to Twitter or not to Twitter… (thing 22)

so my friend Bonnie has been trying to turn me on to Twitter for quite some time for educational purposes…but I am having trouble disassociating it from the “just drank my coffee and going for a 5 mile walk” type updating that I know my friends are out there doing…

then I read this blog and am on my way to being convinced.

new social networking programs are making it consistently easier and easier to create connections with innovative teachers who are sharing ideas digitally.

the question about bringing these types of things into my classroom is another story, however, because of all of the filters at my school.  After a lengthy conversation with my tech woman at school this morning, I don’t feel any more optimistic.  It seems to me that students come into our classrooms and literally “power down”    …and this is probably the only time in their day in which they are being required to do so.  What really needs to be happening is education where we incorporate tech and teach students to respect the technology…the same way we ask them to respect everything else.  If students have specific tasks and assignments online, at the high school level at least, they should be able to stay on task and engage with the task at hand…

maybe this is idealistic…

maybe I will make a ‘This I Believe’ video about it and post it on YouTube, so that none of my colleagues or students will ever see it in an educational setting…

Google for Google Docs (thing 20)

This past year, I delved into Google Docs for the first time in my classroom.  Once I had finished the slighly terrifying experience of figuring out how to ensure that all of my students had email addresses and could get on to Google Docs, I was ready to roll.  The students loved it!  They wrote, shared, peer edited, commented, revised…all without getting up from their seats in the computer lab.

Did it solve all of the issues I have with shoddy peer editing and consequent lack of revising….certainly not, but it was a comprehensive and reflective way for students to learn from each other and understand that writing is a process that is both communal and ever evolving.

Now I just need to get that set of computers out of the lab and into my classroom…

My next move is onto Google Sites… my friend, Jack, has his students create digital book talks using a template he created utilizing this great tool from Google…

I’ll post a link when he emails me back.

A Tale of Two Tubes: TeacherTube and YouTube in the classroom (thing 19)

I guess it depends on what your school allows you to access, but it would be amazing if my district would actually allow me to make educated decisions about what I can and cannot access for my students…

that being said, there are a ton of cool things out there that can be useful…

Real English

Mike Marzio is the founder of this project, and it’s an interesting, unique, and valuable resource to use both in and out of the classroom. The range of speakers will expose students to varieties of English. The intelligent editing makes the authentic speech comprehensible to learners. Quizzes on the actual Real English site are categorized by grammar level.

A Student’s Grammar of the English Language Greenbaum and Quirk

An oldie but goodie. I love the copy a colleague passed on to me. I use often use it to solve tricky grammar questions. At times there’s probably more information than students actually need to know, but it helps sort everything in a teacher’s mind.

podcasts in the classroom (thing 17)

Podcasts are a great way to reinforce concepts studied in class for both auditory and visual learners and help students hone writing and reading skills as they prepare podcast scripts.   They can be used to conduct alternative assessments of students, beyond the traditional tests and reports and provide a new teaching and learning strategy for helping students be successful in English Language Arts.

Some interesting ways podcasts can be used in the classroom might be to have students demonstrate where they observed specific curriculum concepts outside the classroom. This strategy provides a means of alternative assessment for teachers to determine level of student understanding.  They can also be used for students to embed in multimedia presentations or interactive posters using a web 2.0 tool such as Glogster or WallWisher (which are also very cool!).  Students can also utilize podcasts to  aid in completion of assignments – for example recording writing techniques, strategies, and modeling a specific content concept being studied.  Podcasts can also be used to aid student debate regarding a specific topic.  One aspect is recorded as a podcast and posted on a VoiceThread for other students to add their comments and opinions regarding the debate.

There are a ton of resources out there to help teachers learn how to utilize podcasts in the classroom, so the question is just, where to start???

 

it’s delicious!!!

(thing 15)

Del.icio.us is  a great method for archiving  information from across the internet, tracking your favorite topics, and discovering new and useful sites. The power of del.icio.us comes in the form of its “collective intelligence”, which is constantly adding, reviewing, and filtering new information.

The community of del.icio.us allows you to find some of the best resources on the Internet without having to trudge through all of the junk and creates an easy organized way to share the information with your friends…not sure how I might use it in the classroom yet…but working on it.

sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all these accounts I have…

password retention: gooooooooooo…

taking it one step further (thing 14)

I have decided to look further into weebly because I think I might use it to create a teacher webpage this year.

It is soooooo easy!

it is literally a drag and drop, click to edit, what you see is what you get website generator! so simple.

I literally was up and running in about fifteen minutes (complete with personal pictures and links)

I think I have finally ran out of excuses not to get this done…I will include a link to the webpage once I have worked on it a bit more!

I wish my district would get on board with the whole teacher website thing.  Especially with easy to use, innovative website generators such as Weebly out there, there really is no excuse.  What a great way to enhance communication between all participants in a learning community!

okay…going back to work on it a bit more.

…on creating teacher webpages…

okay…so it is 8 am and I just attended a session from last years K-12 online conference, online, which was awesome! I can’t wait until I have some more free time, so I can go back and view more conference sessions (which will most likely be in October for the 2010 conference!)…psyched!

I viewed Cindi Danner-Kuhn’s session on teacher websites.  Ms. Danner-Kuhn teaches preservice teachers at Kansas State University College of Education and it was refreshing (coming from a district where teacher webpages a actually frowned upon) to hear her call to action that EVERY teacher should create and maintain a teacher webpage.  She claims (and I believe her) that creating classroom webpages will, in the very short long run, actually help teachers gain more teaching time in their days.

She explains how having resources, connections and access allow for more productive communications between teachers, parents and students and gives a brief overview of some of the website generators out there including:

i web

weebly

wix

webs

google sites

and (for the more advanced) Kompozer

She shows examples of effective classroom websites created from each source and gives pointers on how to keep them manageable and navigable.  It was definitely a very beneficial 20 minutes for me…you can check it out here if you’d like:

k12 online conference

have fun!

blogs: the internet equivalent to a make your own sundae party

I love blogs.

Not necessarily my own for a few good reasons:

1. I am about as good at being witty as I am at singing.

2. I am so horrible at singing that I don’t even sing to myself in the car when a George Michael ballad is blasting in my face.

3. My favorite sentence is “bad grammar’s funner,” and I am an English teacher…

4. My second favorite sentence (penned by a girlfriend of mine) is “I make spelling mistakes and love every minuet of it.”

I could go on, but won’t since I also have a compulsive tendency to ramble. 

None of these characterisitcs are all that conducive to blogging…But I do LOVE blogs, I love the openess of them, the collaborative discussions they provoke…I love reading horrible blogs that make me cringe at the ignorance spewing forth into the world just as much as I love reading challenging, intelligent blogs that make me feel like a complete ignoramus….

In general, the genre of blog writing is driven by people struggling with (or mastering) the ability to find an online voice…to hold and capture reader’s attention (has anyone made it this far?)…and to share, respond, read, scoff at, etc…other people’s posts and responses.

Blog reading differs from other types of reading in that it is like having a giant interactive book that you, your cohorts (and possibly a million other people) are reading.  It is private in a sense, because if you choose to remain silent in the conversation, you can; yet the opportunity to engage in the conversation is always there…waiting.

Blogging facilitates learning.  Everything collaborative facilitates learning.  Blogging helps to create connections that might otherwise be impossible.  They help provide new channels of information and knowledge for adults and students. They can teach students about voice and audience awareness.  They promote the use of technology, help bloggers develop writing habits and hone reading habits, among other things. 

 A good blog has to have something to say, but at the same time must provoke and engage…and most importantly, entertain…because like television, there is no pressure to continue engagement…no one staring you in the face guaging how well you are listening to their argument…there is always ample opportunity to change the channel, close the laptop, check the weather instead…

these are some of my favorite education blogs  from those I checked out, mainly because I kept on reading and didn’t once wonder if it might rain later…

http://learningischange.com/2007/06/29/the-ripe-environment/

http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=133