Thursday, April 29, 2010

Making Connections

I was invited to Ms. Alexander's Science class last week. Her fifth grade class was being taught a science lesson involving energy and simple machines by a guest instructor at Carolina Biological in Burlington. All week her classes had the opportunity to watch and interact with this scientist via videoconference.

And as I watched the students ask and answer questions of Mike, as he performed experiments, created simple machines and quizzed the kids on the results, I thought of a memorable quote by Will Richardson.

"We as educators need to reconsider our roles in students' lives, to think of ourselves as connectors first and content experts second."

The quote appeared in Edutopia as well as on a picture on flickr by Dean Shareski (see below). I've used this quote for some time in presentations during technology integration sessions. The picture from flickr provides that visual for "teachers as connectors" I like to use. And I like that "technology" is not mentioned. Technology is a great vehicle for the connections, but it's still about the teachers and students.

Technology has the most potential in classrooms where teachers, like Ms. Alexander, embrace the idea of becoming a connector. And for technology to make the biggest impact, it needs to be used as a tool for transforming instruction not an "add-on" to the current instruction in the classroom. Ms. Alexander wasn't showing videoconferencing to her students, but instead allowing videoconferencing to show her class a guest instructor. And I think the important distinction to make is that she was utilizing technology to create an educational experience rather than just using technology.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Write On WSFCS Wiki Year 2

This month wrapped up the second installment of the Write On WSFCS wiki, a wiki webpage used to create a district writing project for elementary schools. I was pleased many of the teachers and classrooms involved last year were willing to take it on again this year, and despite the snow days elementary schools across the district did an awesome job taking turns writing and illustrating this year's story.

This has become one of my favorite projects over the last two years, and I hope the students and teachers enjoyed the project as much as I did.
My thanks to all the classes and teachers that participated. Please check out our story at

Monday, April 19, 2010

Need Some Earth Day 2010 Resources?

With Earth Day 2010 only a few days away, it's a great time to integrate a few Earth friendly activities into the day's lessons. Whether your school has planned a day of events or whether you'll be observing a little Earth Day in your classroom, it's nice to have some ideas and resources to pull for use in the class.

In years past I'd spend some time googling "Earth Day" to see what came up, but now I've found several educators and websites who have put together lists of great Earth Day resources.

Here is a list of a few sites that can connect you to some great ideas for Earth Day:

Happy Earth Day!