Finding Superman in Technology

#edtech #edchat #elearning  The big buzz right now in education is the new movie Waiting for Superman which puts a spotlight on many of the problems with education today. Since I am a geek, and I look at everything though my geeky glasses, I see a lot of the solutions to the problems with education using technology. Today I would like to talk about two problems that are presented in the movie and my technological solutions. Problem Number 1: A Bad Teacher. A high school student I know had a bad Spanish teacher last year. By bad, I mean a Spanish teacher that refused to speak Spanish. She would have the students learn Spanish using textbooks and worksheets, and not by speaking it even though she was fluent in the language.

Tech Solution: Buy Some Apps. By spending less than $10, this student was able to make up for the inabilities of her teacher and buy some Spanish apps for her Smartphone. Apps that not only spoke to her, but also listened to her speak Spanish and compared her spoken words to native Spanish speakers. She also bought a flashcard app that helped her pass off all of her “textbook” work that her teacher assigned.

This is one example of one subject in school, but trusts me, if there is a bad teacher, chances are, there is an app to replace him/her.

Problem Number 2: A Bad School Let’s say a student has more than just one bad teacher, instead she has an entire school that is bad.

Tech Solution: Take It Online. Today there are incredible online alternatives to brick and mortar. Companies like K12 offer a solid curriculum that in most cases is free and sometimes the school district will even provide a laptop.

So perhaps instead of waiting for Superman, maybe we need to download him, or install him, or log-in to him.

Of course I am not saying that all of the educational problems of our country are going to be solved by technology, but a few of them could.

That's a wrap! - Movie Making With Kids

#edtech #elearning Well, it is finally done. This quarter's movie making club finished shooting their last scene on Tuesday and by the end of yesterday it was all edited and ready to go. I am really proud of their work -- as always I am blown away by the ability of these fourth and fifth grade students to make great movies. I get a real mix of students that sign up for my seven week movie making club. We meet every Tuesday before school and we work really hard to have our movie done by the end of the quarter. This year we have gone away from our usual dramatic movie in favor of making movies with a message. Last year's movie called Don't Eat the Cookies was so intense in a few parts that we couldn't show it to the younger grade -- but this new movie is great for all ages.

The movie is called "Confidence" and it is all about a girl who is afraid to sing in from of people, when is is alone she sings great, but when she gets in front of people she is really bad. So the best singer in the school offers her some advice on how to get confidence and you'll just have to watch it to see how it ends.

Teaching students how to make movies is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as an elementary tech teacher. I love how much the students change. Take Avree, the lead actor in this movie. She had no theater training at all, but yet she turns out to be a very talented actor. Then there is Erik, he turned out to be one of the best student-directors that I have ever worked with. He was very professional and knew how to get the kids to stay on task and on time.

This year we have added a worksheet to go with our movie to help teachers use the movie as a lesson. On the worksheet there are discussion points as well as writing prompts to get the students to learn how they can develop confidence in their own lives.

So now is the time to pop some popcorn and sit back and relax as you watch our 4 minute movie called Confidence. If you want a peek behind the scenes check out the making of movie and don't forget to look at the worksheet as well.

Bigger Projects = Bigger Learning

#edtech #elearning - This week I am speaking at a regional teacher’s meeting about some of the projects I do with my elementary students. As I was preparing my speech it  got me thinking...

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The start of a new school year also means the start of my before and after school clubs. Every week I meet with students who want to be podcasters, movie makers or robotic engineers. Today I would like to talk about my movie makers.

Movie making is a big deal in our elementary school. This year we have taken it to a new level, we want to make movies with a message, instead of just the dramatic one that we have done in the past. I guess I had been reading too many books this past summer and now it shows in my clubs, I want my students to make a difference -- and they can do this with their movie making.

Like many elementary schools we have a set of school values that we promote in everything that we do; Respect, Responsibility, Integrity and Kindness. These four values have deep roots in our school and in our teaching. We now make movies about these values, in fact, I stole the idea from

The one thing about making movies with 4th and 5th grade students is that it is a really big project for them to wrap their little minds around. Some would even say too big. We do weeks of planning followed by weeks of shooting, and anyone who has ever been involved in a shoot knows that it is one of the most boring thing to be a part of. It is a lot of sitting around and being quiet, waiting for your turn to be in a shot. The reality of it is that this kind of work in important for students to learn, to be part of a big picture with no immediate payback. Which can be tough for students of fast-food generation. But my kids stick with it and keep coming back week after week until we are done shooting.

The payback they do get comes a few weeks later when the final movie has been edited and it is up on YouTube for their family and friends to see, not to mention the entire world.

As far as I am concerned students learn a lot from these big projects, and I am not talking about filmmaking skills. Skills like patience, communication and cooperation, a movie set is like a family, we are all working towards the same goal and in the end, we all win -- not just the kids on screen, because even my actors soon realize all the hard work that everyone puts into the project.

These are things they just can’t learn by working on a project for only a few weeks, sometimes it takes months for these types of things to sink in. So don't be afraid to push working with school technology projects to bigger and longer projects.

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eLearning - Teaching Keyboarding to 2nd and 3rd Grade Students

#edtech #elearning Teaching keyboarding to 2nd and 3rd grade students using Dance Mat Typing, an online typing program. Part 3 of a series of teaching keyboarding, or typing, to elementary aged students. The School Technology Report.

Implementing Atomic Learning: Day 1 - #edtech

Last week I got the email back from Atomic Learning saying that all of my teachers have been added to their database. It took them less than 24 hours from when I sent in my list of teachers and email addresses to being up and running. They said it might take three days, so I love it when a company gets things done quicker than expected. Tom, my rep with Atomic Learning, sent me an email that outlined how to get things started with my teachers. I had to put all of this aside for a week while I got through the rush of back to school, but now my classes have starting to flow smoothly so I can shift my focus back to Atomic Learning.

So the first thing I did this afternoon after I logged in was to go to the Support section and then to Getting Started. I found toturials and training on how to implement Atomic Learning in my school. Tom did a good job with his training so I sailed through the video tutorials.

The next thing I did was print out the 21st Century Skills Professional Develpment Worksheet. It is a simple one page worksheet that took me less than 5 minutes to fill out. I probably could have breezed through the worksheet in 90 seconds, but I want to do this right, so I spend a little time on each question to makes sure that I knew where I wanted all of this to go. The worksheet asked questions like: "Who will participate in the program?"

Next up; a poster to promote using Atomic Learning. I printed up a bunch of their ready-made full-color posters and filled in blanks with my school's information. I am planning on putting one of these in each teacher's mailbox on Monday.

The final thing that I did today was to open on of their sample emails to introduce Atomic Learning to teachers. I copied it and I am planning on emailing it to every teacher this Monday morning. I decided that Friday afternoon is not a good time to introduce and new idea to tired teachers.

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