Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Week 9 Thing 23

What worked:
The class was valuable. There was merit in using parts of the book along with all the online exploration.

I appreciated the opportunity to complete this outside the school year even though that posed its own motivational problems:) I found myself really exploring more (losing hours of my life) because I didn't have my normal schedule dictating my time constraints as much. Thank goodness the weather has been less than ideal in the Anchorage area, this helped me set aside more time for these tasks.

I wish I kept track of how many hours I spent on the class because I know it was well above the average 2 credit class. If everyone had done this you would be able to share that information with future students and they could better gauge their time for class completion.

You might consider setting aside a spot for questions. Not that you needed anything else to monitor.

What didn't work: My motivation struggled at times - see what you can do about that will you? Also, if you could have provided a dog walker for me during the class that would have been helpful as my pooch was less then thrilled with my hours at the keyboard.

I had to build the habit of always opening another window so I could get back to the Raven site or to my blog. It would have been terrific if everything opened in a new window off of the Raven site. Not the end of the world.

While it was easy to comment on others blogs, I felt the requirement of 5 posts to the curriculum wiki was a bit contrived. I didn't have 5 ideas worthy of posting that hadn't already been posted by others by the time I got to that assignment. At that point it is just fulfilling a requirement. I would probably alter that in some way.

Thanks so much to Katie and Ann for making this opportunity available to all of us! We very much appreciate this time to explore!

Chapter 4 Reflections

This was a fun chapter to read! What brave teachers! What great ideas! I appreciate having this chapter to just have a spring board to work from. I am aware that some of these ideas will be considered dated by the time I read them. We're talking a lifetime of "commitment" issues that keep me from doing exactly what one of the interviewees suggested. On Pg. 82 Cheryl Oakes states:"As any teacher of technology has experienced, as soon as you learn a new tool and feel comfortable enough to begin teaching it in your classroom, that technology is old and you are moving on!! Well, be brave and take a risk, our new digital learners have different strategies, different needs and totally different outcomes that WORK!" We're talking a whole lot of mind shifting going on!!

This is the chapter where I get excited about the prospects. I am inspired by people's willingness to try something that might fail. With the limited amount of hours in a teaching day, it is difficult to justify spending precious moments on something that might flop. I stop dwelling on the obstacles/challenges.

At our elementary last year we had a difficult stretch with students bullying and denigrating others on my space pages. I'm curious about a digital story telling project or set of ads that could be created to explain the ramifications of such actions.

I certainly thought I had reached my "searching" max but I'm excited to look at a few projects noted in this chapter. The Soc. Stud. section has several like http://greece.teachingmatters.org/
This site is an absolute hoot! I have already sent the link off to my fourth grade teachers! I will be dying to know if they would like to explore this together. There are several interesting topics at www.teachingmatters.org. The writing project sounds fascinating.

I thought the Math Blog described on pg. 92-93 sounded quite productive. The pressure to perform at the board is removed and the thinking is actually reflective because the problem can be addressed over the course of an entire week. The teacher is able to see the progression of thinking over the course of the week. Students are forced to communicate their thinking clearly. Great idea.

Chapter 9 Reflections

On Pg. 179 the authors refer to an ad from Apple years ago that predicted a "knowledge navigator" to help steer users to the right information, guide their activities based on strengths and help them navigate their day. They also state that we are much closer to that reality these days. It is a confidence builder to tailor learning using someones known strengths and interests but we run into potential abuses. What ever happened to "know thyself"? Why is pondering, self reflection and trial and error suddenly so inconvenient? Goodness knows many of the situations I encounter in life are not tailored to my strengths, I must continue to expose myself to other approaches in order not to be completely helpless. How long will it take to arrive at the point where people cannot make a move without the system guiding them in their learning or daily activities? How long did it take for many to not develop the skill of making change once cash registers completed this task for them? This is a use it or lose it prospect - just think of all the phone numbers you yourself no longer "know" because you have programmed them in to speed dial. Our brains are powerful but if we are trained to take the path of least resistance that will be all we are capable of when faced with something outside our "strengths". How will the power to deduct and problem solve evolve?

RE: Pg. 181 " The hope is that professional development will fill that gap for current teachers and that new teachers will enter the profession armed with the technology skills they'll need to help students learn in new ways. WHAT???? I've asked brand new teachers at my school the last two years what kind of educational technology training they are receiving in their programs. They furrow their brow and tell me nothing like that was part of their training. Teacher preparation courses are not on board yet, except for a few, and professional development is STILL the stop gap in the vast majority of situations. Certainly, professional development recently has been focused on assimilating ESL students and meeting NCLB requirements. Technology integration, while still around, has not had the limelight. I see much of those tech departments faced with Bandwith, security and repair issues. Also, I see many teachers throw their hands up because it is another area where there is inconsistent resources in schools and they feel the district should be supporting them in delivery. They want updated hardware and professional development that trains in integration. They are not willing to take another thing on that requires their personal time. What I see occurring is the individual who invites technology in to their personal life in pervasive ways is the one who decides to branch out on occasion and integrate it in to classroom work.

I still recall attending library school 8 years ago and visiting a "Gates School". They told us then 35% of all school tech budgets needed to be spent on prof. development/training. I'm not sure I've seen that occurring.

It often seems that the recent governmental focus on NCLB issues is in direct conflict with what many believe to be imperative technology skill development through integration. It was difficult to jump through more than one hoop at a time and so many have not. Many districts were being faced with programmed curriculum guides and found it overwhelming to try and adopt those AND attempt technology integration. Of course at the district level there were only funds for one or the other and at the classroom level, teachers were choosing to deal with the curriculum area that they were being judge upon and which newspapers were publishing results.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chapter 7 Reflections

This post will have a negative tone but I have hope behind the scenes. Most of us in the education field work to give opportunities to our students and communities in order for them to reach their potential and enjoy the learning process. We want the best for them. It has always stunned me that there are people working toward exactly the opposite goal I am. We may think we are being as proactive as possible in setting policies, activating filters but there are others who are already ahead of us by two steps. Our number one focus is educating students. That is no longer just the 3 R's but also includes social and emotional well being, computer skills and internet safety, citizenship, and on and on. The list is endless. The number one focus for some is creating empowering and collaborating features on the internet for people to demonstrate their learning. The number one focus for others is how to victimize and many others as possible while their distracted. The concerns are just enormous.

I was reminded to find out which teachers actually go over the Acceptable Use Policy and what it means. Generally, students and parents sign it at registration, it is put in a file and then we never see it again. I certainly havn't looked at it myself in years. I have no idea whether or not some of the web publishing issues have been addressed in an updated version or not. I especially liked the following excerpt from Pg. 145 that should be considered for inclusion in any updated AUP:
Briefly but clearly identify those activities that will not be allowed. These might include conducting business, advertising commercial products or services, defaming the character of others, and jeopardizing in any way the safety of students.

Flickr: I'm assuming ASD blocks Flickr. If they don't I'm pretty surprised. I wasn't looking for inappropriate content but it certainly found me. I would not encourage elementary teachers to give students access if it is not blocked but I would encourage them to download photos themselves for classroom projects.

The authors themselves acknowledge how challenging understanding Copyright can be. I have learned during the last 7 years of trying to educate young internet users that there is a long way to go in the education process but it is critical that the campaign be waged in the public along with the schools. Elementary students are just following examples set at home. The students I work with don't want to participate in illegal activity, they are genuinely shocked to learn what they and their family does is illegal. They are alarmed and don't know if their parents are violating copyright knowingly or not. It is my obligation to continue to try to clarify what is legal and ethical for my students but it would be nice if there were simultaneous campaigns with the public.

Week 9 Thing 22

I wasn't familiar with Libravox or World EBook. I is going to take a great deal of trial and error to find something useful for an elementary school. I DID find audio versions of Aesop's Fables I could get for our Houghton Mifflin Reading program. We have a reasonable collection of Aesop's Fables in print, a couple of video versions but it might be fun to have some listening centers added for some classrooms using the offerings on Libravox.

Week 9 Thing 21


I don't know if I'm growing search weary or what but I did not enjoy searching through the podcast directories. The only pod casts I've ever listened to were ones that I knew I wanted, I wasn't searching to see IF I'd be interested in something. It is difficult to determine what some of these pod casts involve and I think I would be challenged to "find" something on a topic when I was actually in need. I did add one called Book Voyager to my Blog lines acct. It is a podcast completed by a librarian, her staff and students regarding children's literature.

We would have a great deal of education on how to use pod casts at my school.

Week 9 Thing 20

I chose the above clip because I couldn't spend my whole life searching through Teacher Tube!! I don't even want to admit how many clips I watched today and not all of them were educationally rewarding. I got lost for entirely too long clicking around in those librarian clips, hoping to find the holy grail of funny things. What a time suck! While the above clip would be too much in an elementary, what a great intro to a High School or College contemporary U.S. History course. I was a little surprised that I couldn't find credit given to the music anywhere on the video.

I have shown Teacher Tube to several colleagues but I don't think I would mind offering to search for a particular resource for them. They email me about gathering print resources, websites and videos - why not film clips too? I think Teacher Tube can fall by the wayside this fall though as ASD brings United Streaming Online. I just love this resource. Teacher's don't have to sort through what may be inaccurate student created videos on United Streaming.

I'm not wild about searching for things on Teacher Tube but it certainly was easy to slip this clip in to my blog.