Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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. I am sure that you will be convinced that blogs are not a passing fad. You can't fake these numbers (and its 3 years old).

Some of you have already 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 and just do a search for edc921), 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 summer's 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!


Charlotte Lesser said...

Just had to share!! PBS has just released their own educational gadget/widget they are calling Teacher Activity Packs. They have all kinds of content area arts, reading, social studies, and basically you just imbed their gadget on your "social media web page" (is that their coy way of saying blog??). As the librarian would say "Check it out!"

Charlotte Lesser said...

I know I'm a week late, but because of a snow day I couldn't check in with my students regarding their use of social networking sites or blogs. So, yesterday (Wed) I asked my 5 & 6th graders if they did use these sites. I preferenced my question by telling them they didn't have to answer if they felt uncomfortable or didn't want others in their class to know. Of 15 students, 4 raised their hands (1 boy, 3 girls) but I also saw two girls whose body language indicted to me that they did but didn't want their class to know!

Charlotte Lesser said...

Ok - I know, 3 posts in a row, last one for now I promise! I wanted to let you know the result of my conversation about using my Blogger site with the IT Coordinator and the IT tech integrator for our elem. schools. They were both clearly uncomfortable with me using my Blogger site, too many "safety" issues they felt. So, the 3 of us spent a good hour working on our current blog site which is pretty bare bones, but offers complete privacy for our students. So, good-bye to my cool Blogger site for now... I also had a preliminary conversation with the 4th grade teacher about doing some kind of collaborative writing project this spring where the kids could blog - she seemed pretty interested and said she do some thinking about it.

Abbe said...

I really enjoyed looking at everyone’s blogs. I’ve been inspired to try some new things! I now know how and why kids spend so much time online. It's very easy to get caught up. A blog is way more dynamic than our current webpages at school. Blogs are still blocked at school, but I’m going to carefully plan my approach to having them unblocked. Teachers are interested in adding more things to their webpages and I think blogs and wikis are the way to go. I use Google Reader for RSS feeds. It’s pretty easy and I check it more than I thought I would. Another thing I didn’t expect to enjoy so much –is del.icio.us. It’s great because we can’t save favorites at school. Now I have them available all the time. It also serves as a search engine for sites that probably come closer to what I’m looking for than if I just searched google. I think it’s interesting to see how many people have sites in their lists too. It's a good place to collect and organize your favorites. If you haven't looked at the common craft site (I tagged it in del.icio.us) check it out. It's a fun site that gives very simple explanations of all sorts of things (in a very unique, clear, low tech way.) I was recently added to a ning "account" through a Connecticut Association of School Librarians group that met last weekend. It's small social network. I thought it was great to contact the group before we met at our meeting. I have this group as a resource now, for questions I have. I wonder how all of this social networking is going to impact my very small school. It seems like we're trying to keep the world out sometimes, when we should be embracing all of the opportunities that social networking (and collective knowledge) can bring to education.

vivrelelivre said...

It was definitely nice to see what some more creative and imaginative (than me) people are doing with their blogs. I’m going to try to push the blog idea with my 4/5 bilingual class because I think this is something that they would really get into. Never though of a blog as an avenue to improving English fluency. I will try anything at least once though so this one will be a definite attempt.

I have also now found some inspiration with regards to more interactive bulletin boards. I’ve bookmarked the site at home since I can’t access it from school. Sigh.

I have looked at Delicious in the past but it is blocked at school so I chose not to use it. We can’t bookmark or save to favorites at school so I found a site called Only2Clicks http://www.only2clicks.com/ that gets through the filter so I have been using this to save sites that I like (and can get through the filter…I HATE the filter)

Bloglines is also blocked at school but I did discover that Google reader wasn’t…woo-hoo. Unfortunately, most of the feeds I subscribe to are blocked…I can understand “I Can Has Cheezburger?” (very funny if you like cats) but Unshelved? (comic= entertainment =blocked) I think Library humor is VERY important to the day to day functioning of the library.

On a happier note…I apparently polled the wrong kids when it came to social networking. I had a gaggle of 5th grade girls in the library the other day and I happened to throw my question out to them. Of the seven, all claimed to have Facebook Pages, two said they also had MySpace and one rattled off several other sites that she used.

Maura McGill said...

I have visited many of the class blogs and was very impressed by the variety of ideas and creativity. I am still wondering about the best way to get my third graders involved especially since I only have one computer in my classroom and some students do not have a computer at home. This is my BIG wonder question.

On Friday, I showed my students the blog I had set up and they were very excited. They all wanted to make sure they had a picture of themselves on the blog. It is very motivating tool! I can see how this would be just as motivating if their writing was published and they were writing to a real audience.

Many of the articles had wonderful links to explore. I found my self getting carried away and spending hours investigating them. There was a blog with a video from a first grade classroom. The teacher used Classblogmeister.com for her blog. It had some great ideas for valadating students work. I am interested in opening a Flickr account which is free. This is a way of posting students art work which can go along with student writing. It was used on her site and it was very effective.

I read the articles in, Coming of Age. These were some of the things that stood out for me. You need to discuss with students the importance of being responsible users of the internet. Just as you have rules in the classroom, you need rules about the internet and computer,too. Students and teachers need to remember not to reveal too much information and to think about confidentiality. My principal reminded me not to post students last names and to check to make sure students' parents allowed photographs to be published.

The articles about Social Networking for Teens were interesting. None of my third graders have MySpace or Facebook accounts....thank goodness! Three of my children do,however. My son uses his as a way of staying in touch with friends from college that he does not see on a day to day basis. My daughters use it more as a way of socializing on a daily basis. It is definitely the way most teens socialize like the articles stated.
Thank you Charlotte Lesser for the link to Teacher Activity Packs. I've "checked it out" and it looks like something that might interest our librarian and me.
The del.icio.us site is great, too, but I need more time to play around with it.
I hope I've covered all areas. The amount of information is a little overwhelming....but exciting!

Mrs. K said...

I really enjoyed viewing everyone's blog and have become inspired because, I also revisited my blog and I saw that it looked a little plain. I plan on taking some time to add some pictures and possibly turn my blog not only into a reading blog where my studnets can comment on what we are reading, but I want to add other components as well - I like the reminders and homework that were added to some blogs. I'm sure it will take me more time than I anticipate but I will try. Thanks for the inspiration and new and different ideas.

Mrs. Cappadona said...

Hi everyone!
Carol Cappadona here. I really enjoyed the article on the grade one classroom. She had lots of good ideas which I think would be easy to incorporate. I checked out Bubble Share (the virtual slide show) and realized it’s somewhat like Flickr and Picasa (Google’s picture site). I really appreciated all the mentions of free software – since no one has a budget, the access to free materials makes blogging more of a possibility. I need to spend some time with Audacity and figure out how to make a podcast. I was interested that there could only be one person at a time on her wiki. Does that mean with my computer lab, that only one student could be accessing the site and the rest would have to wait or is it because she had a one computer classroom? I have to go back and look at that again. I liked the idea of blogging buddies – another classroom to communicate with. I was told by my tech person that one of the librarians in my district had a blog or wiki (or something, he wasn’t quite sure). If she does, I can connect with her and have our students blogging back and forth across town as a way of introducing them to the “wider world” and keep them protected.

From all my wanderings around looking at blogs and reading your comments, I think I will sign up for a Blogmeister account. It gets around email accounts for students, you assign passwords instead. I spoke with the “tech people” in my district and they are very willing to unblock any site I request with the caveat that anything unblocked for me is open to everyone on our network from Kindergarten through Grade 12. I attempted to get rid of the “next blog” feature in the header on Blogger.com using the directions from Will Richardson’s book but it didn’t work. This could lead to students clicking off my blog and wandering into who knows where because the “next blog” could be something not appropriate for children. I will use the letter in the book as a model to create a letter for parents before my students begin to blog. I mentioned blogging to my 5th grade teaching staff and they are willing to work with me to create something.

I was not surprised to see that girls blog more than boys. Generally, girls like to “communicate” and boys like to move. It was also not surprising that boys posted more video – action versus talking. I think it is fascinating that email is a “last resort.” Many adults are just figuring out email and the children have moved far beyond us.

Investigating blogging continues . . .

Charlotte Lesser said...

Wow! What a busy week! I looked at everybody's blog and commented on several. It was interesting to see what different arrangements/styles everybody had used, and which gadgets they had played with. I really loved Maura's 3rd grade classroom blog - very current and I liked the reminders on the side panel. I also enjoyed the embedded movies on Nick's Jamestown Math blog, it was fun to hear the kids voices.

This week seemed to be the sign up for "free" accounts week - let's see I now have an account with: del.icio.us, flickr, picasa and bloglines! I like them all but found delicious frustrating. I have 537 favorites, collected over years all neatly organized into folders. I brought them into delicious and OMG what a mess!! I don't have time to tag them all, so not sure what to do with that disaster. Because I have an igoogle account & gmail & blogger, I found picasa easy to use and
integrate (you gotta love Google for that!).

It seems like this has been the week of Facebook in my face! First I survey my 4-6th graders about using sites like Facebook. Then, I'm at work and a group of teachers are talking about it, that night we go to our friends house and the woman and her teenage daughter start talking about it and show us their pages. Then the next day our local paper picks up the article about the thousands of registered sexual offenders that MySpace & Facebook have "un-registered". And finally, at my monthly meeting with my supervisor on Friday, he's talking about his Facebook account (seriously this all took place this past week! - like I said it was a busy week!).

Of all the edublog winners that I looked at my favorite was the K-12 Online Conference, great site with tons of useful information - BUT go figure, it's blocked by our school filter. The fact that they offer professional development credit hours is amazing. I may use this as a reason to get the IT people to unblock it.

I think the most thought provoking blog I read was Nancy White's on blogging & community - her main point being that online communities are really changing how people interact. The other blog I really liked was the Australian librarian's blog "Hey Jude". I got from her my quotable quote of the week "It's my role to reshape virtual and physical learning services" for her school community. I love the word
"reshape"!. I think that all the new web 2.0 applications are really reshaping education, forcing the adults to take a new
look at how to deliver instruction to students.

so... off I go to reshape myself...
wonder what will happen?!? ;-)

Katie Wright said...

I just finished speaking to my daughter and mentioned I had another email account with Gmail amd immediately she was excited because now we can IM or instant message in the evenings while we work on the computer. Talk about social networking for teens-- although she's now 21! Perhaps like many of you, I have experienced first hand the positives and negatives of My Space and Facebook through the years with my own children-- and some of you are young enough to have your own experiences. I can certainly agree that girls are more active and probably reach out to more social contacts, but I think boys just use it differently. I guess really the point is that they do use the internet and other technologies for social networking all the time.

Thanks Charlotte for the PBS site and Vivrelelivre for the Only2 clicks site. We can't save any favorites at our district either and I'll try it on Monday. And I never looked at Google Reader before, so I'll check that out later

I too liked and was amazed by the first grade blog from Ms. Davis. It was wonderful to see that she received the EDU blog award. I really liked the idea of blogging with a school in a another country. It would be a wonderful way for students to explore new concepts and places, and learning would be natural and very exciting.
It would certainly be a safer way for young children to blog and have the experince, yet meet the schools safety requirements. Perhaps we could even have classes blog through the teachers in this class. I thought that many of the Edublogs were unique, it's intereting how many winners were from Canada and naturally Great Britain. Of course, this brings us to the Blogmeister-- what a great name. I think this might be a very useful site for a blog with elementary kids, and also for a setting up a blog just for the teaching staff.

Many of your blogs are looking great while I seem to be having trouble finding my identity - I'd love to use Flicker to post some of the 1st grade pictures and writing that are responses to books, but am not sure if my blog should concern the big picture of school literacy, or be some of both. Maybe eventually two blogs is the answer.


Suzanne said...

I have not been able to work on my blog this weekend due to a software virus that will not allow me to use my laptop computer at home. The computer I am presently using to write this email is limited in memory and space and takes forever to do anything. A friend sent me a fix this morning and I am hoping to solve the problem today.

I was able to take some pictures for my blog last week and am hoping to open a Flikr account today. I have decided to keep my blog read only for the year and will use it as an informational "bulletin board".

I have enjoyed looking at everyone's blog and have also been viewing all the blogs posted by teachers at my school to see what everyone is up to. I loved the PBS resource and have enjoyed the numerous blogs that I am coming across in the readings and slide shows. I can't imagine how much time has gone into setting up some of these blogs but I am thinking that once you have it set up, you probably can just change pieces of it to reflect each new class.

I have noticed that I cannot get to a lot of things on my school computer but I have had no problems viewing things at home or in the library at school.

A friend of mine just showed me her Facebook page yesterday. She is 42 and is having as much fun with it as the kids. She has posted pictures from some events, favorite music, books etc. I don't have the time or desire to do that at this time but it looked like you could have a lot of fun with it.

Charlotte: you mention that your IT Coordinators were worried about the safety issues of your Blogger site. Can you tell me what safety issues they were specifically worried about? I am very intersted because I too am wondering how we monitor the activity etc. once we open it up for comments etc. I understand that you can read all comments before they get posted but I am curious. With reference to the Coming of Age article, I feel that you must discuss with your importance of being responsible when using the internet. If the children are taught responsibility early and often, it will eliminate many problems later in life regarding personal information, safety and confidentiality on the internet. Each parent in our district has to sign some type of internet safety form that basically allows the students to use the internet. I also believe their rights are revoked if they use it inappropriately - don't quote me I will check. In addition, as Maura stated, we have a permission slip that parents must sign in order to take pictures of the children in class.

Having these procedures already in place is helpful when trying to bring all this technology into the classroom and use it effectively.

Nickal said...

Hi everyone! Having a lot of fun with the new blog... I am having the kids record a lesson that they created from a list of concepts that we have covered so far this year in class. It appears that the kids are reluctant to comment (seems strange) Signed up for a bloglines account and checked out the Delicious website... Not sure I need to sign up for another account... I like the idea of being able to access my bookmarks from other computers but with Google and other search engines, half the time I forget to use them and just "google" what I need... I see that many people are having trouble with firewalls at school, an option that you could ask your IT people is for an override password. Our district used to have one that the teachers could use for appropriate sites...Unfortunately it was being abused and the privilege was removed, but it is an option. Also the form letter in the book is good however at the beginning of the year with all the signature papers, we have the parents sign an internet permission that covers the use of blogs...It is district wide and would be happy to share this with anyone that is interested... good luck this week especially to all of you that have vacation next week!! I know I can't wait!! NICK A

HerMom said...

Rebecca Gordon

It has been a very long week. I have spent an enormous amount of time looking at everyone's blogs and the blogs on the PowerPoint presentation. Your blogs are wonderful, if I may say so, considering my blog still has just a title and is incredibly pink. I really have to change the blog and hopefully it will be as nice as the ones you have created.

I would say that 85% of our high school population has a page on FaceBook or MySpace. That may be a conservative estimation since we spend alot of time kicking students off of their accounts. Though the sites are blocked, students know how to go through back doors to get to them.

Question: Since we no longer write letters like past generations did, with pen and paper, are blogs and e-mail going to be our original documents for future generations?

Denice said...

Dealing with teenagers all day, I do see them trying to use social networking at school. It is usually the girls, rather than the boys. I also noticed in one set of statistics that the use of Social networks is not due to a person’s socioeconomic status. It is something that appeals to all teenagers.

The article regarding students creating new material for the Internet did not really present any new information for me. As a high school media specialist, I see the students texting and working on social networks all day. In fact, many have borrowed our camcorders for recording class activities for posting on the YouTube (which is blocked at school.) I did find it interesting that they really do not like to use email. We “older folk” have set up distribution lists, buddy lists, etc. for emailing our friends the latest news and photos. The teens have passed us by with their modes of communication.

I believe the ease of setting up a MySpace account is what drove the teens to going to that site first. They probably liked knowing that whatever they created on that space would be viewed by the “whole world.” I am sure that the initial restrictions of Facebook did not appeal to the younger teens who were still seeking an identity. A few of our senior girls have told me that they have “matured” and therefore only use Facebook because it allows them to select more closely who gets to know about them. It allows them to seek people with similar goals and likes, etc. One is strictly into networking with people who are interest in and/or attending the college she hopes to attend next September. She is building a network before attending the college!

Of all the various links to blogs, I really loved the “Hey, Jude” blog that won Best Library Blog. Of course, being a LMS, I may be a bit biased. It has inspired me to develop my own library blog to the next level. I also enjoyed learning how to use Bloglines. It really simplifies the task of staying up to date with changes on all of the blogs you are interested in. I also decided to finally try out del.icio.us. It really is a simple format for sharing links with others. I have decided to put together an after school workshop for the NHS teachers to demonstrate the use of these applications for collaboration. We have a few young teachers who are already familiar with these sites but the majority of our staff is over 40 and I want to get that audience up to speed with technology as I expand my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

Jim Tasso
I have a number of comments and concerns after reading the different readings and viewing the different blogs. Probably my biggest hurdle concerning blogging is what is happening to the English language. I have had this discussion with other teachers in the 8th grade, and we agree that the writing of students continue to get worse. I'm a social studies teacher not an English teacher, but the mistakes I see are huge. Some of the mistakes that we see are the improper use of their/there/they're and where/were for example. Terry Freedman addressed this in his section of the reading. He said it bothers him some when he reads misspellings in books or newspaper articles, but it doesn't bother him in blogging. In fact, he said it enhances it in a strange way. I can't see how this could enhance a message. To me this is a distraction. It's a distraction when I read papers from my students, and it takes away from their writing. He further stated that this would be corrected in the draft process before publication. Isn't blogging publishing? Finally he stated that students "know when such cavalier attitudes are not appropriate". I again disagree with this point. I have had this conversation with students about this. I had a student last year say to me that if they know the rules and can differentiate between emailing and a formal writing, why did it matter. I said that would be fine if they could, but far too many are unable to do this. Then I gave her some examples of what students are writing. Sorry, I was on a roll. Don't get me wrong, I think blogging is an important avenue for communication in schools, I just hope there is a happy medium somewhere. I agreed with Freedman when he wrote that the whole point of language is to facilitate communication.
It was interesting to read how students were more involved and interested in school because of their blogging.
I was encouraged to see that a large percentage of the users said they block their profiles. There are a lot of predators who use the internet to try to trick naive children. It's also good that they're being more cautious when on line and communicating.
The blog sites which won awards were very impressive. I wonder how much experience they had in creating blogs and how much time they spent on creating the blogs.
Finally I will end with this question, I wonder if technology is creating a society where there is less personal face to face interaction between people.
I had to enter this under anonymous because for some reason my password is not working. I'll have to fix this.

juliep said...

Blogs, Blogs and more blogs that is the only way I can describe the week I have spent in front of the computer this week. Whew, there are so many out there to look at that before you even know it 4 hours have gone by and you forgot what you were suppose to be doing in the first place. I enjoyed looking at the blog Jersey Journals by Donna McMullin. She had sample contracts for students who are blogging for school assignments. I think this is a helpful tool if you have an administration that might be skeptical of using this foreign technology in school. When the policy is in place many principals are more likely to try new things. And Linda Hartley’s blog left me with the feeling of total inadequacy, she is totally awesome and I can only hope to create a blog a fraction as complete as hers.
Well after doing the reading and looking at the blogs I have come up with a few conclusions about social networking and blogging.
1. If you don’t have a Facebook page, GET ONE! I was in church, I hope I can say that here, and my Pastor even talked about his Facebook page in his sermon. His sermon was about the 40 days of Love and that with Facebook we can connect with others in our lives that we have thought long gone from our thoughts. Facebook is not very prevalent in my elementary school and I think that is a good thing, it will soon be something that will monopolize their time, just not yet.
2. Blogging with my Edublogs and Blogger site are easiest right now if I simply use them as a venue to communicate simple newsletter type items to my parents and students at school. I had originally wanted the kids to post on my Alvey Elementary school website blog with comments about what they thought of the new Newbery winners, but I have since found out that students and parents will not have the access post to our blogs until next year.
3. I signed up for a free account with Delicious but I have found something a little lower tech that I can get around at school. Delicious is blocked at my site so I have a Portaportal account and the students can login as a guest with a designated login and view my bookmarked sites. Your IT people can even link it to your school website where they don’t even need to login. This is helpful, currently my 4th and 5th graders are doing some research projects and I restrict them to only the sites that I and their teachers approve of and we can simply link them to this Portaportal site and the kids can just click away.
4. As for all the stats about the girls’ blogging more than boys, I think that was kind of a no brainer. Who does the most chatting on the phone, gossiping in the halls or chatting at the lunch tables? Girls. However I think that the social networking sites have opened up a whole new avenue for boys, particularly the shy ones to communicate with their friends more and even flirt with girls. My library assistant’s son who is a senior asked a girl to Prom last year somehow by using his Facebook account. Not really sure how because if it was on his or her wall it would have been out there for all to see. Maybe a message was sent? Not totally sure.

Well I guess my question that only will be answered with time is, Will my parents and students at school read my blog and pay attention to the things that I post on it? We will have to wait and see.