Making the World Smaller

Watching the video last night about “Dancing Matt” got me to thinking about something similar I had seen. Playing for Change records people from all over the world singing a song and combines them into a 5 min. video. It is so inspiring. The first one I saw was Stand By Me. They also do Sitting By the Dock of the Bay. Remember, none of these musicians have met. They are singing and/or playing on their own and it is edited together. I’ll include the info here.


Here’s the very first video they did.




So long, but not good-bye

Dear Cohorts,

I can’t believe we are at the end of our two years together. Remember the first class when we barely spoke to each other? I also remember the first presentation we had to give in our Methods class and how supportive everyone was. It seems like we’ve been through a lot together,

Bless Your Souls.

When I get bored because of all the free time I have on Friday nights I’ll whip up some Whizbangers. I’ll kick back and think about Carol Channing. I’ll remember the e-mails and Facebook exchanges and the late nights. The frustrations and the successes. There were a lot of both!

So, my friends, I hope to keep in touch. I want to stay updated about you and your new jobs. I want to hear about your students and your wonderful lessons. I want to know how your own children are doing, and see pictures of the littlest ones as they grow.

And when you send me an e-mail, remember I only answer Marymount e-mails on Wednesdays. With five words or less.

Bless your little souls,

Frustration sets in!

I finished my digital story, FINALLY got it to upload on this blog, and found it was set to private. But wait, I changed that setting to public. Why is it still coming up private? I cannot figure out what happened. How do you reset a published story from private to public? I also spent the better part of several hours trying to add sound. That didn’t work either. Sometimes I feel like I have failed in the digital world.

So here I sit, just hours before this is due, unsure if it will ever get posted correctly and not sure what questions to ask to get an answer. Am I the only one who has completed this course feeling such frustration? Should I even announce this in public?

I have enjoyed this class, and learning all the great software that is available for FREE. I am hoping to conquer them, one at a time. I am sure I will, but my learning curve tends to be a little longer than others.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t play well with technology. Just showing me something and telling me to, “play around with it,” doesn’t work. Inevitably I do something that I cannot figure out how to undo. I need someone in the room with me to explain what I did and how to fix it. I hope the IT person at my school has lots of patience with me!

Virtual Class

I really did enjoy last week’s virtual class. It was nice not to have to fight traffic and drive 30+ minutes to get home after. I saved on time and gas — what’s not to love! But I also missed the interaction with my classmates. The background “dialog” was entertaining, but I feel that our face-to-face classes had a much richer discussion. I am sure part of that is just all of us getting use to having class in front of a computer.

I just had to post this digital story — this is one of my very favorite books!

About Me!

I just completed a Storybird about myself. I won’t say it was easy — being a digital neophyte almost everything I try takes me three times as long. But it was fun. Go to the tab that says “About Lori”. At the bottom, click on, “Meet Mrs. Darden”.

Programming Digital Fun Into Science Education

Programming Digital Fun Into Science Education.

I can’t help it, I love Education Week! Here is another story about using technology in the classroom, this time with the science curriculum. Despite the lack of hard data concerning whether students retain more information when playing games teachers are using whatever is available.

The truth is, our students are use to playing video games. They relate to that. Why not use it? Why not let them explore for themselves to see what makes photosynthesis work, or not work. We use games based on Jeopardy or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to reinforce concepts. Why not add video games?

Even as I say that, I add some caveats. First, just like anything else, it should not be overused. There is nothing wrong with lecturing to your class from time to time. There are students who learn best that way. But if you stand at the front of the room all day every day you will bore all your students. If you use games all the time the novelty will wear off and the concepts will be lost. For those students who do not play a lot of video games (yes, there are those out there) you may not be using their strengths. In fact, trying to figure out the game could become frustrating for them. But add video games, project based learning, reading, writing, collaborative learning to the mix and you are encouraging students to explore. Today’s lesson may not be their strength, but the person next to them may be able to help.  Tomorrow, they may be the one to take the lead.

Of course, we also have to concern ourselves with access to technology. If students need a phone — or a certain phone — to play a game then we are putting some students at a disadvantage, perhaps even embarrassing them. Using games within the class so students can use the Smartboard or laptops may be the answer. Giving students the access to games so those who have the correct device can play them is another answer. But then we are adding to the digital divide.

Still, don’t rule out games. Just be sure all students in your class have access.

‘Safe’ Social Networking Tailored for K-12 Schools

‘Safe’ Social Networking Tailored for K-12 Schools.

I came across this article in Education Week about social networking sites that have been developed specifically for education. Here, teachers can set up accounts and students can blog. Examples listed were talking with historical figures (aka the teacher), discussing books, helping with homework. On the side of the story is a list of sites discussed in the story. At this point, Edmodo is a free site with others charging districts a subscription fee.

This article hits on a lot of the topics we have discussed in class. Expanding class beyond school, safe and secure blogging and social networking, becoming online friends with students, etc. I for one did not know these sites existed. I may just check out Edmodo and see exactly what it has to offer.

A Quick Step Away from Technolgy

The following is a quote from Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education. I know this blog focuses on technology, but sometimes things strike me and I have to post! So bear with me for just a minute and read on.

It is nice that Duncan publicly recognizes the importance of teachers. If only his policy were just as forceful and positive.

“The center of a classroom is not a test, a textbook, or the posters on the wall. It’s not a state or district policy. It most certainly is not a federal law. The heart of the classroom is found in the unique relationships between students and teachers. In the same way that a family turns a house into a home, a transformation takes place when teachers and students work together to reach common goals. We see it in the trust, the expectations, the experiences, and the knowledge of every person in the class…. Government cannot create these relationships, but what federal, state, district, and school leaders can do is create conditions that nurture and grow the talents of our teachers…. We must treat our teachers well. They are the force that forges the meaningful connections that are at the heart of every great classroom. Without teachers, the center cannot hold.”

— Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (7/1/11), in a letter for a virtual conference this month

Social Media

I am quite impressed with my classmates who are using the internet for so many different things. I do use Google quite often for recipes, to answer questions, for research, and to look up something I am interested in. I also have a facebook page. So far, I have connected to several long-lost college friends.And reading Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts I am definitely going to look into RSS (although I take exception to Richardson’s advice to cancel regular magazine and newspaper subscriptions). Still, I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by all there is to do. Instead of having one daily newspaper to read I now have access to any paper in the world. Email gets so out of control — right now I am juggling 3 or 4 different accounts. My attempts to have all sent to one address have been largely unsuccessful.

I feel quite excited about the technology that is available for the classroom. I just wish my learning curve were not so large. There are days when I say, “I can do this! Look at what I did.!” Then I have days where I say, “Face it, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I guess I can’t have it both ways!