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.