Tuesday, August 5, 2014

E-Lightenment

The final stop on the Summer of eLearning Tour kicked off today at Chesterton High School, just an hour down the road from Chicago. The learning started with keynote Marc Prensky, who coined the phrase "Digital Natives" in 2001. In his talk, Prensky helped the the audience distinguish between "trivial eLearning tasks" like writing online and watching videos to learn; and more meaningful forms of eLearning - the things we weren't able to do before. Things in the latter category included Skype to connect with learners around the world, and WolframAlpha to perform complex computations. And in dealing with the rapid changes of a technological world, Prenske urged the audience to focus on the 'verbs' (presenting, communicating, finding information) which stay the same, rather than the 'nouns' (Powerpoint, email, Wikipedia) which continue to change rapidly.

One of the breakout sessions was led by Linda Eleftheri, Media Specialist at Jackson Elementary School. She shared a fantastic collection of digital tools which she curated in this wiki. You'll find a wealth of options to help elementary students express their creativity with sites like Little Bird Tales, or Animoto. If you aren't familiar with these tools, Eleftheri has also posted some great tutorials and student examples under each selection.

Students who graduate from Chesterton HS have had great experience writing and revising with the latest Google tools, thanks to teachers like Diana Gill.  She demonstrated the impact Google Docs are having on composition, even in terms of making it clear when essays were written and how much revision has been done. For collaborative documents, teachers can also see which contributions were made by which students. Check out some of her favorite Google resources here.

Meri started her day learning about Digital Storytelling with Ryan Eckart, principal, and Amy Yoos, instructional coach, from Lincoln Elementary in the School City of Hammond. Their students are using a variety of tools, including PowToon and Windows Movie Maker to create book commercials and book trailers. The book commercials and trailers are shared with individual classes, the entire school through the school announcements, and with their families through YouTube. The students have been working on these during recess, lunch, and before and after school time and they have a waiting list for students to share their book trailers on the announcements. They have even added a blog so that more students can share their favorite books. One thing that Ryan and Amy learned from his students was if you want to leave people really excited about your book, end your trailer with a question.

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