Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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Dear David,

I just wanted to send my deepest gratitude for spending this week with our staff here at SAS. You left the staff wanting more and pondering Web 2.0, redefining literacy, and getting into the whole digital world. The talk in the hallways, in the classrooms, and the fact that my session titled “Let’s Blog” went from 10 people to 25 because of your keynote is testament in itself. Today we brought 25 more teachers into the blogosphere. Now how many of them will continue with it? I’m not sure, but at least they have been exposed and the conversation can continue.

Personally I want to thank you for the conversations we had outside of Tech Fest. Just like NECC last year it is the conversations away from the conference that I am finding to be the most rewarding to me. It is a strange feeling meeting someone you feel like you know through their writing, their podcasts, and their thinking for the first time and getting to spend a week truly getting to know that person. It goes to show that even though these conversations in the digital world are amazing, there is still something great about a face to face conversation that we crave…which is a good thing and goes to show why teachers will never be replaced by computers all together. We still want and need that face to face interaction with people.

Tech Fest was a success, conversations started, plans for the future unveiled and an excitement that I hope I can harness, continue to keep going and help to create a school that is striving to be a leading International school by 2012.

But for now…it’s time for a break…Chinese New Year starts tomorrow and we get the week off. In 1 hour I fly to Bali where it is 85 degrees, sunny and white sandy beaches await. The place we are staying has no TV, no newspaper, no radio, and no real ‘connection’ to the outside world. The perfect place to reconnect with nature, to reflect on the pass week, catch up on some reading, and just be.

Until I return keep the conversation going and I’ll see you when I’m tan. 🙂

Jeff

[tags]techfest[/tags]

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WOW is all that describes Warlick’s keynote. Anytime a keynote speaker can run a half hour late (no fault of David’s…herding teacher’s is like herding cats)and still have teachers talking about his message on an hour bus ride home is an exciting day! Before I get to far here are my notes for the second half of the keynote.

Telling the New Story

Education needs to model what our workforce needs.

Uses Thomas Freidman’s book The World is Flat book and the story of his Dell laptop as a story of our workplace today.

Global cooperation not global competition…and interesting theory.

OK, so I’m not much of a note taker…and as an auditory learner I really shouldn’t be. Now some of the other note takers that where in the audience must be visual…cause man there are some great notes from other teachers and administrators.

The keynote today kicks off our Tech Fest. David has been doing small workshop sessions all week and today spoke to all 400+ educators to move us into our 50+ teacher led technology sessions tomorrow.

At the same time our administration started the conversation this week about our path to 1:1.

I have to say…I’ve been looking forward to this week for over a year. A lot of work has gone into this week. Starting with conversations, visions, planning new buildings that look forward. Surveys, vision statements, meeting with parents, with community members and with teachers. That led to the creation of new positions to support and new hires that understand what it means to use technology in today’s classroom.

All of this is coming together this week….as an educational technologist you have to love it. This is what we discuss, creating change, moving forward, and truly looking at the way we teach. It’s kind of cool to look back at all the steps that have led us to this week. I thank YOU the collective readers of this blog. Most of these steps have been written about here, and your feedback has helped and continues to do so. My administration at this moment is looking at how we want to move to a 1:1 program in the next two years and is monitoring yesterday’s post I made and the comments that you are leaving. What’s really interesting is when we’re sitting in a meeting and either I or an administrator says “I’ll put that on the blog and see what the blogosphere has to say.” That’s the power of connections, the power of Personal Learning Networks, the power of the collective.

Tomorrow I do two presentations RSS Feeds: Quit surfing the web! Where I’ll help 30 teachers set up netvibes accounts and start using RSS feeds. I follow that up with Let’s Blog where 30 teachers will have the opportunity to set up blogs on our schools SAS Blog Headquarter site (already 300+ strong!). All of this and a 1:05am flight to Bali for Chinese New Year vacation. It’ll be a fun filled day!

[tags]SAS, Techfest[/tags]

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Tags: redefine literacy warlick

What do we do with all this information. If 0.01% is only in print and we do not have access to digital information?

Are we asking this question in every lesson that we teach: “Is this preparing our students for THEIR future?”

To be literate today mean more than being able to read. It means being a “digital detective”

Make numbers tell there story…I struggle with helping math teachers to integrate technology. What I need to remember is “how do we make these numbers tell their story?” No matter what the math subject, numbers have a story…as an educator our job is to find ways to engage students in helping to have numbers tell their story.

[tags]SAS, Techfest[/tags]

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Another great day with David. My morning started off with this e-mail from one of the teachers from yesterday’s session:

I just wanted to tell you how inspiring David Warlick’s blog session was yesterday. Seriously, I am totally psyched to use blogs in ESOL next year. The session also gave me a starting point for doing a little catch-up in tech. I know I’m woefully uninformed at this point, but until yesterday I didn’t know what I didn’t know. At least now I realize one way to better make use of tech in the classroom.

That’s exactly what we were looking for. We were hoping that David would be able to spark some interest in using technology, to help us start the conversation around these tools and how literacy is changing and therefore so must our teaching.

It’s funny….this is the third teacher that has used the line “We don’t know, what we don’t know” and I think that says where we are with these technologies. So many teachers feel this way. Where do we begin? Where do we start? The answer….anywhere!

My absolute favorite part of the day though was when one of our 5th graders came to the parent presentation tonight to meet the Blogmeister. Our 5th grade uses David’s blogmeister program for their blogs, and when this student heard that he was in town, she wanted to meet him. So she came with her parents to the presentation tonight and got to shake the blogmeisters hand.

David’s keynote is tomorrow…I’ll be blogging it live. I’m excited to see all 400 teachers in one place getting the same message. David has lite a spark in many and tomorrow we get to see that spark slowly spread across the staff.

For Valentine’s Day David and I went and got foot massages…I’ll let him tell that story. 😉

[tags]sas, techfest[/tags]

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I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday and I’m not the one presenting. Today David did 4 sessions for teacher and then a parent night. Getting home around 8:30pm, I’m sure he’s sleeping well. 🙂

If you EVER get the chance to have David do a parent presentation at your school do it! Although it wasn’t a very good turn out, the word will spread like it does in a parent community about the message that came across.

“My dad could get down and play Legos with me, I can’t play my son’s toys with him…everything has changed.”

That statement was met with a lot of head shaking of understanding. David did a great job of slowly bringing them up to speed and leaving them with a lot of questions…which is a good thing. It is our job as the school to help them answer those questions…but at least they know the questions exist. It was great timing as I’m preparing to do 4 or 5 parent tech nights in March. They wanted to know more about video games, about IM speak, and this digital world in which their children learn and live. I hope to podcast some of our parent nights, I think there will be some great conversation there.

The teacher sessions caused a lot of buzz as well. A great silent conversation is starting which will continue to build tomorrow until David delivers his keynote address to kick off the Tech Fest on Thursday.

My favorite part of every day though is the conversations I get to have personally with David. I’m sure he’s sick of me already asking questions, pondering ‘what’s next’ and looking at the direction of SAS. Poor David has 3 more days with me. 🙂

I know I’ll be saying this every day. But I feel privileged to be able to spend 5 whole days talking tech at a depth, until now, has only accrued for me in the blogosphere. I don’t get to go to the conferences, or Skype with people very much do to the time difference so this week is special….for me anyway.

Another late one tomorrow with 2 sessions a 2 hour conversation with admin and a hour parent presentation on the other campus. David’s probably the only person that has ever looked forward to the 14 hour flight to San Francisco.

[tags]SAS, techfest[/tags]

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Well we’re through the first day of David Warlick’s visit. He did three sessions on Harnessing the Digital Landscape with our teachers and one Video Games in education….and today is a light day for him. When we bring speakers in..which isn’t very often, we tend to have them going full on and David is no exception.

One thing that struck me today about David’s video gaming session was when he stated:

Bring the parts of a game that engages students into the classroom.

A classroom that is

responsive
conversable Rewards
personal investment
Identity Building
Dependability

Interesting….I’m looking at these five skills that students get from video games…then I look at the conversation around School 2.0….hhhhmmm.

Responsive=We want students to respond to information, we want them to engage information and not passively sit back while the information passes them by.

Conversable Rewards= We want them to have conversations, we want them to talk about information, to internalize it and hear other’s points of view on the subject.

Personal Investment= We want students to be intrinsically motivated. We want student to be invested in their own learning, to ‘want to learn’.

Identity Building= We want students to become individuals, to create their won identity. More than that we want to help them build a positive digital identity.

Dependability= We want students to be dependable to know that we can count on them when we need them, to be responsible and dependable for their own learning.

One could argue that these are not just skills in School 2.0 but rather are basic skills we would hope every students would have…and they are finding them, learning them, and using them in video games.

We talk about the disconnect between schools and the world our students know. Yet the skills we want students to have are being taught when they are disconnected from school and connected to their “learning environment” an interesting concept.

David and I talked for a while after the video game session on where video games fit in education. I just kept saying “We’re missing something” I just fill there is a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t quite fit yet. Maybe it’s just me, but the light bulb just isn’t all the way lit (no jokes please). I know they use games to learn, I understand what they do with them, the power that they hold….what is their role in education? How do they ‘fit’ into our schools….maybe that’s my problem, I’m trying to make video games ‘fit’ into a system that can not hold them, take advantage of them, or even wants too.

OK, to late…now my brain hurts and another full day tomorrow…for David not me. 🙂 4 more teacher sessions and then a parent presentation. There’s not much grass in Shanghai, because people don’t stand around enough to watch it grow under their feet…and David won’t be seeing much of it here either!

[tags]techfest, SAS[/tags]

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I swear I passed myself in the hallway today. The last two weeks have been a whirl wind but I wanted to take some time at 11pm tonight to actually reflect on the past two weeks and some fun and amazing stuff that is going on here.

Last week I set up all 3 of my classes with a netvibes account (RSS reader). This week we started taking the first 10 minutes of each tech class to read through our feeds. We learned all sorts of stuff. A strange shark found off of Japan. Parents suing Myspace, we get the latest football and basketball scores from the guys and the girls give us the latest scope from the entertainment world. I allow the students to wonder away from tech in these 10 minutes although I always share something about technology to model what I expect. I see it as connecting, as gathering and reporting information. At first they were a little unsure about the whole netvibes thing. This week they are adding feeds left and right, reading, looking, interacting and today started responding to others. I’ve decided to do this backwards this time. Starting with RSS, then reading, then responding, then writing. It’s working I think as today every class asked me “When do we get our blogs?” so the interest is there.

I did try and get the students registered with our WordPressMU installation today. But for some reason it wouldn’t let them register. There are 122 blogs registered at the site and I’m not sure what happened today. It said they had registered, but their blogs never showed up and the confirmation e-mails never came.

Also over at our blog headquarters I successfully installed a plug-in that list the latest postings. So now when students go to the site, the latest 10 postings show up with the first 100 words. It’s fun to see an 11th graders post on the human brain, next to a 5th grade reflection of their day of learning. A great mix that I hope will see some cross river (our two campuses) and cross grade level comments.

I also set up the 5th grade teachers with netvibes accounts and showed them how RSS works so they can easily monitor all 18 of their student blogs. They loved it and just kept saying how much of a time saver this was going to be. I also gave them 22 edublogs to start reading (Full Disclosure: The Thinking Stick, U Tech Tips, Pudong Nerve Central, Teentek.com and Techlearing, all blogs I post at were included in the 22 links)

Last Friday was our first podcast at Pudong Nerve Central for the 2nd Semester which meant two new DJs for the program. I also was thinking about….and continue to do so….how to help students to understand the issues behind downloading illigal music from such Peer 2 Peer programs as LimeWire. So I talked to our DJs and we decided that each podcast will feature a “Free Download of the Week”. This song will be a legal free download from such sites as www.podsafeaudio.com or music.podshow.com. Each week the girls will choose a song they want to share with our listening audience. In the podcast notes we will provide a link to that artist’s web site where others can download the song for free under an open-source or CC license. Last week we featured Win or Lose by Donny Carver. Yesterday we received a Thank You e-mail from Donny for playing his song. Which we thought was pretty cool. The DJs are into it now, I just hope the student body gets something out of it. I know it won’t stop them from downloading songs via LimeWire, but my issue here is they don’t get that it’s illegal. Everyone does it here in China and most of the rest of the developing world. I understand that it’s not going to stop, but I want them to at least understand the issues around it, which I’m finding to be very difficult. I struggle with this on a daily basis. Ethics when it comes to anything digital in China, doesn’t exist.

On top of all this I’ve also been chin deep in planning our upcoming Tech Fest. Trying to finalize David Warlick’s schedule that spands a week on two different campuses, includes two parent talks, and a host of other meetings is one thing. Trying to organize 30+ technology sessions is something completely different. I’ve been luckly as I’ve had a couple of tech team members step up these last two weeks and help out a ton.

It’s now 11:30 and I’ve only commented on one of about 30 postings I want to. But the eye lids are calling my name, so the comments will have to wait yet again.

Update: The opml file that I started my students with.

[tags]SAS, Techfest, David Warlick, podcasting[/tags]

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