Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are YOU a PBS Teacher?

Thoughts from Second Life...

Last night I had the privilege of presenting in Second Life alongside Malinda McCormick, the Director of Education from San Antonio's PBS Affiliate Station, KLRN, and Shawn Rider from PBS National on ISTE Island. We had a wonderful host, an ISTE Docent, Kevin Jarret, who helped manage the crowd and help newcomers to Second Life (a.k.a newbies) and 48 people from all over the world attended. The crowd was primarily from the United States (2 from Tucson, AZ) but 1 in particular introduced himself to us from Australia.

I have attended and participated in many events on Second Life (SL) and enjoyed 2 keynotes from NECC last summer in the comfort of my own Phoenix home in my SL attire. I got inspired and really excited about all the possibilities that could happen for us as education professionals in this brave new world.

But, last night was the first time I had ever been a part of a formal presentation team, as part of the ISTE Speaker Series on Second Life. What an experience! We shared a PowerPoint presentation of PBS Teachers, PBS Teachers Connect, PBS TeacherLine, and PBS TeacherLine Peer Connection. After our presentation, we turned everyone loose with a web scavenger hunt and asked all to return to be entered into a grand prize drawing of $5,000 Lindens, donated from Shawn. (If you are a SL addict, your eyeballs just popped out of your head with that kind of prize at stake.) Everyone, however, received a consolation thank you gift of a pixelated PBS Teachers lunch box - complete with chocolate milk, an apple, a sandwich, and cookies (even though they are a sometimes food!).

There are tremendous possibilities for all of us within Second Life. I hope you will take some time to ignore all the bad publicity and experiment by creating an avatar and asking a SL resident for some help. Everyone you find on ISTE Island, and with the DEN (Discovery Educator Network), and on Lighthouse Learning (Kathy Schrock's space), and in Bernajeana's Storytelling area (Bernajean Porter) are incredibly friendly and helpful and excited about professional development in this virtual arena. Look for PBS TeacherLine of Texas and an incredible reconstruction of the Alamo. Find AzTEA as well. And... stay tuned for ASSET-Eight... its in the works!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dr. Robert Needlman - Reach Out and Read!

I attended the Fall 2008 Annual Reach Out and Read Arizona Statewide Meeting today. Wow! I snuck in the attendee list at the last minute yesterday, promised to bring a bag of PBS goodies as a give away, and offered to leave materials for attendees on a community table in the exhibit area. Was I ever glad I did!

If you are not yet familiar with AZ Reach Out and Read, now is your chance! This organization spearheads pediatricians and others in the medical community to distribute materials on literacy to parents and books to families as a "prescription for reading!" Dr. Robert Needlman, M.D., was the keynote speaker and presented "Primary Prevention of School Reading Problems." It was just incredible to learn about what a difference books and early reading makes in children's lives. He reaffirmed much of what I already know and much of what the PBS KIDS Raising Readers Initiative is working on, but he also gave me new food for thought.

Did you know that research shows 1/3 of those mothers who have less than a 12th grade education are reading to their children despite their own educational barriers? Did you know that only 70% of those mothers with college degrees read to their children? Did you know that children's vocabulary at age 3 and 4 is the greatest predictor of school and reading success for later years? That is just the first bullets that pop out from his presentation today.

So... why is all this important to you? Well... WNET's Reading Rockets website offers webcasts and podcasts, and all sorts of other great resources. BUT most importantly, you can view Dr. Robert Neddlman yourself and find out more in "Toddling Toward Reading" hosted by Reba McIntyre! You can share this with your colleagues and parents. (It does make great parent newsletter material, btw.)

I hope you'll take the time to explore. Thank your pediatrician if he or she is involved with Reach Out and Read. Consider sharing these great online resources from PBS with others! It is just too good to keep all to yourself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Go Back in Time

Travel back in time to visit five of the families who lived at 16 Elm Street in Ipswich, Massachusetts over the past 200 years in this interactive game from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Students will match primary source materials and museum artifacts to the appropriate time period in order to learn about the everyday lives of Americans from different eras of our nation's history. This activity is one of the educational resources included in the online exhibition entitled Within These Walls.