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Monday, October 25, 2010

Off To Venice, And Then To Schoharie

I'm off tomorrow to Venice, Italy and then Schoharie, New York, before returning to Green Island - all in one day!!

Thanks to a very resourceful media center specialist at Heatly and the newly purchased interactive white board, I'll be taking the 6th grade Book Club to Venice, Italy by way of Google Earth. If you read an earlier Blog post (September 10th) you'll recall that a SmartBoard is a fairly new tool of technology that "enables the teacher to project a large image of their computer screen on to a 4 foot by 6 foot screen, access web based programs, allow learners to directly engage and manipulate learning components - and more. The Smartboard detects touch and enables the learner to use their finger to perform many of the same functions as a computer mouse/cursor/keyboard – scroll, right-click. The Smartboards were purchased in an arrangement that takes advantage of an opportunity to maximize the financial aid we receive, thus reducing costs." We'll use the Google Earth application to obtain a bird's-eye view of this great Italian city during our initial meeting of the group.

Venice is the location for the book we are reading - The Thief Lord. The story takes readers along the canals of Venice and through the maze of alleyways that wind through the city. I thought it would help the Book Club members gain a better understanding of the context of the story and stimulate their imagination when reading about the exploits of the street urchins who live in the shadows of Venice, one step away from their pursuers. We will be able to swoop down upon the city and explore its many different features as if we were there, perched high above one of the many church steeples that reach toward the sky. We will be able to zoom in for close-ups and zoom out for panoramic vistas. What better way to grasp the essence of the location for the story?

Later tomorrow, I will be attending a conference in Schoharie, NY on accessing, storing, retrieving, and disaggregating test score data as a means of converting inert facts and numbers into useful information that can inform instructional design and decisions. Measuring data points on tests is one thing, exploiting technology to examine the data and translate it into strategies is another. We have to equip our staff members with information they can activate, without lumbering beneath the burden of papers or toiling away hours pouring through a pile of statistics like they were looking for a needle in a haystack.

Both of these interactions demonstrate the power of technology. Both represent opportunities to leverage success at Heatly. Both serve as reminders of how we can move forward in our quest to be a small school with BIG ideas. We have to continue to strive for any and every edge we can discover in order to pursue our goal of meeting the needs of learners at all ages, at all stages.

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