Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CLASS 62 & Heidi Siwak: The Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Shout out to Class 62 and Heidi Siwak for receiving The Ken Spencer Award! You can follow Heidi on twitter @heidisiwak and read her generous blog: The Amaryillis to see how she cocreates curriculum with her students and meets them 'where they live.'  It takes dedication and empathy to create a classroom of engaged learners. Having Collaborated with them along with Ian Chia and Esa Helttula continues to inspire me.  Even a small meaningful connection with kids can produce positive outcomes. I share this experience with kids I work with here in NYC. THANK YOU! You never know where your CONNECTIONS will lead you. I'm very proud of what you guys accomplished.


In April 2011, the Grade 6 class began a collaborative inquiry with programmers from Australia and Finland and a digital media artist from New York City. Under their mentorship, students created content for their own iPhone application – an augmented-reality tourism app for Dundas, Ontario. As the project evolved, key elements distinguished this meaningful project-
based learning from other classroom learning experiences:

Real Work: From the outset, students recognized that the project was different and were engaged. They had a “real” audience with Apple, and recognized that their work could be rejected if it didn’t meet Apple’s standards. With this intrinsic motivation, students developed a professional work ethic, demonstrated willingness to engage in difficult decision making, and
were committed to high quality work. 

Uncertainty and Chaos: This was pioneering work that hadn’t previously been attempted in a school, so there were no models to follow. The students took ownership of developing processes and the project itself, and were involved in continuous problem solving, including
learning from failures. 

Web 2.0 Tools: The Internet gave students real-time access to experts. We transcended traditional ideas of “teacher” and “learner”. Students and experts shared ideas and problem- solved. They listened carefully when advice was offered, and asked meaningful questions. Blogging, Skype, Twitter, email, and a wiki were used. Global interest in the project grew and transparency was part of the process. Students recognized their responsibility to work with a
sense of professionalism.

Trust, Respect, and Commitment: A genuine sense of teamwork developed. The nature of the project required students to listen to ideas and set egos aside. Social status became irrelevant
as a determinant. Decisions came down to: “would this be good for the app?” 

Disappearance of 20th Century Classroom Models: The nature of learning became dynamic. Work space was privileged based on requirements for the project; gone were traditional concepts of seating plans with the teacher as dominant figure. Free movement was constant, and students independently found their roles within the project. Natural talents and leadership
skills emerged and evolved. 

Students honed their skills in:
*Geography, including a GPS-based mapping system
*Digital photography, photo editing and GPS augmented reality camera system
*Visual arts/interactive design to create user interface
*ICT technology for digital content management
*Project management using online resources (Wordpress, Google Sites)

Other schools have begun to use this project model to create their own apps and websites. Among them, a Grade 4-6 class in Canada, Grade 5 students in Ohio, and a high school Indonesian language class in Australia. The next phase of the project will integrate global classrooms into a shared platform where students around the world can collaborate. The aim is to build a global base of culturally relevant Creative-Commons licensed curriculum. With this platform and model, students will learn digital citizenship skills, develop global awareness and

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Aligning Your Content with Academic Standards

We all know by now that the digital shift taking place in publishing is nothing short of revolutionary.

The iPad was only released April 2010 and there are already 600,000 apps for sale in the App Store and over 55 million ipads sold.

Now factor in the explosive intersection of children's content and digital literacy (education) and you have a perfect storm for children's IP creators.  Aligning your content with academic standards adds more value to your IP. By creating curriculum you can extend your story and create new revenue streams for your content.

Publishers large and small are looking toward education as a way to add value to their new digital products (ebooks + apps) and build an engaged audience.

Ruckus Reader "The Ruckus Reader is a breakthrough learning program, a unique series of digital storybooks designed to help your child practice important reading skills AND keep you up to date on your child's progress. All of the stories and interactive activities are developed by educational experts to adhere to national educational standards for preschool through second grade." - Ruckus reader Website

Scholastic / Storia, the "fun, interactive and educational eReading App for Children" that is "enriched with fun activities that build vocabulary."
Smart. Extending content they already own into the digital space.

Utales, a subscription based model that is "fun and educational."

TumbleBook Library, "an online collection of animated, talking picture books which teach young children the joys of reading in a format they'll love."

NookKIDS, "Play activities built right into amazing picture books and hear them read aloud. Find your favorite characters in this best-in-class collection."

Meegenius, "millions of parents are using this simple app to introduce a life of reading to their children." More than 700 kids' books to choose from, over 1,000,000 downloads in the App Store.

Ripple Reader, "A free ebook reader for kids. Parents and other adults purchase recordable ebooks that work on both a PC or MAC. The iPad Ripple Reader app is coming soon."

International Children's Digital Library, "A Library for The World's Children."
I enjoyed reading the classic & beautiful A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway from the Rare Books Collection, Library Of Congress.

A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway, published by F. Warne 1900

Are you extending your content with digital games and activities that are built around the K-12 common core standards or 21st Century Skills?

 In his doctoral thesis: What Is Digital Literacy, Doug Belshaw, now a researcher/analyst at JISC infoNet, defines the the 8 elements of digital literacy as: cultural, cognitive, constructive, communicative, confident, creative, critical and civic.

Slide from Doug Belshaw's presentation: How To Develop Digital Literacies In Yourself And Others.
How many of these can you build into your curriculum to enrich your IP?
Follow discussions around digital literacies by following the hashtags #digilit & #mlearning on twitter.