Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Inspiring Posts, Podcasts and Voicethreads

Just wanted to link to some inspiring posts from my aggregator. From Ryan Bretag who makes a deeply felt plea for students to read as well as write. I just had a conversation with a student today where I realised she was under a misapprehension that there was nothing in it for her. She was completing posts as if I required them, rather than seeing them as prompts or springboards for an exploration of her own interests. The reading part of it is not taken seriously by these students who are “playing school”, figuring, I suppose, that only a visible product that she can tick off as having been done counts. The resistance shows up in some of the posts that students do. I guess it really is a learning experience for both me and the students. Anyway here is what Ryan says:

Students need to read blogs! I cannot overstate this fact enough. If you really want blogging to be transformative and you want it to sustain itself as a powerful piece of the classroom environment, it starts with reading blogs and learning about the philosophy of this genre: critical reading, connecting and synthesizing ideas, communicating publicly, creating, contributing, community linking and building, and moving cyclically. Without this step, students are more likely to see it merely as an online equivalent to a journal (an expensive notebook) or even worse, word processing.”
How true.

And, on another matter but equally relevant for me is a post from Stephen Downes:

If people want more right-wing teachers, there’s a really simple way to do it: pay them more. That way, you’ll get teachers who are motivated by the money passing on capitalist values rather than people who are motivated by social service talking about cooperating and sharing, about rights and diversity.
I recommend that you read both posts in full.

Then today, while listening to a Seedlings podcast by Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oaks, and Alice Barr (go team) I heard that Voicethread is giving free pro accounts to educators. This means that you can record audio comments, make text comments, Doodling, (not sure about this yet) sharing, full screen presentations, Flickr and Facebook importing, embedding, zooming, identities, simple and secure privacy control, moderation and an unlimited number of VoiceThreads, storage and Image, doc and video file size limit. Sounds good to me.
I thought about using it for my Year 7 class by having them record the findings they made from researching the First World War in the course of studying the novel by Jennie Walters, Standing in the Shadows. I am starting to try it out myself before getting the students to try it. I did show the class the beautiful Voicethread narrated by three year old Rachel Fryer about her new haircut. They loved it. Go and have a look yourself.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Easier communication through blogger

Just noticed that blogger has a new feature: the ability to subscribe to comments on a blog post via email. As those at blogger say “The comment subscription feature allows readers of a blog to receive an email each time a comment is made to a particular post. You can subscribe to a post's comments by clicking the "Email" link next to "Subscribe to comments" on the post page…This makes it a lot easier to stay in the conversational loop after you’ve commented on a post somewhere.”

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Global connections

With regard to blogging in the classrom, I feel as if there has been a tipping point recently. Of the eight Year 9 classes at my school five of them have started blogging. check them out Mr Peeler's class, Mr Cahill's class, Miss Avraam's class and Ms Nankoo's class (and mine). Their teachers have set up class blogs and each student has their set up an individual blog; the teacher has then linked them to the class blog. Finally all the Year 9 blogs are linked on each of the class blogs.

As always some students really love it and love the writing and comments they receive. Some students clearly have the feeling they are writing into a vacuum; their image of cyberspace appears as distant and unpeopled as a outer space it seems. Soon, I hope, they will perceive cyberspace as full of friends, like minded people who can connect with ideas and offer encouragement to the students as writers, thinkers and creators.

I would like to highlight these young writers who I think would love some encouragement: Monique, Tamsyn, Kathy, Kate and Stephanie. If you can spare a few minutes pop over and have a read. Leave a comment if you like.

As well as this, a global project has been started bystarted by Peter Beuhler from Germany. He has gathered together teachers and students from Poland, Spain, Greece, the Czech Republic, Denmark, South Korea, Brasil, USA, Australia and Germany. Not all of the blogs are up yet and some of the teachers are new bloggers themselves, but it is a beginning. All the students are blogging in English at this stage. I will put in the rest of the links later

I have to thank Denis, a colleague in my school for making the connection with Peter for me. I have been giving after school workshops on blogging on a number of occasions and Denis came tio one of these and immediately thought our Year 9s could connect with these similar aged students around the globe.

I normally offer these workshops on a Monday afternoon in a computer lab with an IWB which works really well. We share some refreshments at tables while I show some of the potential of Web 2.0 on the IWB, before moving off to the computers for some hands on exploring of the potential. In the last session I introduced some of the participants to twitter: say hello to missfong and sandcastle.

And now as the fabulous K12 online conference finishes up we find it never really finishes: find it ongoing here at the K12Online Ning.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

commenting community

So much happening, so little time to blog. Feeling guilty about not blogging at times. Not that I should blog, but that it’s a missed opportunity to articulate some learning and strengthen it, to give back to the community of edubloggers, to discipline myself to reflect. But even so. I heard someone once talk about his blog as his outboard brain (was it Doug Johnson?) If that analogy is extended, what would twitter be? The connection between my huge outboard brain (all the edubloggers I follow and learn from) and twitter being always open means that I have more connection to my “brain”. I have to think about that some more.

In the meantime more blogging (and learning) has been happening around me. I have been called into other teachers’ classes to help them set up blogs and sometimes they just take off. It is so inspiring to see students who love writing and communicating. I would like to have other bloggers comment on these new students especially Tegan, who has given her blog such a cute name Tegan’s Learning to Blog: show some love. I do so much appreciate teachers who ask their students to look at other students and hopefully make some connections through comments, and thereby build some global understanding. So thank you all.

Update: thanks to Graham, I found that the "outboard brain" idea comes from D'Arcy Norman. Thanks Graham.

Monday, October 08, 2007

K12 Online Conference 07

Just 5 minutes after Dave Warlick's presentation for the K12 Online Conference went up on line together with associated chat there were people from several countries and in many time zones chatting about the presentation, called unsurprisingly "Inventing the New Boundaries". Lots of boundaries are being crossed as friends who meet whenever and wherever they can meet up again here. The K12 conference schedule can be accessed here. Just now I'm multitasking, listening, chatting and blogging. So join us whenever you can for the best, most inspiring, professional development you can imagine.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

A lot of social networking

There has been so much happening in the edublogosphere lately. At one stage I was beginning to think I was nocturnal as there were so many social educational activities happening using the new Google Presentations and Ustream TV . And now through Twitter (and a discussion through Will Richardson's inaugural broadcast) I have found a new podcast from Technolote. She says "I teach Chinese at a small country school here in South West Victoria. I am interested in integrating more technology into language classrooms." And I did really enjoy listening to her discussion of global collaboration. Her fresh and interesting voice is inspiring to listen to and I am already a fan.