Tuesday, April 27, 2010

May is Big Think MONTH!

On Monday night, April 26th, after school for 4 hours, 17 ITL teachers participated in a Big Think workshop at SES. The Big Think is a metacognitive experience that is created for the end of a unit of study -- after the traditional assessment has been completed. David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan authored the book, and David Loertscher was virtually present via Skype during the last hour of the meeting to answer questions and provide elaboration on the purpose and meaning of the Big Think and the 9 strategies created to promote deeper understanding and opportunities to apply learning to a "real" situation. Groups worked to unpack the Big Think Strategies, and in pairs, created a short video describing each of the 9 strategies. A visual was created for each presentation. These videos were added to the Tools/BigThink/April26th section of the Blackboard class Contemporary Literacies (Every teacher in Westport can access this class). Using the Jigsaw model described int he book Ban Those Bird Units (also by David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Sandi Zwaan), the participants regrouped to include experts on most of the strategies in each group. They then created Big Think scenarios to go with several descriptions of actual units taught at various grade levels in the district.During the workshop we used a Web 2.o tool recommended by David Loertscher called Wallwisher to collaboratively share ideas and ask questions about the Big Think. David responded to the questions during our Skype session and also added more responses after our workshop was over. (Click on image below to see larger version of our Wallwisher page.)

Big Thinks will hopefully be created and implemented in all schools by ITL teachers with classroom teachers during the month of MAY, and some will be shared at the third and final ITL Steering Committee meeting at Staples High School on June 1st!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Microsoft's Courier - Is it the iPad Killer?

Today at the SHS Student Tech Club Meeting, Logan showed us a video previewing a new tablet from Microsoft called "The Courier." Amazing! (The video has been removed)

Also, the students set up a new technology blog.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Housekeeper and the Professor

Today three students from BMS (Jake and Zack R, and Parker S.) and I presented two sessions of SCRATCH at the Westport Public Library from 1-4. This workshop was in conjunction with the WestportREADS book, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, and the afternoon included many events under the title Math, Memories and Making Connections.

We started the event with a brief story animation created in Scratch (shown below), then taught the participants some of the basics. Results can be viewed on the Scratch website that we set up for the workshop- http://scratch.mit.edu/users/wplworkshop.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The educational version of Glogster allows for the creation of classes with some complications in terms of account names and passwords for our elementary students. The educational account provides no advertising and access to other Glogs made only in the edu site. Pam Syndercombe, technology teacher at CES and Ed Wolf, 5th grade teacher at CES, are preparing to use Glogster in an upcoming learning activity and will provide all of us with some suggestions on how best to use Glogster with a whole class.

As Glogster use evolves, I'll add an update on some of its relative advantages in a future post.

This practice Glog will eventually have links to each of the 5 contemporary literacy areas identified in our "21st Century Skills" workshops over the past 2 years.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Yesterday, December 9th, CES administration, teachers and parents planned and presented an amazing technology showcase for parents at a 9:30 PTA meeting in the library media center. CES has been using a variety of ITL tools in their everyday teaching and they decided to share some recent lessons with specific ITL tools.

This was the agenda:

Welcome and overview of meeting - Melissa Paolini
Overview of ITL Steering Committee/ ITL Curriculum
- Bill Derry
Blackboard Background and Explanation
- Natalie Carrignan

INTEGRATION of Technology--CES Staff Members

o Smartboard Application/ Kindergarten - Jessica Lack
o Google Earth-2nd grade- Social Studies - Eileen Carroll
o Scratch-3rd grade- Science - Kate Lyle and MaryJo Lombardo
o Truthfulness/Usefulness-4th grade - Sarah Spencer
o Discussion Board-5th grade-Language Arts - Joe Pullia
o Wiki-5th grade-L.A., Science, S.S. - Ed Wolf

CES LIVE – A behind the scenes look at the TV Studio - Pam Syndercombe

PTA Co-Presidents - Lisa Laudico and Ginny McGovern

Later in the year there will be a PTA fundraiser, possibly used to move the current CES TV station from the corner of the library media center into its very own ROOM. (More on that initiative later in the year.)

This Technology Showcase was a model presentation for demonstrating how kids and teachers in one school are learning, using and sharing contemporary literacy skills. It was very clear that there has been a school-wide effort to make ITL tools and skills an essential component of every child's education at CES! Great job CES!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AASL Conference

Barbara Eilertsen, LMS at LLS, and I attended the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) conference in Charlotte, NC. We also took part in a pre-conference School Library Think-Tank called Treasure Mountain, the 15th event put together by David Loertscher (our keynote and workshop leader in the first ITL Summer Institute in 2007).

Treasure Mountain focused on the changing role of the school library media specialist/teacher librarian and the new environment that is being envisioned for a flexible, inquiry-based, real and virtual library. David Loertscher calls this new space the Learning Commons, and he has written a book about it with Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan. Carol Koechlin was at Treasure Mountain and engaged all of us in a final "Big Think" to synthesize the learnings from the workshop.

Other presenters included: Jean Sausele Knodt (author of the book Nine Thousand Straws: Teaching Thinking Through Open-Inquiry Learning ), Valerie Diggs (the LMS and founder of the first High School Learning Commons in Chelmsford, MA), Dr. Violet Harada, professor in the Dept. of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii (author of many books for educators focusing on the role of the school library media specialist) and many other university professors and practitioners working in information and library media professions.

The actual AASL Conference started with an Exploratorium, where practitioners from around the country set up tabletop presentations on a wide range of BEST PRACTICES in SCHOOL LIBRARY MEDIA CENTERS (see the entire list) including redesigning your high school library media center to resemble a popular book store to using T.R.A.I.L.S., a free online information literacy assessment program. The conference opened with "the high priestess of social networking," danah boyd and closed with a presentation on digital media in the classroom by Marco Torres. During the conference we attended workshops on web 2.0 applications, the new AASL 21st Century Standards, information problem solving processes, and many others. We followed our now traditional conference note-taking routine and created a wiki: http://westportaasl2009.pbworks.com .

We did the same thing for the recent CECA/CASL conference that I did not write about in this blog -- but there were many more people who attended, hence -- more notes!
http://cecacasl09.pbworks.com .

Saturday, October 31, 2009

ITL PD Day -- November 3rd

This Tuesday, November 3rd, most teachers and administrators, grades 6-12, will take part in an all-day series of workshops focusing on ITL skills and tools that can be used to plan engaging teaching and learning experiences for students. All Technology Uses are NOT Equal: Accelerating High-Yielding Practices will be the keynote topic provided by Bernajean Porter, who will also be conducting two workshops later in the day.

This past summer we set up a Blackboard class on Contemporary Literacy (our new title for 21st Century Skills), which is a class now available to all Westport teachers. Those teachers wishing to add information to the class must request to be changed from a student in the class to a teacher in the class. All participants in this past summer's ITL workshops are listed as teachers, and three other teachers have requested to become teachers rather than students in the class. Many of the handouts for the November 3rd workshops are under the appropriate ITL tool in the TOOLS button in the Contemporary Literacy Class.

An evaluation for the ITL PD Day has been created and will be available via e-mail to all participants the afternoon of November 3rd. The results of this evaluation will help with determining the value of the day, and the changes that could be made to improve a similar professional development day for teachers and administrators in the future.

The schedule for the day can be found at: http://nov3itlworkshops.pbworks.com/FrontPage