Walk through the World of Wikis!

If you or some of your teachers have been curious about what wikis are, how you might use them, and how to go about setting one up, you might consider registering for the next OK2Ask  “snack session” at Teachers First.  Pre-register by this Friday, January 27 here.

This is a two part session:  Monday, January 30 and Monday, Feb. 6, with your choice of a 4:15 pm or 7:00 pm start time.  Certificates of participation are available when you complete the sessions.

Never done a webinar before?  Read what I had to say about some snack sessions I “attended” last year here and here.  Relax, grab a cold or hot drink, put your slippers on, and engage in a little PD!

Differentiating tech-based projects

Daryl Hall & John Oates - Adult Education 12inch Remixed Maxi Single, Bob Clearmountain & Nile Rodgersphoto © 2010 hans thijs | more info (via: Wylio)
A quick check of my Google Calendar for next week reminded me that I had signed up for a webinar  entitled, ” The Task is Key: Differentiating Technology-based projects for all learners.” This free one-hour session is offered at two different times on Tuesday, January 25, and a quick check at the site shows that there’s still room for participants.  (Brought to you by the people at TeachersFirst, whose weekly email newsletter I find quite useful.)

As I said in an earlier post, this is professional development you can do in your pj’s with a cup of tea or a glass of wine at hand!

Held using Elluminate, you may need to do a quick download and check your volume controls so that the audio comes through all right, perhaps check your microphone if you want to be able to contribute with voice, and you’re all set.  There is a chat window for asking/answering questions, so even the microphone isn’t absolutely necessary.

Sign-up is easy at their wiki.  While you’re there, look ahead to February and March offerings:  Google Docs, Google Earth, and Literacy and Web 2.0.

If Tuesday’s topic intrigues you, you can sign up here.  “See” you there!

Web 2.0 and Creativity

I mentioned in a recent post that I’d participated in a webinar about dimensions of creativity.  In this post I’d like to share some of what I walked away with.  (Not surprisingly, it involves the use of some web 2.0 tools to foster creativity.)
Close up of The Thinkerphoto © 2007 Brian Hillegas | more info (via: Wylio)

J.P. Guilford in the late ’50’s created a model for divergent thinking and  the webinar trainer drew upon this work for our session.  In particular we were introduced to the following terms :  fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.  Fluency in this context refers to the first step in creative problem-solving, the generation of lots of ideas.  Flexibility involved the ability to look at a task from different points of view, to try different approaches.  Originality means creating something unique, unusual, or unexpected, and elaboration refers to the ability to embellish and add details to a very general task.  Our trainer suggested using this vocabulary with our students, especially around projects.  She recommended tuning into kids’ strengths early on and using the rubrics to differentiate and encourage growth in particular dimensions when appropriate.

Take aways for me:

1.  Brainstorm everything!  Activate prior knowledge whenever possible and generate lots of ideas to build fluency.  Web 2.0 tools well suited to this include:  wordle, scribblar, and bubbl.us.

2. Look at assignments flexibly.  Consider shifting the time period used, or the persona involved, or the point of view.  Allow for different modalities to show evidence of learning.  Tools to aid with flexibility include Voicethread, Glogster, and the Guess-the-Google game.

3. Students often lose their originality early on in an attempt to be teacher pleasers.  Cheer and applaud their original ideas whenever possible.

4. Prompt originality with juxtapositions. (e.g.  What did the Boston Tea Party sound like?)  Web tools that foster originality include: bookemon, Google Search stories, bookr,  Glosgster, and Voicethread.

Of course the challenge for me will be to propose some different sorts of assignments to my teachers when approached about research or tech integration.  But that is our responsibility to our students if we want them to become active, creative  producers of information and ideas, not just consumers.

A cup of tea and a little PD

Matt & Moosephoto © 2009 Bell and Jeff | more info (via: Wylio)

This past week I “attended” an online webinar entitled “Dimensions of Creativity:  A Model to Analyze Student Projects.”  (More about the content will be forthcoming in a future post.  Today I just want to share the resource itself.)  I found information for the webinar on the wiki ok2ask. It was part of a year-long series of  free “snack sessions” offered for professional development by the web resource Teachers First.  Meant to give you a taste of whatever the topic is ( not exhaustive training), these sessions are typically 75 minutes long and offered two different times–at 4:15 pm and at 7:00 pm.  For me, this means I can finish up at school, work out at the gym, grab a quick dinner, make some tea, and be ready to follow along on my home computer a little before 7:00. (Probably in my pj’s!)

If you attend one of the live sessions you can even arrange  for recertification credit.  All sessions are archived, but the certificates are only available for the “live” sessions.  Registration is simple and so is the associated tech process for the session itself.

Upcoming sessions resume in January and include:  Differentiating technology-based projects for all learners, Google Docs, Google Earth, Literacy and Web 2.0 tools, student-centered learning, and a live session from the ISTE conference in Philadelphia in June.  They also periodically offer a session designed to help you navigate the Teachers First website and make the most of its resources. (If you’ve never checked Teachers First out, I recommend it.)  Registration usually opens about a month in advance.

Held using Elluminate, you may need to do a quick download and check your volume controls so that the audio comes through all right, perhaps check your microphone if you want to be able to contribute with voice, and you’re all set.  There is a chat window for asking/answering questions, so even the microphone isn’t absolutely necessary.  After two or three of these webinars I am definitely more comfortable with the process.  The trainers have an easy demeanor and excellent credentials.  They are definitely in touch with what’s happening in classrooms, which I appreciate.

Don’t forget to bookmark the ok2ask page and visit periodically.  Don’t miss out on some of these great webinars.  With budgets going the way they are, I think we’re going to rely on things of this type more and more for our professional development.  Wouldn’t you like to pick and choose what it is you’re going to spend your time learning?  (And wouldn’t you rather sit and do it with your kitty nearby and a cup of tea?)