November in April

I spent the other day listening to Alan November, one of my favorite educators and speakers.  I have heard Alan speak numerous times, to different and varied audiences, and each time I hear him, I walk away with some new information or idea for the use of technology with students or for teaching in general.  Additionally, Alan’s words are always inspirational and thought-provoking for me, and I leave each of his workshops with an altered perspective.

Alan has a brain full of great thoughts regarding teaching and technology.  Here are a few from the other day.  I don’t need to explain; they speak for themselves.

“Do not bolt technology on top of what we are already have in place in schools.”

“Every teacher needs to use Skype in his or her classroom.  Students should invite their parents to watch them give presentations in class via Skype.”

When looking at an online syllabus for a class in technology, Alan said, “This looks like a piece of paper shoved down a wire.”

“The use of technology in schools should be about Information and Relationships; collaboration with others.”

“Every learner is a teacher, and every teacher is a learner.”

Regarding the use of Ning (or other social networking tools) Alan said, “You need a Ning in every school for the staff to collaborate, and in every district for staff development.”

Regarding collaborative tools such as Google Docs, he said, “Some people don’t learn when taking notes, while others must take notes to learn.”

This is great stuff!  Here are some of the tools Alan shared with us.  I wasted no time talking with my technology coach the next day, sharing these with her.

  • Take advantage of the power of Google with students.  Use the search features provided to sift through all of the unwanted stuff.  Teach the “grammar of the internet” with Google search features.
  • Check out the new Google Custom Search feature while you are snooping around their site.  This is a great way for teachers to create their own search engines that tailored are to their curriculum.
  • Use Scratch with students.  This is a site created by M.I.T.  Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art – and share your creations on the web.  Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up) develop 21st century skills.  As they create and share Scratch projects, young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas while also learining to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.
  • Teachers should be using Jing, a screencasting program, in their classrooms.  Go watch the 2 minute video on their site.  They can explain it much better than I can.
  • Make the Intenet as authentic as you can.  Use sites like Kiva to show kids that they can help others anywhere in the world right from their computers.  Kiva is a site where you can loan funds to those in need, and then they will pay you back.  This is a terrific project for students, classrooms, and entire schools.  Our student council jumped all over this!

For so much more, you can visit Alan’s site, November Learning.   I would highly recommend it.  If you really want to learn more, attend Alan’s summer workshop in Boston:  BLC09.

Please let me know if you currently use any of these tools or sites in your schools.  I am interested in other opinions.


2 thoughts on “November in April

  1. Thanks for this great recap of Alan November’s talk. I’ve seen him speak several times, and although much of his message is always the same, particularly the enthusiasm and the passion – I always learn something new. Here are a few things I can add:

    Last time I saw Alan speak, he recommended using as a search engine for students instead of Google because of the “narrow and expand your search” feature. I don’t think we’re really good at teaching kids how to use key words so directing students to has really made a big difference in effective searching.

    For the first time, I created a custom google search for a Science research project. It worked great because in previous years, kids spent hours spinning their wheels looking for information and never finding it – or using websites for their research that had questionable validity.

    Jing came in handy for me last week. In an Art class, I was supposed to show students how to manipulate images using the Microsoft picture tool bar but I couldn’t come to school. I created a little tutorial video and posted in on our wiki and the students were able to watch the lesson and complete the assignment effectively. I look forward to creating lessons where students can create screencasts.

    (I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! I want to be a principal some day and I am reading your posts with great interest!)

  2. Nadine,
    Thanks for the nice comment. I actually had the opportunity to drive Alan to the airport at the end of the day. He was just as passionate and enthusiastic about education in the car as he was in front of an audience. It was great! I love your ideas for Google Search and Jing. I will share them with my staff. Good luck, and keep reading. I hope I can offer more posts that are worthwhile.

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