Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Welcome to EDC921 !!!

Welcome to EDC921 - USING BLOGS AND WIKIS TO FOSTER LITERACY

This is our class blog. It will serve as our discussion forum, connection to each other, and the main webpage you will be accessing. If this is your first visit, then please first read the entry below this (titled, 'Practice Session') and follow the instructions there then return to this one.

Early this semester I will give you a detailed lesson on blogs and their use in the classroom, but for now you only need to know a few things.

This forum can be viewed by anyone, but will only allow the participants of edc921 to interact with it. When you would like to respond to someone or comment upon a session, just click on the 'comment' link below each of my postings and choose the 'anonymous' button under 'choose an identity'; and

In the left-hand margin you will see links to individual lessons (accessible every Tuesday).



If you need to contact me then please email me at DaveFontaine1@gmail.com.

This blog, in addition to its use as an interactive communication tool, will also be where you can access and download your weekly sessions. The presentation links to the left will be accessible on a week-to-week basis (Tuesdays). When attempting to download always choose 'save' rather than 'open.' The syllabus is also linked there. Google has a free service that allows you to just upload any Word document and with one additional click it gets published online with its own URL. The course syllabus is an example, and we'll practice with this tool before the semester is over.

One more aspect that will be unique about this course is that I support a completely collaborative teaching philosophy. Following that mindset, I will keep your assignments, comments, and reflections viewable and accessible to future participants of this course. The 'goal' is for future participants to gain from the collective knowledge of your experiences, use what you have done, and incorporate new ideas into their classroom.

The bonus for you, of course, is that this information will also always be accessible for you. This way, in the future, many semesters from now, you may revisit this site and benefit from the ideas of all participants. In this way---YOU will gain from all the 'learning speedbumps' of those that have come before you--even though they are not currently enrolled in this course. You may also read last semester's participants' profiles here and older ones here.

Before we go any further I would like each of you to practice using this forum and introduce yourself. We will be spending the semester together, so it is important to learn as much about each other as possible. Click on the 'comment' link below this posting, then you may click the 'anonymous' button and write a few paragraphs about yourself. (If you are feeling bold you may sign up for a Blogger account now and use the 'user name' that you create when you 'comment' rather than choosing 'anonymous.')

Please include:
-your name
-email address (so that you may contact each other directly if needed),
-your educational background,
-teaching history,
-current teaching position with location, and lastly
-what you hope to come away with when this semester is over, along with any additional information about you that you wish to share.

After you have finished posting this profile, come back to this page and click on the 'Session 1' link (in the left-hand margin), download it, and view it. When you are finished with the session please click on the 'comment' link again and add any comments, insights, or reflections you have for Session 1.

Sometimes it takes a little while to get the hang of using this forum. I have taken this into consideration by reducing the workload of the first session. Its primary goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page and skill level before we sink our teeth into the meat of this course. Everything here is protected by Creative Commons. This means that you have complete authority to download, save, share, and use all of the lessons in your classroom, but are prohibited from any commercial uses.

You will notice that each slide of the PowerPoint presentation has the narration transcribed in the 'notes section' of each slide. This is because we have teachers from around the world (China, Alaska, California...) taking this course. (And they may need help understanding my "Ro-diland" accent) but more importantly, it allows you to take these slides and use them in your own classroom.

Good luck this semester! I look forward to working and collaborating with you.

Dave Fontaine

PS-If you are running into trouble viewing our first session you may also access it here.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Frank Yip
Lincoln High School

My name is Frank Yip. My e-mail address is yipf1004@gmail.com. I teach Early World History and Psychology at Lincoln High School in Lincoln, RI. I have been teaching in Lincoln for the past 15 years. As teaching changes, I have slowly begun to integrate technology into my classroom. Last spring, I took EDC920 on Using the Internet for Teaching and Learning (highly recommended) and the class opened my eyes to using these tools. I have already given PD session on research utilizing the internet to some of my colleagues based on what I learned last spring. So I hope to learn enough to fully integrate the use of blogs and wikis in my curriculum.

I started several blogs to assess reading in some of my classes for this year. Finding ways to assess reading comprehension has always been a challenge for me. Using blogs as a vehicle is intriguing. You can view my classroom reading blogs at: http://p3ewhistory.blogspot.com, http://p4.ewhistory.blogspot.com, and http://p6ewhistory.blogspot.com.

Using wikis as a research tool for class projects is a fascinating idea. I think it can be both a cooperative learning opportunity and as well as practicing good research methodologies.

pstevens said...

I’m Pam Stevens from Fairview High School, which is located just west of Erie, Pennsylvania (pstevens@fairview.iu5.org). I have taught freshmen and sophomore comprehensive English, public speaking, and SAT prep for the last twenty years.

In September 2007 our high school was awarded a Pennsylvania Classrooms for the Future (CFF) grant intended to improve technology integration in the classroom and to develop 21st century skills in the state’s public high schools in math, science, social studies, and English classrooms. We again received that grant this year.

My job as a technology coach entails working with the teachers to use new classroom technology (laptops, wireless Internet, interactive white boards, digital and web cameras and many online and software resources), to facilitate professional development, to find resources that meet the needs of the students in any particular CFF classroom, and to offer strategies to integrate 21st Century skills into our teachers’ classrooms. I could hardly breathe the first year. I was very excited, worked long hours, traveled throughout the state, and met thousands of teachers who were as passionate about this change as I am. This year, I am just as enthused, just as passionate, and working just as hard.

I had always been one to volunteer to use new technology in my classroom or to learn how to use new software. My hopes this semester include being able to return to my CFF teachers and later my classroom with collaborative activities that support problem-based and inquiry-based learning. I want to find an effective way to differentiate materials and learning for my students. I want to develop a management system that shares information and resources among the teachers, administrators, students, and parents. This course will help me on my way to achieve those goals.

jfayne said...

My name is Jonathan Fayne. I took EDC 920 in 2006 and really enjoyed it. I am a elementary substitute teacher in Cranston while I work as a Correctional Officer full time. I have bachelor degree's in Political Science and Justice Studies and a Master's in Teaching degree. I have been subbing for about 7 years. I have not been able to use blogs in class due to subbing and have not seen anyone use these either. I think they would be a very useful tool.

Anonymous said...

My name is Jane Wilson and my email address is: Jfwilson1@gmail.com.
I have been teaching for 14 years. My educational and work background of math and computers has led me to my current teaching position as a technology resource teacher in Fairfield, CT. I hope to gain a fuller understanding of blogs and wikis, strategies to integrate them into our curriculum and learn ways to collaborate with other teachers in my building.

Anonymous said...

My name is Martha Badigian and I am a seventh year library media specialist at the elementary level (K-5)in South Kingstown (Peace Dale Elementary School). I'd love to establish a blog for my older students (4th and 5th grades) to post their comments and reviews of books they are reading in general, as well as a section each for R.I. Children's Book Award books and also our district's 4th grade Battle of the Books Books.

In addition, we just had our first common planning time at elementary level in our district this week. Our district focus is on writing, and I'd love to gear a blog or wiki towards some our our SIT Team goals in terms of writing- for instance, in writing responses to literature, our students will need to work on specific things such as adding more detail in their writing, etc. By creating a destination for student writing, it will be easier for teachers at each grade level to compare student writing and establish some norms and standards for the writing.

I hope to both use and share with my faculty what I learn from this class- looking forward to solidifying my skills in this area-.
My school e-mail address is mbadigian@skschools.net, and my home e-mail is: Badigians@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi. My name is Matthew Records I am a first year computer science teacher at Cole Middle School in East Greenwich Rhode Island. I am taking this course as professional development. Several faculty members at Cole are interested in implementing wikis and blogs into their teaching. After I take this course I am hoping I can help them achieve that.

Anonymous said...

My name is Tamara Weinberg and my email address is tamara_weinberg@hotmail.com. Four years ago I switched careers and earned an M.A. in educational technology. I am currently working as a Library Media Specialist at a Middle School in Fairfield, CT. I have experimented a little with blogs and wikis, but I am hoping to use this class to increase my knowledge of both so that I can create an interactive forum for my students to chat about books. In addition, several of my teachers are interested in incorporating more technology into their curriculum, so I will be exploring various ideas to share with them.

Anonymous said...

COMMENT for Session 1:
Jane Wilson
I feel that we are on the verge of a huge shift in our society because of Web 2.0. However, there is much resistance from educators to embrace this new read/write web. Reasons range from no knowledge of it, not knowing how to use it, lack of control, lack of security, no time to learn how to use it or manage it, it is continually changing, and the list goes on.
I am very excited about the potential it has for the way we teach, learn and live. Although at the same time, I fully understand the lack of time that teachers have to teach, attend meetings, fulfill school responsibilities, let alone time to learn things for themselves. There is definitely a gap between how the students use technology and how educators do, which goes back to the digital native and immigrants labels. This will probably be a transitional period of time that we will have to go through as our society evolves; or in other words until the natives start becoming educators.
One of my biggest concerns is the security for the students using the read/write web. We need to teach them to be aware and use good judgment. As teachers we need to provide places or ensure that they are as safe as possible for the students to use on the web. Another consideration is explaining this to parents so they are comfortable with their children publishing on the web and sharing with a wider audience. Administrators need to be educated about the parameters involved so they can make informed decisions and support their staff in their endeavors.
I particularly liked Will Richardson’s sample letter to parents to inform and seek permission so the students could use the internet for blogging. Although the letter was long, it hit on many key points. In the Coming of Age booklet, Anne Davis was quoted as saying,” Our students will live in a world where they will have access to increasingly more powerful communications tools. Who should teach them how to manage the power of these tools? We have come face to face with technologies that are now threatening the existing culture of teaching and learning. We will either try to defend the status quo or we will carefully analyze the risks of moving forward to provide powerful role models for our students.” This pretty much sums it up. Even though we may not know the ins and outs of the read/write web, we have to embrace it and teach the students how to be critical, safe thinkers because they will be using it.

Melissa said...

As I look to all the web can do now, and the potential for learning that it holds for students and teachers, I feel both inspired and incredibly overwhelmed. I want to start right now with all of it, with not just the students but faculty and parents as well. I loved that parents were included in the Will Richardson film, talking about how they blogged about the same book their children were reading.

But then I get overwhelmed. How can I keep up with everything and keep everyone and their parents happy? One topic in the readings and sites was the need to teach children how to use the web responsibly. I wonder, in these times of astonishingly private details being shared in blogs and on social networking sites, how much is too much? What might a student or teacher regret later? I suppose it is like any risk, the bolder the choice the bigger the reward, or perhaps the harder the fall.

In his Blog of Proximal Development, Konrad Glogowski bemoans the “walled garden” that was forced upon him for his middle schoolers’ blogs, that the insistence of privacy took away from the authentic nature of blogging and was the “equivalent of staying at home and reading one’s poetry out loud in an empty room.” In Educational Blogging, Stephen Downes writes that the nature of a blog for a class already includes self-censorship, as the student is ultimately writing for the teacher. Censored from the outside, censored from within. Should that be the way or is it inevitable? At what point are children old enough to decide they aren’t children any more, and they can make their own decisions about what to share with the world. At what point will a student follow his or her own heart in writing, rather than working for a grade? Will blogs ultimately help or hurt a student’s education, or does it not matter as long as they are engaged in the process, which I suppose is already a help.

As Jane mentioned, the model of the letter to parents in Will Richardson's book is a big help to educate parents about blogging and the benefits to their children. Once again, information is power.

dgcap said...

Hello! My name is Dave C. I am currently a fourth grade teacher in Richmond, RI. This is my second year in the classroom, however I previously worked as a math specialist for three years in our school district.

I graduated from Keene State College in NH with a degree in Mathematics and a degree in Elementary Education. Although my educational focus was in education itself, I have taken classes in web design and computer programing.

From this class I hope to be able to learn how to create blogs and wiki's to use in my classroom. My initial thought is to be able to use this technology to communicate with my classroom parents. It will be a great tool to use with my students so that they can let the world know what we are doing in our classroom!

If you want to be able to reach me, you can email me at dgcap@mac.com.

dgcap said...

Comments to Session 1
I find the idea of using blogs in the classroom an exhilarating thought as many schools are trying to find ways of introducing technology in the classroom. As each year rolls around, it seems a larger percentage of families have the internet at home, and using blogs can help foster connections between the classroom and home. What though, can we do about the families that are not yet "hooked up" to the web?

I also see a great deal of potential for blogs to be used within the school setting for teachers to exchange information and have book discussions on academic literature.

Our school is currently in the process of adapting a responsive classroom model, and the thoughts of using a blog for teachers to share ideas about what is working and what is not working, is exciting. I plan on sharing a few of the links (especially: http://bloggingatschool.blogspot.com/) with our media specialist and principal in hopes to get them to see the potential of using blogs to increase collaboration across the grade levels.

pstevens said...

Session 1: Comments, Insights, and Reflections
Pam Stevens

Well, as Dave warned, I spent far more than three hours just looking through all of the websites and online resources. I found material for future staff training sessions, tech tips, and links for my teachers and for me. I had been investigating Google's Chrome, and I found Vicki Davis' blog invaluable. I will be forwarding her blog to many of my teachers and administrators who also are investigating new tools and developing online learning sites.

I read many insightful comments in the readings and blogs. I found Will Richardson's assertion on the educause site about classroom blogging very interesting. He claims that "'[b]y its very nature, assigned blogging in schools cannot be blogging. It’s contrived. No matter how much we want to spout off about the wonders of audience and readership, students who are asked to blog are blogging for an audience of one, the teacher.' When the semester ends, 'students drop blogging like wet cement.'" If we consider the origins of blogging as personal journals or diaries and strictly adhere to that definition, he's correct; however, if we recognize that as more people use web 2.0 tools, the applications broaden. We make the tools fit our own purposes. If students no longer blog after a particular class, maybe they just aren't interested in blogging. Russell Beattie' blog tells readers up front that he just "...can't shut up." Beattie must fit description of a true blogger in Mark Pilgrim's reflection on "The Weblog Manifesto": Beattie can't not write. Some write, others read, and more just watch TV.

Our English department uses literature (and other humanities) to center our students' composition, grammar, vocabulary, and oratory studies. My classroom discussions questions are contrived because they revolve around what the students are reading. Ken Smith, an English teacher at Indiana University suggests as realated on the educause site, "'Instead of assigning students to go write, we should assign them to go read and then link to what interests them and write about why it does and what it means.... 'Good conversations begin with listening." Smith also concedes, "'Maybe some folks write flat, empty posts or bad diary posts because they don’t know any other genres (they just aren’t readers, in one sense) and because [they] aren’t responding to anything (that is, they aren’t reading anything right now).' It’s like arriving late to a party: the first act must be to listen, before venturing forth with an opinion. "

What an exciting journey we are on! I agree with Jane's concerns about security; on the other hand, I see how frustrating it is for teachers and students not to have access to some extraordinary resources, like Youtube because of security issues. We must teach students how to address inappropriate content rather than simply block a site that contains a plethora of effective and educational videos. Our students will have to cross the street without us.

Anonymous said...

Session 1 Comments and Reflections from Tamara Weinberg:
I had underestimated the amount of time it took to go through what appeared to be just a handful of readings, as each article contained links to many more articles or blogs to browse. At first glance there appeared to be a lot of repetition in the readings related to the history of blogs, available blog software, and educational uses for blogs. However, as I read each article more carefully and clicked on many of the links (due to time limitations I had to restrain myself from trying them all, but several of the articles contained excellent resources that I intend to return to when I need them), I continued to add to my knowledge base of the value of blogs as well as concerns about risks inherent in a collaborative medium.

The wide variety of blogs surveyed gave me some new ideas for how we can use blogs in our school as well as reinforcing the validity of some of the ideas I had been considering for a while. One of my favorites was the Secret Life of Bees blog- one unique addition was the section of artistic interpretations of the novel, which readers can then comment on. I also liked the idea of having a separate parent discussion. How exciting that the author joined in- it would be thrilling for my students to participate in a blog around my scheduled author visits and have the author actually weigh in on the discussion or answer questions that students pose!

I strongly agree with teaching students to use technology correctly by providing a model for usage, rather than staying away from using technology out of fear that it will be abused, as mentioned in the Coming of age article. One informative section contained an anecdote about an inappropriate comment yielding a teachable moment. I think it is realistic to take a proactive approach to dealing with abuse, and several of the readings contained useful links to rules for using blogs and sample letters to send home to parents. On the issue of security, I was surprised to read in the Blog of Proximal Development that 7th graders raised some of the concerns about security- my experience has been that teachers or parents voice these concerns and students are usually oblivious to potential dangers!

Anonymous said...

HI! My name is Pam Hurt. I teach a variety of English courses at Fairview High School in Fairview, PA, which is located approx. 10 miles west of Erie, PA. On our intensive block schedule, this semester, I’m teaching 2 courses of Honors Communication 9 and a junior elective, SAT Prep., a 9 week course. Next semester I’ll be teaching 3 sections of College Prep English 9.

I have a BS degree from Indiana University of PA and an MA from Gannon University, plus additional graduate credits. I’ve taught for more than 30 years in private and public schools, 7th grade through 12th, but mostly high school. For a number of years, I have also been an adjunct instructor at Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA.

From EDC 921, I hope to expand my facility in incorporating technology in my classroom. Both last year and this, our high school has been awarded a Classrooms For the Future grant which has enabled us to gain student laptops and Promethean Boards in many classrooms. As a participant, I enrolled in a graduate course focusing on the NEED to incorporate such technology in our classrooms as a way of connecting with our students as well as responding to their educational and professional goals. I agree!

Pam Hurt
Email: phurt@fairview.iu5.org

Anonymous said...

Session I: Comments, Insights, and Reflections

As I read the posted articles and looked into some of the links, I think, like Melissa, that as educators, we’re facing a demanding period, but also, a period of great opportunity. As a digital immigrant, I cannot regard myself to be as technologically savvy as my students, digital natives. As a teacher, however, I believe it’s vital that my students use technology in meaningful activities to connect with and to further their studies in various academic disciplines. Probably one of the most significant aspects of blogging is the opportunity it offers to “give children their own soapbox, their own voice” (http://www. ecolenet.nl/ bestedublogs.htm). For blog conversation to be successful, “it must be given a purpose”; ideally, after being stimulated through reading or other experiences, students will “engage with the content and with the authors of what (they) have read. Also, students need to get past that teacher audience…of one. Finally, when a student responds to a blog, he or she will use critical thinking to raise and respond to given discussions / postings (http://edu cause.edu). If not…the blog may well be reduced to “trivia”, an activity to be dropped “like wet cement” once the assignment is completed (Richardson).

While searching the listed websites and more, I found some examples that support the importance of student engagement in creating successful blog activities. For example, at http://www.techlearning.com/, students in Anne Davis’ class (and Anne herself) posted articles at the end of the school year which showcase student writing skills and attitudes about the class and students’ learning experiences. On other blogs, http://blogs.times union.com (students from Albany High School, Albany, NY) share prideful posts about their school as well as later reflections on a stabbing and school lockdown); at http://www.cyberjournalist.net., students from a Georgia high school posted significant comments relating to school issues / censorship). At another site, http://anne.teachesme.com/2005/03/30/inappropriate-commentsteachable-moments/, Anne shares that the use of blogging opens the possibility of students’ posting “inappropriate” comments, but insists that teachers must take this risk…and respond, using these opportunities as “teachable moments.” Clearly, with blogs, teachers cannot always prevent an inappropriate or obnoxious response; however, when we’re responsible and vigilant, we can address such problems & serve as guides.

As an English teacher, in particular, by using blogs, I offer my students an opportunity to develop and expand their composition skills by enabling them to write in a format they find attractive. As noted in the sites above, on a blog students do raise questions and speak to issues they find compelling; certainly the issues raised in these online conversations reflect real concerns about real issues. Additionally, since they’re responding to an audience including their peers, student focus stretches beyond an audience of one –me! They do question each other’s logic. They do raise questions and speak to issues they find compelling. With blogs, students have a workable outlet to express themselves, to think creatively and critically, and to challenge / respond to their worlds. Teachers can foster student growth when we devise purposeful blogs, uphold standards of content and expression, and reward divergent thinking.

Pam Hurt