BLC11 Keynotes and Presentations attended:

  • How to Plan Cool and Practical Multimedia Projects – Marco Torres

  • 79 Best Web 2.0 Classroom Tools You May Have Missed – Howie DiBlasi

  • Keynote: Marco Torres

This was my second year at BLC. Each year I finished each day bursting with ideas, energized, and awed by what educators and children can accomplish. Eric Mazur began this year’s journey reminding educators that technology is the service to pedagogy. In his classes he uses incredible technology to help give his students the optimal opportunity to assimilate information is class. The technology gives instant feedback and is used for optimizing discussions. It is the questioning and the human interaction that drives assimilation of information, to bring the students to a higher level. Even though the technology tools in this case would not be appropriate in my kindergarten classroom, the message is still very important. The goal should always be how to optimize learning so all students exceed at a high level.

In Marco Torres’ session, How to Plan Cool and Practical Multimedia Projects, he stressed how important the process of brainstorming and planning with the students is vital to the creativity of the project. Each project needs the following elements; planning, producing, presenting, feedback, and promotion. Some children (and adults) are better at process, and some do best with the product. Everyone should be able to show their strengths to create a quality project. There are many software products out there to take brainstorming ideas and create a clear web for planning. Creating these webs is not only wonderful for media products but also the foundation for great writing. There are so many cool technologies out there. Pre planning helps to ensure the right technology tools are used to support the creativity and learning.

Learning to Blog: Blogging to Learn (Maria Knee), and Primary Digital Portfolios (Kathy Cassidy), fueled my desire to bring digital portfolios and blogging to my classroom. When blogging the children are connected to a huge community of learners, connections begin to happen, the children are motivated, and learning happens through powerful discussions. Posts are the interactive bulletin boards of the 21st century. Teachers are opened up to the global community as well. Tools such as Skype open the doors to new definitions of co teaching. There are new literacies we are teaching children such as collective intelligence, judgment (in finding good sources of information), networking, and negotiation. Digital portfolios give students a large audience for feedback and comments of their work. Children learn about what an online presence is and how they should protect themselves.

The 79 Best Web 2.0 Classroom Tools You May Have Missed (Howie DiBlas), The IPad Revolution (Camilla Gagliolo), and Story Book Adventures in Project Based Learning (Michael Gorman) provided me with many great resources that I can use in my classroom right away. It is important for us as educators to tap into our global community and keep current with tools and project ideas. The are many great resources for Project Based Learning. Teacher's Domain contains digital media for the classroom and professional development. Create online stickies with lino it.There are hundreds of fabulous technology tools out there. We must remember learning should drive technology and not to fall in the trap of putting the cool technology piece first.

The global learning community was emphasized by Be the Change You Want to See in the World (Shannon McClintock Miller) and Going Global: Learning Together (Maria Knee and Kathy Cassidy). Children need to experience their global community. Tools such as Skype and blogging make it possible for children to collaborate, share, and learn with people of all ages throughout the world. Our children can help and make a difference to the world.

Lastly, Marco Torres’ Thursday keynote (Analog vs. Digital) was so inspiring and uplifting. We must stay in the question without jumping into the solution. Change the lens and look at things in a new way. Learners love to share and get better with feedback. Loyalty is built with remarkable moments. Learning is an “organic space” we should not let school be an analog restriction. Remember you colleagues are worldwide not just isolated to your school. As Marco Torres states, we as educators “want to make chefs instead of cooks”.

Action Plan:
This year BLC11 has motivated me create digital portfolios for my students this year. As a kindergarten teacher I was impressed by the digital portfolios of the primary classrooms of Maria Knee and Kathy Cassidy. The children were so engaged in both their work and the feedback they were receiving. Portfolios are a wonderful way to show student growth throughout the year. The digital portfolio adds a real audience and feedback. The comments bring families and in open blogs, a global community, into the learning journey of the child that is unique. The portfolio is more than a collection of things. The student has ways to show both his or her thinking as well as a voice. The digital portfolio tells a story. In a kindergarten classroom the students could use tools such as Crayola Paint, audioboo, vokis, voice thread, and Storybird to demonstrate their learning.
  1. Evaluate the portfolio host sites. Kathy Cassidy shared a google doc comparing popular hosts. I will probably discuss Class Blogmeister and with my principal and tech specialist. These two hosts allow teachers to monitor and control all publishing activity within the classroom blogging community. In my first go at digital portfolios I will be extremely protective of my student’s identity. In the beginning it will be a closed community. Even though these students will not benefit from receiving feedback and learning from a global community, I feel a closed community is safe, comfortable start for my families.
  2. Once I choose a portfolio host, I will browse primary blogs for portfolios I feel are helpful and engaging for my students.
  3. I will create the blog and structure of the portfolio with my students’ first names.
  4. Next I will talk to parents about the digital portfolios I plan to create with their children this year at back to school night. The use of portfolios and the strengths of digital portfolios in particular will be included. I will explain that I will use the children’s first names (I will give a child a pseudonym if a parent wishes) but there will be no faces of children shown on the site. I anticipate security will be a main concern for parents.
  5. At first I will scan things we normally have in a traditional portfolio (first day portrait, fall tree). I will type each child’s comment as I would a sticky note.
  6. As we progress through the year I will incorporate different types of entries such as voice thread and vokis.
  7. In the second half of the year I would like to give the students opportunities to blog themselves. In my exploration of kindergarteners who blog, I found a teacher who incorporates blogging into their writing workshop. Together this class created their own criteria for blogging (1. Make sure you have a title. 2. Write at least 3 thoughts about your idea. 3. Take a picture of what you want to. 4. Leave spaces between your words. (use the space bar to help you) 5. Log out)