Posted by: Kris Woods | December 20, 2007

Article #4 Student Engagement

Student Engagement, Visual Learning and Technology:  Can Interactive Whiteboards Help?
William D. Beeland, Jr.
Retrieved April 18, 2003, from the University of New Castle website:

Whiteboards, student response devices, projectors, laptops, creation stations, digital cameras, fire wire…

Podcasting, blogging, authentic learning, project-based learning, social bookmarking, wikis, MUVEs like Second Life…

Everyday I can check my RSS reader and skim through the blog postings from my favorites to see the current news in education, library media, student learning, Web 2.0 and so much more.  The equipment and the tools mentioned above are the tip of the iceberg when dealing with 21st century learning and student engagement.  The final reading for the Engaged Learning class is an action research article on the effects on electronic whiteboard (EWB) use on the motivation and engagement of students in a middle school classroom.  Breeland emphasized three modalities: visual, tactile, and auditory learning in order to test the efficacy of electronic whiteboards in the classroom.  The report elucidates a positive response to EWB.  The consensus of the discussion focused on why wouldn’t there be a positive response?  Students today are engaged in learning through the same modalities as they always have been engaged.  The difference can be the tools, but the bottom line is the instructional pedagogy used in the classroom to engage the learners.  As we discussed in class, the tools will not “fix” a “broken” classroom.  21st century tools will enhance the already successful classroom. 

There is a dearth of studies concerning the efficacy of 21st century tools and Web 2.0 implementation in the classroom.  Correction: there is a dearth of academic, peer-reviewed studies.  There is bountiful information about 21st century learning all over the web.  As we begin using these tools in the classroom through a shift in pedagogy, we also have to change our professional development sources.  Through blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, and podcasts we can have access to a plethora of information about Web 2.0, 21st century learning and the changing pedagogy. Will Richardson in his book Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms mentions how he has learned more in the few years he has been involved in the “Read/Write Web” than in his 20 previous years in education (Richardson, p. vii).  Dr. Scott McCleod discusses Scholarship 2.0 and the need for higher education to accept online publishing as a scholarly pursuit.  Not only must we engage our students in learning, but also engage our own learning through use of the same avenues to information as we expect of our students.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 18, 2007

Hitting the nail on the head

Lucy Gray Presentation

A perfect quote for the engaging learners class comes from a presentation by Lucy Gray.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 13, 2007

Article #3: School of the Future and Beyond the Three R’s

Almost a year ago, Christian Long proposed a “Future of Learning Manifesto” for educators and students provoking some critical thoughts about what it is we should be doing in our schools and how do students learn. According to his blog post, the shortened version looks like this:

1.  “Playing Small Does Not Serve the World.”
2.  What Would Socrates Do?

3.  Nobody Cares if You Walked Up Hill Both Ways Barefoot in the Snow.

4.  Got Passion?  If Not, I’ll Tell You What To Care About. 
5.  My Memory Is Only As Big As My Heart.  Otherwise, I’ll Stick with Google

6.  Look it Up or Die.
7.  Collaboration Ain’t About Holding Hands. It’s about Going Cool Places Fast.
8.  This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record.
9.  It Ain’t About the Technology.  It’s About Being Inside the Story.
10.  Nobody Knows the Answer.  Get Comfy with the Questions

The School of the Future seems to be the embodiment of this manifesto.  Collaborative learning through a project-based learning curriculum related to real-world problems is truly a paradigm shift for the educators of that school.  Philadelphia has been struggling with restructuring and the Microsoft school is only one model being implemented.  The Science Leadership Academy, led by Chris Lehmann, is another model of technology integration for 21st century learning called School 2.0.  SLA also uses a collaborative approach using Open Source software and innovative teaching pedagogy.

How does this impact instruction in our schools?  During the discussion of the School of the Future we considered the viewpoints of different stakeholders in the community: business partners, taxpayers, administrators, teachers, students, and parents.  Many points were brought up concerning student motivation, equitable distribution, time/work committments, logistics of administering the program, etc.  While these items are important in the whole scheme of consideration of such a program, the main idea is that there is a paradigm shift in instuctional pedagogy when it comes to a 21st century classroom.  There has been discussion in the blogosphere that today’s student does not necessarily need to know all the facts.  Today’s student needs to know how to find the facts and be able to process the information in an efficient and effective way using higher order thinking skills such as analyzing, applying, evaluating, and creating (the upper levels of the “New Bloom” taxonomy).  Real-world project-based learning allows for higher level thinking of our students.  Being able to regurgitate facts is no longer an adequate measure of educational achievement.  Students need to know and be able to do the standards for 21st century learning.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 12, 2007 Pathfinders

Buffy Hamilton wrote about a wonderful collaborative tool she used with a teacher on an inquiry-based project: using to bookmark research resources for students as a pathfinder.

This week I also worked with a teacher on creating a pathfinder for a project on African societies’ influence on climate, land resources, and physical features. The classes will be using the pathfinder next week, so we will see how it goes. In my pathfinder, I not only tagged the resource with subject headings, but also annotated the links as to what the student can find in the resource and I added links to netTrekker, Grolier, and GALILEO into the tag I used to link directly to this collection of links.

The teacher created a WebQuest which I added to the links then she added the link to the pathfinder on her WebQuest.  I then added a link to my media center page.  Now the students have multiple points of entry to the information we feel would be an efficient use of their research time.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 7, 2007

We have a logo!


Posted by: Kris Woods | December 7, 2007

Article #2: Marc Prensky and the LoTi Discussion


I was part of the group that read Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky.  This was one of three articles discussed in class which focused on the type of learner we see in the classroom now, how they are motivated to learn, and how they think compared to the usual paradigm.  Students are different today…this is the same statement that is probably made during each transitioning generation.  What makes this generation different than any other?  According to Prensky, today’s learners are wired differently.  Multitasking, short attentions, constant stimuli, parallel processing, graphics, random access, just-in-time, relevant, instant rewards are the characteristics of a digital native.  As teachers in the 21st century, we need to change our pedagogy as well as content.  However, the emphasis is on problem solving, constructing meaning out of information, formulating collaborative thinking…hmmm, sounds to me like we are evoking the same strategies as Dewey with constructivist learning, just putting a 21st century twist on the theory through incorporation of technology to help provide that constructivist learning environment. 

One point in which I disagree with Pensky is that a digital immigrant cannot become digitally native.  My foreign language background does not let me accept this premise.  A learner can become fluent in a new language as long as there is an immersion occuring in that the learner operates within the context of the language and culture.  Technology can be viewed as another language.  Prensky makes the metaphor himself by referring to us as digital immigrants and digital natives.  It is possible to lose an accent and become fluent in another language, it takes practice and commitment to developing the language.


The Level of Technology Integration (LoTi) survey allows us to determine where we are and where we would like to go as far as our use of technology in the classroom.  After observing a few examples of technology use in classrooms and scoring the classroom activity on the LoTi scale, I see more than ever that technology integration is not just using the technology.  Technology integration is incorporating its use in a pedagogically sound implementation of a learning outcome.  It is not enough to begin using technology to say that students are learning in a technology-rich classroom.  The pedagogy of the integration has to align with the goals of making learning a real-world experience, problem-based, with critical and higher-order thinking.  Bloom’s new taxonomy includes:


It is easy to make a classroom look like a LoTi Level 5 or 6 classroom through the evidence of technology.  By examining the LoTi framework; however, the critical, problem-based learning needs to occur before there is a high level of technology integration.  We want to move our students from not just remembering information, but to reach an enduring understanding so that they can apply the concept to situations which they can then analyze to create a learning product.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 4, 2007


We found out information today about the requirements and equipment we will receive at the orientation for MediA 21.  What an opportunity our system is providing for our students!  Our 21st century media centers will be at the forefront of engaged learning through implementation of information literacy, internet safety, digital technologies, and constructive student learning through pervasive collaboration with teachers.

Some of the new equipment will include:

creation station for digital video production

document camera

digital camera bundle

video camcorder bundle

audio recorder/podcasting bundle

new digital video distribution system with digital content

headphones with microphones for laptops

ceiling mounted speakers


color laser printer/scanner

Quizdom student response devices

[laptops, SmartBoard, projector which we have available already]

Of course, equipment is only part of the story.  We also will participate in training to incorporate the use of the equipment in the media center to improve student achievement through engagement of learning in a digital age. I am excited that our school will have this opportunity and that our students will benefit in such a profound way.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 1, 2007

Article #1: Meaningful, Engaged Learning by NCREL

NCREL has boiled down engaged learning into eight indicators:

  1. Vision
  2. Tasks
  3. Assessment
  4. Instructional models and strategies
  5. Learning context
  6. Grouping
  7. Teacher roles
  8. Student roles

Prior to reading this article the class brainstormed some ideas of an engaged learning classroom.  After we read the article we then fleshed out the ideas that were not mentioned by the group.  To me, most of the article is a restatement of how constructive learning takes place according to the philosophy espoused by proponents of information literacy.  There are not many ideas that are unfamiliar to me in this article.  I do find it interesting that the article emphasizes an almost business aspect to engaged learning.  The entrepreneurial activities which could lead to service-based learning as well as the already expected problem-based learning as a hallmark of engaged learning is a perspective I had not previously considered.  The analogy to the working world is expanded in the role of the student as a “cognitive apprentice.”  Not only should a student discover new knowledge through application of the skills, but also reflect on the learning.  According to the article, when students observe, apply, teach, integrate, and produce knowledge, they are acting as an apprentice: studying the practioner in order to contribute to the compendium of knowledge.

Posted by: Kris Woods | December 1, 2007



Make one of your own at TypoGenerator

Posted by: Kris Woods | November 28, 2007

MediA 21

[cross-posted to Media in the Middle]


Tonight I started my journey as a “MediA 21″ media specialist by starting my “Engaged Learning” class.  Many of our teachers are working on creating Teach 21 classrooms and now media specialists have a similar opportunity.  Our system believes in providing the tools and (just as important) the training in order to engage our students in learning 21st century skills.  This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to benefit from the integration of technology in the classroom.

Next week I have the actual orientation to the program when I hope to learn what tools of a 21st century media center we will receive at our school.  For now, I know that I will be writing reflections on my learning each week as I progress through the MediA 21 process, so I will post those reflections here as well as on my MediA 21 portfolio page.

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