Thursday, January 29, 2009

Top educator uses Wii to teach music

The State (Columbia SC) reports: Children in a South Carolina elementary school music class are playing simulated instruments using the Wii video gaming system as part of a pilot program in place in 70 schools nationwide. "It is highly motivating and has a high interest value. The students are able to interact immediately with a system that encapsulates visual, aural, physical -- fine and gross motor skills -- and emotional reactions and responses," said Helen Krofchick, who is a National Board Certified music teacher.

Immersive Gameplay: The Future of Education?

New immersive learning environments--built on state-of-the-art data modeling and "intelligent" game systems--may be the future of education, according to researcher Jim Brazell. But are educators themselves ready to make the shift? More from T.H.E. JOURNAL's SmartClassroom newsletter.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles. Here is a blog post about this research.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Media literacy in the science classroom

The current issue of NSTA's The Science Teacher (January 2009) contains an excellent essay (Teaching with Web-based videos: helping students grasp the science in popular online resources), co-authored by the University of Florida's Barbara Pace, on how science educators can infuse media literacy when they use educational videos with their students. Abstract available here. A related essay can be found in the November 2008 issue of Science Scope: Media and Science- Developing Skepticism and Critical Thinking.

New Ad Campaign Aims to Teach Proper Online Behavior

The New York Times reports on a new ad campaign which uses humor to educate middle-schoolers and teens about when online communications (IMs, phone pictures, social-network comments) cross the line into harassment. The campaign is based online at In the new issue of Digital Directions, First Line of Defense, is a story about a Virginia school district which has created an internet safety comic book for students.

Tech Literacy: What exactly is that?

Digital Directions' (an Education Week publication) latest issue look at the moves forward technology literacy: Teaching literacy—reading and writing—is a core mission for schools, but today's young people increasingly "read" 3-D computer simulations and "write" via social networks such as Facebook. A growing chorus of experts say schools should add these forms of communication to their literacy mission as "technology literacy."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Using Super Bowl Ads In The Classroom

Once again this year, I have revised the web page I created, Using Super Bowl Ads In The Classsroom, as a resource for K-12 educators. I hope you will log on, use the resources and readings, and recommend it to a colleague.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Video Gaming in Education (two resources)

The February issue of Cable In The Classroom magazine is devoted to teachers using games in instruction and other resources. The Washington Post reports students can now solve equations and learn complicated math functions while saving the world from a killer virus in a newly designed math video game. While there has been some resistance to using video games in schools, supporters say the games challenge students, keeping them engaged in the lessons.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills Calls for Reevaluation of Learning Environments

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has released a new report calling for a reevaluation of what we define as learning environment and advocating some sweeping changes in the spaces, tools, policies, and other aspects of education that the group characterized as urgently in need of reform. Read eSchool News' version of this story.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Register for FREE Media Literacy Webinar

Date: January 28
Time: 6:30-8:00pm ET
Sponsor: NSTA, WGBH (Boston)
Cost: FREE
What is media literacy in a 21st century classroom? The Internet provides a plethora of resources for students, but are they all credible? This interactive presentation from WGBH's Teachers' Domain will show you how to integrate media literacy into your earth and space science curriculum while introducing you to the free media resources of Teachers’ Domain. This seminar is for educators of grades 5-12. Join Daniella Quinones, Marketing Coordinator for WGBH Teachers Domain, as we learn easy ways to access these classroom-ready resources from public television that include standards-based video segments, interactive classroom activities, lesson plans and more. Resources are drawn from popular PBS shows including NOVA, A Science Odyssey, NOVA ScienceNow, and ZOOM. An archive of this program and related PowerPoint presentation will be available at the end of the program. Sign up

Call for Proposals: Using Web 2.0 In The ELA Classroom

In October, 2007, the book Lesson Plans for Creating Media Rich Classrooms was released by NCTE. The volume was edited by educators Mary Christel and Scott Sullivan. They are now soliciting chapters and lessons for a new book focusing on using Web 2.0 tools in the English or Language Arts classroom. If you know any teachers, or are a teacher, using any of the myriad “web 2.0” tools in classes, we’d love to hear from you. Attached is a call for proposals and a proposal form, please feel free to pass this on to anyone you think may be interested. Email Scott Sullivan if you have any questions.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Video Literacy: 7 Things You Should Know About Flip Camera Camcorders

The "7 Things You Should Know About..." series from the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) provides concise information on emerging learning technologies. This one is about the Flip Cameras.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Call for Papers: Screen Culture

Call For Papers: Screen culture: intermediality and interculturality The 2nd conference—Intermediality and Interculturality—will be held at the School for the Contemporary Arts-SFU on March 12, 2009. This year the focus will be on screen culture. Screen culture has become an integral part of modern society. New technologies, digital screens and computer networks, comprise important tools of communication, art and culture experience. We are living in a world saturated by mass media, linked by images and texts through screens. Screen culture transforms cultural habits and values and also influences our ways of telling stories and creating cultural identity. How does screen culture affect societies around the world in the age of globalization? This conference will address screen culture through intermediality practices and interculturality experiences.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Getting Mobile Technology Into Schools

Rather than spending a bundle on building a sophisticated wireless infrastructure and another bundle on maintaining it, a school could make use of cell-phone computers and the telecoms' existing wireless infrastructure for Internet access. Besides connectivity at school, the students would then have wireless access to the Internet at home. Details from Sci-Tech Today. (An interview with the authors is in the current issue, page 27, of Tech & Learning Magazine)

Don't be a dinosaur: teaching 21st-century skills

The skills map designed by the National Council of Teachers of English to ensure that students have so-called 21st-century skills “is far more comprehensive -- and far more helpful -- than a simple focus on using gadgets in the classroom,” writes admitted technology dinosaur Kay McSpadden in The Charlotte Observer. McSpadden, an English teacher who still uses checks instead of a debit card and gets her news in tree-killing form each morning, says she was pleasantly surprised that the document listed 12 skills, each illustrated with outcomes and examples from real classrooms that integrate content and technology in a way that demands students become actively engaged in their lessons. Alongside skills dealing directly with information literacy, media literacy, and information and communications technology, are others: creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility. Many of these, writes McSpadden, are “'soft skills' educators pushed aside in favor of content goals measured by No Child Left Behind.” The problem in implementing such a comprehensive change in education will undoubtedly be funding, McSpadden admits, buts thinks it would be well worth it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Literacy Instruction with Digital and Media Technologies

This article, from the Reading Rockets web site, describes how digital and media literacies are woven into a fourth-grade classroom. Background on how a teacher and school brought new literacies to students through the use of technology is revealed so that other teachers can engage in similar instructional support.

Get Cell Phones Into Schools (Business Week)

Excerpt: We have learned from the past; this next round with computing technologies promises to be different. A new generation of computing technologies—mobile, handheld, low-cost—is emerging. Students are already bringing these technologies to school; we just need to allow the kids to bring them out of hiding and use them in their classroom for curricular purposes. Schools can then use their limited funds for educational software and teachers' professional development. Read more here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What does Web 2.0 Have To Do With Gaza?

Exerpt from blogpost: You email me a Daily Show clip or Sky News video footage from Gaza, and I email it to my friends and family, post it to my Facebook profile, comment on it in my Twitter "micro-blog," "dig it" through my Digg account, add it to my Youtube favorites, and share it on my Facebook fundraising Cause whose charitable beneficiary is the UPA. Each step multiplies the consumption of that initial media item by untold exponents, and I did it in less than a minute. This is the phenomenon of social media.How many times have you had that conversation with your parents about how journalism has gone to hell, replaced by the chaos of blogs and social networking sites? If you nodded along respectfully, thinking that something was wrong, then you were right.What we're seeing with this era is the triumph of journalism. It used to be that the story began and ended with a piece in the New York Times. Today news is valued as much by the action it inspires as the thought it provokes.Welcome to the echo chamber that is Web 2.0-conomics.

Mobile Devices Seen as Key to 21st-Century Learning

Education Week examines this report ( “Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning) released this week by a research center based at the Sesame Workshop.

Teachers' message to Obama: Build technology and innovation skills

Public school teachers want President-elect Barack Obama and Education Secretary designate Arne Duncan to ensure that students are learning 21st century skills, including technology and innovation, according to a new K-12 Priority Survey conducted by the American Society for Quality. Details in this Wisconsin Technology Network story.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Fair Media Council To Recognize Elementary Media Education

The Fair Media Council (Long Island, NY) is unveiling a new program designed to recognize 4th to 6th grade teachers who are using news and promoting media literacy inside their classrooms.
Teachers in every state are eligible.

Media literacy grant: New York State Teachers

Here is a new grant available from the New York State Educational Media/Technology Association (EMTA). The $1000 Media/Technology development grant is for certified teachers in New York State who work with K-12 students on media literacy projects. The grant site defines Media Literacy as the “ability to comprehend, design, and produce media.” Further details here.

Florida teen uses media to raise civil rights awareness

DOTCOM (Developing Online Tools for Civic Outreach and Mobilization) students depict issues through the lens of media, ultimately creating their own documentaries, digital stories, short films, public service announcements and other media for distribution internationally. Read more in this Destin, Florida education column.

A 'Second Life' For Educators

Teachers are finding that the virtual world they know as a valuable learning resource also has much to offer as a platform for their own professional development. Details in the latest issue of T.H.E. Journal.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Teacher-monitored social-networking site engages students

The St. Petersburg Times (FL) reports: Moodle, a free educational social-networking site, lets students use familiar technology such as chatting, blogging and podcasting to practice foreign-language skills, to write for an audience and learn about other cultures. "At the beginning, when I was presented with the idea of this, I was scared," said fifth-grade teacher Kathy Mahoney. "Now it's like I cannot live without it."

Friday, January 9, 2009

NAMLE Conference Call For Proposals

The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE--formerly the Alliance For A Media Literate America) has posted the call for proposals on its website. NAMLE's bi-annual conference theme is BRIDGING LITERACIES: CRITICAL CONNECTIONS IN A DIGITAL WORLD. The conference will be held at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit Michigan, Saturday August 1-Tuesday August 4, 2009.

Schools tap '21st-century skills'

The Christian Science Monitor weighs in on the 21st C skills movement: "For decades, the emphasis in public education has been on making sure that students can read, write, and do math. But can they apply those skills in a real-world scenario, such as designing a bridge? Can they identify what information they need and use digital tools to find it?" In a related eSchool News story, according to a recent American Society for Quality survey, educators say addressing 21C skills should top the list of priorities in Obama's plan, so students are prepared for the workplace of tomorrow.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Renee Hobbs Talks Copyright With Henry Jenkins

From Henry's blogpost of January 7: "As Hobbs notes in the following interview, teachers often cite uncertainties about copyright and fair use as having a "chilling effect" on their efforts to bring media literacy skills into the classroom, even as there has been a growing public recognition that these 21st century competencies are vital in preparing young people for the new media landscape. One of the key areas for concern has to do with the legality of breaking copy protection codes on DVDs in order to insure greater access to clips for instructional use or for deployment in student projects."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Students Turn Their Cellphones On for Classroom Lessons

Education Week reports: New educational uses of cellphones are challenging the "turned off and out of sight" rules that many districts have adopted for student cellphones on campus. A growing number of teachers, carefully navigating district policies and addressing their own concerns, are having students use their personal cellphones to make podcasts, take field notes, and organize their schedules and homework.

Teacher Tube: Video-sharing site helps teachers improve lesson plans

Thousands of teachers are sharing lessons through Teacher Tube -- a Web site similar to YouTube that launched in 2007 and now has about 54,000 videos and averages 800,000 users each month. "It is allowing teachers from all over the world to share with each other and learn from one another," said Jason Smith, the co-creator of Teacher Tube and superintendent of a Texas school district. "We want to create a grassroots movement in transforming how teachers teach and students learn." Details in this story from the Dallas (TX) Morning News.

Visual Literacy: Stimulant to reading & writing

This essay, from the UK, reflects the value of teachers learning to incorporate visual literacy into the curriculum. An excerpt: "Young people learn more than half of what they know from visual information, but few schools have an explicit curriculum to show students how to think critically about visual data."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More schools are using video games to engage, teach students

The Washington Post reports: Educational video games designed to teach teamwork and other 21st-century skills alongside academic lessons are becoming more popular at many schools. "There is a revolution in the understanding of the educational community that video games have a lot of what we need," said Jan Plass, co-director of New York University's Games for Learning Institute.

Graphica: An Untapped Resource in Media Literacy Education.

NCTE Commission on Media member Peter Gutierrez will be presenting on this topic at two upcoming events. He tells me: " The goal is to share pedagogy and practical tips for using graphic novels, comics, and manga as a hub/content platform from which to explore various media as well as the principles of media literacy itself. "

1) January 31, Fordham University, Graphica in Education Conference, New York City. Keynote speaker includes NCTE author/Webinar leader James Bucky Carter.

2) February 7, New York Comic Con. 5:15pm, room assignment TBD.
For more information on either of these presentations, or on the events themselves, Assembly members may contact him at Many educators may not know that they are entitled to a free Professional Pass at NYCC.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Rush for '21st-Century Skills' New Buzz Phrase Draws Mixed Interpretations From Educators

From the Washington Post news story: "The phrase (21st century skills) has inspired a flood of programs, including Lego engineering clubs for elementary schools, the National Geographic's science adventure Jason Project for middle schools and the High Technology model for high schools. But many teachers say it is just good teaching with a jazzy name. 'The subject of 21st-century or, rather, current-century skills has been around ever since Socrates,' said John M. Clement, a science teacher in Houston. Researchers are struggling to find ways to determine which schools are teaching it well and which are not, while educators wonder whether it will be just one more fad. "

Friday, January 2, 2009

Enhancing News Literacy (School Library Journal)

School Library Journal reports: A movement currently underway seeks to address news literacy in our nation’s schools. The effort is twofold: to give students, primarily in middle and high school, the tools to decide what news is reliable, objective, and fair, and to ensure a well-informed population for the future.