Tuesday, November 25, 2008

921-Session 12-Collective Intelligence & Deliverable 3

Today we will continue with Collective Intelligence and I will introduce you to my 'living textbook' concept. I had the fortune of being hired to write an article on the topic. It was just published in May. Check it out.

Also, in this session, you will make your second addition to a wiki.

I'll post the Session 7 material that we skipped earlier this semester next Tuesday, then Session 13 will be spent completing your Final Projects and commenting upon others. (Due by Midnight on Friday, December 12th.) Good luck and don't forget to post your Deliverable 3 under this entry as well as on our wiki: http://wikidave.wikispaces.com/Deliverable+3
You may also read past participants' D3's there or here.
Good luck and have fun!
Here is a backup copy of this week's session:

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by davefontaine1


KAS Librarian said...

The first thing I thought about when I looked at the flexbook site was copyright law. How would the authors get credit for their work? Would people want to work so hard to write a textbook and then not get credit and royalties? Then as I did more research into the site and thought about it further, it is really no different than teachers posting units on different sites, wikis, etc. It you are able to post a unit on a wiki, why not write a textbook chapter?

I was also concerned about the quality of the work, but perhaps it would be much like Wikipedia in that (one hopes) subject specialists would review the work for accuracy. However, I was not very impressed that Wikipedia was the only source cited. Is that the only place they got their information?

As I watched Julie Lindsay, I was struck by how many things I should be doing (what is it about teaching that always feels like one should be doing more) and that she switched her electronic portfolio to a wiki. I was thinking maybe I should change the library site to a wiki, so that the students can be full participants in our library. It would also be a lot easier to maintain than either Iweb or Dreamweaver.

Here is part of my proposal. The entire document is on Wikidave.

Proposal: To implement the use of VoiceThread for Khartoum American School as a tool for presentations, publishing and digital storytelling

What is VoiceThread?

Voicethread is an online tool that allows users to create slideshows that can be annotated with verbal, written, video or "doodled" comments. Viewers may collaborate with the creator by leaving comments in any form, as well. Each viewer has his or her own identity represented by a picture. Students can be entered into a class account so that they may collaborate on projects and view others' work. Online collaborative conversations can occur.

Why should we use it?

Students can create VoiceThreads in any discipline. The projects can be shared via e-mail or loaded onto the library, class or school websites, thereby creating an authentic audience for the work. Classmates, peers, E-penpals, family members close and far away can view and comment on work. Since the program uses voice, the written word, video and doodles it can incorporate many intelligences. Teachers can adapt VoiceThreads to different levels in order to differentiate instruction. All students are able to provide comments to contribute to the conversation, not just students who are called upon. Children are given as much think time as they need and can plan their comments accordingly.

Who would use it?

Students of all ages, all disciplines, teachers and parents. Younger students can submit artwork that can be shown and they can be recorded commenting on their work. Older students can use it to present projects or have collaborative discussions. Teachers can extend lessons, communicate with parents and offer professional development with colleagues. For example, a VoiceThread could be made for parents on reading strategies they could practice with their children. Teachers could share literature circle ideas with other teachers. Explanations on how to complete forms could be posted by office staff. There is no limit how VoiceThread can be used.

This just looks like another flash in the pan techie thing that nobody will use.

Check these out--VoiceThreads from students and teachers from around the world.
Student VoiceThread explaining multiplying and dividing fractions http://voicethread.com/share/8752/
Student VoiceThread about a cell experiment http://voicethread.com/share/67181/
Art Teacher VoiceThread showing how she could use the tool in her class http://voicethread.com/share/3352/
Class VoiceThread sharing student-authored poetry http://voicethread.com/share/3352/
Student VoiceThread about the writing process, with comments from other parts of the world http://voicethread.com/share/12295/

There will be problems, though.

•Cost $200 for a school subscription or $60 per class
•Security of student work
•Potential cyberbullying
•Busy, overwhelmed teachers

Don't worry; those are just challenges that are easily met.

•VoiceThread is only $1 per student.
•Ed.VoiceThread is offered only to schools. The Ed.VoiceThreads created by students and teachers can either be shared with the global educational community by marking it public or be limited to people with invitations sent via e-mail. Student e-mails and names are not required to sign up.
•Teachers can moderate comments.
•There are several easy tutorials that teach VoiceThread. I could get it started with the students by having them create VoiceThread book reviews.

Anonymous said...

Matthew Records

Deliverable # 3
Implementation of Technology
Name of technology implementation - Wiki’s

Description of technology – Wiki’s is software which is often free of charge. It allows people to edit and create web page content using any web browser of their choice. Wiki’s consists of a collective knowledge of people on particular content.

There are several ways I would like to use Wiki’s in my classroom.

Online text / Notes on course content.
Daily assignment directions and information
Examples of student work so future students have something they can refer to, allowing them to have a better understanding of what is expected on a particular assignment.
Students can post finished assignments on our Wiki’s page rather than having to print every assignment. I feel this will save paper and allow me to be more organized because I will have less stacks of paper on my desk.
Student contribution and reflection to produce online text / notes.
Preparation for teachers and students on the upcoming state technology assessment.

How will this plan fill a need at my school?

This plan will be geared towards helping students, teachers, and administration access technology information with ease.

The addition of wiki’s in my class will allow any teacher or student access technology information on using Microsoft office, Wiki’s, Blogs, and how to evaluate websites while doing research. This will save teachers and students time because they will not have to exert themselves in doing additional research when they want to implement technology into their class.

In the next few months all teachers and students have to pass a state wide technology test, I feel my wiki would be an excellent tool to prepare students and teacher to pass this test. On my wiki I can post practice tests, study guides, and info on the test. After students and teachers take the test they can add needed information to my wiki for future students and teachers who must prepare for this technology assessment.

I feel after testing the uncharted waters of using Wiki’s at my school. I feel my efforts may be a commencement of other teachers starting to use similar methods. However, as the current technology teacher I feel I have to jump in the water first before other teachers follow.

Evidence my technology plan will work.

“Think of an open wiki space as a home that leaves its front door unlocked but doesn’t get robbed because the neighbors are all out on their front steps gossiping, keeping a friendly eye on the street, and never missing a thing.” Brian Lamb

-Wide Open Spaces: Wikis, Ready or Not
Brian Lamb is a project coordinator with the Office of Learning Technology at The University of British Columbia,

1.) http://stanford.wikia.com/wiki/Stanford_University_Wiki
Stanford University, one of the most prominent universities in the United States has an informational wiki about anything you could want to know about their college. The link above will take you to their Wiki.

2.) http://wikidave.wikispaces.com
This wiki was used in a graduate level course on Wiki’s, blogs, and podcasts. It has inspired me to believe in the benefits collective learning can bring to an educational institution. Within this wiki you are able to view assignments from previous students who have taken this class which has helped me while producing this plan of wiki implementation.

3.) http://mrlindsay.pbwiki.com/
Here is a six grade class wiki. This wiki is used as a communication tool for parents and students. At the bottom of his wiki he has several main pages students and school faculty can use such as: student work, classroom journal, teacher tech tips, and a help room with math tutorials. Several students have posted homework assignments on this website in the last hour.
Wiki Road Blocks

The main roadblock is the website filtering system used by the East Greenwich School Department. Will I be able to access my wiki’s page? Currently, I cannot access edc921blogspot.com. Access is denied to this web site. Will access be denied to my wiki’s page while students are in school?

How do we overcome this issue?
I feel effective communication to the principle about the positives of collective learning will be the first step in overcoming this problem. Once I have the principles support which I am confident I will. I feel I will be able to make sure that the districts tech support will allow me to access this page.

Potential Wiki software
1.) Wikispaces.com – This is free software that I already have experience with after taking an online course. It is easy to access and east to use.
2.) http://pbwiki.com/ - This is another free wiki software site. This site is built for educational wikis. It is quick and easy to use. I have viewed several educational wikis that have used this software.

Long Term Use of Wiki’s

I feel with technology exploding with new innovations on a day to day basis I feel wiki’s is something that will become more and more popular as time goes on. However, at my school I feel I need to be a wikis disciple. I will start very basic with my wiki and hopefully add and innovate as time goes on. I want to spread the positive educational outcome of using wikis to other teachers and administrators in my school. In two years we are opening a brand new state of the art middle school. As that opens people will need information on the school because it will be brand new. I feel if I can advocate wikis and its educational benefits proficiently than a school community wiki would be a perfect fit as we open the doors to a new school

Anonymous said...

I continue to be rather excited about an on line text that evolves and grows on its own. I have recently talked to several teachers about my future plans and many of them feel its a great idea.

However, they also agreed that it may be difficult to access wiki's due to the school departments internet policy. I will be discouraged if I am not able to make progess with my ideas of using an online text in the future.

KAS Librarian said...

Here is an article about the benefits and the possible concerns about collective intelligence.


pstevens said...

URI 921 Session 12 response
Pam Stevens
When I looked through the flex book website, I immediately tagged it and saw applications to share with my math and science teachers! Six years ago when my English department researched new textbooks, we investigated using only digital textbooks; we really weren’t quite ready to do that since we did not have laptops in every classroom. However, we did only purchase class sets of hardcover texts for each English classroom and purchased access to Holt, Rinehart, and Winston’s online textbooks, which include web links, actions, video links, and other resources. Much like Dave wikitexts, this solution allowed our students to begin using dynamic resources (maybe not as dynamic as a wiki, but it certainly provided a lot of differentiated resources!). Our students can choose to sign out a hardcover book if they want one, but most do not; they use them in the classroom (maybe less frequently now that we do have laptops) and if the students have Internet access at home, they can access the textbook online from home.

Dave’s links to the educational resources will keep me busy for months! Virtually every site to which we have been directed has offered something I could use or share to help my teachers. I truly think that school districts and teacher organizations will need to modify the structure of the school day and year to accommodate the amount of time needed to research new tools and resources and to develop methods and activities in which they use them. So many teachers are overwhelmed by the choices.

I investigated http://educationalwiki.wikispaces.com and found so many great resources there, some sites to which I found I already belong (eduwiki.us wiki) ! That must mean that I’m moving in the right direction!

My deliverable three focuses on persuading my IT team and my director of curriculum and instruction to purchase and implement a classroom management system, particularly SynchronEyes.

SynchronEyes allows teachers to communicate via text with the entire class or with only selected students; to share files or links to students; to perform assessments and quickly analyze student understanding; to limit students’ access to only specified applications; and to monitor students’ progress through online and digital activities.

Many schools use some sort of cms or another, but our district has yet to implement one. Beyond the monitoring element, there are so many benefits to using systems such as these. Specifically, my teachers appreciate the feature that directs the students only to the websites and desktop applications that he or she wants the students to use during the class period. Another feature they would really like to use is the ability to select one student’s screen and display it to the whole class via a projected image or via the students’ screens. Students can send the teacher drafts of work just as the teacher can send files or links to the students.

Our teachers support the use of a classroom management, but roadblocks exist within our IT team and our CD. Our IT team does not like cms systems because of potential issues that may arise with bandwidth and malicious student behavior in attempts to bypass the system. Additionally, the director of curriculum and assessment fears that our staff will use the software as a crutch, monitoring students’ behavior from behind the laptop rather than teaching and monitoring students as they have in the past: by walking around. I think his fears are needless with our staff. I include the need for a csm at every team meeting we have, but I have not yet been successful in an informal setting.

The staff would need training and support as they learn the features of the software and learn how they can integrate numerous new tools into their instructional pedagogy. If any of your schools use classroom management systems like SynchronEyes, I would appreciate any feedback, successes or pitfalls. Many of the local schools use a cms, and some use SynchronEyes with much success.

dgcap said...

Session 12 Comments
I was excited to take a look at flexbooks, since I have this vision of a future of students having small tablet-like devices which they use to read their books, do their assignments and hand in work. Is this the first step, I thought? It certainly is a step in one direction. Though, I was disappointed to not see any elementary work there yet. I think publishers of elementary text books are getting there though. Our current math series has the entire student (and teacher) books available online, which is a valuable resource to both parents and teachers. I don't know if it will ever come to a point where elementary teachers post lessons on a collaborative textbook site though. One of my colleagues would laugh at the thought and putting her insight down in a "chapter" saying regretfully that she's "a jack of all trades, master of none." If that's the attitude of a would be poster, then I'm not sure I would want to use that information.

Like we have to teach students to be information literate, we'll have to become information literate when we start using more and more online resources/textbooks.

Julie Lindsay also suggested something that I could see becoming viable in the near feature. Our school district is already requiring students to submit portfolios in order to graduate. I can easily see (in response to PLE's) portfolios moving in the online direction, perhaps being made on wikis like Lindsay suggests.

Here is a brief summary of my proposal, the rest of which can be found on wikidave.

Proposal: I would like to introduce the tool known as “wiki” to our school personal. With this tool I hope to enable a more open collaboration on the topic of Responsive Classroom, where teachers will be able to share ideas on each of the four components of morning meeting (greeting, sharing, activity, morning message) as well as management ‘tricks.’

A Wiki Description: Before I begin, let me quickly explain what a wiki is. Originating from the Hawaiian word “Wiki-Wiki,” it literally means ‘quick.’ A wiki allows users to create a collective document, where together, ideas are shared, discussed and edited. Each individual that views a wiki can add their own ideas and help create a powerful, accurate, and informative online resource.

An explanation of the service: With the wiki I plan on introducing to our staff, teachers will be able to easily view the different areas of responsive classroom. It is my intention that teachers will be able to add their ideas for each area of RC, so that over time our building will have a large collection of ideas across the grade levels. This will be a great way to build our own personal library of activities, and greetings (two areas of the RC morning meeting that are constantly changing). With this wiki, teachers will also be able to ask questions to the entire staff, which can be answered by anyone at anytime (no longer at just a staff meeting).

Filling a need: Many teachers were overwhelmed in the beginning of the year when they received the First Six Weeks, an introduction to the Responsive Classroom, and asked to implement it in their rooms. This collaborative wiki, will allow teachers to have a place to go and ask questions, get ideas, and share ideas. Teachers who have a place to go to get ideas for activities, greetings, sharing ideas and morning meeting messages, will feel more comfortable trying RC in the classroom (using ideas that have worked before have this effect).

jfayne said...

Proposal-I propose that VoiceThread be put into practice in our school to allow students and staff to share and collect group conversations.


Description- VoiceThread is an online multimedia slideshow that holds images, documents, videos, and audio and lets people leave comments using audio, video, or voice. Group conversations can be followed and commented on from around the world.

VoiceThread could be used in the classroom in many different ways.

• Oral Histories-Students interview or record grandparents talking about their life, war stories, etc.
• Vocabulary Training/ESL Lessons-Teacher records vocabulary lessons and students practice responding.
• Art-Teacher or students upload images and other students comment on these images.
• Visual Math Lessons-Teacher records lessons explaining concepts for students to use at home.
• Lab Reports-Students can record video, audio, and written work relating to experiments to VoiceThread
• Digital storytelling-Students actually make something that people all over the world can see and comment on. Imagine the first time a student reads a comment on his work from another country.
• Digital Portfolios-Teachers and students can upload examples of student work for archival
• Field trips- teachers can upload images of field trips and students can comment or add thoughts vocally or written.
• Parental communication-teachers can communicate with parents with video, audio, or written notices.

Teachers can differentiate lessons according to student’s individual needs. Lessons can be extended if needed as well. VoiceThread can be as simple as a student recording spoken words into a microphone or typing a story onto the computer or very complex using a video camera or embedding a VoiceThread onto a website. Each student is able to have their own identity with many different avatars attached to their identity.

VoiceThread allows students to make and post something they created which is closely related to the theory of “constructivism,” which says that learning occurs when people actually construct something. VoiceThread also allows students to work with their own learning style. Visual learners can use images and videos, auditory learners can use audio and vocal posts, and musical learners can use record songs, while kinesthetic learners can record videos of dance, sports, or other movement-based option.

Evidence Showing VoiceThread Works

These are some interesting VoiceThread posts and articles about VoiceThread.
• This post shows how a teacher recorded a lesson on measuring angles on a smart notebook.
• This post has a student instructing how to multiply and divide fractions.
• Here is one where students read their favorite poems.
• This post has students writing poetry and drawing pictures relating to weather.
• A site formed by a group of educators using VoiceThread for Educators
• Excellent article on VoiceThread and how it improves on PowerPoint
• This is an article describing the positive virtues of VoiceThread and digital storytelling. The article has a link to a VoiceThread project trying get students enthused in reading using “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
• This final article explains what you can do with VoiceThread and how to join.


• Cost-$60 per class or $1 per student for whole school
• Security-Many people are worried about security of students and their work online.
• Cyberbullying-Students can be victims or victimizers of online intimidation.
• Teachers and students who don’t know how to use VoiceThread.
• Blog sites are often blocked by district filtering software

Ways to overcome roadblocks

• VoiceThread has special pricing for district orders.
• Cost is less than having to buy and administer new software. No software is loaded onto district computers. VoiceThread is flash based and 99% of computers already have this installed.
• Ed.VoiceThread is only for educators and students. All users on this network are invited, known users and student email addresses are not required. Only the administrator knows all information other than student’s first name.
• VoiceThread tutorials on homepage to assist teachers and students using VoiceThread.
• VoiceThread homepage has information on how to unblock VoiceThread site on filtering software.

Long-Term Goals for Improvement Using VoiceThread

I think that the district will see many areas of improvement if VoiceThread is incorporated into the curriculum. Students who have trouble with class discussions will soon be able to open up more both posting and commenting on other posts they see and listen to. This service will make PowerPoint obsolete. We are all tired of seeing all of those boring PowerPoint presentations. Once VoiceThread is implemented, students will begin adding video, voice, and written works for the whole world to see and comment on.

I think the district will be pleased with the small, $1 per student, investment in VoiceThread. I feel the upside is seemingly unlimited with what students and teachers can do with it. It will help students, staff, and families communicate with each other and others around the world in ways we have never been able to before.

T Weinberg said...

Session 12 comments:
I think the idea of a more interactive form of a textbook is wonderful for the primary reasons of currency, cost savings, and customization. Our school uses many online textbooks, and as Pam Stevens mentioned, many of the online features provide differentiation to increase the accessibility of the information, but they are not as flexible as a wiki-based textbook. Unfortunately, I had some concerns about the flexbook project- like KAS librarian; I wondered why the only links are from Wikipedia. Although even textbooks can be subject to bias, once you leave the security of “expert” authors working with established publishers, how can you evaluate the quality of the information? The idea is great, but I imagine that a content-area teacher would need to spend a lot of his or her free time reading the available offerings to determine which materials meet the curriculum needs and are of acceptable quality.

Julie Lindsay’s work was impressive, but I can’t imagine how she has time to maintain so many blogs and wikis and also teach? It was exhausting just thinking about it. I try to experiment with new technologies each year and introduce them to our classroom teachers when it seems appropriate, but it can become overwhelming trying to learn all the nuances with enough expertise to instruct both the teachers and the students. I had seen demonstrations of many of the tools Julie uses at various conferences (Kathy Shrock is particularly good at sharing her experiences with Web 2.0 tools), but there were a few new ideas I would still like to try.

I briefly looked at some of my classmates proposals while composing my comments. I liked KAS Librarian and jfayne’s ideas for using voice thread- it is a product I have been extremely interested in, but haven’t yet found the perfect application to use it in my school. They have given me some worthwhile ideas to explore.

Deliverable #3:
I worked with my colleague Jane Wilson to create a proposal to introduce blogging into our school. Experience has shown that presentations to our administrators are more effective with visuals and substantial amounts of support materials, so we chose to produce a PowerPoint to demonstrate the essentials of blogging, along with its history, and specific examples of how it can be used in the classroom. This proposal can also be viewed by teachers who are interested in using blogging.

Since we perceived our major roadblocks to be resistance to using new technology and the need for professional development to use blogging, we decided to overcome them both by creating a staff-to-staff blog. This new blog will be a communication tool for our Technology Committee, both to share information discussed at meetings and to solicit comments from our staff regarding technology needs in the school. The genesis of this idea was that we have been finding it difficult to arrange meeting times when all members of our diverse group are able to meet, so we were seeking an alternative form of keeping members informed and gathering opinions about important issues. Our intention is that the Technology Blog will serve two purposes: it will allow our staff to see a practical use of a blog, and it will create an opportunity for our staff to get hands-on practice with using a blog. Once they become comfortable with commenting on the Technology Blog, it will hopefully seem to be a less drastic step to create their own classroom blog. The PowerPoint will be posted on authorstream and available on the class wiki.

J Wilson said...


Tamara Weinberg and I work in the same school and have joined forces to present a proposal to our administrators. In our setting a visual format works best, so we have created a slideshow for this purpose. It will be available on our school network later so the staff may go back to it for resources.
Based on our readings and experimentation with the new technologies offered with Web 2.0, we feel that many teachers in our school could benefit from using blogs. In order for our administrators to feel comfortable with this new technology, we have prepared this presentation to explain what a blog is and how it can be used in education. We would like to propose using a school-wide blog to help our staff become familiar with the practice of blogging and its potential for instruction.
This first blog will be a Technology Committee vehicle for communication amongst committee members as well as an area for all staff to consult postings and make comments with their input about technology;its suggestions, concerns and uses. We have plans to incorpoarte others into classroom settings, but want the teachers to have some experience with blogs on their own first before creating them for their students to use.
The full presentation is embedded on the wiki under my deliverable #3.
It is posted on the Authorstream website at:
Using Blogs in Education

J Wilson said...

Session 12 Comments
I think is it wonderful, for many reasons, that we are striving to go paperless, however, I have some reservations about it. There is something about holding a book in my hand that appeals to me. I am also not sure if our eyes and bodies will adjust to reading on the computers constantly either. Beyond these physical concerns, like some of our classmates, I too am a little skeptical about the reliability of online type flexbooks. I applaud CK-12 for collaborating on textbooks and then offering them for free to schools. It really is an incredible venture, as is Dave’s wikitext. The vision, time and work that go into these must be great.
I will admit I have wanted to write my own web-based “text” or class guide for my sixth and eighth grade computer classes. I could mold it to my needs, but again it takes time to constantly monitor and tweak it. If collaborating on or authoring online texts was part of our jobs as educators and sufficient time was built in or compensation offered, I think more teachers would ultimately consider the possibility.
Questions about Publications and copyright issues of everything from pictures, to music, to novels are being raised. How are the artists or authors going to make a living? The industries are going to have to adjust their practices and ways of distributing their media. There is definitely a shift from mine to ours as far as ownership of media is concerned when collaborating online. Who gets credit for what starts to blur
A New York Times article recently addressed printed publications:
Mourning Old Media’s Decline
I really liked the two wiki’s: Teaching Hacks and Eduwikis, and intend to go back to them again for resources for my teaching.

PDLibrarian said...

The wiki text makes perfect sense, and the Flexbook site was neat. Very clever how you first choose or take the chapters that you want into your file before editing them...nifty way to protect the integrity of the the original. I'm not sure (and I've posed this question before..) why certain parts of wiki's couldn't be locked, and those parts could be identified easily - like, all expert-verified, peer-reviewed material will appear in purple, and won't be editable by anyone bu the publisher, while other sections contributed by other people would appear in a different color or font or something. Still, these seem like sort of easy things to work out, and what a great thing - would make for up-to-date information and save a lot of trees!

Below is my Deliverable #3, a proposition for a blog that intend to create this year.

EDC 921 Deliverable #3 Session 12: November 25, 2008
Submitted by: Martha Badigian, Library Media Specialist, Peace Dale Elementary School.

Proposal for Blog for Peace Dale School’s 2009 Robotics Park

Each year, Peace Dale School has a school-wide (only a few classes choosing not to participate) Robotics Park event. Each classroom chooses a theme – anything from “Fairy Tales” to Animals of the Florida Keys” or “Bears”, researches their topic, and then prepares research-based projects. Projects range from reports and Kidspiration Webs to dioramas and models of various kinds. Many classrooms use simple programming software to make Lego models move. The work continues for approximately 4-6 weeks, culminating in a Robotics Park Celebration. Every participating class sets up their projects in the (very large!) school gym, and friends and family are invited to peruse the work on a Saturday.

The event has never had an online presence, and I propose to create a “Robotics Park Blog” which will feature every participating classroom. The blog is totally in the spirit of the event, since it is in part a celebration of technology and it’s potential. The blog format will be set up such that each classroom will have a summary of its project that is able to include video (some classes videotape their work), photographs, inspiration webs and reports, as well as a “class diary” of how the work is progressing and what the classroom learns. Also, students would be able to make podcasts of their progress in various projects, or to present their findings in any one of several ways. This online presence will also allow families to be in much closer touch with the project as it progresses, and offer the opportunity for others to comment and pose questions and observations throughout. Students may even be able to post links to their online research. In addition, the blog can serve as a history archive of the event, since years of projects can be included (organized by date).

Here’s another elementary school using a Blog along with their Robotics program:

Here’s an article about the importance of the use of blogs in transforming classrooms to places where students can be much more engaged and have a greater “ownership stake” in their own learning:


Here’s a very shocking short video called “Did You Know” that does a terrifci job of driving home the extent of change in the world in the area of technology, thus illustrating the importance of our beginning to make a technology tools an integral part of our schools: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U

And here is an article just released this November by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which is a leading advocacy organization for infusing 21st century skills into education.. The paper entitled, “Transition Brief: Policy Recommendation on Preparing America for the Global Skills Race”. Since the partnership is made up of many of the top technology companies in the United States (and the World), this organization is singularly knowledgeable about what kind of preparation we need to provide for our students to be competitive in the 21st century. This paper was prepared for submission to our new President-elect’s transition team:


As for specifics, I propose the use of Blogger software to create the blog since it is extremely easy to use, and will cost our district nothing (in this time of shrinking budgets). My hope is that at least some classrooms will “jump on the Blogwagon” for this first year that it will be in use, and the fact that it can be used in an ongoing fashion from year to year, those who are more hesitant about using technology in our school (better than half the staff, unfortunately) will be able to see what others have done, and be motivated to give it a try. I strongly believe that a blog is a tool that proves its own worth, and a teacher has only to try this out in the classroom to see it’s value and want to find other ways to use this tool.
The biggest roadblock that I can see to the use of this tool is very much the staff’s hesitation to use technology, but I propose that even if only a few classrooms participate in the blog this year, more will join next year. I would like to help overcome this roadblock by offering training sessions and help to staff members liberally. I’m convinced that when they see how easy it is to use, they will be more inclined to use technology tools.

I am a member of my school’s technology committee. The greatest problem we have faced is the staff’s hesitation to use technology. The approach that has been taken in the past has been to encourage teachers to think of projects in their classrooms that would utilize technology. However, those hesitant to use technology are unlikely to spend lots of time thinking about how to incorporate it into their already crowded classroom routines. I believe that by creating this blog for use in an existing school project, and helping it to get off the ground, then introducing teachers to the blog tool and supporting them in their efforts, this would be a successful way of beginning to introduce more technology into our school.

Anonymous said...

Pam Hurt
Session 12 and Introduction to Deliverable 3

This session – from start to finish – was steeped in theory and support to verify today’s educational (and societal) need to collaborate. Stressing the “whole exceeds the sum of its parts” perspective, topics covered clearly indicate that we, as educators, limit our students’ potential through adhering to traditional practices (technology has advanced but the way we guide students’ learning has not). We need to take advantage of opportunities to engage and encourage our students to work as a community – recognizing that such practice fosters interdependence, growth, and excellence.

The session’s theory was compelling! We serve students as guides, helping them develop skills to evaluate, organize, and apply information and to become information literate…especially considering the huge changes in the past 5 years…and those to come. Bierman’s suggestion that texts will become “guidebooks” makes a lot of sense. We have only to look at the surge in the popularity of online manuals and the “__________ for Dummies” series to recognize how, in our rapidly changing world, consumers young and old turn to the experts to keep up (or at least try!). As educators, if we don’t follow suit, we and our students are doomed to fall behind! The Information Literacy standards delineate educators’ responsibilities – tasks not limited solely to those in technology or computer fields.

Workshops and in-service sessions related to constructivist theory, inquiry learning, and Wiggins and McTighe’s backward design theory have stressed connecting students’ education to real life experiences and needs such as dependence on today's technology. Such experiences are integral components of our students’ lives, and excluding such (to our students) “routine opportunities” not only disengages them from the learning process, but also hampers their educational growth and could diminish their competitive edge as they approach advanced education and career.

One of my favorite technologies in this session is Flexbooks. In my discipline, English, as Pam Stevens has noted, our department examined numerous texts before our district purchased class sets for each teacher. Because these texts provide a wealth of poetry, short stories, & drama; composition, grammar, analytical, and creative exercises; as well as interdisciplinary options, these expensive texts are very cumbersome. Additionally, since we supplement this core text with numerous novels and a grammar text, there is no way we can possibly use even half of the whole text in a semester-length block schedule. In fact, we don’t use a whole text which is shared between 9th and 10th grade courses! As a result, I think that flex texts would be a wonderful tool that would respond to district needs, student needs and preferences, cut costs, AND lessen occurrence of back pain among our students!

For us teachers, Professional Learning Environments (PLE’s) are extremely significant as they offer the opportunity to collaborate and also provide an online site to share resources, to keep personal records, and to display professional development. Just as our students gain from collaborating, when we use PLE’s, so do we – proving once again, that “the whole exceeds the sum of its parts!”

For my Deliverable 3, I would like to encourage my district to adopt the use of Flexbooks. Because of the backbreaking English texts my students carry (and complain about all the time!), and because of the lack of a suitable text for an SAT Prep course I teach, my proposal to my administration focuses on using Flexbooks as a more appropriate, useful, economical, student-friendly text, particularly for the SAT course. While some drawbacks do exist – which I outline in Deliverable 3, I still see Flexbooks as a valuable and free source that should be considered in the near future!

yipf said...

Frank Yip
Lincoln High School
Deliverable #3


I am writing to propose the implementation of school-wide blogging for promoting and assessing reading/literacy and the use of wikis for promoting research. In this age of technology, we need to utilize the available technology to stimulate student interest as well as teach them the skills necessary for the 21st century.
Blogs are an opportunity for students to express their ideas and to demonstrate comprehension of the assigned readings. For too long, high school educators have assumed that their students already know how to read and concentrate on content without realizing that students may lack the reading strategies to make the content meaningful to them. Therefore I am introducing blogs as a way to assess reading and as an outlet for virtual and active student participation with both class discussion and readings.
Wikis are an opportunity for students to get actively engaged in the research and construction of classroom papers. The school’s mission statement claims that we teach students to be respectful and become lifelong learners. Wikis (as well as blogs) are vehicles to attain these lofty goals. They give students the opportunity to work together in appropriate settings to establish goals and fulfill the desired outcomes. Research has shown that students will collaborate and can learn from this type of interaction.

We are dealing with a “brave new world” of education and technology. The world is changing rapidly and new forms of communications are constantly being created. It is incumbent upon educators to recognize this fact and integrate them into our curriculum to benefit our main clients: the students! Donald Leu of Syracuse University tells us: “Internet resources will increase, not decrease, the central role teachers play in orchestrating learning experiences for students. Teachers will be challenged to thoughtfully guide students’ learning within information environments that are richer and more complex than traditional print media, presenting richer and more complex learning opportunities for both them and their students” (http://www.sp.uconn.edu/~djleu/newlit.html).
Blogs offer a way to tap into this new form of literacy. Anne Davis of Edublog Insight gives several rationales for using blogs in the classroom:
• Blogs provide a space for sharing opinions and learning in order to grow communities of discourse and knowledge — a space where students and teachers can learn from each other.
• Blogs help learners to see knowledge as interconnected as opposed to a set of discrete facts.
• Blogs can give students a totally new perspective on the meaning of voice. As students explore their own learning and thinking and their distinctive voices emerge. Student voices are essential to the conversations we need to have about learning.
• Blogs foster ownership and choice. They help lead us away from students trying to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer.
• The worldwide audience provides recognition for students that can be quite profound. Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond. It gives them motivation to excel. Students need to be taught skills to foster a contributing audience on their blog.
• The archive feature of blogging records ongoing learning. It facilitates reflection and evaluation. One student told me that he could easily find his thoughts on a matter and he could see how his thinking had changed and why.
• The opportunity for collective and collaborative learning is enormous. Students have the opportunity to read their classmate’s blogs and those of others. This is not possible in a regular classroom setting.
• Blogging provides the possibility of connecting with experts on the topic students are writing.
• The interactive nature of blogging creates enthusiasm for writing and communication.
• Blogging engages students in conversation and learning.
• Blogging encourages global conversations about learning–conversations not previously possible in our classrooms.
• Blogging provides the opportunity for our students to learn to write for life-long learning.
• Blogging affords us the opportunity to teach responsible public writing. Students can learn about the power of the published word and the responsibilities involved with public writing (http://anne.teachesme.com/category/pedagogy/).
Perhaps the best features of using blogs are their simplicity and expense (or lack) to implement. I recommend Blogger.com because it is easy to use and best of all, FREE!!
Wikis are also an under-utilized technology opportunity. Research has shown that wikis have educational benefits. Naomi Augar, Ruth Raitman and Wanlei Zhou of the School of Information Technology at Deakin University claims that wikis are easy to use, inexpensive (free again to educators at wikispaces.com), and have been demonstrated to help students collaborate and participate in e-learning environments (http://ascilite.org.au/conferences/perth04/procs/augar.html).

Teachers are often reluctant to implement new technologies because they do not feel comfortable using them. The discomfort comes from the lack of knowledge about the technology itself, the benefits of the technology, and how to implement it. Readily available professional development opportunities would appear to be the best way to overcome this reluctance. In this manner the faculty would be introduced to these new technologies and their benefits in a non-threatening manner. In addition, specific and practical applications need to be presented. On December 11th, I will present my classroom blogs as reading strategy as part of a PD unit with the Literacy Committee for the Lincoln, RI district. In this PD opportunity, I will reference the successful roll-out of my blogs this year (p1pysch.blogspot.com and p5psych.blogspot.com) as examples of how to use blogs for assessing reading. The proposed high school rubric for reading comprehension will be used as the assessment tool. In addition, I will set up a blog for the committee as a demonstration of the ease of starting a blog for the classroom. A sample of an appropriate exchange between students (their names have been deleted) in discussing a class topic follows:


In my opinion, animal research in definitely a waste. Not only is it a waste to society but it is harming innocent animals in our world. As said in the document titled Animal Research is Wasteful and Misleading "...animal experiments, however, merely reflect the unique biology of the species being studied...". With that quote animals bodies clearly cant produce the same results that a humans body will so why are we going through all of this research? Certain animals can produce different reactions so why are we trusting certain results. Each species has different dna and as discussed in the document pertaining to wasteful and misleading (animal research) studies may be causing cancer instead of sending it away. Imagine being a chemical being tested on rats and they are not effected by it so doctors think it is okay for humans yet where is the real proof that humans wont have any type of negative reaction to it? Animal studies seem to be more dangerous then they are beneficial. There are more diseases out there than ever before...if animal research has yet to solve anything why do we bother? Animal research has yet to prove any tangible results with humans so overall it seems to be a waste of money and time. It seems as though animal research can prove whatever types of results you'd like because there are so many different animals you can use and so many different variables you can change.

Even in the Animal Research is Vital to Medicine document it is evident that there have not been any discoveries that are one hundred percent beneficial and haven't thus caused other problems to human kind.
September 10, 2008 1:29 PM


--------, I must disagree with you on the statement Animal Research isn't necessarily. On the contrary, it is vital to the development of newer medecines. If it is a question of morality, think of the animals we kill for food everyday. For us to survive, something else MUST die whether it be animal or plant. In short, their deaths go to our betterment. The same goes for animals we use as test subjects for chemicals. However, I believe your idea is concerning effectiveness of animal research. Animals and humans are different in some respects, yes, that is true. However, certain animals species have remarkably similar organ systems to those of humans. A pig has a virtually identical circulatory system (in terms of functionality, not necessarily vein structure) to a human, the gastro-intestinal tract (intestine) and immune system of a cow almost replicates those present in people. Although we do have differences which may affect test results, 99.5% of the time they are negligible. In addition, animal testing does reveal vital information concerning research. In 1981, scientists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center created the world's first, fully functioning genetically engineered vaccine (for Hepatitis B.) This vaccine was later approved in 1987, through years of animal testing followed by human trials, and is now administered to every newborn within 48 hours. The vaccine has been proven to be totally safe with virtually no side effects. Finally, animal testing is also necessary, because some form of testing is needed before beginning human trials. Some data is better than none at all, even if it has flaws.
September 10, 2008 2:43 PM


-------, I too understand your view and your side on the matter of animal testing. When we kill animals for a basis of survival we know that we are eating them. When animals are used for testing we don't always know that it is to better humans, or the animal. The matter of animal testing I guess in a sense what gets me is the fact that animals are being used and they may not directly have a positive outcome. In one part of the reading it discussed how chemicals being used on rats yielded later on humans had different and serious effects. In this situation I understand that using a cow or pig for research is okay because as you said their internal organs mirror those of humans pretty closely however using other animals for minor situations seems to not always be the smartest idea. Perhaps animal research can be limited to the necessities such as vaccines that you need at birth like the one you mentioned. I understand how it can be beneficial at the same time I feel like there are too many flaws that could harm us in the long run.

September 11, 2008 5:41 PM (https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=624743831469298520&postID=4013516296493767598)

The value of this exchange is evident. The students display appropriate skills in discussing this topic and have effectively utilized sources to frame and support their arguments.
A similar Professional Development session can be scheduled for the use of wikis. However, at this time wikis are theoretical to me since I have not had the opportunity to start one. Currently, I am not aware of a person at Lincoln High School with a wiki. Therefore, I need to start one for next semester to have as an example for a PD session in the spring. While using examples from outside the system could be beneficial, an actual one currently being used within the district is the ideal example for demonstration to reluctant staff members.


If the school district wishes to completely fulfill its mission statement, it must embrace the available technology of the present and the future to teach students not only how to use it but also use it appropriately. The teaching of reading strategies and writing skills can be integrated with the available technology to enhance the learning experience. However, they must be given multiple opportunities to use this technology through more computers in the classroom and assignments crafted to fully exploit these uses. Teachers need to be flexible in their approach and be given the professional development opportunities to learn how to integrate these opportunities to supplement their teaching.