a graduate student in education at Stanford University. To make sure the story would resonate with her intended audience, she brought in middle-school girls as script consultants. While confronting the dangers of cyberbullying, the film also shows how technology can be a force for good. And it casts girls as geeks. Says Heimowitz, "We wanted to show an example of girls who can navigate their way around the Internet like any expert in Silicon Valley." Girl Scouts of the USA and an increasing number of schools are using the film to jump-start discussions about cyberbullying and online safety.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Stanley—Squashed Again!

The adventures of Flat Stanley began with a crash. In the 1964 children’s book by Jeff Brown, a falling bulletin board squashed a boy named Stanley Lambchop. On the bright side, he was so flat that he could be slipped into an envelope and mailed off to distant places.

A Canadian elementary teacher named Dale Hubert added the power of the Internet to the story and, in 1995, launched a global phenomenon known as the Flat Stanley Project. Hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren in more than 40 countries have since exchanged their own “flat people,” or sent them off to famous people. Flat Stanley has been photographed on Oscar night with Clint Eastwood, traveled aboard the Space Shuttle, journeyed to Antarctica, and visited heads of state around the world. And kids around the world have learned more about everything from geography to culture to storytelling.

Now, Hubert’s wildly successful, grassroots education project is at risk of being squashed. Flat.

A long-simmering legal battle with the estate of Jeff Brown led Hubert to post this message earlier this week:

“Sadly, the Flat Stanley Project may be forced to end.”

Hubert invites letters of support for his project. (Email to

I don’t know about you, but I hear a whopper of an adventure story in the making. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, June 20, 2008

See You at NECC!

Here's our NECC planner-- Can't make it sharable but if you see times that are open and want to get together, please post a comment.
Some places we may cross paths:
*EduBloggerCon, Saturday
*Reinventing PBL poster session, Global Gallery Sunday night
*Author visit, ISTE bookstore Monday and Tuesday at 11:00
*Blogger Cafe lightning demo Tuesday at 10:00 (My Friend Flickr- new mashups)
*Jane in NETS*T Implementation panel Monday at 3:30

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Learning in a Messy Environment

Elise Mueller is a Bellingham, Wash., teacher who seems to be in an ideal setting for project-based learning to thrive. She and two fellow elementary teachers share teaching responsibilities for grades 3-5. Students come to Mueller's room for social studies and language arts; her colleagues teach science and math. All three teachers integrate technology, and they regularly plan projects that cut across disciplines. But as Mueller told me recently in an interview for Northwest Education magazine, there's still one remaining challenge: getting students on board.

"This is a shift for kids who are not used to driving their own learning," she admits. The project approach often involves "learning in a messy environment." Students are asked to make choices, to work in teams, to tackle problems that may have more than one right solution. "If students are used to just following directions," Mueller admits, "it can be frustrating. It's a new arena for them."
The story goes on to describe what happened with one group of students who took initiative on a project--with fantastic results. But I can't help wondering how many more students never get that opportunity. How well are we preparing them for the "messy environment" of life beyond the classroom?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

CyberCamp Update

Here's more information about our upcoming chat with the Colorado CyberCampers. Bud the Teacher has opened the conversation to all-comers. Please join us in Elluminate, 9:15 a.m. Pacific, Wednesday, June 11.
Our Slide Deck

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Visitors' Day at CyberCamp

Looking forward to a Wednesday morning conversation with the reflective group of educators taking part in CyberCamp, a summer institute currently underway in Colorado. CyberCamp is about integrating technology into project planning--and so much more. Participants are blogging away about their learning experience, capturing what it's like to sometimes stretch beyond the comfort zone. Organizer Bud Hunt (aka Bud the Teacher) has opened a window on the whole experience, using a variety of digital tools to show the world what it looks like when educators take risks, provide each other with constructive criticism, and strengthen their professional network. (Check out the Cybercamp blog, wiki, and Ustream channel, or listen to Bud's podcast about planning the institute.) Jane and I will be joining CyberCampers virtually on Wednesday to talk about using digital tools with PBL. Naturally, it will be an open forum. Stay tuned for details.