Muddling through the blogosphere

October 12, 2008
by blogwalker

Shift Happens

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Edublogger community. As as veteran Edublogger (my first EB post was in March 2006), I’ve have been through a few upgrades and therefore know that when EB returns, it’s even better than before. I’m thinking back to June of 2007, when there was a two-weekwindow of down time during upgrades. I was attending a NECC Conference in Atlanta where a number of “big names,” such as Will Richardson, were attempting to introduce EB as part of the their blogging workshops. Because they’re used to working through technology issues, not having access to EB was not that big a deal.

But here’s what’s changed for me … Over the past two weeks, I’ve received many emails from teachers who’ve been in my EB workshops wondering what was going on. OK, this is a huge shift. Since most of my district, county, and A3WP workshops are free, I’m never really sure if my attendees truly want to learn about blogging, or if they are just looking for free units to apply to their salary schedule.

So about those emails….bring ‘um on !What the flood of questions means to me is that I now have a growing bank of teachers who are incorporating Web 2.0 technologies into their teachers’ toolkit. What felt like just a ripple a year ago is starting for feel a tsunami. Welcome back EB!

December 24, 2007
by blogwalker

NPR Celebrates 10th B-day of Blogging

My favorite radio program NPR included a podcast on blogging’s 10th birthday in today’s Morning Edition – What could I add to Vicki Davis‘s excellent description of blogging as a classroom tool for extending teaching and learning? Perhaps one blog post and two 30-second videoclips:

  • The blog post that best sums up how and why blogging can boost literacy skills: Will Richardson’s Jan 2007 post Blogging to Teach Reading – “blogging is reading with the intent to write,” which is a whole different ball game than reading to answer a multiple-choice test!
  • From Florin High School students Erica and Phillip explaining, during a 2005 CUE presentation via videoconferencing straight from their classroom, what blogging means to them.

December 16, 2007
by blogwalker

Happy 10th Birthday to Blogging!

Four days ago, I clicked on a link in an email from Steve Hargadon, via Classroom 2.0, with an invitation to celebrate blogging’s 10th birthday by posting a Voice Thread.

“Some of us believe that blogging, as one of the great entry points into ‘read/write’ web (or “Web 2.0″), is having a transformative impact on education and learning, and that we are at the start of a new renaissance that will be defined by the participatory, contributive, and collaborative nature of the Web.”

At that time, Steve and three others had posted. Since it was already late, I jumped in the next morning (I think I might have been the 6th person to add a comment). Just checked back…to find 28 people have added their thoughts. I am still in awe of the participatory possibilities of Web 2.0!

I saw the “transformative” impact of blogging on teaching and learning five years ago, when I delved into my first student blog project and discovered that a group of disengaged high school students (already “dismissed” from the traditional high school and attending a continuation school) were reading a posting after school hours – when they did not have to. The new tools, such as Voice Thread, Slideshare, and podcasting, continue to make a good tool even better.

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Happy Birthday, Blogs!

For some reason, I feel the need to end this post with a slightly different Happy Birthday wish (?) for Web 2.0 – from THE Journal’s Steve Weinbstock –

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July 28, 2007
by blogwalker

Student Bloggers: A New Category

Thanks to some year-long mentoring by Paul Allison and Susan Ettenheim, I am now fully on board with students having their own blogs. I logged off Wednesday night’s Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypecast with some concrete ideas for providing students with the scaffolding to incorporate and share research in their blog posts. Paul has set up a wiki with the instructions for getting Youth Voices 2007 students up and running with Google Reader. I can see how this common thread will help connect readers and writers within the elgg setup and community and stretch their thinking/reading/writing skills as they post and respond.

I am also remembering an NECC conversation with Mark Wagner, who mentioned a student blog he added to his reader: My Year 8 English Blog. After reading Casper’s piece on plastic bags, I sincerely hope this young writer will continue posting when he enters his 9th year.

And thanks to Karl Fisch’s recent post, I discovered 7-year old Abby’s blog. I’m looking forward to following her through the school year. Abby’s will be a great site to share with teachers. This is definitely not MySpace! And check out her ClustrMap!clustrmap.png

Hence a new category in my Blogroll: Student Blogs.

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June 29, 2007
by blogwalker

Blogging NECC

georgiawcc.jpgThanks to the generous support of the California K12HSN, I attended – and blogged – NECC 2007. Due to Edublogs updates, I borrowed space from my dog Nola’s Blogger site (hey, she’s a Katrina survivor, but not an educator, so therefore Blogger instead of Edublogs). The links below are posts of the highlights from noteworthy sessions I blogged live from Atlanta.

As soon as I shake a case of jetlag, I’ll be posting some NECC 2007 afterthoughts, tips, and resources. 20,000 attendees – whew …

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March 3, 2007
by blogwalker

Good Things Happening at Nicholas Elementary – SCUSD

Alice Mercer, 5th grade teacher at Nicholas Elementary School in the Sacramento City Unified School District is experimenting with a number of Web 2.0 tools to support and engage her students in learning. Through a visit to her Ms. Mercer’s Class Website, I discovered very cool FREE – and “not-yet-blocked” tool that Alice is using to host her online Homework Club –

“Vyew (pronounced “view”) is an Anytime Collaboration and Live Conferencing™ platform that provides a virtual space for Web users to create, collaborate and communicate with each other. Vyew includes a rich set of tools that enable collaborators to work together on documents, images, screen captures, desktop shares, whiteboard annotations, and more. ”

I met Alice in last week’s EdTechTalk. Very exciting to discover a teacher doing good things for kids right one district over!
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March 2, 2007
by blogwalker

Electric Pen Chosen as Tech Learning Site of the Week

Kevin Hodgson‘s Electric Pen classroom weblog site provides teachers with a window into Web 2.0 possibilities at the elementary level. It is also Tech Learning‘s site of the week. What a well-deserved recognition! Kevin is my friend, mentor, and also a fellow NWP Tech Liaison. I’ve had the good fortune to join him in the Youth Radio project, a project he developed to connect students across the nation, and now across the world, in blogging and podcasting about thoughts, stories, and issues in their own communities.

Kevin mentors and inspires teachers as well as students. His SciFi novel in Six Words wiki, for example, was my first experience with collaborative writing in a wiki. Whatever learning adventure he is sponsoring, I know it will be worth the learning curve – which he manages to keep to a comfortable minimum.

Kevin’s projects serve as examples on the “New Bloom,” an updated version of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which points towards technology-enhanced activities as the means for taking students beyond “Remember” (the old “Knowledge).

Yeah Kevin!
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February 18, 2007
by blogwalker

Showing Web 2.0

During a recent workshop on Internet safety, I attempted to provide teachers with classroom-related examples of Web 2.0 use. It might have been more information than they needed since they arrived expecting to hear about iSafety, not student projects. As I rethink the workshop agenda, I’m collecting sample videos to provide quick – and maybe inspiring – glimpses into the Read/Write web. Here’s what I have so far:

  1. (Thanks to NWP TL Tanya Witherspoon.
  2. (From Brian Crosby)
  3.  (Chris Walsh).

January 21, 2007
by blogwalker

Demystifying the Flash Player Thingie

I love being a part of the YouthRadio community. This project is wonderful professional development piece for me. Our fearless leader Kevin just explained to our teacher group how to embed a flash file so listeners do not exit the site when listening to one of the student podcasts. Let me see if I can embed the latest podcast from Jim Faires’ students.

Butler Students Look Forward to the NewYear and Beyond

January 20, 2007
by blogwalker

Anne Davis’s Rationale for educational blogging

Following a work week when I felt the need to justify introducing teachers into Web2.0, I started my morning with Anne Davis‘s inspiring and research-based post Rationale for educational blogging. Besides listing 13 points below, she also references work by Don Leu, one of my heroes.

  1. Blogs provide a space for sharing opinions and learning in order to grow communities of discourse and knowledge — a space where students and teachers can learn from each other
  2. Blogs help learners to see knowledge as interconnected as opposed to a set of discrete facts.
  3. Blogs can give students a totally new perspective on the meaning of voice. As students explore their own learning and thinking and their distinctive voices emerge. Student voices are essential to the conversations we need to have about learning.
  4. Blogs foster ownership and choice. They help lead us away from students trying to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer.
  5. The worldwide audience provides recognition for students that can be quite profound. Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond. It gives them motivation to excel. Students need to be taught skills to foster a contributing audience on their blog.
  6. The archive feature of blogging records ongoing learning. It facilitates reflection and evaluation. One student told me that he could easily find his thoughts on a matter and he could see how his thinking had changed and why.
  7. The opportunity for collective and collaborative learning is enormous. Students have the opportunity to read their classmates’ blogs and those of others. This is not possible in a regular classroom setting.
  8. Blogging provides the possibility of connecting with experts on the topic students are writing.
  9. The interactive nature of blogging creates enthusiasm for writing and communication.
  10. Blogging engages students in conversation and learning.
  11. Blogging encourages global conversations about learning–conversations not previously possible in our classrooms.
  12. Blogging provides the opportunity for our students to learn to write for life-long learning.
  13. Blogging affords us the opportunity to teach responsible public writing. Students can learn about the power of the published word and the responsibilities involved with public writing.

With Anne’s rationale in hand, plus a timely article sent to me by NWP colleague Eric Hoefler, I’m boosted to move into next week’s schedule, which will include introducing a new workshop for my district: Internet Safety. As part of the workshop, I’ll be sharing some examples and rationale for Web 2.0 in the classroom.

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