Nancy is busy learning, collaborating, and blogging at Thacher! On the fly, she got these educators up and going!
Nancy is working on digital narratives – can’t wait to see what she comes up with. And just think, this was not even from the official workshop! Great work, girl!
I have to say that Tom Hoffman’s post Let’s Play Pick on the New Teacher is one of my all time favorite posts. I especially like his conclusions:
So what have we learned?
- Teachers blogging about their practice, especially new teachers, deserve to be treated with kid gloves.
- Don’t forget bloggers are real people (unlike folks in newspapers, tv, etc).
- Don’t forget that trackback will dump your dis right on it’s subject’s doorstep.
- It is ok to have somewhat vulnerable and introspective posts on your blog.
- It is ok to blog about hot button issues.
- Vulnerable and introspective posts about hot button issues, not such a good idea.
- Right wing jackasses are always there to magnify your baser instincts in comments.
- Blogging teachers have a posse, and we will kick your ass if necessary.
I’d like to see a whole lot more teachers like hipteacher blogging! I think she is going to be just fine though but it sure is nice to know that blogging teachers have a posse lurking around!
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CyberJournalist lists the individuals credentialed as bloggers, on Who’s Blogging the Convention. and says that an entirely new stream of information from political conventions is being created. Journalists blogging for news sites, delegation and party members blogging from the convention and other blogging from the convention are listed. They make a note that this list is continuing to be updated. Wow! So many voices!
Sarah Lohnes blogs about the DNC with the following: (and it is great to hear Sarah’s voice once again!)
“Jessamyn, credentialed blogger and VT resident, has some great photos and commentary from the convention.”
It is so cool to see the Democratic National Convention unfolding with bloggers being in the mix for the first time ever! This article, Meet the Bloggers, from the Wall Street Journal, includes answers to e-mailed questionnaires to about 30 bloggers who are accredited for the convention. They were asked to describe their blogs, give details on how they planned to cover the convention and what kind of content readers can expect. They also asked them why people should read their coverage and what they saw as the biggest gap in convention coverage by mainstream media in prior election years. In addition they were asked what moment/speaker/event they were most looking forward to covering and whom they supported in the Democratic primary. Pictures of bloggers and links to their weblogs are also given.
Of course, Dave Winer’s Convention Blogger is the one I will be following the most. Bryan Bell did an incredible design for the site.
The story is going to unfold in a much more dynamic and interesting way this year. Ah, the power of weblogs! Many voices will be heard! I love it!
Now, it’s just too bad that we don’t have someone like Will in that mix. He sure would have my vote!
At the end of the past school year, I gave Emily her very own blog. Emily was one of the students who participated in NewsQuest and Thinking & Writing Wrinkles. Her blogs were Emily’s Bookshelf and Emily’s Newspaper.
I love the name she chose for this summer blog - Emily’s Editorial Edge. I haven’t publicized it because I wanted to give her some space and time to think about whether she wanted to continue to blog on her own. She has not posted that often and at one point I could sense distress on her part with the sad and depressing state of the news today. I told her she could write whatever she wanted, write as little or as much as she wanted, and we’d touch base about it later. I told her that it was OK if she wanted to blog, didn’t want to, or whatever – no pressure, just trying something out. She was interested and flattered. I can’t wait to talk with her, and get her read on this aspect of the blogging process. My hunch is that there are a lot more interesting things to do than blog over the summer for an up and coming middle school student!
I have asked her to be a part of the blogging initiative I’m setting up at J.H. House this year. I think she will be very interested in that. I’m going to get some one-on-one time with her soon.
Anyway, drop by her blog, Emily’s Editorial Edge, and post some comments in response to her writing. It’ll be interesting to see her response. That may just be the missing piece.
This past Wednesday, I attended a GECA E-Learning workgroup meeting. My good friend, Jim Flowers, extended the invite. We listened to a presentation by Mary Boehm, President of BellSouth Foundation and Kim Mulkey, Director of the Technology Program. Kim discused the findings of the Foundation’s report ot the edu.pwr^3 initiative. This initiative consisted of three components:
- Power to Lead: Seminars and grants to support school superintendents with technology deployment strategies
- Power to Teach: Teacher professional development grants for school districts
- Power to Learn: Deeper exploration of four schools’ efforts to integrate technology schoolwide and the effects on learning over a two-year period.
Kim gave an excellent presentation and she gave us an excellent overview of what they have learned from this initiative. Kim is the kind of speaker who packs a lot of information into her talk while at the same time throws in enough relevant pieces to really get you thinking. She talked about how transformation happens when innovation begins in the reshaping of education. They used the book, “How People Learn” published by the National Research Council, to measure the learning. One of the relevant pieces that was of particular interest to me was when she started talking about student voices. They sought the student voice. The students had plenty to say. They had a wealth of ideas to share about how to use technology to reshape their learning, both inside and outside the classrooms. Plus, they had thoughts about how to make it more relevant to their lives.
Kim talked about the questions they asked the students and about the whole process of creating a dialogue to change the conversation. That really got me thinking about the questions they were asking the students. The questions we ask are really important. I think we need to tie in the way we are evaluating students to this whole equation. Ask those questions of students and educators. See if it helps or hurts. See if it is relevant to what they need to focus on day in and day out in our schools. Educators need help to have the time to be risk-takers, to be innovative, to make a difference. Every good educator wants accountability but the way we evaluate really doesn’t cut it when we’re talking about using technology as an agent of change for student learning. Plus, in my opinion, the focus we have to put on testing is counter productive to real change in schools. Evaluation should be based on more than just one instrument.
There was lots more and I can’t do it justice in this one post. I’m going to share some links below if any of you are interested in reading further about this BellSouth initiative.
As for me, I’m back to the “thinking board” and I have some ideas on how to get some more student and educator voices heard through weblogs. Another weblog for J.H. House is taking form. This is exciting. I’m going to think about good questions to ask. My experience has been that students give us dynamite answers if we can pose the right questions and really listen to the answers.
Got some thoughts??? What questions do we need to ask?
Power to Lead
Power to Teach
Power to Learn
The Growing Technology Gap Between Schools and Students
The Point of Transformation
Taglit (technology surveys)
On my drive home from work the other day, another idea raced through my mind. Another weblog possibility to explore that could increase the voices being heard on weblogs – expand the community. Voices from outside the school….
Right before I left J.H. House to come to Georgia State University, I had developed a Biz Pal EMail program between our students and our School/Business Partners.
Here is the educational purpose I wrote for the original project:
“To engage our students with our business partners in ‘a purposeful effort to build a collaborative project that will build new ways of learning and communicating for our students’. Our educational purpose is to expand our current keypal project into one which represents a new generation designed for online activity. Our goal is to shape an exemplary curriculum approaches for School/Business Partners in an ever-changing information age.”
Now that sounds made to order for weblogs. Basically one student in each class in grades 3-5 represented their classroom by writing to a General Mills employee. The “Biz Pal” and the student corresponded about items that related to the news, talked about their jobs in business and how learning was relevant in their world. The two shared environments with a focus on stimulating thinking and learning from the writing process.
Now I’m thinking I can just set this up in weblogs. There will still be one student, one business partner but this gives a better way to open up the communication to the rest of the class, parents, and others. I pitched the idea to the principal. She liked it. Next up is to meet with the General Mills CEO.
I’m thinking that I could have two authors to a weblog to begin with with possibility of adding more. They could post pack and forth and students and educators could comment. I’m liking this more and more.
I would welcome any comments, suggestions, ideas as I keeping “thinking-about” this school-wide weblog project. I’m going to get the principal’s weblog up and going, have some meetings with students, faculty, business partners, and others as we shape this so I’ve got a little window of time to keep on reflecting. Chime in!
How does writing affect learning? I keep coming back to that question as I am planning for the weblog project this year at J.H. House Elementary. This is the year that we are going to work at putting it in the hands of teachers and students. No small task, I know. I’m trying to think smart to make sure that it is writing focused and will focus on writing-to-learn type activities.
- Writing that leads to reflection on their learning processes.
- Writing about current events and having students think about how what is going on in the world connects with what they are learning in their classrooms.
- Writing to stimulate thinking for myself, students, teachers, administration and those who participate with us on the weblogs.
- Using writing to clarify thinking and learning and get help from each other
- Using this weblog technology to explore ways that writing can be fostered for students and teachers to share thoughts and ideas about learning, technology, writing
- Being purposeful about developing writing actiities that encourgage ways to make connections and to talk about wise and appropriate use of our voices to make a difference or to provoke meaningful discussions
- Quick writes that focus on “bumping up their thinking”
I keep seeing writing go by the wayside in schools. It’s certainly not that teachers don’t realize the importance of writing. They sure do, but it seems that ”lack of time” gets writing put aside. Let’s try to change that. I’m going to try to get weblogs up and going that focus on purposeful writing.
I’m really pleased with the start with Joyce Hooper, the principal of this wonderful school. Her weblog is going to focus on character education in a unique way that we hope will promote lots of thinking and writing by the students on terms such as tolerance, courage, trustworthiness, citizenship, cooperation, etc. Many times in schools these important traits get kind of a token application in our classrooms – again due to time constraints. We thought we could merge the two into an interactive type weblog between the principal and the students AND promote understanding through writing about authentic examples
Now all this being said, I have got to think of simple yet effective ways to pull writing into the equation to keep the focus on the kind of thinking that gets done. I think even short brief writing activities can boost learning. The comment feature can be tweaked and used to a higher degree. I tried giving them starter comment sentences like
This made me think about….
Your writing made me think that we should….
I want to know more about this because….
Kids don’t normally write this way but the key is to give them ownership on whatever the topic is and care about what they say. Raise the bar and keep pushing the envelope. I also found that if I shared my writings and other weblogger’s writing with my kids, it got them to really change their views on writing. Honoring their voice and pushing them to take a risk works!
Whew! Blogging is hard work! Writing is hard work! I’m putting together a new weblog to run parallel with the school’s weblogs. I plan to make writing THE focus. I thought I’d just start tossing my thoughts out and see what emerges. The goal is to give them lots of practice with writing. I have lots of ideas for this – let’s see if I can go shape it!
<via Jim Flowers>
On his Blogs and Education weblog, Jim points to the Microsoft Education site that has an RSS feed that is aimed at teahers and school administrators. He got the info from John Spilker, the editor of the Microsoft.com Education site. Here’s the RSS feed:
Jim also tells us to take a look at John’s own blog, John Spilker – Family Technology. Looks interesting….
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The vicious summer flu bug attacked last week and I am just now surfacing! I’m clearing my desk and will return shortly!