Sunday, September 12, 2010

Retro-Using Delicious

I have been doing a little puttering around in delicious -- an online social bookmarking tool, in case you are not familiar with it -- after neglecting it for some time. Just for fun, I did some searching under the plpresearch tag (for Powerful Learning Practice) with a further search refinement under Twitter. Here's what I learned:

There are two new tools for Twitter that I did not know about: GroupTweet and Nurph. The former transforms a Twitter account into a private group messaging system. The latter allows tweeters to create a chat. I can definitely think of some classroom applications for both.

Which brings me to the other stuff I learned: that early studies have found correlations between using social media such as twitter in the classroom and student engagement, and the School Library Journal reports that the conciseness required by tweeting in 140 characters or less can actually help students improve their writing skills.

I'm gratified to see the research bearing out what I have "felt" from my observations in the classroom in the past few years. Students are becoming better writers because they are writing more than ever! So why aren't we using these tools more in the classroom -- and I mean both delicious and Twitter?

I continue to be shocked at how few students use delicious, especially, when they are hopping from one computer to another all day long. I know that our students learn about delicious in their Tech classes in the 8th or 9th grade, so why don't they continue to do so when they continue with research projects later on?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Blogging on Demand and Shopping with RSS

I am feeling a little bit like my students must -- I have been "assigned" a blog. Ugh. Somehow the fact that I have been given a topic and sent to my blogging room is not sitting well with my blogging muse. And this makes me wonder what we are doing to blogging with our students. Remember when journals were the rage? Students had to "journal" for every class! What a chore! Now my seniors are working on three blogs, and I had planned to introduce a fourth tomorrow! Too much!

That said, I enjoyed tooling around a few suggested blogs, experiencing the variety, seeing the form's flexibility. I learned a few things too -- glogs can be embedded on wikispaces, for instance. Good to know.

And I'm getting more comfortable with commenting, especially when I read the blogs of the "big dogs." Blogging is liberating in that way -- I am allowed to offer something of value to the conversation based on my thinking and experience.

I am going to use this blog to talk about RSS too. I have been using RSS ever since Will Richardson himself taught me how to do it at an ISTE poster session oh so long ago. It amazes me still how so many people don't know how what RSS is or how to use it to make their lives easier.

I think I use RSS a bit differently, however. I'm definitely not a daily reader -- don't have the time. But I do use it to "shop around" to various blogs I like when I have a spare moment before class or when I'm on hold on the telephone. There is a surprise element here that I like -- I never know what will turn up. It's a bit like a controlled stumbleupon indulgence.

I have used iGoogle to gather my students' work or to corral updated sites for their further study and reflection. This is iGoogle's attraction for me over Google Reader -- I can see a whole page of sites at a glance, and I can share groups of them with others, as in this collection of my seniors' project sites (one of the results of our PLP work last year). iReader may do this too, for all I know (it has been a long time since I've used it). I have heard lately that it's good for sharing comments with a group over time, sort of google wave fashion.

Back to my earlier point, however... I wonder if we need to show a little blog restraint. At what point do we reach OVERKILL?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Luxury of Follow-Through

For the first official day of my "summer vacation," I attended TEDxHouston yesterday. I put "summer vacation" in quotation marks here because there is very little that resembles a vacation that happens in my life between June and August. Those few weeks may be better described as working from home, or working at my own pace, or working until I feel like taking a nap or making a meal that doesn't come out of a box, but it isn't anything like the "summer vacation" many non-educators probably imagine.

But what the summer does bring for me is the luxury of follow-through. So after attending TEDx yesterday (if you are interested in my thoughts on the event see "The TED Standard"), I indulged in a morning of rifling through the goody bag I received at the event, checking out new websites, and, yes, tweeting and blogging. I put people in touch with one another, checked out a contest for a free computer for my school, and explored new resources. Oh, how I miss this pleasure of reinforcing my learning during the school year when I am, more often than not, distracted by so many details I can't think or running from one urgent deadline to the next.

And what does this tell me about the hectic nature of learning for my students? Definitely something to give more thought to...over the summer.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Digital Footprint or Digital Tattoo?

How would you describe your presence on the web? What are the implications of the metaphors mentioned in the title to this blog? Is there a better metaphor? How do any of these descriptive metaphors apply to you?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

New Tool: Fuzzwich

You can tell school is out, because I've spent the afternoon playing around with Fuzzwich. Try out an animated video for yourself? How could you use this in the classroom?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Learning Environments Project

My 10th-grade Language Arts class created audio-visual commentary on VoiceThread in which they explored their ideas about their most effective learning environments. Not only did the students come to understand their own agency in the learning process, but they went way beyond this to value the challenges of teachers and other students as well as to see connections between their lives and the literary heroine Jane Eyre. How good is that?

Now I would love to have teachers -- and others -- continue the conversation. Let us know what you think about this issue that is so important to all of us.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Someone Out There Likes Me

Susan Sontag tells us that as tourists we try to capture our travels in photographs like so much brick-a-brack to take home and reminisce over rather than experience. Yet what does it mean that nowadays we share those possessions not just with our families and friends who have been lured into a boring slide show by the promise of dinner and drinks, but with...who knows who might be out there?

I posted my best photos from my vacation to Prague on flickr. Perhaps most importantly I took the time to tag them something simple like "Prague" or "Prague Summer 2009." And now one of those photographs (of the terrific breakfast buffet at the Hotel Maximilian) was chosen to be included in the Schmap Guides.

I agreed, of course I agreed. Now I know someone out there likes my work enough to publish it, enough to use it to illustrate the funky elegance of a lovely hotel in Prague where my husband and I spent several delightful days last July. Now I have an audience.

If it feels this good for someone like me -- an amateur photographer and at the same time a teacher who has been around the cobblestone lane a few times -- imagine what such recognition feels like to our students who are discovered and read and validated in ways I could not imagine when I was their age.

I think I need to go take some more pictures now...