Tapped In Newsletter: October 2009

...On the Tapis
October 2009
Issue 143

In This Issue

[1] Tapped In Technology Tip
[2] Tips and Comments from the Experts
[3] News Nuggets
[4] About ...On the Tapis

Quote of the Month: "This bridge will take you halfway there -- the last few steps you will have to take yourself." - Shel Siverstein

[1] Tapped In Technology Tip

Why use the Tapped In Text Chat & Discussion Boards?

"A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read." - Mark Twain

Why should anyone use text chat and discussion boards when they are able to use online learning environments that allow participants to listen to others speak? Text chat and discussion boards have some distinct advantages in that they are opportunities for everyone to have a 'voice' by inserting their writing into others' ideas and thoughts. If students are too young to keep up with text chat, then use the discussion board in a K-12 Student Classroom. What are the children communicating? Are they demonstrating that they understand a concept? Are they asking for help? Discussion boards also give everyone, including the instructor/teacher, an opportunity to LISTEN to what is being said, to digest the words and construct meaning from those words.

Much focus is being placed on 'multiple intelligences' and the ways in which we each learn. Although some children and adults learn better by using drawings and pictures, they may also be able to 'paint' pictures by using words or 'sing' songs through poetry and lyrics. To be literate one must have a vocabulary with which to communicate... regardless of whether that vocabulary is used textually, visually or orally. During a recent conference David Warlick stated, "Stop integrating technology. Instead, start redefining literacy. If we do that, the technology will come along. There is just one literacy: the skills involved in using information to accomplish your goals." Tapped In is a terrific place to have educators and their students acquire and use language as one pathway to demonstrating literacy.

If you have comments on how you are helping your learners to acquire and use language as a means to redefining literacy in your K-20 classrooms, please send information to bjb@tappedin.org

[2] Tips and Comments from the Experts

Whether you are a pre-service teacher or a seasoned educator, if you've hesitated to participate in Tapped In calendar events, the following snips of dialogue might change your mind!

Snip of dialogue from Dianne Allen's September Teaching Teachers Forum.

DianneA: this is the third or fourth time you have returned to Teaching Teachers, to engage in this kind of discussion ...can you identify what is drawing you back?
GordonP: In many ways, I feel like a rookie. I want to find growth. I feel I know Adult Ed theory much better than most, but making trainings more beneficial has been slow
DianneA: again, though, what has it been, about these sessions, that has drawn you back? ... can you identify what you see, even if only slightly, as a likely 'answer' to what you are after?
GordonP: your expertise in PD
DianneA: does that mean that what I have been doing has taken you into new territory?
GordonP: yes it has. I still study your paper and PPT
DianneA: thanks ... and that is useful information ...so let us together critique ... is what I have been doing with you, what I have been suggesting that I do with your PD sessions? One thing we need to keep in mind Gordon is that you took the initiative to turn up to Tapped In and to a Teaching Teachers session, so you brought a certain level of initial motivation. Looking at our list on the Welcome page, 1. Identification of learning needs, it would appear that my process, especially that first session (and hopefully again and again) is part of doing that for you ... agreed?
GordonP: yes
DianneA: 2. 'Community of practice' icebreaker ... that was a 'given' - that was what you did by coming to Teaching teachers, but also, to keep coming somehow BJ and I have offered a safe and constructive sense of community of practice for you
GordonP: yes and that seems to be hard to accomplish as I am one of the few in this group
DianneA: AGREED! So the fact that you are finding that difficult in your PD sessions is not surprising.
GordonP: a safe and constructive sense of community is a great idea to implement in PD Thank you very much
Snip of dialogue from Jeff Cooper's October Science Resources K-20.

JeffC: what I'm going to suggest is something to start getting you thinking a bit outside of the box regarding what you do with your science class. Elizabeth has already created a virtual classroom here...I'd recommend that more science teachers do the same... then arrange for an intercontinental science project.
LizT: or exercise like calculating the size of the planet using shadows?
JeffC: many science related projects involve experiments... why not come up with a group of science classes... have them find an appropriate experiment that would have differences around the world (due to climate, etc.) and then collaborate here? That sounds like a great idea too Liz... how many ideas can we come up with for teachers/students/classes collaborating on experiments, etc.?
DrChristo: I'm thinking something that relates to climate change. Like maybe CO2 levels in the atmosphere
JeffC: we have the links here, the tools and people... why not teach outside the boundaries of your own class? Exactly Elizabeth... climate change is a major topic and could easily transfer into social studies, etc... lots of stuff to look at, analyze, report and discuss.
LizT: what about carbon stores in different environments? We have different tree growth to you guys in the northern hemisphere
SusanR: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3667979.stm we have to reduce our carbon footprint
JeffC: how about utilizing some of the sites that discuss carbon footprints, have students do various projects and report back results.
LizT: carbon stores or sinks - where the C is held in the environment e.g. oil, coal; trees and soil are also sinks
DrChristo: We could compare carbon footprints for schools in different areas.
LizT: Or maybe compare the C storage in different soils?
DrChristo: How would you measure it?
LizT: C can be measured by measuring mass of the dry soil (after evaporating the moisture) and then burning the soil - this converts all organic matter to CO2, difference in mass before and after burning is a relative indication of C content. Some of the organic matter converts to charcoal so method gives a relative indication not an absolute
DrChristo: Can you do it on a small sample size?
LizT: you only do small samples e.g. half an evaporating basin maximum. I did this back in uni when doing soil science subject and have found it useful in a number of situations
DrChristo: Can we connect C content in soil to climate change?
LizT: one of the current discussions over here is how to increase soil C to decrease atmospheric CO2 and how much impact would it have. Oz (Australia) soils are traditionally low in C and depending on farming techniques can be almost impoverished. More C apparently helps to increase numbers of microbes and worms. Maybe we could start with a comparison exercise to see if soils do differ across the globe in C content?
DrChristo: That's a great idea. I was thinking that, too. I wonder if C content changes - we could test at different times of the year, too.
LizT: could also compare 'natural' or undisturbed ecosystem soil with disturbed ecosystems?
DrChristo: City vs. country? Could we also test CO2 in the air - though I'm not sure how.
LizT: I'm in an urban area so have access to relatively undisturbed areas, orchard areas cropping areas and stocked areas; stock = cows and sheep a fairly diverse economy here
DrChristo: We have both city and country around here.
LizT: what type of country?
DrChristo: Orchards, too. Small farms
LizT: ours are stone fruit - mainly cherries
DrChristo: Apples, mostly here.
LizT: this could be interesting and could easily get bigger than Ben Hur if we don't keep a tight rein on direction
DrChristo: Yes. Let's start small - test some soil.
LizT: what type? Éas in school yard?
DrChristo: On campus, perhaps. What type of campus do you have?
LizT: grass oval + treed areas
DrChristo: Lots of cars around, so it would be sort of urban.
LizT: not enough trees unfortunately. Campus is in middle of town on side of hill, but grass oval is flat
DrChristo: The depth of the soil would matter, wouldn't it?
LizT: yes and is a variable that will need to be controlled - say 15 cms to top of sampled area?
DrChristo: We would probably need to take several samples around the campus and see if we can get an average.
LizT: it will depend on depth of top soil as well. Samples will need to be from similar environment to reduce confusion. If the averages are significantly different, it could indicate we are onto something or nothing at all!
DrChristo: I think the key would be in having enough samples that we could make definitive comparisons.
LizT: areas that are regularly fertilised would need to be excluded if the fertiliser has C in it, the fertiliser will upset the C soil content
DrChristo: Liz, let's plan a time to get together to talk about this more.
LizT: good idea maybe think through what we want and how first?
DrChristo: Let's email and set up a time to meet.
LizT: sounds good
DrChristo: Okay. I'll talk to you soon, then. I think this will be a good project!
Snip of dialogue from Maryann Durland's October Classroom Assessment.

MaryannDu: the path [to good assessment] is 1. know what you want the student to learn. 2. know how you what the student to demonstrate what they know. 3. plan instructional practices (not teaching, but instruction), that get the student there, and then do it. I think that the two things that a teacher needs to know to really teach well, is how to manage a classroom so that no child is dependent on the teacher for every step, and to teach children how to own their own learning. If we do these two things, kids will not be bored, and we will have time to work with the ones who really need a lot of help. And I think it is more and more critical that teachers really understand how learning occurs, and do lots of hands on and help students own [their] learning.
MaryannDu: but asking the question of 1st graders - how many of you can write your name? is an assessment
CatalinaG: this is wonderful! I love Tapped In. My professor introduced this to the class
MaryannDu: wow, thank your professor!
LindaLar: me too
SelinaSa: really I didn't know that was an assessment
MaryannDu: you would look at the letter formation, if they knew upper and lower case letters, could stay on a line, etc
LindaLar: Maryann are our observations also part of assessments?
MaryannDu: then you would know what to teach. Yes, that is a method for getting data and assessment is all about data, so observations are assessment
VanessaG: but this was by far the best and most informative chat I have ever been a part of
MaryannDu: thank you!
SelinaSa: this my most informative chat also
CatalinaG: I love chatting with all of you and I want to thank each of you
MaryannDu: you are very welcome. We generally have a very nice chat in here!
VanessaG: I feel good cause I really feel I learned something
BJB2: the next Classroom Assessment discussion will be November 12
SelinaSa: yes I feel I learned something new
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 tell us about it here.

[3] News Nuggets

TI member Mari Bell has created a GLP (Global Learning Project) called "Character Counts". Students from K-6 can learn about positive character, share personal stories of positive character, interact and discuss with one another what it means to have positive character. Mari has created 5 "Be" Traits - be fit, be kind, be positive, be smart, and be true. If you would like to participate in this GLP (or know someone else who would), please let them know about this wonderful experience! It is a great opportunity for teachers and student teachers to get their students involved. Mari would be happy to answer questions about the project and would appreciate feedback on the site. mari.bell@sbcglobal.net
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.

[4] About ...On the Tapis

Past issues of ...On the Tapis newsletters are available online.

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