25 November 2008

Reading Revolution: New Texts and New Technology

This Getting Started session took place during the first week of the K12OnlineConference2008. It was a wiki based presentation that included a live chat with the presentor, Dr. Laurie Fowler. The session is designed to introduce teachers to Web 2.0 tools that can be use to improve reading instruction.

The wiki provides all types of resources to explore the use of new texts and new technology.

Students will need to be able to "read" text in any format from traditonal sources like books, magazines, and textbooks and also from digital formats like audio books on mp3 players, ebooks, and online picture books. Dr. Fowler includes links to various digital resources.

Wordle by Dr. Fowler
Dr. Fowler discusses and provides links to great examples of blogs used by teachers and students to react to literature. "Wikified word walls" are examined as a way to review and develop vocabulary. One of my favorite word wall resources was this short post. And finally, podcasts are examined and demonstrated showing again how students can react to literature by creating book talks or book reviews.

This presentation provides great resources and examples for teachers to implement Web 2.0 tools into reading instruction.

Turbo Tagger

22 November 2008

Learning Persuasive Writing or Debate thru Online Role Play

I'm still working my way through the first week of the K12Online Conference 2008.

Today I'd like to discuss a Proving It session, “Using Online Argument Role-Play to Foster Learning to Argue and Arguing to Learn in a High School Composition Class” by Richard Beach. Professor Beach's presentation which I have listened to several times is an audio presentation only. He discusses the research he conducted with Elizabeth Boeser, a high school English teacher. They discover that the use of blogs and a ning allow students a more meaningful experience that is similar to normal conversations. These conversations become more collaborative and students learn strategies which can be used in persuasive arguments with many audiences.

I found that the written script for the audio presentation was valuable. (I'm more of a visual learner.) His script makes use of italics to highlight his points and findings. The script also gives more specific information about the resources and the location of the evidence (blogs) he is discussing.

Professor Beach's presentor's page is also great. He shares all the various links for the students' work including blogs, digital maps, and rubrics as well as online resources for teaching persuasive/argumentative writing. There is one really cool project that allowed students to research, discuss, and comment to the PTSA about a list of books in the school's library and taught in English classes. Administrators had received "complaints" about the questionable content and educational merit of the books. What a great way to deal with the issue of censorship!

Professor Beach is also the author or co-author of Teaching Writing through Blogs, Wikis, and Other Digital Tools (Christopher Gordon, November, 2008), Teachingmedialiteracy.com: A Web-based Guide to Links and Activities, and Teaching Literature to Adolescents

I think that any teacher, not just English teachers, working with students on persuasive writing and speaking would learn a lot about the advantages of using Web 2.0 tools to enhance student learning by listening and exploring Professor Beach's resources and links.

Turbo Tagger

16 November 2008

Traveling Through The Dark

I have listened to this "Getting Started" session from the K12 Online Conference 2008 several times and watched the video once. Steven Kimmi, the presenter, uses the poem, Traveling Through the Dark by William Stafford as a metaphor to describe his own journey of using technology in his classroom. (Mr. Kimmi doesn't tell the viewers what happens in the poem. I had to find out right away, so if you're like me, read on.)

Traveling Through The Dark by William Stafford

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

You make decisions every day. Do those decisions take you down a new and daring path or the same-old same-old? Mr. Kimmi believes that teachers need to take that new and daring path so that their students can become engaged in their own learning. Flexibility, adaptability, and creativity are skills that students need to develop. I believe that teachers need to act as role models.

Even though I am not a beginner I found his presentation very compelling. I agree that one should understand the technology before introducing it to students, however, sometimes students can also be the teacher and contribute to the learning of their peers and the teacher. The responses to Mr. Kimmi's request for help integrating technology are also helpful.

I think the presentation would be a good resource to help motivate a teacher who is slow to adopt new things.

14 November 2008

Best Practice 4 Technology Integration

Here's another K12OnlineConference session from the Prove It strand, “Facilitating Technology Integration: A Synthesis of the Research” by Jonathon Becker. Doctor Becker examined the research which had already been reported in the literature. He concluded and his reference list of the artcles he examined shows that very little research has been done to examine what manner of professional development (PD) is best to facilitate integrating technology into a teacher's classroom and practice. If a teacher's practice and method change due to the PD then it has been successful. But what makes it successful?

Doctor Becker does a great job of synthesizing "best practice" for PD in technology integration. The keys are: Community, Time, and Content Focus.

  • Community -- colloraborative learning, making use of personal learning networks, reflecting, and sharing
  • High Duration & Intensity -- as much time as possible, but condensed, i.e. 60 hours in 2 weeks or 10-12 hours each weekend for a month.
  • Content Focus with shared learning goals.

When I think back on my days as a teacher librarian, I realize that most of the school district's PD for integrating technology was not best practice. It was of short duration and focused on the technology rather that how to use it in instruction. There was some community, but it wasn't sustained. I'm thinking that inservice days for PD for integrating technology should allow a person to choose one and only one tool (blog, wiki, ning, podcast etc.) for the entire day/s with reflection and sharing done during an entire semester/year. I can think of only one example of best practice of integrating technology and it was when the district implemented a new library management system. Teacher librarians had four days of technical training and then worked with support staff. We all had a common goal. District library staff discussed and shared learning experiences as needed and on a regular basis throughout the school year.

04 November 2008

First Week of K12Online Conference

The K12Online Conference closed last week. Prior to the start of the conference I setup a RSS feed for the conference blog through Google Reader and also a subscription to the audio only podcasts through iTunes.

The first week's two strands, Getting Started and Prove it, each had 10 presentations scheduled. Only 1 was cancelled, and it seems that I didn't get the audio podcast of 4 sessions. It appears that one of the four was a wiki-based presentation w/o audio. I'll have to download the other 3 individually from the presentation's blog post link.

So...I have listened to 15 podcasts from the first week. And relistened to 6 that I found interesting. I have had time to view/listen to the video for only 2 of the 6 and explore the resources that presentors made available.

"Free Tools for Universal Design for Learning in Literacy" by Jennifer Kraft was the first presentation I found valuable in the Getting Started strand. Ms Kraft has organized resources in support of literacy using Glogster. E-books, concept mapping and research tools I am familiar with and use myself, however, I had not heard of most of the tools in the text-to-speech, text-to-MP3, or speech-to-text categories. In fact I would have associated these resources as assistive technology, mainly for use by students with physical disabilities. The presentation explains the many different tools and applications that can be used to help students with reading difficulties participate and learn in class in spite of their problem. Ms Kraft opened my eyes about these free and online tools and how effectively they can be used. The cost for me will be the time spent learning how to use them. As an aside I also found Glogster a great tool in itself that I'd also like to explore.

Another presentation in the Getting Started strand that I really enjoyed was "What Did You Do in School Yesterday, Today, and Three Years Ago" by H. Songhai. Mr Songhai discusses how to make educational use of the many digital handhelds that today's young people can't seem to live without, i.e. cell-phones, mp3 players, digital cameras, etc. His presentation explains how students can document and archive what they do and learn. My first thought was remembering how I worked with students gathering material for a portfolio showcasing their high school career. It included mainly print media with perhaps some pics or photos or artwork included. Portfolio 2.0 has arrived!

More to come...

Turbo Tagger