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I wrote a blog entry over at techlearning yesterday called New ways to communicate talking about some of the new ways technology can impact learning in school.

Wednesday I had a chance to try some distance learning out on my own. I work on two difference campuses that are, by taxi, about 2 hours apart. I’ve picked up a class this semester on the Pudong Campus, therefore limited my time on the Puxi campus helping teachers there.

Here’s a picture I took of teaching the class. We have a state of the art video conferencing system that connects the two campuses. It’s mostly used for teacher meetings, and to my knowledge this is the first time it’s actually been used to teach a class. On the left is the AP Abnormal Psychology class in Puxi and on the left is my computer screen. We took about an hour to set up new blogs for them and walked them through the back side of WordPress. It’s been awhile since I’ve worked directly with high school students and I found it very refreshing. The best part is, as I was walking them through how to register for a new blog step by step like I do with the 5th grade, two of the students said “done!” I hadn’t even gotten to the part where they were to put in their e-mail address. So I changed my plans and told them to explore and if they had any questions to ask. So they went off customizing there themes. Two of them even put clustrmaps on their blogs before class was over. While the students were self discovering their new blogs. I was walking the teacher through step by step how to set up her blog. The students were helping her when she didn’t understand something. When all the technology works….teaching this way is fun!

[tags]SAS[/tags]

I love reading student writing on the web!

From teentek.com

Forget about visiting websites! Make them come to you!

For all you people out there who are so busy you don’t even have the time to visit websites, here’s something for you! Netvibes is a website where you can create and personalize your own website. It’s not like myspace where you blog and stuff, instead, you add websites to your own. There are tons of items you can add, from calendars and weather forecasts to news and blog pages. Basically, it helps keep you organized.


From Science Geeks:

?Trained Bees can sniff bombs?

-Bibliography

Scientists at the U.S laboratory. “Scientists say trained bees can sniff bombs.” October 28, 2006. Rotero. 15 Jan 2007 .

-Summary

After reading this article, I realized that trained bees can sniff out bombs. Scientist at the U.S laboratory says that they trained bees that could sniff out bombs for the U.S security or the Iraq war. Also, the researchers at the ‘Los Alamos National Laboratory’ said that they trained bees that could stick out their proboscis (a tube to feed on nectar (a sugary liquid made by many flowering plants)). Let’s take me for an example, if I was a fuel researcher for Iraq at the U.S Army Center, I would choose the trained bees to sniff the fuels, or the bombs in order to destroy the bombs in Iraq since there are a lot of explosive things in Iraq……..

I have nothing more to say! This is it…this is what Student 2.0 does! (More on Student 2.0 later)

[tags]SAS, teentek, sciencegeeks, student blogs[/tags]

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86…the number of blogs now at Shanghai American School. Most of them are just getting started while others are really starting to get some good content, and there will be more to come!

It’s funny how a good thing, when given support, just takes off. It happened with Moodle in our High School primarily where everyday somewhere in the ballpark of 130 students log on to the site to do work. I started the Moodle site at our school last year, a couple teachers took it stated using it and like most things good, it spread by word of mouth. At the start of this year and up until about November we were adding a class a day to the site. With 1109 users (some from other countries in collaberative classes) Moodle has quickly become a foundation of our online existents at the school.

Blogging has been the next big thing. From 5th grade to High School we’ve been adding blogs set up in a number of ways. Some teachers have class blogs where students all have accounts on the same blog. Others, like the 5th grade team on the Pudong Campus have given each student a blog of their own.

In the first 3 hours of school today I’ve received two e-mails for more blogs One from the 4th grade team who is interested and the other from another 7th grade science teacher. On top of that I have 3 tech classes that will all have blogs soon and as word spreads I’m sure more will come.

Not every teacher ‘gets’ the power of these tools, how they really can be used to change the way we teach and the way students learn. Right now, I’d say we are building School 1.5. Using the technology because it’s there, not really looking at how it impacts learning. But, for now, I’m OK with this. We have to use the tool before we understand what it can do for us. When I started blogging I had no idea where it was going to lead, 16 months later I get it!

The best part is, this blog explosion could not be happening at a better time. In February the school is having the first ever Tech Fest. A day and a half conference focused on Technology. If that’s not cool enough, the school is flying David Warlick in for the whole week to work with teachers and administrators as we start looking at the vision of where we want our school to be.

So here I have arguably one of the best Educational Technology presenters coming to spend a week where blogging as a tool is just taking off. My hope is that David will be able to help teachers wrap their heads around the educational power that lies within these tools. Have you ever heard of the 75 mile rule? That is that you have to bring someone from 75 miles away that says things a little different for people to ‘get it’ and to buy into a plan. In David’s case it’s more like 6,000 miles…I think that’s far enough. 🙂

I encourage you take a look at some of the blogs. Again some have nothing on them yet, others only a post or two. The site is ran by WordPressMU. I’ve also added the list-all plug-in which lists all the blogs on the front page of the site, it also prioritizes the list, so that the latest updated blog shows up first.

One thing I would like to try and do (if someone could help me) is to also on the front page have say 150 words from the latest post from the latest updated blogs. Giving students a reason to click on someone else’s blog and comment or just read. Plus I think it would be fascinating to see the different topics that are written about from 4th grade on up.

I wish we could just use edublogs.org and learnerblogs.org but it’s a connection thing here in China, and so we end up running our own install of these tools to ensure they are not blocked by the filter or earthquakes. Besides, it is a great way to keep track of multiple blogs, have them branded with our school name and easy for parents and the community to find.

My hope is that this is just the beginning, that after the Tech Fest those that have the blogs already will ‘get it’ and those who are motivated to start blogging will. I have to say the future is looking bright!

[tags]SAS, blogs[/tags]

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Our new media center is almost complete. 6 Months ago this area was part of the play ground. Next month the building will officially be open for business. When designing the new media center we used the word seamless to define what we wanted information to be for students. Whether paper, digital, audio, or video…information needed to be accessible in this space…I think we did a pretty good job.

Here it is the whole first floor is the media/information center the second floor is art and music classrooms. The three out coves are two teaching areas and a storytelling area for teachers and the librarians to use.

Another view with students playing at recess

This is from the hallway looking through the computer lab clear into the library. Yes, the computer lab is completely glassed in, so even though it is a true computer lab set up, it fits seamlessly into the whole library. When not in use by a class, students could drop in and easily be supervised by adults in the library area. This computer lab will sport a state of the art video conferencing system and a SmartBoard. It is completely wireless and you can see there are drops every 4 meters in the floor throughout the lab and the entire library, so if your laptop is low on power you are always within 2 meters of a plug in and wired access.

Another angle from in the tech lab looking into the library area.

The library standing at one end and looking the length of it. A huge space that will be fun to fill with books and computers. The computer lab is on the right and the story telling area on my left.

Story telling area, there will be cushions on the seats when it’s complete.

More of the library, you can see the outlet/Ethernet ports every 4 meters on the floor.

My favorite area. This is a total seamless tech area. It will look kind of like a computer lab with furniture in it, but this picture is taken from me standing in the middle of the library. I like to think of it as a Digital Information Intensive area. It will be home to the Elementary podcast station, a SmartBoard on the wall, and different levels of desks for different aged students. As you can see there is a folding wall, so if a teacher wanted to they could section it off as a closed in lab of sorts.

On the second floor looking down the hallway, there are two bridges connecting the new building to the existing building.

A view of the entire campus…one lucky music teacher gets this view.

Oops, one little mistake. This closet is to the hub room for the existing building, when they built the bridge to the new building they, well, you can see for yourself. Not a real big deal as it’s not used too often, but still funny some of the things that you don’t see in 2D. 🙂

After Gwen (our librarian shown above) is all moved into her space and has it all set up. I’ll have Gwen take you on a tour of the “Information Center” as she calls it…and yes she is a CIO “Chief Information Officer” I gotta quit calling her a librarian. 🙂

[tags]SAS, School2.0[/tags]

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I came home tonight looking forward to going through my aggregator and getting some other stuff online done. But I made the mistake of stopping by some of the online projects going on around the school. Needless to say my learning tonight came from a bunch of middle school students. I’ve spent the last two hours shaking my head. Why don’t more teachers see the power in these tools.

First a great project got started today called the International Environmental Symposium. It’s a Moodle course that we are hosting that involves some 153 7th grade students from Brazil, California, Saudi Arabia, and China. I’ve been working with the teachers the past couple of weeks getting the class ready to go and student accounts created. Tonight students had their first two assignments, and I’ve been sucked in. First up was a simple introduction forum but read some of these:

My mom is Swedish but my dad is Indian. My nationality is Swedish and I have lived there for 12 years. I came to Riyadh last year.

My name is [Student Name] and I come from the United States. However, I currently attend the Shanghai American School in Shanghai. I am twelve years old, in seventh grade, and was born in California, near Los Angeles, but my family moved to Shanghai when I was four. Because of this, I identify with a blend of American and Chinese cultures.

Hey Everyone! I’m [Student Name]. I was born in North Carolina, USA, and movd around a lot in america to pennsylvania, virginia, and iowa. After finishing 4th grade, i moved here to Shanghai, China, and i have lived here for around 2 and a half years. I am 12 years old. My dad grew up in india, but went to college in america . My mom grew up in minnesota, USA, so i’m half american and half indian. China is my first foregin country that i have lived in.

These are the third culture kids that we teach internationally. All 153 tell a similar story, How easy will it be for these students to adjust to this new world. They are already flexible. Most of them have lived in may different places.

I then headed over to check in on Courtney’s Blog. Some of you might remember Courtney, she was at all four of my LAN parties for the K12online conference. She has started a blog with her students called Science Geeks. We’re still working out the bugs, but it’s looking great so far. She is having them read and report on science articles they are finding on the Internet. So far I’ve learned about Space Umbrellas and a new basketball made of plastic. If you get a minute stop on by and leave a comment, or just learn some cool and unusual facts about science.

These are two great projects that have just gotten underway. It will be fun to watch them grow and to learn from the new information. The power of sharing and collaborating, all made possible because of the tools we now have available on the Internet. Don’t try and tell me that the Internet doesn’t change everything…I’ve got proof it does!

[tags]SAS, 21st Century Learning, Moodle, Blogs[/tags]

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http://www.teentek.com/logos/teentekwater100x100.gifClass has been interesting lately. Two weeks ago it was brought to the classes attention by one of their own that they were loosing subscribers to the site. Why?

After discussing it for awhile they came up with two points: Articles aren’t good enough, and not enough people are posting. So they came up with a system to make sure something is posted daily. Within their groups (Games, Movies, Music, Hardware, Software, etc.) they decided who would post on what days, coming up with a system to make sure their is new content on the site daily. This all happened two days before the end of the quarter. Our electives run on quarters but students have the option to take the same class for a semester. Needless to say our class grew from 18 to 24 students this quarter with 8 students returned. Just enough to keep the ball rolling. The returning students took the newbies under their wings, divided them up into new groups, created them accounts, and got them on a schedule for posting. Some of the students from first quarter who decided to take another elective have asked if they can continue writing for the site “Sure, why not!” is all I ever say. They’re starting to get it!

On top of this, our principal has turned over the weekly Middle School podcast to the students in the elective. So each week a group of about 5 students work on this during class time. We record on Tuesday or Wednesday depending on the week and we release the podcast on Friday. This week was great as we did our first live podcast at an assembly Wednesday. It will be posted to the saspodcast.org site on Friday.

The same thing has happened in the elementary school where the 5th grade will be producing the weekly podcast there. This week we started learning how to podcast and you can get a sneak peak here.

So things are hoping at our school. Our principal of course is hooked and couldn’t give all the fun to the students, so he produces a weekly podcast to parents. (You’ll see it on the site as well)

Podcasting is quickly becoming the new newsletter.

[tags]SAS, podcasting[/tags]

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