Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Meme: Passion Quilt















Photo: fotographicpoetry on flickr

Curiosity.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

- Henry Ford

Many thanks to Kate Olson who tagged me for this "passion quilt" meme post.


The rules are simple.


1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.

2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about...and give your picture a short title.

3. Title your blog post "Meme: Passion Quilt" and link back to this blog entry.

4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

My Picture

I chose this picture because it shows children totally engaged in the act of discovery. Not only is this something I thoroughly enjoy seeing in my students, but it is also how I am feeling while learning all that Web 2.0 has to offer my students and me, as their teacher.

My Passion

I have always been very passionate about the environment, literacy, and our children's future (not necessarily in that order). I wonder what lies ahead for my students, and I know I may play a small part in that. It's an awesome responsibility.


You've been tagged: I'm passing this meme onto five teachers that I've met through Twitter (and one in real life!); my apologies if you've already been tagged:






Monday, February 18, 2008

Learning in the 21st Century

I have been to a few seminars during this school year that have emphasized the need to make sure our students are 21st century literate. If you have any doubt that we in education are behind in preparing our children for their future, watch this video and then visit http://shifthappens.wikispaces.com/.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogging With Students

I just saw this video on TeacherTube called "Top 10 Reasons to Blog with Students." Thanks to my TwitterBuds for recommending it! And now I'm recommending it to all of you who still aren't sure why you should be blogging with your students:

http://tinyurl.com/2dk2mg

Do You Delicious?

If any of my seventh graders see that I’m sure they’ll point out that you can’t “DO” delicious (at least I certainly hope they will). And why is that, class? Because “delicious” is an adjective, not a verb! Then perhaps I should be more precise. I’m referring to del.icio.us which is what’s known as a social bookmarking service. So now I guess we can say that del.icio.us is a noun. Thus ends your grammar lesson for today.

And what is “social bookmarking”, you may ask? Lest you start to think of it as a group of gray-haired librarians sitting around knitting bookmarks, allow me to explain. Social bookmarking is a method of storing, organizing, and managing all those internet bookmarks you used to save to your computer. Now you can do that on an internet website like del.icio.us or furl. One of the advantages of using a social bookmarking website is that it allows the user to save favorite websites to their account from any computer.

Let’s say I were to start doing research for an upcoming speech project for my seventh graders this weekend. If I find any interesting websites I can save them to my del.icio.us account. But what happens if I’m sitting at the desk in my classroom Tuesday afternoon and I find the perfect website that will help bring the entire project together? Do I save it to my school computer, email the link to myself at home, and hope that my email goes through? No. I save it to my del.icio.us account and stop worrying!

The other benefit I really enjoy is that I can share all of my links with other teachers who are in my network. When I join their network, with the click of a mouse, I can see all of the great information that they’ve been finding out there on the web. And the use of tags (think of these as keywords) enables me to find exactly the information I’m looking for.

Are you ready to have a look? Then follow the link to my del.icio.us account on the left-hand side of this blog (or click on the links in this post) and check out what I’ve been reading.

Oh, and did I mention it’s completely free!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Never Stop Learning!

We tell our students that they should aspire to be lifelong learners. As teachers, should we not endeavor to do the same? We ask our students to challenge themselves every day by learning new words, new formulas, new theories. How many times have you heard “It’s too hard,” “I don’t get it,” or “Wait…what?” (that one may just be a middle school thing). But so many teachers shy away from new technologies saying “I don’t have time,” “I’ll never get it,” or “Wait…what?” (that one may just be me!) Well, my friends, it’s time for us to practice what we preach. Let’s learn something new today, shall we?

On his blog, David Warlick (http://davidwarlick.com/2cents/) created the following to-do list for those of us wishing to become “21st Century Literate Educators.” I’ve already checked several of these off my list; how many can you accomplish before my next post?

A Path to Becoming a 21st Century Literate Educator — Self Development
  • Find two or more other educators in your school who are interested in learning and using emerging information and communication technologies. It would be of enormous advantage if you can include your schools library media specialist.
  • Identify the appropriate person in your school or district who can provide technical support and configuration for your increasingly utilized computers and network. Bake them some chocolate chip cookies.
  • Identify some edu-bloggers who are talking about the emerging ICTs you are considering. See the Bloggers to Learn From wiki, contributed to by a world community of educators.
  • Delegate! Assign each member of your team some of the selected blogs to follow, and share specific posts with each other.
  • Read, study, and discuss books about teaching and learning and the world we’re doing it in. See the Books to Learn From. wiki, contributed to by a world community of educators.
  • Schedule regular meetings (once or twice a month) at a local restaurant, coffee shop, or pizzeria (preferably with WiFi). Meet and discuss what you’ve learned and what you want to learn.
  • Start a group del.icio.us (A social bookmarks service) account for organizing and sharing web resources.
  • Start a wiki for posting notes, links, and step-by-step instructions.
  • Join one or more of the Ning social networks, such as: School 2.0, Library 2.0, Classroom 2.0.
  • Start your own blogs for sharing your reflections on what you are learning and how you are learning it.
  • Start experimenting in your class and share the results.
  • Share your results with other teachers in your school and Invite them into your conversation.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Basics, Part 2

Now that you know what a blog is, it's time to explore a few. If you haven't already, check out the links on the left-hand side of this page. I've included a few of my favorite blogs here. But there are literally millions of blogs out there. Where do you find them? What topics do they cover? Do you have to go check them every day to see if there are new posts? Answers: Easy. Everything. Of course not!

There are a number of ways to find the blogs you want. I use Google for both creating my blog and gathering up all the blogs I want to read. So, start here: www.google.com and get yourself an account with Google. It's completely free! Once you have an account (which includes a gmail account), you'll be able to subscribe to blogs easily.

In the Google toolbar, you'll see the word "more" with an arrow next to it. Click on the arrow and you'll see a list. Let's start by clicking on "blogs" to do a search. Once the Google Blog Search opens up, type in anything that might be of interest to you and check out all the blogs that people just like you have created!

Another blog search tool I've found is Best of the Web Blogs: http://blogs.botw.org/ This website separates blogs into categories, which might be a good place to start if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed. If you're okay so far, then let's subscribe!

In order to subscribe to a blog, you're going to need an aggregator such as Google Reader (which is what I use). An aggregator is a Web application that will go out into the vast reaches of the internet and check the blogs that you subscribe to for new posts. When the author of your favorite blog, say "Notes from McTeach," for instance, adds a new post to their blog your aggregator will let you know. You don't have to check all the different blogs you subscribe to for new information. You can just check one place for all the cool information you're looking for! Sound good? Then let's try it!

You've already got your Google account, right? Then let's go back to the main Google page and find that "more" arrow again. Click on it and look for "Reader." Google Reader is really easy to use! Once you know what blog you want (did I mention "Notes from McTeach"?), click on "Add subscription" and type in http://notesfrommcteach.blogspot.com Click on "add" and you'll never miss another pearl of wisdom from yours truly!

Any questions, class?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Basics

Shall we start with the basics? Are you wondering just what a blog is? “Blog”, short for “web log”, is something like a diary or journal on the internet where an author (or authors) can post messages so that others can view and, in many cases, write responses. For an easy-to-understand explanation of blogs, check out The Common Craft Show. Visit http://www.commoncraft.com and click on the little reporter. “Blogs in Plain English” and “Wikis in Plain English” are both excellent explanations of two tools available in the world of Web 2.0.

Wait…am I going too fast? Sorry, but you’ll just have to pick up the pace! Our students are already way ahead of most of us; we have some catching up to do.

Welcome!

Welcome to my first blog! My goal for this blog is for teachers (especially the ones I work with) to share ideas for using technology in their classrooms. Our students live in a world that is so very different than the one we grew up in, and if we are going to reach them we have to not only visit their world but take up residence in it.

To this end, I will be posting information here that I find of interest and hope that you will do the same. Of course, this blog is by no means limited to discussions of technology alone. Feel free to post any questions or comments here about teaching or life in general. I know teachers have a lot to say, so let's hear it!

Any suggestions for the blog will also be most appreciated.