Category Archives: Kudos

Giving Students Ownership of Learning

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Credit to Geralt from Pixabay

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!

BlogDay2007

badge_green.gifI know, I know, I am a day late with this post in recognition of BlogDay but hey, as they say , “better late than never!” I actually did start it yesterday so I’ll just look at it as finishing up today! Here goes!
I like the idea of recommending other blogs. That’s something I do a lot of anyway. So today I thought I’d recommend some of the blogs I read that I find intriguing for reasons other than my usual focus on kids in the classroom who are involved with blogging. These blogs are ones I thoroughly enjoy for a variety of reasons. You can’t go wrong adding any of them to your current reads.

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blethers – The author of this blog is Christine McIntosh from Dunoon, Argyll, United Kingdom. She describes herself as a former English teacher on the loose. She is quite a writer and has a quick wit and blogs about so many interesting things that are not always on my radar. I learn a lot. In addition she is a photographer with an eye for unique shots. Her pictures have been the focus of many of my students’ creative writing ventures. They love her pictures, as I do.Here’s a great bonus for you on this recogniton of Chris as a fine blogger – she has two sons who have great blogs too. (Okay, boys thank your good mother who you know deserves a lot of credit for your good works!) Ewan McIntosh’s edu.blogs.com and Neil McIntosh’s Complete Tosh are excellent blogs.

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I love the concept of this blog. Here and There Japan is written by a former English and reading teacher in the United States, Malaysia, and Japan. She spends her time taking pictures and writing about things they see, use, and do in their daily life in Japan. Her tagline says “snapshots of life in Japan, written especially for kids. It is a delightful blog and one that my elementary students and myself have spent lots of moments enjoying as we read, and view the fascinating pictures. I wish others would make similar blogs. Think how much we could learn about different countries and the journey is so much fun! So consider doing something like this for your country. She also screens her comments and welcomes them but wants to make sure they are kid-friendly so that is a great feature as you can be sure that all is “kid-safe”. Links are also provided to favorite children’s books about Japan.

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goldengod iis a blog I came across when I was searching for images. The author is Andrew Ferguson who is a Vancouver photographer. His blog is chocked full of wonderful information and tips on photography. My hope one day is to have time to give to learning more about photography,I really enjoy his posts. They are inspiring. His style of writing appeals to me and I am learning a lot. He lists his top photography blog posts on his side bar. One of my all time favorites is “How to Find Great Free Photos”. I posted about that before here but I continue to find on his blog what I consider to be some of the best tips on the web about photography. Go add this blog to your reading list.

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Things My Kids Say is a blog that makes me laugh and it is guaranteed to put me in a good mood for the day. It will touch your heart. This sleep-deprived mother of four from Los Angeles, CA shares pictures and moments from her family’s life. Here are a couple of my favorites, The trash truck is coming! and But I’m not tired!!!. We all have had those moments around our home where the humor and love makes it all so worthwhile. It is really neat to have a peek inside the lives of others who are sharing such good, warm family moments. Plus what a great model for other families to see. I have to disclose here that this blog is from my cousin’s family. I have never met my cousin’s wife f2f but through this blog I feel I know each family member. Now that is really cool, don’t you think? Thanks “sleep-deprived” for sharing those precious and those hysterical moments of your day! I love it!

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My final blog is Word. This is the official blog of READ and WRITING magazines and it is just so appealing. It is a literary blog that has lots of writing tips, book reviews, and other tidbits of information. They just celebrated their second birthday. Word also has a My Space page. There are so many good posts on this blog and they lead to lively discussions in our classrooms. The blog features many different authors. I like the clever titles and the variety of subjects. They feature student writing- fiction, non-fiction, and poetry! It includes a spot to submit student writing. I think this is one of the few, if not the only, commercial blogs I have in my aggregator. It’s well worth taking a look.

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Scott asks “Know a great commenter?”

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Scott McLeod of Dangerously Irrelevant has a post “Know a great commenter?” Well it just so happens that I know many but I would like to recognize three bloggers who comment frequently on all of my student blogs. Their comments are kind, helpful, relevant, and very thought-provoking for the students.

I nominate:
Lani Ritter Hall
Chris McIntosh
Carolyn (not sure of her last name)

For those who are nominated Scott has created a neat badge that you can place on your blog, if you like. Thanks you for making a difference in the lives of students.

Nominations like these are great but they also leave me thinking that I left people out so with that thought in mind I’d like to say a huge thank you to all commenters. You all make a difference.

PBwiki and YackPack give wikis a voice for education

I received an email from Curt Hopkins today about PBwiki and YackPack getting together to offer a widget you can download into your wiki that allows anyone visiting your site to just press a button and talk. I downloaded it and Lani and I tried it out. It was amazing! It is so cool and so easy!

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Clips from the press release:

  • “There is something magical about hearing someone else’s voice,” said Ramit Sethi, PBwiki co-founder. “It takes collaboration to an entirely different level.”
  • Dr. BJ Fogg said, “Voice builds unity.”
  • To use the widget, sign up for a PBwiki at http://www.pbwiki.com, click the edit button on any page on your wiki, and insert the Walkie Talke plugin.

An online press conference, via the WalkieTalkie widget will be held on their press wiki, on Thursday at 6pm (PST). You just have to click this link http://press.pbwiki.com and then click the YackPack button to talk. Both Ramit from PB wiki and Dr. BJ Fogg from YackPack witll be there. I am going to try to be there!

I have been constantly amazed at PBwiki. They have been front and center with doing things to help educators and really seek educators’ input. I serve on their board but regretfully I have not participated as much as I would like to. I’ve been following all they are doing but not been involved myself too much. This year has been one filled with learning for me but somehow the research aspects of my blogging project have consumed me. Many things that I would like to be doing have had to put on hold. The end is in sight but the end means no more blogging with a special group of kids and that I don’t like!

I installed the widget on a wiki I had created in the past. I called the page Voices. I’ll have it open off and on for a while today. Yack if you like!

Accolades to PBwiki and YackPack for providing this benefit to educators and students! We appreciate you!

Edublog Awards 2006

The Edublog Awards 2006 nominations are in! Take a look!  Voting closes midnight GMT Saturday 16 December 2006. It is exciting to go through the list and while I know many on the list there are always many that I don’t know. This is so amazing to me because I really try to follow all the new educational blogs. Hmmmm, wonder what else is out there that I’m missing? That’s why it’s so important that we blog to each other about the good work going on in many places. The best part of this truly is the  promotion of excellence in the educational use of social software. I wish the best to all the nominees!  I say to all edubloggers worldwide keep up the great work you  are doing  in your quest to make a difference with your students and to promote needed changes in our educational system. My hat is off to each and every one of you!

Talk to the administrators!

Go round up a group of administators and talk to them using points from Dean Shareski’s wonderful podcast and slide show with about 80 administrators. Read his post, Podcast 20: Blogging with Administrators.

Dean says:

Now like anything, I’m not sure all will make this part of their routine but even if 10 begin reading the conversations that are taking place, it’s going to make a difference.

Yes, it will make a difference and just think what a difference all of us can make if we do the same. You can do the same with any group that needs to hear the story. Go to it!

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Kudos to Dean for sharing such a terrific presentation!

Join the comment parade!

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I’m joining in on this parade to send accolades to Lani, Nancy, Vicki, and Chris! They took the time to comment to the new bloggers from the EDLA 7550 class. It looks like the class is getting ready to beginning to strike up some interesting conversations on music in Shakespeare’s language. Can’t you hear the band? The professor asks this question on her blog:

How can you help students understand the power of his language, appreciate the beauty of his speeches and recognize the universality of characters and themes in Shakespearean and contemporary discourses?

Now I know you don’t want to miss out on these conversations. So join the parade and add your own thought provoking comments.

Again, thank you Lani, Nancy, Vicki and Chris for leading the way!

It made me think about a previous post I made, Comments make a difference.

It is the connector for our students and students of all ages will appreciate you joining the parade.

Warm welcomes wanted!

I have been involved in a lot of exciting projects, pending proposals and blogging creations and just have been unable to blog.  It has been a non-stop process full of many twists and turns. The twists and turns have been challenging as well as rewarding because the learning and creating is on full speed. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before I can get back in the school with students and proceed with the next blogging project. It’s funny how you feel a part of you is missing when you are sidetracked from blogging.

I am so excited about this emerging blogging community. I had previously posted A special welcome to EDLA 7550 Class Members. The students blogs are now listed on the sidebar on the class blog, EDLA 7550. So, please take a few  moments  to comment and give these new bloggers a  very warm welcome! If you didn’t look carefully at Bridging Literacies, do so now. It’s a must read. It is the professor’s blog and it is outstanding. This professor has done her homework. Be sure to give her a warm welcome, too!

Kudos to Clarence

I’ve got to add this to my wiki for “Relevant Posts”. Actually Clarence has many that I consider relevant but this particular one, “Authentic Voices“, truly resonates with me. He blogs about how his students’ blogging is “real”. It is authentic. He says he sometimes cringes about what the kids in his class have written. He also talks about their poor spelling and grammar on some, questionable posts on others, and how they are writing about what is going on in their lives.Then he continues with this:

Out of all of the questionable posts, the poorly written posts, emerge pearls that the kids pay attention to. When kids write about the stupidity of drinking, other kids listen. When kids write about what they learned from a unit, or about an “aha” moment for them in the middle of an assignment, other kids listen and begin to consider these things themselves. When kids write about their struggles, their difficulties, and their anger, they become real for others in the classroom, and others around the world.

This is why I will never teach without blogs again.

I have to admit that I have not gotten to such authentic publishing of student work. Close but my hope is that “that day will “arrive”. Clarence is paving the way, especially so in that he is working with middle school kids. He really gets that the process is so much more important than the product.
We will get to such openness but meanwhile I will never teach without blogs again either. A few of the reasons include:

  • Classroom discussions are no longer dominated by the teacher and one or two verbal students.
  • Visiting some other student blogs lets our kids compare/contrast their learning and ideas with other students and adults
  • Having incredible real time learning spaces where teachers have the opportunity to teach what is considered appropriate to post, how their blogging will or will not change others minds, how it can come across to others and how important the writing/blogging skills are, and how their learning can improve through the conversations
  • Experiencing joy as students begin to grasp real reasons for writing and that their voice does count in this arena. They begin to enjoy writing, feel ownership, and see how their voice can make a difference. It’s the ability to build a classroom learning community that is unlike any other I have been able to foster in classrooms.
  • Getting to know my students in such an absolutely relevant way. Letting them get to know me as a teacher who is learning right along with and from them.
  • Getting to foster the potential through blogging and commenting.

There are, of course, many more.

So I say kudos to Clarence. Student voices do need to be heard. We can listen, we can develop new understandings- what incredible opportunities for us. Clarence is leading the way.