Tapped In Newsletter: March 2008

...On the Tapis
March 2008
Issue 124

In This Issue

[1] Group Focus of the Month: E-Toys (K-12)
[2] Tapped In Technology Tip
[3] Tips and Comments from the Experts
[4] Teaching with Primary Sources
[5] News Nuggets
[6] About ...On the Tapis

Quote of the Month - "I've failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan, basketball legend

[1]Group Focus of the Month: E-Toys by Randall Caton

Alan Kay developed Squeak as a general thinking environment with a minimum of tools. His goal was for others to package it for various purposes.* That is what MIT did when they developed Scratch. Scratch runs in Squeak, but you wouldn't know it by looking at it. Scratch is oriented towards creating art and music through programming. E-toys are a part of the Squeak environment developed to allow young learners around age 10 to develop thinking skills by simulating, modeling or creating what is in their mind and explore the results. Squeak, which allows learners to create their own simulations, is a free open-source programming environment that runs on several platforms and can be used to construct active learning environments. When students get an idea, they can implement it in Squeak using E-toys and explore their ideas. Seymore Pappert is an advisor to the development of Squeak, which can be described as logo on steroids. Randy has developed a lot of Squeak projects for middle school mathematics and science that could be adapted to 5th grade. Squeak is like a giant sandbox where the learner can play and use the tools to model and simulate a variety of physical phenomena. Squeak and E-toys make student thinking visible. A student could get an idea like wanting to simulate a compass. The student would have to learn how compasses work and in the process of simulating one in Squeak, he/she would become an expert in compasses.

The One Laptop Per Child project and Squeak is installed on the laptop. The goal is to get millions of laptops to children in poor countries. The laptops are now being made available to US school systems. Squeak is used all over the world to help students learn. It is usually used in computer labs, but because it is free many learners use it at home.

If you follow the Etoys and Scratch pane in Randall Caton's office (RandallCa), you can see how to download Squeak and run some demos he created. You can also go to the K-12 Student Campus and visit the E-Toys Resource room, created by Randy as a resource room for students, for more information. Try installing Squeak or Scratch (Randy suggests you start with Scratch because it is easier) and just play with it a bit. If you have questions, you can email Randy at rcaton@cnu.edu.
* Randy comments that Alan Kay is always demoing Squeak and he does a super job. "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." Alan Kay not only coined this favorite tech-world adage, but has proven its truth several times. A true polymath, as well as inventor, he has combined engineering brilliance with knowledge of child development, epistemology, molecular biology and more. Kay has spent years envisioning better techniques for teaching kids, and in this talk [recorded by TED.com] after reminding us that "the world is not what it seems," he shows us how good programming can sharpen our picture. His unique software lets children learn by doing, but also learn by computing and by creating lessons themselves. (Recorded March 2007 in Monterey, California. Duration: 20:37.)

[2] Tapped In Technology Tip

Some of the recent members of the TI community may have not seen the information that helps you understand what TI can do for you both in the classroom and for professional development. Please take some time to read the following and visit our homepage at http://tappedin.org to learn more about "what educators can do" in Tapped In.

Vision: Transforming teacher professional development online
Research has shown that student achievement is directly linked to teacher quality. State and national teaching standards provide a framework for teachers' professional growth that requires teachers to engage in ongoing professional development throughout their careers. The increasing demand for continuous professional development means that providers must expand face-to-face programs to include online activities and content that engage teachers anytime, anywhere. The growing recognition that no single organization can satisfy teachers' ongoing professional development needs requires that educators and providers form communities to share strategies, resources, and support. Tapped In was developed to support this vision. It is a Web-based learning environment created by SRI International to transform teacher professional development (TPD) for professional development providers and educators. Tapped In enables providers to offer high-quality online professional development experiences and support to more teachers cost-effectively. Through Tapped In, educators can extend their professional growth beyond courses or workshops with the online tools, resources, colleagues, and support they need to implement effective, classroom-centered learning activities.

Educator activities: Career-long online home for educators
Tapped In brings educators together both locally and worldwide to cultivate a community that supports each teacher as a professional. We build the capacity of teachers to support one another through peer networks supported by the TI community. Educators
* Plan/conduct learning projects.
* Participate in or lead topical discussion and groups.
* Manage/attend online courses offered by TPD providers.
* Mentor other educators.
* Try out new ideas in a safe, supportive environment.

Resources, experts, mentors, and new colleagues are available to all. Collectively, these elements of TI form a uniquely supportive, career-long online home for education professionals.

[3]Tips and Comments from the Experts

TI member Cheri Hamilton used the feedback section on the homepage to let the community know she uses TI: The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at KU will be using Tapped In this summer to teach a free graduate course for teachers called "The Heat Is On! Confronting Climate Change in the Classroom". It is a great way to get teachers engaged in pre-visit work before our class begins.
TI member Una Raimondo appreciates the professional development opportunities that TI offers. "Thanks to Tapped in my school has come a long way in co-teaching."
If you have a comment or experience to share with the Tapped In community, please submit the information to BJ Berquist at bjb@tappedin.org or post here.

[4] Teaching with Primary Sources

The Library of Congress' educational outreach program, Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS), is now available in many states. The Eastern Regional TPS Program is currently seeking proposals for grants in the amount of $5,000-$15,000 for the purpose of instituting educational programming focused on primary sources from the Library's online collections found here. The Eastern Regional TPS Program serves twelve states, from Maine southward to Maryland and West Virginia, and D.C. Proposals might come from educational outreach programs at cultural institutions, undergrad or graduate programs, or professional development programs, to name a few.

Visit here to learn more about the program or to submit an online application. Sue Wise, Associate Director, Teaching with Primary Sources Waynesburg University, (724) 852-3377, swise@waynesburg.edu

[5] News Nuggets

Several Webheads have been selected to be among WorldCALL 2008 scholarship awardees. Hala Fawzi credits her selection to what she has learned and is still learning through participating in the Webheads projects, "because of this magic, weird spirit that urges one to pay forward what he/she learns here. Thank you!" Congratulations to TI members Hala Fawzi, Nina Lyulkun, Susan Marandi, Nelba Quintana, and Jennifer Verschoo.
TI member Eric Neufer shares information about an upcoming summer institute about Bringing Information Technology and Wellness Together - "Stories, Tools, and Practices: Expanding Classroom Possibilities". This is a week-long experience with digital storytelling, GIS, systems thinking, and wellness that is open to all K-12 educators. Eric created this summer institute that combines practical applications of technology in the classroom with a broader look at how we can bring new ideas to our teaching without burning out. Detailed information can be found here.
The next evolution of the CPsquare Foundations Workshop is "Connected Futures," about new technologies for communities of practice. The 5-week workshop starts on April 28, 2008 and is described here. Participants in the Foundations of Communities of Practice workshop continue to work in public and produce marvelous contributions. The workshop that's just wrapping up is sharing two very interesting pieces of work, innovative in their content and in their mode of publication:

Communities of practice in higher education are different?
Benchmarking communities of practice across their life cycle
Do you have a News Nugget about yourself or another member of the Tapped In Community? Send your News Nugget to BJ Berquist at bjb@tappedin.org.

[6] About ...On the Tapis

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