A Tribute to Harley

It is with a deep sadness that we say good-bye to Harley but there is so much that will live on in our hearts and souls. On January 31st, 2007 Harley made his first post with these words, “Finally, my mom said I can have a blog! I do have lots to say and am glad my voice finally will be heard!”

With those heartfelt words a new blog emerged, “From the paws of—“ authored by an elegant and wonderful German Shepherd from Ohio named
Harley. Just read through his blog and his About Me page and you will get to know the heart of this fine fellow. Now Harley was a different kind of author than we had read in the past and he won the hearts of the Blogicians, a group of fifth grade bloggers who were exploring how blogging could affect their literacies in their fifth grade classroom.

I have done numerous projects where mainly elementary students blogged about what they learned in class and beyond. The students developed a multitude of relationships with numerous audience members. I don’t think any topped their interest and love more than the one with Harley. Harley’s blog was created by Lani who was a constant commenter on all the student blogs. She and Harley made the learning full of joy and relevant learning. One day brought 53 comments on a post from Harley about making syrup. The students adored him. The looks on their faces was a testimony to this love as they eagerly read each and every word from Harley.See my post about “Bloggers who make a difference”.

I remember…..

His woofing when Lani and I skyped. I felt as though he was warmly greeting me each time and woofing a good thought about one of my students.

I remember……

His love of homemade doggie biscuits fresh out of the oven….

I remember…..

All his individual postings to students to demonstrate his caring and his way of urging them to follow their strengths and passions.

I remember his sending slurpy kisses, offering paws, and homemade dog biscuits as a thank you!

Harley will be missed so much but oh what a difference he made in the lives of so many. I think back to his “I Am” poem generated in response to all of the student poems. It prompted 26 comments.

I am–

Just in case you were wondering–

I am loving and protective
I wonder why more dogs don’t blog and comment to students
I hear my old friends calling “help me” from the pound
I see a day when all humans and animals are happy and contented
I want to walk with my mom and dad again in the park
I am loving and protective

I pretend I’m human in my home
I feel happy when my mom and dad are laughing
I touch the souls of humans who know me
I worry that my mom and dad will leave me
I cry when I hear other dogs are mistreated
I am loving and protective

I understand that love and peace can conquer all
I say dreams do come true if you just believe and work for them
I dream of homemade dog biscuits and chasing rabbits
I always try to please my mom and dad
I hope humans will rescue us older canines; we can be such good friends
I am loving and protective

The line in his poem “I touch the souls of humans who know
me” struck my heart as he touched the souls of oh so many students and I hope he knows his voice was heard and that he will live on forever in the students’ hearts and the hearts of all those who knew him.

Life is good!

It has been some time since I made a post here. I retired this past summer and I have been busy doing many things – exploring new avenues of learning, spending time with the grandkids, catching up on many projects that have been put off for far too many years, visiting family and friends, and just doing a lot of reflection. I have been keeping up with the blogosphere through my readings. but very little participation at this time. I will always miss blogging with kids in the classroom, maybe later. But for now, life is good!

I’m still involved in writing up the remaining research pieces from the blogging study Ewa McGrail and I particpated in together at an elementary school. It continues to amaze me how much time it takes to really put together good, thoughtful, authentic pieces. I learn more about this each day. Currently we are shaping one up on on how classroom blogging affects elementary students’ writing.

I’m participating in a Flickr group 2010/365 Photos and hoping that this will help me learn more about photography. I’ve only ever used “point and click” cameras but always wanted to learn more so I’m jumping in and having a lot of fun. The group is terrific and what a network of learning! I started another blog, T1i Insights, to catalog my learning on a new camera, the Canon T1i. I also created another blog, Anne’s 2010/365 Photos, to post the pictures I take. I do have much to learn so be aware you are just going to see some “beginner” shots! Feel free to make suggestions and offer advice – it is needed!

I’m headed over to comment on some blogs from students in Ewa’s Theory and Pedagogy in the Study of Writing class blog. The student blogs are on the blogroll on the right hand side. Join me if you feel so inclined!

Photo Credit

 

A Continuing Dilemma

Where I’ve been – and a possible shift in where I’m going is a post that really resonates with me. Sara shares her feelings here:

What that means is that I often feel split right down the middle when it comes to the writing I want to do vs. the writing that “counts.” And, my absence from my blog writing has much to do with this – as time spent blogging is time apart from data sets and writing publications that stand a chance of getting cited in other spaces, etc.

Sara pointed to danah boyd’s post where she reflected on what it means for research to have “impact.” Sara continued:

Yes, I work in a system that values a certain kind of publishing- and I knew that going into this job. And, yes, I expected “push-back” when it came to the degree to which I write for teachers. but, the reality is that my audience doesn’t turn to a journal on research in teacher education to learn. so, to use danah’s frame, the impact of my work is measured less by citation count than by shifts in teachers’ pedagogy and, perhaps more importantly, the engagment, motivation, and learning of each student in their classrooms.

The question that emerged for Sara was “Could a blog be useful in disseminating research findings?” Then her bigger question, “Can a blog that is mostly public be a space for the meaning making that happens prior to drafting a manuscript?”

I say yes and we would be the better for it. I have blogged very little since working on published research for the past two years. I can’t help but think all the published results would have been improved with input from the larger audience that would lead to better meaning making. I don’t have answers to this dilemma but this is something I keep struggling with a lot.

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Photo Credit

MIT voted unanimously to make all of their scholarly articles available free to the public online!

MIT is stepping to the front by making their scholarly articles available to the public. They will be available through an open source platform DSpace. See the article in Campus Technology News Update.

I like this quote from Hal Abelson, the Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science ad chair of the Ad-Hoc Faculty Committee on Open Access Publishing:

“Scholarly publishing has so far been based purely on contracts between publishers and individual faculty authors.In that system, faculty members and their institutions are powerless. This resolution changes that by creating a role in the publishing process for the faculty as a whole, not just as isolated individuals.”

“Am I Making Sense Here?”: What Blogging Reveals about Undergraduate Student Understanding

journal cover

I’ve been spending time browsing through these open access journals mentioned on my previous post.
The Spring 2009 issue of The Journal of Interactive Online Learning has an article “Am I Making Sense Here?”: What blogging Reveals about Undergraduate Student Understanding.
This study examines how blogs can extend learning and facilitate transfer of learned concepts. Blogging was used after a nutrition course was finished to document and analyze the learning. Blogging conversations were explored over seven weeks to determine what happened in the blog conversations and to see how participants were making meaning of nutrition science concepts. Students were asked to post 21 times (3x per week) and comment on 35 posts by others (5x per week). Most posted and commmented more often than requested.

Four themes emerged from the analysis of how students made meaning of the nutrition concepts through their blog conversations. The first themes had students writing about nutrition science from the context of their daily lives as they strived to apply what they had learned. The second theme had participants recognizing and critiquing perceived barriers to successfully applying what they had learned about nutrition. The third theme had the students viewing the news media as an expert source of information as there was no instructor voice in the blogs. The fourth theme centers on unanswered questions in conversations and how these questions indicate gaps in students’ understanding of nutrition concepts.

The study has samples of the orientation materials used and interview protocol.It’s an interesting qualitative case study that could get us thinking about directions to head toward in future studies.

This online journal has lots of interesting articles. Its aims as listed on the “About” page are:

Provide a forum for the dissemination of research on interactive online education

Disseminate ideas that enhance the practical aspects of interactive online education

Further knowledge and understanding of emerging innovations in online education

Foster debate about the use and application of online education


Bypass expensive resources: Go directly to free

I’ve posted my frustrations about publishing research and the difficulty of access by all before, so this study really piqued my interest. It may yours as well so I thought I’d share.

This study, LIS Open Access E=Journal – where are you?, in Webology examines how the landscape of online journals has changed. It explores:

    whether the journals are known
    if their content is easy to find
    if they have gained acceptance in directories, indexes, and abstracting tools
    the extent to which they have established their reputation

The criteria to include the journals in the study included:

    being free
    published in 2000 or later
    the frequency of publication included any frequency up to and including those published annually

Journals were excluded that:

    were currently available in print
    English was not the primary language
    no publication in the last 2 years
    required subscription or membership

The article provides links to the various directories.

After checking the accuracy of the author’s established selection and exclusion criteria they were checked against information provided in standard bibliographic sources. They also checked in abstracting and indexing sources. You will find those links in the article, too.

They came up with a final list of 31 e-journal titles and all those links are provided, as well.

Google Scholar was noted as the search engine of choice and had the advantage of being free as opposed to expensive subscription based databases. Other resources to keep in mind are DOAJ, World Cat, and EBSCO.s LISTA. World Cat was mentioned as the source to go to to verify bibliographic information about a LIS e-journal. It had 100% coverage of all 31 titles and that made it stand out in relation to other examined source.

I’ve been spending some time browsing through these journals and they are good reads. I’ll try to post some links to noteworthy articles in my next post.

Can’t wait to get there kind of place

change

This is how Rina, a fifth grade student, summarizes her post on “What I Would Do As Principal.”

School should be a fun,exciting, can’t wait to get there kind of place. So, make a difference and speak up and make changes. Try to get your school to change. Bye!

Go read the whole post and if you feel inclined make a comment. I like the way she thinks. Hear! Hear! There’s nothing like the voices of our students.

Photo Credit

Thinking about change

As I was reading Bradley Shoebottom’s thought-provoking post about “the only constant in life is change – the changing roles of educators” I noticed the possibly related post link below it. I was hooked once again to follow a lead. The post was “The Business of blogging”. The author was Greg Whitby. He had read an article by Ian Grayson in the Australian on blogging in the corporate environment. I read that and then returned to Greg’s site. I mention all this to let you know my habits and how I learn from wandering here and there. I just feel compelled to follow these leads, and the pay-offs are usually great! Anyway, Greg was blogging about how the education sector can learn a lot from industries who are using blogs in productive and creative ways. He went on to state how these tools are no longer fads, but proven technologies that help organizations improve the way they work. Greg asked

“Why is the education sector lagging behind? Why isn’t our industry leading the thinking and application of such capabilities? Surely we must be on about questioning, challenging and innovation, isn’t this part of our core business? Aren’t things like communication, collaboration, personalisation central to the work we do in schools?”

He followed with this:

I am beginning to suspect it’s because educators rarely venture out of their own networks or jump into this world themselves. I don’t think you can effectively engage in this agenda in the abstract, you have to be an active participant. This means that educators have to blog, use wikis, have a facebook page, use del.icio.ous and the like.

I think a big part of why educators are not out of their own networks is that their day is filled with other priorities that the teacher has to accomplish. I wish schools would make reflection and learning time for teachers a priority that nothing could interrupt. Students need the same. I agree that educators need to blog, use wikis, del.icio.ous and the like but until the educators’ learning and growth is truly made a priority within our schools , I don’t think we will make the progress we need to achieve. We need leaders that make this happen. A reflective culture of learning and growing must be nurtured in our schools. Bob Garmston and Bill Powell have written on how it needs to be a cornerstone of our schools’ culture. I could not locate their articles online so if someone has links to them, please share. I have found that using blogs with students to reflect about what they are learning and how they learn lets them write their way into their own understandings. It lets them discover answers to the questions they need to ask. A blogging class of students can work together, reflect, pass ideas back and forth and have the ability to reach out to a larger audience to share and learn from one another. We need to encourage our students to tell the story of what they are learning – not just a regurgitation of the facts but one where they explore how they might use these facts or share how they have applied those learning of facts to something that is going on in their lives. Students need help putting their experiences into words, especially at the elementary level. They are very capable of this but we need to give them lots of opportunities to write about their learning. Blogging is a perfect space for that to happen. That’s one of the ways I’d like to see students using blogging in their classrooms.

My interest was next captured by the 20 or so comments that followed Greg’s post.

Judy O’Connell shared how her professional learning would be practically non-existent if it weren’t for blogging, sharing delicious links, twitter, etc. I know it has been life-changing for me, too. Finding others who share your concerns, your hopes, and especially connecting with those who want shifts in our current education is awesome. We really need education to be leading in this area. It seems insane that we are not.

Another commenter, Roger Pryor pointed out that the internet has provided him with access to other communities of leaders, and the opportunity to learn a plethora of ways which actually enhance, rather than diminish our ability to build human capital. Again, why are our students blocked from this learning? It makes no sense.

And yet another commenter, FManning talks about the culture in her school where all of them, staff and students alike are recognizing that they each have a voice that is worth being heard. She said her Principal has always maintained that reflection and evaluation of their work is of utmost importance in effective learning. Her school’s work with Web2 tools is based on this and this is what she feels is the basis of their success with social networking tools. We need more schools of this nature. I think this is one of the most important things we need to do in our schools – make time for reflection and conversations about the learning, both for teachers and students. We spend so little time on how we learn and way too much time on what we learn. We need to rethink all this.

changeThe changing roles of educators – all this led me back to the original post I read on Bradleyshoebottom’s Weblog. I thought about his metaphor for his world. He talked of wayfinding and how it can be a useful term for the information domain. He relates that wayfinding was originally used to describe how people find their way around in the physical world. He thinks wayfinding is a useful term for the information domain, because ultimately learners must navigate the confusing number of competing ideas out in the world around any particular subject. He asks the question,

“Can we teach wayfinding? Or is wayfinding incredibly personal?”

He feels it is both and says we can teach the elements of wayfinding and use many of these internet tools in the process. I like the way he is thinking about this and it’s given me lots of food for thought. I think we should be teaching it and then having conversations about the journeys so that we can learn from each other. And I wonder how might we get change to move a little faster in our educational world?

Flickr photo paint from buenosaurus photostream

Giving Students Ownership of Learning

Educational Leadership

I always look forward to reading the new issue of Educational Leadership and the theme of this issue is ‘Giving Students Ownership of Learning’. I love that theme! It is full of relevant articles. I shouted out with delight to see Will as one of the authors in this issue. It is so appropriate to see Will’s article “Footprints in the Digital Age” in this outstanding issue. It is online and available for you to read. I’m so glad he ended up in this particular theme as he has been advocating giving students ownership of learning for some time now and continues to fight the battle, day in and day out. Will talks about the importance of self-directed learners being adept at building and sustaining networks. He gives five ideas that will help you begin to build your own personal learning network. He calls and has continued to call for this shift that requires us to foster the development of engaged learners and to rethink the roles of schools and educators. He issues this challenge: “More than ever before, students have the potential to own their own learning- and we have to help them seize that potential. We must help them learn how to identify their passions; build connections to others who share those passions; and communicate, collaorate, and work collectively with these networks. You need to forward it as a ‘must read’ to many others. Good on you, Will! Thanks for all you continue to do to make a difference in the lives of our students!

This issue of ‘Educational Leadership’ has lots more articles that are right on target. Get a copy and read each one!

Still pushing through the CCK08 woods

I don’t know if some others have felt the same way that I have about this course but I am still sifting through the content, still going here and there with random and no particular direction. I have done quite a bit of reading, listening, and traveling from one link to another. I still feel like I should be completing something or at least posting my thoughts but my thoughts are still very scattered and really “just forming”. I tell myself that it is OK if I don’t post or participate but I still have that feeling of not doing my part. Again, I tell myself to get over it. I really have not had anything to contribute yet as I am still “in the woods”. I admit to a little impatience as we discuss theories and definitions as I am probably too much of a practical person. I want to discuss what might or might not work in our classrooms. Looking at all this with one eye on the needs of elementary students is quite a challenge.

So I thought I might contribute some of my thoughts as an elementary teacher who strives to impart that feeling of learning that she has experienced from being connected on the web to her students. I have been blogging with (mostly elementary students) since 2002. I remember the first day I arrived at the university getting ready to start a new job – a colleague introduced me to blogs. I thought wow, that has possibilities. I wonder how I could make use of it in a classroom. That started an incredible journey. Blogging is empowering to students. Writing begins to matter to them. The outside connecting audience is one of the motivating factors. I can recall many moments that have been real “aha” moments for students. These “aha” moments are connected with Things You Really Need to Learn. () (Thanks Stephen for this worthy list.)

It has always struck me as odd that we seldom spend time with students, particularly those at the elementary level, talking about how they learn. It’s always what they are to learn. So I have worked at helping elementary students reflect about their own learning and to share what works for them in their learning with each other. They need practice in this area and a blog is a perfect place to do that.

Another thing I’ve been doing is taking numerous side trips down participant’s blogs. They are fascinating and all the different perspectives are so interesting. There is so much information available that I get lost on the trails – good trails though!

Then today when I read “New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies” I thought – ahhhh we are getting closer to the classroom applications. Grainne Conole discusses the implications of Web 2.0 for education provided a thoughtful analysis on the different learning theories and how we might need new ways of thinking about how to map different pedagogies to the use of tools. Then he focused on the learning principles for a particular learning situation that were mapped against four key characteristics of learning – thinking and reflection, conversation and interaction, experience and activity, & evidence and demonstration. Now I need to do some more thinking on all this and what the implications are for learning.

I still have so much to learn but one thing I will keep doing is thinking about the possibilities.