Other NECC09 gems

Some other gems from NECC this year:

  • Getting a chance to hear Angela Maiers discuss Literacy at NECC Unplugged and discussing it with her afterwards.  Angela is passionate about literacy.  Literacy is more than learning how to “read”  it encompasses all aspects of making meaning.  She suggests that we should teach literacy as a LEARNING SKILL.  She breaks down 21st Century literacy proficiency into 4 areas whether you are a young learner reading a book, a HS students  doing research, or reading a Twitter page.  You learn to read and you read to learn.  The 4 Resource Model included:  Code Breakers, Text User, Meaning Maker and Text Critic.  You use all four methods when making meaning  whether the information is printed or digital.  When you understand that the skills, strategy and thinking of reading is the same skill set no matter what you are learning – it transcends all mediums.  I love her analogy of driving a car.  We don’t break down the skills of driving into mini lessons (this is how you turn the steering wheel) – it takes practices to be thinking of where you are going, what’s going on – how you are going to steer the car, etc.. Why then do we continue to break down reading into small parts instead of dealing with all aspects as one???  Anyway, I love taking with someone who loves what they do and any school is lucky to have Angela working with them
  • Listening to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson at a session called Here Comes Learning! and them talking about the great work they are doing with their cohorts at Powerful Learning Practice.  I would love to be involved in a future cohort!
  • Having a personal lesson about Wikispaces from founder Adam Frey during NECC Unplugged.
  • The Blogger’s Cafe – what a fabulous idea.  I loved having a central place to return to after session and review what I just learned with the folks around me.  I think I must have met 50 people f3f who I follow on twitter.
  • Learning more about the National Girl’s Collaborative Project and finally meeting Karen Peterson face to face.  I will definitely be looking at their resources for my Digital Divas 2.o girls tech club this year.

Btw, the last time I checked there were 4675 photos tagged necc09 at Tag Galaxy Check it out!!

Citizen Journalists

us_airwaysLast week I had a teachable moment when the news of the US Airways plane crashed into the Hudson river.  I had just saw a re-tweet from Andy Carvin’s post on Twitter about the plane crash about an half hour after it happened.  He had just re-posted the photo from @jkrum showing the plane floating in the Hudson river with all the people standing on the wings.

My high school journalism class just walked into the room and I gathered the students around and showed them this example of citizens breaking the news before the mainstream media could even report it.  Students were amazed by the photos and I briefly showed them how I found the information on Twitter.  A few kids reported that they had used their cell phones to take photos of events outside of school but most had not considered themselves to be “citizen journalists” (yet!).

In this day of participatory media – everyone can report the news.  In Will Richardson’s demo of Prezi, he demonstrates the unfolding of this event that started with Twitter, Flickr and NPR news.  I am planning on showing this to my journalism class to show them the power of the network today.

Blogging to make a difference

I read with interest Will Richardson’s recent article in Edutopia about an 11 yr old girl named Laura who started a blog last year titled 25 days to make a difference.  In the article, Richardson shares the story of how she gets her ideas for community service projects.

Earlier this year, as I was listening to a presentation by an eleven-year-old community volunteer and blogger named Laura Stockman about the service projects she carries out in her hometown outside Buffalo, New York, an audience member asked where she got her ideas for her good work.  Her response blew me away. “I ask my readers,” she said.

Like Laura, my Middle and High school students are blogging around the theme:  “We must be the change we wish to see in the world”.  After receiving parental OK, my students choose a topic for their blog.  The topics range from global warming, recycling, humane society, pollution, alternative energies, friendliness to more serious topics such as abortion, teen steroid use, human trafficking and cancer.

I direct their beginning posts and also model for them what kind of posts they can have in their blog.  Recently every student embedded a Google form in their blog to either quiz readers about their knowledge of their topic or survey their opinions.  Below is a sample that I made for my blog titled “Mrs. Cassinelli’s guide to Digital Citizenship”.

Our currently focus in our blogging is to encourage interactivity and create interest in the blog  topic.  Having a survey gets readers to your blog but we are also trying to encourage commenting and conversation.

I taught my students about memes.  Each student is reflecting on their topic and creating a meme and challenging classmates to blog about THEIR topic when tagged.

Here’s a sample of a recent post by one of my students:

Danika tagged me with Mrs.Cassinelli’s meme.

The Rules:

  1. On your blog link my blog saying you are participating the the “Digital Citizenship Meme”.
  2. Write a short story about something you regret posting online. You don’t have to reveal too much personal information. Explain what you wish you would have done.   If you have not made any regrets – explain why.
  3. Write digitalcitizenshipmeme as the keyword for your post.
  4. Tag 2 additional people to participate in the Meme.  Link their names to their blogs.

I’ve always been a concious member of digital society. I’m not a flamer, I don’t give out personal information, etc. etc. I guess my biggest regret reguarding the topic would be not teaching my sister about the dangers. She even TALKS to some random kid over the phone! She met him online. It scares me, to tell the truth. My little sis talking to someone when she doesn’t even know his real name, while he knows hers? It’s… just inviting trouble.

Ahem. I tag:

Allie and Janice.

Students are also participating in a comment challenge for two weeks and tracking the number of posts they comment on and number of words.  Luckily we recently have made contacts with some other classrooms (http://thinwalls.edublogs.org/ http://wyatt67.edublogs.org/ http://www.classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=73127 ) that are blogging and look forward to sharing our message of change with classrooms around the world.

If you’d like to participate – leave the URL of your class or student blog or visit ours at http://vcs.21classes.com

Watch out world.  Today’s youth are going to be catalysts of change.

Blogs, wikis, and podcasts …

Will Richardson’s bookI was re-reading Will Richardson’s book “Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms” today because I am giving my copy to a new techie teacher. Even though I am already familiar with the topic I still found the information interesting and relevant. This time through the names from the examples were familiar from bloggers like Tim Lauer, Darren Kuropatwa and Bud the Teacher. Wow – what a difference a year of blogging makes!

Will discusses the pedagogy of blogging. He writes that “weblogs are truly a constructivist tool for learning”. Student’s construct their own knowledge through reading, writing and responding to one another’s posts. This type of “connective writing” engages students in higher-order thinking. Students are first reading critically and looking for important ideas to share with their audience. Opportunities to make connections and synthesize ideas from other bloggers demands organization and clarity in student’s own posts. The “real audience” reminds students to observe editorial correctness and to continue the discussion beyond the post and interact with users who make comments.

In discussing wikis, Will notes that “the collaborate environment that wikis faciliate can teach students much about how to work with others, how to create community, and how to operate in a world where the creation of knowledge and information is more and more becoming a group effort”. Like blogs, empowering students by allowing them to create and edit and construct their own knowledge is very compelling and will lead to student engagement.

Besides blogs, wikis and podcasting, Will discusses other Web 2.0 tools like RSS, social bookmarking, flickr and what it all means. If you are looking for a simple explanation of how to go about integrating Web 2.0 tools in your classroom I highly recommend this simple book – plus – when you get it down pat – you can pass it on to another educator!!!

Sidebar: I am getting ready to set up blogs for my classes this school year and am debating which format I am going to use. I use Moodle for my CMS and like the journal module for students to write directly to me but I don’t care for the blog feature. I was just going to use Blogger since we will already be using gmail accounts and Google docs but now am considering 21 classes (mainly for privacy reasons and the having a main entry page). I am seeking input from other teachers who have used it. I like the fact that the students can customize their pages – which will be critical for my graphic design students. Any comments???

Web 2.0 and Learning

Will Richardson reflects in his blog about the nature of School 2.0 and the “arrival” of Web 2.0 tools. He asks the question

Through teaching them to use these tools to publish, are we also teaching them how to use these tools to continue the learning once that project is over? Can they continue to explore and reflect on the ideas that those artifacts represent regardless of who is teaching the next class? Can they connect with that audience not simply in the ways that books connect to readers (read but no write) but in the ways that allow them to engage and explore more deeply with an ongoing, growing community of learners? Isn’t that the real literacy here?

He goes on to state the the Read/Write web really is the Read/Write/Connect/Reflect Web and we need to continue the discussion not so much about the tools – but how knowledge is about connections through individuals.

I appreciate his reflection on using Web 2.0 tools and learning. Many educators get excited about learning new tools and immediately want to integrate them into their curriculum. What I hear Will saying is that we need to stop and think why we are doing this and does this really represent learning (as oppose to just doing). Frank Smith said in “The Book of Learning and Forgetting” that you learn from the company you keep. Educators everywhere need to create a student-centered environment where learners have opportunities to create, interact, discuss, reflect, build, etc … and if that involves Web 2.0 tools – great. But if educators are only using Web 2.0 tools as an digital version of a worksheet or because it is the latest and greatest thing to hit Education 2.0 – then they are missing the mark.