Thursday, October 06, 2011

Connective Writing

Connective writing is an important part of communicating.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Thinking about language

I read this great piece in the New York Times and it made me think.........

Monday, February 12, 2007

IL-TCE 2007

If you still, by chance, have this site bookmarked as the IL-TCE blog site, then you need to change the link and go to the new site for IL-TCE 2007.

You may also join us on our NING site.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Over two months and not a post in sight! Perhaps it's time to retire this blog and start thinking ahead to IL-TCE 2007, "Think Outside the Box and Wires". But before that happens, I'd like to put in a plug for IETC 2006 in Springfield, Illinois in November. I'll be there, as will others from IL-TCE. If you missed it at Pheasant Run, you can catch the updated version of my session, "Keep It Clean!" in Springfield. You can check my previous post, Illinois Technology Conference for Educators: Handouts and Follow-Up, for a preview.

Luke Allen

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lost and Found!

What once was lost, now is found! At the ICE office we have 5 (FIVE!) pairs of glasses found at the conference, as well as a nice pair of gloves and some miscellaneous power adapters. If you are missing one of these items, please send me an email ( or else call the ICE office (630-628-1088). Thanks!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Room 132

Room 132

While researching vlogging (video blogging), I discovered this fabulous example of how to use blogging in the classroom. I thought I'd pass it on...

Anyone else stumble upon any other good blogs lately, particularly ones used with students?

Lucy Gray

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Value of Follow-Up

It was on a whim that I had decided to create a quick follow-up site for my session, "Keep it Clean!", at IL-TCE 2006. I figured a few people who had attended the session might use it rather than trying to remember or copy down the web resources I had been demonstrating. In the the last month since the conference the site has had 200 or more pageloads, including many from return visitors. I was also surprised to see hits from California, Canada and Denmark. I guess it just goes to show you that a little follow-up can go a long way.

If you want to see the results for yourself, go to the site, Keep It Clean! and click on the "View my stats" link.

Luke Allen

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Competitive Voice

With the rapid rise of digital storytelling as evidenced by the amount of play the process is getting at conferences and in the blogosphere, I've decided to fire up The Competitive Voice again. I'll be posting short posts about my perspectives about the process, while continuing to post other tech-related posts at The Strength of Weak Ties.

The Competitive Voice can be accessed here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

An Introductory Digital Storytelling Project

Anyone who reads my blog knows I'm a big fan of Flickr and of digital storytelling. I'd like to share a project that one of our health teachers, Mr. Ted Glazier is doing with his sophomore health students. Ted's work has been featured before in this blog, and in David Warlick's.

Before I talk about the project, let me examine two criticisms of a digital storytelling project like this that takes advantage of the Web's best collection of digital photography.

1. it takes too long, and I don't have the time
2. Flickr is inappropriate for use in schools

Well, if you are concerned about time, especially as it relates to meeting curricular standards that are associated with high-stakes testing, go on to the next entry in your aggregator. However, you actually might want to stick around, because I'll be talking about basically a four period digital storytelling project, where a period is a 50 minute class.

And if you can't use Flickr in your district or you don't think it's appropriate, then you might want to move on. But wait-maybe not. I'll be talking about a resource of images, selected by the teacher, which students select from. Okay, here's the project.

It's called: Putting a Face on Statistics

Ted teaches about addictions and he talks about escalating drug use, and that entry level drugs (alcohol, marijuana) can lead to even more serious addicitions. The project began with kids doing some Flicktion. If you don't know about this, it's the intersection of Flickr images and fiction (see the Flicktion images I have selected on my Flickr page at JOL). People post a starter sentence in the comments window of a Flickr image, and others continue the story through the addition of more comments. We didn't do that, we simply showed this image (if you can't get it at school, be sure to look at home-it's heart-wrenching and one of the comments indicates that this person may have been a teacher) and had kids develop a story about the image. We did this to help them understand how to interpret a digital image to tell a story, a skill that will serve them well in the next part of the project. And we got great stuff.

So, the kids have researched these addictions previously as part of another assignment and have written a short paper on these. From this paper they will distill a 6-7 sentence script, and use about 10 images from the pool Ted has selected and that are delivered via a shared class folder on our network. The pool contains about 40 images-we decided not to wait for someone to develop an educational app for Flickr, we just did this simple thing ourselves. They then will use Photostory 3 to build a very simple digital story where they will include two slides of statistics, 10 images from the pool, onboard music from Photostory 3, and their voice that will tell the story of the addiction and the statitics, but now with a visual face.

It will be interesting to see how the same images get used in different ways.

The kids will then, as homework, be required to engage in a metacognitive evaluation of why they selected the images that they did.

All images selected for the shared photo resource have come from the attribution pool of Flickr. Ted saved the images, and when he did, he added the name of the photographer (Flickr screen name) so the kids can include an attribution image in their project. By doing this, Ted can also teach them about intellectual property rights and creative commons licensing.

We'll also be able to share them.

Writing. More writing. Critical Thinking. Composition. Visual Literacy. Empowering Creativity. Understanding intellectual property rights. Learning new software, that can be downloaded and used for other projects and for personal use to encourage the development of individual voice, and in fact, a competitive voice.

An appropriate use of digital storytelling that addresses the time issue? Yes. A safe use of Flickr that takes advantage of high quality imagery? Yes. A project filled with essential skills-YES! (don't look now-how many of these skills transfer to standardized testing?)

Good teaching? Absolutely.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Between the lines: Network neutrality

Between the lines of the presentations I heard in which presenters dealt with the nature of information and information access in the future was an assumption: Having Internet access will allow a person to take advantage of all kinds of information and communication opportunities and we need to create learning opportunities for students that take this into account. However, if broadband companies have their way, when the Congress rewrites the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the concept of network neutrality--that the networks carrying the traffic of the Internet are non-discriminatory with regards to content--will be absent from the law. Instead, broadband companies will be able to charge the content providers for giving their content priority carriage on the providers' networks.

The idea is not that broadband providers will charge you for higher bandwidth connections and access to premium content--they already do that and will continue in the future. Rather, Comcast or SBC or Verizon will charge Google or CNN or Britannica Online for priority use of their networks. Think about it: In this scenario--the so-called "tiered service" model--if the Wikimedia Foundation can't pay up, your ability to connect to the Wikipedia could be limited because the provider could allocate a larger fraction of its bandwidth to other, paying, content or service providers. Streaming video from Disney or Viacom or Fox could be given preferential treatment over Wikipedia, your local newspaper, your favorite blogger, or your school's website. It's not that these sites would be blocked outright, but rather that they would be coming to you over what amounts to a slower connection. If this bandwidth limitation is significant enough, though, the practical result is that your use of the site is hindered. You have to wait. And you know what we all do when the wait is too long. Right, we stop waiting and click to somewhere else.

The question we, as educators (and consumers), need to ask is "From where does the content we value come?" If it comes from the big content providers, then we should join the baby Bells and cable companies, who are largely opponents of network neutrality, and lobby for excluding this principle from telecom legislation. If on the other hand, we believe that the value of the Internet comes from the Long Tail--those millions of smaller content creators comprising independent publishers, schools, universities, non-profits, and individuals (like David, Will, and Susim and Susan to mention only a few--who probably won't be able to pay for access to the fast lane of the Internet, then we should align ourselves with content providers and creators who, by and large, support writing the principle of network neutrality into law. We should lobby our representatives (soon!) to tell them how important it is to us that the plumbing of the Internet continue to be content agnostic.

Here are just a few starting points to learn more:

Wikipedia article on Network neutrality
Washington Post: A Gated Internet: The companies who build and control the Internet's pipes want to control the content over those pipes, too.".
CNET: "Without 'Net Net neutrality,' will consumers pay twice?".
Washington Post: Verizon Executive Calls for End to Google's 'Free Lunch'.

A quick Google search will turn up a bunch more.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Technology Integration Workshops at Harper High School

For the past three months I've been experimenting with Wiki spaces, so when I saw that the Conference had a number of workshops I jumped at the opportunity to listen and learn. I attended Charlene's, Will's, and David's presentations, and all included discussion of wikis. I'm not given a lot of PD time by my administration, but last Thursday, I had the entire 2 hours of in-service time for Technology Integration, so I set up workshops (password: harper) that I had hoped would interest the staff. I enlisted the aid of those teachers at Harper who have been using technology in their lessons. I asked them to share their expertise with their colleagues. I ran one of the workshops and focused on wikis. I borrowed from Will Richardson and began with Wikipedia and then had all 8 teachers who signed up for my workshop create a Backpackit account. Some of the teachers who would have taken the workshop were facilitating in other labs in our school, so my group was small. Several wanted to know what they could do with wikis? But a few were fascinated by its simplicity and how it archives all changes. Generally, the feedback that I received was very positive. All the workshops were engaging and gave even novices (we have an embarrassing sizeable number of tech novices) an opportunity to find a level of comfort at the computer. Unfortunately, technology based in-service time is usually no more than 3 hours per school year. My Administration doesn't quite get the correlation between technology and all other aspects of education in the 21st century.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More on Wikis, Collaborating and Conversing ...

In my breakout session on Social Technologies for the Classroom, I presented the idea of collaborating in a Wiki, using the very easy to create PBWiki.. For this session I created a "Classroom Ideas" wiki, to provide a place for those attending the session to continue the conversation (see Lisa Toulon's post below) by posting ideas and thoughts for classroom use of social technologies. It's been a week since our conference, and this too, seems to be a "Wiki Wasteland" (see Dave Jake's post below).

There is a long list of contributors (68) to this blog (see the sidebar), but not everyone has posted ideas or thoughts here either. There are people paying attention, as the stats at the bottom show over 2500 hits! But, it seems that this is currently only a spectator sport. Dave is "right on" in his statement that "more work needs to be done in preparing teachers to become collaborators."

At Adlai E. Stevenson High School, we are "known" to be a model of a "Professional Learning Community." As such, more than 100 visitors come to our campus each month. This did not happen overnight. We work extremely hard to maintain a collaborative environment. We are committed to contributing to high-performing collaborative teams. But, even here, while we are doing great things collaborating within, only a handful of us are extending our conversations into public online forums. Don't get me wrong, many of us have contacts beyond Stevenson, and continue to share and draw from others in our respective "fields." But even so, the public forums of blogs and wikis are not always present in the conversations.

So, let's do it here! I challenge all readers of this blog to join the conversation! Add your comments to this forum. Visit Dave's wikis, or the "Classroom Ideas" wiki. Be a part of the conversation.. not just a spectator!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wiki Wasteland?

At the recent IL-TCE conference, I had the opportunity to present on Flickr and the classroom use of wikis. For both presentations, I created wiki pages to give participants a venue for contribution and collaboration about these topics while at the conference and after the conference. My intent was to take advantage of the enormous expertise that was present in the audience (cumulatively, about 350 people in three presentations) to extend the conference experience, and begin building community. I also posted the wiki addresses on my weekly blog entry to invite their readership to contribute as well.

I got one response. Thanks, Charlene.

I was certainly disappointed but I guess the outcome should not have been unexpected. Wikis are new-not many in my presentations knew what they were or how they worked. So, I think this might be how it has to start-you've got to throw it out there, get it in front of people, and see what happens. And do it again.

The potential power of the tool to take advantage of what we know collectively, and share it for the benefit of all, is compelling. Yet more work needs to be done in preparing teachers to become collaborators. I sometimes think that this is an unnatural behavior, or act, for many educators, especially those in the secondary arena. As a former high school teacher myself, it was difficult to work together-how many hurdles do teachers face on a daily basis that prevent collaboration? Schools aren't exactly set up for that, are they? So, perhaps a digital environment that is available on a 24/7 asynchronous basis might address this issue.

IL-TCE offered a blog for the first time this year and invited many to contribute. That was a powerful first step-and it was very successful. How many will contribute next year? And even more important, how many posts will be made to the blog after the conference this year? We'll have to see.

What if the conference organizers were to add a conference wiki next year? After the numerous presentations on the topic this year, people may be ready to begin contributing next year.

The sooner teachers do, the sooner the tool will be in the hands of the kids.

The Strength of Weak Ties

The Strength of Weak Ties

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Education is a Conversation not a Monolog

On January 16th, I ordered the book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms from Amazon. I have been anxiously waiting its arrival as I am very interested in these topics. Imagine my suprise when the author, Will Richardson, was scheduled to present at IL-TCE. I had never heard him speak before so I decided to go to his first presentation "The New Read/Write Web: Transforming the Classroom". I loved it so much I decided to stay for his second presentation "What's up with Wikis?" For both of these presentations, he has a website with support material at As an educator who practices what he preaches, this is created using a wiki, of course. (pbwiki)

There was so much great information that I have decided to just list comments which he made which resonated with me:
  1. Education is a conversation not a monolog. (I think this is my newest favorite quote.)
  2. Teachers will say "publish it" not "hand it in".
  3. Just because we don't get MySpace, it will not stop students from using it. (as a mother of 2 teenagers, this hit home)
  4. Wikipedia is a passonate community contributing to a resource.

Thanks, Will, for an enlightening day. Still waiting for my book... Guess I should of ordered it directly from you instead of Amazon!

Comments from a teacher


Just finished up! Today was so incredible. I got so many ideas and
I'm SO glad I'm going back tomorrow because I didn't get to half of
the vendor booths I wanted to, or any of the poster presentations.
There are some great ones tomorrow! I wrapped myself up in the
breakouts today and found an awesome use for PPT/kidpix that I'm
going to try and use for my Unit Framework on Animal REsearch. It'

Thanks for giving me this wonderful opportunity!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Technorati Tag Generator - Dashboard - Blogs & Forums

Technorati Tag Generator - Dashboard - Blogs & Forums

Earlier in this blog, I was pondering adding Technorati tags to blog posts. Here's a widget that generates the code that you just paste into your post. Very handy!

technorati tags :

Handouts and Follow-Up

For those who attended my session, "Keep It Clean!", and for those who wish they could have attended, the handout is available on the IL-TCE site, or you can use the direct link here. Keep It Clean!

The follow-up website is also up and running now and can be found here... Keep It Clean!

There's a chance this site may be blocked in your school districts as it is hosted on a free public server and I'm too cheap to pay for a regular web-hosting service. In any event, I hope you find it useful!

Luke Allen

Thanks to All

It's Monday and I've had time to digest the events of last week! What a conference!

I'd like to first thank all of the conference volunteers. I helped coordinating volunteer efforts, and I was so pleased with the collective effort of such a great group of people. Community service is an essential component in making organizations like ICE thrive, and I really appreciate the enthusiasm of our volunteers!

The dedication of our volunteers made me reminisce this week. Their efforts reminded me of Pat Tomasek, the woman who first introduced me to ICE circa 1995. Pat was the kind of person who threw herself into everything that she did, and she particularly loved volunteering for Illinois Computing Educators. She had seemingly unlimited energy and understood the power of community service. I will always be grateful to Pat for introducing technology and ICE to me. She set the standard for living life to the fullest and I miss her presence dearly as she passed on about four years ago.

For me personally, this conference was all about connections. I could not walk from one end of Pheasant Run to the other without running into someone I knew and invariably, I stopped to chat. It was great to meet volunteers that I had only corresponded with via email as well as chat former colleagues from the Web Institute for Teachers, former students from NLU, colleagues from previous schools, a vendor or two, and other Apple Distinguished Educators. I guess I hadn't realized how many relationships I have formed over the years and I liked catching up with people.

Most people probably do not realize how busy conference committee members are during the conference. I think it's fair to say, at least in my case, that we do not get to see a lot of sessions. Thursday was completely hectic for me and as much as I wanted to see Will Richardson and Tim Lauer amongst other speakers, I realized that I probably will be able to catch them at NECC. I also read their blogs on a regular basis. Thursday was just an overwhelming day for me with the start of the conference and two presentations of my own.

On Thursday, I particularly enjoyed a conversation with audience members after my RSS presentation. We got on the topic of MySpace and how schools are handling the latest rage among younger people. I think we are going to hear more and more about this in conferences to come.

Also, during the course of many conversations with other Illinois teachers during the past few months, not just at IL-TCE, I have become aware of alarming trends that make me appreciate my current position teaching in a private school. I've heard stories related to funding.... teachers not allowed to travel to out of state no longer being a priority due to budget restraints....blogs being completely blocked at schools... computers locked down to limit student access.... schools that used to be cutting edge with tech and now are sorely lacking technology-wise. It's sad for me to hear these stories, but I'm also encouraged that so many teachers clearly believe in the power of technology as evidenced by IL-TCE attendees and presenters. I think it's important that we carry a message back to our schools that technology empowers our kids and that it is vital that we teach them to harness emerging technologies in a meaningful and positive way.

On Friday, I did get to attend a couple of sessions. I heard part of David Warlick's keynote and attended his accompanying session, Riding the Edge of the Wave. He did a much better job of explaining RSS than I did in my preso, and I liked the newaggregator, NewsFire, that he demonstrated. I also learned that you can drag and drop an RSS button into certain news aggregators to subscribe to that feed. This method works with my newsreader of choice, NetNewWire. Usually I just click on a blue Safari RSS button and I'm subscribed via NetNewsWire. I have NetNewsWire set as my default newsreader via my Safari preferences. Sorry if I just lost you... you should try RSS and find out what all the fuss is about!

I also had a chance to see Tony Vincent and he had a very engaging presentation style and a great PowerPoint presentation. He kept it very simple with great graphics. I think he must be a fan of Presentation Zen.

After the conference ended, I saw Tony and David intently huddled over their laptops about five feet away from each other in the elevator area of Pheasant Run. In hindsight, I wonder if they were iChatting with each other... I read in this blog that David had a chance to mingle with Tony and Tammy Worcester apr├ęs conference. Maybe they sat their chatting with each other via instant messaging just like many of our students do, I suspect! :)

And finally, I am very pleased with the level of participation in this blog. As I write this, we have had almost 2200 hits on this blog, 45 posts and approximately 70 people signed up in order to contribute to the blog. Thank you to all who posted, particularly all the presenters who gave another dimension to the conference experience by adding their thoughts and links. Keep the conversation going... this blog does not have to come to a standstill now that the conference is over.

Remember that next year's theme is Thinking Outside the Box and Wires... and hopefuly we'll see some of you at the National Educational Computing Conference in San Diego this July!

technorati tags :

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Handouts and Observations

What a wonderful conference! Congratulations to all involved, from planning to technology support, to the awesome network, to the wonderful participants SO full of energy, enthusiasm and expertise!

My sessions were full of passionate educators who are eager to learn and to share, thank you all so much for sharing with me. I have posted materials from my sessions "Early Reading and the Net" and "My Word, What's the Point of PowerPoint?" on my website for those participants who couldn't move the files via flashdrive. In addition, I have posted a few more samples there too.

Go to and then select the "Resources" tab. The newest resources are all labeled as NEW!

Enjoy, and thanks again for a wonderful conference!

Gail Lovely