Blended Projecting

Blended Projecting…. I love that label! Reuven Werber just created it on the fly after we had a very successful audio conference (with a webcam too – though using two different apps) to plan our next collaborative literature project between our two schools – LCC, here in Montreal, and Neveh Channah in Etzion Bloc, Israel.

Reuven has passed along some websites about blended learning to me recently. Here is a wiki dedicated to blended learning, which also points to the wikipedia article on the same. Also, Reuven passed along this article by Diane Oblinger from Educause about the future of e-learning and our need for a better definition of the concept. There are many different flavours of e-learning these days and we must be careful to choose the best approach for our learners as we go along.

We had a terrific meeting and I met both Phylis, English dept. head at N.C. and Leora, the teacher I will be collaborating with. It was great to see Reuven too. For this year’s lit project, we have decided to do short stories. The teachers have selected 3 Israel short stories, which will be translated into English – so two different subject areas will be involved as they hope they can get the Hebrew teacher to teach the stories in that course as well. I will choose a similar amount of Canadian short stories for my students. We created a timeline for the project during the meeting. Then we took a look at the moodle learning management system that I had created and played around in it to explore its features. We decided we would use it as the place the students will communicate with each other, but will take it for a test drive for the rest of the summer to make sure it is stable. It has a nifty instant messaging feature (a true plus!) plus the ability to create quizzes and even wikis.

I am quite excited about our project this year!

The Laptop Institute 2005: In Retrospect

The Laptop Institute 2005

The final session has ended and now is the time to make some general comments about the overall experience.

I am still in awe of a conference that is able to charge a mere $250 (USD) for an intensive, full 3-day conference that includes 3 dinners, 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches of some pretty decent food (shrimp for lunch today), AS WELL as provide 11 sessions of material and 3 opening addresses by 3 different keynote speakers. Apparently, they had about $30,000 of sponsor money to work with!

Of all the sessions I attended, I was only disappointed a couple of times and it was probably my own fault for not choosing a session that better fit my own interests.

One weakness that I found – and it’s more my Canadian sensitivity – was that this was a very American conference. If Lausanne wants to be more globally inclusive, they will have to take the time to explain some of the acronyms and vocabulary that come with their presentations.

The Lausanne campus was very impressive and the staff were very friendly and well-organized.

The content of the conference was a good mix of practical and pedagogical philosophy. For those seminars that provided mostly resources or practical classroom practices, I would have liked to see more research or pedagogical principles that undergird their practices or resource choices.

I was particularly interested to see many of the schools already using a blended approach to instruction. As one who has searched and searched for research of high schools who have used this approach, I would like those schools using it to consider documenting it and providing some research about this model and their experiences. Given what has been stated about the ubiquitous use of computers in teaching and learning at the conference, I suspect that blended instruction is going to become even more common and viewed as the best model for learning for many subject areas in the near future.

I already have some ideas for presentations for next year that might include presenting some thoughts on the new learning theory of connectivism, my own experiences with online learning in a blended environment, or the collaborative literature projects with which I have been involved in the last two or three years.

Yes, I definitely want to go back next year!

The Laptop Institute 2005: follow-up to this morning’s address

The Laptop Institute 2005

Review of the 4 steps to laptop Program

Creating the need for laptops:

like us, their program started with mentors – or that was the intention

Price Pritchit – New Rules…. – he suggests we google the name

If you don’t believe we don’t have a need to change…. then probably shouldn’t be doing laptop

Challenge Mental Models

presently we all have the same model of how schools should operate

until we change the mental models of how schools should operate

Paradigm=problem-solving approach

Joel Barker’s The Life of a Paradigm

over time the paradigm quits solving many of the problems or the new problems

leadership failure because leaders treat adaptive change as technical problems

Technical solutions = we call these “best practice”

or work avoidance

-denial of problem
-diversion – this isn’t our problem
-laying blame or displacement
-neutralizing the intervener (mediator)
-holding onto the past
-phony solutions – program of the day – form a committee – define problem very narrowly
-sterile conflict – no listening – curiosity or creative engagement

adaptive challenge = solutions we don’t yet

we have new adaptive challenges and trying to solve them using tech solutions – this can lead to burnout

We have a new problem – we need new solutions

Heifiz – look up books

Provide the Tools and Training

-the easy part

-problem is what we do with the tools

innovate vs. automate

shows video clip of Andy Griffiths

Do business differently

-the quartz crystal – who invented it – Swiss gave the technology away to Japan

If you were going to home-school your own children, how would you do it?

they posed this question to get educators to honestly address the question about what represents good education

generalization = knowing a little bit about a lot of different things

customized learning, individualized

flexible schedules
site-based, self-directed work teams

Gave the example of the development of the fuel cell – instead of putting the cell into the existing car, they have decided to build a vehicle around the cell

The Innovator’s Dilemma – When new technolgoies cause great firms to fail-

-has education become this way?

shows videoclip – Cat herders – superbowl commercial from EDS

-difficult to control – not about control

right now, school is designed for adults not for kids

Good question about how this is a systemic problem

change can’t just be about what happens in the classroom

Ranting on money problems:

There is always money to find solutions

Good teachers can handle large class sizes – they spend a good deal of time planning, but once class time hits, lets them do the work (PHEW! I’m not the only one!)

“Deconstruct the curriculum” – that’s what he calls this approach where you give the project then stand back and see what standards were met.

Could not have done this without technology

By giving teachers laptops – admin gets free prof dev because the teachers will use their own time to develop their own lesson plans and projects.

Tech solutions are devised by admin

Adaptive challenges are met by those closest to the problem (i.e. students, teachers)

Didn’t ask permission from students, sold the idea to the parents

uses the analogy of the medical profession insisting on immunization years ago

we need to have a sense of urgency about our own epidemic in education

Failure of laptop programs (from my question)

400 laptop users with 200 IPs

top-down administration without buy-in

quick decision that was sprung upon the teachers

As an admin, you can’t mandate laptops, you need to create a need

He highly recommends Learning Station

The Laptop Institute 2005: Spinning the Web – Collaborative Learning with web-based projects

The Laptop Institute 2005

Spinning the Web – Collaborative Learning with web-based projects

Lessons and Materials

Lesson plans and classroom management are discussed in this seminar.

Webquests used in math! Skills are taught which are later used in projects

Create your own mail order company – a percentage webquest This project used excel skills

Integrated project – math/history/geography

Currency in South America

6th grade graphing project

7th grade graphing project – review

: a lesson to analyse the effect of transformations (translations, rotations, reflections and dilations) on teh congruence and similarity of plane figures.

Web tools the math teacher created

I liked the math teacher’s calendar that had hyperlinked dates and lessons. Very organized!

Computer skills are taught in computer classes rather than in the context of other classes. This teacher believed that this class was still needed in the middle school.

Skills learned first, then assignment given.

Assignments were integrated with other courses.

Once tech skills more or less mastered, the students still needed help to organize their projects. She started by having them brainstorm with inspiration.

Laptop care and use – also taught in tech class

She thought that this was implicitly boring, but I disagree. This is a very impt subject and I have found that students love to learn about the tools that will help maintain their computer.

In fact, I am wondering if this is one area that the admin at LCC has thought through. It is my intention to show students during my classes how to maintain and care for their computers.

This teacher had her students create a PPt that will show how to care and maintain their laptop. She provides them with links and this permits them to customize their own approach to caring for their laptop. I like this idea! This is a terrific way to get students to internalize their own ways of caring for their machines.

This teacher also teaches her students to become their own troubleshooters.

I also liked her Nutrition project that was integrated with biology and phys. ed.

Data was tracked in excel to examine real life nutrition issues.

This was a very labour-intensive project – should have been broken down into smaller chunks?

Online Portfolios – student example

She stated that portfolios was what really changed the laptop program at her school. They set up benchmarks for each grade level. These clearly defined set of expectations are curriculum-based. These were measured by online portfolios. Projects are posted on their own webpages. By gr. 12 they will have a complete set of work that should represent the benchmarks.

Students themselves provide reflection on the web page of how each project tied in with the stated objectives. Wow!

Their websites are products that have a wider audience than just the classroom. This makes students care about what goes live online.

Having watched elementary schools and university students use electronic portfolios to catalogue their work over a longer period of time, I have been waiting to see how LCC will eventually move to this approach.

History Projects – teacher tries to use the Internet every day in her classroom teacher

Her Resource Page is really loaded and dense with material.

The teachers seem to work together collaboratively to create and carry out these technology-rich assignments.

I like the assignments where students were asked to create interactive maps using excel. Instructions are thoughtfully provided by the tech support.

The history teacher reminded me again of using United Streaming for which LCC has a subscription. I would like to explore NFB as well for their free online documentaries.

This teacher examines how technology has helped out history with its ability to archive materials.

French Revolution Empathy Webquest
: cool idea!


-use of online textbook which can combine animations with video; online animated quizzes

-Use of Learning objects (she calls them webquests – but this is not a true webquest)

Biology Project


She has Gizmos on her webpage as a resource. Looks interesting – but subscription is required.

Again, I think this is probably a bank of learning objects that are designed to engage learners using interactivity.

The Laptop Institute 2005: Dan Hudkins – Stop Teaching Applications

The Laptop Institute 2005

Stop Teaching Applications: Why do we do this anyway?

Harker School in San Jose – high pressure school

-reframe what it means to “teach computer”
-cause you to reexamine your assumptions

state of discourse – look at wikipedia

is becoming the agora – the marketplace of where the action is happening

Info. Fluency

– from ISTE

-CSTA – Comp.Sci. Teacher’s Assoc.

A model for curric for K-12 Comp. Sci.

What do we mean by Tech. Fluency?
-need to rely on standards; must be continuously revised, focus on process and product

– literacy; is not sufficient by itself; requires context; comes from continuously re-evaluated competence

What it means to be literate is changing as fast as wikipedia (!)

3 Domains of Tech Fluency

info lit

info. tech

comp. sci

Three different components of what it is to be tech fluent

info lit = domain of librarians, mostly concrete skills based; Big6 – having teachers use the same vocab.; scope and sequence that can be integrated

Comp Sci.
= thinking algorithmically, sorting and classifying, how tools are designed and deployed, how teach cs without programming, programming is a dept of its own 9-12 – should be compulsory in his view to help students think algorithmically/logically, transfers over to other disciplines; overlaps with science and math in terms of vocab.

Info Tech.

-(seeking another name) – one suggestion – learning technologies
– laptop – one example of a generic tool
-use tech as a tool
-facilitate learning – not about the laptop
-this is the “how to” space

Need to recognize the distinctions between these three domains AND planned distinctly

LCC is muddy in all three of these areas in terms of whose domain is whose in the school – as far as I can see.

Chose metaphor of digital ocean and its size between 1969 and today

Skilled swimmer in 1999 is an amphibean. Very few of us above the age of 30 are amphibeans who are comfortable in both places.

2005 – larger oceans, skilled swimmers are fish

Extend metaphor:

I’m a mammal, the kids are fish, fish don’t swim like mammals. Now what?

We moved from mammal school in the 90’s, to amphibian school – info literacy moved forward – less teaching, more coaching – higher level skills are an objective – student as creator/publisher – focussed on training in apps

Fish school – don’t remember first computer – focus on product and process – not the tools – “real world” tool for those specialized areas – many roads to the kingdom –

Comp Sci I

– app driven – web pages, film, – skill-tested
– no real cs

Computing across the curriculum

– coop projects
-student dev criteria
-design project between teachers (i.e. history) and cs people – so history project that is a web page, etc.

Not unlike what I have done with Macbeth Project and Lit Collab.

Movie Maker Deluxe – comes with price tag?

– students develop criteria for assessment


So in forum area, ask students for criteria of websites design

Much like I was doing 3-4 years ago with nicenet.

Initially he was there a lot, then he was not there at all – sort of different from the way I had my students in my data collection

In his opinion, the students “internalized” what was expected of them in the forum area.

His goal was to have his students independently confident of their ability to determine what they need to accomplish, choose the right tool, learn how to use the tool, accomplish the goal

The app skills we teach today are very likely going to be irrelevant in a very few years.

Example: file-saving, folder- making, file org.

Google desktop already exists to find anything you want

Where to from here?

-no more spreadsheets
-added java

Long Run?

-Course content moves to Middle School
-Speculation – no comp. apps courses at all – he would like to see a half-term design course and a half-term real cs course


-make the problems real – authentic learning
-don’t answer questions without asking other questions
-“what is the key word for that?”
-“have you tried….?”
-make them develop the criteria – FISH KNOW!

-teach them about process

Teaching about Writing:

-“Blurt and reorganize” – using a word processor

-hold them accountable for quality

-mammals can’t/shouldn’t teach fish to swim

-mammals can still suggest where they need to go

-lots of teachers who will take risks if you provide enough scaffolding

Those educators who care about what is good for the kids will go there!

The Laptop Institute 2005: address by Milton Dougherty

The Laptop Institute 2005

Schools of the Future: Reality over Rhetoric

WE focus too much on the pieces of the puzzle, not on the big picture.

Quote by Robert Hutchins about how America has given the world the idea of educatioin for all.

Our world is a different place.

We must adapt.

We must engage our students in learning.

A solution only becomes meaningul once you understand the problem.

How much was LCC’s decision to laptop was because we were looking for a solution to a problem?

If we are not educating all students to high levels, there is something wrong, Dougherty asserts. I would say that not all students are designed for high levels of academia.

He uses some interesting stats to demonstrate how much the world is a different place then it used to be.

The 73 million new jobs created in the US in the years 1980-1997 were a different kind of job – higher tech.

He says it si all part of the process of adapting to changing tech, eco and globally.

Thomas Friedman – The World is Flat – recommended book

Getting Real by Gray

He presented the video Alien Song
very funny

He presented the case of Bermuda and how it moved from tourist-based economy to e-commerce – the social problems that have resulted

This is a microcosm of what is happening in the States

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less,. – Eric Shinseki

The fundamental shift in the way our society operates has a profound impact on the educational system.

20th c skills:


21st c skills (backed by research)
-technological fluency
-communication – verbal proficiency
-collaboration – leadership/coordination/teamwork/interpersonal skills
-solve complex problems -apply learning
-analytical thinking skills
-gumption- self-direction and reflection skills
-initiative and ambition

Are we working to make schooling better, or to education many more kids to higher levels?

He quoted from the Committee of 10 from the past

they decided the best way to roganize and operate schools with the old model

Compared to Industrial Orgs:

Massification – teaming, project-based
standarization – customized, individualized
specialization – genrealization
synchronization – asynchro

Our new problem = educating students to high levels

OUr bigggest adaptive challenge?
Moviing from “time in class” to “engaged learners”

Reason and Emotion: It’s a chemical thing

Reminds me of the paper I recently read – E-learning and Emotion

Is boredom a desirable condition for learning?

Compliance is not engagement – good for teachers to be reminded of!

video clip of learning without engagement

5 min. university – Father Guido Sarducci

A teacher’s job is not to tach kids, A t’s job is to create meaningul, engaging work wheerby kids are in environments that are engaging.

Curric of the past – info curric

curric of future – a personal dev curr

If our curri continues to be about info, kids don’t need us. Kids have access to ubiquitous info

Tom Peters – REimagine

Data –>INformation–>knowledge–>wisdom

most places are doing what they have alwasy done before, but with technology and this is why research demonstrates that tech is not benefitting learning

For those who say tech is a fad….

we have always reacted to technology

Next: The Future Just Happened – Michael Lewis

Laptops as unifying devices to bring together school and home

It is not tech itself that is a primary cause of either greatness or decline

The quality of leadership is the primary indicator fo whether tech funding, regardless of level, is liekly to be spent wisely or be wasted – research by CoSN study

delivery of personalized instruction

train teachers on how to do the above which is the goal of laptop

The question is not wheter whe should adjust, but whether, when and how

Four phases of laptop program:

-create the need
-challenge the mental models
-provide the tools and training
-do business differently

Must do 1 and 2 to successfully implement; do not skip to 3 and start there

The Laptop Institute 2005 – Blogging in the Schools

The Laptop Institute 2005

Stated that the banning of education blogs by a principal was carried around the world

the reality was somewhat different – principal was misquoted, but a big deal was made of it

Check out to see abuse of blogs by kids

What is a blog?

Word of the year by the Merriam-Websten dictionary

Blog deals with ONE subject of interest

Technorati is a search engine that monitors blogs

6 million online Americans get news from RSS aggregators

blogs are different from discussion boards!

CNN rates the Internet as the top innovation that changed the world – Landmark Project’s Blog for Educators

Features of a blog

type of website that is EASY and QUICK to create

For teachers to use blogs – it MUST be easy

Abillity to instantly publish to the web

able to personalize the templates

organized by time, chronologically backwards

readers can comment which encourages active participation

use of hypertext links

Weblogs allows the Internet to become a true read/write medium

with writing more, overall quality of writing has actually improved

Literacy = communications (reading + writing)

Blogging = communications (reading + writing)

Therefore, Literacy = blogging

Examined ISTE Standards to see where blogging fits in

Anatomy of a blog – looked much like this one! 😉

Attractive features of Blogmeister:

– preview of entries before appearing on web (drafts)
-email notification of comments
-comments can be deleted
-comment option (anyone or group members)
-password protection
-the teacher maintains control
– has rss

rss = really simple syndication

bloglines is a free service that makes it easy to keep up with your fave blogs and newsfeeds. you subscribe to the rss feeds

Blogmeister sends comments to teacher first to review before posting

Blogger’s contract and rubric included in handout for seminar

Getting started:

-use pen names
-no personal info
-password protection

-netiquette expectations

Blogging : The How

-think about purpose – vision – mission
-think about creative name for it
-think about the content you share

consider your lesson objectives
test, test, test
communicate and promote

-she recommends breaking the class into small groups

Scott Leslie has done some research on blogs (see handout)

poetry pizzeria

Our abc Book – look up url

Assign one blog entry per week on a class-related topic; keep required lengths short and emphasize reflection

Over time
-encourage students to provide feeback on one another’s blogs
-evaluate blogs outside of class
-create group entries

Garde students on their blog entries

evaluate such factores as time managaemnet, content, grammar and spelling

rubric builder is availble on landmark projects

rubric calculator also available at landmark projects

Anne Davis and how to use them in education

Allows working with mentors and authors

Review of edu. blogs:

-informational blogs
-course, classroom or school management
-electroncic portfolio management
-electronic filing cabinets
-prof. learning communite


-kids love blogging
-provides motivation to read and write
-seeing words published is a great motivator
-blogs represent a democratization fo info dissemnination
-permit feedback

It is a lot of trouble…

David Warlick has published a book – Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to the Blogosphere

Top Three Other Resources:


Edu-Blog Insights – Anne Davis

I missed the handout because of arriving late, but will definitely email the presenter to ask for a digital copy. I would very much like to pursue a blogmeister blog for my grade 7 students and possibly for my gr. 10 students as well. It seems superior to collaboration on FirstClass.

The Laptop Institute 2005 – The Road to Tech. Integration

The Laptop Institute 2005

This school’s road to tech integ. is very similar to ours – probably to most.

elementary school who only allows 6th gr. to take their laptops home

they rely on laptop carts for most of the grades

computer skills were taught as a separate subject – recognition that there was little overlap between classroom teaching and labtimes

3 Tech days were given to teachers for prof dev – subs were provided

this permitted the 1:1 tech to teacher time

In their tech plan, student tech skills were infused in all curriculum at all grade levels – was not a separate subject

Integrators are available at all times – do not teach

Integrator helps create an authentic learning environment for the teachers

eventually, for them, by 2007 each classroom will have their own laptop cart

Is an integrator something we need or forego?

Integrator works 1:1 with teacher to complete certain tasks and goals

These goals were considered part of their prof dev plan

teachers are recompensed for prof dev

Integrators meetings with teachers are embedded right into the teachers’ schedules

Tech integration is part of teacher evaluation

Use helpsheets available right on the web – we could take this one step further and create online video tutorials

Detours along the road:

-teachers getting sidetracked by grading, cutting, all the other tasks that teachers needed to get done

– questioning of integrators place in classroom

-“what do the integrators do with all that time?”

Patrick Peoto and I both attended this seminar and later discussed the feasability of a full-time integrator at LCC. I am not convinced that this would be something that would be easily embraced by the teachers at LCC. Further exporation later…??

The Laptop Institute 2005: If we have laptops, why do we need a library?

The Laptop Institute 2005

Librarian arguing for her job which has become more complex. Info lit. model – how to teach students to research responsibly. Fuels my desire to work more closely with the librarian.

Ultimately, the purpose of the seminar was to argue for the continued inclusion of trained library sciences personnel for the laptop school. There is a perception that so many reference materials are available that a ibrary may not even be necessary.

Below are the garbled notes I took:

uses Net Trekker – database for internet

any website with a .gov, state, .us, .mil,, extensions – be careful about .edu sites

train students to look closely at entire url

avoid personal sites at .edu extensions

website evaluation form

forces students to answer questions

I like the form – maybe have students hand in forms with assignment

she asks for more in-depth research and will not permit encycolpedia entries

age -level – 10-11th grade levels

argument against using wikipedia is valid – it only provides factual info not on a particularly deep level so probably should not be used at any rate

we look at hoax websites that look good or are deliberately deceptive

What the web is good for:

-books before 1923
-gov. info
-genreal consumer info
-old stuff

Not good for:

-books after 1923
-short facts
-most journal articles
-back issues of newspapers and magazines

need to note that databases are not considered Internet domain, just access points through the web

one educator uses a data and desserts night to inform parents about the databases and services the library has to offer

Librarians grade the bibliography – interesting idea!

Net library – offers full online books – subscription service – Lausanne uses this system

uses checkout system – mostly non-fiction

distinction made between primary and secondary sources – web is full of secondary, but not necessarily primary sources

weaving library skills into the curriculum

-she starts with 6th grade
-usually work with existing projects

who should be initiating info lit skills? Librarian or teacher? Who should be monitoring use of library skills? Who does that job?

Whose job to monitor acceptable use of materials in research?

why do we still need a physical collection and location for a library?

To promote reading (only?)

many books are still not in digital user-friendly formats

easier for young students to have a physical book

hard to replace some of those physical books

provides another option – no silver bullet for everyone – good for differentiated learners?

libraries raise test scores – some research has been done

Keith Currie-Lance (sp??) has been doing this research

The Laptop Institute 2005 -Computers in a Writer’s Workshop & Beyond

The Laptop Institute 2005

This was the same presenter, Susan Artkras, as for the inspiration seminar. Again, she presented a show-and-tell of links and hotlinks pages that are helpful for language arts and social science middle school teachers. Her link below contains the webpage of her presentation material.

create opportunities for guided play (her philosophy)

extending the classroom boundaries

expanding access to resources that allow differentiation and choices

reaching all students –

virtual language arts

magnetic poetry, name that literary element, good for 1:1 laptop program

All her resources

grammar gorillas

The resources for this workshop

create your own games on your website

create flashcards using DW

flashcards to help students study (online flash cards)

Learn and explore alongside your students,

freelance projects – one month she chooses, one they choose

great multimedia projects!

photostory is free from MS – works like imovie – free bulletin board space until 1000 msgs

she uses the forum for e-hw, website feedback, electronic teacher, post grades

summer discussions


feedback for authors

poetry wars – march madness – poetry tournament

gives rewards to best respondees – literary luminary, etc. – would I lke to join? on quicktopic

seeking more meaningful places to post students’ work – meaningful audience

Project Poster – online place to post work

Sites for teachers

expand access to resources

access allows for differentiation and choice

ikeepbookmarks – introduce to Gary as an alternative to blocking everything!

thinktank is a graphic organizer

filamentality to create your own web pages – create hotlists – webquests

tapped in – 24/7 asynchronous help

set up a web page – bring students in – forum for educators

may be a great place to connect with other educators around the world

it is free!

providing access to students – unfettered, guided access that are visual, auditory, print-based so that all learning styles can be accomodated

Purdue Online writing lab – direct them to resources to be self-correcting in their editing

download clips from United streaming, post it on the website so they can watch it at home – quizzes online



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