Patti: Wheels are turning again. ;-) How about these for topics?

1. When students _own_ their work. Is there a way to make labs available to students in their free time to allow them to choose projects and activities on their own? My lab is open from 8-8:30 each morning before school, during 5th and 6th grade recess and after school 2 days for 45 minutes. Carla has just made time available for 4th graders during their recess.

Mahenaz: I think something like this could only be possible for schools that are well into using technology, are comfortable with it...both teachers and children (I guess children get comfortable much much faster) and there is a level of trust and confidence. I mentioned this to one school here in Karachi, and the thought of children coming into the computer lab unsupervised was just NOT acceptable...perish the thought ;-) !!! So for those of us just starting it has to be a bit at a time.

Patti: It's good to see you here on our listserv under your new address... your own. ;-) Please let me clarify a few things above. When the students come to my lab "on their own time" they are not alone. I am always there.

Teachers in our schools have morning "duties" such as greeting the students as the busses arrive, monitoring the halls as they move to classrooms, etc. My morning duty is to be in the lab to assist students who come there. During the recess time for 5th and 6th graders I am in the lab also to guide them. I established an "after school" computer time for the students several years ago. One year I was able to be available three days a week for the kids for 45 minutes after school. This year I am doing some staff development for teachers after school so I had to drop one of the afternoons for the kids. They were not happy. ;-)

Betty: I think open labs are particularly important for students who do not have access at home.

It is a problem at our school. Giving up prep time or lunch time seems to be a significant factor in whether labs are open... or rather finding staff to supervise the lab during recesses, before or after school seems to be a problem for us.

Patti: I can truly understand this challenge. Teachers have little time for extras during the day so this might a place where input from the community would be welcomed.

  • Computer literate parents/mentors from the business community who give 30-45 minutes to be available in a lab to help students. We have a mentoring program in our county and business people come to our schools for an hour or so once a week and mentor individual "at risk" students. Perhaps some might like to be available in a computer lab for kids.
  • We also have student teachers from Salisbury State University who are in our schools for several months. This is another possibility for someone to be in an open lab for students.

Patti: 2. Evaluating web sites - "I found it on the web, Mrs. Weeg, so it must be true." Hmmm....

Betty: Needs discussion. Agree.

Mahenaz: Yes this could be a problem. Needs discussion. Could children be taught to do some cross referencing to check out ideas, "facts" they find on the web (or in books for that matter). As I see it this is not a web-specific issue.

Patti: 3. Student portfolios - Carla sparked this idea. Her daughters are doing some exciting things online. Wouldn't it be nice to build web pages as an online portfolio and have students point to them as they apply for college? Carla's 11 year old Megan can already point to her circle story that she is writing as a result of her online exchanges with children's author, Laura Numeroff.

You can have a sneak preview but remember... it is still a work in progress. ;-)

Betty: Will there be a genuine audience for student work... or are we adding to the stuff on the web... putting it there just because we can?

Patti: Another topic. ;-) Great! What should we add to the WWW? Hopefully our students are more than "word movers." Moving words from one source to another (book --> WWW or one web site to another) isn't what we are looking for. We want to see students moving from "data to information to insight" (Jamie McKenzie) Building our base of information, adding insights and cultural awarenesses seem to be valid reasons for making our work available on the WWW.

Mahenaz: At this point I can't even imagine what this would entail or how it would be possible for schools. I feel as though I'm in the dark ages when I read such stuff, but thank goodness for this technology and this team that at least we have access to this info. Great idea :-)

Patti: Portfolios are not that uncommon today. Using only one form of assessment might not give a true evaluation of what the student has learned. Since many families are now online from home it might be a nice idea to talk to parents about building a digital portfolio for their school aged children. I can see where that might encourage parents and kids to work together and have a common interest in what goes on in school. We are always looking for ways to involve parents in our schools. If they think about building electronic portfolios for their children they will surely have to be in touch with what we are doing in the classroom. I like this idea more and more as I think about it! ;-) Families could build this together and once the child is comfortable with the technology he/she can continue independently.

Carla: Currently, in our county, we are very focused on two types of portfolios. One is an assessment portfolio that shows growth through out the elementary years. I think it would be difficult to do this on the web for the early elementary grades. Also if teachers do not have access at home to view these, then they are virtually useless.

The other type we stress in our high schools is the showcase portfolio. Students are encouraged to put together a portfolio to take on college interviews. Even the student teachers I have had from our local university are required to have portfolios to take on job interviews.

I think that by having an electronic portfolio, students are showing two important things. Their showcased work is obvious. But they are also showing that they are technologically preparing for the 21st century. Aren't we as a world moving more into technology? Isn't that why we do what we do with technology in our classrooms? I think to not teach our students how to present themselves on the web to future colleges and employers is doing our children a disservice.

Think about the possibilities. A student who wants to get into a good Art school, for example, could send his URL to many different schools. These schools would then have an idea of his talent before even setting up an interview. An employer or college would always have access to the student's portfolio without it getting misplaced - this has happened to me :-(. Anyway, these are my ideas. What does the team think about portfolios? Are they being stressed anywhere else in the world??

Patti: 4. Building a resource for each other - best practices in Hawaii! As schools build web pages that share creative instructional designs using the Internet they are constructing a valuable resource for all to share... locally and globally. The time to start is - now!

As we develop projects, units and lessons this summer that involve online activities is it reasonable to think we can "publish" some of these projects in HTML format? I would love to see this happen.

Betty: What is meant by publish? Posting on a web site?

Patti: Yes, that's what I mean, making our units, projects, lessons available for all. Not everyone knows how to make web pages so I realize that this might still be only a "dream" that we can end the week with the first stage of web pages in progress.

Thanks again for your valuable input.

Mahenaz: YES! This would be wonderful as a resource for teachers. I don't know what it would mean for those who are involved in the "publishing" in html format. I have to take this back. I have JUST been educated by Sabeen and I have seen what it entails. YES again.

Patti: Hooray for Sabeen! Aren't our children wonderful! My son (aged 24) knows more than his mom when it comes to the inner workings of the computer. I rely on him all the time!

Building web pages takes TIME. Lots of time. It is definitely a commitment. Not all can invest the time and we understand this but there are many kids out here who are eager and capable of doing this. Take a look at the ThinkQuest competitions. Those kids are fantastic!

and ThinkQuest Jr.

These students are building high quality web-based educational material. Lynne and Marilyn have students in these competitions right now. Lynne and her students (2 are her own children) went to Sweden in January to talk to teachers there about ThinkQuest. We are so proud of them! ;-) Good luck to all of you this year in the competitions.

Patti: Your ideas? We haven't heard from everyone yet.... thinking... thinking...

Mahenaz: I have to share this with you all. I have been thinking, thinking and thinking and had a discussion with someone well versed in this tech. We are going to hold a workshop to introduce, sell, hook ;-) schools into using the Internet as a tool, resource for education. The workshop will be on April 30. Please keep your fingers crossed. Being part of this team, reading, discussing and occasionally shaing ideas has spurred me into action. I would have got there, but perhaps later. Now I feel I can't waste any more time, and I will have global technical support, infact there is already so much. So I have to do it NOW. THANK YOU ALL!!!
:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
Take care, mahenaz

Patti: Ahhh.. Mahenaz, this warms my heart! Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you. We look forward to hearing about the results. You have filled us with many good ideas here and we are grateful.

Warm hugs...

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Patricia A. Weeg