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: .

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! .

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:

Friday, September 25, 2009


The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa is the book selected by the Westport Public Library for the ONE book that all interested readers in Westport will focus on in January 2010 as part of WESTPORT READS. Many activities are being planned to complement and enhance the themes of this book.

The book deals with a math professor's brain injury and resulting short-term memory loss after each 80 minutes. The story details the relationships between the professor and his housekeeper, and the housekeeper's young son, "Root." The professor relies on his knowledge of equations and mathematical relationships, as well as his knowledge of Japanese baseball, to create strong, meaningful connections between the principal players.

Today Maxine Bleiweis, director of the WPL and Marta Campbell, collection development & readers' services coodinator, met at Staples High School with Lis Comm, 6-12 English curriculum leader, Frank Corbo, 6-12 Math curriculum leader, Julia Roberts, SHS library media specialist, Robin Stiles, SHS library media specialist, Rita Hennessey, BMS library media specialist, John Horrigan, CMS library media specialist and me.

We learned about some of the plans the Westport Public Library has for Westport Reads, and the curriculum leaders and library media specialists talked about how they could support the upcoming January community event. Here are some of the ideas or plans that were presented, planned or discussed during the meeting:
  • The translator of the book, Stephen Snyder, a teacher at Middlebury College will present at the WPL on January 11th.
  • A neurosurgeon will speak at the WPL about memory loss.
  • A speaker on Japanese baseball will possibly present at the WPL.
  • WPL wants to involve school kids in Westport Reads.
  • Frank Corbo reported that Bill Walsh, Math teacher at SHS, had presented about the book at a Math department meeting. Talked about the possibility of creating a panel of kids who could talk about why they enjoy Math.
  • Possibly the panel of Math kids could present during a lunch time activity in the library media center.
  • Is there a possible ART connection that can be made?
  • There are 10 community book groups that are planning to focus on the book in January.
  • Could be a connection with Math Counts in the two middle schools.
  • Maybe students will create a promotion for the book on SHS, BMS and CMS morning television programs.
Lis Comm is planning to purchase 24 books, one for each English teacher.
  • The library media center will purchase 10 copies of the book, create a display and plan for some lunch time activities and presentations in January.
  • Wednesday, September 2, 2009


    The BMS ITL committee met for the first time this year from 3:00-4:00 this afternoon. Rita Hennessey, LMS, and Lauren Bullock, technology teacher, are the new co-chairs of the committee and Rita Hennessey led the meeting. Members of the committee able to attend included: Meg Tiley, assistant principal; Laurie Gray, math teacher; Anitha Bolar, math teacher; Jeremy Royster, social studies teacher; Kathy Fleming, technology teacher; Lauren Francese, science teacher, and new member, Susan Cyrulik, science teacher.

    Rita provided an overview of this year's ITL Summer Camp. 1-2 participants from every school learned about, used and explored the relative advantages of using: Smart Recorder to create screencasts, Flip cameras, MovieMaker, Diigo, Skype,, Scratch, Google Forms, evaluation tools for websites, and Google Earth to create virtual tours.

    There was also a discussion that I led about the Nov. 3rd ITL professional development day for all staff grades 6-12. We looked at the existing list of possible topics, and discussed if there were any topics missing. No new topics were added. We also discussed the structure of the day (8-9:30 - Keynote by Bernajean Porter; 10-11:30 - Workshop 1; 12:15-1:30- Workshop 2; 1:45-3:00 - Workshops 3; OR one afternoon workshop from 12:15-3:00). The group looked at the other possibility of having ONE workshop from 10:00-3:00, and although there were some advantages, everyone thought it was more important that teachers be exposed to at least two different topics.

    Rabbit Hill, a Festival of Children's Literature, was briefly discussed. (There will be future posts on this, I am certain!) This amazing literature program sponsored by the Westport Public Library will bring five authors to Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools on Friday, Oct. 23rd. On Saturday Oct 24th, the authors present at Saugatuck Elementary School at a free morning event, with workshop sessions offered in the afternoon. The reason for putting Rabbit HIll on the agenda was to support the preparation of students as much as possible for the authors' visit to maximize the impact of their presentations. Kathy Fleming and Rita Hennessey discussed connections with the TV Studio and the LMC.

    Two future faculty meetings may be used for ITL workshops this year after the ITL PD day on Nov. 3rd.

    Attending the meeting and hearing about potential ITL work this year at Bedford was a great way to end the 2nd day of school (for students).

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Contemporary Literacy

    A new year is about to start. 17 teachers recently attended the SUMMER ITL CAMP focusing on Contemporary Literacy. A Blackboard class has been set up for all teachers to access information about a wide range of contemporary literacy tools and concepts. All teachers will be members of the class in September.

    We looked at the relative advantages of using the following tools and concepts: Smart Notebook, Flip cameras, MS MovieMaker, Diigo, Google Earth, Skype, Scratch, and strategies for determining the Usefulness and Truthfulness of information.

    Planning has begun for the ITL professional development day on November 3rd for all 6-12th grade teachers. A survey will go out to all 6-12th grade teachers soon to determine the areas of most interest for that day.

    ITL staff will have a full day meeting with professional development on Friday, August 28th.

    Looking forward to an exciting year where more and more teachers are engaging students in learning activities which require ITL skills for success.

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    CES: Authentic Learning - Science, Language Arts, ITL

    Today I was honored to be the audience for 4 presentations by the owners and employees of 4 different fitness centers. Each presentation focused on the special features that made their health and fitness center an excellent choice for anyone interested in special exercises, diet and individual attention. Although these companies were "not real" and the owners and employees were 5th graders in Ed Wolf's class at Coleytown Elementary, it only added to the obvious learning and sophisticated display and presentation of information. The "owners" presented their companies' missions and special services AS IF their fitness and health centers were legitimate companies.

    It all began several months ago when Mr. Wolf wanted to have his students apply their prior knowledge of using wikis (See blog entry -- Jan. 21st - Community of Learners -CES) to a new project dealing with their study of the human body. Instead of researching the systems of the body, he wanted his students to have a strong purpose for using the researched information. He engaged the students in a proposition --
    Can you create a "real" website using a wiki for a "real" fitness and health club that provides specific health, diet and exercises for specific people with certain needs, such as a 60 year old man recovering from a heart attack or a 15 year old soccer player?

    The Mission Accomplished group, a doctor, diet specialist, fitness specialist and orthopedic specialist spoke about the yoga classes designed for a 23 year old leukemia patient. They described a selective diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. They said that whoever came to their gym received one to one time, and the staff would create personal connections with everyone. They created online diet tables with pictures. They also brought in a former client "Mr. Malon " [aka Mr. Wolf!] who provided a testimony to the great work done at Mission Accomplished!

    The Groove Fitness and Health group expalined that their club was more social than any other gym.They offered a special individualized program for every person, and even provided children's programming. They detailed special programs for a 10 year old gymnast, a 40 year old Survivor participant and a 65 year old recovering from a heart attach. They offered cardio workouts, stretching plans and diet recommendations.
    The !BAM! group explained that every professional who works in their gym focuses on the needs of the individual. They stated that the staff values respect and responsibility. They worked closely with a 10 year old dancer and provided real videos of turns, leaps and dance routines for their client to use at home. They embedded these videos within their website, and used them to illustrate how they worked closely to meet their clients' needs.

    The Shock Fitness and Health group presented their plan for providing ONLINE personal training programs. The strength and diet experts talked about their recent experiences with a 10 year old tennis player, a 65 year old heart attack survivor, an obese 10 year old and a 50 year old smoker. An easy to read grid was organized to tell and show each client various foods and exercise programs. Pictures of the lungs after smoking, and before and after pictures of some clients were shown.

    After the incredible presentations which focused on all of the major systems of the human body and what they need to stay healthy, the students answered my question:

    What did you like best about this project?

    and they responded:

    • I learned some incredible presentation skills.
    • I learned how to research in a group.
    • I liked pitching and presenting about my company.
    • I liked gathering information and putting it to GOOD USE!
    • I enjoyed creating my own clients.
    • I liked working together and getting to know the people in my group better.

    Friday, June 12, 2009

    21st Century Librarians Wiki

    Started by Joyce Valenza, library media specialist at Springfield Township High School in Erdenheim, PA, this wiki is for library media specialists, and everyone interested in new strategies to positively impact teaching and learning.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally

    This article in Technology and Learning details the application of Bloom's Taxonomy to learning in the digital world.

    Wednesday, June 10, 2009

    District: 5th Grade Social Studies Pilots

    Today John Bayers, principal of Greens Farms Elementary, led a small group to discuss a summer writing workshop to look at some possible changes in the 5th grade social studies curriculum. The group consisted of Michael Brownstein, technology teacher at LLS; Joe Pullia, 5th grade teacher, CES; Anne Nesbitt, assistant principal, KHS; Nancy Giglio, 5th grade teacher, KHS; Melanie Carroll, 5th grade teacher, LLS; Calla Constantine, 5th grade teacher, GFS; and Dianne Connolly, 5th grade teacher, SES.

    The goal of the writing group this summer will be to make some minor changes to the 5th grade study of culture through the exploration of these essential questions:
    • How do the cultural universals help us compare and contrast various communities?
    • How does human interaction with natural resources influence the development and survival of a culture?
    • How do technology and trade affect the growth of a culture?
    • What contributed to the development and “cultural diffusion” of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome?
    The group will look at:
    • how the four big ideas from the recent social studies curriculum review process are integrated into the social studies units (Global Understanding, Multiple Perspectives, Effective Citizenship, and Historical Thinking)
    • the possiblity of including "Big Think" activities that provide students with the opportunity to apply their learning to a "real" problem
    • the inclusion of other ancient civilizations that broaden the understanding of "culture."
    • the possibility of one or more schools piloting the proposed changes during the 2009-1010 school year.

    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    CES: Crouch/Greenberg 2nd grade/3rd grade Westport/Bridgeport

    Today, for the second time, Stacey Crouch's 2nd grade students at Coleytown Elementary School communicated via Skype with Bob Greenberg's 3rd grade students at Columbus Elementary School in Bridgeport. Bob Greenberg had attended last year's ITL Summer Institute because he is a regular user of Classblogmeister, created by our keynote and workshop leader, David Warlick.

    Ms. Crouch and Mr. Greenberg planned the focus of each session and a wiki was created on which the students could asynchronously communicate. The teachers had their students come up with a list of 5 questions to ask their friends while on Skype. During the two 35 minute sessions all students had an opportunity to talk on camera at least once, and most twice.

    Before the second session all students read the book City Mouse, Country Mouse and discussed which mouse they felt most like. Students were coached by their teachers to think of other questions to ask each other. One more Skype session is being set up for this year.

    The collaboration was designed to complement Westport's 2nd grade social studies unit on understanding urban, suburban and rural communities. Next year Mr. Greenberg will be a 2nd grade teacher, so the grade levels will be the same. Ms. Crouch and Mr. Greenberg are hoping to have their students Skype again next year.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    BMS: When/How Do You Use Google Spreadsheets?

    Today Rita Hennessey, LMS and I with Jeremy Royster, 6th grade social studies teacher, worked with a class to test a 6th grade orientation session for next year. This was our second time working with a 6th grade class to create their own rubric to assess websites. We used a Google Spreadsheet with the students, ONE for each of the 5 groups.

    We learned something that was not surprising -- if you introduce Google Docs to a group of students for the first time as a vehicle to accomplish a task; the task may not be as important compared to the fun of playing with Google Docs --- changing other people's answers, adding random colors, etc. We decided that the next time we use Google Docs we will limit the number of students in a Google Doc during the first session and provide better guidelines for its use.

    (NOTE ABOUT GOOGLE SPREADSHEETS: Last summer I started having a serious problem with Google Spreadsheets. I would prepare a spreadsheet for a workshop, and even after selecting "open for viewing and editing without the use of a password" -- particpants in the workshop would click on the link and reach a password protected page. It became so problematic that I stopped using Google Spreadsheets with groups that I knew did not necessarily have gmail accounts. It was impossible to use them with students. Recently Scott Johnston who works for Google (a friend of Bryan Davis's, a social studies teacher at CMS) solved the problem. It is a bug that will be fixed in the future, but for now, if you are using a Google Spreadsheet link that has been opened to edit without a password, you have to FIRST go to GOOGLE (, which places a cookie on your computer. Then you can click on the Google Spreadsheet link and it should open. If it does not repeat the process a few times, and it will!)

    Friday, June 5, 2009

    Internet 4Classrooms

    Internet4Classrooms was started 12 years ago, and continues to organize links by subject area and grade level. There are skill level pages for grades K-8. There are subject and special areas listed for K-12 links, including free clip art by subject, smartboard sites, library media specialists topics, and many, many other areas. There are also links to assessments in language arts, math, science and social studies for grades K-12.

    Thursday, June 4, 2009

    KHS - Skype with Peace Corps Volunteer in Rwanda

    Today at KHS, Tara Doyle, technology teacher, and Elena Wetmore, 1st grade teacher, communicated with a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda, Emily, a friend of Ms. Wetmore's. Emily first wrote a letter to the class. Then the class wrote letters back to her asking questions. One boy in the class asked Ms. Wetmore if Emily had the Internet and Skype so they could talk with her. Ms. Wetmore wrote to check that out and found out that she did have a computer with Internet access. Many pictures were shared so students could see where and how Emily was living in Rwanda. This is a picture of the road to Emily's job.

    Ms. Wetmore and the class talked about the different location, Rwanda, and came up with questions to ask Emily. A script was created and each person who wanted to speak had a part. It was practiced many times. Here it is:
    Script for Skyping

    Student1: Hi Emily! We are Ms. Wetmore’s Class.
    Student2: How are you?
    Student3: We are from Westport, CT in the USA.
    Student4: Where are you from?
    Student5: Did you get the letters we sent you? Were they torn at all?
    Student6: What time is it there right now?
    Student7: We are growing beans, pumpkins and sweet corn during
    Student8: What types of plants are in Rwanda? Do you have a garden?
    Student9: Do you have pets or animals around your house?
    Student10: What do you miss most about the USA?
    Student11: When are you coming back to the USA? Maybe you can come
    visit us sometime.
    Student12: What is your house like?
    Student13: We read about water pumps. How do you get your water?
    Student14: Thanks for skyping with us.
    ALL: Chow for Now!
    As it turns out as they were talking more questions were thought of so there was a line that formed at the microphone.

    Although there were some technical problems and the connection was lost, students did get a chance to see and talk with Emily.

    Tara Doyle, technology teacher, helped Ms. Wetmore a lot with the technology part of it since it was the first time Ms. Wetmore had used Skype. Because they needed to meet when Emily was available, they did not use their regular computer time, so they met at a different time with Ms. Doyle for the Skype session.
    Ms. Wetmore said, "The kids were so into it and learned a lot. I loved seeing them come up with other questions as they heard things (a skill we had worked on when doing a podcast interview about a person's history with Ms. Anctil our library media specialist). "

    Map of Rwanda from Wikimedia Commons (Click on image to enlarge.)

    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    KHS: Heroes and New Literacies

    At KHS, on Friday, May 15th, Ali Moran, 5th grade teacher, and Aimee Anctil, LMS, invited parents and others to attend their 5th graders' presentations entitled, "What makes a hero?" This was the culminating project for their hero study.

    During this study the students were immersed in "new literacies" for the 21st Century. These "new literacies" were co-taught during Internet workshops by Ms. Moran and Ms. Anctil and included Internet navigation skills, how to read live search results, and the critical evaluation of websites (usefulness and truthfulness).

    What makes a hero? was the guiding question throughout the study. The students worked collaboratively to create digital story presentations (using iMovie or Photostory) that effectively expressed what being a hero meant to them.
    The presentations were excellent, and the conversation following the presentations was equally amazing. Students reflected on what they learned about using websites, including methods to determine the authority, currency and usefulness of a website.
    Students used music created either by Photostory software or GarageBand and some students also selected short pieces (under 28 seconds) of popular music that enhanced and transformed the selected images to tell their "hero stories."

    One Sample:

    Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    Wider Audience for Student Produced Video

    At an administrators' meeting today, I presented, for a second time, the possibility of having a district sanctioned celebration of student created video in the Westport Public Schools called the Westies. Mike Zito, SHS media teacher, Deb Perry, CMS technology teacher, Barbara Eilertsen, LLS library media specialist, and I created the proposal, which was designed to motivate students to create high quality videos for a broader, authentic audience. The 5h grade entries would come from the students working in some capacity with each elementary school TV studio; the 6-8 videos would come from both the TV studio, the media club and the technology classes learning video editing; and the 9-12 entries would come from video production classes.

    While principals and other administrators recognized the potential value of this opportunity for students, several areas emerged as obstacles:
    • Each elementary school manages the studio in a different way, so there may not be equal opportunity for all 5th graders to produce video.
    • Competition at the middle and high school has not been promoted by the district in any curriculum area.
    • Confusion about the connection between the Westies and the Cable Contest.
    • Confusion about the real purpose of the Westies.
    It was determined that a wider audience could be created by putting more student video on Cablevision's local access Channel 78 without the competitive element associated with the Westies. (The competitive element involved the awards ceremony for the middle and high school students.) Permission slips from parents of every child involved in the video would be essential before the video could be shown on Channel 78. Also it was determined that the video contest could continue next year with students submitting video they had created for their TV studio or in clubs or classes.

    Monday, June 1, 2009

    Train the Trainers Workshops - August 10, 11, 12 and 13th

    Breaking News:
    This will be presented at the ITL Steering Committee Meeting on Wednesday, and distributed in an e-mail later this week.

    District funding has been given for up to 20 educators to participate in a four-day ITL workshop on August 10, 11, 12 and 13 this summer. The workshops will focus on learning ITL skills by using and/or developing handouts created for specific ITL topics, such as: Blackboard, blogs, Destiny, Google Docs, Google Earth, MovieMaker, PBworks, Picnik, Podcasting, Scratch, Skype, Social Networks for School, subscription databases, Twitter, United Streaming, Ustream-TV, Video Production, Voicethread, Wolfram/Alpha.

    We will use the combined knowledge and abilities of the groups to teach each other about some of these topics. I have presented workshops on many of the areas named above, and will use the created handouts to present on those topics.

    The goal will be to have a large group of ITL members prepared to either give workshops or train others to give workshops during the 2009-2010 school year.

    It is hoped that the participants will learn enough about each topic, and have the necessary resources, to present several workshops (or train others to present workshops) during the school year. The summer ITL workshop time will be considered as preparation for the workshop(s) (2 hours of prep for each hour of training during a staff meeting or a professional development day). Taking the workshop does mean there will be expectations for participants to present workshops if possible, but it is NOT required.

    Workshop participants should be members of their school's ITL committee: 2 people from each elementary; 2 people from CMS; 3 people from BMS and 5 people from SHS. Names should be given to principals who can send me an e-mail by June 12th with the names of recommended attendees from each school.
    It would be possible for more than 2 people to attend if their are only 2 people from each school on any given day (4 people for example -- where 2 do 2 days, and 2 others attend the other 2 days). The schedule is NOT currently developed, so attendees may not be able to pick areas of interest in advance.

    Friday, May 29, 2009

    District Literacy Committee Meeting & SHS LMSs use of TRAILS

    After the Elementary District Literacy Committee meeting today I reflected on three things:
    1.) I heard from reading teachers at the meeting that elementary students have a more difficult time summarizing material from a nonfiction text than a fiction text. Library media specialists are in a good position to help with the improvement of students' abilities in that area, since much of research deals with summarizing information taken from nonfiction sources.
    2.) Ahhh! To have the data! Data-driven instruction based on DRA scores and a variety of other assessments leads to the creation of instructional strategies and differentiated instruction to improve reading and writing skills. As media specialists and technology teachers we need to create/use more assessments that provides data to guide instruction.

    3.)....and speaking of DATA -- at this morning's meeting with Julia Roberts and Robin Stiles, LMSs at SHS, Natalie Carrignan, director of instructional technology, and I viewed the recent data collected from an online assessment they gave to 5 English classes. This was a trial run of an online Tool for Real-time Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (TRAILS -- ) which Robin and Julia will have all 9th graders take during an orientation session at the beginning of next year. The resulting data will be used to determine what areas of instruction might be needed for whole group instruction or for the creation of short video tutorials that will be created for individual viewing by students on specialized topics (such as intellectual property or boolean operators!)

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    eLearning & Content Advisory Council

    Today I attended a meeting of Connecticut's eLearning & Content Advisory Council, of which I am a member. It was from 3-5 at Charter Oak State College in New Britain. Ed Klonoski, president of Charter Oak State College, chaired the group for the last time, since Vice Chair, Sue Palisano from the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology, was selected as the new Chair for next year.

    The eLearning & Content Advisory Council is one of four councils to report to the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology.

    The Commission is charged with:

    [Both the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology and the Connecticut Education Network were listed this afternoon in the Governor's new budget cuts!]

    There was a discussion on the free training sessions tomorrow at CREC for all interested middle school Science teachers or administrators on the implementation of the free United Streaming Science video project. The new resource that will soon be available to all middle grades (Grades 6-8) in Connecticut. Connecticut has acquired a statewide license to Discovery Education Science—an award winning standards-based multimedia resource that powers any middle-school science curricula with virtual labs, simulations, interactive videos, reading passages and more, coupled with a real-time assessment component that measures students’ progress.
    This is a four-year license and is provided by the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) through the Commission for Educational Technology (CET) at no cost to school districts.

    Organized around an inquiry framework and covering physical, earth and space, and life sciences, Discovery Education Science is designed to engage students, encourage exploration, stimulate critical thinking and deepen understanding of science.

    Westport teachers will be provided with passwords to access this special science material inside Discovery Education Science (United Streaming). (Read the original letter about this project.) [Click here to get a preview of the service.]

    We also talked about utilizing the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium's state license with iTunes University, and looked at possible goals for next year -- including focusing on providing professional development opportunities in a variety of ways.

    I hope that the committee is not disbanded and look forward to working on the eLearning & Content Advisory Committee next year.

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Science Curriculum Revision - Year ONE

    Image from Arizona State Dept. of Education website:

    I attended a Science Curriculum Revision Committee meeting this afternoon. (Since most meetings were held on Dept Meeting Mondays, I was only able to attend 3 meetings this year.) Harry Rosvally, K-8 science coordinator, convened the 8th and final meeting of this school year. So much has been accomplished this year, and much planning has been done for this summer and committee work for next year.

    The agenda included an overview of summer work, and Brian Fagan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, confirmed that the proposed Science workshops for after July 1st would be funded. A great deal of curriculum work will be done in Science this summer and many committee members will participate in a Scarsdale, New Canaan, Westport Summer Science Institute.

    A start was made on a 5-year professional development plan for science with committee members previewing a preliminary document presented by Harry. The document led to a discussion about the areas of focus for professional development over the next 5 years, and the anticipated vision for science education in the year 2014. Should ITL be a strand or should it be part of every strand? (integrated vs. absorbed)

    Three committee members attended an AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) workshop for 3 days in New York City earlier this year. They are preparing a presentation on what they learned for all other committee members.

    Next year work will be done to align the Westport science curriculum with the CT Science Frameworks K-8. The revisions will be organized in a digital format with at least one inquiry per unit, with prepared assessments and identified resources. Many technologies will be utlized including SmartBoard interactives, websites that use java applets to simulate science concepts, video and podcasts.

    In closing Harry talked about the impact of feedback from the recent Tri-State visit and how we could increase communications with our colleagues so that everyone is aware of the science curriculum revision process.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009


    As I was sitting pondering the Blog entry du jour, an e-mail from Janna Bell, assistant principal at CES, delivered the answer.... TAG GALAXY..

    What do you get when you blend folksonomy, Flickr and an interactive solar system interface??? TAG GALAXY!!! Once you enter an initial tag it becomes your "sun" and is surrounded with revolving related planets/tags.
    Click on a planet and a new world is created -- with a surface of images from Flickr!!! Click on each image to get some information.

    For more information, read this Blog post and/or go directly to TAG GALAXY.

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    "Apple yanks iMovie 6 download, ends era of appeasement"

    Apple no longer allows for the download of iMovie 6 now that iMovie 9 is available. (Many people have known this for awhile, but I didn't really believe it until today, when I discovered that all roads to the iMovie 6 download have been permanently SHUT DOWN!) iMovie 8 was such a drastic change from iMovie 6, with fewer editing capabilities than its predecessor, that for a year Apple allowed users to download the OLD version for free. Not any more!

    You can read the full article in Macworld at:

    This means that, for those of us involved in video editing who have been using iMovie 6, we will have to learn iMovie 9. Some students have been using iMovie 9 to produce videos , and have found it to be easy with some "very cool effects."

    Yet another example of rapid change where a possible solution to learning the new technology is allowing the kids to teach their peers and their teachers.

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    Area Nine Cable Council and Cablevision of Connecticut

    Area Nine Cable Council and Cablevision of Connecticut
    Announce the Winners of
    The Annual Access Awareness Awards for Students Grades K – 12

    The Educational Access Awareness Awards honor original student television productions cablecast during the school year on Cablevision Educational Access Channel 78. [I am the representative for the Westport schools and attend monthly cable advisory meetings and help plan for the awards and judge video entries.]

    Designed to encourage students to develop video production and storytelling skills by creating access television shows relevant to their school and community, the Educational Access Awareness Awards recognize submissions in four separate categories - Public Service Announcement, School/Community Stories, News, and Open Entries.

    This year, thirty entries from across Fairfield County received awards. First place Elementary and Middle School projects will be awarded an equipment package for their school. An “Eddy” (Ed Access Trophy) will be presented to individual winners at the HS and MS level and to the school at the Elementary level. A certificate of recognition will be presented to students who participated in First, Second, and Third Place projects. These awards are currently being delivered to schools, and all schools should have them by tomorrow, May 21st.

    Congratulations to all of the students and teachers who participated in this year's cable awards program!!!!!!

    Awards 2008-2009

    High School - School/Community Story
    1st Place
    “Requiem For The Honeybee” - Greenwich High School
    Richard Detmer - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Teacher Profile: Mr. Cushman” - Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich
    Ellyn Stewart - Instructor

    3rd Place - Tie
    “Simplicity & Spending” - Convent Of The Sacred Heart, Greenwich
    Ellyn Stewart - Instructor
    “Cyber Bullying” - New Canaan HS
    Roman Cebulski - Instructor

    High School - Open Entries
    1st Place
    “Hacked” - Greenwich High School
    Richard Detmer - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Moss’s Mind on Cheating” - Staples High School, Westport
    James Honeycutt - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “Weapon of Choice: Female Suicide Bomber” - Conv. of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich
    Ellyn Stewart - Instructor

    High School - News
    1st Place
    “Today From The Heart” - Convent of the Sacred Heart
    Ellyn Stewart - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Ram Review, Nov. 2008” - New Canaan High School
    Roman Cebulski - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “Staples HS News” - Staples High School, Westport
    Mike Zitto - Instructor

    High School - PSA
    1st Place
    “Support Our Troops” - Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich
    Ellyn Stewart - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “No Cheating” - Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich
    Ellyn Stewart - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “Help Before It’s Too Late” - New Canaan High School
    Nicole Giusti, Caitlin Dwyer - Grade 9
    Roman Cebulski - Instructor

    Middle School - PSA
    1st Place
    “Global Warming” - Bedford Middle School, Westport
    Kathy Fleming - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Quit Before You Start” - Bedford Middle School, Westport
    Lauren Bullock - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “School Rules” - Coleytown Middle School, Westport
    Deb Perry - Instructor

    Middle School -Open Entries
    1st Place
    “President Obama’s Top Priority” - Weston Middle School
    Peggy Jorgensen - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “The Adventures of Knife, Fork & Spoon” - Coleytown Middle School, Westport
    Deb Perry - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “Puppy Trainer” - Coleytown Middle School, Westport
    Deb Perry - Instructor

    Middle School - School/Community Story

    1st Place
    “Cultures” - Coleytown Middle School, Westport
    Deb Perry - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Cyber Bully” - Coleytown Middle School, Westport
    Deb Perry - Instructor

    Elementary School - School/Community Story

    1st Place
    “The Buzz: Bullying” - Greens Farms Elementary School, Westport
    Kelley Auringer - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Early Gym” - Greens Farms Elementary School, Westport
    Kelley Auringer - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “News From The Heart” - Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich
    Kathy Dunn - Instructor

    Elementary School - Open Entries
    1st Place
    “Case of the Missing Presents” - Long Lots Elementary School, Westport
    Barbara Eilertsen - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Tech Tips” - Greens Farms Elementary School, Westport
    Kelley Auringer - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “The Money Show” - Kings Highway Elementary School, Westport
    Tara Doyle, Nancy Giglio, Timothy Soper - Instructors

    Elementary School - PSA

    1st Place
    “Internet Safety” - Greens Farms Elementary School, Westport
    Kelley Auringer - Instructor

    2nd Place
    “Recycle Man” - Greens Farms Elementary School, Westport
    Kelley Auringer - Instructor

    3rd Place
    “Trashless Lunch” - Long Lots Elementary School, Westport
    Barbara Eilertsen - Instructor
    A special thanks to:
    John Repicky (Wilton), chair of the ANCC Education Committee for all of his work organizing the awards judging, publicity and ordering of trophies and camera packages
    Jennifer Young, Cablevision representative, who supports and funds the education initiatives
    Carol Weinshel and Evelyn Reeve (Easton/Redding) ANCC members who create all of the student certificates!
    and all other members of the ANCC committee who plan and judge the video entries

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    BMS/SHS: Final Student ITL Committee of the Year

    Julia Roberts, Staples High School library media specialist, visited the final BMS ITL Committee of the year to recruit students to the soon to be created SHS STUDENT ITL COMMITTEE. This student run committee will focus on the use of information and technology by the SHS community. The committee members will also look at current student use of technology in and outside of school and examine how it could be used for educational purposes. The committee will meet one to two times per month. There will be one or more representatives that attend the teacher ITL committee.

    The SHS ITL Committee has a former BMS ITL Student Committee member as the first student on the committee, and a few other SHS students have expressed interest. Two 8th graders from BMS are planning to join the high school committee next year.

    Meg Tiley, BMS assistant principal, and I have been co-chairing the student committee for 3 years. The student group meets approximately 6 times during the year... 3 official meetings and 3 sub-committee meetings. Students model and create opportunities for other students to use information and technology. This year students continued an idea from the last two committees, and created a live call-in information literacy contest on BAM, the morning TV news program. Another group created a video on how they use technology at home (including the use of Wii, Nintendo, ipods and iTunes). The video was used to promote a contest in which students would create their own videos about personal technology use at home. There were no student entries in this contest.

    Next year most of the 25 student members are planning to continue on the committee. New members will be recruited from the elementary feeder schools. There will be an increased use of web 2.0 technologies including Skype, Google Docs, Scratch and other ITL areas of interest to students!

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009


    By now you have probably heard from someone about Wolfram/Alpha a new "computational search engine," and if you haven't then you have now!

    I have read about it in the following people's blogs, and you can too -- just click on their names:
    Kathy Schrock
    David Warlick
    Joyce Valenza

    Enter two towns and it creates a chart comparing population, elevation, and time zones.
    Enter formulas, and it computes.
    Type in "3 peanut M&Ms" (or any quantity of any food) and you will get a detailed nutritional analysis.

    It is just the beginning of a new way of turning objective data into computable data!
    Watch a Screencast,
    Give it a try!

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Today Deb Perry, technology teacher at CMS, and I visited Suffern Middle School in New York, primarily to see students working in Second Life (on Ramapo Islands) with Peggy Sheehy, library media specialist. (If you do a search on Peggy Sheehy on this blog you will find links and more information about her in two other ITL posts.) We learned a great deal from our visit -- about student use of Second Life and so much more!

    (Peggy Sheehy, LMS, working with a class in Second Life)

    Early in the day we met:
    • Dr. Robert MacNaughton, school superintendent
    • Mrs. Judy Barbera, assistant superintendent for instruction
    • Mr. James Yap, director of instructional technology and data
    • Eleanor Schuster, library media specialist
    • Brian Fox, principal
    • Teresa Ivey, assistant principal
    We learned that the superintendent's vision includes exploring new technologies that support his view of a "flattened world." This includes trusting Peggy's abilities to align curricular goals and objectives with the student work in Second Life.

    James Yapp has provided considerable support and has worked with Peggy Sheehy to find solutions to any problems that had to be considered over the 4 years since Peggy introduced Second Life as a learning vehicle in the school.

    We observed two groups of students working with Peggy Sheehy and Gayle Yodowitc, Family Consumer Science teacher, working on their private islands in Second Life. Students brushed up their avatars, sent an IM to become a member of a new group, and heard the plan for their upcoming work to prepare for a debate on" Should teens have credit cards?" Both teachers worked with students in Second Life, and it was clear that the work in Second Life was motivational and focused students on their debate research.

    (Student preparing avatar for a debate.)

    We learned about other technology initiatives in the library media center and the school. There are 3 class sets of computers available in the LMC - one MAC lab and one PC lab in the LMC, and one more MAC lab in a separate room in the LMC. A glass wall will soon be built around 2 of the computer areas in the LMC to make the labs more private, and another class set of computers is going around the more flexible area in the LMC where large group activites can take place with a Promethean board available. The former TV studio in the LMC is being rebuilt as a video conference center. The school is completely wireless with many laptops available.

    There is a 40 week technology program for all students called Gateway to Learning: Gateway to Technology. Two former wood-working rooms now have full computer labs in them. 6h graders have 10 weeks of technology classes, with a class every day. 7th graders have 20 weeks of technology classes with a class every day, and 8th graders have 10 weeks of technology classes with a class every day. The focus is on critical and creative thinking and problem solving.

    During our visit students were creating podcasts in Garageband with the 2nd library media specialist, Elenaor Schuster.

    We also learned about Saywire,which is currently being implemented K-8. Saywire is a secure social/academic network. Peggy talked about her use of Quest Atlantis as another MUVE (multi-user virtual environment). We learned about Peggy's work with Bernajean Porter, author of the book DigiTales: The Art of Telling Digital Stories (who visited Suffern Middle School and worked with 75 students for 4 days last year). We viewed an amazing and powerful digital story that Peggy created in a DigiTales workshop, called All that Glitters.

    This post does not cover all that we experienced and learned on this incredible site visit, but you get the idea! It was amazing. We plan to further synthesize our experience and determine if and how we can implement a student presence in a virtual environment.

    Thanks to Peggy Sheehy and all the incredible staff who welcomed us to Suffern Middle School today!!!