Thursday, December 13, 2012

What Makes a Great Learning Space? By Shirley

 Way back in the 70’s when I began my teaching career, I was given a co- teaching post with a mature and very experienced teacher. We held our classes in a brand new space with no walls, very little furniture and we shared it with other students and teachers. This was the new “open plan” concept where everyone would magically mix and match.  This was a real recipe for disaster with frustrated teachers, students being loud trying to be heard and a nightmare for everyone. I survived the year, my co-teacher retired Within that year, the walls went back up, desks came back, there was no more team teaching and I was given my own class and classroom.  This new open plan idea was wonderful but without training, planning, preparation and drastic changes in teaching styles, this could never work.

Walls were taken down.
This new school year began like that once again for me …walls were taken down, new spaces were created, new rooms developed and multi purpose furniture put in place.   
This time however I was prepared, along with my colleagues and middle school students. We had just spent a year brainstorming, researching, discussing, talking and talking again - with designers, with planners, with each other, in teams and with the students to make sure that we were all being heard and that this new adventure was going to work for everyone involved. We finally decided on a huge multi purpose Da Vinci Room, two regular classrooms, two seminar rooms and a wonderful open learning commons space. We were ready, prepared and excited to begin our year without set classrooms, more team teaching and integrated studies planned, and more student led learning. 

 How has it worked?
Finished in time...

 We all love the openness of the space. It is bright, light, clean and inviting. The space was a bit noisy for a while, as we literally had no doors – which were coming all the way from China and took a while to arrive. Most learning was fine but showing a movie or having a quiet discussion took some creative thinking. 

Students first reactions
Once the glass doors were installed, we all found our way and things began to happen. Students spilled into the LC and classes were sharing, talking and learning alongside each other. It seemed natural to begin to work collaboratively with other teachers and mix up the grades. My first combined project was with the 7th grade English class. It was certainly an authentic, real life problem that needed solving. We called it Food Detectives and decided to read Chew on This by Eric Schlosser. What do we eat? How do we educate our division, our school and the community? All questions the students tried to answer through a wiki that we will revisit in the spring and continue to make changes in the way we think about fast food. Teachers are now planning some more collaborative projects for the next trimester and I think this trend will just continue to expand.

Doors installed
Students using the learning Commons
 Why is this working today and not in the 70’s?  Back then, memorizing facts and filling students minds with information which was the regurgitated back, was what we called education…thankfully we have moved on since then. Our middle school is a 1-I laptop division where teachers love to ingrate technology, give over much of the planning and teaching to students and where we regularly communicate globally with other teachers and students around the world. The mind set has certainly changed and education is a wonderful profession to be in today. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hardware for Collaboration and Community

Plugging in is becoming a nuisance.  Students scheme for outlets in a laptop school.  Teachers usually have access and better organizational skills to strategize for enough battery time to last through teaching periods, but I have often felt plagued by the need to be near the projector.  Even the longest cords and cables are still tethers to one region of the room.  When students show work, unless we can share through the cloud, we have to plug and unplug the laptops, changing convertors to accomodate different machines.  The whole process of plugging in and out slows down flow, causing choppy interruptions.

This fall we opened a new learning community for the middle school at Poughkeepsie Day School.  A key feature of the space is that each of the classroom size learning spaces opens onto a learning commons.  Students no longer spend all of class time in one room.  They may start in a classroom or seminar space, but when working individually or in small groups, they can spill into the learning community.  Since I teach science, my students usually meet in the Da Vinci room, a huge space that includes a seminar style area as well as a wet lab area and tool benches.

When envisioning the new space last spring, I began to picture students sharing work in the new space.  Fluidity was a priority.  Having students be able to quickly share work without having to break up their group configuration was important.  The fewer the delays in setting up projection the better.  If we could untether projection, then class discussions could be illustrated by projecting examples of student work in process.

At the same time that we were planning the learning community, my Hudson Valley Writing Project colleague, Jack, mentioned that he had installed an Apple TV in his classroom.  Wired to his projector, any student with a iPod could project photos to the projector-- no plugging in required.  Meanwhile, NYSCATE announced its spring grant opportunity and a vision of an untethered life began to emerge.
projecting an enlarged picture of an aquifer model through the Apple TV with the iPad camera

NYSCATE funded the grant and we purchased Apple TV's and iPads for the Learning Community.  Anything displayed on the iPads can be mirrored on the projector through the Apple TV.  It's like having a stadium jumbotron in the learning spaces.   With an app called Air Parrot, (or a brand new Apple computer) anything on a laptop screen can be wirelessly projected through the Apple TV.

A colleague, Joe Faitak, has used the iPad & Apple TV combination to teach his classes using the iAnnotate app to make the iPad work like an interactive white board.  Last week he presented his work at the NYSCATE annual conference.  Sitting at home on the second night of the conference, I received an email from him with this movie:

The new hardware is working for collaboration in the adult part of our learning community, too!  Many thanks to NYSCATE for funding the project.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nothing New? by Laura

I read a very sad (for me) and frustrating (for the author) email a few weeks ago. It was written by a teacher on a listserve I subscribe to. This teacher's school administration forbids teachers from teaching anything new during the first two weeks of school.

Nothing new?

I can't imagine greeting the hopefully faces of a new school year and structuring class around the same things they learned last year. Just review for the first two weeks?! For those students who were successful learning the previous material, the first days of school would be boring. For those students who did not master topics in the previous year, I feel even more sympathy. Coming through the school doors, and being hit with last year's defeat must feel terrible.

 I've started this school year with completely new lab investigations. A new classroom location with a door directly to a school yard, a brilliant string of clear late summer weather, and a desire to connect many of the year's topics to plants and food production inspired me to switch my usual beginning sequence to something new. Trying new activities really is nothing new-- while I teach a core of central concepts, I like to get at them through new labs and assignments. The students themselves change, and they are the inspiration to try new things.

We all need to feel-- teachers and students-- that each school year will bring something new. Starting new lays out a fresh playing field. Starting new brings enough disequilibrium that attention is sharpened. Starting new brings hope.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

An Exciting Time to be in Education by Laura

A few days ago, I received an email with the subject line "How to separate an egg."  I didn't know the sender.  This didn't concern me at all.  I subscribe to a listserve and frequently get emails from strangers.

The email contained a message enthusing that it was a beautiful example of air pressure at work.  Below, presumably from another sender since was written in a different font, was the reassuring advice that I shouldn't worry if I couldn't understand the words.

Here is the video:

Whether you are a cook or a science teacher, I hope you enjoyed it.  As much as I enjoyed the movie-- and probably will use it (or do the demonstration live) when I teach air pressure-- I really enjoy thinking about the path this movie took to make it to the blog.

This little video came from a teacher who I don't know, who also subscribes to the listserve.  She was enthusiastic and wanted to connect with colleagues-- during the summer no less, when cynics think teachers are on vacation.  The movie was filmed far away, and not in English.  Through YouTube it's possible to see it anywhere.  Some creative teacher made the connection from cooking to air pressure and voila-- we see the movie here.  Amazing, really.

Very early in my teaching days I took a position as a long term sub teaching earth science.  I had some general background, but was not an earth science teacher.  It was very difficult to find resources.  The school had a few, but it was very hard to tell if an activity would work.  I was the only earth science teacher in the school and had no colleagues to ask.  Frankly, it was not a joyful experience.

Now I get a daily serving of advice, visuals, and activities delivered to me.  Whenever I want, I can seek more-- through Twitter or a multitude of web sites.  Even through the long summer weeks, I am not isolated from other educators.  It's an exciting time to be in education.

Friday, June 1, 2012

What is Authentic, Real Life Learning? By Shirley

As teachers, we often talk about “the real world” and discuss “real life learning” believing that somehow our students know what we mean. I often wonder if they do understand and challenge myself to find out what more I can do to make learning real for them.

We do a lot of project and problem solving learning at PDS and try to be as authentic as possible. This year my 6th graders participated in a global conference in Geneva with a panel of futurists, connected with other schools around the world during a 20/20 Education for All Challenge, worked in local service learning projects and Skyped with authors and other people globally. Is this enough?

Our latest “real life” project has been to help to design, plan and soon build a solar studio for our school to share. This came about through one of our parents, Glen Callahan from American Green Home Builders who generously offered to sponsor and create this exciting project that would involve the kindergarten and their 6th grade buddies.

Big and little students were so excited when Glen’s team came to tell us more about this project and ask for our ideas and suggestions. They showed us amazing buildings using Sketch Up (a program many of my students are familiar with) and explained all the reasons for building a “green “ structure.  Our students enthusiastically came up with a whole bunch of great ideas for this dream studio…some unrealistic and some very doable. Some of the most important details in their sketches were seating, electricity, charging stations and windows.

Glen's team presenting their idea to our students
We then used buddy time to worked in small groups to design our own buildings using Sketch Up. The older students became the teachers, explaining the program and guiding their little buddies so they could create their own dream playhouses.

One of the student plans…
We then waited on the final plans to arrive.....

Glen’s team eventually arrived enthusiastically with their computers and tools, as excited students watched the plans being revealed. Included was the important seating, windows, electricity and charging stations… and everyone was delighted.  We learned a lot about how this building would be energy efficient by finding the right angle for our building and how the roof overhang would regulate the amount of sun coming in for winter heat and shade for cooling in the summer. Students were surprised to find out that Sketch Up tools were used to determine the amount of sun and that they are available for anyone to use.

The plans for our solar studio.
The next words were music to my ears as these architects, engineers and builders talked about using open source material to learn new strategies for efficient building, sharing tools with other companies to build more efficient buildings, building on their knowledge and adding to other people’s knowledge. We talk about modeling for our students so what better way than this; to have real people with real jobs share their life long learning with us.

Our next step was to take a field trip to the American Green Homes facility in Kingston, NY and watch as some pre fab structures were being built.  Everyone was amazed at the size of the factory and the huge tools used for construction. I think we had several students who would like to try their hand at this kind of work.  Lunch in the architect's office helped us feel part of the company for the day and we even had an unexpected side trip to behind the factory where a number of antique trains were stored for restoration. Of course, we had to finish off with some ice cream after our day’s work.

Antique Train
Enjoying a break with ice cream
Executive Meeting

A wall almost completed

We are now waiting in anticipation as our walls are built, insulation and wiring inserted and windows installed. The pre fab pieces will soon be delivered to our school and our students will help with some of the assembly. So in this case, I think these students understand and have lived authentic, real life learning…

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The First Time I Used a Computer to Teach by Laura

The first time I ever used a computer to teach was in 1989.  I was a student teacher.   I was teaching evolution, and my soon-to- be husband, a scientist, was experimenting with a two year old taxonomy program called MacClade.

MacClade is a software program that helps evolutionary biologists make a type of family tree (called a clade) in order to analyze how organisms are related in evolutionary time.  I  thought that the program would help my students understand the concept that organisms demonstrate that they are related through shared characteristics inherited from a common ancestor.  This is an important concept in science, and it is also a slippery one to grasp.

If the school had a computer lab, I never saw it.  MacClade runs on the Apple operating system, so we carried my Mac SE into my classroom and set it up as a learning station. Students liked working with the program, and I don't recall their being focused on the computer itself, although they must have been to some extent. 

The memory hit me recently in the context of what it means to educate using technology.  In the days before 1:1 laptop programs-- in the days before laptops at all-- being able to use a computer in class was important.  It was not, though, an end in and of itself.  The Mac SE and the program were part of my class so that I could teach a difficult concept.  The learning drove the decision-- and the access to technology helped the learning a great deal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Why Do We Use Technology In School?

This is a question I am often asked by parents at the beginning of 6th grade when students are required to have a laptop for our middle school program. I tend not to say too much, but show them through other students’ work why I think it is essential to be tech savvy in this ever changing world.  The words that do come to mind when thinking about this question are - excitement, passion, empowerment, creation, collaboration and sharing globally.

I recently sat through a long but exhilarating day of student led conferences where my 6th grade students had used their technology skills to plan, create and share a presentation about themselves as learners. They all used Google presentations and although the frills and level of content differed, each and every student was able to stand proud and share with their parents some very thoughtful reflections about their strengths, challenges and goals. I was amazed at their clarity and conviction of how important their learning was to each one. Parents were delighted to hear the level of self-awareness their children possessed, and one father stated that if this was a job interview, he would definitely hire his son. He also said that he knew many adults who could not do what his son had just accomplished.

So what does this really have to do with technology? I have had very successful student led conferences in the past where students have prepared similarly with observations, reflections and goal settings with a packet of information and work to share.

So what was the difference?  Technology - Google Presentations…

1.     The creation of a presentation that was meaningful to the students
2.     The presenting of themselves, which was so empowering for each student (not reading off a packet of papers)
3.     Students being in total charge of the conference
4.     Making it real by doing what adults in many professions

This was real to the students…they were in charge; reflecting on themselves as learners, creating something powerful and sharing with others. 

I can't wait for the next round....


Sunday, April 15, 2012

What do your students know about Copyrighted work?

What do your students know about copyright? 
By Shirley

How many students and teachers download their favorite music or find pictures on Google Images to copy or embed into their papers, reports and projects, without even thinking that copyright  applies to them? Over the past few years, my students have been using a variety of online sites, and web 2.0 tools to share their work with people around the world, and it has become very clear that copyright applies more online than anywhere else in their daily school life. Fair Use Policy for educators no longer applies when teachers and students are creating and sharing globally.

Copyright Laws have always been difficult to understand and decipher because of the legal terminology and the fact that educators are under the misguided impression that anything can be used for students and teaching as long as it is for educational purposes. The basic rule is that everything is copyrighted unless stated otherwise. Of course these laws were passed before digital copyright was an issue.

Picture by Stuart Miles From Freedigitalphotos

Taking an online course and being part of an Edublog Challenge a few years ago really started me thinking about what was legal to copy or embed and what was not.  And so I found a number of useful sites for public domain pictures, copyright free pictures, Creative Commons (CC) pictures and free music sites – lifesavers in students’ lives so they can use those great pictures to illustrate their work and play background music to enhance their project or presentation, of course with the correct attribution. Attribution should include a link to the site being used and the name of the author, photographer etc.

Teaching about Copyright is an essential part of teaching technology today, especially when students are creating and sharing more of their work globally. Watching videos about copyright, finding helpful sites and using examples with correct attribution have helped my 6th graders become more aware of copyright laws. 


Edublogs has a very helpful page for understanding copyright restrictions and this You Tube video is also enlightening for students... 


Here are some useful links for finding usable pictures and free music…

One of my 6th graders recently found an ideal picture to use in a wiki page he was designing and creating on medieval architecture and arts, but realized that the site he has used, The Canadian Center for Architecture, had a copyright license on all of their art in the collection. Lukas decided to email the curator and ask permission to use this picture.  Within two days he had received an interesting reply, Thank you for your email and your interest in the CCA Collection. Since this particular image is from the 17th century, it is out of copyright (or in the “public domain”). It will not be necessary to obtain our permission for the use in your wiki. We would love to see your wiki page once it has been completed. If you want to, please send us the link and I will show our curators here at the CCA.I f you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Good luck with your project!”

                                                                                      Courtesy of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.

Another student, Manny was making a Voki about Poet’s Walk, (which is a favorite local spot) to embed into his blog page and found a local photographer’s pictures that were copyrighted. He also decided to e-mail the owner of the site and ask permission to use two pictures. He too received a great email , “My photographs are copyrighted, so I do appreciate your requesting permission to use the photographs. Normally I do charge for use on a website, but I will waive my fee and you do have my permission to use both photographs in your blog.  Please give me photo credit – Linda T. Hubbard. And please send me the link when you finish your project, as I would like to read it. Please let me know if I can help you any other way.  You have picked two of my favorite places. 

A link to Manny's blog page with his voki and picture.

What a great real life learning experience for these two students who obviously understand the moral issue in this copyright confusion and were able to follow the process to successfully work with copyright restrictions. As we use more technology in schools there will be many more similar questions to investigate and new problems to solve.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Using Backchanneling in the classroom by Shirley

Back in September our middle school watched an inspiring Ted Talk by William Kamkwamba, a young man who developed a windmill to power electricity for his village in Malawi. My 6th grade students were so enthralled by his story that I decided to make William's biography The Boy who harnessed the Wind a read aloud book for class. Each day, my students would eagerly gather in our meeting corner, with a variety of pillows, ball chairs and floor chairs awaiting the next chapter of William's story. 

Our discussions during these read aloud times became very powerful as students compared living conditions, houses, jobs, schools and life in general to that of their own. Their general conclusion was that we have so much and they have so little. It was difficult for 6th graders to comprehend that this story took place not a hundred years ago but as recently as the 1990's. At the same time, students could see some benefits in this simpler life…playing outside in the fields with handmade, creative toys and building a multitude of projects with whatever could be found…quite appealing to many of my 6th graders.

The one problem that became apparent all too often during this time was the time spent in discussion and the fact that not everyone was able to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions every time we met. We then talked about what we could do to improve this situation...students suggested using name cards, having only a certain number of comments each class, taking turns from a list etc. but nothing we came up with really solved the problem.

Recently, I participated in a conference online using Todaysmeet and thought...why not use this in class for a silent discussion and see how it works? Todaysmeet is a platform where a number of people can very easily and quickly sign into a private chat room and discuss whatever topic is chosen. 

I began my class next day by asking everyone to stay seated at tables for our read aloud and explained that we were going to experiment with a new social media tool. I quickly explained what I had used and then had everyone sign into our room called Boy and gave two tasks that everyone had to complete.

1) Everyone must write at least one statement, opinion or question during the read aloud session.
2) Everyone must comment on someone else's statement, opinion or question.  

I had the online chat projected on our screen so that we could all follow what was being said.

For about ten minutes I read aloud and then stopped. There was silence around me and I didn’t know what to expect… 

I asked who still had to write something for number 1, expecting a bunch of quieter students to say they hadn’t yet. To my surprise, all students had written at least one comment. In fact, everyone had responded at least once and most were on their second or third comment. Not only had all students commented but they had also responded to someone else. I continued to read and the discussion stream continued to grow.

When we were finished, we took a few minutes to look over our discussion on Todaysmeet and I was surprised to see many thoughtful and thought provoking statements, opinions and questions. My next step was to ask the students how this experiment went. Overwhelmingly the outcome was positive and all students said this was a fun and fair way to have our discussion. The one negative – it was difficult to listen and comment at the same time. Students had two comments to make about this…it may get easier as we do it more and next time we could stop reading and thendcomment. It was unanimous that we try it again.

Our first attempt at backchanneling was a definite success and it brings me back to my constant mantra that to use technology successfully in the classroom teachers must be willing to try and experiment with new tools. It is not necessary to be an expert and it is so much fun to learn along side our students.

Friday, March 2, 2012

National Digital Learning Day by Laura

February 1, 2012 was the first ever national Digital Learning Day. Schools around the country participated with nearly two million students participating in some way.

Poughkeepsie Day School is a technology enhanced place of learning.  Because our students use laptops in every class, we know that digital learning takes place consistently.  For Digital Learning Day, we decided to celebrate what the teachers were learning.  In the week preceding February 1st, we wrote to our colleagues daily, asking them to try to learn one  new thing.  We didn't care if the new thing was a technique or tool, or if it was particular content learned through digital means.  We also thought that both professional and personal learning was appropriate--anything adults learn in one area of their lives cascades to enhance the other.

We set our 6th and 7th graders off on Digital Learning Day to film as many teachers, staff and administrators as possible.  When the footage was strung together, we had video of well over ten minutes!

After an extensive editing process, a two minute movie has emerged.  For me, this was a learning experience in itself.  I am gradually trying to accumulate some iMovie skill.  I know I have a lot to learn!  The movie is framed by the words of Will Richardson.  He has been a strong and articulate proponent of teacher engagement with digital learning in order to create 21st century bold schools that prepare students to take advantage of the myriad of ways they can learn.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Consumers AND Creators by Laura

Just before winter break I was running through the class agenda with one of my seventh grade classes.  We'd spent the fall studying water quality and understanding the scientific explanations for how various forms of pollution affect aquatic ecosystems.  Part of the day's plan was to watch a short film about the aftermath of the Deep Horizon oil spill.

Ben, who didn't quite hear me, casually asked, "Did you say we're going to watch a movie, or make a movie?"

I stopped in my tracks.

His matter of fact tone was the arresting part.  Either making or watching was fine with him.  Even more, his tone implied, either watching or making a movie could be expected on the agenda in science class.  In his eight or so years of schooling, Ben and his classmates have come to expect a wide array of ways to acquire knowledge.  These students also have come to expect a wide array of ways to demonstrate, integrate and cement their understanding of what they are learning in school. 

Our school makes this array readily available to students because the internet, media and media making tools are available to all students, all day long.  As I stopped to explain to the class why Ben's comment made me so happy, another student said, "That's why our school is so awesome!"

Ben's matter-of-fact question also told me that he anticipates that in any given class he will be expected be a consumer of knowledge-- as watching a film will facilitate.  Clearly, though, he has also come to expect that he will be asked to show what he has constructed of his understanding, or be a creator of knowledge-- as making a movie will facilitate.

As it turns out, just a few weeks ago, Ben and his lab group did make a movie in science class. Students were asked to propose and promote a law that would improve a community's water quality. Having learned that motor oil drips from automobiles and then runs off into surface water, Ben's group proposed a law to mitigate the harmful effects of motor oil.  Their law required "green," or "G-oil" to be available for purchase, instead of just traditional oil.  (G-oil is an actual product.) 

Here is their promotion for their law:

In this production, Ben and his classmates showed me that they were able to continue to be consumers of knowledge:  they researched current solutions to the problem of motor oil pollution and they also integrated their knowledge about water quality into their pitch.  They also showed me they were creators:  they selected visual images that go beyond the obvious to  support their points, and they empathize with their audience in a way that allowed them to anticipate and address (through their use of rhetorical questions) arguments that might be raised in opposition to the proposed law.

Consumers and creators both!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Innovation - by Shirley


Definition:   1. the introduction of something new
                     2. a new idea, method, or device

There was a recent chat on twitter #isedchat about what constitutes an innovative teacher, classroom and school. It made me really think about how much my style of teaching has changed in the past few years and how lucky I am to be teaching in a school that allows for innovation and has encouraged me to be innovative.
I am in no way an expert in technology but using technology has enabled me to help my students create, collaborate, share globally and teach others around the world. Yes, the technology tools are only that – tools, but they have helped created the innovation in my classroom and that in turn has encouraged much more independent thinking and doing by my students. I have taken a back seat more and more and see myself not as a teacher but as a facilitator who guides, models and encourages students to take charge of their own learning.

We use a variety of social networking tools in class including our class blog, our Twitter account @pds6th, Skype, Edmodo, Class Wikis - Crispin and Our Ancient Greek Studies

So what have my students accomplished with these tools that is innovative? 
How about these three examples… 

1.  A group of our 6th and 7th graders from Poughkeepsie Day School in New York experienced some exciting real life learning when they participated in the ITU Telecom World 2011conference from Geneva, Switzerland titled, Visions of a Networked Future. Students sat enthralled watching and listening to the innovative speakers’ predictions about the future of technology, sometimes agreeing and also disagreeing with the panel’s ideas. They then rapidly fired inspiring questions to the panel of expert futurists through a Twitter feed, which were then answered by various members of the panel. This was an amazing example of how technology can make it possible for students and experts around the world to discuss and share their ideas. Our classroom truly has no walls……

The panelists were…

Gerd Leonhard... CEO,The Futures Agency,Switzerland
Juliana Rotich... CEO, Ushahidi Inc., Kenya
Rachel Armstrong... Senior TED Fellow, Senior Lecturer, University of Greenwich, United Kingdom
Rohit Talwar,... CEO, Fast Future, United Kingdom
Simon Torrance... Founder 2.0 Initiative, and Chief Executice Officer, STL Partners, United Kingdom

It was a great class and now Rachel wants to Skype with us and talk more about the future....

Some students views...

2. 6th grade students from PDS enjoy blogging and welcome comments, ideas and suggestions from other students around the world. They recently took part in a student blogging challenge organized by Edublogs and met each challenge with excitement, enthusiasm and a variety of wonderful posts and web2.0 tools. They are now participating in a Quadblogging project with three schools from the UK. 

Here is our blog page telling the world all about it....

Quadblogging in 6th Grade 

We are excited to take part in the QuadBlogging project for January and February 2012.

Here is a video explaining what we will be doing…

These are the three other schools we will be visiting through blogging. We uses Google earth to find these schools and will also Skype  and get to know each other as students and bloggers. The other schools will be browsing and commenting on our blog the first week. The following three weeks we will browse and comment on each of the other schools' blogs.  We also hope to do some collaborative writing with these schools.

Here are the first two comments from the UK... 
Nell and Rykiya Said, 
January 10, 2012@ 5:35 am       
Hello ,We wil be quadblogging with your school in 1 or 2 weeks 

Naomi & Ceri-lee Said, January 10, 2012@ 5:36 am       
We really liked how you put lots of pictures and video’s on your blog and now I can finally see
how different our schools really are! Great work.
We love how you made litte avatars for when you comment on something. It’s brilliant!!! 

3.     6th and 7th grade students at Poughkeepsie Day School are involved in the 20/20 NAIS Challenge, which is a team problem solving activity.  We are working with schools in Spain,  Argentina and the USA to help solve the real global problem of Education For All by finding solutions that can be implemented at the local area as well as globally. We use Skype and wikis to collaborate, plan and share our ideas and projects.  Here are links to our wikis explaining what we are doing…
This is a voki introducing one group of students.. 
     Are these 6th graders being introduced to something new, a new idea, method, or device? What do you think?