Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bolton Elementary's Mock Election 2008 - With a 21st Century Twist

Bolton Elementary Students participated in a mock election using 21st century learning skills October 28th, 2008. Teachers all over the school have been teaching about the election giving our students a well-rounded and comprehensive education about the process. A genuine effort was made to make this mock election as realistic as possible.
In the weeks leading up to our mock election all 2nd through 5th grade students registered to vote online using a custom form placed on the school's website. Each registration form was printed, and class sets were given to homeroom teachers. Kindergarten and first grade students were provided a voter registration card with a line on which to print their name. All students were required to have their voter registration and check in before they were allowed to vote. All the 5th grade classes took shifts manning the polls as classes came to cast their votes.
To complement instruction about the election the school's tri-weekly news broadcast team began doing election reports at the very beginning of the school year. They covered everything from polls, to political parties, and profiled candidates as well. Thanks to parental permission and the permission of our principal, the entire broadcast crew covered vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden's political rally held at nearby Wake Forest University on Oct. 23rd. Each of the seven students interviewed everybody from university officials, to local law enforcement, to people attending the rally and campaign volunteers. An edited report was shown on the Monday, Oct. 27 news broadcast.
The mock election was run off the school's teaching blog, "Bolton Bloggers," using a web 2.0 survey tool. This allowed classes to cast their votes quickly (around 10 minutes/class) and get on with the rest of their day.
President (692 teachers/students casting votes)
Winner: Barack Obama - 576 votes (83%)
John McCain - 101 votes (15%)
Bob Barr - 15 votes (2%)

NC Governor (658 teachers/students casting votes)
Winner: Bev Perdue - 331 votes (50 %)
Pat McCrory  - 194 votes (29%)
Michael Munger - 133 (20 %)

 Local CBS affiliate WFMY News 2 covered the mock election on their 6 PM newscast Oct. 28th.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Covering the Election

Bolton Elementary's Tri-weekly news show "WBBB" (Bolton Bear Broadcasting) has been covering the 2008 elections with fair reporting from the very beginning of the school year. The cast and crew have profiled all the candidates, covered the history of political parties and their ideology, issues, voting, and even covered polling. The news show also sponsored a 5th grade essay contest where all 5th graders wrote about why it is important to vote. One essay from each 5th grade class was chosen, and that student was audio recorded reading their essay, which was played back "on the air" in the three broadcasts leading up to our school's mock election.
The WBBB crew experienced the presidential campaign first-hand when the entire crew was granted permission to attend Senator Joe Biden's political rally held at Wake Forest University Thursday, Oct. 23. All the students on the WBBB staff conducted video interviews and provided reflections on the election process as part of their report. We think they covered it very well. Watch and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

One View of 21st Century Learning

This video represents a vision of k-12 students as 21st Century Learners. It was posted on YouTube last November by "bjnesbitt."

Work SMART-er

If there's one major theme that runs throughout everything we are doing with Teach 21 I believe it is we understand that it is not all about the technology. It's not the hardware that will transform our teaching and our students' learning, but what we do with that hardware that will be the difference maker. We can't just install equipment and - presto - all our students become straight-A students and proficient on North Carolina's End of Grade Tests.

I found this on http://21cmeyer.blogspot.com/2008/03/ive-been-thinkingabout-21c.html back in June, and it aptly describes the learning community we are trying to create here at Bolton.

"What I see in the CyberCamp presentations is that good teachers will be good no matter what the tool — a piece of chalk or thousands of dollars worth of technology tools. But, when you hook up a great teacher with engaging tools — that’s when magic happens. The tools become transparent. The teachers in our school that are making a difference with students, connect with kids and listen. They observe the world and try to bring a piece of it into the classroom."

With that in mind, our most recent Teach21 gathering (Oct. 9) was a half-day training at Clark-Powell, a local systems and technology vendor. The "big" piece of technology that each classroom teacher is receiving as part of Teach21 is a SMART interactive white board. The notebook software that comes with a SMART Board gives teachers a powerful teaching and presentation tool that both teachers and students can and should use.

Our trainer from Clark-Powell focused on the latest version of the notebook software and time was spent with small groups of teachers actually touching the board and manipulating the software.

The morning was very productive, we were treated like true professionals (which we are), and teachers are now very anxious to have their SMART Boards installed. Moreover, the SMART Board isn't just for use with it's fabulous software. It will allow teachers to manipulate just about any software on their computers straight from the board giving them ways to open up the whole world to their students.

I've said this over and over, but I truly believe it. The teachers on our Teach21 team were already masterful and talented. With hardware in hand they can use those talents in new and engaging ways, and I believe, will motivate/educate students like never before through the rich learning communities they are creating.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Watch Me Learn!

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - CONFUCIUS

The challenges of teaching students with special needs are great, but in many cases technology is providing a freedom these students did not previously have. Mrs. Mace, our school's Pre-K teacher serves students with different learning challenges. One of the strategies she used with a student was to use her Flip Video to show him how to count during her daily calendar time. This student learned best when he could see a demonstration of the desired learning behavior. After seeing himself on video he was able to duplicate the behavior and better internalize what Mrs. Mace wanted from him at calendar time. Using video in this context was a great bridge for this student and it represents a big step forward instructionally. Wow!