NOVA Videos Available for Free Use

Today, I got an email from Karinna from WGBH in Boston — this sounds like an incredible resource!

Just in time for the new school year, the critically-acclaimed season of NOVA scienceNOW is now available for free download directly from its Web site. Wrapping up its third season this summer, this magazine-style science series from the producers of NOVA covers a wide range of science subjects—everything from brain surgery to smart bridges, from living leeches to long-extinct mammoths–and spotlights innovative and diverse scientists. We’re sure NOVA scienceNOW will provide your readers with dynamic and valuable material they can use in their classrooms this fall, and hope that you’ll consider posting about this new content on Digital Writing, Digital Teaching!

Segments can be downloaded from
Just click the “Download Videos” tab to see what’s available.

Lots o’ Links from the Inbox

We finished RCWP’s version of Tech Matters today, and I will write about that in a future post. But, for tonight, I am cleaning out my inbox and I have a number of links to share that were sent to me over the summer. So, in no particular order or thematic fashion, here are some things that people have taken time to share with me this summer, and I share them here with you.

Troy Morris from wetpaint shared a story about Kathy Cassidy, a primary educator in a little town called Moose Jaw in Saskatchewan Canada. She’s teaching her students by integrating all sorts of Web 2.0 tools into her teaching. Your readers may be interested in her story, and hopefully will be inspired to re-think how technology and classrooms can join forces.

  • Her latest experiment is connecting the students with other students from across the world to collaborate on math skills using a wiki on our Wetpaint network (which is how I found out about it).
  • Her classroom in a small Canadian town is learning with some help from classrooms in New Hampshire, Colorado, Australia and New Zealand.
  • The teachers of each classroom, separated by thousands of miles, collaborate in primary math education using an internet tool called a “wiki.” I know you folks have written about wikis before, but in case some don’t know what a wiki is, wikis are web-pages which thrive on community involvement and can be edited by anyone, as easily as writing an email. The Primary Math wiki uses the popular wiki platform, Wetpaint (it’s easy and ad-free for educators).
  • Cassidy’s class has begun to consider the students they collaborate with on the wiki to be an extension of their local friends. They recently checked a book out of the library which the children in Mrs. Marrinan’s Australia classroom had recommended.
  • “The kids feel a real kinship to each other,” says Cassidy, “Learning is collaborative. We cannot just sit inside our classrooms and teach the way we always have. The world is connected now, and we must be connected too.”
  • Their website is:

Maurice Sikkink from Intodit shared the following:

  • I’d like to let you know about a free Wiki group service called Intodit that is being used by some people in the educational field to support their online learning and teaching activities. I would be very happy if you could review Intodit as an educational tool in a short blog post. For an example how the service is being used click here.
  • To give you an idea, Intodit is a free service where people can create groups for their interests the Wiki way. Users can share their interests by building pages or starting discussions for their Wiki groups.
  • We wanted to create something that people could use to share their interests in a flexible way. The Wiki system was a starting point for this but it had to be really user friendly while still allowing people to fill in the blanks. The drag & drop system makes it possible to add text content, photos and widgets such as movies in a user friendly way.
  • I’d be happy to answer more questions about Intodit if needed.

Kelly Sonora from shared the following:

Barbara Schreiber from The Britannica Blog shared the following:

Finally, Sameer Bhatia of ProProfs shared the following:

  • According to the NPD Group, over 62% of American adults and 34% of children are overweight. Today, ProProfs is launching its free online Quiz School that can’t be used to exercise the body but, it is capable of giving the mind a healthy work out. Quiz School uses a YouTube style interface to make quizzes fun, social & easy for your classroom, business or blog. Key features of the new ProProfs Quiz School include:
  • Creating a quiz on anything (use in school, home, blog and business)
  • YouTube style sharing & embedding of quizzes on any blog, website, e-learning system, and social networks
  • Yahoo Flickr integration for a limitless image library for quizzes
  • Quiz statistics that include reports, trends & Google maps
  • Customization controls for color themes, question types, grading & more
  • The ProProfs Quiz School remains free of cost for anyone seeking a powerful quiz creation tool for their classroom, company, blog or friends.
  • Try the Quiz School
  • Demo, FAQ, Screenshots and Press Release
  • Featured Quizzes

Thanks to all of you who sent these links and I apologize for not getting some of them out earlier in the summer.

Alan November’s Keynote: Putting Responsibility Back in Children’s Hands

Alan November, November Learning

Notes taken from November’s talk at the St. Clair RESA Symposium on
21st Century Learning

August 13, 2008

Port Huron High School

  • Marco Torres and his students’ video
    • Invite students to step up and be teachers themselves
  • My talk is not about technology — it is about new roles
    for the learner and the teacher that are enabled by the technology

    • I am going to suggest that you get rid of your technology
      planning committee
    • What is the problem that technology is trying to solve?
      • We originally focused on teaching — what if we focus
        on learning instead?
      • The solution is not the technology — it is information
        and relationships
    • We need to have a global learning committee
    • Who owns the learning and who should own the learning?
  • A Plan to Shift Control of Learning to the Learner
    • Don’t mistake this shift of control as me saying “we
      don’t need the teacher,” because we do and they need to be even more
      creative than before

      • Job 1: Curriculum Review Team
        • Put students in charge of reporting on class
          activities and curriculum review
          • Each week, have a student be the official
            photgrapher, recorder, reporter, and producer and these students create
            a curricular review through a podcast
          • The important piece is not about the podcast, but
            about the context for teaching in learning

            • Teachers should bring two kids with them, one of
              them being the “mess up” kid, when they come to technology training
      • Job 2: Tutorial Design Team
        • Bob’s Primefactor video
        • All the children produce short movies about concepts
          presented in class

          • My question — how do you ensure that students get
            all the content if they focus in on producing only short segments
        • Using Jing
          to construct a screencast that can replace long sets of instructions
        • We want children to contribute to the curriculum and
          learn good quality design
      • Job 3: Scribe Team
        • Someone takes the official notes and posts them to
          the class blog
        • Importance of note taking, especially in math as it
          results to operations
        • Google Docs for collaborative note-taking
      • Job 4: Researcher
        • One student is sitting at the computer finding
          answers to questions that are raised in class (not the teacher)
        • Globalizing the curriculum
          • Kiva: loans that change lives — microlending for third world countries
          • Global giving team
      • Help students manage their own learning and contribute
        to their communities, as well as other communities around the globe

Dr. Yong Zhao – Keynote Highlights

Highlights from the keynote address at the St. Clair RESA Symposium on 21st Century Learning

August 13, 2008

Port Huron High School

Yong Zhao, MSU

  • Mistakes with technology and schools
    • Solution seeking problems — we put technology in school,
      but the problems were not there or evident
    • Trusting the wrong agent — Whose machine is it? The
      teachers? The students? What purpose does it serve?
    • Student attention and time — teacher, computer, books,
      other technologies, other students
    • Technology environment — we talk about
      student-to-computer ratio, but we should be talking about the entire
      school ecosystem
    • Lack of systems thinking — The jet engine on the horse
      wagon: Seymour Papert wondered if we would even turn on the engine or
      if it would destroy the wagon?
    • Didn’t anticipate major transformation — bringing one
      car to the road, then hundreds, thousands, and millions

      • Virtual marriage — the effects of socializing
        virtually (iapartment)
      • Second Life — buying real estate, products, engaging
        in educational practices
      • Gold farming — kids playing virtual games in China in
        “gaming factories”
  • What can we do?
    • In schools, we have not thought about how to realign the
      human/machine relationship

      • Personal response systems
      • New Era Interactive English, Tsinghua University Press
      • Online Chinese Language Courses
    • We always need to anticipate the long term changes, not
      just the short term effects

      • Start with problems, re-imagining education
      • Develop enabling conditions
      • Reconfigure traditional institutions
      • Virtual schools and tutoring
      • Working with “digital natives”
    • “We shape our buildings; therefore they shape us.” —
      Winston Churchill
    • From Dictatorship to democracy: personal learning

      • Personalized goals, curriculum, learning approaches,
        pace, and instruction

Reflections on Project WRITE’s Summer Institute

Today marked the end of our Project WRITE summer institute, and there were both smiles and tears to be found amongst the many of us who shared our writing this morning and our professional learning this afternoon. My partner, project leader Liz Webb, structured an amazing week, given all that we had to do from evaluating student work to preparing a lesson or series of lessons for the school year and sharing a piece of personal writing. Each morning began with one of her writing starts, and the teachers are working together to produce a book through Then, we would spend some time evaluating student work with the NWP’s analytic writing continuum, and have time for professional reading groups. Finally, I would introduce a short tech topic each afternoon (digital storytelling, Zotero, and SlideShare, respectively) and teachers had the option to continue working on the new technology, or work on their own curriculum plan.

Needless to say, this semi-structured playtime offered a number of teachers who have felt hesitant, if not a bit resistant, to technology all year the opportunity to create some amazing products. I am impressed with the scope of the lessons as well as the ways in which teachers integrated technology, in small and large ways. A few of the key lessons that came out this week:

  • Continuing to differentiate between a blog and a wiki, as well as the purposes for them. Some teachers were finally able to really absorb Edublogs, digging into the overall design of their site, working with widgets, and figuring out categories for organization. Others wanted to stick with wikis, which worked out well, too, to talk about the overall design and organization of a site. In each case, we talked about purpose and audience, considering who would be doing the most posting, commenting, and reading, and making decisions from there.
  • Digital storytelling catches like wildfire. Always. I introduced it on Monday, beleiving that it might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Instead, a number of teachers took to it. This raised (and continues to raise) a series of questions for us about fair use, copyright law, Creative Commons, and how to invite students to build on, cite, and ethically use the work of others. We discussed how some uses may be fair within your classroom walls, but how posting to YouTube made it a whole different game. Suddenly, many teachers this week became hyper aware of this, and I think that it will be an interesting thread that continues into our fall PD.
  • Finally, having time, time, time. We were supposed to have this week of intro last summer. For a variety of reasons, we didn’t. And, while I don’t regret the work that we have done or the many successes that we have had, I do wonder what we might have been able to accomplish over the school year if we had been able to kick off last summer with an entire week of work like this. Ah… a lesson for a future PD experience.

All in all, we enjoyed our time together, minus the extreme heat in Brody Hall. I think that a number of the teacher grew in leaps and bounds, and we all grew in some way or another. I was very impressed with the transparency of technology today in our final read around, where a digital recorder was passed from person to person, pages were brought up on the wiki, and images were shown to complement the work being read. And, we hardly had a hiccup.

So, thanks to everyone in Project WRITE for a great week. We are looking forward to getting the data from your students plugged into our spreadsheet so we can see, statistically, if there was growth in your writers above and beyond what we would have normally expected. The professional learning was a critical part of this project, and now we need to see if we are “taking it to the kids.”

Next week, RCWP’s version of “Tech Matters.”

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