Curriculum: Week of April 22, 2012

What’s Happening:

  • Check out the (very beginnings) Free Professional Development section of the Curriculum Weekly . There are a plethora of golden opportunities right at our fingertips to learn something new, refresh skills, and make professional connections. The link will always be a work in progress and available in the left-hand column.
  • Have a iPad app recommendation for the AIS teacher/student iPads? Use the link in the left-hand column iPads @ AIS to find the procedures and online form to make your request.
  • Taking Charge of your Professional Development is coming to you as an end-of-the-year professional development opportunity. This will be a series of three one-hour long workshops. Finally, here are the “further details”!
    • Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., ES Muliti-Purpose Room
        • May 2: Welcome to the blogosphere of learning! Find out about the numerous blogs written and maintained by professionals in all areas of interest. Discover how to use an aggregator to collect and organize blog sources on your desktop and mobile devices.
        • May 9: Join the blogosphere! Learn how to share your ideas and passions with the world via your very own blog. The basics of setting up and maintaining a blog for personal or professional purposes will be covered.
        • May 16: Learning in 140 characters or less. Discover the world of Twitter and what it has to offer you as a lifelong learner and professional educator. Learn about tweeting, tweeps, hashtags, following, retweeting, shortening URLs, and setting up your own Professional Learning Network.
        • Sign up using the Google form below. You don’t even need to leave this page!

Do you have something you’d like to share that is happening in your classroom? How are you using iPads to extend learning in your classroom? How are you making curriculum come alive for your students? Please let me know so I can share what is happening and provide you the support you need for success.

21st Century Thought of the Week:


Collaboration in Education-

two or more co-equal individual voluntarily brings their knowledge and experience together by interacting toward a common goal in the best interest of students for the betterment of their education success.


Some rights reserved by Roger Smith

We are all familiar with the expression “two heads are better than one.” When more than one set of ideas is put forth and discussed the benefits to all involved can be truly amazing! The article Maximizing the Impact of Teacher Collaboration highlights the importance of keeping collaboration on track to increase productivity. Working together in the true spirit of collaboration takes time, effort, and commitment.

Time needs to be carved out of schedules. Sometimes that time is provided. Other times we have to find (or create) the time. It is essential for people to take the time to sit together, to  talk, to listen, and to really hear. Taking the necessary time to process and reflect is also important. So often it is so much easier for each of us, as individuals, to just “get ‘er done!” On a team of one (is that really a team?) where there is no discussion, projects can move a lot faster. BUT, are the results of these projects as worthwhile with no input from others? Are they as valid?

Effort is vital in putting forth ideas and taking them to a level that Stephen Covey refers to as synergy. In my mind, synergy is collaboration nirvana. Through the fruits of the labors (in this case ideas) of each individual something better results. The effort to collaborate prevents the development of empirical islands. This effort helps individuals to feel supported rather than isolated. What level of effort are we willing to put forth is shaping new ideas through the combination of my idea and your idea?

According to commitment is “a pledge or promise,” an “engagement; involvement.” The onus to collaborate falls on the shoulders of many. An institution must often promise the time needed for collaborative projects, while employees must pledge to use the time to engage in creating together. How committed are we to engaging with others? In listening and supporting?

The expectation for collaboration is stated in  the IB’s Programme standards and practices document (Standard C1: Collaborative Planning). The emphasis on collaborative planning and reflection is inherent in the IB programmes. Best Practices in Teaching acknowledges the direct correlation between collaborative teachers and student success. Collaboration between teachers can be a powerful tool for professional development and a driver for school improvement by providing “opportunities for adults across a school system to learn and think together about how to improve their practice in ways that lead to improved student achievement” (Annenberg Institute for School Reform, 2004, p. 2).

Article(s) of the Week:

Why iPad? – thoughts from the EdTechTeacher team

App of the Week:

HootSuite for Twitter

      • What does it do? HootSuite lets you manage multiple social networks in one app. You can manage your social media profiles, like Facebook, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Twitter from almost anywhere (e.g., iPhone, iPad, iTouch, and desktop).

      • How can it be used to support learning? Certainly a useful tool from a professional development standpoint! There are so many learning opportunities available via social networks. HootSuite allows users to organize and categorize information into manageable chunks.

Video of the Week:

Everything is a Remix

Podcast/Blog of the Week:

Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips provides short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines that can confound even the best writers, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Whether English is your first language or second language, Grammar Girl’s punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer.

Each podcast episode deals with one grammar point and is typically well under 10 minutes in duration. Learn how to properly use an ellipsis, write an email message, differentiate between affect and effect, possessives, or how to speak like the Irish.

Mignon Fogarty is the host of Grammar Girl and founder of Quick and Dirty Tips.  Prior to becoming a grammar guru, Mignon was a magazine and technical writer, and an entrepreneur.  Mignon has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University.

Curriculum: Week of March 11, 2012

What’s Happening:

  • The 3rd round of apps are NOW available for AIS teacher iPads.
  • International Day is Thursday! A great day of learning fun! Use the 7 Billion app on your iPad (requires a sync to the new collection) to support this year’s theme. There is an excellent collection of thought-provoking videos and articles to support the learning extensions offered on International Day (many run with no internet connection). Featured content includes: demographic trends, the “typical face” of the most typical human, Africa’s Albertine Rift, Bangladesh and rising seas, the Food Ark project as hope for feeding our hungry world, and Cities are the Solution.
  • Eric Walker (MS Humanities) is using 21st century technology to extend student learning through his development of a phenomenal project. He is currently creating a virtual Humanities world using a popular world-building game called Minecraft. This world is by no means limited to Humanities learning. Connections to other subject areas, such as Science and English, are already present. Many teachers of other subject areas have already expressed high levels of interest in contributing to this virtual world. Game based education is an up-and-coming trend whose time-to-adoption has been identified as “two to three years” by The NMC Horizon Report; 2011 K – 12 Education. Check out Eric’s YouTube video screencast for details!

Do you have something you’d like to share that is happening in your classroom? How are you using iPads to extend learning in your classroom? How are you making curriculum come alive for your students? Please let me know so I can share what is happening and provide you the support you need for success.

21st Century Thought of the Week:


Which Tool. 2010. Photograph. The Knowles Gallery. Flickr. 14 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Mar. 2012.

How, and to what extent, can we use technology as a tool to impact student learning?

Using any one of the plethora of technology tools available requires thoughtful research, support, and planning. This is not much different than any other teaching tool of the past (i.e., chalk, clickers, individual whiteboards, overhead projectors, videos). If any technology is simply used, in the words of Mark Prensky, “to do old things in new ways” (e.g., memos and parent communication are shuffled via email) it is not having a significant impact on student learning. The key is to move to “doing old things in new ways” with the ultimate end game of “doing new things in new ways.”

Research is more doable today than it was even five years ago. Information is at our fingertips. We no longer need to travel to a library, pull out heavy encyclopedias, or wade through stacks of professional journals. However, internet searching can feel just as cumbersome and time-consuming! This is where the beauty of the blogosphere and social networking prove extremely useful. There is a whole world of educators out there who are mining the jewels and sharing them. Sylvia Rosenthal Tolisano is a perfect example (see “Blog of the Week”).

Support is out there. It may be found in the classroom down the hall, in an office on the other side of campus, a former colleague in another country via Facebook, or a complete stranger in charge of coordinating a new IB programme in The Philippines. Making connections with those who are brainstorming about, dabbling in, experimenting with, implementing, reflecting on, and evaluating 21st century aspects of curriculum is an important step in moving forward.

A clear plan and purpose ensures that critical learning takes place. Planning is crucial to successful teaching/learning. Using a tool with a clear objective will lead to meaningful learning of essential skills and concepts.

Preparing to teach with technology highlights strategies that are already part of a successful teacher’s tool box: collaboration, planning, questioning, connecting. Each of these attributes has little to do with technology or a specific tool. However, they are all  skills that are necessary for success in the 21st century. Technology is not the silver bullet that will transform education as we know it. It is good to pause and remind ourselves that, as educators, we already possess the tools for success. Technology just allows us another platform for delivery.

Article(s) of the Week:

Bloom’s Taxonomy and iPad apps makes the important connection between a number of iPad apps and the various levels of thinking required to complete tasks using them.

App of the Week:


      • What does it do? With VoiceThread you can create and share dynamic conversations around documents, snapshots, diagrams and videos — basically anything there is to talk about. You can talk, type, and draw right on the screen. VoiceThread takes your conversations to the next level, capturing your presence, not just your comments. Anyone can join the discussion from their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC — anytime, anywhere.
      • How can it be used to support learning? A functional app for digital storytelling, critical application, oral reflection, etc., this app has endless possibilities at all grade levels and in all subject-area classrooms. VoiceThread can be used to support students in creating unique digital stories about whatever subject they are focusing on. Students have the ability to collaborate on projects within the app (students can send their VoiceThread to other students to thread their voices together). Students can provide peer feedback through collaboration (voice commenting). Consult the VoiceThread Digital Library to discover other great ideas for using this app with your students!

Video of the Week:

“Chance favors the connected mind”

Blog of the Week:


Langwitches is the online hub for the amazing work of Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. Her blog provides a comprehensive number of her insights on the role of technology in the classroom, what to do with technology to enhance learning and step-by-step how-to flyers clearly outlining what to do with various educational technology applications. This is the epitome of the professional development that is available (for FREE!!) in today’s digital world.

Book of the Week:

RIn his book, Reach: Building Communities and Networks for Professional Development, Jeff Utecht emphasizes that building learning communities and networks online means reaching beyond the walls of our classrooms, the walls of our school, and even the walls of our own state, country, or continent to create connections. It is through reaching out and making connections with other educators that professional learning will occur in ways like never before, “a state of continual learning.” Taking advantage of the constant stream of information available today on the web at any given moment and using it for your own professional growth is what it means to learn in today’s digital world. It is the ability to connect to the information and people you want to learn from. It is literally having the resource that is the Internet at your fingertips when you need it.