Monthly Archives: April 2011

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30 Seconds of Fame

Well here it is! I put it to the test later this week. We’ll see how it goes and get back to you!

The Parent Teacher Organization is bringing in StarTime Studios a performing arts group from Australia, to present our middle school students with a filmmaking workshop. They requested that our group of students write a television commercial script prior to their arrival. This would be used with a green screen to film the commercial during the workshop.

This allowed me to hit several Performing Arts standards including script writing, improvisation and character development through voice and gesture. They had to create a product that they wanted to sell.  The students began by brainstorming their product, and they came up with The Brainy Pill, it makes you instantly smart for a limited amount of time.

I thought it would be fun if we used the infomercial format as a model for the student’s commercial. We started out by viewing: The Shamwow, The OXY Clean Detergent Ball, and The Snuggie. We discussed the persuasive language and how they presented all their information.

Next we broke the commercial down to the parts we needed so each student would get a part to play. We had the ad man, questioner, three satisfied customers, an expert opinion, and finally the disclaimer speaker. The students chose the parts they wanted; lucky for me everyone got what they wanted with out any fuss. They worked independently to write their individual parts. Next we combined all the parts into one script and began the revising and editing process as a whole group making sure it flowed together. Finally the students gathered costume items for their commercial persona. They were very creative, and our ad man even brought in an earpiece microphone.

They will be rehearsing and filming their commercial when StarTime Studios arrives on April 28th. After all groups film their movies or commercials they will be presented at a viewing party modeled after the Oscars.

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New Things In New Ways…

These past few weeks I’ve started to see where it is that I actually fit in as an educator attempting to be “current” in the use of technology. I am a teacher who is sometimes, but not always, as Marc Prensky puts it, “doing old things in new ways.” This isn’t a bad place to be, and I am perhaps more fortunate to be teaching internationally where technology seems to garner more support from all stakeholders than it does state side where it regularly runs into social and economical resistance. This space that I fill presently though is not where I want to be nor is it where I should be if I am to be a successful educators for today’s tech savvy youth or even more importantly my own children.

In the past I felt pretty good about the amount of technology that I integrated into my classes. All images and artist biographies introduce are no longer on slides and posters, but in PowerPoint presentations on LCD’s. A large chunk of a perspective unit is completed using an online interactive website. Logo designs on Photoshop elements. A Digital camera is glued to my hip to be used at any moment for any variety of other projects. Student portfolios are digital, hosted on an external site for all family and friends to access at any time. All this however is nothing new. It’s “doing old things in new ways”.

I was struck by Prensky’s terms “digital natives” and “digital immigrant” to describe today’s youth compared with today’s teachers. What comes so natural for students today is completely foreign to a lot of educators. Prensky made reference to this relationship being like a new language for the “digital immigrant” where they maintain their “pre-digital ‘accents’”.  This however is much bigger than learning a second language. It’s an entire new culture within our existing one and for me personally it will require a mass rewiring of my own way of thinking. The only way I’ll be able to really learn how to do “new things in new ways” is by listening to those who know how to use these tools best. Prensky and countless others have been saying all along that it is time to let the kids be the teachers. They will find the new ways to do new things with the existing technologies.

Marc Prensky’s article “Shaping Tech for the Classroom” found on


Blog Babble

Well it’s been a busy few days trying to get up to speed with COETAIL, but it’s really the first time I’ve had a little breathing room to play around since the conference in Kota Kinabalu.

I have managed to venture out in the world of Twitter and find myself enjoying it much more than I thought. It’s kind of like speaking out loud and not having to necessarily explain why you’re doing it. It has also been a really cool way for me to see what’s happening in the world of “street art” on a regular basis. It’s amazing how many artists that I admire tweet. They are always throwing out some really great links to check out. I also get to know what they’re eating which is a little strange. I have managed to set my Twitter account up to look a little more me. It’s all in the infantile stage, but I think it’s a keeper. We’ll see how it grows. Now, if I could only get my blog site to look less boring. That’s my goal this afternoon!

My Netvibes RSS is doing some strange things. I have a number of links that don’t allow me to link up to.  They are marked with a red “x” and have the message “There is no news in this feed” when clearly there is. My own blog is one of them and I have posted new blogs as recently as this morning. Any thoughts???

Found this fun artist, John Kenn, through a link provided to me at the COETAIL conference. The original link was, which is chock full of great stuff posted by, I believe, an ISB art teacher.  Back to John Kenn for a moment…he does these really amazing Edward Gorey style drawings and they’re all on post it notes! Super cool…check em’ out. This in turn led me on a search to find out a little more about him because I’m nosey and I can do that with technology today! I ended up finding Escape Into Life an incredible online arts journal. I’m afraid to look anymore…it’s time for a reality break. Enjoy!

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Bloom’s Digital Update

Bloom’s Taxonomy…was it dated? Yes, but like all things old that seem to work, we revise them to fit with current trends or they become obsolete. With Technology becoming such an integral part of today’s learning, it’s only natural that Bloom’s gets a makeover too. In 2008 Andrew Churches presented us with his version of the Bloom’s Revised Digital Taxonomy: This new digital version stays true to the revised version by Anderson and Krathwohl, which applies the use of verbs rather than nouns. However terminology associated with today’s use of technology has also been embedded into each sub category for the Lower Order of Thinking Skills (LOTS) and Higher Order of Thinking Skills (HOTS).

In order for Bloom’s Taxonomy to continue to be used in the teaching realm, it will need to evolve more rapidly to include the ever changing and advancing trends in technology. Andrew Churches’ 2008 version is a good framework from which to start and one which seems to be most popular result of a search, however it’s only a matter of “little” time before this version will also be out of date. This then poses another question. With the speed of technology advancement, who will have the right to regularly modify Bloom’s Taxonomy? How does someone’s version become “the version” in which we all choose to follow? What legitimizes it?

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PLN Mountain

I just finished reading Jeff Utecht’s blog on “Stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption” and have to admit that I’m feeling a little mixed up. Part of me is relieved and part of me continues to be scared to jump into the world of Personal Learning Networks. I don’t mean to sound mean, but it’s nice to know that someone as apt in technology today as Jeff still seems to wrestle with it every once and a while. So in that lies my sense of relief. You don’t have to understand it or get it all at once. It takes longer for some while others zip right up that mountain. Hey we’re not all mountaineers’ right? Heck I’m terrified with heights! And this might explain my still existing fears of stage 1’s “Immersion” alone! I have heard about PLN’s for some time. I am well aware of all the social networks out there…I have a 12 year old…but I have time and time again shunned them. I can’t seem to get past the idea of using up any more of my precious little free time to keep them up to date. It seems like I struggle with what I already have on my plate with family, work and hobbies. All of which are very important to me. I watch the amount of time kids spend on these networks and can’t fathom giving up that much of my time or giving up time elsewhere to put that kind of time into it.  According to Jeff “Balance” comes in the last stage, stage 5. That’s the flag on top of the peak. Knowing that it is possible to find a balance is comforting I suppose, but the time and toll it’s going to take to get there is still worrisome for me.

I have started to venture up that PLN mountain by opening a facebook page, this here blog and even a twitter account, which I actually seem to enjoy despite it being the network I resisted the most! I am slowly molding that Twitter account into my own little personal resource for current trends in “Street Art” and the artists who are making it.  A bit of “Evaluation” underway there perhaps. But for now the pace is glacial and even the immersion seems a bit shallow. I just need to give it more time and get into climbing form.

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Disrupting the Classroom

Despite an incredible amount of money being pumped into the U.S. school system for technology it has become apparent that the issue isn’t quantity, but quality. The international school I currently teach in suffers in much the same way. Despite making a tremendous push to “integrate” technology these past few years many programs, applications, and software sit, used very little if at all.  Simply buying does not mean integrating. Introducing and demonstrating tools also does not equate into integration. So the the question becomes how do we utilize it? Forcing it into the current structure has all, but failed. In the article “Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education Is the Future”, Christiansen and Horn claim that their needs to be a “disruption” in the current trend before technology can actually take root in the traditional classroom setting.

Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education Is the Future

This disruption is said to already be under way outside the classroom walls with home schooling, remedial classes, and online university courses. They preach the perks of accessibility, cheaper cost in the long run, more engaging and more individualized learning. Their vision of a classroom in the not so distant future is wonderful. It’s one where through the use of technology all students end up at the same learning destination via various avenues. It’s differentiation made easy. With out a doubt there will be a second stage to this disruption as mentioned in the article. One where improvements are made in the current model and one in which allow us to cater more to the individual and their needs. It is necessary in order for the disruption to become the trajectory.

All of this sounds peachy, however the problem I’m finding with Christiansen and Horns comments are that there is no mention as to how this will all find it’s way back into the classroom. I believe that is a responsibility that falls squarely on to all of us teachers though. If the technology is accessible in our schools it’s our job to use it and use it to it’s fullest potential. The students are waiting and wanting foaming at the mouths. It’s time to make a conscious effort to improve our current way of thinking and teaching with technology so that we can be a part of Christiansen and Horns vision.