Tuesday, February 9, 2010

586-921-Session 2

Welcome back!

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

I hope that after that you don't feel too overwhelmed with all of the references and links I included this week. Your first assignment, Deliverable #1, is due before next Tuesday morning (2/16/10). The details are in the syllabus and summarized here:

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

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

You may access the wisdom of those that have taken this class before you here. And also here.

Also, don't forget to tell us your new blog address in your comments for this week. As they come in I'll post links to them in the margin with past participants. Spend some time and check them out.

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

Blogs are popping up everywhere. Just check out my local newspaper, the Providence Journal's website: http://www.projo.com/blogs/ and count how many different blogs are available there. I also have 30 high school students this semester taking 'virtual' classes at a vitual high school. They come to my library for their scheduled period and nearly every one of these classes has a blogging component. Check it out: http://www.govhs.org/

Tomorrow I'd like you to take an informal survey of your students and ask them about their online journal or blog use. (They may call it something different, but the most prevalent are MySpace or FaceBook) Obviously the older the students--the higher the percentage of use---but if your survey shows you results similar to mine, then you will be very surprised at the usage statistics. More then 95 % of my students here at the high school use some sort of online journal. The new trend is moving toward Facebook.com. And that number appears to be increasing all the time. Blogs won't always work for "every discipline--every day," but when you begin to grasp the versatility of their usage you will see that they can be a powerful communication tool. And if such a large percentage of our population is using a certain kind of technology then it is surely in our best interest as educators to become well versed in it. Watch this video on Web 2.0. It might be a little deeper than we, as educators, need to reach, but it gives us some perspective.

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

Now"blog away!!"
Dave Fontaine
PS--If you have trouble downloading this week's session from the link above, then use this as a backup. Once there just search for edc921 and find the appropriate session.


Dana Dones said...

Hello everyone I created my own blog tonight and even added a photo. Here is my address
http://NavyNurseEducator.blogspot.com. I titles my first blog Spiraling into the 21st Century of Technology.

Also Mr. Fontaine since I don't actually have a class of students to teach at this time is it possible I can sit in with other teachers as they teach their students how to blog or even with you and your students?

Alexandra Phelan said...

I did not get to the photo but I did create a blog.


It is fun for now- looking forward to making it functional.

Cheryl said...

Deliverable #1

I've learned so much already just by looking at many of the recommended blogs and from the reading assignments. I'm sure there is still so much more for me to learn about blogs, but for now I have to say that I have a new understanding of what a blog should be and about how I can possibly use blogs in my practice.

I created a blog a few years ago to use with my students who were in a PreGED reading/writing class. I used this blog to post assignments for the class. Mostly, students used it to see what we did in class if they were absent. It really never became what I had hoped - a place for conversation about the reading assignments. Two students were a bit curious about the tool and created their own blog. They saw a blog as an opportunity to practice writing in a real environment. I used Edublogs to create this blog.

Last year, I created a blog for the program in which I currently "teach". I chose to use blogger mainly because of the connection it had with the email address I give to my students. I found that it was just as easy to create a blog in blogger as it was with edublogs. I suspected that it had similar features as edublogs. I haven't found the add-ons in blogger to be as easy as in edublogs. I had a calendar and games on my edublog site. As I explored the different blogs from previous participants of this course, I see that blogger does have some additional features that I haven't used and I'm looking forward figuring out how to add these features to my blog.

For this course, I will continue to use my existing blog on blogger.
Cheryl-SkillsTutor.blogspot.com. Based on what I now see as a better use, I will change the focus for this blog. Until I took this course, I was trying to use the blog as a place to give my students strategies for using the web-based program that is used (Skills Tutor) and for learning strategies. I feel that these strategies can still be on my blog as static pages (links like our syllabus) and that the blog itself can be used as a place to give more timely information about NetworkRI, articles of interest or links to interesting sites for training or about unemployment. I will also begin a blogroll so my students can see other blogs that might be interesting for them. I would also like the site to be a place where my learners can contribute information or ideas, but I'm not sure at this time, how I will do this.

Additionally, since our reading suggested that we begin with a personal blog, I created another blog called Experimenting with Technology for Adult Literacy (et-aliae.blogspot.com) which I will use to blog about this course and how I can use what I learn with my adult students. Then perhaps when I am more confident, I can expand it's use to exploring topics of interest for using technology with adult learners more globally.

Mrs. Neri said...

My class helped me create this blog. http://notjustseniorexhibition.blogspot.com/ I have not put a photo on the blog, I don't want to use a picture of me, but my kids will help me put the cover of the first book we will be blogging about when we get back to school. I want to get a first post about the book (Into the Wild) before we return from break.

Deb said...

I created my blog using blogger.com. I like the option to enable comment moderation. My address is http://marcellinomuse.blogspot.com. You won't find anything exciting there yet. Although I think it will be fun to customize my blog site to match my class's personality, I am saving the "add a gadget" feature for later.

I think the most practical way for me to start using this blog in the classroom is to post assignments, handouts, etc., so students and parents can have access to this information at home. My next step will be using it for response to literature. I'd like students to post their reaction to their reading, commenting on their independent selections as well as texts we share in class. I have four classes, so I am wondering how to most effectively organize the site. Would it make sense to begin with one group? I also need to look into my school's Acceptable Use Policy further to fully understand how I can use the blog in my classroom.

I know that several of my Middletown colleagues use teacher webpages as a form of communication with parents and students. (I tried this several years ago, but my page quickly became "mothballed." I'm hoping the interactive nature of the blog will help me keep it current.) I wonder how many teachers in my district are shifting to blog use now. Dave, are there many teachers at MHS who have effectively added blogs into their classroom routine? Or does district policy inhibit too much?

I enjoyed sampling several of the blogs highlighted in this week's reading and slide show. These examples provide evidence that blogging is an interactive, collaborative, and analytical process. I am convinced that blogs in the classroom are a forum for showcasing the critical literacy skills our students are capable of demonstrating.

Dave Fontaine said...

test comment

Alexandra Phelan said...

I am hoping I can come up with a way to use my blog. Being that I am in special education I work with side by side with other teachers, so I need to be sure they are on board with an idea that I come up with. I do work with one small group but that does seem like I am singling out students and confidentiality gets tricky. I love the idea that Mrs. Neri came up with to use it for book reviews, and that way students could volunteer information to share. I could try to incorporate some kind of extra credit. Each student has to write book reports each quarter maybe we could require one to be on the blog. We ran into a problem with 21classes (the blog site we used for student responses this past month). Each student had to log on but once we had started we realized that only 10 students could register unless we paid a fee and that has limited the interaction because we had to set up 11 little classes. The blogger seems different in that the number of people that view it is limitless and it is free so already it seems like a better option for the classroom. Now that I think more about it, I think we had a closed group, not viewable by the public for the safety of the students. I will have to check to see if I am able to ‘allow’ comments, view them before they are posted so we can be sure the students are not exposed to anything inappropriate.
I do like how easy it is to update the blog. Our school is requiring us to use a webpage on the school site, but I guess I could attach my blog to that through a link. Wow, this is a bunch of thoughts, I feel very excited about a personal blog, I get overwhelmed trying to come up with a practical idea. It is great to look at the inspiring ideas of other teachers.

Mrs. McAllister said...

I have been using blogging for my eight grade science classes to reply to science article questions. Professor Fontaine suggested I create one blog for each of the five classes to keep track of their comments on Blogger. Their comments go directly to my school email account and I can also go to the dashboard on Blogger and view them before I post them.
It's very easy to keep organized.

After I assign a blog for homework, students go to their class section blog on my webpage, read the article and post their answer. Students are able to share their thoughts and have them addressed the next day. I pull up their comments on the Smartboard in the classroom and check homework by reading their answers which generally leads to class discussions. This allows all students to share their ideas even if they are not comfortable sharing them verbally. The students have enjoyed reading each other’s answers and I am happy about being able to monitor student comments (although I have not had any comments that were inappropriate.)
Reading other teachers blogs has expanded my view of how an educational blog should be used.
After looking at the assigned blogs, I looked for science blogs to get ideas on how to use this technological resource. Many teachers also used the online article and response idea for blogging with article links for students to refer to. I also liked the science simulations on some blogs that students could use to see science concepts in action and then write about it on the blog. I think I will use this approach for Earth science topics... sea-floor spreading, epicenters, earthquake simulations and the importance of mitigating the risks of catastrophic events especially in light of Haiti.

Here is the link to Section 1 of the class blogs.

Link: http://teamrscience.blogspot.com/

The Naz Family said...

Howdy all,
My blog address is http://nazedu.blogspot.com for this class.

I actually used a blog a lot last year to post book talks (I'm a librarian). Then, I'd have a record of the books, as well as a photo of the cover. This was helpful when I would run into a class and I could project my blog on the screen and talk about the books. It really got kids inspired to read those books once I talked about them. My book blog is located at http://hornetlibrary.blogspot.com

M.Searle said...

I just realized that I posted my session 2 comment on the session 1 blog so I have now moved it to the correct spot. Sorry for the mix-up.

I figured there was no better way to spend the snow day then to begin creating my blog! Feel free to check out www.thephsbarnyard.blogspot.com. I've still got a lot of work to do but time certainly flies by when you start delving into all of the options. The more I learn, the more excited I get.

I am the co-advisor of my school's FFA Chapter. We have a number of different activities and events that occur throughout the school year and also during the summer. I think that creating an FFA page on my blog will be a great way to keep in touch with parents, students and alumni about various chapter events.

I'm also very very relieved to know that Blogger allows me to view posts prior to publishing. Over the last week and was somewhat concerned to think that students could post inappropriate material that parents or administrators might see before I got the chance to delete it.

In terms of "I wonder" questions, I am curious about whether or not my students will be able to use this blog in school. I am pretty sure that my school's network currently blocks access to Blogger and other such pages. I don't know much about network management but do know that several other people in my school have completed this same course and am wondering if the school might consider granting access.

I'm also looking forward to learning about adding audio to my blogs. I think this would be a fabulous way for me to help the several students I have that struggle with reading. I could also add audio to lecture notes and PowerPoints for students who are absent or who need to review.

SueKelly said...

I actually set up a blog in November as a requirement of another class Dave was teaching called Using the Internet for Teaching and Learning. Setting it up was very easy, but I honestly have to say I never went back to it until today! Once I went back, I “played” around on the site, and am trying to remember things. I am fascinated by blogging and at the same time frightened by it as well. There is so much to learn and I feel a little inundated by it all. There aren’t a lot of teachers in my building who are interested in this type of teaching and learning.
I have a class website through my school department that was set up for me because I took the RITTI course last summer. I love the class website, but can’t seem to get my students to visit it. I post assignments and sections of books we are reading, but am beginning to see how having a class blog could be even better. There is a blog attached to the website but I only used it briefly during the summer to blog about the summer reading I was doing. Since we started a new book this week, I am determined to get my students blogging. I told them we would be learning together. The problem is arranging time in our computer lab so that I can use the SmartBoard and show everyone at the same time.
I polled my 145 students to see who knew what blogging was. Only 12 knew what it was. Not surprising since I teach 8th grade. But, when I mentioned that sites such as Facebook and MySpace were considered forms of blogging, 90% of them said they have an account at one or both.
My blog address is http://mskellysblog-suekelly.blogspot.com/. It took me a while to figure out how to post to it, but I did it.