Winding Down for the Holidays – Not

With seven school days left before Winter Break, I am usually wrapping up the new initiatives that we began planning in March and April, implementing in May, June, July, and August, and then training and utilizing in the fall. This year, however, there are five projects that we will require my time and attention over the winter break that I am really excited about and looking forward to develop.

1. Reflection: What Does Vietnam Mean

This is a project beginning in December and running until January 23rd. I will be working with our US History teacher, students, and librarian. I am developing a wiki to help support this project, and develop a resource for our teachers and students who want to do a similar project involving audio and video production.

2. MS Advisory – Community building

We began to plan for this project during the summer. We played with a number of different tools, including Class BlogMeister, before settling on an Elgg installation that we played with at With the release of WordPress MU, we may rethink this, but we begin this project on January 9th. One reason to stay with the Elgg implementation is to be able to provide students with a digital storage location, so that they will not have to rely on other methods (USB drives, email, etc.) to bring work into school. Since Elgg fits into our current Moodle implementation, we are also looking to see if we can pilot a digital portfolio project in our Middle School this spring.

3. Mayan Sketchup Project

I need to make sure that I iron out a few wrinkles in creation of a Mayan village and tying it to Google Earth for a project that starts in January.

4. Prepare for Northern Illinois Computer Users (NICE) Mini-Conference

I am doing a presentation on blogging solutions for the classroom featuring BlogMeister.
I am also doing a presentation on the use of wikis in the classroom. I will be drawing on the Flat Classroom Project as well as a few that I am creating.

5. Prepare for a six week f2f/online course for parents

This is the one that I am most excited about and from what I am hearing, there seems to be a buzz building around this. Last spring and in September, like many of you, I did several parent meetings about Internet safety (mySpace, Facebook, etc.). It occurred to me that while working with some of the parents, they did not quite quite understand all of the issues, because they were digital immigrants. So I began to brainstorm about creating a class that I would do in the winter which would begin with a Face to Face meeting(F2F) on January 11, 2007 and then move online. My thoughts precipitated to an idea and then to a plan because of the energy that I experienced while participating of the k12 Online Conference. I have to finalize plans, but my current outline is to begin to use a Moodle implementation, with discussion forums, as the place to start. I will post links to podcasts and vidcasts and prompt with questions that they can answer. After they have that experience, I am going to either move them into a blog solution or our elgg environment to begin to learn about blogs and rss. I plan on introducing and pointing them to some of the presentations done at the k12 Online conference, since they are so well done. Lastly, I am going to move them towards wikis and other social networking/web 2.0 tools(social bookmarking, Skype conference, etc). We are completing the experience on February 22, 2007 with a second F2F meeting, which I am planning on podcasting. In between, I may have a few other F2F opportunities to help those who need some more hand holding. This will not be a huge addition of time, as I will be needing to spend time overseeing the completion of our yearbook. I will be able to kill two birds with one stone, multi-tasking.

Like the k12 Online Conference, the material will be available for parents to cover at their own pace, as many times as they need. The over-arching desire is to allow parents to learn about Internet Safety by participating in the culture. My hope is that they have a better understanding and will be able to make more informed decisions as parents. How fortunate for me that Time decided to highlight these concepts as their current cover story. I will be able to introduce parents to Thomas Friedman, Daniel Pink, Chris Anderson, and Richard Florida since mainstream media has presented this as a solution and those writers provide fodder for the new conversation. I will also be able to turn their attention to other bloggers so that they can get different points of view. Maybe one of them will feel empowered and will be able to help provide us with the views from the perspective of a parent. What a wonderful partnership that would be.

So, instead of winding down, I will be winding up to meet the year head on. I feel excited, exhilarated, and rejuvenated. Thanks to all who have inspired me these past nine months. I couldn’t have done this without you.

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