Tuesday, September 23, 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 (As they are posted I'll place links to them in the left-hand margin).
Last semester, John jumped right in and began 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, as well as some of the past participants' blogs and give them a comment or two. It'll be good practice.

Session 3 is now uploaded and accessible, (if you are having trouble use this as a back-up), 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:

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:
and last semesters are 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 Delicious.com 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. Some weeks will be easier than others---this will not be one of those. 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. And don't forget, I'm also creating a links to each one in the left hand margin.

Enjoy and have fun!


PDLibrarian said...

Hi Dave,
This was an excellent session. I have created a Bloglines account, and added the two links to this course and the comments associated with it. I have visited some classmates blogs and left a couple of comments. Two questions, if you don't mind:
First, I'm not sure why the link to my blog is "Unnamed"?? I can't recall the point where I made a choice that resulted in this...also, I tried to leave a comment, bu way of practice, on a classmate's blog. I received the comment in my e-mail. I think somehow I messed up and sent the comment to myself??? Unless it automatically send a comment to the e-mail of the person commenting?? I'm feeling like a real rookie now...can you clarify either of these at all??
Many thanks,
Martha B. (PD Librarian)

PDLibrarian said...

Hi- forgot to mention that I joined delicious.com and started adding my bookmarks and categorizing them...this will be a great improvement-very handy. I can see creating an account for school, and adding links related to websites of interest for each grade- science kits, math, social studies, etc.

Also- I notice now that as I'm typing this comment, below it gives me an option "Follow-up comments will be sent to my e-mail address"- perhaps this is the answer to my question of a moment ago in previous comment? Unless that just means that your reply to this note will also be e-mailed to me?? You can see I'm getting a little confused now..

dgcap said...

This week was indeed full of information. The percentage of children though teens that are using some form of social networking is larger then I originally thought. Though I had heard that there was a shift from myspace to facebook that was going on. Reading the Nielson report also reminded me of an article I read on Cnn.com a couple of weeks ago about how a large percentage of students (both boys and girls) are playing more and more video games. I only mention this, because it seems that the trend in video games is become mmorpg, which allows players to do more socializing as well as just playing a game.
As the availability of going online becomes more affordable and the price of technology continues to decrease, I'm sure we'll see even more families in our classrooms join the world wide web. With this in mind, educators must also do everything we can to use the tools that our students are using in order to reach them. It makes me think back to when the second or third generation ipod came out... I remember hearing about the first colleges that were making podcasts for their students to listen to. (Will we learn anything about making/using podcasts this semester? - just a side thought)
I also thoroughly enjoyed Kathy Cassidy's short video clip. I was shocked to see even first graders using blogs, but it definitely inspired me even more. I especially liked how her blog allowed the rest of the world to comment on her students work, and allowed them in return to communicate with people from other worlds. One of her ideas that I definitely plan on "borrowing" is using blogs to write stories within her class (one student writes the beginning, then another comments and writes the middles, and so on and so forth).
This weeks session was also great because of bloglines. One nightmare of teaching elementary school is keeping everyone and everything organized. Bloglines allows me to keep my favorite blogs all in one spot so I don't have to navigate though a ton of pages. I too added our two sites to bloglines, as well as an apple blog (I just love macs!) However I did notice that as I walked though the set up process (from your wiki Dave) that the link i copied in was not the "boingboing.net" that shows up in the tutorial. I'm not sure if that's because that was just an example, or if it is a miss link. If we are supposed to have boingboing.net, I can easily just add it in.
Getting back to this comment, and pdlib's, I'm not sure what you're talking about. I must have set my account up differently also. I have not yet received anything via email about comments. I remember Dave mentioning that he doesn't even have to log on to the blog to make comments.. he can do it from his email. Was I just hearing things wrong? If not, I am not sure where to go to set up my blog so I can work though my email. If that is possible, then I could open one less application and work solely though Mail.

Anonymous said...

Great idea from Martha to use delicious for school bookmarks tagged by subject and topic.

Anonymous said...

Bloglines is a good answer to my question about time management. I had been putting blogs on RSS feeds, which were overwhelming my toolbar. Now they are all in one spot. I am quite enamored by delicious as well. I love seeing what other people have bookmarked. It is actually a bit of a problem because I can just keep jumping from one site to the next as time disappears. I wonder if tagging will affect subject authorities in cataloging.

The Duck Diaries was a great piece, as well as the school’s trout blog. I hadn’t seen young students’ work incorporated into a blog before and it is a wonderful model for my own school, which has a tortoise sanctuary.

In reading the essay Using Blogs in School by Terry Freedman in Coming of Age, the passage about English teachers becoming the “thought police” in reference to the manipulation of language in online writing was very topical. This week I had a linguist staying with me. I was telling her how irritated I get when people write e-mails or post comments in abbreviated forms. I feel like it is part of the dumbing down of our society. She disagreed, telling me that language inevitably changes and adapts to people’s needs and it is language that does not change that becomes often obsolete. While I see her point, perhaps I am a language Luddite.

yipf said...

Frank Yip
Lincoln High School

This was an informative session. The K12 Online Conference coming up sounds interesting. I went through several teasers and thought about these types of applications in the classroom. There are several that can be powerful tools – particularly the one on parental involvement. I honestly believe that if we can engage parents more into the dialogue about the happenings at our schools, the better engaged the kids will be. The other teasers also looked interesting but I wonder if a techno novice like myself will be able to fully understand. Will this conference be part of the curriculum as it approaches in October?

This year has been an experimental year for using blogs in my classes. I have to admit that for my Psychology classes they have exceeded all my expectations. Not only are the kids dialoguing with each other and learning from each other, but I am also learning from them. The blogs have focused my instructions to address misunderstandings or other issues on their minds that I probably would not have picked up until the tests. Last week I had mentioned that incest was an important element in Freudian theory and later a student wrote that “Freud thought it was good to have sex with your parents” in a posting. I responded that day to the post and the next day in class I was able to address the nuanced difference between Freud’s belief that thoughts of incest are natural and the mistaken idea that he promoted incest. In my other class a student discussed the difference between Freud’s concepts of the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious minds in the blogs. He subtlety disagreed with this theory and this led to a good classroom discussion of this aspect of his theory. I firmly believe that the class learned and retained more about Freudian theory this way than through a more traditional lecture. I am becoming convinced about the positive applications and possibilities of this “newfangled” stuff!

T Weinberg said...

Session #3 comments from Tamara Weinberg
I created a bloglines account- I had tried subscribing to RSS feeds a while back using a service that displayed feeds on my homepage, but it seemed to really slow down my access to the internet. I also found that it was overwhelming to keep up with all the interesting blogs out there. At least with bloglines I can choose when I want to catch up, rather than being constantly reminded of all the new posts that I didn’t get around to reading yet!
While viewing the many blogs in this session, I realized that my own was sorely lacking in graphics. I’ll have to put some time into that. I had added several “gadgets”, but I also wanted to add a hit counter so that I could tell whether anyone is visiting my site. I think some of the other blog services automatically include this feature. Although Jane pointed me to a web site that provides HTML code for the counter, I couldn’t figure out the correct place to put the HTML code - has anyone done this successfully? Blogger help wasn’t enough for me.
Like dgcap (David?), I was impressed with the video from 1st grade teacher Karen Cassidy. She was so facile with technology that she was able to integrate so many different tools in creative ideas that seemed to be inspiring her students. Another resource that inspired me was the display of bulletin boards on flickr. I liked that the author used a web 2.0 application to share low-tech ideas. Bulletin boards are still important in my school, and I was able to pick up a few good ideas for my library displays.
While reading about teens and social networking, I thought, like David, that the facebook numbers were low based on how popular it is with my students. I found 2 additional, more current studies which showed higher usage. Here is another PEW report http://www.pewinternet.org/press_release.asp?r=150, and here are some statistics from Nielsen showing that teen use of facebook is growing http://www.netratings.com/pr/pr_070920.pdf. Martha had mentioned enjoying using del.icio.us. I used to use it when finding resources for a project- it was handy to be able to bookmark sites from home and school and save them in one place. Unfortunately, I had trouble putting it on the toolbar of the newer version of firefox, and I find that it is not as convenient to have to open the webpage, so I basically stopped using it. It is so easy when you can just push a button to save it. I’ll have to re-examine using it and find out what went wrong.

J Wilson said...

COMMENTS Session #3
After reading “Factoring Web logs to their Fundamental”, by David Warlick and watching the video from the first grade teacher, I feel like I should try blogmeister again. Although I am inspired by David Warlick, I don’t know if I want to maintain a blog with so much administration options. I agree that it is great that the teacher can set it up for students to actually post as well as comment. The view counter was some consolation for the amount of work to keep the site running.
We were disappointed with the lack of comments from parents/families after students published their work on a blog for a social studies project. Maybe the idea was too new for them. Or perhaps the parents as well as students need more practice or freedom to comment in a public setting for others to read and interact with. At our school and perhaps our community, there is such an emphasis for student writing to be “correct”, or drafted and revised to perfection, that freeform communicating is almost taboo. Terry Freedman referred to this concept in his article “Using blogs in school”. He mentioned that blogging will likely upset the guardians of English because students would be publishing half-formed thoughts. He likened this to thinking out loud. Rather than students revising their own work, the work is redrafted via comments from other people. His premise is that this is what web 2.0 is all about. I think this is still a risky concept for many people, from teachers to administrators, parents and students.
Last week I had taken several informal surveys of some students about their use of social networking services. Most six grade students knew about Facebook, but didn’t have an account. However, most of the eighth grade students did have Facebook accounts that they checked regularly. So in this arena, the students are communicating, but as kids not concerned about adult review. So somehow, I would like to figure out how to make blogging work for school.
I created a Bloglines account and I am interested to see how that works and how I can use it effectively. Although I had heard of Del.icio.us, I had not created an account, but now I am going to try it. Both PDLibrian and Melissa mentioned that they liked Del.icio.us. Melissa also shared a conversation she had with a linguist, who thought language needs to adapt or it would become obsolete. That was an interesting point of view. Frank’s experience with his class sounds very rewarding. I would like to know if there were any ground rules, if the students were required to post comments, how it turned into a conversation and were their comments graded in any way.

jfayne said...

I joined delicious and tried to join bloglines, then realized I already had an account. I must have joined during EDC 920. Next, I spent some time trying to update my blog but didn't save any changes yet.

There seems to be no end to the amount of interesting blogs to read. This week I am going to start posting to them. I spent a while looking at the K-12 Conference site Frank mentions.

My daughter, who attends LaSalle Academy, tells me that Myspace is out and for lower class while Facebook is the site to use.

pstevens said...

Session 3 Comments: Thanks, Dave! This session offered vast resources! If one ever needed research or anecdotal data to support using blogs in the classroom, he need not fear; there is much support available. The Pew Internet data must be startling to someone who truly thinks that blogs are fads or are not “educational” tools. It’s no wonder that our students find so many of their teachers out of touch with what their students do, how they think, how they communicate, and how they learn.
I spent some time reading through my bloglines and found a great resource about a writer who recently passed away. I was able to forward that link to a teacher whom I knew was interested. We all need to rearrange our days to allocate time to investigate.
I read with much interest Liz Kolb’s comments about classroom cell phone use. Just last Friday, one of my teachers needed microphones to allow his students to create better-quality podcast recordings. He was using Audacity and the laptop’s integrated microphone, which picks up a lot of ambient noise. We had only 15 headsets (about 15 years old) in the whole school. We investigated www.Gcast.com , which has a feature that allows users to call a toll-free number to record their podcasts. The recording quality was much better for a classroom setting. Well, he had a class of 28 students with 28 microphones in their pockets and purses. It was obvious what he should do. I approached our administration about the students using their cell phones during class to post to the site; he saw the opportunity for the students to quickly and easily publish to a wide audience and gave his blessing.
Liz Kolb’s blog response that the phone is the tool that engages and motivates, rather than the phone being the focus of the learning also came to mind when another teacher in my school described how his students text each other explanations of abstract concepts via their cell phones as formative assessments. Their partners can help identify the concepts that need further study, and their teacher has a class of motivated, cooperative, collaborating students. I want to be in that class.
From our reading, I pondered a statement from David Warlick. He identified a pitfall of blogging in the classroom to be that “you can’t predict the direction [the conversation] will take.” I laughed. (And I think Warlick knows that this pitfall is ironic.) I do not want a classroom discussion to be predictable: polite, yes; predictable, never!
I listened to David Warlick speak at a conference last year in State College. His speech preceded Marc Pensky’s speech. How lucky were we?
I am working on posting Audacity files into a blog as wav files and investigating the ability to download the phone recordings from Gcast into Audacity so the students can dress them up. Two years ago, I would not have known what those words even meant. Sharing del.icio.us accounts with others is such a great feature. Collaboration is essential to an effective approach to learning.
I wonder what schools will look like and sound like in ten years? Our district plans to renovate our high school within the next five years. I heard the words “We’ll need to gut it” from an administrator. I wonder who will help to make the decisions about the changes. I would ask those who look to the future knowing what did not work in the past.

Anonymous said...

Session 3

Pam Hurt

As I worked on this week’s session, I noticed that I could connect with many of the comments and observations shared in the unit. As an English teacher, I recognize that students often face the writing process with fear or frustration. When directed to grab that pen or pencil in preparation for working on a literary analysis for a portion of a class period – even though we’ve reviewed models, set expectations, engaged in teacher and peer conferencing and editing sessions, and provided rubrics, the time for composition is often a period students face with dread or at least, anxiety. Put a computer in front of them, however, the task clearly becomes less burdensome.

With a Classroom for the Future grant last year, some classrooms in our school were outfitted with laptop computers for each student. As I moved from one of those rooms, this year, I do notice the difference in students’ readiness to “compose.” Since many of my students remember that I had computers available last year, they ask why I changed rooms…particularly since I knew I’d be giving up the computers! Thankfully, I’ll get new computers when our grant is extended this year…but for now, I can see the difference the absence of this technology makes in my classroom.

I have used blogging for summer reading assignments for a number of years…but last year, I offered my students the opportunity to create blogs along with other assignment choices as we studied novels of the 1970’s. Students, when introduced to blogspot.com, jumped right in, choosing to update their blogs with pictures and a variety of gadgets…though they indicated they’d never created blogs before. During our regular tutorial session at the end of first period, students who hadn’t been able to participate in their peers’ blogs, or to update their own sites, “were on a mission.” They were truly engaged! (even though they were held accountable for expressing themselves appropriately and responding critically and thoughtfully to the novels they’d read…and even though, compared to the blogs we’ve visited this week, those my students and I had done were very elementary ). Still, with the energy I saw…and the potential I now see…I’ve got a mission of my own!

I’ve seen my own students’ excitement as they’ve worked on their blogs, or on those created by my partner teacher, or me, from this session’s readings, postings, and blogs – seeing what’s already been done…not just imagined – is truly amazing and inspiring! As I visited blog to blog, I am excited about the possibilities these award-winning blogs offer to students. With each posting, link, photo, game, creative opportunity, and video, the blogs do much more than enable students and teachers to “talk.” Far beyond “instruction,” these blogs really engage students AND extend opportunities to grow and learn, addressing multiple learning styles and differentiating instruction. As I look at my poor little blogs, I know how much I have to learn…and hope I can!

Other surprises…the elementary blogs (and what these youngsters have accomplished) are fun and fantastic! Also, I’m astounded to see that many of these edublogs offer Facebook or Myspace for student response…not something I’ve seen advocated previously. On a related note, last year, a class of sophomores raised the possibility of my creating a Facebook account that we could then use for blogging / dialogue. After talking with my own “kids” (all 3 recently graduated from college…but still “connected” to these social networks), and having recalled some issues our school has already faced with the Internet, I chose to use other options. Thus, I’m curious – have any of you incorporated Myspace or Facebook as part of the blogging opportunities you offer your students? Any district guidelines?

As I’ve only used nicenet.org and blogspot.com, I was glad to read Dave Warwick’s comments and see examples of Blogmeister. I hope to try this alternative for creating blogs.

This session has really been an eye-opener. Visualizing the possibilities and receiving guidelines (rubrics and evaluations for students’ blog responses) is an added bonus. I was very happy, in fact, to see that Masters’ blogging rubric is very similar to those I’ve created….a bit of security, here…

As you said, Dave, we certainly could get lost in this week’s session!