Saturday, February 28, 2009


Last day of Februrary and this is probably the busiest month for us in videoconferencing at Rural Hall School. We still have three more Read Around the Planet connections next week, but in the past two weeks have completed Megaconference Jr. and three Read Around the Planets along with two digital Flat Stanley's besides our regular museum visits. Time to take a breath!

Next week is the NCTIES conference in Raleigh. Looking forward to going and listening, learning, watching, and refreshing, not presenting. It's good to have time out to learn and not be "producing."

Hopefully the sleet, ice, and snow due tonight and tomorrow won't slow us down. :-)

Just received a kindal reader Thursday. Like it so far. Although it has been quite a long time since I read something for pleasure and not for work. Bought two books for it. Quite easy to use. Although one of the books I bought I've actually already read! Maybe a snow storm and something new to read (pleasure reading) would be good!

Saturday afternoon and just checked the computer lab for a horrible virus that seems to be around our county. None found here - thank goodness! Scans complete and time to go home.

Friday, February 27, 2009

More Read Around the Planet

On Tuesday, Ms. Throckmorton's 4th grade class participated in Read Around the Planet with a class in Long Island City, New York. Ms. Throckmorton's class did a short version of their Megaconference Jr. skit on "History Mystery: North Carolina." The students did a skit on Blackbeard and the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke Island. The partner class shared information about their town and read student stories. The classes decided to continue their partnership.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Read Around the Planet

What a great way to celebrate reading! Ms. Church's kindergarten class in Rural Hall, NC read to Ms. Coxson's kindergarten class in Dallas, Texas this morning. Ms. Coxson's class performed "The Three Little Pigs" play for us. Fantastic!

We have two more this week and three next week - These children have put a lot of work into their productions and are enjoying reading and sharing. Watch for the podcasts soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Megaconference Jr. 2009

Wow! What a great day of activities, experiences, and learning! Ms. Howard's class enjoyed the segment on Obama's Inauguration and first 100 days. They returned to their classroom for a debate. Ms. Leonard's class enjoyed the idioms segment. The students played along and enjoyed guessing.

The interactions between the participants, activities, and the wonderful VJ's was amazing. Of course, the behind the scenes technology folks were excellent! -- Thanks to all for making this possible! Our students learned and gained experiences from this experience.

Our students did a great job and enjoyed a pizza party after their presentation.

Congratulations, students! Check the wiki for their reports, movies, and a poll.

Pictures taken that day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wiki Use - Challenges

We are working on year two of our school wiki. It has definitely been a growing experience! As with much technology, it looks cool and fun, but does it have an educational purpose besides technology? We have grown into wiki usage; we seem to reach a learning point and it expands rather quickly after that. The recent article by Wheeler, Yeomans, & Wheeler (2008) at Wake Forest University points out the instructional uses. These include motivation (meaningful assignments), participation/collaboration, affirmation (all can post and edit),and synthesis. These are higher level skills and exactly what we want our students to use.

For our Megaconference Jr. 2009 project, we are collaborating with a middle school class. The 4th and 8th graders have made reports and teachers are posting on the wiki (due to time). Students can then download and edit and repost or compile the information into a newer version. We are learning and finding some things work well and are fairly easy while others will take more time and may need different strategies. Wiki usage, like many other technologies, is a building and growing process. Teachers and students are learning together -- students using the tool of technology while gaining the power of collaborative skills, and teachers defining and sharpening teaching and collaborative skills while redefining pedagogy. Both are learning new tools and skills for personal learning networks. Not just redefining "life-long learners," but addressing personal learning styles and skills and developing processes that give all participants new ways to address how they learn and what they choose to learn.

The project is February 19, so next month, we hope to post reflections of our work and the process we have used.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Faster - Tech Dollars and Innovation

If you haven't realized it yet, change is the new "standard" or "constant" in life today, whether it is banking, shopping, education, whatever. And all of it is touched by technology. The recent article in THE Journal by Chris Riedel points our what is going on in education and how we can work on making it better. This article refers to Mark Benno's talk at FETC in Orlando. Interesting fact: "Nine out of 10 students don't wear wristwatches." What do they do? They use other technology - cell phones, music players (mine shows time and date), computers, other tech gear usually has date and time - often in many time zones. He goes on to say that it takes educators about seven years to adapt to new technology and integrate it into the curriculum (going through five stages: entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, innovation). Unfortunately, technology changes so much faster than that. The good news is that research shows that with professional development it takes two and one-half years instead of seven years to total integration and innovation. Hooray! Save those dollars in the budgets for instructional technology--even in tight budget times, these dollars allow better usage of dollars already spent on the hardware and software while giving students relevant and timely instruction. Whether we keep up or not, our students use technology in many ways. Allowing students to collaborate--use a wiki--share information, revise, and continue sharing and refining is one of the answers to collaborative learning. It is practical. Thinking and problem solving has always been a goal, now it has gone global and collaboration with technology is certainly that. It used to be, "what do you know?" Then it was "how do you find or locate it?" Now it is choosing "what technologies you use to solve your problems."