Saturday, December 30, 2006

Best of 2006: Resources for Teachers

For the past few years, I have been publishing a weekly list of links for educators and this fall, I began using Google Groups to manage this listserv. Because I spend a fair amount of time each week perusing various web sites and resources for teachers, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites this week. There's quite a variety here!

1) U.S Geological Survey

This site contains a mindboggling amount of scientific data and there's a section especially geared towards educators. My favorite part contains RSS feeds and downloadable Google Earth files of recent earthquake activity around the globe.

2) Room 132 Video Blog

Last school year, Room 132 teacher Bre Pettis made some pretty amusing and informative videos on events in his classroom. Bre has moved on to bigger things now, educating adults at Make magazine. These videos convey a sense of fun and enthusiasm for learning and help me remember why I am teacher.

3) 100,000 Wikis in the Classroom

My favorite word as a teacher is FREE, and Wikispaces is generously donating 100,000 free wikis to educators. I plunged into the world of wikis this year with a sixth grade collaborative computer science research project, and I was pleased as punch with the results. I'm excited to learn more about wikis through other ITM bloggers and from Adam Frey of Wikispaces, who will be presenting at the Illinois Technology Conference for Educators in March. I serve on the conference committee for this annual event, and Adam has offered to create a wiki for the conference!

4) Google For Educators: Global Warming Student Speakout

Google For Educator's inaugural project (co-sponsored by Global SchoolNet) was another hit with my students. They mastered spreadsheets, both in Excel and in Google Spreadsheets and Docs, found relevant videos on Google Video, worked collaboratively in teams, and learned a bit about global warming in the process. I'm looking forward to other projects that Google may cook up for us in the future!

5) Apple Learning Interchange 2006 - Rethink. Global Awareness.

I've been fortunate to be a part of the Apple Distinguished Educator program for the past year or so, and my participation in this education community has changed my professional life in so many ways. Many ADEs, along with representatives from EF Educational Tours, traveled last summer to Berlin and Prague to create a global awareness curriculum. My view of the world has broadened and deepened because of this project, and I now understand how vital it is for teachers to bring the world to their students via technology, if not through actual experience.

The resulting project is housed in the Apple Learning Interchange which was redesigned in the past year. Now, any teacher can upload lessons and digital objects to share, rate and comment on projects of others, and subscribe to RSS feeds showing new additions to the collections. Additionally, any media in the ALI can be downloaded to your iTunes library.

Please feel free to point out any favorite web sites or projects of your own choosing by posting information in the comments section of this post. Stay tuned for my next ITM entry in which I suggest some ed tech resolutions for 2007!

I should add that I took the above picture in Berlin at an exhibition of Buddy Bears. Visit this web site to learn more about this international project. In July, 2006, the bears were on display in Bebelplatz, a square near Humboldt University.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Tech Savvy Students are the Best

Time Magazine's recent announcement that the 2006 Person of the Year is YOU – is right in line for my pick for BEST of 2006 --Today's Tech Savvy Students! The first generation to be born and raised in the digital age has received several aliases ranging from the Internet Generation to the MYSPACE Generation, but the moniker they prefer is “The Millenials”.

According to Howe and Strause, authors of Millenials Rising, "Today’s kids are on track to become a powerhouse generation...”. Unfortunately many feel that the school environment forces them to “power down”. Several resources to help schools gain more insight into today's students and how to equip them with 21st century skills continued to emerge throughout 2006. My top picks include some new (along with old favorties) resources to help educators advocate for 21st century changes to meet the needs of 21st century students.

  1. As Time Magazine's 2006 article, “How to Build a Student for the 21st Century”, suggest -- today's schools “..need to bring what we teach and how we teach into the 21st century.” Just because we find today's students “IMing while listening to iTunes while socializing at 'virtual hangouts' like with the TV running in the background” does not mean they have the skills necessary to use their increased access to tech tools to “make the grade in a global economy.”

  2. Marc Prensky's challenge for us to Listen to the Natives (a.k.a. today's students) suggest that "Schools are stuck in the 20th century. Students have rushed into the 21st." Prensky ask "How can schools catch up and provide students with a relevant education?" For educators trying to understand the changes brought by the 21st century, MIT Open Courseware audio and video of Tom Friedman lecture provides valuable insights in just a little over an hour.

  3. Forward-thinking educators like the folks on the ITM have blogs full of insight that can help you understand both today's students and how to prepare them for the 21st century. Articles like Chris Walsh's “Fear the Fear of Cell Phones” , or Bryan Alexander's article on M-Learning, help us understand how the presence of “Mobility” is more imortant than the “Absence of Wires” in the way today's students learn.

  4. Visionary organizations such as I-Earn, Global Schoolhouse, and GenYes offer educational opportunities and model projects where today's students use their tech savviness to develop valuable 21st century skills. In today's high-stakes testing environment, these organizations serve to remind us that good 'reading' and 'math' scores are NOT enough for our students to thrive in a global economy. Check out NetDay Speakout, Doors to Diplomacy or the three models for student tech leadership for a fresh view to the power of student voices.

  5. But perhaps the best insights comes directly from the voices of today's students with self produced video and an evergrowing amount of self-published web content.
"Over the next decade, the Millennial Generation will entirely recast the image of youth from downbeat and alienated to upbeat and engaged--with potentially seismic consequences for America." ..
Millenial Rising

2006's Top 5 Interesting Bits for School 2.0

G'Day fellow Year-End Revellers,
In the spirit of re-capping 2006, I'm weighing in with quirky twists that I think portend the end of "school-as-we-know-it." Certainly the biggest story of 2006 is the emergence of Web 2.0 (audio discussion) and the flourishing that followed Tim O'Reilly's What Is Web 2.0.

But I like to get a feel for the littler moments within the grander sweep to sense which way the wind might be blowing for education. With that in mind here are my top five interesting bits for 2006.

1) Early in the year the Wikipedia vs. Britannica battles began. The skirmish was well-documented with a little fudging room on either side of the debate, but the key point for me was not the 162 versus 123 flaws in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively, but that within a week, Wikipedia's errors had been corrected. How long before the next edition of EB?

2) Biting the hand that feeds them... When a UK security firm discovered a high frequency tone that drove away teen-aged loiterers, the teens turned the annoying sound into the Mosquitone, a ringtone that only youths can hear. When asked what schools should do about the scenario of kids phones going off in class and teachers not being able to hear it, one said, "hire more young teachers." Ouch, but true?

3) Corruption as a sign of maturity... Most commentators are anointing You Tube as the big story of 2006. I'd point to a sign of its maturity even within its short lifetime. As Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth gained traction world-wide, a PR firm working for energy producers got caught when they used YouTube for “Astro Turf”, the false presentation of what appears to be a "grassroots" up-rising. To me this is just one more padlock on the gates of the Factory School. Inquiry always trumps "information."

4) Mashup as Art... Another popular sensation this year has been the emergence of Mashups. The most well-known examples often include Google Maps and other databases (wikis, classified ads, etc.). One that is close to my sensibility is Jonathan Coulton’s “Flickr”, a song that seems to begin like any other alternative folk song and then morphs into a post-modern collage of images drawn from people's Flickr galleries. Here's the kicker for education: what grade would you give this song if a student turned it in?

5) The New WWW & addiction... Finally, I've been predicting / watching the development of new forms of addiction as we enter into an era of the New WWW (Whatever, Whenever, Wherever). An archetypal example this year wasn't when a hardcore World of Warcraft leader abdicated, but the 234 pages of heart-wrenching comments that followed the post. No wonder some call it “World of WarCrack”. Our task isn't to bemoan, but to model what it means to be happily human. Not always easy, is it?

That's it for me. I hope you all have a great holiday season and a terrific 2007.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Best of 2006: The Read/Write Web in Education

It's the winter break for many educators (at least in North America). Email has slowed to a trickle and most educational blogs are not being updated. During this time of reflection and rejuvenation we'll be celebrating the new year (along with the rest of the world). We at the ITM have discussed posting several "best of 2006" (or "predictions for 2007") posts to mark the occasion. For my part, I've identified five trends in the educational use of the read/write web that I've felt had a significant impact on my work - and ultimately, the work of teachers and students. In each case I discuss a free (and teacher-friendly) service.

For the sake of brevity, I've posted my predictions separately.

1. Educational Blogging at (and Though blogs and educational blogging have been around for several years, and though James Farmer's was created in 2005, the impact of these tools grew a great deal in 2006. In February, I switched from using Blogger to using Edublogs when leading blogging workshops for teachers. In addition to being able to post text and pictures (and being able to receive comments), teachers could now post Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF files, too. There were no random links to embarrassing or inappropriate blogs, and teachers could set up various levels of permissions for comments and for participants in team blogs. To boot, the tools were free and open source. Also, in June 2006, ITM blogger (and open source advocate) Steve Hargadon created, which quickly became a valuable resource for teachers interested in these ideas. Read my predictions for 2007.

2. Educational Podcasting at Podcasting began in 2004, and in 2005 my colleagues and I began leading workshops in which we helped teachers jump through many technical hoops in order to "easily" post a podcast. Podomatic was founded in 2005, but it wasn't until 2006 that we started using the service to help teachers and students. Now, teachers can create a new podcast episode by simply uploading an audio file that they've created using a free program such as Audacity. Or, for even greater simplicity, they can record directly into Podomatic over the web. The hosting of the audio files is free and the system takes care of most of the back end technical issues, creating a blog-like website complete with comments. Read my predictions for 2007.

3. Educational Wikis at Though wikis have been around even longer than blogs, they are arguably behind blogs in educational adoption. But, in January 2006, started offering free (and add free) Wikis to teachers. Ten thousand wikis later, the company was so impressed by the work teachers and students were doing on their free wikis that they launched a campaign to give away 100,000 wikis to teachers. Today they are nearing the 20,000 mark. These wikis not only allow teachers to create collaboratively edited online resources, but also to post images and files as well. (I've written about educational use of wikis on the ITM before.) Read my predictions for 2007.

4. Google in Education: When we look back on 2006, this may very well be the biggest impact. This is the year Google began working in the k12 arena (an effort now headed up by Cristin Frodella). They launched the Google for Educators site, and played an critical role in the launch of this blog, the Infinite Thinking Machine. Google also released several new products that benefit educators who use the read/write web... particularly the easy to use RSS aggregator, Google Reader (for keeping up to date on news, blogs, and other "feeds") and the web-based word processor Google Docs (for creating, sharing, and collaboratively editing documents online). Though they existed prior to 2006, free desktop applications such as Picasa and Google Earth have been heavily used in education this year as well. (Of course, the newly updated Blogger is also still used by many educators.) Read my predictions for 2007.

5. The Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 (DOPA): This may be the biggest change that didn't happen in 2006. Call it the biggest disaster averted (at least in the United States). Introduced in May 2006, the bill proposed to protect students from online predators by limiting their access to "social networking websites," which could have potentially limited student access to a wide range of websites, including everything I've mentioned above. In July, the house of representatives passed the bill by an amazing 410 to 15, and it seemed as if the Senate would quickly follow suit, thus placing an additional burden on many schools receiving federal funding - and placing a significant obstacle in the path of enterprising teachers using these tools with their students. Happily, organizations such as rose to the occasion and opposed the bill, which has languished in the Senate since before their August recess. Read my predictions for 2007.

Please feel free to discuss these read/write web trends (and predictions), and to leave ones of your own, in the comments. I look forward to reading your reactions.

PS: The image above was taken by Alan Levine and generously shared under the Creative Commons Attribution license on his Flickr account. Read his prediction about Creative Commons licensing in the comments for this post.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Google Teacher Academy NY

It's official! The next Google Teacher Academy will be held in New York City on February 15, 2007.

After a successful pilot program in Silicon Valley, CA, we're taking Google's FREE K-12 training program on the road. The Academy is an intensive, one-day event where participants get hands-on experience with Google's free products and other technologies, learn about innovative instructional strategies, receive resources to share with colleagues, and immerse themselves in an innovative corporate environment. Upon completion, Academy participants become Google Certified Teachers who share what they learn with other K-12 educators in their local region.

50 educators from the NY Tri-State area will be selected to attend the Academy based on their passion for teaching, their experience as trainers, and their use of technology in K-12 settings. Applications for the New York event are due on January 21, 2007. NOTE: Each applicant is REQUIRED to produce and submit an original one-minute video.

Learn more about the program and the application process here
. And please spread the word to anyone who may be interested in joining us!

BTW - My colleagues and I at WestEd jointly coordinate the Google Teacher Academy program with our friends at Google. Cristin Frodella at Google heads up their K-12 education efforts, and she's been fantastic to work with. It's her vision and hard work that make the Academy (and the ITM!) possible, and we're excited to take this professional development program to more regions in 2007!

ITM in the Top 100 Ed Blogs

The Online Education Database has listed us as one of
the Top 100 Education Blogs!

The list also includes a lot of our friends such David Warlick's Two Cents Worth, Will Richardson's Weblogg-Ed, and Steve Dembo's Teach 42, as well as our very own, Wes Fryer's Speed of Creativity, and Lucy Gray's A Teacher's Life.

For anyone eager to explore the Blogosphere, this is a great place to start!

Good thing you had nothing better to do over the Winter Break...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cerf's Up: Design

Internet Pioneer Vinton Cerf shares his thoughts on the process of "designing" in the 21st century.

> Quicktime MP4 (10 MB)

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Show Notes:

As one of the original inventors of the Internet, Vint Cerf is widely recognized as a leading thinker on how 21st century technologies are transforming our daily lives. Learn more about Vint on Wikipedia.

For more resources on "design", see the entry for ITM 3: Living in 3D.

ITM Extra: SketchUp

Aidan Chopra from SketchUp gives us an in depth look at SketchUp and how it can be used in the classroom.

> Quicktime MP4 (16 MB)

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Show Notes:

Our interview with Aidan Chopra on SketchUp was so good, we thought we'd release the whole thing! Isn't Aidan great? He can work magic with SketchUp. Learn more about Google's FREE 3D modeling tool at

Also see the full entry for ITM 3: Living in 3D.

Season's Greetings

Even though we are all probably in the midst of the holiday rush this week, I’d like to point out a few activities that might be fun for your students and families. Woodlands Junior School in England has posted an online advent calendar, which serves as a teaching tool for Christmas traditions around the world. Also, check out an activity at Google Earth called the Google Santa Tracker and Toy Hunt. Download the .kml file from the aforementioned site and during the 12 days preceding Christmas, you can launch Google Earth each day to receive a clue about Santa’s flight path. Of course, you can always also track Santa at the famed NORAD site. Find lots of cool things to download and watch some celebrity video clips. I don’t know who half of these people are; perhaps I am seriously out of touch. Anyway, the tracking fun at this site begins Christmas Eve, so make sure to bookmark this site and return to it often. Not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas, and to find out more about various celebrations, visit the Earth Calendar, a site where you can browse holidays by religion, country and date.

As for New Year’s resolutions, if you’re planning on making one, here’s an idea from last year that might be worth replicating. If you’re a blogger, make a resolution and tag it 2007resolutions. If you search Technorati with that tag (a keyword), you’ll be able to read all the resolutions of other bloggers using that tag AND track them in your RSS reader of choice. Maybe you’ll be inspired by the ideas of others! (If you have no idea what I am referring to in terms of RSS and newsreaders, check out this article by Wesley Fryer for more information !)

Along the same lines, one my favorite sites is 43 Things and you can see my list of things I want to accomplish. At 43 Things, people list goals and dreams, sometimes sharing goals with others. Online communities form around these goals and people can swap information. 43Things also has a tutorial on using the site for making resolutions, too. Again, tags make it possible to search for inspiration and you can subscribe to RSS feeds. While you are there, check out their sister site, 43Places.

While exploring these fun activities on a personal level, think about how they could be potentially used in your classrooms. I believe that once teachers find personal meaning while using technology, that transfer to the classroom naturally occurs. For instance, using the treasure hunt motif of the Google Earth Santa Tracker, teachers could design thematic hunts for students. If you’re inclined to design web pages, perhaps the Woodland Junior School advent calendar might serve as a model. And finally, 43Things and 43Places might be used for getting your students to focus on goal setting and dreaming big.

Finally, to ITM bloggers and readers, I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season. I look forward to learning more from you all in the coming new year!

iCards available here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Infinite Wiki Machine

The tagline at the top of this blog says "ideas to help teachers and students thrive in the 21st century." Many of my favorite ideas involve the use of blogs - like this one. Our last post and last show here at the ITM discussed the use of blogs in education. Blogs can enable powerful two-way communication and learning, but sometimes a blog may not be the right tool. Sometimes a wiki works better.

When is a wiki better than a blog?

Each blog is generally one author's voice. Others can leave comments, but the main posts are written by a single person (or sometimes a small team of people, which is the case with this blog). Comments usually don't even appear on the front page of a blog - you have to click a link to view them. Also, blogs are organized chronologically, and it can sometimes be difficult to find important information that appeared on the blog in the past.

When you want a website that allows truly collaborative contributions and is structured in a flexible way, a wiki is the tool you need.

Wikis (which were actually invented several years before blogs), are websites anyone can edit - and if you can use a word processor, you can use a wiki. They are ideal for collaboration, especially among large groups of people, and are generally easier to navigate than a blog. (Often wikis have a navigation section that resembles a more traditional website.) Because anyone can edit a wiki, they have a feature that allows users to view a history of revisions - and revert to an earlier version if necessary. (Permissions can be assigned so that only certain users can edit a wiki in certain ways; teachers might assign permission to ther students and not other visitors, for instance.)

The Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that is collaboratively authored and edited by millions of users, may be the best example of a wiki. It can be both a great resource for students doing research and an authentic project that students can actually contribute too. Of course, because of the nature of it, it must be used with caution and it is a great place to begin conversations about information literacy with students.

Teachers and students are using wikis to create collaboratively authored online class text books, writing projects, and group projects. Wikis are perfect for sharing resources, whether within a student group or within a grade level or subject area teaching team. Like blogs, wikis have a place in effective professional development, particularly in professional learning communities.

Check out what Dan McDowell is doing with wikis in his social studies classes, or what David Conlay (pictured, with me above) is doing with wikis in his literature classes. My wife, Eva, uses a wiki to collect and share technology resources related to the state adopted Houghton-Mifflin reading series. I'm using wikis for almost all of my workshops now, and you can watch my video on the subject, Wiki While You Work, over at the k12onlineconference site. Visit the Educational Wikis site to explore many more wikis used for education. Know of any that aren't shared there? Feel free to add them!

Interested in starting a wiki? The folks over at Wikispaces are giving away 100k free wikis to educators!

Monday, December 11, 2006

ITM 4: Welcome to the Blogosphere

ITM #4 focuses on how teachers and students are using blogs in K-12 education. Ready to jump into the swirl? (8 min)


> Quicktime MP4 (21 MB)

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Show Notes:

The word "blog" is short for "web-logs," and Wikipedia defines a blog as "a website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order." So why are blog's so popular? First, they are VERY easy to create. Using FREE services like Blogger and Live Journal anyone can create a website in minutes. Second, they are collaborative. It's very easy for more than one person to be a "writer" for a single blog (just like the ITM), and your readers can quickly leave comments to tell you what they they about your ideas. Lastly, blogs are interconnected. The words, images, and links from one blog can be easily posted on any other blog, making it easy to spread ideas quickly.

To learn more about how Blog's are being used in education, check out these websites:

"Ms. Cornelius" publishes a blog called the Shrewdness of Apes - which is a finalist for "Best Educational Blog" in this year's WebBlog Awards. (P.S. The ITM is nominated in a separate competition - the EduBlogs Awards. So you can vote for both of us without feeling guilty!) Be sure to check out her popular post that includes classroom setup advice for rookie teachers.

Teacher "Mike" writes the Education in Texas blog. His entry on the use (and abuse) of the word "dude" can be found here.

"Ms. Frizzle's" blog covers a wide range of topics and chronicles her life as teacher on a near daily basis. Be sure to check out her post asking: "What is education like in different countries?" Then follow her adventures on her new blog: Öğretmen - her insights on teaching in Turkey as a Fullbright Scholar.

Don Knezek is CEO of ISTE, the International Society for Technology in Education. ISTE is a non-profit organization that is a trusted source for professional development, knowledge generation, advocacy, and leadership for innovation. They also run the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) - the largest ed tech conference in the world. This year's conference is in Atlanta in June 2007.

Here are some webcasts we did from last year's NECC Conference that you might find interesting.

ITM correspondent Wes Fryer (Speed of Creativity) reported from the rolling prairies of Oklahoma. Be sure to check out his Konza Prairie entry on Wikipedia.

Thanks to the students from Mr. Hernandez' class at Price Elementary School in Anaheim, CA, for helping us explain what the Infinite Thinking Machine is!

"Edublogging" and a Short History of the Edublog Awards

James Farmer started the community-based Edublog Awards three years ago, and sixteen months ago started an educational blogging site called Edublogs, which gives free blogs for educators, librarians, and students (over 30,000 so far!). Edublogs is a labor of love for James, who wanted to give educators a way to express themselves and communicate on the web. He doesn't really think of Edublogs (which runs on the multi-user version of the Open Source software WordPress) as a blogging site--to him, it's more like a website tool to allow educators and students to create "tons" of pages to host podcasts or videos, to provide websites for student resources, or just to communicate with each other. His day job is the "Online Community Editor" for The Age in Australia. Visit Edublogs for a free blogging account, and listen to James talk about the service and how to get started here.

Josie Fraser, who now runs the Edublog Awards from the other side of the world (she took over from James after the first year), is getting very little sleep these days. She, too, holds a day job--one that has a serious commute--so running the awards is taking up any free time she used to have.

Josie talks about her background and the awards in a short (ten minute) interview here, discussing how the awards have been, and are, a way of showcasing the benefits of blogging technology in the face of educational filtering solutions, since these filters often block blog sites altogether. (This is very similar to the impetus behind the SupportBlogging wiki--which, by the way, has also been nominated for an Edublog award this year). Her passion for educational blogging becomes more and more evident as the interview goes on. The awards are also intended to be a resource for educators to draw on for inspiration, to bring educators and students together on a global level, and to help build a feeling of community amongst educational bloggers (there is an online party on the night of the announcement of the winners that Josie says is really fun).

It's well worth looking at the list of nominees for great blogging (and wiki) inspiration. The two previous years' nominees and winners are also posted at the official site. Anyone can vote (so call your "nana," as Josie says). Vote for here and SupportBlogging here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Vote for the ITM!

We're proud to announce that the ITM has just earned a nomination for "Best Group Blog" for this year's EduBlog Awards! We love producing this blog, and I'm constantly amazed at the great posts that are published each week. Kudos to Wes, Lucie, Tom, Mark, Julie, Lucy, and Steve!

If you love the ITM too, please take a minute to submit a vote for us! And tell you friends too! Voting ends on 12/16, so what are you waiting for?

Nominations and info on the EduBlog Awards are here.

Voting is only one-click away. So vote now!

Thanks again for all your support!

Chris : )

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Flat Classrooms

Two pretty amazing "School 2.0" stories to report from the trenches.

Vicki Davis' 10th grade Computer Science class at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Georgia and Julie Lindsay's grade 11 ITGS class at International School Dhaka (ISD) in Bangladesh are in the middle of a two-week combined project to discuss topics from the Thomas Friedman book The World is Flat. The students are paired, with one student from each high school classroom, to work together. First they record an introduction to themselves, then they work together to produce a collaborative wiki, video, and podcast. There is even an amazing grading rubric. Wow.

Chris Craft, that innovative language arts teacher from South Carolina, has done it again. Using old computers and Skype, Chris brought his 6th graders into a direct videoconference with students at an American school in Lima Peru. To prepare, he had them work on a wiki and research common topics about Peruvian culture. They chose topics such as food, sports, and others. In their dry run, when they established video contact, the kids were wild with excitement. Click here to read this description of the actual day--you'll be glad you did! Talk about helping students become excited about learning. Double wow.

Vicki, Chris, and their students are the "Infinite Thinking Machines." Hear them describe their projects in a short audio clips here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Unleash Your Inner Artist!

Daniel Pink encourages us to nurture the creative side of our brains in A Whole New Mind, a stimulating book that draws attention to a new skill set possibly needed by workers in this age of globalization. Interestingly, Pink notes that MFA degrees are becoming more relevant than MBAs in the working world and he describes six concepts worthy of aptitude development: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. Pink gives practical ideas for developing facility in these areas and others have suggested that A Whole New Mind is the ideal companion to Thomas Friedman’s A World is Flat.

Teachers looking to develop these sorts of skills in their students might want to consider a truly unique piece of software called Art Rage 2. Art Rage 2 is a painting program developed by a New Zealand based software company, Ambient Design. It is unlike any other painting program as its tools mimic real painting tools. For instance, the oil paint tool employs a paint-like texture and runs out of paint as you drag the "brush" across the digital canvas. Other
implements include chalk, felt pen and crayon tools and each is adjustable in terms of color, width, and pressure. The most unique feature of Art Rage 2, however, is the ability to load tracing images. A digital image can be uploaded to appear underneath your painting canvas. This makes it a cinch to trace with the tool of your choice or to simply turn the image to blendable paint. Tools can be set up to automatically select the correct colors from your digital image or you can choose your own hues. Pictured here this blog posting is an example of a “chalk” drawing I did in Art Rage 2 and the original digital photo I took last summer while visiting Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. Perhaps Claude would be rolling in his grave if he knew of modern day technological advances!

Art Rage 2 is completely engaging for students. My students are currently finishing self-portraits, which we are publishing to an online gallery. Many kids have even downloaded Art Rage 2 at home as the basic version is free and available for both PCs and Macs. I recommend upgrading to the paid version ($19.95), which allows for layers and additional tools including glitter. What kid (or adult!) cannot resist glitter?

The classroom implications are limitless. I can see students using this software to create their own maps, label blank maps, trace Google Earth imagery, record scientific observations, and to create graphics for other projects such as digital slideshows and web sites. My eight year old daughter came home today from school with blackline mandalas to color today, and it just occurred to me that these pictures could be uploaded and colored using Art Rage. Try playing with Art Rage today and add other potential project ideas to the comments section of this blog posting!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Tomorrow's Leaders

If you are reading the ITM, chances are you are looking for new ideas and strategies for integrating technology in your school. While ITM bloggers and readers are excited to share tools and strategies we've discovered, I'd like suggest that you not leave untapped an important resource that's already an intregal part of your school --TOMORROW'S LEADERS.

Are you tapping into the your students as valuable resources? The National Education Technology Plan was developed with input from Student Voices. Ideas from students in Student Views on Tranforming Education and Training Through Technologies provide insights that a generation of "digital Immigrants" could not have envisioned on their own.

Why not include student input as you update your local technology plans? In his article "Vision to Action: Adding Student Leadership to Your Technology Plan", Dennis Harpers makes note that
"Students make up about 92% of people in attendance in any school. Most technology plans focus on the role of the other 8% (teachers, administrators, adult technical support staff).

It is no wonder that
“Students report that there is a substantial disconnect between how they use the Internet for school and how they use the Internet during the school day and under teacher direction. For the most part, students’ educational use of the Internet occurs outside of the school day, outside of the school building, outside the direction of their teachers.”' Pew Internet & American Life Project (2002).
The investment we made in our Student Technology Leadership Teams ten years ago have produced a return many times its original cost. Not only has the school benefitted from the services, ideas, and energy students brought as we developed solutions for maintaining growing networks of computers, training staff, and designing innovative ways to integrate technology, but students gained invaluable opportunities to develop leadership skills. Dennis Harper's Gen Yes includes several models for integrating student leaders in your schools. States such as Kansas, Wisconsin, and Kentucky have developed state-wide student tech leadership initiatives. No need to wait until your state develops a program, programs such as TechSavvyKids and SWAT started as local initiatives. Examining these models can help you find strategies for including student voices in your school.

Today's students are "The Infinite Thinking Machine" - let's provide them with the skills and the opportunities to develop into tomorrow's leaders.