Muddling through the blogosphere

November 27, 2008
by blogwalker

NCTE ACE Workshop Makes “the Shift” Visible

I love being part of the ACE group, which always offers a Monday hands-on tech session at NCTE. Each year, I walk away with a deeper understanding of what 21st century teaching is all about.

Rich Rice opened the workshop with a session on K-16 Educational Blogging and Podcasting.

My NWP colleague Troy Hicks led the second session: Writing with Wikis. Troy opened the session by asking “what’s the matter with wikis?” Some participant ideas:

  • danger of overriding work(and we went live with a flurry of posting – and overriding each other)
  • tough to keep organized

His second question: “What’s good about wikis?” Participants’ thoughts:

  • small group projects, e.g., poetry project
  • collaborative essays
  • allowing students to incorporate information in different ways
  • creating policy documents

If you are looking for ways to make visible to teachers the power and possibilities of collaborative writing, take a tour of the many projects Troy has shared through this wiki. I love his Project Write: Book Discussions. The author links take readers to wikipedia-like resources pages. What a great model!

Allen Web led the third session, opening with a small rant on the design of 21st century computer labs, which look amazingly similar to 19th and 20th century “labs.” Small but revolutionary idea! I’ve asked Allen to send me a photo of the lab he has designed, where laptops are placed on small tables that can easily be moved to accommodate whatever project students might be working on. I now understand why the use of technology in classrooms with access to a few laptops always seems so much more powerful than what I typically see happening in elementary – secondary computer labs.

My favorite link on Allen’s LitArchives site = Civil Liberties Online Resources. Not on his LitArchives site, but very exciting is his Literary Worlds project. At a glance, more impressive than read/write projects I’ve viewed in Second Life!

I led the 4th session with an introduction to VoiceThread.

The 5th session was my first time to participate in one of Carl Young‘s workshops. Oh my, some great ideas and resources for teaching the realities of digital identities! Given that few K-12 students have received much instruction, either from home or school, on the ethical use of the Internet, Carl’s suggestion to those whose digital identities may already be questionable as potential employees, grant recipients, etc., to get out there and create a positive web identity. Love Carl’s resources and samples posted to Being Proactive!

Ewa McGrail, who organized this year’s ACE event, ended the day with a great activity and resources for teaching copyright and fair use. I’m really glad she’s posted the handout, since we ran short on time.

Interested in becoming a member of ACE? Contact Ewa. Next year’s NCTE ACE workshop will be in Philidelphia, one of my favorite cities:-).

*Image from Library of Congress American Memory Project –

March 2, 2008
by blogwalker

NCTE’s “Shift”

I’ve been following the discussion in response to Karl Fisch’s NCTE – “Shifting” Toward a New Literacy” post with great interest because the focus is on Kylene Beers’ invitation to join the 2008 NCTE Conference in San Antonio with its theme of Shift Happens.

I first became familiar with Kylene Beers’ work in 2000 when I received my first NCTE middle school publication Voices from the Middle. Kylene, then the editor, opened the March issue (Vol 7, Number 3) with a message entitled Technology, Bus Rides, and the Digital Divide. Her concern eight years ago was that students at our nation’s poorer schools did not have access to the technology that would allow them to move “beyond being merely digitally literate (students who can download sound clips from the Web, insert clip art into papers, and send e-mail”), so she chose to include articles by teachers who “refuse to let wealth or gender or location or race – or even mundane things like number of computers in the school or glitches in computer lab scheduling – dictate who has access to the Information Highway.” Through this issue, I met Nancy Patterson, Gretchen Lee, Jim Burke, and Jeff Wilhelm, whose work and passions, eight years later, continue to inspire me.

In 2004, Kylene dedicated the March issue (Vol 11, Number 3) to Learning through Technology, with her Editor’s Message entitled: Equality and the Digital Divide. She shared that, four years later, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, sites with minority populations were fast acquiring more computers. She also shared her concern with Hank Beckers’s troubling findings that “teachers in low socioeconomic schools (SES) are much more likely to use computers for remediation and skill reinforcement than for gathering and analyzing information. The reverse is true in ‘other’ schools (i.e., higher SES levels).”

I mention Kylene Beers’ long-time commitment to examining digital divide issues for three reasons:

  1. I wanted to be sure that Karl Fisch and his readers know that Kylene did not jump on the “shift happens” bandwagon overnight and that
  2. a significant and growing number of NCTE teachers continue to “show us how to make sure our students, all students, ride this technology bus, up front, with eyes wide open, to take in all this road (Information Highway) has to offer. To name just a few: Dawn Hogue (who has just posted to her Polywog blog her second interview on CyberEnglish; Ted Nellen, whose posts to NCTE Talkies are always gems; and Bud Hunt, also a NWP colleague, whose blog was one of the first added to my Bloglines account…and many more!
  3. and with much appreciation for Karl Fisch’s continued sharing of outstanding conversations and resources:

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