Monday, February 11, 2008

Winter Fun

The snow has been falling since before we got up this morning at about 6:00am. My husband's school is closed, but mine, only 20 miles away is open. Not a flake in the air, I've heard, and the sun is shining but it's cold and windy. I chose to play it safe and glad I did. At noon today, the local weather report was that we had gotten 38" of snow. It's now about 3 hours later and I'll bet there's at least 6 more inches on the ground.

I've been working steadily since I got up this morning catching up on my own personal professional development in lots of ways: I've checked Twitter a couple of times, read through the feeds in my Bloglines account, checked the Google news, local news and weather reports and answered any email in my school account.

My newest learning for today is using Picasa for Windows. I've had it downloaded for a while but haven't had a chance to really use it. So, I've been taking pictures of the snow events outside our windows and using those to go through the features of the software. One really nice thing is that Picasa has a button labeled "Blog This!" I selected the picture you see above (not a great one, taken from our living room window), clicked on Blog This and it prompted me to sign in to my Blogger account then upload my photo then begin this post. There are also some other nice features - I can email a selected picture, print in a number of formats, create a collage or run a slideshow from a folder of pictures. Many of these features are also found in iPhoto but I'm trying to learn Picasa since my district is switching from Macs to PCs next year (long story) so I'll need to help teachers learn how to use Picasa instead.

What new learning did you experience today?

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Defining 5 W's for Technology Learning

Jeff Utecht, in his blog post today talks about "Just in Time Learning." Realizing that there are only so many hours in a day, you just can't know all the tools, even if your role is to provide leadership to teachers in the use of technology. We frequently resort to learning something only as the need arises.

But Jeff brings up a good point: not only do we need to know how to use the tools but we need to know why as well - that's the most important point when it comes to working with teachers and supporting student learning. This point is also made in an article from the Techlearning blog by Ryan Bretag.

As I thought about Jeff's point and read through the article on the Techlearning blog, it just felt to me like there needed to be a little more clear definition put on those "W's", especially when working with teachers who are unaware of the many tools available. It also occurred to me that this might be a great topic for some upcoming professional development opportunities in my district.

So...if we go with the old standard 5 W's (+1) and relate them to using technology to empower learning, here are the questions that I've been brainstorming this morning. By no means perfect, but a start at least - they really all go hand in hand.

Who? Who should know about and use this tool? Who will benefit the most from the use of this tool? Students, other students, teachers, other teachers, the global audience?

What? What is the functionality of this tool? What thinking/process skills does it support?
(communication, collaboration, creativity, research/information fluency, critical thinking)

Where? Where in the curriculum does the use of this tool make the most sense and provide the most support for learning? (state, district, ISTE, AASL, etc.)

When? When would I choose to use this tool instead of something else (including paper and pencil)?

Why? Why should teachers be using this tool in our instruction? Why should students use this tools for their learning?

How? How will my pedagogy support the effective use of this tool? How will my pedagogy need to change in order to use this tool effectively?

Those are my about you?

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