Muddling through the blogosphere

July 25, 2011
by blogwalker

Merit 2011 – Week 2 Monday Take-Aways

I headed back to Foothills College this morning to start Week 2 of the fabulous Merit 2011 Institute.  Here are some take-aways from today’s sessions:

  • Geocaching with Diane Mein – Loved starting the morning roaming the beautiful Foothills campus in search of geocached sites. Diane provided basic background information to get us started, and then sent us on our way.  Some of her geocaching resources included:

A big take-away from Diane’s session was the discussion around the value and importance of getting students outdoors – and saving them from what Richard Louv refers to as “nature deficit disorder.”  John Medina’s research on Brain Rules indicates  that the brain works best when we’re outside moving around – senses working together heightens intelligence.  Kids can think better if you take them outdoors for a bit – seeing green helps diminish stress. And it doesn’t cost anything to weave more outside time into the school day:-).

  • Rushton’s afternoon nuggets:
    • Cool Iris – Besides the globe display of Tag Galaxy, you also have the option of a stunning visual word wall with the free Cool Iris browser plug-in.
    • UJam – This create-your-own music freebie is a triple-wow – even for the musically challenged! I recommend watching the video below for a window into this amazing,so-simple-to-use tool:

Will be back tomorrow with more Merit gems.

July 19, 2009
by blogwalker
1 Comment

Favs from DEN Nat’l Institute

One of the highlights of my DEN week was the Ameri-Den Idol event. Of the great range of Web 2.0 ideas, tools, and classroom snippets shared, here are a few favorites:

  • Fantastic Contraption: Be sure to use this link to bring up the ad-free version shared by Debbi Wrobel. I’m imagining the thinking possibilities required to basically move one pink ‘thing’ to another pink ‘thing.’ Would be a great intro to physics and STEM!
  • Reading A-Z: I love the innovative way Karie Huttner is using this program of free online books, combined with podcasting, to create a powerful school-to-home connection that builds literacy skills in her ELL population. Karie downloads the free book versions – both English and Spanish – from an ample library of titles. Her students record their reading of the books (using Audacity) onto an mp3 player that they may take home. Parents – and younger siblings – can then follow along via the printed version of the story.
  • Glogster: I’m linking you to the education version. Scroll to the bottom to see lots of classroom samples.  Really enjoyed elementary teacher Traci Blazosky‘s DEN poster session! A ‘glog’ is basically an online poster into which you can upload text, images, audio, and video – and then embed into a blog or wiki. Looks as though you can upload unlimited students accounts. Glogster education manager Jim Dachos joined us for our Thursday session, emphasizing the company’s commitment to teachers and students.  Very cool!
  • Blabberize: Oh my, what a fun tool! Listen to their intro video and you’ll get the idea. Sarah Johangiry led the DEN poster session, inviting participants to start a Blabberize conversation with Mt. Rushmore’s presidents. Tell your district/site tech person to not even think about blocking this site!
  • Voki: Ok, I’ve seen lots of vokis on different blogs, but always in the sidebar. Loved the idea shared of embedding voki directly into a blog post, for instance, allowing a teacher to ‘talk’ directly to her students. Could certainly enhance learning on days you’ve left your classes with a substitute;-)

January 4, 2009
by blogwalker

Blogging with 4th Graders

Before the Winter Break, I introduced the 4th grade teachers in my EETT grant to blogs and blogging during a 3-hour whirlwind workshop. With only a week left before vacation, already several went “live” with their blogs and invited their students to post comments, noting that their students immediately took to blogging. One of the great things about introducing Web 2.0 tools is that kids like technology.

I am pretty sure that students who read and respond to blogs regularly – especially beyond the school day – are building their reading skills. But my EETT grant was funded based on my argument that students at three of my district’s lowest-performing elementary schools would improve their writing skills by integrating multi-modal, multimedia tools and strategies into the English/Language Arts program. The tools (blogs, podcasts, wikis, VoiceThread, and video editing) are only half of the program. Area 3 Writing Project Teacher Consultants are providing the other half: teacher-tested writing activities and strategies that have transformed writing in their own classrooms – and have helped raise scores on the 4th grade paper-and-pencil state writing assessment.

Technology is not a silver bullet. But if you combine powerful writing strategies – such as introducing emerging writers to the concept of strong verbs and prompting them, for example, to locate strong verbs in other bloggers’ posts and to respond with at least one strong verb – with Web 2.0 tools, then I predict this group of 4th graders will become better writers.

Over the break, I’ve been reading some outstanding posts by Silvia Tolisano, Kim Cofino, and Kevin Jarrett.

Drawing from many of the ideas and resources they’ve shared, here is my agenda for Tuesday’s EETT workshop:

Opening Session: Revisiting Blogs and Blogging

  • The Big Question: How can blogging help YOUR students?
  • End with my Sacto neighbor and thinking partner Alice Mercer’s video on Blogging with Students

Morning Workshop: Summary Writing – Facilitated by A3WP 4th grade teachers Angela Luna and Heather Koczian.

Afternoon Session = Podcasting for Absolute Beginners*

  • Start with a brief PowerPoint. I’m providing handouts for teachers to note how they will integrate podcasting – and summary writing – into their classrooms.
  • Introduce Audacity
  • Hands-on time for teachers to experiment with their first podcasts
  • End session with demo on podcasting from a cell phone via Gcast
  • Wrap Up – Sharing of ideas for incorporating podcasting – as a writing strategy – into the 4th grade curriculum.

*Note: I’ve posted links to podcasting tutorials and resources on ToolKit4BlogWalker.

As we move through this grant year, it is my hope that through access to powerful writing strategies and access to technology tools that provide authentic audience and authentic purpose, this group of 4th graders will experience academic growth – and excitement – and will add writing (most likely online writing) to their list of favorites.

Image copied from

June 8, 2008
by blogwalker

Three New Favorites

I’ve been having a ball this week at EDCOE facilitating some Web 2.0 workshops. Last week’s sessions were on blogging and podcasting. Right now I’m working the agenda and resources for Tuesday’s Tools for Collaborative Writing workshop. Between conversations with EDCOE’s Kate Doyle and emails from NWP colleagues, I’ve discovered three new resources that have made it to my “Three New Favorites” list for the week:

  • Yahoo Avatars – Tons of choices for pulling together an avatar for your blog, wiki, etc., that captures a glimpse into who you are. I haven’t completely read through Yahoo’s Terms of Service document yet, but you are definitely allowed to download your avatar and use it outside of Yahoo. I’m hoping as I read through their agreement, I’ll find it’s ok to photoshop a touch of gray into my new blog avatar’s hair style:-)
  • Race and Me – Collaborative activity from CTAPIV‘s Kathleen Firenze for introducing teachers to wikis. I love the way this activity introduces teachers to the power and possibilities of wikis while promoting some pretty deep thinking at the same time.
  • Information Revolution – I’m familiar with Kansas State University professor of digital ethnology Mike Wesch’s work. For a couple of years I’ve been sharing his The Machine is Us/ing Us video in my Web 2.0 workshops. I’m glad Kate Doyle pointed me to one of his latest videos: The Information Revolution:

January 13, 2008
by blogwalker

Describing Web 2.0 Possibilities

If YouTube required a written script, explanation, or augmentation to accompany each video, then for Cisco’s Human Network…

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…I would recommend David Warlick’s post Is Pedogogy Getting in the Way of Learning?, which starts with a description of his morning’s conversation with colleagues across the nation and world as they use different technologies to connect and share. David also references a May 2006 post in which he sums up limited vs. unlimited education:

“…the point is this. Education, defined by it limits, required a curriculum that was packaged into products that could be easily used in the classroom. We used textbooks with scope and sequence, pacing guides, and a teacher’s guide with the answers.

Education, defined by it’s lack of limits, requires no such packaging. It’s based on experiences, tied to real-world, real-time information that spans the entire spectrum of media — crafted and facilitated by skilled teachers, who become more like tour guides than assembly-line workers.”

The good news is that almost two years later, I can scroll through my blogroll and Bloglines to find a growing number of classrooms in which

“the platform is a node on the global network; with text, audio, and video links to other uncountable nodes on the network; and the connections are real time and clickable, and tools are available to work and employ the content that flows through those connections; then the learning happens because learners have experienced personal connections — and they want to maintain those connections by feeding back their own value.”

David’s post also included a link to a great Skype conversation between Clay Burrell and Chris Craft that further complements the video and helps to make Web 2.0 potential more visible. So I’ve added a new category – Unlimited education – and a new lense for viewing 21st (or 20th) century curriculum.

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