Tuesday, September 16, 2008

921-Session 2

Welcome back!

Let's start by reading a powerful blog entry on today's techsavy students. It can get a little heavy at times, but spend some time exploring the links there. It is eye-opening information that all educators should read.

I hope that after that you don't feel too overwhelmed with all of the references and links I sent you. Your first assignment, Deliverable #1, is due before next Tuesday morning (9/23/08). The details are in the syllabus and summarized here:

Deliverable #1 will be to sign up for your own blog (I see that some of you already have). You don't have to create anything fancy. (A person could lose track of time playing with all the details.)

Setting up a Blogger account will also change how you comment on our class blog. Instead of choosing 'anonymous' you will instead type in your Blogger user name. If you already have a Google account (either gmail, gdocs..... )then you can use the same user name and password b/c the companies are interconnected.

You may access the wisdom of those that have taken this class before you here. And also from this Summer's participants here.

Also, some invaluable resources you should also start to check out are the tutorial links along the left side of this page. They'll walk you through a lot of what you need. Great for the visual learners out there. And lastly don't forget to tell us all your new blog address in your posting for this week. As they come in I'll post links to them in the margin with past participants.

By now, most of you are getting more comfortable navigating our class blog. You will spend the bulk of this session being exposed to the multitude of possibilities for using blogs in education. Unfortunately, it seems that some school systems use filtering systems that block access to many blogs, but where there is a will there is a way. You can't stop the evolution of technology, so for every blogging service that is blocked I'm sure there will be ten others to take its place. We are told that the rationale for blocking access is to protect the children, but I see examples every week of our students using inventiveness and ingenuity to circumvent filters. The kids are more savvy at this than us. I've seen students use proxy servers, foreign country websites, and different languages just to check out their MySpace and Facebook accounts at school. Also, every new cell phone now has the ability to access the Internet, so very soon the students won't even have filters to slow them down.

Blogs are popping up everywhere. Just check out the Providence Journal's website: http://www.projo.com/blogs/ and count how many different blogs are available there. I also have 27 high school students this semester taking 'virtual' classes at a vitual high school. They come to the library for their scheduled period and nearly every one of these classes has a blogging component. Check it out: http://www.govhs.org/

Tomorrow I'd like you to take an informal survey of your students and ask them about their online journal or blog use. (They may call it something different, but the most prevalent are MySpace or FaceBook) Obviously the older the students--the higher the percentage of use---but if your survey shows you results similar to mine, then you will be very surprised at the usage statistics. More then 90 % of my students here at the high school use some sort of online journal. The new trend is moving toward Facebook.com. And that number appears to be increasing all the time. Blogs won't always work for "every discipline--every day," but when you begin to grasp the versatility of their usage you will see that they can be a powerful communication tool. And if such a large percentage of our population is using a certain kind of technology then it is surely in our best interest as educators to become well versed in it. Watch this video on Web 2.0. It might be a little deeper than we, as educators, need to reach, but it gives us some perspective.

An example of how the power of participation can be harnessed within a single course comes from David Wiley at Utah State University. In the fall of 2004, Wiley taught a graduate seminar, “Understanding Online Interaction.” He describes what happened when his students were required to share their coursework publicly:
Because my goal as a teacher is to bring my students into full legitimate
participation in the community of instructional technologists as quickly as
possible, all student writing was done on public blogs. The writing students did
in the first few weeks was interesting but average. In the fourth week, however,
I posted a list of links to all the student blogs and mentioned the list on my
own blog. I also encouraged the students to start reading one another's writing.
The difference in the writing that next week was startling. Each student wrote
significantly more than they had previously. Each piece was more thoughtful.
Students commented on each other's writing and interlinked their pieces to show
related or contradicting thoughts. Then one of the student assignments was
commented on and linked to from a very prominent blogger. Many people read the
student blogs and subscribed to some of them. When these outside comments showed
up, indicating that the students really were plugging into the international
community's discourse, the quality of the writing improved again. The power of
peer review had been brought to bear on the assignments. Full Article

Now"blog away!!"
Dave Fontaine
PS--If you have trouble downloading this week's session from the link above then use this as a backup.


yipf said...

Frank Yip
Lincoln High School

Deliverable #1

I have already begun using blogs for classroom application. Instead of writing about how I might use blogs, allow me to discuss my thoughts on how well (or not) they are being used. I used blogger.com simply because of how user-friendly the service is. It is easy to set up each blog and to manage them. For a fairly technology-illiterate person who, at this time, does aspire to utilize pictures, videos, or other “cool” things, this service meets all of my needs. In addition, the students have also learned very quickly and competently how to navigate the blogs.

I took Mr. Fontaine’s EDC920 class last spring when this topic was introduced and using blogs interested me for my advisory class. I have a senior advisory and I thought a blog was a good vehicle to disseminate critical senior year information and guide them through the college process. In addition, I hoped to have a way to stay in touch with these wonderful kids after graduation. However, they have not really taken to blogging despite their previous familiarity with the medium. Thus far, only 3 students have looked at it and responded to the first post. Since this is not an academic class, I think I need to give more thought on how to utilize this more effectively. I am open to any advice you may have for me.

Ironically, I reluctantly set up blogs for my 2 Psychology classes at the recommendation of a colleague and it appears to be working quite well. I decided to use it for two purposes: to assess reading comprehension and have a forum to have virtual discussions on topics in Psychology. The first topic I tested the blog was on using animals in research. The blog worked well beyond my expectations with great dialogue and comments. I gave them extra credit for additional posts and getting parental input into the discussion. While there was limited parental interaction, there was back-and-forth between students. The Socratic seminar in which the unit culminated was the best I can recall because the students were already well-versed in the topic and had given much thought to it. The blogs are at http://p1psych.blogspot.com and http://p5psych.blogspot.com.

I have been using blogs as a literacy tool for my three World History class. I am trying to integrate the B-D-A (Before –During-After) reading comprehension strategy for reading the textbook and informational text. I accessed the B-D-A strategy through the Thinkfinity website. More on this tool can be found at http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=256. I have brought these ninth grade classes along slowly with this but thus far, it appears to be working well with almost all students participating appropriately. Initial reading quizzes have been promising.

There is one final comment. I have taken a chance with the kids and have allowed them to post comments without the “comment moderation” clicked on. I explained that if they can demonstrate appropriate behavior, I would treat them as “adults” and thus far they have responded. The parent response to this has been supportive thus far. I was wondering about your thoughts to this approach.

PDLibrarian said...

I'm glad to jump in and begin-the best way. My blog can be seen at:
and my name is PDLibrarian. I have a question on the blog- hoping to get an answer if possible.

I am hoping that starting with some simple blogs for my upper grade elementary students will help pave them way for them in their blog literacy and use. I plan to post links that may be of interest to them as well, which should help their understanding of what a blog is and the variety of ways it can be used. We do use a filter in my district, but if we provide a specific url they can give it the "OK", so I'm sure that we can control some of the security issues in this way (also, by my being super-careful about links to other sites- getting clearance only for those that are beneficial to the students.

A response to Frank Yip's comment:
As the parent of a high school junior, I can easily give you my opinion on your question about allowing students to comment without moderation. I think this is totally appropriate for their age...after all- most are going home to facebook anyway- a place to express whatever they want. They have to learn what is appropriate in different places and forums. I guess the only thing I'd want (as a parent) was to be sure is that you were viewing all the comments in case something inappropriate began to happen..my two cents!

pstevens said...

Pam Stevens
Fairview High School

Deliverable #1


I created this blog last year but only updated it one time. I revisited the blog, added quite a few more gadgets to make it more interesting and useful (I hope), and then reflected on why I would want anyone to visit this blog. My most recent post shares my thoughts about teachers' curriculum planning. Our jobs are changing so much!
I like Blogger because I use gmail, iGoogle, Google docs (love Google forms!), and use "google" as a verb! I also use wikispaces discussion tabs; they are very easy to use, too. I tried to use ClassBlogmeister and found it too cumbersome.
Blogger just looks nice to me, and I can quickly show other teachers how to set up an account, get them started right away, and have them posting in thirty minutes.
I am learning how to modify my page and liked that I was able to link my del.icio.us page "live."

I read with much interest Karl Fisch's blog. I had read some of his posts before, and I related to his posting about some teachers seeming to be proud that they have not learned much in the last twenty years about applications for technology in their classrooms. I certainly think that anyone has the personal right to be "off the grid" at home, but part of our jobs is using the tools that our bosses (or the community) expect us to use to help our students better learn the content of our courses.
I enjoy the challenge of re-thinking or "re-tooling" my classroom instruction!

Melissa said...

After some informal hand raising surveys, I found that Facebook and MySpace users start around seventh grade, with half online then going up to nearly all the students in twelfth grade. With that in mind, I have decided to have Facebook and maybe MySpace accounts for the library. I started a blog www.kascafe.blogspot.com at the beginning of this class, but there is nothing on it right now. I have had a blog on blogspot before with a professional librarian group, but it wasn’t successful because people didn’t check it very often. We went to a listserv, which worked well.

I am afraid that I would have the same problem blogging out of the library. That is why I liked the FaceBook idea. However, it looks like perhaps the libraries that are on there are sponsored groups, which would require paying for the privilege. Meanwhile, I have been trying to convince some teachers to start blogs with their classes, but I haven’t won them over yet. One was concerned that the quality of writing would not be very good, since the students would get near the computer and go into IM speak. I have been sending her quotes from the readings, including David Wiley’s, but I need to sit down and just show her some class and student blogs as examples. When I do start blogging with the teachers, we will probably use WordPress because that is what the technology teacher prefers.

One thing I wonder is how to manage one’s time online. I used to work with a teacher who has several blogs, follows and contributes twitters constantly, comments on other blogs, participates in a variety of online communities and teaches and has a family. How is that possible? Is participation in one to the detriment of another? Any blogging, wiki, RSS, etc. time management tool suggestions would be much appreciated.

dgcap said...

Dave Caplette
Richmond Elementary School

Deliverable #1

After a quick survey of my students, I discovered that none of them know anything about blogs! A few have heard of facebook and myspace, but that is only because they have older siblings. None of my fourth grade students however use any blogging service. For them, the extent of their "online" communication is a little bit of texting (via their Nintendo DS), instant messaging though AIM or some form of messaging though game systems like the Wii.

A second survey told me that all, but 3 of my students have internet at home. This makes it hard, especially at the elementary level to require students to go online and read/respond to posts. Therefore, I'm starting to come up with a list of possible ways to integrate this awesome new technology into my classroom. You can see a list of some ideas that I came up with on my blog here: http://dgcap.blogspot.com/. Thanks to pdlibrarian for the great idea on battle of the books. My other "big" thought was to use my writing block on Fridays to have students reflect on our Science Gemsnet kits. Since we are still in the learning routines and beginning of year testing stages of Fourth Grade (yes it does take a while for students to learn what to do), I haven't have the opportunity to introduce my class to the laptops.

While I have set up an account on blogger.com, I still am yet to see if it's blocked from our school network. I may also choose to use the blogging software that I have available on my mac though iweb. I am currently using that blog to post newsletters to my families. Unfortunately I can not share that address, since it is password protected (to ensure my parents that the photos I post of their children, as well as examples of their work, will remain among our classroom family).

My instincts align with Frank's, in the regards to not moderating posts. I feel that if I state high expectations, and remind my students of the responsibility that I am giving them, than they will not abuse the system. However, for the sake of my parents and school administration, I would moderate the comments left on the blog.

In response to Melissa on time management: In the classroom I have the ability to take a block of writing time once a week to give students an opportunity to write their comments on our class blog. But I may also give students an opportunity to write if they finish work early or during other blocks of time when students are out of the classroom. I'm wondering how to work the blog so that students could communicate with either other students from the school, or better yet another part of the state. That may be going a little deep for now though....

jfayne said...

Here is my blog: http://nighttrain65.blogspot.com/
I just set it up after doing all the reading and online work. The amazing scope of blogs I have seen is huge.
I took EDC 920 a couple of years ago and forgot about blogs. I am a substitute elementary who works full time as a correctional officer so I do not have my own classroom. I have not seen any teachers using blogs but I would definitely use them in my own classroom.
My 16 year old daughter uses them all the time(Myspace, Livejournal, and others). I know younger students use these all the time as well.
I look forward to seeing the blogs everyone has set up.

Jane said...

Session 2 Deliverable #1

I created several blogs using Blogger and Edublogs to examine their pros and cons and try to determine which ones would be better for what purpose. On Blogger I created: http://tmscomputer8.blogspot.com/.
On Edublog I created: http://tmswl.edublogs.org/ and http://tmstamagni.edublogs.org/.

I explored some of their features and ease of use. Since I teach computer classes and also work with classroom teachers to co-teach using technology, I created one blog for one of my classes and two blogs that I hope to use with other classes. We will be creating podcasts and I want to investigate the possibility of posting them on a blog or another type of web service.

I have some limited experience using Edublogs and Blogmeister. For my very first blog (and probably because I had just been to a conference where David Warlick, the creator of Blogmaister, was the keynote speaker) I chose Blogmeister. Because of my overriding concern with security and the need to persuade the principal that I was taking as many precautions as possible, I thought Blogmeister was the most secure blogging service. It allowed for layers of password protection and sections for students posts as well as comments. I agree with Pam Stevens, it is too cumbersome to use and maintain and I have abandoned it.

My next stop was to try Edublogs which is free for teachers and students to use. It has some security and as administrator of my blog, I chose to receive all comments in my email, so I could moderate the posts and decide if they could be published or not. It was much easier to maintain and for the students to use also. This is the link to that blog:
I started small with a simple purpose for the blog, which was to familiarize students with commenting on a blog, as well as reflecting on an activity that we had worked on in computer class. After reading chapter 2, it is quite clear to me that this is not real ”blogging” but merely “posting” because there is no conversation going on amongst the students and/or outsiders (although I did not want non-members contributing). I would really like the students to be able to post some of their class work and comment on each other’s work. In this way we would be moving to another level similar to an e-portfolio and discussion area.

Edublogs has changed in the year since I created my blog and I want to pursue the possibility that the students might be able to post their computer projects, including animations, PowerPoints and podcasts. I would like to allow the students to create their own blogs. However, I am not entirely comfortable with them publishing their own posts and moderating incoming comments to their blogs. My reservation is that it might become another IM chat area, rather than real conversation and synthesis of ideas. Another pitfall is that popular students tend to receive more incoming comments unless rules are orchestrated so that no one is left out of the comments by oversight.
As I reflect on week 2, the only thing I am certain about is that you can spend countless hours reading, creating, modifying and reading some more.

FHS Chats said...

Session 2
Deliverable # 1
Pam Hurt

My blog is titled FHS Chats, at http://FHSChatson.blogspot.com/. I just posted this blog in connection with EDC921, but if you visit the blog, you’ll see links to 3 other blogs I’ve posted for students in the past few years.

As we require honors students to participate in a summer reading program each year, I’ve used blogs as a way to encourage response without “interrupting” student vacations. For the most part, these online discussions have worked very well. Previous to using blogspot.com, we used Nicenet.org. I especially like the ability Blogger offers to personalize our sites; in comparison, Nicenet offered rather basic and limited discussion.

If you visit my blog, in addition to the blogs I’ve used in the past, you’ll see upgrades I’ve been able to add as I experimented with Blogger. I’m hoping to enhance and extend my blogs by adding a video and photos, but I’ll have to experiment more with these technologies (though I’ve recently updated digital photos to my postings on our school web pages!).

Using blogs offers a great opportunity to encourage students’ response to literature, film, research-based and other English assignments. One challenge: we have noticed that younger high school students sometimes need ongoing reminders to view the blogs as conversations and discussions initiated by teacher prompts and then motivated and developed through peers’ and teachers’ continuing posts. Until students grasp this dynamic and begin to participate fully in mutual dialogue, we’ve needed to nudge some students to reach beyond surface or repetitive responses (even though our initial postings defined and exemplified the conversational – discussion nature of blogs).

We were pleased, however, to find that our students typically chose appropriate usage in their posts, heeding our requests to avoid text or I-M types of posting!

Clearly, blogging is both useful and engaging! Blogger.com is not too intense and enables us to produce a functional, attractive, and diverse educational product. As I think about incorporating a video on my blog, I know I’ll encounter blocks if I try to post from YouTube at school…a filtered site. Other such sites, like TeacherTube don’t offer the same variety…Maintaining security and safety is a concern that can impose limits on creativity! Still, I wouldn’t want to ignore this opportunity to promote our students to think, write, explore, and share their views so readily!

About the survey...last year, we checked representative samples of our students about online journal or blog use. I'd say that more than 90% of the students, both young men and women, choose to visit and chat on such sites nearly every day...for an extended period (in addition to text messaging on their phones!). It's no wonder that our young people respond so readily to blogging...at school and even during school vacations!

T Weinberg said...

Deliverable #1
Tamara Weinberg
I created a blog for this class using blogger at http://tmslmc.blogspot.com/. The purpose is to inform faculty in my middle school about any new acquisitions, initiatives, events, and resources available in the library media center. Although teachers can respond to my posts, it is really more of a newsletter than a blog because it doesn’t contain any degree of introspection and it doesn’t posit interesting questions to ponder. However, I think it could be a great communications tool for busy teachers to quickly see what is going on in the LMC. My LMC webpage is geared more towards students, so this blog would be written for a different audience. Although I occasionally send out emails, most teachers get so many emails that mine tend to get lost. The blog would allow interested teachers to locate LMC information without having to worry about their mailbox becoming full.
I used Blogger for this project because it was extremely easy to set up and add posts. In the past I had explored many different blogging sites to use in various projects with students. I had initially rejected Blogger because I was concerned about students being able to access inappropriate content by clicking on the “next blog” button. Now that I have instructions on how to remove the button from our textbook, I no longer have that concern and would feel comfortable recommending this site to our teachers.
My previous experience with blogs was to create a fun way for students to publish work and have their parents and peers comment on their writing. I was looking for software that would enable several classes and students within the classes to be organized and easily located (so that parents would be able to find their children’s work easily) but within one blog (to simplify teacher administration). Security and the ability to approve postings before publishing were an extremely high priority, as this was the first time our school had used blogs. We used Blogmeister, because it met our needs, but it required a great deal of effort to set it up the way we wanted, so we concluded that the site was too cumbersome to use. That blog, although dormant, still exists at http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=55965. Unfortunately the project was not a success because I didn’t feel that the students published their best work, and we did not get the anticipated feedback from parents, despite a letter home describing the project with instructions for posting comments. I’m still not sure if the issue was that the parents were not comfortable with having their comments on public display, or if the students viewed that portion of the project as optional since it wasn’t graded.
I have also used Edublogs with a Language Arts teacher who wanted to publish student work and have peers comment on each other’s writing as a homework assignment. This software worked well for the project. The teacher had students create their pieces first in Word so that they could use the editing functions. I helped the students post to the blog during class, so that the teacher and I would be able to review the work for safety and grammar before posting.
I had many ideas for different types of blogs as I read and viewed the various blogs, but I need to convince teachers of the educational benefits before I can implement any of my ideas. As for the query about blogging, I know that many of our students (as well as both my teenagers) have their own Facebook accounts. When I took an informal survey today I found that a very small number of 6th graders had any knowledge of blogging, so I think it becomes more popular in 7th grade.
To conclude this very long posting (sorry): There was one reading that I felt the need to respond to- the Fischbowl blog (http://thefischbowl.blogspot.com/2007/09/is-it-okay-to-be-technologically.html) contained a posting “Is It Okay To Be A Technologically Illiterate Teacher?” which highlighted the author’s frustration with teachers who practically brag about being unable to use technology. The author wrote “If a teacher today is not technologically literate - and is unwilling to make the effort to learn more - it's equivalent to a teacher 30 years ago who didn't know how to read and write.” I happened to read one of the comments on the posting written by “frank,” who mentioned several reasons for this, including “age-induced-timidity.” He wrote ”Observe a child "learning" how to work a game, video game device, computer, computer program, and you'll catch the key to success. Fearlessness. They couldn't care less about "breaking" something.” I facilitated at the first session of a video game creation club today, and I asked the students about their learning styles to provide guidance on how to teach them the software. Although some students wanted to try an online tutorial, most wanted to just experiment and figure it out on their own. We had planned an organizational meeting and were just going to let the kids try out some demos, but they all wanted to jump in and create their own projects. Unlike teachers that I have worked with, the students felt no need to be fully informed, and had no fear of failure.

Anonymous said...

Matt Records
Cole Middle School
Deliverable # 1
The blogging service I chose is edublogs.org. This particular blogging site was created by teachers and built specifically for students and teachers. I feel this free server would suit my teaching needs best.

I feel there are many, many ways I could implement blogging into my daily teaching routine. Being a first year teacher I could blog with computer science teachers from around the world, picking their brain for ideas on successful lesson plans, field trips, project ideas, and thoughts of what works in the classroom and what does not. I feel listening to or reading others teacher’s experiences while teaching is a fantastic way to develop professionally.

Blogging can be used as a very effective communication tool that can deliver important information to parents and students about current and upcoming events. Such as tests, homework, study guides, field trips, and a great deal of up to the minute, computer science class bulletins. The aspect of a class blog that I would like most is that if a student has a question while at home about an assignment or content on a test or quiz, rather than becoming frustrated they can ask their question on the blog site or maybe the question has already been answered on the blog. What I think is even cooler is that there is very good possibility that maybe another student in the same class answered the question rather than the teacher. If a student in my class helped another student in my class through blogging it would without question be credit towards their grade.

I feel blogging and wikis can be used as a taught unit in my computer science class. I feel that eventually I will be able to teach my students and school staff a condensed version of this class. This will give teachers and students the opportunity to see if they if they would want to use this communication tool in the future. I could build the blog in the first two weeks of class and use it throughout the semester as a foundation to the class.

Anonymous said...

Matt Records
This is my blog web site -http://compscimrecsblog.edublogs.
org. My blogs page still needs alot of work. I'm not exactly sure how I want to set things up yet. But what I'm wonering is how to get the video onto the blog.