Friday, March 26, 2010

Persuasive Communications

We finished reading The Giver this week. During the course of reading this book, we have been exploring the question,"What makes an ideal society?" We had Socratic discussions on being born into a family as opposed to being assigned a family, choosing an occupation vs. being assigned an occupation, euthanasia and we even debated the ending of the story. What was interesting is that at the last discussion, a number of the students agreed on the ending of the story. They determined that it was hard to have a Socratic discussion when everybody agreed. The kids ran out of things to discuss. As a group, we decided that more progress was actually made when there was a disagreement. One of the kids noted,"That's kind of like in the book. Everybody had to agree with the rules of the society in order to avoid being released and it created the Sameness." Super!

As the kids discussed, a group acted as "recorders" and typed what they heard into our Cover It Live event. Cover It Live is a live blogging tool that is free to use.

Now the kids are taking their thoughts about an ideal society and writing a five-paragraph essay on what they think makes the ideal society. We will be completing these next week, just in time for spring break!

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Now the Fun Really Begins . . .

Over the past two days, my 43 students each received a MacBook to use for their school work. This is an educational tool being issued to them much like a textbook would be issued traditionally. We are part of the pilot "test" group that is doing a "test drive" on the rollout of MacBooks. I took the kids through an orientation of the MacBook with helpful tips and tricks as well as reviewing the Acceptable Use Policy, Laptop User Agreement and Teacher Guidelines. After the orientation, the students filled out a simple online survey.

The kids were so excited. I reminded them that we have been given an important job - to test out the iLearn initiative for all of the other JH students and teachers. We are to figure out what works and what doesn't in order to inform policies and procedures for this coming fall.

So Friday, we have a vocabulary test. The students will be taking that test in Moodle. Then we will learn how to use myHomework, a software we are testing out for a digital agenda. One thing I like about that software is that it integrates with the iPod Touch or iPhone.

Next week will bring blog posts and live blogging as we continue our discussions over The Giver.

With great opportunity comes great responsibility! Now the fun really begins . . .

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Monday, March 08, 2010

What I Learned Today

I am continually amazed at how much I learn from my students. Sometimes the nuggets I gain are totally by accident and sometimes it is because my students make an effort to help educate me. They have a true desire to help me understand their perspectives as well as missing information they believe I need. Today was an example of the latter.

We have iPod Touch carts at our school. Each cart has about 24 iPod Touch devices in them. These are to be used in class for the furtherance of learning. For our vocabulary program, we use Wordly Wise. Today, I decided the students would familiarize themselves with our new word list by listening to the audio file that the Wordly Wise company makes available via their website. Also, I showed the students how to download the mp3 file and pull it into their iTunes library so the file could sync on their iPhone or iPod Touch.

As we were getting out the iPod Touch devices from the cart, a couple of the devices had a passcode placed on them. This has been a particularly annoying issue. Some of the students have decided to place passcodes on the devices, even though they are shared devices. To this point, the way to deal with this has been to take the iPod Touch device to the Tech Department so they can reset the device. When you have a class of 22 and only 24 devices, it doesn't take long before it impacts what you are trying to do. The students had a couple of other solutions for me.

First, I learned that if you double-click the home button on the iPod Touch it goes to iPod mode (as the kids put it) and plays the music or in this case the audio file. This sounds so simple that I am sure I should have known that but I didn't. Second, the students told me to try using 1234 for the passcode. Believe it or not that worked on several of the passcode ridden devices and the students then took the passcode off.

Thanks Auston and Jaye for teaching me today. I am wondering what I'll learn from them tomorrow. :-)

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