Sunday, November 23, 2008

Workshops in New Hampshire

I just finished a tour of southern New Hampshire, doing workshops in Manchester, Keene and Peterborough. During a two-day workshop in Manchester, we started by setting up a GoogleApps site, created a journal using the Announcements page type in Google Sites, and then explored GoogleDocs. We began the second day with a discussion of formative vs. summative portfolios: the journal/blog format provides the environment for feedback in a working portfolio, organized in reverse-chronological order. Then we constructed the framework for a summative portfolio, to demonstrate the achievement of the new ISTE NETS for Students, which models the type of portfolio that students would need to create at the end of 8th grade to demonstrate the NCLB 8th grade ICT Literacy requirements. We had a great conversation about scaffolding reflection (and a great beginning template), and I realized there was a lot that I needed to learn about being an administrator of a GoogleApps for Education site. [I also attended an evening workshop for parents on Internet Safety that one of the workshop participants just happened to be facilitating... an eye-opener for me. In my opinion, it was a little negative...did not discuss the positive impact of the Internet, but it was a reality check about online predators, and reinforced for me the importance of setting up safe Web 2.0-type environments, protected from access outside the school.]

On the one-day workshop in Keene, I conducted my first video-conferenced hands-on workshop. Fortunately, there was a facilitator at the remote site who was with me in the Manchester workshop, so she could help with the hands-on component. In this workshop, we focused just on GoogleDocs, and only briefly discussed the importance of setting up a GoogleApps for Education site in a school or district. A team of participants in the Keene workshop (from a middle school) had participated in the "Letters to the President" project sponsored by Google and the National Writing Project:
Middle and high school students from across the country used Google Docs to write about the issues and concerns they want our next president to address.
Since many of the participants had this NWP experience, which they said really engaged their students ("They loved it!"), they were ready to see how to expand this experience into an ePortfolio. We built a GoogleDocs template for an ISTE NETS Reflective Portfolio, which I shared with other participants (who shared with others, etc.). (This is an update of my previous ISTE NETS templates created five years ago.) At the end of the workshop, I briefly showed the participants GoogleSites, and how this tool could work in a comprehensive portfolio process. I think I learned as much during this workshop as the participants!

My last workshop was with a team in a school district, to help them build a vision for implementing ePortfolios across the district. I provided my "New Hampshire" introduction to ePortfolios, then spent the afternoon working on how to develop a vision and the skills necessary to implement ePortfolios across the district. We emphasized the importance of effective implementation of technology across the curriculum, and both the superintendent and the IT director for the district attended the entire workshop, to better support both the pedagogical and technological components of this process. I felt pretty good when I left; there was a clear direction that this district was heading.

What did I learn/reinforce this week?
  • Engage students and teachers in authentic activities using technology (bottom-up)
  • Engage administrators in supporting the implementation of portfolios (top-down)
  • Adopt "safe" Web 2.0 tools to support the learning process in K-12 schools
  • Read the book Transformative Assessment by Popham (ASCD, 2008)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A New Era

It is 6 AM on Wednesday, November 5, in Budapest, Hungary. I just watched John McCain's concession speech, streamed live by CNN/UStream over the Internet, followed by Barack Obama's speech in Chicago. When people asked where you were during this momentous occasion, I can say that I was just getting up! Being in Europe during the last two weeks of this campaign has had its benefits (no ads!) but it has also had it's challenges (staying current with the news...without TV). I gained a new appreciation for the power of the Internet, both to stay connected, through podcasts and websites, and now streaming video! My iTunes storage has ballooned in the last week! It also has a lot to say about how this campaign was won... through the grassroots organization on the Internet. This PRI/BBC/WGBH Special Election Edition podcast outlines the way that Obama's campaign used the Internet.