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!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

CMS: All My Faves

At the CMS ITL meeting this week, chaired by Deb Perry, technology teacher and David Rosvally, Science Teacher, All My Faves was demonstrated during the Tech Tip portion of the meeting.

This site is a great tool for teachers. It provides the top ten sites in 8 categories (see 8 tabs on top: Home, Education, Entertainment, Games, Kids, Shopping, Travel, and Weekly Faves - Image below is from the Education tab.)

(Click on image to display larger view)

Inside each tab there are numerous categories with the "best" 8-10 sites listed with the companies icon. The rating of best is based on use.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Deb Perry and I attended a Machinima presentation in Second Life this week sponsored by ISTE and given by Knowclue Kidd, who in real life is Marianne Malmstrom, a technology teacher at Elizabeth Morrow school in New Jersey. (A previous post from April 1st focused on her work with Peggy Sheehy on the video, No Future Left Behind.)

Knowclue (shown in the picture above) explained the value of students creating videos or machinima inside a virtual world (such as Quest Atlantis or Teen Second Life). Costuming, sets and storylines are "free" and not limited by reality. Students are highly motivated by this environment, as can be viewed in some of the projects below

Knowclue shared some of her students' videos.Some of the videos did not play, but the links provided an opportunity to see the videos outside of Second Life. Here are some of the links she provided so you can get a sense of the work she is doing.
Deb and I will be visiting Suffern Middle School in New York on Monday to see Peggy Sheehy's work with students in Teen Second Life, so you will be reading another post on this topic next week!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

SHS: PTA Book Fair leads to a Stratford/Westport Collaboration

Last year Kristin Veenema, English teacher at SHS created a proposal to use some of the profits of the school Book Fair. This proposal has since become a reality!

The purpose:
  • To provide students with an authentic audience for their thoughts on a text
  • To provide a reading experience that mirrors “what real readers do”
  • To broaden students’ awareness of others beyond their respective districts
  • To identify how differing backgrounds contribute to text interpretation
  • To foster inter-district and inter-community connections


The money collected from Book Fair 2008 will be used to purchase two class sets of one text, one that will stay at Staples HS and one that will be loaned to an area school. Through a Google application or a Voice Thread, all participating students (Staples and other school) will participate in an online discussion forum about the selected text.

Barnes and Noble / Staples Book Fair 2009 will host a gathering for all participating students as part of this year’s fair, which will occur after the online discussion so students can meet one another in person after interacting online.

This project can be continued in a variety of ways:
• Other classes, beyond the pilots in both schools, can read the books as an outside reading option or as participants in their own online forum.
• Continue the online forum by purchasing two class sets of another text.
• Continue the online forum but choose a new partner school with which to discuss texts.
• Eventually extend the program to online discussions between schools in different states or countries.

Presently Kristen Veenama has created a private wiki (PBworks) called shswallflowers to implement the project. Students from Staples High School and Stratford High School are regularly commenting on the wiki and relationships are being developed. On Monday, some students from both classes will meet at a Barnes & Noble event here in Westport. This is an unexpected and incredible learning opportunity that has been created from the profits of a Book Fair! We need more proposals and activities like this, I think!

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Collaborating with Dolphins and Panthers!

If you are a library media specialist you know that I am not talking about aquatic and land mammals. I am referring to the portable handheld devices shown below.Many library media specialists are currently using (or will soon be using) these portable handheld devices (PHDs) to inventory all of their resources. Our school media centers each have between 20,000 and 38,000 items -- so this is not a small chore.

The task is managed by the library media specialist with one or more library assistants. They work closely with parents to ensure that every item in the collection has its barcode scanned and collected by a laser beam sent from a DOLPHIN and/or PANTHER. These scans are then (sometimes easily and sometimes not) imported into our library automation system, Destiny. A report is generated which highlights problems, that individually must be reconciled in the system

Why an inventory, you ask?

An inventory is used to locate lost materials, find materials thought to be checked out to patrons, identify some materials that need to be weeded or repaired, and ensure that materials are fully organized.

Library media inventories are more "behind the scenes" events that manage, organize and support the delivery of a wide range of ITL resources to all members of our school communities.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Google Custom Search Engine

I know that many teachers have learned to create their own custom search engines (CSEs), but this post is for those teachers who haven't heard about this... or, those who want to find out how they have improved!
The Google Custom Search Engine has many applications. Teachers can create a search engine that will only search sites that have been pre-selected. Middle and high school students can create search engines to help others find information on their research topics.
With Google Custom Search Engine, you can:

* Create a CSE at any time and Google will give you a landing page with a unique URL. You also have the option of applying your own site's look and feel.
* Invite friends and colleagues to collaborate and contribute to your search engine, enhancing its usefulness to your community.
* Provide your own search refinements within results pages so it's easier for your users to find the information they're looking for.
* Easily add more sites to your search engine's index as you surf the web.
* New! You can create a CSE on the fly simply by cutting and pasting a few lines of code into your website's HTML. Your new automatically generated CSE will let people search the websites you've linked to, as well as the sites they link to. For instance, if you've created a directory, a blog roll, or a list of online resources, your CSE will enable your users to search across these sites and the sites they reference.
Google For Educators - Custom Search Engine (11 May 2009)
Look at Mrs. Gray's Sample
If you create some custom search engines, please share them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

CES: Using the GROUPS feature for Discussion Boards

Joe Pullia, 5th grade teacher at CES, conducted a unit of study with his students on the Newbery Award. He chose to use the Discussion Board tool in Blackboard as a way to motivate students to have "conversations" about five books that received the Newbery Medal. Utilizing the Manage Groups feature in Blackboard [Control Panel/User management/Manage Groups], student groups were created.
The 5 groups were set up to include their own discussion board with specific students enrolled in each group. When a new button was set up for the groups a Tool Link was added, with the tool type being Groups.
Mr. Pullia noted that the discussion boards have motivated students to write more, share more, and go deeper into various issues and characters in the book. He said that that one huge advantage of the groups feature is the ability to differentiate instruction, since a group can be created for even a single student. Janna Bell, assistant principal, has been included as part of the discussion groups and often responds to posts and asks questions to promote dialog.

Here is a sample section of one books discussion with student names erased (click on image for larger view):
One student said that she really enjoys using discussion boards and especially the Newbery discussion board because she can "talk" with her classmates even when she is home. She said that she gets some ideas about the book that she didn't even think about, and she gives other kids new ideas about the book too!

The GROUPS tool adds another way to manage discussion boards and provides a system for supporting differentiated instruction.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Upcoming ITL Steering Committee Meeting - JUNE 3rd

On June 3rd the ITL Steering Committee Meeting will take place in the SHS LMC at 1:45. This will be the third and final meeting of the year with the chairs and representatives from each school ITL committee.

What would you like to have happen at this meeting?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

SHS: Why Is the Odyssey Important Today?

Werner Liepolt, English teacher at SHS, has engaged his 3 classes of freshmen English students in a thorough exploration of Homer's Odyssey. The essential question focused on the influence of the Odyssey on present day life. One final component of this multi-faceted unit engaged students in a research project that included Robin Stiles, library media specialist.

In this part of the study the students had to do a citation for a movie, a piece of art, and three articles. They had already watched the movie, Oh, Brother Where Art Thou? and viewed artwork in class. In the LMC students used the Internet Movie Database (imdb) website for information on the movie. They also used museum websites to find information on the artwork.

Since the students were freshmen they were asked to limit their searching to Ebsco or iConn for the articles and Robin went into great detail about citing the actual source of the article, not just the database that it appeared in.

Students used Noodlebib, part of Noodletools, to create and share note cards with tags.

Emphasis was placed on the building blocks of the research process, demonstrating that the better the organization, citations and notations, the easier the creation of the final paper. Students were told that this process would be very similar to that of their junior research paper.

Werner brought his 3 classes to the LMC once a week for 3 weeks. The students completed a short essay from their synthesized research. The classes were successful in learning some of the major building blocks for their research papers in the future.

[This post can not do justice to the many facets of this study, most of which occured in the classroom, but the rubrics, graphic organizers and assignments are available on Werner Liepolt's website.]

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Visitors from Irvington, NY

L to R: Christina Rosenblatt, LMS K – 3; Greer Fischer, Assistant Superintendent;
Jackie Richardson, LMS 4-5; Joann Malloy, LMS 6 – 12;
missing from photo - Jesse Lubinsky, Technology Coordinator

Today five visitors from the Irvington, NY public schools (pictured and named above) visited four of our schools to observe the ITL program. They specifically wanted to see instances where technology was integrated into the library media program and/or examples of collaboration between a library media specialist, a technology teacher and a classroom teacher.


8:30 AM -- We all met at Long Lots School. Barbara Eilertsen, LMS, and Michael Brownstein, technology teacher, worked with 12 5th graders who produced the daily school news program in their TV Studio. Spanish teachers explained the history of Cinco de Mayo, students read poetry, happy birthdays were given, and summer programs were advertised. Brian Fagan, assistant superintendent, welcomed the group and time was spent discussing our ITL scope and sequence and curriculum, our ITL committee structure in our schools and the process of TV production at LLS.

9:20 AM -- The 5 visitors and I, in role as the EARTH MIGRATION BIOME DECISION-MAKING PANEL from the planet SHTAM (named with the first letters of each of the 4th grade teachers involved: Sullivan, Harper, Taft, Ackerman, Malbin) observed four presentations from Phaedra Taft's 4th grade. Michael Brownstein and Barbara Eilertsen had collaborated and worked with Phaedra Taft and her class on a study of biomes. This activity had been planned as a "Big Think" -- a final activity designed to promote higher level thinking. Each presentation focused on which biome should be colonized by the people needing to leave the overcrowded planet of SHTAM, and the Smartboard with Notebook software was used in the presentation. Two groups chose the Andes mountains, and two groups chose the rain forest. The "SHTAMIAN PANEL" questioned each group and could not decide between the mountains and the rain forest. Students were asked if they could add new facts to persuade the panel to change their decision. (Some new content was provided in a very emotionally charged final plea to colonize either mountain or rain forest regions.) Ultimately the panel decided to give the SHTAMIANS a choice to settle in both regions, with the thought that trade between the two regions would be beneficial. The students suggested that mountains and rain forest exist next to each other in Bolivia. Watch out Boliva -- The SHTAMIANS are coming!

10:50 AM -- Bedford Middle School for a very quick visit. In the library media center we spoke with Rita Hennessey, LMS, about the 7th grade Science research project that was in progress in the media center - Techford Area. We moved to the technology lab where Kathy Fleming, technology teacher, was working with a group of 7th graders on video editing.

11:30 AM -- Staples High School. Julia Roberts and Robin Stiles, library media specialists, prepared several handouts and a DVD for our guests. While we enjoyed lunch, Robin and Julia talked about a new assessment program for ITL skills (TRAILS) that they are piloting with some 9th grade classes this year, which will hopefully be given to all 9th graders next year. They talked about some of the features of their library media program. Natalie Carrignan, director of instructional technology, gave an overview of some district ITL accomplishments and described some works in progress (such as the implementation of an Internet Safety Curriculum in the 2009-10 school year).

1:00 PM -- Coleytown Middle School. John Horrigan, library media specialist, provided an overview of a 6th grade French class working with French teacher, Sharon Gardner, on a study of Quebec. Students used a rubric to prepare a topic, conduct research and present results in a Photostory. [For information related to the class:]

At 1:25, after visiting the TV Studio we went to a computer lab where Deb Perry, technology teacher and TV coordinator, worked with 8th grade students to setup an electronic portfolio in Blackboard using the content of their recent research projects on green technology topics. John Horrigan worked with the students on this project as well.

2:00 PM -- Irvington Public School visitors returned to New York. It was great to share information and technology literacy stories and activities with each other.

Monday, May 4, 2009

GFS: Time, Continuity and Change

Recently at GFS the 1st grade teachers, Mary Ellen Barry, Ellen Mason, Shannon Utecht, MarySue Welch and library media specialist, Kelley Auringer and technology teacher, Sally Wanamaker with guest presenter, Michael Urban, owner of Urban Antique Radio & Vintage Hi-Fi created a TRIP THROUGH TIME for all the 1st grade students!
Michael Urban shows 1st graders antigue radios.

Students had a passport that needed to be stamped as they made their way to different "artifact stations" where various tools and equipment were displayed and presented to students.

Mary Ellen Barry shows 1st graders a washboard.

Kelley Auringer, LMS, shows 1st graders a typewriter.

Students later researched the artifacts and created a digital photostory in the computer lab. Through these activities students were engaged in thinking about this essential question:
How would your life be different if you were a member of a family living in an earlier time period?

Friday, May 1, 2009

SES: Big 6 and the Value of Reflection

RaeAnne Locke, LMS at SES, recently reintroduced the Big6 to 4th graders before they began research for their biome unit. In order to help students identify with the steps of research, she decided to tweak the lesson to include a student reflection -- a quick write demonstrating how the steps directly impacted their daily work. In the quick write students were asked to think about the step they enjoyed the most and why, which one they felt they did the best and why, and which one they wanted to improve on and why.

She found this to be an easy, quick and valuable enhancement to the traditional Big6 check- off list because it helped give ownership to them as researchers and demonstrated how the Big6 impacted them personally. Once the biome unit is over, there will be another Big6 reflection to see what changes there will be based on more experience.

Some of the student reflections included:

  • “I like synthesis best because it is like the whole job coming to life. It is fun to see your work on board. I think I should work harder on evaluation because I don’t spend enough time evaluating my work.”

  • “My best step is Location and Access (step 3) because I like going to the resources, using the tools, and getting information. I would like to get better at step 4 because I need to work at putting things in my own words.”

  • “I like step 3 the best because I like to read a sentence and figure out what it means. I like to read magazines and websites a lot. I want to do synthesis better because I get shy when I present.”