Muddling through the blogosphere

August 3, 2008
by blogwalker

Three favs from The Edublogger

I just finished a week-long tech workshop for the Area 3 Writing Project. What a treat to hang out for five days with 18 enthusiastic teachers, eager to add Web 2.0 tools to their classroom toolkit. For many it was a steep learning curve, but all left with at least one Edublog ready to go. Throughout the week I would periodically suggest that they check out the wealth of tips that the wonderful Sue Waters keeps sending our way via The Edublogger. The post I most often referred them to was 100 Edublogs Themes Separated into Categories .

This morning I’ve added another post and a comment to my list of favorites from The Edublogger:

Heading into my workshop wiki to add these three links to my blogging resources.

May 31, 2008
by blogwalker

Articulating Blog-Reading Habits

NWP colleague Kevin Hodgson is a guiding light in many ways. For several years now, he has sponsored the Youth Radio project, a podcasting project connecting classrooms across the nation and world as students share topics and projects from their own classrooms, neighborhoods, and regions. It’s been my privilege to connect with the YR project locally by joining A3WP colleague Jim Faires and his students as they listen to, respond to, discuss, and even take to a worldwide audience YR topics.

In the blogging workshops I currently teach, I always direct teachers to Kevin’s classroom blog. In every session, there will always be a teacher or two who, after touring the Electric Pencil, has a whole new understanding of how blogging can benefit teachers and their students.

Now I have a new resource to share in my workshops. I’ll be directing workshop teachers to Kevin’s NWP article Bringing the World to My Doorstep: A Teacher’s Blog-Reading Habits article. Often in my workshops, I realize that teachers leave all setup with their own blog (an Edublog), but without an understanding that blogging is all about reading – reading other bloggers’ thoughts, ideas, and challenges – and responding. Kevin’s article makes visible “how the world of blogs enriches his teaching, supports his tech liaison work, provides opportunities for his students, and keeps him connected both to his NWP network and to a wider network of educators.”

His article also explains so well the power of RSS, another topic I rarely get to in a 2-3 hour workshop, but I think by having teachers read Kevin’s article, I’ll have a great starting point for introducing RSS early on in my upcoming day-long and week-long summer workshops. I’ll also be introducing the term social media literacy.

Social media literacy refers to the ways in which bloggers connect and stay informed of each others’ work. One blogger, Chris Heuer , suggests that RSS could be “the fourth “R” in our conception of literacy , noting that RSS-based social media literacy “enables any individual to step into the conversational flow—to not only follow what other people are communicating, but ensure what the individual has to communicate is heard by other people who care about the topic.”

One more time, I want to thank Kevin for his innovative teaching practices, his commitment to bringing others on board with Web 2.0 best practices, and his willingness to mentor 24/7.

July 21, 2007
by blogwalker

Blogging Teachers Helping Blogging Teachers

Just finished a wonderful week at the Area 3 Writing Project’s summer tech institute Telling Stories in a Digital Age. We started the week with a look at digital story telling as a genre, using Movie Maker 2 as the video editing tool. Throughout the week, we introduced blogging using Edublogs. Unlike the Blogging 101 and Blogging 102 two-hour workshops I do for my district, having a week to consider the possibilities of professional and classroom blogging and to explore all the bell ‘n whistles James has added to Edublogs made a huge difference in what the teachers walked away with at the end of the week!

Thanks to powerful examples I was able to share from other teachers’ blogs, I think every teacher in the group saw new possibilities for teaching and learning. During the course of the week, the two most revisited teacher blogs, I am sure, were my Sacramento neighbor Alice Mercer‘s classroom blog and my NWP colleague Kevin Hodgson’s blog. So Alice and Kevin, if you’re reading this post, thank you for providing effective models for this dedicated, reflective group of teachers.

If you head over to the A3WP Blogsite‘s Blogroll, you will see clear evidence of blogging teachers helping blogging teachers, both in form and content.

One of my mentor teachers told me that a good workshop always starts on time and ends early. I made sure we followed her suggestion each of the five days of the workshop. But I also ended the week with another guideline for a good workshop: Allow enough time and flexibility in a workshop for the participants to go beyond your agenda – and everyone will benefit! By Friday, I was definitely as much a learner as a presenter. Lot 49 and Hungry Heads, for instance became the video widget experts; Mrs. Duenas showed me it was worth adding a little html code in widget textboxes, and Pat Davis‘s tutorial on designing a header for your blog went to a new dimension in Miss Dhanda’s blog.

A great week of blogging teachers helping new blogging teachers!

July 20, 2007
by blogwalker

PowerPoint – a quick rant

I’m sitting in an A3WP tech workshop brainstorming with our summer institute teachers about what makes a PowerPoint presentation ineffective, boring, confusing and/or painful to sit through.

Here are some of our thoughts:

  • Too much writing on a slide
  • Horrid color combinations
  • Background sounds
  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Too many objects or words flying in

Don McMillan’s MySpace video does a great job of summing up bad PowerPoints – [kml_flashembed movie="" width="430" height="346" fvars="m=1529637984;type=video" wmode="transparent" /]

Check back soon for a link to Bee Foster’s handout of PowerPoint do’s and dont’s.

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