Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Session 2

Now that you have completed Session 1 let's start on Session 2. Please remember that this is a lot of information to internalize in a short period of time, so take what you find practical and put the other resources aside until you have the time/need. That's one of the advantages of being able to download these lessons. You keep them in perpetuity for a refresher whenever you have the need.

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 5 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 Wednesday morning (6/8/11). 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 (or the next time you are in front of your students) 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
I had the fortune of working with Dr. Wiley during 2009 as an educational fellow for the non-profit group Curriki. (We'll talk more about that later.)

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.
PPS--All of this week's comments will go below. Please preface each comment with a label (ie-s1, introduction, s2...)
PPPS--As this is a condensed semester, I'll be posting two sessions this week. You'll see Session 3 later this week.


Karen said...

S2 - One thing that caught my attention as I was going through this weeks information was this quote from Today's Tech Savvy Students are the Best - "many feel that school environment forces them to 'power down.'"

I don't think this is the way to look at our 21st century schools. Don't get me wrong, I am a technology in the classroom lover and my school runs a wireless network to over 120 laptops and about 30 iPads. But my experience has been that students don't like being bombarded with technology left, right and center. In some cases it seems we are going out of our way to make technology "fit" into our lessons rather than finding a way for technology to enhance student learning and self discovery. Sometimes I find that paper and a pen achieve the goal better than a technological approach would.

I think the key to 21st century teaching is finding a way to balance "old-school" methods and technology and finding a way to better our lessons and student learning.

Dave Fontaine said...

Karen, I absolutely subscribe to the same philosophy. I've always been the biggest advocate for integrating technology into the classroom, but I am also the first to admit that it isn't a panacea for everything. Whether it be web 2.0, pen/pencil, paper, or tablet. Each is best suited for specific scenarios. Only when we have a toolbox completely full of tools will we be ideally prepared for lessons across the spectrum.

Dairy Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dairy Queen said...

I definitely see the value of blogging with classes but as has been mentioned in the reading, many schools block the blogging sites. Our school web site provider has a blogging function for our own pages and that is what we use. It’s okay but doesn’t have a lot of functionality. I have used it with my teen book club but I have a hard time getting the students to comment about books we’ve read. Probably because I don’t give them a grade. I know a few English teachers who use the function and have commented that the students’ remarks and interaction with each other on the blog has been good. My blog address is http://bookdiva84.blogspot.com/ I haven’t written in a really long time because I just haven’t had the time and no one really reads it, so I lost interest.

In techsavvy students, iEarn and Global SchoolNet Foundation interested me to pass along to my teachers. Every student has their own laptop and we have constant professional development on how to infuse the technology into the curriculum. As far as I know, no teachers have collaborated with other schools around the country or world, so it could be interesting and fun to initiate something like this.

Karen, I completely agree with you. Maybe it’s a good thing that students power down when they get to school. In our school, I love having the laptops and I hate it because like you I love technology and see its potential, and I know most teachers feel the same way. Students are constantly on games and email rather than paying attention to the lesson or what they should be doing, such as…blogging! Our principal insists on becoming a paperless but I see other skills suffering in the meantime.

Jacque said...

S2 -

Doug Noon's comment on his blog, Borderland, is so very true and echoes the comments attributed to David Wiley on our class blog: "I think that if the students were writing for a real audience (each other, members of their community, and other interested people) maybe they would begin to develop a more personal voice in their writing."

How can you develop a voice if you don't know who you are writing to? This is an essential skill in any profession. The peer review process is an incredibly powerful tool, especially when carefully moderated by an educator. Blogging is a wonderful combination of these two essential writing components.

I agree with Karen about the difficulty of finding a balance between appropriate use of technology that enhances student learning and simply using technology for technology's sake. We do force students to "power down" in our schools, due in large part to our inability to moderate their use of technology. For example, my school, like most, bans cell phone use. Poll Everywhere is a wonderful tool that can use cell phones to provide instant feed back from students via teacher initiated questions. We are unable to this program because of our ban on cell phone use, even though it has educational value. So we could encourage the educational use of cell phones in our schools, but the question is, once the cell phones are out, how do you ensure they are being used appropriately and the students remain on task?

Here is my blog:

Jacque said...

Karen's reference to 21st century schools made me think of this video on how our world is changing at an exponential speed and how we need to be preparing our students for careers and lives that we can't yet imagine:


Karen said...

S2 - In response to what Jacque mentioned about their cell phone policy.

Being at a wireless school we realized in September that we didn't want to battle the cell phone issues all year so at the beginning of September we had our grade 7 and 8 students (we don't have grade 9 this year) sit down and compile their own technology policy. What they came up with was a Responsible/Respectable Use Policy. They came up with the parameters of when they can use them and when they can't and they came up with the consequences. It was very interesting to see it develop and honestly it wasn't much different than what the teachers had talked about before. It has worked quite well this year and the best part is that when there is a slip up the students don't argue because they came up with the consequences.

This has allowed me quite a few teachable moments that started with "Get your phones out and google..." or "who has an app for..."!!

Jacque I have seen that youtube video at an few in-services and I love it! I think it is a great way to look at what is coming our way and what we are getting our students ready for. Thanks for sharing and reminding me how great that video is!

Here is one that I have had my students reflect on...check it out!


Mary said...

S2 Karen said "my experience has been that students don't like being bombarded with technology left, right and center. In some cases it seems we are going out of our way to make technology "fit" into our lessons rather than finding a way for technology to enhance student learning and self discovery. Sometimes I find that paper and a pen achieve the goal better than a technological approach would."

I agree that when you force technology as an instructional tool it doesn’t always fit well in the lesson. I think the difficulty lies with teachers modifying the lesson to include technology rather than changing the objectives to include 21st century skills: technology skills, collaboration, innovation, global communication… Once I began my objectives with those skills in mind my lessons changed and technology and web 2.0 tools became just that, tools. Kids started doing amazing things when they were given specific criteria for content yet freedom to choose among a variety of presentation methods or tools to create their product. They are excited, engaged and the results are great. By the same token, I believe that students must read and write. It is intrinsic to learning. I think as educators we must think carefully about our goals and objectives first then decide when and how technology will facilitate them.

Dairy Queen said...

S2 to Karen and Jacques.
I hadn't seen those videos but I have seen some of the statistics before and it boggles the mind. One thing that struck me about Karen's video was that the skills the kids want to learn are those in Bloom's taxonomy, as old fashioned as that sounds: create, analyze, think, evaluate, etc. We must teach them all the same thinking, just with different tools.
(Dairyqueen is me, Barbara, btw.)

Dairy Queen said...

I've already given you my other blog, Read Between the Lines, which I have not kept up with lately. But I also have a school blog here http://bit.ly/kMm0gR that I have used with my teen book club. As you will notice, not that many students respond easily. They are actually a quiet bunch, even when we meet to discuss the books. If you have any ideas how I can get them to engage more on the blog, I would welcome them.

I also thought of another way to use the blog with students in the library media environment. When English teachers assign the research project, they usually bring their classes to the Library for bibliographic and searching instruction. I could use the blog to keep in touch with students as they do a research project.

Mrs. Murray said...

S2 After going through many of the examples of award winning blogs, I was both impressed and overwhelmed worrying that my I/we(my classes) would not be able to come up with something so sophisticated. There was mention though on a tutorial site that you just need to start and then keep enhancing as you see fit. I felt better with this concept. I saw an example of a professional blogger and how he started and saw how far he has come.

After much thought about what I would use and the purpose, I have decided on the following:

I will use edublogs for the following reasons. Educationally related, no costs, no need to worry about inappropriate content or blogs, support from other educators, and the class management ability.

I created a blog; dmsblog.edublog.org
For now it will be called DMS8thgrblog; may change later based on student's choice.

This will be a classroom blog created and updated by the 8th grade students only that I see. It will be changed and updated each trimester by the new 8th students that come into my class. They will have some classtime as well as homework assignments to work on this. This should allow for content to change throughout the year as they go through their final year. I think this will be a great place for them to share their feelings and thoughts about their final year with each other.

My "wonder" questions are as follows:

I wonder if they will be able to generate outside interest in this blog or if it will just end up being more of an internal blog for their final year.

I wonder if their other teachers will participate by commenting on their blog site?

I wonder if many will want to participate or if only a few will do the whole thing?

I wonder if I should make it mandatory and grade it or just let it be a fun thing to do as part of our technology class.

I wonder and hope that they will enjoy this project.


Sonja Stewart said...

Great discussion going. Seems like I've heard the phrase, "power down" a few years back. I heard it associated it with the popular Marc Prensky presentation, Engage me or Enrage Me (EoE). I've included the link.

Powering down is certainly an interesting student perspective about what kind of education I provide them. If my students completed a customer service survey, I wonder how I would fair especially if they thought my technology integration was not up to speed. I have to remind myself that I'm preparing them for careers yet to emerge. I know that my tech integration has to be purposeful, meaningful and dead on.

Two weeks ago, students loved my lesson on QR Codes and a few other web 2.0 tools. So I'll definitely have to build on that.

I've already learned a lot from Karen's example of getting student ownership on the tech policy. I also like the idea of students in peer-review situations. So it's sate to describe me as apprehensive, but excited.

To use their language, Glad 2 B on Board *:-)

Sonja Stewart said...

Oops. Forgot to include the link to the Prensky preso. This thing is 191 slides. Wow. But there definitely are quite a few points to more than ponder. Here it is.


Karen said...

This weeks discussion has inspired my blog! Please check it out!


I am looking forward to sharing all the cool pieces of technology I have used on the web!

Lori said...

Hi Everyone!

I have chosen Blogger as the platform to create my blog. This is for a couple of reasons: 1) Looking back at past participants, many of them used Blogger and said it was very user friendly, and 2) Our textbook seems to refer to Blogger the most.

Here’s the link!



Karen said...

S2- My "I wonder questions..."

I wonder if teachers outside our class will be able to find my blog?

I wonder if the people who read my blog will find it useful?

I wonder if I will be able to take what I learn during this course and create a successful blog for my students next year?

Ms. Steele said...

S2 - Having unsuccessfully chipped away at web site design, I totally appreciate the ease of the blogging tools available. It makes this form of communication so easy.

Mary brought up the topic of the fit of technology in education. I feel like this is a bit of a yo-yo issue for me. I forever question whether the use of technology is the most efficient path. I have many students immersed in technology (applying its tools effectively for educational purpose), and I also have the students that are adamant against learning about technology. Just this afternoon I had a student working after school to assemble a bibliography for a genetics disorder research piece. I had shown students how to use the web 2.0 tool of easybib.com and encouraged all students to create a free account. The student after school today indicated that he could not create an account because he did not have an email account. I offered that he should have one to contact teachers, email documents and have a contact for many web 2.0 tools that will be more and more useful to him throughout his high school career. He flatly told me that he was not allowed to have an email account. Parents forbade this. This student is in 10th grade. So here is an instance where my opportunity for education extends outward to not just my students but also parents and it gives me a chance to acknowledge issues of Internet safety, cyber bullying and appropriate uses of technology.

I agree that there are many times when technology is the round peg trying for the square hole, but I also feel a pull to use this interaction with 21st century learners to teach them be better masters of the available tools. After a frustrating 45 minutes on the computer after school this student discovered that he had saved the presentation to a local drive on a laptop and not to his network folder. I am forever begging students to use google docs, email attachments, save to a thumb drive and save to the school’s network folder.

Here is my new blog: http://ecobioteach.wordpress.com/


Ms. Steele said...

My wonder question about blogging collaboratively with students is how to find the time. I have made several attempts and am always overwhelmed mid-stream (quarter or semester) by the work in reading, sharing and creating a class blog. Any strategies on how to get it all done?

Jacque said...

My I wonder questions:
1. In an ungraded environment, how can I encourage participation in my blog?

2. Should I maintain separate training links or incorporate a how-to directly into my blog?

3. What standards will I draft (or have the students draft) as acceptable use of the blog? How can I have administration buy into this?

My blog is http://northbooktrailers.blogspot.com/

Mary said...

Here is my blogspot:

I have to ditto what Erika said for my "I wonder" commment...
How will I find the time????

Lori said...

S2 – Hello again!

I completed a quick survey of my Grade 8 Language Arts class and here are the results:

21/29 students are on Facebook
11/29 students use some other type of social media (MySpace, Twitter, Tumblr)
1/29 students are not connected at all.

When I asked this one student why he was not connected at all, he said that it was a combination of his own choice and his parent’s choice. There is a chance that there are more than just him in this class who is not connected at all, but they were too embarrassed to say to in front of their peers.

Here are my “I wonder…” statements from this session:

I wonder how I will get those teachers on board who ‘refuse’ technology to follow my blog.

I wonder how I will invite conversation into my blog. (It is not set up for students where I could make sure they post; it will be completely voluntary for teachers to contribute too).

I wonder how I will moderate what is said on my blog. It is created for a professional association, so all teachers should be bound to follow our Code of Conduct, but what if someone doesn’t?

I wonder how my blog will serve those teachers in the northern, remote areas of Alberta.

I wonder how I will get my blog to ‘catch on’. My school district uses what they call a portal and all information is posted on the portal. It was created to cut down on the emails being sent, but I find that they are not just sending emails asking you to refer to the portal to see specific information!

In response to the article “Mind on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail and Learning 2.0”, the line that stood out most for me, and it is so practical, is “I think, therefore I am”, and now with technology in the classes, we are leaning towards a “We participate, therefore we are” type of pedagogy. I think online programs, like Blogger or virtual classrooms, allows those shy students a chance to participate with their peers in a way they have never had the chance to before. Also, I think it definitely hits Blooms Taxonomy at one of the highest levels; yes, we can have students thinking, but to actually have them ‘doing’ is that much better, as ‘doing’ is the best way to learn and have it stick.

In response to comments on the blog (and more specifically, the comments made by Karen and then commented on by a few people):

I agree that you can’t really dispute the simplicity and effectiveness of a pen and paper. We also do not want our students to lose this valuable skill, so I think that while yes, we need to continue integrating technology WHERE IT FITS, we still need to have our students working traditionally too. I find my students writing more and more in ‘TXT-ing’ lingo. My response to this is “No, you may not use the word gonna in your essay!” A company would not appreciate an employer writing a letter to a client with slang in it, so I think it is important to teach our students there is a time and place to write in such a way and a time and place to write more eloquently.

I find sometimes with technology, students are more into the way their work looks, rather than the content of their work. For example, my students create work on Glogster and Prezi, but sometimes they are more concerned with the font and color scheme than they are with the plot of their book!

I like the idea of creating a blog for my class. Seeing as how it is so late in June, I am hoping that I can create a blog over the summer and then be able to implement it with my student’s right in September when school starts again. I think having students post on the blog and using it as a way to communicate with each other and myself will need to become a habit for them, and the beginning of the school year is a good time to start these habits. It is my hope that they will eventually check the blog and comment as often as they check their Facebook page and update their statuses!

Miss Hawkins said...

Writing this form my Killingly Schools Google account ~ Jen Hawkins

The blogging service that I decided to use for my class blog was blogger via google. Since I was comfortable with google docs and gmail and I have used blogger before, I felt that this was a good service to use.

The one tricky part for me was coming up with the name. I have used wikispaces before and one of my wikispace names was KHS Scientists. Ideally my goal is for students to think like scientists and I teach at Killingly High School, so I thought this would be an appropriate name (but perhaps my students could be creative and come up with a better one!). My blog is KHSScientists.blogspot.com.

I thought about ways to utilize this blog and after reading Chapters 2 and 3 in the text book, I've decided to take the authors advice and start small. Considering there is only 3 weeks left in the school year, introducing a totally new concept to the kids might throw them off.

One of the ideas that I have been toying with in the classroom is the concept of science journals. During my student teaching experience at the middle school, we used science journals as an opening activity.

I think that using this blog as a way incorporate literacy to bring real world concepts/news stories or even ideas that we have been talking about in the classroom to the students on a daily basis. The idea would be that I might use the blog as a warmup activity, to get the students thinking about what we are learning and better yet, commenting on that as well.

The concept of using blogs as an online filing cabinet intrigues me, but I must admit, I would be a little nervous about monitoring each students blog and the amount of time that it might take. After using a wikispace to move more toward a paperless environment (a task that I was relatively successful on), the idea of using a blog to perform the same task intrigues me. My only concern is student monitoring. Is there an easy way to monitor 80 student blogs without going insane?

But for now, I would like to integrate this blog as a way of bringing out student ideas and hopefully encouraging the more quiet silent students to share more.

Dave Fontaine said...

In response to Lori's "I wonders":
It isn't always easy to teach an old dog new tricks,so if there are teachers that aren't 'open' to embracing the use of this technology, then you may have to expend your energy on those that are 'open.' Time is a limited resource.

-Re: how do you invite conversation on the blog. This takes time, and managing a blog is a lot of work. The best way to get people to embrace its use and participate is by sharing authorship with a core, select few. Structure it so that each person has a schedule for a posting. This alleviates the burden on you and also helps keep things on an even cadence. Other authors will also help you moderate comments.

-Re: how to get it to catch on. This will be a slow process, so I recommend starting off with small, easily attainable goals and then building off of the success.