Tracking Student’s Online Projects

Participation in online projects can sometimes be quite a challenge to monitor. Students will be posting to various wiki pages, blogs or web sites at various times and frequencies. One way to combat this onslaught is to create an iGoogle homepage. You can create a tab for each project or class.  Then, you simply get an RSS feed from the wiki pages, blogs or web sites that you want to monitor. You should be able to tell at a glance what is happening. Of course, it takes a bit of discipline on my part to make sure that I check this on a regular basis. But, if I have assigned a blog project to all of my students, that could be almost 100 student blogs that I have to track and read. So, this is a life saver. You can read the blog posts right from the iGoogle homepage. If you want to leave a comment, then you have to go directly to their blog – but only one click away.

Sharing how to set up a homepage with students will give them a way to develop their own personal learning network, links to sites they love or to enhance their learning by organizing their important web sites.


According to the HWDSB Strategic Plan, HWDSB will maintain and strengthen collaborative relationships with employee groups. Develop and implement an Employee Relations Plan, a Professional Learning Plan and a Leadership Development Plan, designed to create a culture of collective efficacy, trust and high expectations
(academic optimism) through networking and job-embedded learning.
HWDSB will maintain and strengthen collaborative relationships with community partners. Develop and implement a Community Engagement Plan to improve student achievement and well-being
We all collaborate on the courses that we teach and this is an essential part of doing business. But it is important to me to confer with other teachers as often as possible on everything and anything. Teaching can be an isolating experience – usually in large, institution-like buildings, especially in the secondary panel. My teaching practice is improved through talking to other teachers. I have had the privilege of talking to teachers from other schools who teach Media Arts. Sharing strategies and ideas refreshes enthusiasm and refines ideas.

Last month I was invited to join the 21st Century Fluencies committee – a committee struck to talk about technology and how to engage students and teachers with its potential. This has been the best of the best meetings that I could ever attend – and there isn’t even any food, not even coffee! It really does matter if your opinion counts and that you are doing something meaningful – see engagement does matter! Of course we are talking about technology, a subject near and dear to my heart, as I live and breath it daily. Being part of this committee is almost like taking a big drink of water – I can then go back to my students re-energized and empowered – isn’t this what we try and accomplish with our students – engage, empower?

Being able to connect with other teaching professionals online is also an amazing way to learn new strategies, find out about new technologies and what works and doesn’t work. It is like opening a window and letting the light pour in! Places like ISTE, Classroom 2.0 and Edutopia are full of resources, advice, standards of excellence and conversations amongst educators from around the world. All one needs to do is set a small amount of time each week to delve into the discussion and see what is out there. For those that are courageous, Twitter is also a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what is new in education. I have recently found this way to keep in touch with educators is easy and quick. You only have to read 140 characters at a time!

The nice thing about connecting with platforms like RSS readers or iGoogle and twitter, it comes to you and you don’t have to spend time surfing and looking. It’s like having your own customized newspaper delivered right to your computer!

iPads in the Classroom

Math That Moves: Schools Embrace the iPad

Hundreds of schools in the New York area are purchasing iPads to replace textbooks, eliminate paper (and photo copying), and engage students. The article doesn’t refer to the research that has already been done on how using technology can improve student achievement.
“The Impact of Educational Technology on Student Achievement, What the Most Current Research Has to Say” by John Schacter summarizes the positive and negative impact of technology on student achievement by looking at over 500 individual research studies. He found that, on average, students who used computer based instruction scored at the 64th percentile on tests of achievement compared to students in the control conditions without computers who scored at the 50th percentile and that students learn more in less time when they receive computer based instruction, plus students like their classes more and develop more positive attitudes when their classes include computer based instruction.

The Ontario Ministry of Education’s “Growing Success” document outlines how to use assessment for learning. When students keep blogs for reflection about personal development, they can track their own learning. If students are to “set individual goals, monitor their own progress, determine next steps and reflect on their thinking and learning”, what better tool to facilitate this process than an iPad. The device is readily available, welcoming and as personable as Facebook, easy to post reflections on and just as easy to refer back to. It even comes with a calendar to help monitor and track progress. (Assessment For Learning and As Learning, page 28)

Effective use of technology in learning fosters collaboration, networking partnerships. Flat Classroom Project is an example of effective global collaboration. Students from around the world collaborate together to produce a wiki about technology and documentaries about the technology trends. The project is based on Thomas Friedman’s book, “The World is Flat”, a commentary on how technology has facilitated the global economy. The project was the brain child of Vicki Cook and Julie Lindsay and it has become a mecca for thousands of students who embrace diversity and engage with technology to collaborate.

ISTE has some ideas on how to use the iPad in education. Check out the page HERE.
ISTE also talks about some of the 1,000 apps designed for the iPad HERE.
So, overall, it looks to me like the iPads have it – bring them on!


Flat Classroom Projects for 2010 – 2011

Classroom 2.0 has announced three new projects for this coming year. The Flat Classroom Project is an exciting, challenging and unique experience that allows young people (and their teachers) to study and explore emerging trends and ‘flatteners’ in our world. The project is run three times each year starting in September, January and March.
The Flat Classroom™ Project is a global collaborative project that joins together middle and high school students (typically grade 9-12, 14-18 years old).
Co-founded in 2006 by Vicki Davis (Westwood Schools, USA) and Julie Lindsay (now in Beijing, China) in 2006, this project uses Web 2.0 tools to support communication and interaction as well as collaboration and creation between students and teachers from classrooms around the world. The topics studied and discussed are real-world scenarios based on ‘The World is Flat’ by Thomas Friedman.
One of the main goals of the project is to ‘flatten’ or lower the classroom walls so that instead of each class working isolated and alone, 2 or more classes are joined virtually to become one large classroom. The project is designed to develop cultural understanding, skills with Web 2.0 and other software, experience in global collaboration and online learning, awareness of what it means to live and work in a flat world, while researching and discussing the ideas developed in Friedman’s book. Projects are constructed with an international set of classrooms (as mixed as we can make it depending on applications). Students also have the chance to interact with expert advisers and other classroom teachers and sounding board classrooms in a true flattened learning mode.

The Flat Classroom Project™ has four mandatory components for students:
1. An audio or video introduction posted as a blog post on the educational network (Ning)
2. A written collaborative report using a wiki – Students will edit the wiki and discuss the topic on the discussion tab of the page in teams
3. A personal multimedia response (digital story/video) (topic as assigned on the project matrix)
4. A Post Project Reflection – Students will post their reflection on the process to the educational network (Ning)
The project has optional components including:
1. Student summits held in Elluminate hosted by the teacher in their class

If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact project organizers for assistance at
More information about all Flat Classroom™ Projects can be found on the main wiki at
All past Flat Classroom Projects can be found from the archives wiki at
The online application form is accessed through this PORTAL

All teachers are invited to join in the discussion with other educators at