Monday, December 17, 2007

TIES Conference 2007

I am at the TIES Conference in Minneapolis. There have been some great presentations and I wanted to share about them. But first I wanted to share a thought that has been bothering me. Where are our teachers? It is important for tech support people and integration specialists to see and hear all the information that is shared here, but it is far MORE important for our classroom teachers to see what is happening in other classrooms. As I watch teachers present on how they are using blogs, clickers, GoogleDocs, Scratch, and many other great tools in their classrooms, I keep thinking how it is the classroom teachers who should be making up the majority of the audience. I'd love to hear peoples' ideas on how we can make that happen.

One solution is to share all the handouts and presentations from all the sessions. Go to and click on any presenter to download their presentation.




Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scratch and MicroWorlds EX

Lou Paff from Oregon Episcopal School is presenting now on using these two tools in the classroom. These are basic programming tools for elementary age students. Students train icons to move throughout an environment. They use problem solving skills, patterning, geometry, and many other skills to figure out how to make it work.

Lou is using Scratch with 2nd graders. Scratch is a free download. Kids create a product and debug it as they go. What a great problem solving skill! All finished products can be uploaded to the website: to be shared with the world. You can also collaborate with others once it is uploaded. Imagine designing your program to create geometric shapes as a way to learn about angles, shapes, coordinates, etc...

Lou is showing us an example in which students used paint tools to create an icon, called a sprite, and wrote a script to make the sprite walk, turn, change appearance, speak, and interact with another sprite. It is an animation.

I know there are people out there thinking, "What does animation have to do with educating kids?" The logical processing involved in creating these animations is very complex. We need to develop this kind of thinking in our students. So much of what our jobs require include logical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, collaboration, presenting a clear message. All of these skills are being developed through Scratch.

To find out more, go to

MicroWorlds EX is another option. It is not open source so it costs money. It is a bit more robust so it allows the animations to be interactive. You can put buttons on it to allow kids to create basic games. Imagine kids developing their own games to review or practice concepts. Motivating?

For more information, check out:

Click on Library to see some examples of projects.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wayzata Public Schools Future Conference


This past Saturday, December 1st, Wayzata Public Schools hosted a Futures Conference. State representatives, board members, administrators, teachers, parents, business leaders, and community members braved the snow (it is MN, after all) to spend a day learning about the trends of the future and discussing their implications on our schools and community.

Gary Marx, author of Sixteen Trends, Their Profound Impact on Our Future, led the conference with a presentation on the sixteen trends he writes about in his book. I have included them below. From there, each table, made up of a cross section of the community, had a discussion about the implications of these trends on our schools, students, and communities. The discussions were great. At my table we discussed the need for more world language instruction, more focus on the process of learning rather than content, creating lifelong learners, connecting our schools to our local businesses and community members, serving the needs of all of our diverse learners, creating an environment of respect, and the need to improve our students' access to technology.

The next step is for the board to look over all the notes from all the tables to look for some common themes. They sound very determined to use the data from this conference to help drive where we go as a district. I am really proud of our district for hosting this and having this discussion. I think it is crucial for our schools to have an ongoing discussion about the implication of future trends on our schools and how we need to respond to them. I hope this is the beginning of a continuing discussion between all of these stakeholders. I also hope that it leads to real change that helps make our school district more responsive to the needs of a 21st century society.

I am very interested to hear from all of you about the importance of this conference. How do you feel about this discussion? What do you think about the Sixteen Trends? What ideas do you have for meeting the needs of our changing communities?

Trend 1: For the first time in history, the old will outnumber the young.
Developed World: Younger ® Older. Underdeveloped World: Older ® Younger

Trend 2: Majorities will become minorities, creating ongoing challenges for social cohesion.
Worldwide: Diversity = Division « Diversity = Enrichment

Trend 3: Social and intellectual capital will become economic drivers, intensifying competition for well educated people.
Industrial Age ® Global Knowledge/Information Age

Trend 4: Standards and high stakes tests will fuel a demand for personalization in an education system increasingly committed to lifelong human development. Standardization ® Personalization

Trend 5: The Millennial Generation will insist on solutions to accumulated problems and injustices, while an emerging Generation E will call for equilibrium. GIs, Silents, Boomers, Xers ® Millennials, Generation E.

Trend 6: Continuous improvement and collaboration will replace quick fixes and defense of the status quo.
Quick Fixes/Status Quo ® Continuous Improvement

Trend 7: Technology will increase the speed of communication and the pace of advancement or decline.
Atoms ® Bits Micro ® Macro ® Nano ® Subatomic

Trend 8: Release of human ingenuity will become a primary responsibility of education and society.
Information Acquisition ® Knowledge Creation and Breakthrough Thinking

Trend 9: Pressure will grow for society to prepare people for jobs and careers that may not currently exist.
Career Preparation « Career Adaptability

Trend 10: Competition will increase to attract and keep qualified educators.
High Demand « Even Higher Demand

Trend 11: Scientific discoveries and societal realities will force widespread ethical choices.
Pragmatic/Expedient ® Ethical

Trend 12: Common opportunities and threats will intensify a worldwide demand for planetary security.
Personal Security/Self Interest « Planetary Security Common Threats « Common Opportunities

Trend 13: Understanding will grow that sustained poverty is expensive, debilitating, and unsettling.
Sustained Poverty « Opportunity and Hope

Trend 14: Polarization and narrowness will bend toward reasoned discussion, evidence, and consideration of varying points of view. Narrowness « Open Mindedness

Trend 15: As nations vie for understanding and respect in an interdependent world, international learning, including diplomatic skills, will become basic. Sub-Trend: To earn respect in an interdependent world, nations will be expected to demonstrate their reliability and tolerance. Isolationist Independence « Interdependence

Trend 16: Greater numbers of people will seek personal meaning in their lives in response to an intense, high tech, always on, fast-moving society. Personal Accomplishment « Personal Meaning