This year, my son is taking an Astronomy class at a three-week summer program. It’s intense – they are doing some tough stuff during these three weeks. My son loves it.

On the first day, he was so excited to tell me that the teacher told them to USE their camera on their cell phones/iPods!! The teacher told them to take pictures of the activities they do in class. Wow. He gets it!!

The kids are going to use the pictures to create a slide show for the Open House night  on the second-to-last day of camp. I think this is brilliant. Instead of the teacher taking all the pictures, let the kids! That way you see the class through their eyes – not the teachers. The kids have a task, a responsibility.

The teacher also encouraged the kids to show their parents the pictures. So my son does. It’s been a great way to get past the “What did you do today. Nothing.” conversation. Instead, I ask him to show me the pictures he took that day. We’ve had some great conversations, he’s talked a ton more than he would otherwise, and I’ve learned something. It would have been much harder to explain some of what they did without the pictures.

So, besides learning incredible stuff about astronomy, the kids are also learning digital citizenship, and 21st century skills such as communication and collaboration. In addition, they are using visual media to communicate – and since over 60% of this generation are visual learners, this fits right in.

So, thank you, Mr. Bullard. You get it.


Ask the Kids

Blog post by Heather Wolpert-Gawron about what her students find engaging. This would be a great step for any teacher to take.

Recently had an excellent conversation with the principal of a local high school that is just starting to look at technology integration. We discussed how it is really about teaching and learning differently, not about technology. We discussed doing a survey of students about the technology they have available.

This would another great step to take. What do the kids think would be engaging?

Digital Marketing of Opera

Activities in our house revolve around theater and music. There’s always a play rehearsal, choir practice, voice lesson, dance class, etc., on our schedules.

A current project for our family revolves around an opera about Lois Lowry’s book, The Giver. The Minnesota Opera and the Kansas City Opera commissioned an opera written for young voices. It’s an ambitious project. The content isn’t easy, nor is the music.

How does this relate to anything techie? The Minnesota Opera is currently doing fundraising for the project. Besides the regular types of fundraising, they are using a newish tool called Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an amazing idea that makes use of social media and grass roots efforts. The point of Kickstarter is to raise a large sum of money by reaching out to people – often people not included in major fundraising efforts. This money will be raised through donations of $10, $25 and $50. The project is spread on social media – via Facebook, word of mouth, etc. The hope is to have projects go viral so lots of people pitch in money for great projects.  (Here’s the Opera’s Kickstarter project. Kick in a few bucks!)

This project even demonstrates the power of visual storytelling. Check out a few of the videos – you get to hear the voices of the kids, the director, the composer, and more. The images, the voices, the music. These all tell the story in a way not possible in just words. To top it off, kids did much of the editing and storyboarding of these videos! (They’re really good, too!)

Let the Kids Show Us

I dragged my son to an educational technology conference this afternoon. He brought along some stuff for drawing. But, did he want to draw a bunch of adults in the room? Nope. Well – he pulled out his iPod and found a photo of an animal to draw.

Gotta admit I wouldn’t have thought of doing that.