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The Connected Classroom

Information on and from EducationPlus' Learning Division

Monthly Archives: April 2008

Online “Street Smarts:” Being Legal, Literate, & Secure 
June 25 9 am-4 pm
$125 CSD member
; $195 non-member 
(One Graduate Credit Available)

Educators, what dangers lurk online for children? We teach them how to be safe within the physical community, but what about safety in the cyber community? During this all day tele class at Cooperating School Districts, learn the Internet Safety concepts of: Cyber Security, Personal Safety, Cyber Bullying and Cyber Predators.

Something to think about: do students know how to validate information found on the Web? Too often, information published on the Internet is viewed as truth, but is it really? Also, what about copyright? Do students have the legal right to copy and paste information from a website into their multi-media presentations and/or their own documents and websites? In addition to Internet Safety, learn the new grammar of the Web and how to:

  • Read URL web addresses to find their hidden meaning
  • Locate owners of websites
  • Evaluate the validity of a website
  • Investigate fair use as it applies to student-created digital documents

 Participants will learn about iSAFE‘s curriculum and the  modules available to them in the classroom. They will  create model lessons for their students that teach  Internet Safety, Literacy, and Intellectual  Property/Copyright. St. Louis area teachers, don’t miss  out on this opportunity! You can register at For a complete tele (that’s technology enhanced learning environment) class list, click here.

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New Links to New Learning members, don’t forget the Virtual Learning Center wants your feedback for the 2007- 2008 school year. Your input helps other educators select videoconferences! Listed here, in alphabetical order, are the five content providers CSD’s schools selected most often this year for videoconferences. We want you to choose your favorite of these top candidates! Please reply by this Friday, May 2, 2008. 

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Elementary classes from the Francis Howell, Clayton and Ladue School districts will connect for a one hour videoconference with author/illustrator Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw next week. The Virtual Learning Center is really excited to bring this St. Louis native into St. Louis schools. Jenny Sue will be talking with the students about her new picture book, My Travelin’ Eye – ‘ Jenny Sue’s eyes are different from other people’s eyes. Her right eye looks in one direction, while her left eye sometimes wanders. Jenny Sue has a travelin,’ lazy eye. Although it makes her different, it also helps her see the world in a special way. Here is a charming story about one very inspiring little girl.’ (see Author Visit on May 9, 2008

Now, here’s a bit about the author, by the author! 

 THE LITTLE YEARS. When I was little, I would sit in a box and draw pictures. Eventually, my studio expanded to my closet where I made up characters and neatly archived them in blue binders (including hundreds of made-up Smurfs). I would sit on the green shag carpet under hanging clothes with my older sister Renee sitting in her office on the far other end of the long, skinny closet. She wrote poems and said I could be her illustrator. My oldest brother Freddy and his friend Kevin Brimmer drew a lot, and I thought they were the coolest. I decided then that I’d always be an artist. When I was 8, I won my first art contest with a drawing of Santa Claus. I still remember the phone call—it was the first time I ever remember crying because I was happy…I find a lot of inspiration for my art and stories from my life: traveling+adventures, family+friends, my dog other pets, and memories.

 7 things I remember from my little years on Chatfield Drive, St. Louis, MO… 

1. The above mentioned box/my first art studio.
2. I had a Papa Smurf Doll that I LOVED. I remember giving him hundreds of beard trimmings til he had a charming five o’clock shadow and snowed tiny white beads
3. My dad had this awesome, huge swivel chair in his downstairs office, and my friend Tisa and I would take turns spinning each other til we had out of body experiences running upside down on the checkerboard ceiling.
4. My stylish green pants with the Polish embroidery and vertical ribbed lines.
5. My FAVORITE shirt: The Incredible Hulk.
6. Fighty + Gertrude, the 2 crawfish my sister Renee & I rescued from the live-well in my Dad’s bass boat in the garage. We kept them in a sherbert container and let them play on our driveway.
And 7. My thick glasses with the super springy frames sporting Bugs Bunny on the side.

Thanks for sharing and illustrating, Jenny Sue! Looking forward to next week!

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 This was a busy week! The first half we were at the United States Distance Learning Association National Conference (USDLA). It was good to talk with folks from all over the world, especially those we interact with over videoconference frequently. Something that really stuck with me is that the challenges, as well as the benefits, of distance learning are nearly universal! 
 Moving on, mid-week, we had a two-hour evening videoconference. Wednesday night was MOREnet’s Internet Safety Night. Sites from all over the United States (55 over videoconference!) connected for a two hour videoconference on Internet Safety. Cooperating School Districts acted as a site in St. Louis. At the ISN website, you’ll find all sort of resources to educate yourself and your family on the importance of Internet Safety, and ways to implement it at home.

 Finally, today is our official one year ‘blogiversary’.  April 25th of last year was when we really got going with The Wired Classroom. In that year, we’ve posted 210 times with over 650 tags! We’re really excited to continue posting to the blog to update our readers about what is going on in the Virtual Learning Center. Thanks to those who take the time to read the blog. 

What tech tools do you use to reach and teach your students or staff?  Do you feel others would benefit from learning more about the technology tools used in your teaching?  Do you have a desire to share your creative and professional successes?

If you or a colleague can answer yes to the above questions, METC 2009 invites you to apply as a presenter for a breakout session or hands-on workshop. More than 1,500 attendees from across the nation are expected to participate including technology specialists, teachers, library media specialists, staff developers, administrators, instructional technology teachers, counselors, and information technology/network specialists.

Share how your most effective technology tool(s) directly impacts:

Student achievement  |  Transformation of instruction  |  Library media   Administrative leadership  |   Network infrastructure

METC topic strands are:
1.  1:1 Initiatives (One laptop/handheld/desktop per student)  “NEW”
2.  Curriculum & Instruction based on Assessment and Data
3.  Differentiated Instruction
4.  Digital Media
5.  Distance Learning (online learning, conferencing)
6.  Instructional Technology Integration
7.  Library Technology Integration
8.  Mobile Technology (Palm, MP3 Player, Cell Phone) “NEW”
9.  Technology Integration 101 – a primer on basic tech integration “NEW”
10.  Technology Leadership
11.  Technical & Networking
12.  Web 2.0 (Read / Write Web)

Select from seven types of presentation formats:
1. 30-min Best Practices for Classroom Integration mini-session
2. 50-min breakout session giving the attendees an overview or introduction of a topic
3. 1-hr and 50-min breakout session that addresses a topic more in-depth.  This will be conducted in two consecutive 50-min sessions with a Part 1 and Part 2. It may be a hands-on workshop BYOL (bring your own laptop).
4. Student Poster session for your students to showcase how they learn and what technology tools they use.
5. Student plus Teacher session (bring your students as your co-presenters).
6. 3-hr preconference workshop on the morning of Monday, January 26
7. 6-hr preconference workshop all day on Monday, January 26

You may submit a proposal using the METC Call for Presenter form or after May 15, use the online proposal form located at

For program updates, keynote and featured speakers, and online registration information, check the conference website at

Cooperating School Districts hopes to see you at METC 2009,
January 26-28 at the St. Charles Convention Center.

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On Wednesday April 23, MOREnet hosted its Internet Safety Night.  Sites all over the US connected to this important program- including several St. Louis, MO!  The excellent keynote speaker was James Finch, Assistant Director, FBI Cyber Division.

Finch admitted first thing that at the FBI there was no bigger advocate of technology, including the Internet, than him. He also added he is the parent of three- two daughters in their twenties and a four year old son. All are on line.

Some facts:
+ The United States has highest rate of “computer intrusions” – hacking
+ The FBI has the Innocent Images National Initiative – where undercover agents work to bring on line predators to justice:

Finch emphasized “the Internet has changed our lives for the positive and it still holds so much promise… I want to heighten awareness.”

How do we heighten awareness?

It is important to talk to your children about the Internet, as you do when they learn to swim, learn to drive, etc. As Finch noted, “the Internet should not be a babysitter” – it will not take care of itself when it comes to the safety of children.

You must have an Internet Safety talk with your kids.
Here are Finch’s talking points:

+use strong passwords, don’t share passwords!
+maintain your operating system- download updates/patches because they fix programming flaws that become security vulnerabilities
+anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-phishing programs important
+use parental control software (emphasize it is out of concern, not to police them)
+make sure wireless router is configured properly
+change your network name
+using encryption features on wireless routers important
+decide which computers are allowed on your network using MAC filtering list- the unique address for your network card
+set this rule: no Internet after 9 pm  (Internet access policy)
+talk about Internet chats, social networking sites, peer to peer networks, and e-mail
+ask who is on your child’s buddy list
+emphasize once you hit “send,” you can’t get it back!
+let your kids know you will be reviewing their computer time to time

A note: this is NOT a one time only talk. According to Finch, “Internet Safety is not easy, it is not quick, but it is not rocket science, either.”

There are many Internet Safety resources at
Another website Finch spoke about was

Finch’s keynote was followed-up by a panel of experts who discussed issues like identity theft, spam, legal issues, how to monitor your kids while they are on the computer, and on line predators. Missed it? In St. Louis, Charter Communications will air the program soon. ISN programs will also be available on line:

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On Tuesday, Janine Lim pulled together a group of K-12 educators for an impromptu “birds of a feather” session after our lunch keynote. While we were anticipating a group of about 10-15 folks, we had a much larger group- closer to 30. We introduced ourselves and there were people from the UK, Arkansas, New York, D.C., Michigan- all over. We split ourselves into two groups- those who wanted to focus on online learning, and those who wanted to focus on videoconferencing. The (larger) videoconferencing group included Tonya Muro from Global Nomads Group, Jan Zanetis from Tandberg, Ken Conn from Data Projections, Ruth Blankenbaker from CILC, my colleagues Ruth Litman-Block and Martha Bogart.

Topics of discussion included professional development & videoconferencing- both delivering PD over v/c and providing v/c PD over videoconference. The group included content providers, coordinators, teachers and administrators who all had great input. We all agreed, however, it is important to engage teachers in the videoconferencing process. In addition, even though it seems obvious, content providers need to be trained to deliver quality programming. We discussed the importance of evaluations and preparing teachers & students for videoconferences. The hour we allotted went by very fast! At the end of our session, we were asked how to get more K-12 educators at USDLA (we were outnumbered by university level participants). The answer? Spread the word. Tell our colleagues. Visit the website: for conference/association updates.

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This week- Monday through Wednesday- I’m attending the USDLA Annual National Conference (United States Distance Learning Association) in downtown St. Louis. Interestingly (and unknowingly), both sessions I attended Monday were about distance learning programs in Florida. The first session was entitled What Works in K-12 Videoconference Programs and presenter Evelyn Nelson-Weaver shared with participants what Broward County School District in Florida is doing with videoconferencing. They have a lot of “in house” programs- teachers within the district sharing with students outside of their school. This year alone, the school district had had over 10,000 connections- point to point, multipoint, virtual field trips, collaborative projects. For more information on BECON, visit here and

I also attended Beyond College Prep: How Online Learning can Prep Students for College and for Life, presented by Pam Birtolo and Brian Marchman of the Florida Virtual School. We learned about the history and development of this school. They discussed their use of The Descriptive Review Process. This process asks teachers to look together at pieces of student work, to discuss what they see in the work, and to bring multiple perspectives to an analysis of the work in order to improve the quality of the work designed for students. They told us about a class project where a student rewrote a popular song with lyrics for a science project. (And performed it!) We talked about that not only did the student understand the scientific principles of oil, but he had to have used other media to put together a song. It was a very well done project, and the participants in the session (with the help of a sheet of paper outlining the process) used The Descriptive Review Process to analyze it.

Janine Lim (we finally met face to face!) is also blogging about her experiences at USDLA on Videoconferencing Out on a Lim.

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Transforming Learning with a Promethean Activboard   
June 11  OR  July 31 
$125 CSD member; $195 non-member 
(No Credit)

Come learn how to use this new technology tool in your classroom.  The Promethean Activboard has a copper metal grid sandwiched inside it. Through the use of a special magnetic pen, the board can detect where it is touched based on the metal grid. This is aligned with the projected picture on the board, and the pen in effect becomes the mouse. It combines the look and feel of a regular whiteboard with the power of a computer. Discover how to develop lesson plans that make use of it and motivate students to learn.  This tele class is for beginners; no prior knowledge of Promethean Activboards required.

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Transforming Learning with a SMART Board
June 3 reference OR July 30 9am-4pm 
$125 CSD member; $195 non-member
(No Credit)

Come learn how to use this new technology tool in your classroom.  The SMART Board is an interactive whiteboard that improves the way you teach, train and present. It combines the look and feel of a regular whiteboard with the power of a computer so you can save and print notes, collaborate on electronic documents, share information and run multimedia materials.  When combined with an LCD panel or projector, the SMART Board becomes a large, touch-sensitive screen. Discover how to develop lesson plans that make use of this fabulous tool and motivate students to learn.  This class is for beginners; no prior knowledge of SMART Boards required.

  Creating SMART Board Lessons to Engage & Motivate Students
  June 4 OR  July 28   9am-4pm   
  $125 CSD member; $195 non-member  
  (One Grad. Credit Available)

  Already have a SMART Board and consider yourself a user?  This class is for you!  Come learn the advanced features of the SMART Board and create lessons that you can use over and over.  Become adept at creating recordings of what you do on the SMART Board for playback and find out how to use the video player that comes with your SMART Board to annotate videos.  Learn how to attach audio files to objects on the SMART Board, how to save items that you use often to the My Content folder and share with others.  Find hundreds of lessons that have already been created for use on the SMART Board and create your own usable lesson, either from scratch or by tweaking a downloaded lesson.  In addition,  you will be introduced to Senteo, the SMART Board “clicker system” and the Airliner, a device that allows you to manipulate objects on the SMART Board from any location in the room.

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