These are my notes from Bruce Dixon’s comments between our first and second sessions at the AALF / Oklahoma SDE 1:1 Learning Conference, November 30, 2009, as well as Carolyn Thompson’s session, “Models of Contemporary Learning.” This event is organized by the Anytime Anywhere Learning Foundation, and sponsored by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Bruce Dixon’s comments after Ron Canuel’s presentation

today we’re seeing more schools MANDATING file navigation and management skills
– how to use folder management
– we need to take the time to help teachers as well as students learn how to do this

Now making a plug for ONEnote
– many people absolutely LOVE ONEnote
– some say this works the way I think

Keyboarding skills
– some people
– Australian champion of thumbing got 26 words per minute last month
– why handicap our young people?
– my girls can do about 80 wpm
– give kids time each week, esp over first month to six months
– show kids the way they can most effectively use that keyboard


None of your parents went to school where they had laptops
– many of your parents don’t even understand that a good keyboarder can generate information two to three times as fast as they can handwrite

Now hearing from Carolyn Thompson, her presentation “Models of Contemporary Learning”
– Carolyn is a secondary teacher at the Louise S. McGehee School in New Orleans, Louisiana

Carolyn’s links for today on Sharetabs

her first question: “How many of you are teachers?”
– I am coming to you from the trenches of the classroom


Today I’m going to focus on issues of collaboration and relationships
– my relationship to my students, their relationships to me, to each other, and to others outside the classroom with others around the world which have really been transformed

I really view this as a journey
– my school’s mission statement focuses on individualized learning, and lifelong desire to learn

Let’s talk about conceptions of citizenship
– I teach honors US government
– I really want my students to be empowered to make change

I ask my kids to setup a blog at the start of the year about an issue they are passionate about, something they care about, something that will get them off their chair
example from Grace: My big issue is
example from Grace: My Bill Ideas

Having my kids setup blogs at the start of the year is critical, this gives me a vital window into their learning and their minds throughout the year
– our journey of learning together personifies the idea that I am not in control and in charge of all the information and the learning this year
– starting to change the dynamic between my students and I
– changing my kids perception from seeing me and their textbook as something they have to “conquer” during the year

The ability of these tools to help students connect with each other has been incredible
– number of web 2.0 tool is incredible
– I had to push a lot of those away
– I have to think as a teacher, what is it I want to do…

have to help students overcome their sense of isolation
– through use of wikis, through use of class weblog, changes the ways students see each other and the class
– students start to create a network of learners
– kids become contributors to class projects, which are things they look back on with pride
– students look to each other for information and inspiration
– in my comparative AP government class, kids have to learn several countries inside and out
– weekly current event assignments, assignments come in
– kids share their reports and findings on a common class weblog

Example of wiki being used by students
– becomes commonplace for students to publish
– becomes as simple as clicking a button
– what this means: rather than a poster that goes up on the wall, stays in the classroom, now they can be shared with the greater world

We have a partner classroom in Bangalore, India, for our global issues class
– this is brand new, we’re just launching this
– kids are contributing to this wiki resource
integrating a food diaries here, talk about how we eat compared to how kids in India eat before we talk about the global food crisis
– photos on Flickr showing foods
– have been very successful using skype between our schools, are going to integrate that into our global food crisis study

What I have found using this ability
– it is so easy to use
– when I first started using Wikis, you had to know a lot of programming

these are incredibly easy tools to use
– as you start thinking about what you can do with them, the sky is the limit


Project example using wiki: The McG Model Congress
– used discussion tabs to mirror committee work
– did this over 3 sections that I teach, this brought the entire grade together
– ended with huge day of debate, students from all 3 sections came together (F2F) to debate and work on bills
– the wiki was the tool behind the scenes which allowed all of this to work

In order to do these things, our kids need to learn how to do these things
– we shouldn’t assume they already know how to do all of this
– they CAN do this, but they don’t come to us knowing these things

Examples of concepts they need:
– RSS feeds: how do I find out about the world I am living in? It takes too long to visit all these sites
– using iGoogle
– we talk about lots of different sources of information
– differences between mainstream media sources, blogs, identifying liberal vs conservative blogs and other news sources
– if kids are going to learn about their world, they have to know about different sources of information that are out there
– looking at iGoogle makes a great way to start the day, looking at what is making headlines today, news of the day
– have liberal and conservative sources/voices

social bookmarking has also been HUGE
– kids need help organizing their information they are finding

I build the use of these tools into students’ daily and nightly assignments
– often they have to find something relevant and related in the news which connects to the assignment
– students constantly are using web evaluations
– I teach them over and over how to organize information, we focus on tagging a lot

Many times I’m asked about if this takes away from students’ learning about government, my ability to cover content
– my answer is that this IS the way students are and will learn about their government, and about other issues

The past 10 years I’ve been doing this have been so dynamic
– I have learned so much from my students
– this is what I do all day, I have great relationships with my students, they are excited to go vote, to participate and be active in government
– in a day when we see so many bemoan apathy and a lack of civic engagement, my students’ excitement is inspiring to see and experience

Carolyn Thompson on Delicious (social bookmarking)

Bruce’s closing thoughts on Carolyn’s presentation:
– technology increases our pedagogical capacity
– I can’t think of a better example than what we’ve just seen from Carolyn

More from Carolyn:
– we are the only girl’s school in the city with a laptop program
– when Katrina hit, no cell phones worked
– all cell towers were down
– when I evacuated, I was pregnant, wasn’t thinking I would be gone for 6 weeks
– couldn’t communicate
– we are right in the garden district on the river, our school didn’t flood
– our classroom had websites setup outside our school, our school servers were down
– Aug 26th, I setup via our class weblog different sites on blogger for different grade levels
– students found there way there from Starbucks and other wifi sites
– makes me cry when I read them now– people so thankful now to be able to share, to find others, to get news
– because our students had been using this type of technology in the classroom to build community, it was so natural for them to come to the school websites to find each other
– we were the first school in the city to re-open
– Oct 24th we re-opened with 50% of our kids, which was amazing

This taught our administration that this laptop was not just about posting assignments or bragging about sports wins/test scores, it is about places to come together and build community together
– this was an unbelievable experience
– this is not just about teaching, it is about connecting with the people you love

Our students participated in a city-wide crime march
– kids put together this project, wanted to go to Washington
– the entire 11th grade pulled together, created lobby booklet using a wiki
– saw 7 or 8 Senators, met with House of Representatives too
– were the talk of the town in Washington
– not sure if did a lot in the end to put resources on the ground

Carolyn Thompson’s profile page on Independent School Educator’s Network

I view blogs as a place to work out ideas
– they need to recognize it is public as well
– so language cannot be too informal

I think this is Carolyn Thompson on Twitter:

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