Please introduce yourself, let us know a little bit about you, and where you are from.

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Hi My name is Sue Palmer and I teach social studies in western New York. I am a gen ed teacher but I am finishing up the last class for my cert in special ed as well. I love teaching inclusion, and have just started a website, www.masterymaze.com, to enourage collaboration in sharing lesson and review materials. To help my students pass the regents exams in history, I have created a series of video review podcasts, or "masterycasts" to help kids with these subjects. The website is designed to house these for use by the world. I am looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers who have a similar vision. I believe we need to teach with tools that today's students enjoy. We need to leave our comfort zones and enter their world. I am beginning to do this and www.masterymaze.com is my path. I hope you will join me. My students enjoy my class, are learning, and as a result feel much more confident and better about themselves. I know some of us hate to admit it, but it works!
My name is Karl Schaefer and I am the Digital Learning Coordinator and Computer Department Chair at Durham Academy in Durham NC, USA. I am most interested in using the new tools at our school since we are developing the learning infrastructure that will create a greater need for a student digital device. We use Moodle as our primary tool now but are looking to add Mahara next year.

I have learned so much over the last 2 years as I developed my Personal Learning Network. I blog at 528 Digital Learning as I am in the Middle School grades 5 to 8.
This sounds interesting. I too have started a learning community at www.masterymaze.com to share my podcast work and collaborate. I would be interested in your feedback as we have lauched less than a month ago. Feel free to share and pass it on.

Thanks!
I set this up a short while ago as a testing ground for ideas. So far it's just a simple class blog as a core, with links and a few wiki pages for collaborative writing etc. I plan to add more to it as I learn more and in response to feedback as time goes on, so suggestions are very welcome indeed. Here's the link:http://web.mac.com/paul_driver
I'm also about to take down my illustration site as I lost all the files in a hard drive failure. If you want to take a quick peek before I pull it down though, it's here:http://web.mac.com/paul_driver/iWeb/portfolio
Hi all. I teach English as a foreign language at a university in Portugal. I'm currently doing a master's degree in creative media practice, and I'm very interested in new ways to structure learning. I'm suspicious of the overly deterministic approach I see many educators taking towards new media technologies, while also being fascinated with the potential they offer us to rethink our concepts of teaching and learning.
Hi, Y'all! I am Anne Pemberton, a retired special ed and technology teacher living in the boonies of central Virginia. I have been involved with the Internet since before it was called the Internet, and started making web pages before I had a computer that would show pictures! Now that I am retired, I can devote as much time as I want to creating instructional resources for teachers. My emphasis is first for Virginia teachers and I try to make as much as I can that meets Virginia SOLs, but, no matter what the objectives are titled, most of the time, teachers are teaching the same stuff to kids not only around the country, but around the world. You can check out what I've created so far on http://www.educationalsynthesis.org ... the most popular section is Famous Americans, and My Own Books, personalized books designed for special ed students and any beginning readers, are coming up a close second. Look forward to learning more about what is needed to make the Internet the learning tool that was envisioned back in the early nineties.

Anne
Yout site is interesting. I have also created a content management learning community site to share the podcast work I create. I teach high school social studies and have inclusion classes with kids who really struggle to pass NY regents exams. I needed to come up with something to help them master the material.

Please take a look! I am looking for teachers to collaborate with me to share materials as I agree, the content is very similar. We can all benefit. My site is also designed for use by students. It is a mastery center for all to use.

www.masterymaze.com

We just launched about a month ago. See the MasteryCast podcast for a summary of features and philosophy.

Classroom 2.o is a great help. Thanks!
The Maze,

Yours is a very interesting start to what you are planning to do. I was not sure what a podcast was, but now I know. It is similar to a flash movie, perhaps with fewer bells and whistles.

To see what I've done with Flash, take a look at "I'm Nobody" and "Pocahontas" on http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/movies and at "Alpha Words" and the "Pocahontas Picture Quiz" at http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/games .... Not only does Flash present a larger screen than you are using with the podcasts, it also is easy to insert pictures, including animated gifs. I used animated gifs on the movies site to make the "Teacher" movie. under "Jobs".

In working with the inclusion kids, it is best to first find out their best way of learning. To avoid the problem of kids telling you what they think you "want" to hear, you could give them an environmental survey such as at: http://www.pen.k12.va.us/Pav/Academy1/environ.html ... I used this survey on the first day of school for more than a decade working with LD and EMR/EMH high school students. You may find it interesting to have you whole class do the paper. As they are doing it, EMPHASIZE that all people learn in different ways and there is not one way that is better than the others unless it is the way YOU learn best!

Your podcasts rely exclusively on words. This may not meet the needs of all of your students. If you ask them how they think, whether in words (including speech, sounds), or in pictures, it will tell you whether the podcasts need to be illustrated.

BTW, I only checked out the podcast on Early Man, since I am on dial-up and it took a while for it to download, just as my Flashes do. If that was the first podcast you did, perhaps you didn't have chance yet to experiment with using colors and graphics. You may want to be aware that for some children with hearing difficulties, in the Early Man podcast, the music is a bit overwhelming, making it hard to hear what you are saying. It may help to leave the background music at normal volumn for the introduction and intermission, but turn it down more when you are talking.

As you surmised, we are both working for the same aims. I, too, am looking for teachers who create instructional resources and want to share them. So far, most of my website contains my own creations. I am focusing a bit more on the younger crowd since I spent my last years before retirment as the computer teacher for a K-2 school. The experience helped forcus me on the need for graphics on the Internet to open up the technology to the little ones.

Hopefully, we can work together, or at least cross-link to each others sites, and perhaps help each other to edit work. I know it is tough to find one's own errors, that stand out to someone new looking at it. Those who use websites are usually so glad to have anything, that they rarely tell you there is a fauxpaux in your work.

Anne
Thanks for the feedback and I will check your links as well. I replied on www.masterymaze.com in your post but a shorter version is-- Yes, I agree.

For file size concerns, we have limited the pictures and the size of the player so folks without really fast broadband can have a fairly decent use. The podcasts are made to be downloaded, (hopefully through the rss feed so they get them all) and played on an ipod or other player for repetitive listening. We want to keep them short, around 5-7 minutes so they are not losing interest and can be played several times. My students listen to them at a minimum of 3 times;if they were longer I don't believe they would. They hit pause and then play on major points to slow it down to their own pace.

I have added some pictures to some of the more recent podcasts, especially on Egypt, etc. I agree that it is very helpful to do so, and we will when we can.

I am happy to collaborate with you and thanks so much for the comments! Subscribe to the MasteryCast podcast;I will include your site and work in a future blog post or episode!

Thanks for supporting the learning community concept!
The Maze,

The "learning community" concept is not new to me. I have been working with VSTE (Virginia Society of Technology Educators for almost 20 years now. Their newsletter posted the address to this site. Since I retired with health problems before I was ready to leave, it has been harder to uphold the community concept, but when I review the stats on my website, I realize I have gathered a sizeable community of users.

I was not aware that special ed students took the Regent's tests in NY. I had been led to believe that only top students took those tests and they were geared towards the upper level learners. Apparently, they are similar to the SOL tests we use in Virginia, which are required for special ed students unless they are so low-functioning that the IEP excludes standardized and specifically the SOL, tests.

I am thinking of how we can work together. As you may have seen if you looked at the links last night, Flash make a really good lesson. As you point out, download time is a factor for students outside the big cities where high speed lines exist. The flash programs can be downloaded to a computer and run independently of the Internet.

Perhaps we could start with Early Man, or the River Valley Civilizations. I would have to get up-to-date on these topics, but the river valley civilizations are on the SOLs in Virginia for kids in primary and elementary school. I'll have to look up where they are in the upper grades.

Let's decide what topic we want to collaborate on. I will probably need your help to develop pictures to use in Flash. Perhaps you could scan graphics from your textbooks, and I will search for some on the Internet. If we start with Early Man we will need good, detailed pictures of the representations of the various huminids, clear enough to show the characteristics we want the students to focus on.

Another resource we could collaborate on would be to include personalized stories in the reperature. These stories allow the reader to insert their own name in the story, which makes the story much more personal to the reader. In history stories, the reader dons a magical history hat to take them back in history to experience what is there. We could develop stories of a visit to each of the hominids, making the point of their characteristics, and as much as we know or can invent, about their daily lives. The reader does not bring anything of modern technology with the History Hat, they arrive with empty handss. But, they could be involved in the ideas that lead to invention of the wheel,or language development, and other areas.

Let me know what you think of these ideas.
Many possibilities!
Welcome! You are in the right place! It is easier than you think! I also teach high school and have transformed the entire nature of my classroom. My students are learning more than ever. See my page for more info on my work and my website.

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