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Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

Blogging – A powerful digital literacy/digital citizenship tool

I work in the Technology Services Department for a large public school district. I love my job (technology integration specialist) and truly appreciate my department’s support of programs that promote digital literacy and the potential for students – and teachers – to advance from digital citizens to global citizens.

With this week’s start of the new school year, I’m getting lots of requests from teachers to setup Edublogs Pro classroom blogs, something I am happy to do … but not until we’ve had a conversation about their vision for their blogs. Because my department pays for our Edublog Campus accounts (worth every penny), I like to know how far up the SAMR ladder they – and their students – might travel via their classroom blog. If they simply want an online location to post homework and announcements, I suggest a free Google Site. If they need a little background on the SAMR model, I might send them a short video, such as John Spensor’s introduction, which makes the connection to the potential power of blogging:

Last week, in response to my blogging vision questions, a teacher sent me a link to the awesome Jeff Bradbury’s TeacherCast session: The Great EdTech Debate: Google Sites vs Google Classroom vs Blogger. I emailed back that Jeff was simply reviewing the suite of Google options; he was not commenting on the power and possibilities of  classroom blogging. (And I agree with Jeff that Blogger is not the best choice for a classroom blog.)

This morning, I came across Silvia Tolisano’s post Blogging Through the Lens of SAMR, I decided it was time to gather resources and rationale on moving a classroom blog from “substitution” (the “S” of SAMR) to “redefinition.” Silvia’s post, with its wonderful infographics, is a great starting point. I’m also including and highly recommending:

As a former classroom teacher, I witnessed many times the bump in literacy skills that happens when students know their work really matters, a change that generally requires an authentic audience. Blogging can provide a 24/7 microphone for students to join in virtual conversations with students and classrooms across the nation and world – and, in the process, cross the line from consumer of information to creator of information – and from digital citizen to global citizen.

I’m ending this post with two things: a blogger’s poem and an invitation.

#1) An if-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie-style poem from Edublogger Ronnie Burt’s blog post A Rhyme? Why Not! Please note that “website” = “blog”:

If you give a student a website, at first, he isn’t going to be sure what to do.

He will start by wanting to decorate it and personalize it too.

He’ll no doubt choose some interesting colors and flashing widgets – making sure he has the most.

Once you go over expectations, you will assign the student to write his first post.

The student will ask, ‘is this for a grade?’, and he will probably groan.

But once he publishes to his new website, he’ll immediately want to pull out his phone.

He’ll post a link to twitter and facebook, out across the interwebs his post will be sent.

He’ll hit refresh in his browser, over and over, just hoping that a visitor has left a comment.

Before long he’ll see the comment notifications show up in his queue.

And an ongoing dialogue between his family, friends, and classmates will certainly continue.

So the next time he learns something new in your class, there won’t be much of a fight.

Before you even get the chance to finish, the student will ask if he can write another post on his website.

 

#2 ) An invitation to share classroom and student blogs I could showcase in my next post on blogging best practices. Please leave a comment with links!

Best wishes to everyone for the 2017-2018 school year.

PS Thank you Pixabay for cc licensed blogging image!

 

Fall CUE 2016 – A few takeaways

Fall CUE 2016 – A few takeaways

This year’s Fall CUE Conference seemed like a drive-by event since I could attend on Friday only. (But don’t feel sorry for me for missing out on Saturday’s sessions; I was headed up to Amador County for an annual wine-tasting weekend.) Despite a rainy 2-hour drive to and from Napa, Friday’s sessions were worth the travel time.

Due a few traffic slowdowns, I unfortunately missed Dave Burgess’ (Teach like a Pirate) opening keynote, but from Session 1 on, I left with some great takeaways:

Steam Power Your School – I am a huge advocate for making sure the “A” is included in STEM (STEAM not STEM) programs, especially at the elementary level.  I loved the research pieces session leaders Jennifer Kloczko, Joe Wood, and Brandon Blom included in their slideshow, such as this infographic from the University of Florida. But what really made their session zing were the live clips of students at their school sites starting the school day with dance and/or having access to dance and music throughout the school day. I’m also adding Prodigy Island Math (free online game designed for students in grades 1-8 to use their math skills to battle wizards) and Math Olympiads (an $89 gaming program to challenge your advanced math students) to my list of engaging math programs.

Student Research Using Google Tools – At least once a year, I teach a Google Search workshop in my district or region, so I’m always interested to see what other presenters are including in their search sessions. I’m glad I attended Melissa Hero’s session. Her presentation is very similar is scope and sequence to my workshop, but I came away with a great takeaway: search queries to use if you want your Google search to return Google Docs, Slides, or Sheets for whatever topic you or your students are seeking:

  • site:docs.google.com/document/d
  • site:docs.google.com/presentation/d
  • site:docs.google.com/spreadsheet/d

So if I wanted to find Google Slides presentations on butterflies, for instance, I’d enter the following in the omnibar: site:docs.google.com/presentation/d butterflies. I’m not sure what the “d” stands for on the end of each query, but I’m headed to Google Mountain View on Monday for a Google Certified Innovator celebration, so I’ll pose that question and then update this post.

The World Isn’t Flat – Oh, my, such a mind-blowing session! Brian Briggs and Bill Selek opened a new world of teaching and learning possibilities with the 360° camera. Their presentation link takes you, via Thinglink, to a 360° field of sunflowers, with Brian (I think) in the middle. No, he did not have to swivel and take snapshot after snapshot – the camera does that for you. In thinking about historical events or scenes from literature, consider how often the story is – or could be – told from different perspectives/viewpoints. Imagine recreating a scene from the Civil War, for instance, with soldiers advancing and surrounding a key battle site. If I had had this camera with me during my recent trip to Rwanda, I would be working right now on an interactive lesson to pair with the movie Hotel Rwanda. Oh so many possibilities for taking digital storytelling to new levels.

If a 360° camera is not in your budget right now, a very good next-best option is the free Google Street View App. Thank you, Ryan O’Donnell, for joining the session and giving some tips on using this app.

I don’t usually showcase tools or programs that are not free, but I’d like to present a case to teachers and administrators on why the price of a Thinglink 3D account + a 360° camera (or the free Google Street View App) could seamlessly transform a lesson from Substitution to Redefinition.

Thank you to the wonderful group of teachers who joined me for my Can I Use That? session. Please feel free to contact me with questions on Creative Common, copyright, and fair use as they come up in your teaching assignments.

A huge thank you to the CUE team for all the planning and work that went into the 2016 Fall CUE Conference.  Your efforts were worth every minute!

#cue16 – a few takeaways

#cue16 – a few takeaways

cue16Just returned from the #cue16 conference. It’s a long drive from Sacramento to Palm Springs (9 hours), but so worth it! I was fortunate to travel and room with Elk Grove teacher extraordinaire Cathe Petuya, so the drive was as an integral part of the #cue16 experience. On the way down, we envisioned how to transform three of our elementary sites into demo schools to model powerful integration of technology onto the core curriculum – and beyond the classroom walls. With that purpose in mind, we discussed sessions likely to help us transform our vision to a reality. And, of course, other sessions that were just plain grabbers.

Below are a few of my favorite #cue16 takeaways:

  • eABLEing All Learners: Mobile Devices as Transformational Technology – This was my first time to hear Luis Perez. I actually stumbled into his session by mistake … and was immediately drawn into his passion for opening a world of learning and possibilities for special needs students through new technologies. Luis started with a Thinglink infographic on the SAMR model, and then moved on to awesome apps, such as Voice Dream Reader + Writer, an app that offers text to speech and more (checkout this review to see how this app allows for importing books for students with dyslexia – and it then does line and word highlighting.)  For some app-smashing, Luis suggested teaming Touchcast (a free app that mixes video with web content) and telligami (a great app for creating animated avatars). Start by creating your avatar with telligami; then record you voice via Touchcast – and watch your audio sync with your animation. Very cool!

 

 

 

 

  • Can I Use That? Fair Use for the Remix Generation – Yes, this was the session I co-presented with Jane Lofton, a treat in itself, but, oh my, what a great audience. Loved continuing the conversations as I crossed paths with participants throughout the conference.
#cue16 session

I also loved the opportunity to showcase an outstanding resource, filmed an produced by Jim Bentley’s 5th graders, for teaching Creative Commons. Love the model of students teaching students!

Two great resources for teaching Creative Commons

 

  • Transliteracy/Metaliteracy: An Unintentional Film Festival or 10 Big Things We Should be Teaching in 2016 – Thank you again, CUE, for bringing information literacy rock star Joyce Valenza to #cue16. The session description was right-on: “From a better understanding of intellectual property to best tools for telling stories and communicating new knowledge, Joyce counts them down and reveals granular strategies for delivering instruction, using illustrations from classic film.”
    Takeaways and tips from Joyce’s session included:

    • Curation – a must-have skill for our students. Using tools like EdShelf, you can model how you curate and organize your information world.
    • Knowing that “truth is fuzzy and contextual,” how can students test for credibility? Annotations – via tech tools (ie.g, Thinglink, youtube)
    • To help students build their awareness of Creative Commons licensing, include a link to the CC Search link on school/class websites.
    • Teachers can/should guide students in the transition from “digital citizens” to “digital leaders,” illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth’s infographic.
  • Choose Your Own Edventure: Creating Interactive Google Forms – Although I’m pretty familiar with familiar with Google Forms, I thought it would be a treat to watch Nicole Delasio and Bill Selek co-present. It was! Their resources were great! But equally important was their warm, humorous delivery style. I think my biggest takeaway from this session was a reminder that, when possible, always team with someone you clearly enjoy working with.

So many great #cue16 sessions and so little time! For every session I attended, there were at least three – five offered at the same time I would have loved to have attended. And the learning and fun extended beyond the conference into the evenings …

 

Palm Springs farmers market with Cathe Petuya and Barbara Bray

 

Friday night dinner with Joyce Valenza, Jane Lofton, Julianna Hedstrom, Cathe Petuya and librarian friends

 

… and the 9-hour drive back home pretty much flew by, with not nearly enough time to reflect on all that we were taking away from #cue16.

Heading into Twitter to see if I can find blog posts and resources from the sessions I missed. Thank you again, CUE team, for an amazing 3 days!

Connected Educator’s Month – Off to a great start!

Connected Educator’s Month – Off to a great start!

October 21–25, 2013

A huge shoutout to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology for once again (2nd year) sponsoring October’s  Connected Educator Month (CEM) and to Mike Ribble, Jason Ohler, Common Sense Media, and Cable in the Classroom for their combined efforts to declare the week of October 19 -26 as National Digital Citizenship Week. So many great opportunities to promote digital/global citizenship skills!

Students speak out through #UnfollowBullying

And if last week is any indication, CEM will be memorable from start to finish.  On October 1, I had the privilege of co-facilitating a booth for my district at the state capitol for the anti-bullying rally  Stand Up! Speak Out! What a privilege to have the opportunity to boast about the #UnfollowBullying student-created, student-led campaign, which, like CEM, is heading into its second year with students leading the charge.

On Saturday, I headed to UC Davis to join in the California Writing Project’s 40th year celebration. The collective energy, creativity, and passion for sharing past practices in promoting students as (digital, multimedia) writers and showcasing their achievements was infectious. I left with wonderful ideas for powering up the CCSS through primary source documents (e.g., tons of digitized documents from the Library of Congress collections) , great tools for engaging and supporting ELs (e.g., Tellegami with primary students, and even Voki), and great questions to take back to my district regarding the upcoming SBAC tests (California’s choice for CCSS testing). Peter’s Kittle’s Storify account will provide you with some insights into the day’s events – which started with a pitch to participants to tweet the event via Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s #Hashtag video.

Week one of Connected Educator’s Month was a blast. Hmm…I’m thinking every month should be about connecting educators and their students.

Saying Good Bye to Wayne Maeda

Saying Good Bye to Wayne Maeda

Wayne Maeda

I will remember for a long time to come the beautiful memorial service, reception, and solidarity of the diverse community who gathered Friday at the Sacramento Buddhist Temple to honor the memory of Wayne Maeda. He leaves a huge legacy.

You can learn more about Wayne’s commitment to teaching for tolerance by reading his book Changing Dreams and Treasured Memories: A Story of Japanese Americans in the Sacramento Region.  Sac  State’s Asian American and Ethnic Studies program and department is a result of Wayne’s vision and passion for combating hate crimes and other social injustices.

I called on Wayne many times in the last eight years to meet with teachers in my district to provide the historical context needed to help build our Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project. He never once said no to my continual guest speaker requests.

Two years ago, I traveled with a group of Sacramento teachers and students to the legendary World War II internment camp Manzanar. I will never forget this experience. The trip was paid for through a California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant – written by Wayne.  Wayne also invited my friend and talented videographer Doug Niva to accompany us. The result was the I’m American Too documentary. I know that all who have watched the documentary and who knew Wayne, myself included, will consider the documentary a tribute to Wayne’s dedication to “never letting the mistakes of American history be repeated.”

2012 Edublogs Awards – It’s that time of year again

2012 Edublogs Awards – It’s that time of year again

As much as I look forward to opportunities to showcasing good teachers and good teaching, this year’s Eddies deadline kind of crept up on me. I am therefore not nominating in every category, just the ones where a nominee jumps right out at me.

 

  • Best individual blog – dComposing – Paul Oh continues to provide thoughtful reflections on education trends and resources
  • Best group blog – Youth Voices – supported by the National Writing Project, a great online community for students to connect with and write with other students on shared interests and passions.
  • Best class blog – Mr. Bentley’s Class Blog – a great resource for teachers hoping to weave movie making into the core curriculum.
  • Best ed tech / resource sharing blog – Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers blog is a treasure.
  • Best teacher blog – Kevin’s Meandering Mind – For more than a few year’s, Kevin Hodgson continues to be a key contributor to my online PLN.
  • Best library / librarian blog – Sheldon High School Library blog
  • Best individual tweeter – For the 3rd year, I nominate Jackie Gerstein – https://twitter.com/jackiegerstein – every tweet is a valuable resource, tip, or insight.
  • Best twitter hashtag – #UnfollowBullying
  • Best free web tool – Twitter (90% of my PLN)
  • Best educational use of a social network – Teachers Teaching Teachers – I try to logon to this Wednesday night event as often as possible – and always end the hour rethinking best practices.
  • Lifetime achievement – Paul Allison – Year after year, he is the guiding light behind the Teachers Teaching Teachers community.

 

Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum – It’s not too late the apply!

Microsoft Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum – It’s not too late the apply!

ShiftED 2012 Competition

I woke at the crack of dawn yesterday and made the 3-hour drive to the Krause Center for Innovation at beautiful Foothill College to participate in the ShiftED 2012 Innovative Educator Competition. With Milton Chen as the keynote speaker and a group of teachers ready to share “creative and inspiring examples of how educators and schools are using technology,” I knew I was in for a treat well worth the drive time!

To add to the excitement, I was joining my NWP colleague and MERIT teammate Natalie Bernasconi to present our Digital ID project. At 2:00, following the teacher presentations, a wonderful lunch, and a hilarious PD session by Microsoft’s Rob Bayuk, Rushton Hurley stepped up to the mic to announce the three finalists who will represent Silicon Valley at the national Microsoft-Sponsored Partners in Learning 2012 US Forum in Redmond, Washington, July 31 – August 1, all expenses paid…

Microsoft 2012 US Forum

 

…..Whoohoo!!!!  Natalie and I will be joining 98 other educators in Washington!

Wishing you could be one of the 100 teachers heading to the US Forum?  It’s not too late! You have until May 15 to submit your application directly to Microsoft.

 

ISTE Day 2: Will Richardson – This is not a unit

ISTE Day 2: Will Richardson – This is not a unit

Love it when a presenter already has his/her presentation posted online.  No surprise that Will Richardson’s This is not a unit presentation is already accessible for his many followers – and you can also follow the backchannel discussion at http://todaysmeet.com/wriste11.

We’re starting with  a look at the learning network of Mark Klassen, a young self-taught (with input from the online public) cinematographer who freely shares all his work and invite comments. “Sharing my work online so that other people can see it and give me feedback and advice on it has become a huge part of the way I learn.”

Seymore Sarrason – at age 91 raised the question: What does “learning” mean to you? Will has thrown the question out to the audience – none of  “productive learning is the learning process which engenders and reinforces wanting to learn more. Absent wanting to learn, the learning cntext is unproductive or counterproductive.”

Question: How do we get kids to come home with a passion to learn more? What do we really want kids to leave school knowing?

Mark Klassen has learned online from professional cinematographers.  Who can our kids learn from? Check out his In 60 Seconds graphic.

On to 8 shifts:

  1. Do talk to strangers – reality is that predators are mainly those they know. (Nancy Brace?) We don’t mess up enough to block out the world. Using his ClustrMap as his classroom – everyone who visits wants to be there. No one is teaching kids to do this well. We have to figure out how to bring strangers into our learning live.
  2. Create your G-portfolio – what comes up when you Google yourselves? So how do we help students become “Googled well” Grad requirement at some schools: students must be googled well under their own names.  It’s about having kids be publicized online. Will shared Katrina Gurule’s “my kick butt graduation speech” on FB, as example of students not understanding nothing’s private on the internet and you can’t take it back. Do students like Katrina Gurule really think that they’re never going to be employed.
  3. Share widely – If we share the best practices of our profession, we can lift up the profession.
  4. Manage information – Twitter, for instance.  Referenced  NCTE definition for 21 century literacies and asked how many kids are illiterate because we only give them one source of info (handout).
  5. Be crap detectors – Howard Rheingold (Walter Kronkite) – will push your thinking.  How do you determine authority? klout.com – kind of stupid the way they do it – but we’re at first phase of measuring how folks do stuff online.  MLK.com – still widely visited.
  6. Follow your passions – how can we give kids learning content that aligns with their passions. Mockingjay.net – created around the Hunger Games – set up by 3 kids who never met each other.
  7. Learning to learn (instead of learning to know) – Khan Academy – big debate – if you don’t have access to instruction, use it – but is it high-quality education? Given the amount of information out there – we can’t ignore the impact in our f2f teaching. Our students are picking their own teachers. Are we helping them do that? motuto.com – myon reader (amazon for kids)
  8. Solve problems – not solving in the back of the chapter – literacy = problem solving -across cultures,etc. Check out TED with Dan Meyer.

Parting question: How do we change schools? Lots to think about from this session.  Will definitely be revisiting slideshow.

The NWP Does Not Offer a Finder’s Fee

The NWP Does Not Offer a Finder’s Fee

If you are connected in any way with the National Writing Project (NWP), then I bet the scenario below is a familiar one:

On Tuesday I had an email from Skye Smith, a first grade teacher in my district, who wondered if I could offer her a bit of help using Movie Maker 2. In my current position as a technology integration specialist, I often have the privilege of witnessing outstanding teaching from teachers who create an environment that so exciting, inviting, and supportive that I’ve barely left their classroom before I’m already online or on the phone with other colleagues to share about my latest amazing-teacher find.

And that was exactly how it went on Tuesday. One of Skye Smith’s students, a budding writer (and also a Level 1 English Language Learner) had been inspired by the expression “ants in your pants” to create a hilarious story by drawing on the literal meaning of the words. Skye shared with me several video clips of the student reading her story to her classmates, who were clearly and completely enthralled.

Because the students were also following the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, they thought maybe if they turned Ants in Your Pants into a movie, they could share it with the children of Sendai, Japan, “to give them something to smile about, maybe even laugh about.”

Over the course of two days, Skye’s students busily and collaboratively transformed Ants in Your Pants from a vision to a full-on video production. And in the process took learning to action.

Barely out of the parking lot, I called Lesley McKillop, a 4th grade teacher at Skye’s site – who participated in last  summer’s NWP Summer Institute through our local Area 3 Writing Project. I prefaced my description of Skye’s teaching style and lesson by stating, “We have to bring Skye Smith into the Writing Project!”  Throughout our 5-minute phone call, we must have said at least 6 times, separately or simultaneously, “We have to bring Skye into the Writing Project!”

Rewind a year back at the same site (Prairie Elementary), and Lesley would have been the topic of my parking lot phone calls.  Following a visit to Lesley’s classrom and watching, for instance, her students transform “show-not-tell” writing into award-winning multmedia pieces, my phone calls were to NWP colleague Pam Bodnar – along with emails to A3WP director Karen Smith – to say, “We have to get Lesley McKillop into the Writing Project!”

No, the NWP does not award finder’s fees for bringing inspiring teachers into a Summer Institute.  The project is all about teachers teaching teachers. NWP is sort of a “give one/get one” concept that exponentially supports and promotes outstanding teachers on their journeys to becoming coaches and mentors beyond their own school sites. “NWP believes in knowledge that grows organically in and by the specific community of learners” (Joseph McCaleb).

I joined the NWP community 16 years ago.  Like so many of my fellow NWP colleagues who have more eloquently explained the importance and benefits of this vibrant, dynamic community, I realize that it has become second nature to me to actively recruit the best of the best for the A3WP. No finder’s fee needed.

From the bottom of my heart – and in view of my list of Teachers from My District Who Should Join the Writing Project, teachers whose expertise should be extended to a national audience – I hope we can convince our representatives to restore funding to the National Writing Project, a project that  “bridges that gap between what was not in our teacher education classes and what our students demand from us as we prepare them for their worlds” (Ellen Shelton, Mississippi Writing Project).


Kathleen Yancey at NECC – Best session I did not attend

Kathleen Yancey at NECC – Best session I did not attend

I should have known that Kathleen Yancey would pack ‘um in at NECC – and I should have been there early.  Try as I did, I could not persuade the ISTE door person to let me in.  But I lucked out….Sandy Hayes taped (with permission) “The Yancey’s” whole session. And Carla Beard blogged the session.

Live from NECC 2009 – Kathleen Yancey from Gail Desler on Vimeo.

What can I add about a session I did not attend, besides the above snippet?…How about posting NCTE’s 10 Belief’s About the Teaching of Writing (another gem shared by Sandy Hayes)?!

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