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 http://www.chalkguy.com/. (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