Muddling through the blogosphere

April 21, 2012
by blogwalker

Student-Created Content – Changing the question

Last week I was invited to present at our local county office of education on the topic I am passionate about: student-created content. To me, one of the most important reasons for students to have Internet access across the school day and and within the core curriculum is to ensure that they have multiple opportunities to take their work and their voices beyond the walls of the classroom and out to an authentic audience.

It has been my experience both as a classroom teacher and in my current position of tech integration specialist that when we provide and promote opportunities for students to share their work with their peers, community, region, or with an international audience, a commonly asked question changes.  For an audience of one (one being the teacher), the question they ask as they hand in their work tends to be, “Is this good enough?”  But when students know their content will be seen by their peers and beyond, the question changes simply to: “Is this good?”

How about your sites and districts?  Do you have samples of student-created content to add to the collection below? Please jump in and share, either by adding a slide on the Google presentation or by adding a comment.

May 14, 2008
by blogwalker

David Warlick at SCOE

I’m at the Sacramento COE this morning for Dave Warlick’s Preparing Students with 21st Century Skills workshop.

Opening comments are by SCOE’s Ben Anderson delivering his Educating in a Google World – To catch the full flavor, and Ben’s engaging sense of humor, you need to watch his slide show, which included a live Skype call to a friend in Warsaw, Poland – pretty amazing how seamless it is to connect virtually with colleagues thousands of miles away. If his preso is online, I’ll come back and add the link.warlick.jpg

Dave Warlick has started his presentation…without PowerPoint. Presentation is posted to Slideshare. Handouts are at

Below is a mix of some of his tech tools and words of wisdom:

  • For the first time in history, the best thing we can be teaching our kids is how to teach themselves
    • They need to be literate – knowing how to do what you need to do now
    • Plug for Wikipedia – information escalates but it’s still as easy to navigate – As an educator, don’t go back to the good ol’ days of books as sole source of information. THE SHAPE OF INFORMATION HAS CHANGED. We need to teach students to prove the authority of the information. We need to be journalists with openers like “according to this source…” Our job is not to teach which sources to teach, but to show students how to evaluate. Wikipedia is really good about currency of information e.g., announcement of Pluto’s fate – if you check date and minute that article is published – Wikipedia less than a minute behind BBC news.
  • RSS ( – Shift in that information comes to us. We’re training information to find us. Recommends because it’s web-based, you can make your aggregator look like a newspaper. Demoed from view point of social studies teacher. Cool tab feature. Went to Technorati, “which is to the blogosphere what Google is to the web.” Enter a specific term such as cartography, find blogs that are specifically about maps. Go back to Netvibes, tell it where link is – then drag down into tab box. Strange Maps – very cool (but I can’t find the link). Flickr example -grab – so only photos labeled with “map” will come up
  • New model is more about us modeling new literacies than teaching them
  • What about arithmetic? – 2 things have happened in last 15 years: we’re working with digital numbers (in the 1000s) – into his Library of Links (from Technorati) – For a demonstration of a raw data link, he showed the ANSS site (connected to seismographers all over world). Started by copying data, grabbing Excel and pasting it in – used text to column feature to clean it up – went through wizard and used scatter plot in graphing tool – You can “make numbers tell their story.”
  • Words of Humankind – Searched for presidential inaugural addresses – and tag clouds – TagCrowd – new tool! Allows you to for example top 75% – added new Web 2.0 twist. Gives you ability to zoom out and look at content in new way.You could compare Churchill’s “Blood, Sweat, Tears speech to Roosevelt’s “Day that will live in infamy” speech.
  • Today, all information is made out of numbers. It’s about the ability to use the information to accomplish goals.
  • The Long Tail – 1998 study – Developed by Chris Anderson – calculating line where everything to the left shows hard copies of books available in store because they’re lucrative enough; to the left books, etc, not lucrative enough to market – but are available online. Dave uses to surprise to publish his books.
  • 21st century – we have to communicate with multimedia. Information now competes for attention – therefore kids must learn to write well, including with images and animations. – used iCan sweatshop video.
  • Beacon HS in NY – Humanities school (alternative) paperless school – teachers evaluate quality of work based on its strength as communication piece, not the technology component – Othello assignment -What was the difference in entertainment from 1500s to today? Students produced movie trailer and in the process became script writers, collaborators, videographers.

In a nutshell – 3Rs to 3 E’s: Expose truth,Employ information, Explore ideas – spam (costs US billions in investments to block it out) – Cost of controlling HIV/AIDS. Any definition of literacy in 21st century must explicitly include a conversation about ethics – k-12! Right and Wrong on Internet – A student & teacher information code of ethics – grabbed from journalists association. Students must be able to justify how something they’ve cited is true – teachers must model this accountability. Spam peaks in august – kids bored – and don’t have ethical background in place.

I couldn’t stay for his afternoon hands-on session, but I’m glad I made it to the morning session.

March 31, 2008
by blogwalker

Do Our Schools Kill Creativity? – Sir Ken Robinson

kenrobinson.jpgKnowing that I needed a little inspiration and a bit of humor to jump start writing my district’s EETT Round 7 grant, CTAP3 mentor and friend Lauri Bailey referred me to Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED presentation. It’s worth the load time.  And I’m now sufficiently inspired to sit down and write Web 2.0 technologies into the proposal.

January 27, 2008
by blogwalker

Three Favorites from CTAP3 Conference

I am very glad that I traveled down Highway 50 yesterday to join 300 other educators for the CTAP3 Ed Tech Conference held at Granite Bay High School. CTAP3 Director and conference organizer Ben Anderson opened the day with the statement that we would “have a great day and find this conference a valuable learning experience for your own professional development.” Here are my top three reasons for enjoying the event:

1. Learning about Granite Bay High School‘s “World Class Tech Support” – Three impressive, engaging seniors kicked off the conference with an introduction to their highly successful GBiT program. This program (and class) provides students with the opportunity to engage in real-world technology support, web development, and management. GBit students maintain all technology on campus, including updates and upgrades, build and maintain the school’s web site and websites for outside customers, and provide faculty with technical training. GBit faculty coordinator Mike Fisher has built the program around a strong college-to-career path. (Note to self: Get the word out to high schools in my district about the GBit program and model!)

2. Listening to Hall Davidson‘s “Revenge of the Digital Immigrant: Teaching wit Media Technology” presentation – Hall reminded us of the brain-based research that supports media in the classroom. What I took away from this session was the power of short – 10-second, maybe 20-second, no more than 30-second – videos in the classroom. By projecting an image of Warren G. Harding and then flashing several times the phrase “29th president, ” followed by “handsome” flashed a few times, followed by “worst president ever,” I am pretty sure it will be a long time before I forget the gist of Hall’s mini lesson on the president who was elected more on looks than on ability to lead. (Note to self: contact Hall or Discovery folks to find link to Hall’s PowerPoint.)aliceandgail2.jpg

3. Meeting and co-presenting with Alice Mercer – I met Alice about a year ago in the chat room of a Teachers Teaching Teachers Skypecast. From there I started connecting with her in the blogosphere, first through her classroom blog, which was often the model that made visible to teachers in my Web 2.0 workshops the power and possibilities of blogging with students. As a regular reader of the Blog of Mz. Mercer, I feel that I know Alice pretty well…yet…(and here comes the blogosphere connection)…Alice I had had never met face-to-face until walking into the auditorium at Granite Bay High School yesterday morning. Thanks to Skype, Edublogs, and Wikispaces, we did our pre-planning online and were ready to jump in and – together – lead two workshops: Blogging for Absolute Beginners and Going Live with Edublogs. If I do say so myself, I think we did a great job:-) .

One of the favorite things I learned from teaming with Alice was a nifty trick for commenting back to students in Edublogs. Since Edublogs does not have an option for threaded discussions, Alice’s tip will come in handy for teachers wanting to respond directly to a student’s comment (or a fellow blogger’s comment):

  • From your Dashboard, click on the Comment tab, locate the comment you want to respond to and click on the Edit link.


  • When your code view opens, select italic and/or bold so that your comment will be noticeably different from your student’s comment, and add your comment. When you’ve finished, select italic and/or bold to close your comment, and click on the Edit Comment button.


For an overview of our workshop, checkout our workshop blog: Bringing Educators to Edublogs. (Note to self: update Edublogs Manual to include commenting on comments tutorial.)

I’m already looking forward to next year’s CTAP3 conference – but immediately to next week’s Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco!

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