On Deck Podcast Last week I sat down with the kids in my elective class who run teentek.com and podcasted a session with them about the class and the Microsoft Surface. At about the 8 minute mark one of the students says something to the affect that:

“Parents don’t get it. They think we need to go outside and ride our bikes to make friends like they did. We make friends by blowing each other up.”

We were talking about MMORPG and how these social-games are different from the everyday flash games that kids play to, in their words, “waste time.” It was an interesting conversation for sure.


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The little experiment of mine called teentek.com just produced its first video podcast.

Now some of you might be wondering why this is so amazing to me. I mean we’re 3 1/2 weeks until school’s out and they just now produced their first video podcast?

Because the class sees new students every quarter (8 weeks or 20-40 minute classes if there are no assemblies), it’s hard to get any momentum on projects that take time. I never new 40 minutes was so fast.

This quarter 3 students decided they wanted to produce product reviews for students on the web site. Of course the site is completely ran by them, so they can decide to do whatever they want.

They did ask me for advice (which was nice) and I pointed them to CNet.com to watch product review videos.

From there they controlled the learning.

I have not seen, talked to, or interacted with these three boys in 3 weeks. They checked out the video camera themselves, they taught themselves how to run it, they taught themselves how to import it into Windows Movie Maker, how to edit it, how to render it.

I uploaded it to our school’s YouTube account (although they could have done this as all three have their own account)

So when you watch the video keep this in mind…this is student controlled learning. I hope to sit down with them next week and debrief what they have learned and what they plan to improve for their next video (which was my challenge to them with 3 weeks of school left).

I can’t help to think what this would look like in content area classrooms. If students were in control of their own learning. Why is it that in a tech rich class like this 3 students can go off by themselves for weeks and produce a video learning more skills than would ever be assessed on any test in the process. Yet in the classroom we have a hard time motivating students to learn, to be in control of their own learning. They want to ‘sit and get’ because that’s what they know…that’s how they’ve been trained.

What is it about technology…about a free flowing class like this that allows students to be in control, produce products that they are proud of, and of this writing have been viewed by 28,915 people since September.

When students are in control of their own learning, when they can produce products that are viewed by a true and real audience we allow learning to happen. True learning that goes beyond what can be tested, skills and knowledge that will continue to serve these students well beyond this course…this grade…this year.

School 2.0 is about giving control over to students…allowing learning to flow, to be authentic and to be true to that learner at that time.

[tags]school 2.0, teentek[/tags]

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On Deck
It’s been too long in between podcasts, but I did have a lot on my mind walking home on Tuesday. I work through some thoughts I had on my students and their teentek.com site, Twitter and what does it mean, and some amazing work from teachers. This Also spilt over into my post today for techlearning.com where I go even deeper into what teentek.com is doing and how it applies to students today. The post for teentek, basically came from my being able to think out loud in this podcast about what’s happening on the site. Hopefully you enjoy both.

[tags]twitter, teentek, teachers[/tags]

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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?


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


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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Looking for a little help. We’re trying to embed YouTube videos on teentek.com. Anyone know how to do this?  Thought is was as easy as copy and pasting the code, but that doesn’t seem to be working. The best part is the students just keep saying:

“It works that way on xanga.com, you just Ctrl C, Ctrl V the code and it works.”

I’ve looked all over the web it looks like it should just work. The administrator downloaded a video module and installed it, but there aren’t any setting that he can find that explains how to use it.

Any help appreciated!


[tags]youtube, teentek[/tags]

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They just keep blowing me away. I posted about this last week. About how this Freeware Flash game has taken over the Middle School. I gave my little game playing zombies a deadline. Saying I wanted to see the game on TeenTek by Friday night. Well, at 6:00 last night the game was posted. Here is what they had to say about it.

That’s right, TeenTek.com is bringing you games! Starting from now on we will be hosting game downloads for freeware games and even some of our own! First up:

 The N Game!

N Ninja 3D Representation 

The N Game is an AWESOME 2D platform flash game that Metanet Software has created. We’re hosting downloads for the latest version (1.4) at TeenTek.com, so just click on the links to get the game, cheat codes, and user levels! Our very own h4x has created his own N Game level. If you don’t have the game yet, download from the “N Ninja Complete Set” link. If you already have the N Game on your computer, you should download userlevels.txt from the “Userlevels” link and replace your old file with it, in order to play h4x’s level. (All the default user levels will stay. If you added any extra levels to the text file, copy them and paste them into the new file.)

OK, so I’m trying to follow these directions to give this game a go. I’ve seen some of the levels they created and there are some pretty cool looking ones. One level is actually the word TeenTek.

I had two teachers come to me this week to ask me if it was OK that the students were playing the game. Apparently the students where going to the after school homework help sessions and working on the game collaboratively there.

Also this week we got our Google Adsense working on the site. As of this post they’ve made $1.01. Every class period now they ask me how much they’ve made. What a great way to motivate students. Again, the goal was set at our first meeting to have enough money to fund our own pizza party.

We had a great discussion about the ads on Thursday. We were talking about clicking on our own ads or calling  your friends and telling them to click on them. It was an amazing discussion, we were talking ethics, and values without using the words. I watched as the conversation went on and as we started talking about how cool it would be to just have people click on the ads because they wanted to, and how do you do that? You write good stuff that makes people want to come to your site. Sure, we could probably get enough money if we told people to click, but what if we made enough money just because we had a really cool site? As the conversation turned to one of pride of ownership the talking quieted down and the production really started. It was the best day of class so far. kids running around figuring out the details of the game, three kids proof reading each others posts for errors. Two students discussing a movie trailer they were watching on YouTube. I sat in the corner and just watched, completely hands off as 22 6th,7th, and 8th graders completely self motivated worked on creating good solid content for their site.

Is there power in this social network? Without a doubt. Allowing students to be creators and contributers to society is what motivates them. We just have to give them the freedom and the guidance to do it.

[tags]teentek, games[/tags]

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This page has been a couple months in the making. One of my students is really into digital art. So at the start of teentek she was chosen to come up with a logo for the site. She first sketched a couple designs on a piece of paper. Then the teentek crew voted on the best design. Our ‘designer’ then spent the last month creating these pretty amazing graphics (7th grader). I then sat down with our designer and we discussed size of the logos. We looks at sites and where people place logos and ads on their pages and what sizes did she feel would be good. So she came up with two sizes. 100×100 and 150×150, and of course she couldn’t come up with just one design, but three different designs. So please help spread the word of teentek.com.

world map


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The middle schoolers of teentek, and all our middle schoolers for that matter, are HUGE into this flash game.

Monday I couldn’t keep the boys off of it. Every time I turned around
someone had it open and was playing it. So I took a step back into the
corner of the room and just watched (Seriously…I went and stood in
the corner!) I watched as they slowly opened the game back up and
started playing, I observed them, watching their actions and
interactions with the game:

“You made this level?”
“How’d you do that?”

“There’s a level builder you can download and create your own levels for the game.”

That was it, my in. So I went to the kid who made the level and as I approached the game got minimized.

“Bring that back up…you made this?”

“How did you do it?”

“You just download the level builder and place the different markers
where you want them. The trick is placing them perfectly so that you
don’t have to even move your guy…he just bounces off these and misses
those and wins all by himself…that’s how I created this one anyway.”

“How long did this take you?”

“Oh, about 4 hours.”

“So, could we download this level builder here at school and create
levels and release the game on teentek with teentek levels?”

“I guess, the cool part is the file is only 1.65mb. There are 1000s of
levels here and the file is still that small, isn’t that amazing?”

“Yeah, that is amazing?”
“What kind of licensing is on the game?”
“I’ll check that Mr. U.” another student says as they run off to grab a laptop.
“It’s freeware and it says on the web site ‘distribute like hell’.”
“OK, so why don’t you teach these other guys how to create levels and we’ll try to release the game next week.”
“SWEET!” with wide eyes

That was Monday. Today I had two other students approach me. One wants
to make a game that teaches you how to kill spam on your
computer. The other is a skateboarding game. What’s the learning
happening here? Is there any? How about the engagement with technology?

[tags]gaming, conversations, teentek[/tags]

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