Tuesday, June 3, 2008

921-Session 3

So there may still be some skepticism in some of you about the practicality and positive uses of this technology. After all, it does seem like every time we hear or read about blogs and children from the news media--- they have a negative connotation. Briefly skim this report published by Nielsen: http://www.nielsen-netratings.com/pr/pr_070117.pdf I am sure that you will be convinced that blogs are not a passing fad. You can't fake these numbers.

Some of you have begun creating your own blogs (linked in the left-hand margin). Jack is off to a running, (but cautious) start at: http://neverthetwainredux.blogspot.com/

And John has already begun practicing with creative headlines and sidebars, as well as with emailing his posts to his blog. Check it out:


I'm placing links to all the course participants' blogs as they come in on the left. Check them out and give them a comment or two. It'll be good practice.

And more importantly, Session 3 is now uploaded and accessible, but before you do that I want to introduce you to a simple tool to help you monitor both my blog postings and the comments from your fellow participants. Please visit: http://wikidave.wikispaces.com/How+to+subscribe+to+blogs This link will visually walk you through the steps to set up a Bloglines account. Its primary purpose is to deliver to you every new blog posting by me and every new comment by your fellow participants. It has a lot of bells and whistles, but don't get distracted by them. Follow the basic instructions and it shouldn't take you too long. If you are interested in reading the comments and reflections from previous semesters then you may find them here:

Additionally, I'd like you to watch this tutorial. It is on 'Social Bookmarking.' We are all familiar with the ability to save favorite websites in our "Favorites" folder, but what if you had the ability to see other edc921 participants' favorites? What if you could benefit from the greatest sites found by other teachers? What if you could access their favorites, as well as your own, from any Internet connected computer? Check out this tutorial and sign up for an account, (optional) and help us by 'tagging' all the great sites you find with an 'edc921' label. If you are apprehensive, visit Del.icio.us and do a search for 'edc920' and you'll find all the websites used from that course. I haven't started tagging for this course, but maybe we could do it together.

Pace yourself this week. There is a lot to go over, so don't put it all off until the weekend, and don't forget to visit your fellow participants' new blogs. All addresses should be posted under S2. I'm also creating a links to each one in the left hand margin.



Lynne Deakers said...

I have learned what a del.icio.us account is and also flickr and have started using both. I want to teach our junior high students about these useful web tools. Viewing the video on Kathy Cassidy's First Grade Blog gave me a wonderful perspective on blogs for elementary school. From all the reading I have done I am a bit overwhelmed by the obvious need for some major changes in classroom teaching with technology integration such as a classroom blog. It just brings in a whole new dimension. My plan is to talk with a second year teacher who I am pretty sure has been exposed to this and share some of the things I am learning and see what she thinks about setting up a blog in her classroom. I am going to set up a book nook blog and link to it from the library page on our website. I loved the Duck blog and thought it was a creative way to teach the school community about blogging. I also observed English students videoconferencing with Chinese students all about age 10 using an interactive white board with microphone and camera that was truly amazing.

jack'sblog said...

I have established accounts with bloglines and del.icio.us, but I know I am going to have to re-visit the tutorials and spend some time on each site before I get comfortable with them. There are endless possibilities for integrating blogs and wikis in an English curriculum, but some cutting of administrative red tape doubtlessly will be necessary. In the informal poll that Dave requested, I found that nearly 100% of my students use some type of social networking website and do so consistently. It's a Brave New World.

Lynne Deakers said...

This is the link to my new blog. I decided I did not really like the first one so I deleted it and went with this instead. I am hoping to link to it from the school website and post to it as I read new books. I am also considering setting up a blog through David Warlick's Class Blogmeister so I can have all student posts go through me before they are posted to the web. This will be part of a year long class assignment. I may end up moving the book nook one to that site too. I like the idea of seeing student comments first and using this feature I could have them post their own reviews as well. Am I correct that some blog programs allow for more refining than others like teacher editing and invitation only entry?

Joanne D. said...

I successful created a blogline account. This account could save me some time once I learn how to use it effectively. I have already established a del.icio.us account that I have been using for about 6 months. I am a believer in this technology and think that tagging is a miracle of modern organization. I am planning on using del.icio.us with my students during research projects. A few research projects I assign in my American Lit. class are related to specific time periods, such as writing an abstract designed to provide an overview of a topic related to the Roaring 20's. Having my students share their tags with each other will help streamline this specific research.

I was impressed by the amazing sites included in session 3. Other than the sites already mentioned by Lynne and Jack, I found the HeyJude site very imformative. I browsed through several youtube links on Judy's site and was inspired to try this on my own blog. I haven't yet, but did find the settings necessary to create the links (I think).

I attempted to include a picture on my blog header but am having trouble with the size of the photo. Even when I shink to fit. I am going to continue messing around with this-maybe if I resize the photo first, then insert to my heading it will work.

One last thing that I would like to pose an "I wonder" question to all reading. I can't help still being a bit skeptical about the reality of using blogs in my classroom knowing the amount of time it takes to explore, read, and design blogs. I wonder...how this can be acheived in classrooms when curriculum is already in place and demands on time are already restrictive?

Also, I wish we could edit posts rather than delete and repost. Am I missing something, besides the ability to post without making errors?

Lynne Deakers said...

Joanne: I had trouble with editing too. But I found a view that let's you edit. You go to posts and there is a check box next to edit that you check and then double click on the post and your should be able to make changes rather than rewriting the whole thing.

Mrs. Matarese said...

Session 3 Comments
Classmate Joanne D. made an ‘I wonder’ statement about time constraints during the school day. She said that she “can't help still being a bit skeptical about the reality of using blogs in her classroom knowing the amount of time it takes to explore, read, and design blogs.” This is a valid concern and I appreciate her sentiment. I had reservations about making blog use in my classroom a reality, but as Dave has said, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
While I can see that blogs are not a passing fad, after reading the Nielsen report from this session, and that they are a useful tool for fostering literacy and boosting students’ participation, the reality is that there is barely enough time during the course of the day to teach the children the required grade level content. Here’s what I am thinking of for a solution: I am envisioning the blog to be a tool that will be accessed and used by students at home and school. At home, for homework, I will expect students to post comments to the blog. At school, during the school day, I plan to make blogging a literacy center experience during guided reading time. This way, I won’t give up any valuable instruction time. (With the exception, of course, of teaching the children how to use the blog.) Admittedly, these are just baby steps in integrating blog technology with my students. I agree with Dave’s point that “there is enormous educational potential for blog integration.” I wonder what other elementary teachers are thinking for using blogs, especially during the school day.

The Commercialization of Blogs
Leave it to Google to come up with the idea of advertising on blogs. I first heard of this concept last winter when stay-at-home moms, who blog, were seeking ways to earn money at home. (I hope they made more than Dave did.)
Knowing that ads are on blogs and all over the web, we, as teachers, have another responsibility: to educate children about advertisements. I know that in third grade social studies, children learn about ads, but after viewing so many blogs for younger children, perhaps instruction on how to be an informed consumer should start even earlier.

Jeannine said...

I want to start by thanking all those who posted before me. I’ve learned from all of you today. When Dave mentioned in Session 3’s introduction that we had a lot to cover this week so don’t wait until the last minute, I took his advice and began Tuesday evening. I did all of our reading and went through the slide presentation that evening. Wednesday I went back to the slides and checked the blogs which were filled with great information. I added a picture to my blog title (also having problems with size of picture and placement of title), added an animation from Kathy Cassidy’s blog, and began thinking how teachers and students can use blogs in my district. I’m actually thinking of setting up another blog on “How to Blog” and fit it into all subject areas in the elementary school, using it as a tool to get classroom teachers started. I do literacy workshops in my district and I can already hear the teachers asking how to find the time, as was already mentioned by other class participants. During guided reading is a great time to use the laptops along with science or math center time if the students are broken up into groups. I digress, I learned from you today because all of you mentioned blogline accounts in your post and I thought, what is a blogline account? I must have missed something. I went back to Dave’s introduction for Session 3 and lo and behold one of the first things he asked us to do was set up a blogline account. I don’t know how I missed it but I did. So thank you Lynne, Joanne and Jack! I’m off to set up an account.

Jeannine said...

Quick question - Why is our class blog going the wrong way? I thought the most recent post was suppose to be seen first. Just curious.

Brooke said...

I too, as I was reading through session three, kept wondering how much time the various authors of these blogs must devote to their blogs in order to maintain such amazing sites. I was glad that Dave mentioned that one person created theirs as part of their graduate work and to not be too intimidated. I kept thinking about how much time it had taken me to put up my dinky little blog. I guess the best thing to do is to set aside a little time every week to learn about a new aspect of the blog software. I also need to remember that chances are these folks buildt their blogs slowly over time.

I really enjoyed poking around the blog of the elementary school english teacher in Portugal. As I dug deeper into her blog, I found a section where she had assignments listed for her students as posts. One lesson involved having her students use google earth, an online atlas to place on a map the various locations of the teachers around the world who commented and collaborated with her class. It was incredible.

Marcia said...

TIME would be the issue I can see in using Blogs in education. Not necessarily time for students as most are familiar with this technology according to the PEW Report, but time for staff to set up the curriculum and assignments. Do you suppose we could get this integrated into NCLB goals?

Erin Wright said...

Erin Wright
Reading/Literacy 9-10
Coventry High, RI
Session 3 Comments

I am inspired by all of the different ideas I have seen; both on the PowerPoint this week and by my classmates here. I really liked Jack’s style of writing and found his blog very thought inspiring. He had mentioned a school scenario in the future where all teaching/learning was done online.

It’s funny, because I was thinking about that topic last week. I posted on my blog a question to students to envision their life in ten years. I got some pretty interesting responses. One of the topics bantered around that week was the idea of online schools of the future. Kids liked the idea because they thought about staying in their pajamas for school. I liked it too! But what jack mentioned and what I never really thought about was the fact that this might open up the possibility of our jobs leaving the country. Now that is scary! It’s interesting to hear other people’s opinions, and see things from other perspectives. That’s one great thing about blogging. It creates discussion.

In my blog, we have the posting part down, but the discussing part isn’t quite there yet. Kids often ask, and I’ve wondered, too, why there is no capability on blogger to reply directly under a post or comment, and then have a thread.

I wonder: is this never a component of a blog site?

I really enjoyed the blog about the duck. Something like that happening is a great opportunity for teaching and learning. It’s wonderful that the teacher jumped on the opportunity to make that one of those teachable moments. Sometimes we just have to take a side road, but it’s worth it, I think.

I wonder, like many others, how to manage time more effectively with all the posting, monitoring, etc. that comes with edublogging. What I have found, though, is that the blogging takes over a spot of something else that can be let go. I think the blog work with the kids is more valuable than at least a half a dozen things we were already doing. And they’re pretty enthusiastic about it, so in my book, it’s worth any extra time it might take up.

Thank you all for sharing your ideas and blogs. I hope to look at them all in greater detail soon.

CHSEinfo said...

I found that like many others I had a hard time getting to everything in this session. There were so many great tools that it was hard to fully understand how they all work. I set up an account with bloglines.com and see how it could be very helpful. I will have to spend more time with this site once the school year is over. While typing tonight I just found out that I do not have school tomorrow because of the heat so I will use this time to dive deeper into bloglines.com and some of the other tools.

I am going to set up an account with Class Blogmeister and see if this site would be better then the blog I created with Blogger. I am going to have to play around with both of them to see which would be easier for the students and which one they will find the most appealing.

One area that I think I might have some difficulty with is having my blog not be used as a place for students and parents to complain about something. I get many phone calls from parents because they feel that another teacher is not treating their child fairly. The article Using Blogs in School by Terry Freedman made me see that have a set of rules is a place that I need to start with both the students and the parents. Having a set of rules will help make blogging beneficial for everyone involved.

I am just so glad I have the summer to put all this together and fully understand how beneficial blogging can be in the classroom.

A. Lovett said...

My first response to this week’s power point was very self-centered. A couple of weeks ago I ate dinner with my parents (both of whom are teachers in Rhode Island) and one of their friends (also a teacher in RI). The topic of technology came up and my father said that a teacher friend of his told him this about technology “People of the generation we are teaching today are digital natives. They grew up with email and texting and other various forms of the internet in everyday life. They read something and understand it in our technology ridden world today. We, however, are digital immigrants, meaning we read an e-mail and then have to process it in ways we understand. Such as reading news online, we process it as though it is coming from a newspaper or television.” I completely agreed with this theory, my parents being digital immigrants and myself being a digital native. A little background is that my mother is a technophobe and does not even own her own cell phone or email address. She does the basics of what she needs to do as a teacher, shares an email account with my father, him being the only person who checks it, and still relies solely on her house phone to communicate with the world. My mother also refuses to email teachers and parents, but will instead call them at obnoxious times just to spite the use of the internet. My father on the other hand is much more accepting of the use of technology in the world. He owns a cell phone, browses the internet with ease, and even used AIM to talk to my brother and me at college. So, I found this dinner table conversation very interesting because I am a native. Much to my surprise, when I began the book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for our class a few weeks ago and saw the Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrants in TEXT I was quite shocked. I obviously had to call my father immediately and first ask if his friend had taken this class and or ask if he had stolen my text at some point. It was great to read that this theory did exist and was great to hear the elaboration of the concept.

The reason I bring this up now is because the introduction of this week’s power point talks about the millions of children today who are internet fluent and who have blogs, use instant messenger, and who use facebook, myspace or some form of online diary. I was that student. I grew up in middle school and high school with the internet as my outlet. I had an online diary, not a paper diary which my parents, the digital immigrants, had as their only outlet. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote on that diary and LOVED that people left me comments. I knew the rules of indulging personal information, but it felt great to receive feedback on my life from a stranger’s perspective and it made me want to write more. So when students today say they don’t do much reading and writing, it’s guaranteed to be a lie. Not only can online diaries or blogs be used as a form of free write, they can also be used to teach. This is what we need to focus on.

The internet is a huge part of our world today. Being a digital native, my life revolves around the internet. I read my news online. Cnn.com is best friend. I do not read a paper, and I do not watch the nightly news, instead I read cnn.com “cover to cover”. Hence my being a digital native. Some people however, and I hate to say it, but some Digital Immigrants, do not realize how much the internet has taken over. Take me for example. How did I apply for teaching jobs? On paper? No, on a bunch of different websites online. How did I find the job opening? A website online. How did I know I had an interview? An e-mail online. Once I got a job, how did I communicate with faculty and staff? E-mail. How do I enter my grades and my attendance? Online. Once I got paid, how do I pay my bills? Online. I am only capable of doing this because I learned to use the internet efficiently. Could my mother, the digital immigrant, do these things? No, at least not without a great deal of tutoring. Which brings me to my next question; do we want our students to grow up with my mother’s technological skills? No. We want our students to be computer and internet savvy. One of the best ways to do this is to give them access to the internet. Teach them to want to learn it and give them ways in which they can relate, such as blogs. Using blogs in the classroom may seem like a huge step, or a risk, but in reality it is only helping the students be able to succeed in a world that is ever-changing. In a world that could, in reality, end up teaching EVERYTHING through blogs. So from a digital native standpoint, using blogs in the classroom is a great idea because in today’s society, you do not want to get left behind. We want children to write, so give them a comfortable outlet to do so, and make them WANT to do it.

Finally, after reading all the slides in this power point and visiting the various blogs, can anyone HONESTLY say they didn’t learn a great deal about many things from reading blogs??

A. Lovett said...

Also, as a side note, I learned about del.icio.us in the previous class and it is wonderful. Also, a few people I mentioned it to already new about it! I felt behind instead of how ahead i thought I was. Also, bloglines is also a great tool! I wish I had known about this before! If only there was more TIME in the day to master and learn all these great tools! Such as everyone has mentioned.

And on a VERY side note. You know when you post a comment and they ask you to type in the word identification. Well that has been the thing I hate the most about this blog and internet use in general. I have to post my comment about 5 times before I ever type that right. And I know WHY its used, but what I want to know is, why they can't be easier to view? ALso, I feel the same way when purchasing tickets online. So frustrating! Isn't there an easier way? This is my technology rant of the day.

CS said...

Well, honestly, I'm a little overwhelmed and humbled by how much I don't know. I have a few ideas of how I'm going to integrate these tools, but they seem to keep evolving and changing. Like Lynn, I think I may try setting something up on Blogmeister. Since, my district blocks "blogs" this may have potential. But, I need to research more. It has been really helpful for me to see and explore all the links to how people are including blogs in their classrooms. I love all of the international connections and I've even subscribed to a few of my favorites. Amanda, I found your post particularly interesting about digital natives, because I had the same discussion this week with a small group of graduating seniors and parents as the students were showing us their graduation posts/ pictures on myspace. Unlike Amanda, I am a digital immigrant. Don't get me wrong, I can't go a day without access to the internet, but it takes me a little longer to process things. One example is when last week I signed up for bloglines and del.icio.us. It surprised me that I already had accounts. Obviously, I knew this is something that I wanted to do, signed up on my own prior to this course, but never used them again. (I still need to go back an look at the tutorials again.)

I wonder what it will be like in our schools in 5 years? Two of those graduating seniors that I talked to this weekend are going into education. I wonder how they will use technology in their instruction as they become teachers.

Mrs. Kiernan said...

Sorry this is a little late, I thought I was all caught up before our little trip last week and was ready to post only to find our hard drive had crashed on our PC and my laptop's battery died right in the middle of report card comments!

I have learned so much about the del.icio.us, flicker, and blogline acounts that my head is spinning!! I have been thinking the same as Heather and Joanne D., "How do I fit this all in?". We are lucky enough to have a computer lab and 2 laptop carts in our building, however you need to sign up for them WAY in advance in order to gain access to them (I may start next year's sign up list now!!). My hope is to set aside 1 or 2 days per week to integrate my blog with my literacy block.

At first I was all ready to use a blog for each subject, but I've quickly taken my head out of the clouds and decided to start with 1 subject at a time. I also like Joanne D's idea of using the del.icio.us for research projects. I have developed some web quests for my classroom but this site would help tremendously with research projects! What a great idea. I have a lot to work on over the summer to prepare for next years class!

This is also something that I am excited to start with some of the Special Needs students I will be teaching next year. I have a student who will be spending 1/2 the day in my classroom, with a 1 on 1, and the other 1/2 in a self contained class that focuses on functional skills. She has an alpha smart that stays with her all day for written communication. This will be a great way for her to interact with our read aloud or even join in a group discussion of a literature circle book that she can listen to on tape. I am very excited to start this project with her.

I can also see where editing a comment may be stressful for students. I guess we will have to stress the importance of checking it over before we post, or typing it in Word and using copy and paste.

Again, I apologize for my technical glitches! I hope everyone in my area is staying cool (or at least trying!)

Anonymous said...

Lynn DiTusa
(Sorry - had to post under anonymous)

Though I took notes about this session weeks ago (in the stifling heat in the school's only air-conditioned room!), I neglected to actually post them.

Right now, I am reviewing all of the PowerPoints thus far (we are now on session 7) and trying to sort out all of the material that has been put before us. I feel that I am drowning - maybe I'm just not as computer-savvy as many of you are - but I am going to keep trying to swim! Keep the life vest handy, though!

I expressed concerns in an earlier post, but I am still worried about all of the technical glitches. For example, from my school computer, which is the one I use most often, I cannot access YouTube and other sites since they are blocked. At home, my computer is an older one and not always cooperative. Presently, I'm using my sister's computer, which is not as fast as my computer at school, so it is taking me a long time to accomplish anything. My point buried under all of my complaining = if I am having these problems, how easy and convenient will it be for students to actively blog and access information that I put forth? I also do not want students without computers to feel that they are being left out. Even though they have computer access at school to some extent, they might feel uncomfortable about the situation.

Next, I am worried about the lax manner in which kids write. Even though I want them to express themselves freely, I do want them to keep conventions in mind. I will try to refrain from excessively "correcting" their on-line language so as not to discourage their exchange of ideas; however, I do want them to know that they should still attempt to write properly, even if they are using the computer instead of a pen and paper.

Next topic: Best Teacher Blog. I am amazed by the possibilities! I absolutely LOVE the voicemails! What a terrific way to communicate with the students; this feature allows the teacher to build stronger, more individualized relationships with the students. Because of the time constraints within a class period, it is difficult enough to get through the material, yet it is even more challenging to connect with the students as much as we'd all like; the voicemails would provide that chance. I also really like the idea of detailed lessons so that kids can practice at home. This way, parents know what the kids are learning, and they learn how they can assist their children in the process.

In terms of the bulletin board blogs, what a great way to preserve the work! When I put a great deal into a display, I am always disappointed when I have to take it down - it just disappears that way! The posting of the displays inspires other teachers and allows parents to see what is happening in their child’s classroom.

In reviewing the selected sites, I feel that some of them might be too overwhelming for kids in the amount of material presented. It is wonderful that there is so much information at the students’ fingertips, but I’m curious as to what extent the students use it. The teachers put in so much effort, but do the kids really invest in the resources? Some students might visit the site, see all the different columns and features and links, and then simply decide that it would be too much trouble for them to look through it all.

The Duck Diaries – absolutely precious! I love the song – and the kids will never forget it! This type of blog is a delightful way for families to be actively involved in what happens in the classroom. When children return from school each day, they are greeted with the question, “What did you do in school today?” The younger students tend to share more, yet as they age, the response is condensed to one word: “Nothing.” Blogs can open the lines of communication between children and parents because they will give parents specific information with which to start a conversation.