Summertime and the Learning is Easy?

I am so honored to be asked to guest blog for Wes Fryer, a colleague I greatly admire.. Thank you so much. I am Alice Barr, the Instructional Integrator for Yarmouth High School in Yarmouth, Maine. We are a 1:1 laptop school and are going in to Year 8 of the project. I love what adding laptops to our school culture has done for teaching and learning. I am lucky to work with some amazing teachers, and students.

One of my favorite summer activities is teaching for the Professional Development Center at the University of Southern Maine. There are 4 technology classes that my fellow integrators and I share ranging from Mac Computer in the Classroom, Podcasting and Vodcasting, The Read/Write Web and 21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology.

This year I am teaching 21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology. It’s a 3 credit class for teachers that meets from 8:30 – 4:30, 5 days, for a week, which means we pack an entire semester in to a week. It’s exhilarating and fun, but it’s also frustrating and exhausting. Many of these teachers are in classrooms where students have laptops because of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. They are looking for new ways to engage their students. The course is designed to suggest a few tools they can use in their classroom to work “smarter not harder”, and a few tools that they can use with students. Along the way I show then the NETS standards, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and give them some readings to push their thinking about and hopefully influence their practice.It’s great having the “students” captive for a long time period. The first two days are tough, as they are introduced to three new tools right off the bat; Blogs, bookmarks, and RSS. During Day 3, we look quickly at Google docs, discuss what a PLN is and then they have to start a project. Then day 4 they have explore time and Day 5 they present their work. It’s a whirl wind! I show examples of things that teachers are doing in their classrooms and model technology activities that can be used in their own classrooms. I used some of the no tech activities from the book The Socially Networked Classroom. And yesterday I tried “Speed Geeking” after I read about Kim Cofino’s success with it. Somewhere in there, I slip in standards, reading assignments and homework. As the teacher, it is really hard to know if I am meeting the needs of everyone, and the varying ranges of digital literacy really make the class interesting.One disadvantage to teaching the class in a week is that it does not give the group time to reflect on their practice. While they write nightly reflections about the readings, I really want to push the big ideas about digital citizenship, student centered learning and creative teaching. When the class is in a semester, teachers can go back to their classrooms and try some of these ideas out, come back to class and then run them by their colleagues. In the short class, I have to hope that they will continue to use the tools after they leave, and that they understand the value of being part of a PLN to keep up with ever changing information.

A worry students have is about using the actual tools when they get back to their classrooms. They are afraid that they won’t be able to figure something out if it doesn’t work. Becoming digitally literate is a big concern. Another is designing lessons. One student made a very poignant comment: “I know I need to use technology, I am not afraid to ask the kids for help, the other teachers in my school won’t help, but I just don’t have the skill of the syntax and vocabulary of designing a really engaging lesson using technology. I thought that was critical, and I have to ask, what do teachers do when there is no technology support in their district for them? Is an online PLN enough?

Today they presented their final projects. I am blown away – My #aha-moment. With the array of ideas they shared, this fall, there are sure to be some very lucky students.  And judging from some of their feedback; “I learned so much, my brain has been in a state of shock all week” and “Every day after class my mind was constructively busy and excited to put these strategies in practice.  Watch out students here I come! “, the enthusiasm and excitement about going back to their classrooms was clearly evident. The UStream of the final projects is here (thank you Cheryl Oakes and Sheila Adams for commenting in the chat room)  and the class blogs, so you can follow along are here. In the end, we all learned so much from one another. Thank you so much, students of USMEPC512! By the way, what are you doing for your summer professional development? And thank you Wes, for giving me this opportunity.


cross posted at


Counseling in the Digital World

Keeping our kids safe

Maine Counseling Association (MeCA)
Annual Conference 2011

I hope to have the keynote presentation posted soon.


•    Slide 3 Marc Prensky; Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants
•    Slide 4 Social Media Count:
•    Slide 8 Pew Internet:
•    Slide 12: danah boyd Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning) (Hardcover)
•    Slide 14: Educational Leadership, September 2009 Jason Ohler, Orchestrating the Media Collage
•    Slide 25: Digital Dossier
•    Slide 25: John Palfrey, Born Digital
•    Slide 29:
•    Slide 30: Vicki Davis: The Digiteen Project (she will be at MaineEd 2010)
•    Slide 33:,
•    Slide 37: and
•    Slide 42: Facebook for Parents, YHS Digital Citizenship Day
•    Slide 45: Digital Citizenship in Schools
•    Slide 46: NetCetera
•    Slide 47: Common Sense Media
•    Slide 53:

My digital citizenship links

Other Books

Image: ‘Multimedia message

Digital Citizenship – Part 2, A Conversation

How does technology positively impact your:

  • Profession/School
  • Clients/Students
  • Job

How does technology negatively impact your:

  • Profession/School
  • Clients/Students
  • Job

What are you /your school doing to respond?

What do you want to learn more about?

  • Training, kids just given computers
  • Bullying and harassment in and out of school
  • Is it a discipline issue?
  • Digital Footprint
  • appropriate use
  • career information
  • legal perspective
  • millennial perspective – levels of control
  • teachers/ appropriate use in classroom
  • how do students learn?
  • Boundaries for social media

Reporting Out

Group 1


    • Electronic communication great
    • Separate school and personal email
    • Blogs and Facebook pages used by colleges
    • Still connected to work when out of the office


    • How do students transition into the world of  work
    • Digital Footprints

Group 2


    • Easy to access information and research
    • Less expensive to use Skype to stay connected
    • Efficient use of time


    • Not everyone can understand or afford the internet
    • How quickly information can be spread


    • Sharing information about staff at trainings

Group 3


    • Ease of email
    • Already knew “friends” before a college orientation


    • Boundaries


    • Two different Facebook accounts
    • Need a policy on social networking use

Group 4


    • More frequent contact with students/parents
    • Everything was typed/better organized
    • Researching potential professors


    • Amount of information (confidential) circulating
    • A lot of drama
    • Is it easier to cheat


    • Have handouts for on “Technology Tips for Parents”
    • Classes/training for parents
    • students involved in the training.

EPC 512: 21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology Class

Course Number: EPC 512
Course Title: 21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology
Class #: 14604
Dates: October 3, 31; November 14; December 5, 12, 2009
Times: 8:30-4:30
Location: USM Portland Campus
Faculty: Alice Barr, Yarmouth School Department
Credit: Three (3) Inservice Graduate Credits
Registration Form: Click Here (pdf) or call (207) 780-5055

In our technology-driven, globally diverse world, students are consuming and producing many forms of electronic media. How do we develop teaching strategies for the 21st Century classroom given changing ideas about literacy? This course is designed for K-12 educators looking to integrate an array of current digital technology skills with core academic subjects. The state of Maine has joined the National Partnership for 21st Century Skills (see and advocates the infusion of these skills into K-12 learning.

We need a few more in this class to make it a go. Please join us!

EPC 500: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom

Course Number: EPC 500
Course Title: The Read/Write Web in the Classroom
Class #: 2420
Dates: July 13 – 17, 2009
Times: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Location: University of Southern Maine, Gorham Campus
Faculty: Alice Barr, Yarmouth School Department

Explore the use of Web 2.0 online tools that support student learning, collaboration, and communication extending beyond classroom walls. Educators will become familiar with what it means to be literate in the 21st century classroom. Weblogs, wikis, rss, online photo galleries, social bookmarking, podcasts, internet safety and various online tools will be explored. Registrants may bring their own laptop or use computers provided in the USM lab.

EPC 511: Learning to Use Podcasting and Vodcasting for Teaching and Learning

Course Number: EPC 511
Course Title: Learning to Use Podcasting and Vodcasting for Teaching and Learning
Class #: 2423
Dates: July 6 – 10, 2009
Times: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Location: University of Southern Maine, Gorham Campus
Faculty: Alice Barr, Yarmouth School Department

Audio and video content can be accessed online, created by individuals or groups and used for collaborative conversations. The first step of the course is acquiring and organizing existing content available from online. Next is learning to use podcasting tools to create content. Participants can then expand from podcasting to screencasting and vodcasting to make use of the distributed, collaborative potential of these tools.

Top 100 Edu Tweeters

onlinedegree I am honored to be on the list of 100 Edu Tweeters. Thank you to Kelly Sonora and the folks at Online Degree World for including me in their work. Along with some other interesting people to follow, there are some institutions and groups that you can follow. I chose to follow some that post information on current research and reading. What a great way to get work out to people to evaluate and analyze. I continue to marvel at how much current, professional, relevant information I have access to using Twitter.

Week 1 of 2009 and already some amazing learning!

Friday Jan 2: I started at Radio CJOB in Manitoba, CANADA. They carried a live broadcast of Darren Kuropatwa joined by a former student, Marc.  There were call ins by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Wes Fryer, and Dean Shareski , who, along with Darren, are conveners of the K12 Online Conference. Darren also set up a back channel in Chatterous where people could discuss the program.

It was a good idea to have the back channel because there were long series of ads on the radio show, so it was great to bat around ideas with other folks!  A few years ago I was on a local radio show about why students should have access to technology. While I can understand the need for structure, it was agonizing waiting during the ads. I wonder what the local listeners thought about this show. (I wondered the same thing when I was on and never heard a thing!) There were some good phone in questions, but one has to wonder what people think about these supposedly radical ways of teaching! Great job Darren. It was also great to meet and connect with new folks to my PLN in the chat room.

Then is was on to two sessions: Classroom 2.0 End of the Year show  and an impromptu discussion about literacy and 21st century skills. This was an interesting mix because while I wasn’t 100% focused on both chats, Classroom 2.0 involved practice while the Literacy discussion was theory. Classroom 2.0 had tons of tools and suggestions for teachers. There were over 100 people in the chat room and zillions of links flying by. Peggy George, Steve Hargadon and Kim Caise did a great job moderating. I think this is a fantastic way for teachers to get support when trying to figure out what tools will work in their classroom.

The literacy discussion group was really trying to determine if the what we need to teach students is a new kind of literacy or skills. These “skills” have been coined “21st Century Skills” and they seem to be a new set of strategies designed to cope with changes, mainly driven by technology and its impact on the student. The problem, as I see it, is that teachers have no experience with these skills and therefore don’t know how to implement them in their work with students. One part of the discussion that was fascinating to see was those folks who say school worked for them and those that it didn’t work for and how they were able to cope. Today, we are probably much more cognisant that this phenomenon is happening in the classroom.

Jan 3: I joined an online conversation at the Global Collaborative Ning. This was hosted by Lucy Gray and involved educators from all over the world taking part in the Session. It was really fun to hear where everyone was from and what they were doing with students in their classsrooms. I look forward to more discussion here.

Jan 7: I joined an Elluminate Dinner Club session for Google Certified Teachers hosted by Cindy Lane

Jan 8: was our Weekly SEEDlings Show with Jeff and dan from the Wicked Decent Podcast

Jan 11: I Started the Images4Education Class hosted by the Electronic Village Online.

All of these sessions are mainly about connecting and learning with others. I just can’t understand why some people don’t see the advantage to this kind of learning! And all this in 1 week! Can’t wait to see what the next 51 weeks of 2009 bring!