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The Connected Classroom

Information on and from EducationPlus' Learning Division

Monthly Archives: March 2012

We just learned about this from our friend Kathleen Frank from the Challenger Learning Center in Wheeling, West Virginia: McGraw-Hill Education launched the STEM Innovative Educator Awards to recognize & reward teachers who are finding innovative ways to reach today’s students. The awards, known as the STEMIEs, will acknowledge teachers who are pioneering effective techniques to engage their students in science, technology, engineering, or math – fields of study critical to our nation’s economic growth.

Teachers can enter by submitting a 2-minute video, a short essay, and lesson plan that demonstrate an innovative lesson or other project from their classroom. First place will receive $15,000, second place gets $5,000 and third place wins $2,500, plus McGraw-Hill will grant an additional $2,500 in other awards.

Think about it, do you:
• Have an innovative math lesson?
• Have an interesting idea for math game or science activity?
• Want to share your most intriguing science project?

… because, they are looking for:
• Engaging/interactive lessons
• Unique uses of technology in the classroom
• Innovative and differentiated instruction techniques
• Teaching tips you would give your first-year-teacher self!

In addition to the judging panel, members of the general public will have the opportunity to vote online for their favorite video. Applications will be accepted through May 31, 2012. For more information about the STEMIEs, please visit

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Guest post by Amy K. Marshall. Library Director of The Craig Public Library in Craig, Alaska. Amy recently participated in a videconference- her first- with Cooperating School Districts’ and the Kemper Art Museum. Amy shared the experience with us:

I’m showing my age here, but I’ve always loved that catchy tune from the one-hit-wonder The Dream Academy: Life In A Northern Town. We don’t have a Salvation Army Band, but it is, for the most part, a staid life in Craig, Alaska on Prince of Wales Island.  People fish, hunt, gather berries and other resources—there is a strong subsistence-based population here. If you came to visit, you might not notice it so much, except when the herring are spawning and everything is “Fish Egg” Excitement like it is, well, this week!

Into this place, technology has touched a toe to the water. The Craig Public Library, thanks to the generosity of the AlaskaOWL Project (and the US Department of Commerce, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, and other contributors) is linked! The first link came with the installation of a T1 Broadband connection. The second link came with the installation of videoconferencing equipment that truly opened the world for the Prince of Wales Island Community. That the purveyors of the AlaskaOWL thought to train library personnel for the installation and use of the equipment is nothing short of inspired. And, when librarians from around the State of Alaska converged on The Golden Heart City of Fairbanks for the AKLA Conference in February, the AlaskaOWL Team had one more surprise for us: CILC.

“It’s there for you to use.” Alaska State Library’s Head of Development Sue Sheriff’s simple statement rang out as nearly a challenge for all the librarians in the room. We now have the technology. We need to put it to work for our communities and videoconferencing was one way in which to do that.

The first videoconference the Craig Public Library conducted was with the Mildred Kemper Art Museum: “History, Heroes, and Symbolism: A Visual Analysis of George Caleb Bingham’s Iconic Painting,” I was terrified. I know my patronage, and I knew there would be people who would want to be there for it, but I also had that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling hostesses get when they realize they could be planning a party that no one will attend. I should never have worried. And, when Anchor Point out on the Kenai Peninsula, 750 miles away, joined us, the party stretched more than 3,000 miles across the Earth. Groups of people separated by these distances were able to see one another and exchange ideas: that is the power of this technology.

Our host, Allison Taylor, led us through a discussion of the painting, pointing out other period-specific works of art from which Bingham drew inspiration. We talked about the use of propaganda in art, how what was propaganda at the time could be viewed through the lens of history and somewhat softened (or not) depending upon the subject matter. What Allison probably did not realize, although she could see us talking, was that, when we politely muted our microphone on the Craig end, there were three or four in the group who were telling other stories, gesturing to the painting and scribbling notes. It was a far better party than I had imagined.

And now … a poem. As I watched eyes widen around the tables in Craig and Anchor Point, I thought, no one’s going to come to another party again. It was a writing exercise—for us to write an Ekphrastic Poem. We had fun with the word, because it’s so fun to say, but it is, in the end, a poem inspired by a work of art. Allison led us through it, and I was happy to see everyone scribbling notes, setting down words, following the instructions, heads bent, eyes narrowed, scanning the picture for colors, shapes, objects, for movements (no “ing” verbs allowed), implied or otherwise.

“Now,” Alison said, still smiling, “I want you to write five sentences or so, and link your nouns to your verbs in ways you wouldn’t expect.”

Here’s mine:

Rifles set at shoulders
Grey-blue skies billow as a
Shadow’d bird leans into the wind.
Branches brown and broken
Whip away the sun in set
As light glows against the
Red and brown of horse-borne hope.

After the videoconference ended and we all waved good-bye from our respective locations, the group around the tables in Craig remained rooted. We all shared our poems. We all shared our thoughts on the experience. We talked for over half an hour past the time of the video conference. Around us, other patrons drifted in to use the public use computers, to thumb through magazines, to take in the view of Klawock Inlet… and I knew they were there, but in that moment, there was just… us. There’s something about a shared experience. There’s something about creating anything in a group—be it a poem, a story, a building, or a fresh-baked pie. There’s a greater understanding of it. You see a collective process—how each individual approaches it. You’re better for it. That’s also the power of the tech and of presenters like Allison and programs like that of the Mildred Kemper Art Museum. We’re all better for it.

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Author Amy E. Sklansky connected to first grade students in Stone Harbor, New Jersey for her interactive videoconference Cooking a Book. Into her cooking pot she added inspiration, drafts, revisions, pencil sketches, plus more as she explained to the participating students how an author’s idea becomes a published book this morning.

This is one of Amy’s most popular programs through New Links. Cooking a Book is for younger students; she has a new version of the videoconference for older elementary students called From Inspiration to Bookstore Shelf. To participate in any of Amy’s videoconferences (she also connects via Skype), contact Cooperating School Districts.

Martha Bogart is wrapping up her SMART Board Level 2 class right now! This workshop was for educators who already have a SMART Board and consider themselves users. They learned some of the advanced features of the SMART Board.  With Martha’s help, they became adept at creating recordings on the SMART Board for future playback; they found out how to use the video player that comes with their SMART Board to annotate videos, plus much more. Look for more sessions to be offered this summer!

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Here’s a ‘postcard‘ for these teachers to send back to their schools- many districts in the St. Louis metro area have spring break this week- yet several educators came to Cooperating School Districts today to participating in Martha’s SMART Board training. Kudos to you! You’ll have lots of great, new information to take back to your classroom’s next week.

We’re currently working on our summer tele schedule. Registration isn’t quite up yet, but the first class of the summer place Thursday, May 31st- and it’s another SMART Board Level 1 workshop.

To watch last night’s free webinar on Promethean ActivBoard Tips & Tricks, click on the image to the left. This session, presented by Nancy George, lasted 45 minutes and is full of information!

Our next Wednesday Webinar is April 18th on the Show-Me a Movie Contest. Please join us next month to learn the latest news and rules on the digital storytelling contest!

We have three Wednesday webinars left this school year (please note, we have had some date changes). These are free, 60-minute professional development sessions offered by the Virtual Learning Center of Cooperating School Districts. You can see a list of the archived sessions (also at no cost) by visiting

Starting this afternoon, we have:

March 21, 2012, 4 pm Promethean ActivBoard Tips & Tricks
April 18, 2012, 4 pm Show-Me a Movie Contest: Preparing to Enter
May 9, 2012, 4 pm Summer tele Classes Preview

March 31: Community Day Program at Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

This special event, from 11 am to 3 pm, welcomes the community and celebrate the art on view features snacks and games with interactive art experiences for all ages. Activities at the Kemper Art Museum will include button making, scavenger hunts, storytelling, collage making, and more. Here’s a break down of the day (admission is free):

  • 11:30 am – Storytelling in PC gallery An Eye For Color
  • 12:30 pm – Wash U A Capella group The Stereotypes
  • 1:00 pm – curator’s tour of Stezaker with Kate Butler
  • 2:00 pm – Wash U SLAM poets perform in PC gallery
  • All day:
    – collage making in conjunction with Stezaker exhibition in 104 led by local artist Maria Ojascastro
    – cut silhouettes in conjunction with Stezaker exhibition led by local artist Joyce Yarbrough
    – scavenger hunt in Stezaker exhibition with prizes at front desk for completed ones
    – scavenger hunt in PC galleries, button making in atrium
    – lemonade and cookies!

Learn more at

K-12 educators, we still have spots open in two tele classes scheduled for next week: Creating ActivBoard Lessons to Engage and Motivate Students (Level 2) and Google Tools for Educators. The Promethean class is 8:30-3:30 on March 28th; the Google class is 4:00-7:00 on March 28 and 29th. Classes are $149 CSD member; $189 non-member. Register here, today- registration closes Thursday, March 22nd!

The tele is equipped with dual platform computers that use both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. With any class, you will have the option of working either in a PC or Mac environment. Our instructors are skilled, knowledgeable and approachable! Our focus is on student outcomes and developing 21st century skills. These small-sized classes provide you with: hands-on activities, skill building time, plus time to create usable lesson plans with newly acquired technology skills. To read full descriptions of the classes listed above, please visit

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Date:  April 12, 2012 | Times:  10-11:00 a.m. and 1- 2:00 p.m. CDT
Grade Levels: 4-8 | Videoconference Cost:  No Fee
Register:, search for
HEC-TV Live! Presents Going Green: Back to Nature

Students will learn about the importance of watersheds and what to do to protect them as they participate in a lab activity to test stream water for macro invertebrates & water quality at the Little Creek Nature Area in Florissant, Missouri.

What are watersheds and why do they matter so much to the health of the planet? How can we know how healthy a watershed is? What are ways to test for water quality? What steps can we take to reduce man’s negative impact on a watershed and help it thrive? What steps can we take to help a watershed struck by a natural disaster? To investigate the questions and more, HEC-TV Live! invites your students to join us outdoors and in the lab at the Little Creek Nature Area in Florissant, Missouri, to learn more about what we can do to protect the watersheds that are so vital to the health of the planet.

During the program, students will participate in a two-part lab activity. Your students will interact with students from the Ferguson-Florissant School District who will join us on site in the lab at the Little Creek Nature Area along with teachers from the Ferguson-Florissant Outdoor Education Center at Little Creek and representatives from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Part 1 of the lab activity will focus on the process used to take water samples from a stream or pond to test for macro invertebrates living in the ecosystem. Together, students will identify samples of macro invertebrates collected from the waters on site, record the number of each type and analyze what these results may indicate about the health of the ecosystem.  Part 2 of the lab activity will focus on testing water for dissolved oxygen, nitrate, phosphate, ph and turbidity. Students at Little Creek will test samples of the water collected on site and interact with your students to analyze the results of those tests.

Members of the Missouri Department of Conservation will answer your student questions about watersheds, water quality, and ways we can help protect both. Preparatory materials both written and in video form, as well as handouts that will be used during the program itself, will be sent to you after your enrollment is confirmed for the program.

Archival Viewing:
Can’t join live?  No problem!  All HEC-TV Live! programs are archived on the station website, and on the HEC-TV page on iTunes U for on-demand viewing. Archives are usually up & running about a week after the program’s original air date. For questions, contact

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