Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sugata Mitra vs. Ken Robinson

What role do teachers play in learning according to Sugata Mitra's vision of a School in the Cloud that he articulates in his 2013 Ted Prize Wish?

Compare his vision to that of Ken Robinson, below.

Ken Robinson, Education's Death Valley
"Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility."

3 Principles Guide Human Life in Flourishing
  • Diversity (as a strength to embrace) vs Conformity 
  • Curiosity (as the engine of achievement) vs Compliance 
  • Creativity (to allow flexibility and thinking outside the box) vs Standardization

He argues that the standardize testing landscape forgets about the relationship between "teaching" and "learning" as it deprofessionalizes teaching, and emphasizes control at the federal level. He makes a strong case for the importance of TEACHERS in awakening the the floor of the Educational Death Valley.

He believes that schools work when they:
  • Highly personalized
  • Strong teacher support
  • Tight links with community
  • Broad and diverse curriculum
  • Student involvement in and outside of school

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This I Believe... Haiku

Digital Natives
What does learning look like here?
Make something, seek joy

Teaching needs patience
Inspiring teachers practice
Be helpful to teach

Teach dedication
Challenging yourself to teach
 Believe in students

Education is
access opportunity
empathy for all

kids are capable
they can be knowledge-able
when they are challenged

learning is ongoing
teaching nurture students' worlds
listening is key

The way we fund schools
fuels injustice, poverty
destroys neighborhoods

Everyone can learn
Classroom are microcosms
Kids need resources

To follow my dreams
I became a poor teacher
look how rich I am

Students need support
instruction much be given
emphasize strengths

Critical Resources for Ad Hacking

I heard a lot of people talking about SOCIAL CLASS when you were ad hacking today.  Thought you might like this resource to use for yourself or with kids.

PBS Original exploration of class, PEOPLE LIKE US

In this episode, a commentator "hacks" an upscale food store (like Williams Sonoma or Sur le Table).  Great to introduce some of the commentary!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Destroy/Build UP Gender Issues

Weebly Tutorial take 3 (Jane)

Weebly – a short tutorial, by Jane

If you would like to make a website, a store, or a blog, go to – or so weebly says on their front page. I only checked out the website capabilities because I do not want to interfere with my shaky but strengthening blogspot know-how.

First, you may create a login or give your privacy away by using FB or Google to log in.

1. My first impression is that this would be a great tool for students to build for themselves. Rather than giving them the ol' pen and paper assignment in order for us to get to know them at the beginning of the year, this would be a much more worthwhile way for them to construct and depict what and who they are – and it is theirs to keep.
Description: Macintosh HD:Users:jlevasseur24:Desktop:weebly examples.png

2. Next, you need to make a choice about your domain name. This is where panic begins to set in for me. Ah! This step can be skipped…for now. It's as if I'm out on technology bail.

3. This website is extremely user friendly! I am stumbling around it and am able to make pages, and negotiate the choice of adding my own elements to a page or using a present one.
"Would I like to use this format for all pages or just this one?"
"Thank you for asking, Weebly, and just at the right time."
Description: Macintosh HD:Users:jlevasseur24:Desktop:Books page.png

4. What a job seeker's tool!  What a great way to curate one's own life, in a more tasteful way than Facebook. It is a diary for one's self or for sharing with whomever you'd like – or a commercial venture, a store, if you've something to sell.

5.  Teachers:  you can try it for free! though the Upgrade key rather insistently hovers.

Overall, a great, user-friendly tool for not only students, but also for personal & professional teacher use.
What a great way to share lesson plans and student examples!

Khan Academy (Mike)

I decided to do my tutorial on Khan Academy . Khan academy is a virtual tutorial on how to do mathematics and other subjects.
Why I decided to do this was because I teach eight grade mathematics and I sometimes use ConnectED video tutorials to reemphasize what we are going over in the classroom. This is very similar to what I already use, but I might still use it for struggling students with certain concepts, because they have extra practice and they can access this from their home or library computers/cell phones. 

   When I signed up for this, it asked me to add my students names and emails which I first of all do not have yet, and secondly I don't feel comfortable giving out without parents permission first. They send you a confirmation in your mailbox which you have to use in order to start the tutorials. The tutorials are youtube videos, which I have found just by using youtube

   While getting ready for class this morning, my wife, who always turns on NPR in the morning, was playing this station and on the news came on a segment on KHAN Academy. I thought that this was such a weird coincident and I listened to part of it. It appears that Mr. Khan had opened up a school in the Silicon Valley and was charging $25,000 per student to attend to what sounded like a version of the MET School in Providence, where you do not get grades, but work on whatever interested you at the moment. Class sizes were limited to fifteen students per class. They claim that the rooms were sort of like "Organized Khaos" to make up my own word. like they make up they own curriculum. Mr. Khan talked about Artificial Intelligence to start off the class. If interested, I have the link for the NPR publication. 

   Except: When I used this first tutorial they had several comments added after, where people seemed to be a little confused about why you had to write six places for changing a fraction into a repeating decimal. 

Live stories (Emily)

Story Maps is good fun. It's made by ArcGis which is generally just educational, but the tool is super applicable to anyone, for even non science purposes.

You start by making an account (or logging into your old one, if you have ArcGis already).
Then, pick your map format. I just picked the simplest one, but others allow for more customization from stories.

After picking a layout, colors, etc. you can upload photos using a URL or logging into a feature like facebook or other sharing photo feature.

After uploading photos, you can add captions and reorganize the layout. Make sure to save every change, pick a map-style, and organize the photos in the "organize" button. Putting photos on the map is a bit of a challenge and some of mine may have ended up in the sea-- whoops. Others (those that are tagged by location) are automatically placed on the map.

The zoom feature allows you to zoom in and out to different degrees-- pretty nifty. After you're done, you can "preview" and then share and get a public URL.

Here's a series I made using my facebook:

Agatha Christie and her biggest mistake, Ten Little Indians, subtitled, And Then there were None

From Rethinking Popular Culture


"Rethinking Agatha Christie, subtitled The strange and offensive history of Ten Little Indians"

         by Sudie Hoffman

Up in Minnesota, in 2003, where "indigenous issues. . . have been at the forefront of social justice activism for more than a decade," (p.175) a progressive college professor, Sudie Hofmann, learned that a local high school was putting on Agatha Christie's play, Ten Little Indians, subtitled And Then There Were None. Coinciding with this rather outrageous production choice were the recently arrival of both new members to this northern community, Somali and Ethiopian students, along with the concurrent popularizing of confederate flags and swastikas as artfully placed accessories to the wardrobes of white students at the school.

Hoffman had already been a social activist regarding mascot issues. She tapped into her network and research talent, and began to advocate against the use of what she discovered to be a work of literature that reflected accurately both the time in which it was written and an extremely unfortunate lack of insight and forward thinking by its writer, the otherwise esteemed Christie.

 "Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare…"

The cover of the original 1939 edition book depicted a golliwogg, a cartoonish and tragic depiction of a dark-skinned, frizzy headed creature (p. 172). The quiet killing spree that is the basis of the plot involves the use of the nursery rhyme, Ten Little Indians, as hints from the murderer, which, like the published editions of the book the play is based on, has had many iterations throughout its sad history. Hoffman describes the rhyme, which was popular in many forms for almost a century when Christie appropriated it, in which one Native American after another is killed as "embedded racism," in fact, as a description of "genocide." She notes that "and then there were none" was often the intended goal of many colonial governments as well as that of U.S. government policies" (p. 174). Christie's application of this rhyme as well as a few phrases, such as "the Ni**ger in a woodpile," an expression to denote a guilty party hiding in plain sight among a group of people, places her and the book publisher at obviously extreme odds with the more modern era, and particularly so for a racially charged U.S. high school.

After Hoffman determined that the play, despite some modifications from its 1939 most offensive version to what it was in 2003, which was less offensive but still totally unacceptable, she went to work to change both the play and how her community viewed it. The high school would not stop production, despite her careful research and some obvious language issues. In fact, a local college decided to put on the play as well.

While this timing might seem like the spread of racism in this cold community, and perhaps that is all it was, it should be noted that Christie, who had been culturally respected as a mystery writer, had been gaining traction in the late 20 century in academic and literary worlds as a writer who produced more than just clever and tidy whodunits, but who had, in fact, produced a good deal of what should be considered "real literachur." She had in fact been disrespected for her prolific writing habits, but that criticism has been largely overturned as well.

Regardless of the reason why the college wanted to stage the same production, the university, unlike the high school, listened to Hoffman's proof of harmful racism in the text. Though the play was produced, some words were modified, with permission of the publisher, including the replacement of the entire rhyme and accompanying visuals of dying Indian dolls with another representation. These rewrites and staging changes eliminated almost all of racism in the text, with some anti-Semitic comments unfortunately remaining.

Hoffman had contacted the publisher, Samuel French, but did not receive any optimistic response. Then Samuel French incorporated the changes into the book beginning in 2004. The publisher did not acknowledge the changes were due to Hoffman's work, but the editing does not seem coincidental. It should be noted that the titles of many of Christie's books changed over the years as they were passed from publisher to publisher and as marketing changed, though none predicated on the racism in this infamous text. To note the title changes, please see: Hoffman's glib title somewhat broad brushes Christie's work, which could cause some readers to miss out on some otherwise wonderful texts that are devoid of racism. Having said that, to review passages from other Christie texts that are offensive, please see

         Hoffman concludes by offering options on how to discuss the history of the book and play with our students. Most importantly, we are left with the impression that the professor's activism in the community and pressure upon the publisher is an example to both educators and our students how change can come about with action.


Livebinders (Angie)


Website: Livebinders home


Livebinder is used primarily to collect resources for educators and focuses mostly on keeping web based sites and documents organized. It is perfect for people that have a middle things bookmarked on their computer or multiple devices to store their favorites all in one place. In addition, it can be highly useful for schools to organize their professional development materials, teacher resources, teacher materials, and students materials all in one hub. Another positive to livebinder is that it also gives educators access to different resources that other professionals have posted. It can also be used in conjunction with students as academic portfolios or projects. 



  • Can be overwhelming to start and figure out how to use - Use the tutorials! 
  •  A lot to look at when it is set up and organized 
  • Not that visually appealing to students or if using for student projects 

  • What is the difference between using livebinders and google drive? 
  • Why use livebinders over google drive or vice versa? 
Overall Rating: 

 I would give it a rating of is 7 out of 10. I think it is a great idea for educators and administrators to share resources with other professionals but it looks like it would take a lot of time to organize and set up. 

Timeline (Katherine)

Good morning Digital Media Folks!!

I am very much looking forward to sharing with you what I have learned about Timeline and to learn from
all of you what you have learned from the digital tools you have chosen to explore!

As a lover of history, it was only natural that I would use Timeline as my digital tool to share with you all.
When teaching, I find that students often understand and retain information easier when the information 
is in the form of a timeline.  Having the ability to build your own timeline allows you the ability to use this 
tool for nearly any purpose or content.  

Timeline is a digital tool that allows you to organize content chronologically or for ease of understanding.

Timeline has an easy click start button that walks you through each step of creating a timeline.

Although relatively easy once you get going, this is likely the most difficult step in the process of 
creating a timeline.  You need to populate fields with the information you want others to see.   
There is a bit of a learning curve here, making this tool one that would likely best be used with upper
level students.

Once you are finished building your timeline, you need to publish it to the web.  Your are then 
provided with a URL.

Using the URL provided you in Step #2, you will paste it to the Timeline generator which will actually 
generate your timeline for viewing and use.

Once you generate your timeline, you now have the option to embed it on to your website or in a post (sort of like an online blog or editorial page).

Timeline offers several ways to find help with the building/posting process or technological errors.
It does however, state that it does not have a committed tech staff and therefore may not be able to 
respond as quickly as needed.

An example of what a timeline looks like.

Timeline also offers multiple ways to expand your timeline and make it more detailed.

Several examples of timelines on the website that show multiple ways to use the program and 
detail it to make it yours.

Overall Ease of Use:  7/10 for upper level students, elementary students would need very specific 
modeling and scaffolding but with time and practice I believe that they too would be able to use
this digital tool in its most basic form.

Animoto (Omar)


Is a tool that lets you create videos with music. what it does it uses templates of videos and allows you to insert pictures in to the video. It is a fairly easy tool to use.

Firs thing we need to do is to create a username and password.

Once we are in the website it will give you a short tutorial on how to use it you can skip it since I will be demonstrating how to utilize.

First thing we need to do is to figure out what template we will need to use. it has many different templates seperated into categories once you pick a template it will take to you to the main working screen. This screen is the screen in which the majority of the editing will be done from

On the main screen  in the center you will have a chance to choose the pictures that you would like to use. You can re-arrange them delete pictures that you have already shown. Depending on the template each picture will stay on the screen for 2-6 seconds.

On the left part of the main stage  is your tool box you can change the style (video template) add text to your pictures, as well as pics or videos to your video. you can also add music to your video and animoto has 1000 plus songs to choose from, alot of them are really funny childrens songs. As you work on the video you can click preview video to be able to see a preview of what you have so far.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Edmodo (2015 student post)

What is Edmodo? Edmodo is an online and mobile social learning platform that provides a safe and easy way for your students to connect and collaborate, share content, and access class work in an online environment. (click on the edmodo sign to bring you to the site)
Is it safe and secure? Edmodo's secure platform ensures safety and privacy. Edmodo is a closed environment where students can only join an Edmodo group with an invitation from their teacher. Teachers have full management control and can limit students to read only status if desired. No student e- mail address is required to join Edmodo and students are not able to send direct messages to other students.

  • It is time consuming to set up
  • it takes some practice
  • and it takes time to get the kids used to it
So because of that I give it…

Interested…. setting up your own Edmodo?
(click here)

Alicia Heon
7th Grade English/ESL