Techs-ture in SL

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Patti Ruffing on 18-11-2009

Cross-posted from Second Life blog: 

Want to know how to create signs for your SL organization? Do you want to deck your virtual halls with some holiday wreaths? Do you know what an alpha texture is? (The correct answers are: Yes, Yes, and The one before Beta?). Or are you new, unsure, and just want to feel more at ease with manipulating objects?

Join us in the Eduisland 2 sandbox on Wednesday, November 18, for a “make and take”. This is not your Grandmother’s “prim”. You will flip – horizontally and vertically – and become a “full bright” scholar! Textures will be provided.

Time: 5 p.m. SLT (8 p.m. Eastern, 7 p.m. Central)
See you in-world!

Filed Under (Event) by Patti Ruffing on 28-10-2009

Join Us Tonight!

(repeating message from Second Life blog post by Nancy Sharoff)

Tonight, Wednesday, October 28, the DEN in SL is thrilled to have Knowclue Kidd (Marianne Malmstrom – RL) presenting, “Machinima and 21st Century Literacy”.

Knowclue will share her experiences, thoughts and rationale about why we should be considering machinima as a serious tool for delivering 21st century skills & literacies. 

You will see examples of student work, participate in discussion of how we can move forward and take away resources to help you start or build your own program.
The location  of this session will be at Knowclue’s “Project Theater” on EDUISLAND 2 (213, 45, 21)

As always, we’ll see you at 5 p.m. SLT (7 p.m. CST, 8 p.m. CST)

Looking Ahead with DEN in SL

Filed Under (Second Life) by Patti Ruffing on 24-09-2009

cross-posted from Second Life Blog

Because of the Discovery Streamathon on Sept. 23, the DEN in Second Life took a break our weekly Wednesday workshops. But don’t go far, because the next few weeks are jam packed with a variety of events:

  • Sept. 30 – Get up to speed on Student Access to Discovery Education services with Smellslike Magic (RL Mike Bryant) as we dive into the Classroom Manager. The many ways you can easily assign Discovery resources to your students will be showcased. Come with questions, comments, or ideas on how you’d like to see students utilize all of our digital resources.
  • Oct. 7 – Get your ‘Og’ on with Cleo Jacobus (RL Jen Dorman) with Blogs, Glogs, and Vlogs, and learn how a little widget can be a means of global collaboration.
  • Oct. 21 – Feeling a little unsure in SL? Need a hand? Or even a face? Then our Newbie help session is for you with some “practical magic” for your avatar.
  • jack o lantern

  • And can October be complete without a Halloween party and dance? Not at DEN in SL! Watch for further info on gallivanting ghost tales and costume craziness all at 2 DP. Whooooo knows what may be in store!
  • See you in-world!

    Jack-o’-Lantern. Jupiterimages Corporation. 2006.Discovery Education. 23 September 2009<>

Summer Learnin’

Filed Under (Education, Second Life, Web2.0) by Patti Ruffing on 26-08-2009

“Summer learnin’, had me a blast.
 Summer learnin’, happened so fast.” 

Isn’t that how the song goes? Well, I hate to say it but for me, summer is officially over, having attended our opening teacher meeting today. It has been a great couple of weeks with Discovery though, and as reluctant as I am to let go of summer, webinar-wordle.jpgI am excited to put into practice the new strategies I have acquired through the DEN summer school webinars. I was able to attend the Voice Thread and DE this week with Jen Dorman as well as the Glogster and DE with Traci Blazosky. Last week I squeezed in a session on Discovery Science with Brad Fountain. I was sorry to miss the session on Google Earth and DE today for Virtual Field trips, but tomorrow sounds cool with Learning Through the Funnies to find out how to use DE and comic tools. Earlier in the month I attended Thinking Outside the Slide and Digital Storytelling Made Easy: DE Content with Animoto and PhotoStory as well as a great discussion on Policies, Safety, and Social Networking led by Steve Dembo. In my tech presentation to our teachers I hinted at all the great things I would be sharing with them in the coming weeks, especially the wonderful new face of the DE website. You can still benefit from the webinars by visiting the summer school page where the sessions are gradually being posted.

But is that all? OH NO! Because not only were there great opportunities in webinars but a step from the real world into the virtual world of Second Life and the learning continued. From Matt Monjan’s overview of the DE website in the 2DP auditorium, to Blended Virtual Ecosystems, to a first-hand account of a Discovery Student Adventure, the DEN in SL was a happening place. Especially the Sharks After Dark adventure to coincide with Discovery’s Shark Week.

Lest you think you missed all the fun, you can catch Pack Your Curiosity and Go-Part 2 tonight at the DEN in SL at 8p.m Eastern (which is 5 p.m. SLT) where Steve Dembo will share the experience of the student adventure in South Africa. See you in-world!

Peace Corps Game

Filed Under (Culture, Education, Environment) by Patti Ruffing on 19-07-2009

Peace Corps ChallengeI came across an interesting interactive game for kids called Peace Corps Challenge. It is run by The Peace Corps and gives them the opportunity to visit a “village” that has a contaminated water supply. I don’t know yet if there are other problems to solve beside the water issue. Students “talk” with villagers and get clues on how to react to their comments and also what might be at the root of the problem. It offers an opportunity to observe cultural differences and how to respond to them. Students are encouraged to leave the village better off because they have been there. Vocabulary is explained.

You can lead a horse to water…

Filed Under (Education, Reflection) by Patti Ruffing on 10-07-2009

After reading Kristin Hokanson’s post today entitled “Supporting Reluctant Swimmers- or letting them drown?” I have been pondering my own situation as a tech coach at my school, and wondering how I can do a better job and not feel the tremendous frustration that I feel. Of course, if I am feeling frustration, I know that means the teachers are as well.

Two years ago I was teaching not only computer classes K-8, but K-8 Spanish as well. In addition to that I built and manage the website, act as PowerSchool admin, network admin, E-rate admin, teacher tech trainer, admin for the swipe card system, and fixer of all things powered by electricity. The teachers (well some of them) wanted me to be more available to them, to help them better integrate technology, and so a Spanish teacher was hired. My contract now says “teach tech classes grades 3-8″ and nothing more. Everything else is “understood” to be part of the job.

I have been guilty of leading, in some cases dragging, the horses to the water, and have become frustrated clown fishwhen they would not drink it. Or would take a sip and then walk away. I introduced Web 2.0 tools, trained them  in using features in Discovery  Streaming, promoted great websites. “Thanks, great presentation.” Then, nothing happens. No one, or almost no one,  sees the need to try to incorporate what was in the presentation, even when I give examples of how it can be used. The biggest excuse for my teachers is not enough time. “If I didn’t have a class of 35, then I could sit down and try these things.” If an administrator feels they are justified and overworked, he or she may not push for integration for that reason. Our teachers are scheduled for one-on-one with me (taking up all the slots that the Spanish classes would have taken) but many of them never show. There is no penalty if they don’t. Do I chase them down? Only rarely, because I often feel like an unwelcome visitor at the door, someone who is going to make them feel uncomfortable. And besides, in that empty slot I can unjam a printer, reprogram someone’s swipe card, order ink cartridges, and get the next month’s events on the website. My confession.

There were a number of great comments on Durff’s blog, which I believe precipitated this whole discussion. Like one of the commenters, I also hold tech classes on Wednesday after school and I even supply snacks. I have found that we are at a point of needing differentiated learning. Some picked things up more quickly, and moved on to be Guppies, and Minnows, and Fish; but what to do about the Bear with fishPolliwog who still is not quite sure where to type a URL in a browser? I no longer can hold group sessions that will meet everyone’s needs, since they are now all in different places. I am willing to be there for anyone who wants me in the classroom, anyone who wants to try something new and needs support. But if someone adamantly refuses, perhaps I have to let the chips fall where they may. Except, the kids deserve better. If you cannot type a URL in a browser then you are CHOOSING not to learn. I can not fight that with any amount of cheese and crackers.

So as I voraciously read blogs and tweets and gather this site or that tool, excited to try so many new things, I wonder…will I ever make this happen in someone’s classroom, will the students ever benefit from this experience other than in the computer lab in an activity entirely structured by me? I recently got someone higher up to notice that we did more than typing and PowerPoint presentations in tech class, which is what  would always be mentioned whenever  a visitor was led into the lab. I made someone look at the finished video projects, listen to a few minutes of the student podcasts, see how they had been using wikis, notice that some students were still blogging even in the summer. I hope it helps.

I will try not to leave them at the water’s edge this year, and maybe even cup my hands and bring the water up horse at the fenceto the horse if it will not bend down, perhaps saying, “Let’s just really feel comfortable with this ONE strategy rather than ten of them. But if the horse balks and refuses to budge, I reserve the right to spend more time with the ones eager to jump the next fence, even if they have to circle it a few times to get up courage.  We are adults. If there is no intrinsic motivation, no desire to learn, how can we make any progress?


Clown Fish. Discovery Communications, Inc.. 2009.
Discovery Education. 10 July 2009

Bear emerging from water with fish. Discovery Communications, Inc.. 2009.
Discovery Education. 10 July 2009

Horse by fence. Paul Fuqua. 2003.
Discovery Education. 10 July 2009

Happy 4th of July!

Filed Under (Education, History) by Patti Ruffing on 03-07-2009

With tomorrow being Independence Day I am thinking back to an activity I do with fifth grade students called “My America”. It is a virtual field trip of sorts and they go to a variety of historic sites and “take pictures” and write about what they learned at the site. We put the finished project together as individual videos using PhotoStory, patriotic songs, narration. This is in technology class, not the “regular” classroom.

Being a great lover of history and geography, in fact I taught grades 5 and 6 social studies for about 15 years, I really love to get “into” history. I love to find ways to “make it come alive” for the kids. But in the virtual field trip I discovered that there are some things they just cannot glean on their own, some things are not learned correctly in an independent fashion, and they really need an explanation. (Not a blinding revelation of course.) One of our stops was The Alamo, and it was one of the most difficult stops for them to come away with the correct understanding. I even used Assignment Builder and set up video links for them to watch for the various stops. But…they needed me. They needed me to interpret, explain, make comparisons, put things into context.  This was all an extension of the American history they were learning in their classroom, where they never got anywhere past the Revolutionary War. The next time they will encounter American History is eighth grade. They need a sense of who we are as Americans before that time.

U.S. Constitution from Discovery StreamingOne of the things I loved teaching about back in the day was the Constitution. I didn’t have much technology available back then (wait, did I have any?) but we still really got into it. I would have loved to make use of a great site I just saw today 

This site provides information and lessons about the Constitution at K-3, 4-7, and 8-12 levels. In addition there are links on the Declaration of Independence and other important documents. I thought their monthly survey questions were pretty cool, a great thing to do in the classroom and then see how the class results compared to the online results at the end of the month whether you do it with paper votes, cell phones, clickers, or whatever. The site is not sponsored by the U.S. government but maintained by Steve Mount. I hope to explore it further and share it with my teachers.

God Bless America!

Image Citation: United States Constitution. Jupiterimages Corporation. 2006.
Discovery Education. 3 July 2009

Take-Out Menu at NECC

Filed Under (Education, NECC) by Patti Ruffing on 28-06-2009

Thanks to a link posted on Twitter this morning (sorry I can’t find who it was to give credit) I was able to search the NECC program of sessions. By clicking on a session you have access to presenter handouts. Wonderful! Like not being seated in the dining room but at least being able to order take-out. Didn’t have time to explore much yet but I did start with  Best Practices in Fair Use for 21st Century Educators presented by Renee Hobbs of Temple University, along with Katie Donnelly, Kristin Hokanson, Michael RobbGrieco and Joyce Valenza

It has always been troublesome trying to make sure that we do not infringe on anyone’s copyright in our teaching or with student projects, but with the November 2008 publication of new guidelines regarding Fair Use in education, things seem to make more sense, and yet there is still so much to think about, especially the idea that a work must be transformative in nature. I hope to make use of the documents and videos they have provided at their wikispace on Copyright Confusion for their NECC presentation in order to help my teachers better understand what we really can do in our projects. Not as great as being in the room and hearing them first hand, but I am grateful for the sharing of this to the entire education community.

And that is just one topic. I will never run out of things to read about this summer.

Thank heavens for virtual learning

Filed Under (Education, NECC, Web2.0) by Patti Ruffing on 25-06-2009

LiveStream snapshotI just finished listening to Steve Dembo’s presentation at the DEN Leadership Council session on blogging at 1DP. (Though the image is not from his actual presentation. Practicing my image insertion.) I longed to be there but alas, could not be. Nevertheless I learned some things via the stream from the conference session. He was talking to the LC blogging teams and I actually did not feel so bad hearing questions asked by them on things I already know how to do. But boy do I have a lot to learn!

Thanks to these virtual opportunities, my learning does not have to stop just because I cannot be there in person. I can even do a physical workout in front of the computer while my mind is being exercised as well. I am going to explore more of the options in WordPress, although Steve did mention the format would be changing this summer.  I will keep writing and hopefully improving. And isn’t that what I want my students to do?

DEN in SL-Teamwork

Filed Under (Education, Second Life) by Patti Ruffing on 19-06-2009

vita-jun19_004.jpgI am so happy to have been invited to help out on the Second Life Leadership Council. What a great team they have been (Rip, Lor, Beth, JM, Celestia, Laelia), working so hard to make the SL experience better for all of us in the DEN. I have learned so very much in my almost 2 years as a member of the DEN in SL. What a fantastic vehicle for professional development!

It has also been rewarding being a volunteer guide on the weekends at the DEN headquarters. Although as I say, sometimes I feel like Eleanor Rigby, other times it is very rewarding to be able to make someone feel welcome, explain what we do there as educators, and even make new friends from all over. We have so many things in common as educators, and it is a good feeling to know that other teachers, whether they are in Alaska or Norway, experience the same frustrations and time crunches that we do. We are all struggling to do what is best for our students and by our conversations we grow as educators and have the resource of a support network to help us in our mission. I hope I can offer something of value to the group. I will surely do my best.