Thursday, December 13, 2007

Biotechnology - Lego Rocking Platform

I am making my return to blogging. Next week in my AP Biology class I will be isolating green fluorescent protein from transformed bacteria. I need a rocking platform agitates a liquid bacterial culture. It is too late to order one like the one offered from Bio-Rad.

My only option was to build one myself. I went to our robotics lab and built a rocking platform out of Lego's. It fits perfectly into my incubator and was much more economical.

Below is a video of the Lego Rocking Platform in action.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Old Classroom/New Classroom

(Click video to advance slides, right click to rewind)

Thank you Will Richardson for this great view of education. As we get more into the digital age we need to start thinking about what types of activities we are doing in our classroom. We need to start thinking about in the age of access, "Why do I have my students memorize this?" We also need to start considering, "What engages students?" "What impact are my students having on the world?" Please start a discussion here as we attempt to answer these questions.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Use for twitter!!!

Today I invited my AP Biology colleagues from around the world to join me in the twitter community. I hope this can become a collaborative, productive community. We will now have the ability to ask for immediate help on labs, questions in class, etc. I think this could become very powerful for teachers teaching the class as well as students taking the class.

Jonathan Orr

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hot Viruses... Topic of Discussion

Over the summer my AP Biology students read a book called The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. I contacted some of the people who were written about in the book. My students next week will have the opportunity to interview Dr. Joseph McCormick about his research in Africa and his work with the Ebola virus. The interview will be conducted using a program called vsee. My students will also be talking with Jerry and Nancy Jaax. At the time of the outbreak the Jaax's were military officers on assignment at USAMRIID. I am excited to make these connections, and I know it will make learning more meaningful and powerful for my students. I have been inspired to start making connections and to collaborate by manay at BLC07. Will Richardson just disscussed the importance of this in his blog post The Future of Work–.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ben Glenn - The Chalk Guy

Today I had the opportunity to see Ben Glenn "The Chalk Guy" present at our school Faith Lutheran Jr/Sr High School. Ben's focus for his presentation was teaching students with ADD, and how we as educators can inspire and uplift these individuals. His ideas for helping ADD students in the classroom would also benefit all students in the classroom. Ben said that when most people walk from A to B they are so caught up in their agenda that they miss everything in between. When a student with ADD walks from A to B they notice everything in between and are drawn to the most interesting thing there. It is not A and B that are the important things, but the journey from A to B where the real learning occurs.

Marc Prensky makes the statement in his presentations "ENGAGE me or ENRAGE me". In the classroom students are going to be drawn to whatever is the most interesting in the classroom. This does not just apply to ADD students, but to all students. In most cases this is not the teacher. In order to engage students, teachers need to be creative, and step outside the box. As teachers we need to provide our digital natives with activities that truly engage them. What engages these digital natives: video games, iPods, facebook, and text messaging.

Will Richardson makes the analogy that students and teachers methods of communication used to run parallel, but now our students are veering off of that path and are showing no signs of coming back. So as teachers we need to follow them and use tools in our classroom that truly engages them and emphasizes the journey from A to B. We should be seeing more use of video production, podcasts, blogs, and chat rooms to connect our students to a real audience. Nothing is more engaging than having an expert at the CDC discuss a book about viruses, or the author of a book responding to a blog posting that a student wrote about that book. We as teachers are no longer the experts, but we have the power through technology to engage the students in collaborative activities and connect them to the real world.

Ben Glenn Photograph courtesy of (used with permission)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Help for a Presentation

I have been asked by my executive director at my school Faith Lutheran Jr/Sr High School to do a 45 minute presentation on Web 2.0 in the classroom. Right now very few of our teachers are blogging and using Web 2.0 tools in their classes, and we are starting a huge technology program. With this type of audience I don't know were to start. I could really use some suggestions and help with this presentation. Any comments/resources from the experts would be appreciated.

Thank you,
Jonathan Orr

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Schools 2017

When thinking about classrooms of the future I think about what Marc Prensky said in his presentations at BLC07. Marc Prensky is the author of two books, the first being Don't Bother Me Mom--I'm Learning! and the second Digital Game-Based Learning. Marc was the first person to use the terms "Digital Natives" and "Digital immigrants. Marc has also written numerous articles on classrooms of the future.

Walls are a thing of the past. Schools of the future will have much fewer walls. Learning will become much more collaborative and cross curricular. Students will be working at meeting tables collaborating on projects influenced by the "real world". Closed book memorization tests are going to be a thing of the past. In today's digital world who cares if they memorize all the capitals of the world when they can have an answer on their cell phone in under a minute by texting Google. We need to connect kids to their communities and to their world.

Dan Pink and his book A Whole New Mind tell us that schools of the future should foster skills such as creativity, empathy, contextual thinking and big picture thinking. “The greatest opportunity for change is currently found in after-school programs and informal learning communities" – MacArthur White Paper, 2007

I like the metaphor that Prensky uses in his presentations. Kids used to grow up in the dark. Schools and education were showing them the light. Digital natives with technology are growing up in the light and schools are turning off the lights. We need to bring the students back into the light. How do we do this?

I don't think anyone has the clear cut answer, bet we need to engage them more. Kids are bored with our classrooms. I do think that technology and connecting kids to the real world will with out a doubt play a huge role in engaging them.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Web 2.0 in the Classroom

Attending BLC07 has been an inspirational experience for me. I have always "known" about the various collaboration tools available on the internet. What I haven't been able to wrap my brain around is how to apply these methods of communication in my classroom. I started BLC07 attending a workshop by Will Richardson. In his workshop he reviewed technologies such as RSS, blogs, and wikis most of which I was already familiar with. Even though we spent a lot of time reviewing technical skills, he really drove home the idea the connections we make are what is important. Alan November again repeated this same concept in another session that I attended. In education we need to connect our students to not only each other, but to others in the world. When we make connections and build our own personal networks that is when the real learning starts to occur.

What makes web 2.0 so powerful is that we can connect our students to people they may have never had a chance to connect to before. It could be an author, researcher, athlete, or anyone. When a student makes a connection to an author of a book they are reading that is really empowering for that student. Other connections that are important are that between the teacher, parent, and student. As Dr. Tim Tyson points out in his presentations the blog can help connect the parent to the classroom. Connecting the parents and family to the classroom is very important to the students education.

I am just beginning to connect myself to the world and I hope to start to help my students connect to the world as well.