Kelsi's Insight on Education

Wow. I can’t believe that this is my final post for Ed620. The past five weeks have flown by SO quickly! More than likely, one reason is due to the fact that the information we have learned is a huge interest of mine and the class was extremely hands-on. I learned something new… EVERY time I logged into the Desire2Learn website.

I have had a great time working with PiratePad (as previously blogged about) with my group members. We chose to use Piratepad again as our collaboration tool for the final project. We also settled on utilizing VoiceThread for the digital story and kept with the BP Oil Spill theme, as we did with our Internet Scavenger Hunt. I have heard of VoiceThread before, but never used it until just a few days ago. Here is a link to my group’s BP Oil Spill Digital Story. I am anxious to find ways to incorporate this tool into my English classroom.

Probably the most beneficial part of this class for me was to get busy with updating (okay, basically, totally creating) my classroom Wikipage. I started, and by started, I mean, created, a wiki in October 2009 and haven’t touched it since. That is, until about three weeks ago. Now, I have a nice collection of pages (and information on those pages) to get the year started off right! A Wordle collage welcoming you to my Wikipage; a Google calendar embedded to update students on due dates; a digital copy of my Letter to the Parents and Classroom Policies. Links to pages/topics we will cover in the English classroom, along with, a Doppelme character-that looks a bit more like me, than the one I created on Voki.

Ms. Wilcox - Doppelme

Ms. Wilcox -Voki

I hope to continue the momentum of updating my classroom wikipage and not only learning more about Web 2.0 tools and how to incorporate them well into the classroom, but also sharing the knowledge and tools I’ve gained from this class and teaching others, that would benefit from these tools, as well.

It is very easy for students to find materials, for their projects and assignments, by simply clicking a few buttons and right-clicking to download an image, from the Internet. Easy, BUT, not lawfully correct, in many cases. Teaching students about copyright laws and obeying them yourself, as a teacher, is a must in the classroom. This is something, I will honestly admit, I didn’t take as seriously, or know as much about as I should have, until this past week in Ed620.

I am sharing an article that is a must read to learn more about The New Rules of Copyrighting. This article gives information through a “Question and Answer” format. It also has a great list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for schools, and a brief overview about Creative Commons.

Creative Commons is a license that allows students and educators to determine what rights they are willing to share when they post original images, graphics, audio, text or multimedia works online. It also makes it easier to locate work by others, that can legally be used in projects.  To learn more about Creative Commons here are some more websites that will help you out:

Creative Commons Website

A wiki and blog, K12 Open Ed, by Karen Fasimpaur of K12 Handhelds.

Creative Commons Resources for Schools, from the National Copyright Unit of the Australian Schools Resourcing Network

I am excited to see that popular search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, now have an option (in their Advanced Search) to filter images that are licensed for re-use. A great tip to share with students, prior to them beginning to search for content on the World Wide Web.

When I first heard the term ‘Digital Storytelling’, I thought only of an elementary school classroom. Looking back now, I (ignorantly) associated ‘storytelling’ with a ‘story time’. Story time, when I was in Kindergarten, was when we welcomed a guest reader, (who usually dressed up in character) once a week,and listened to them read a story. Whoa, digital storytelling is nothing close to what I originally envisioned in my head! This past week, exploring the topic of digital storytelling has opened up many different ideas on ways I could incorporate this into the English classroom.

In an earlier post, I talked about meeting students half-way (with technology). Digital Storytelling is yet another way to meet students in the middle. It allows students to show their artistic and creative side, which in turn, enhances what they are learning about. Last year, my students completed a variety of writing assignments. Journal entries, five paragraph essays, personal narratives about philanthropy/helping others, Utopian society, etc. I am anxious to include a digital storytelling assignment in place of one of these traditional writing assignments.

As I am anxious about incorporating a digital storytelling assignment into my classroom, I am also thinking ahead to the assessment. Though I am a firm believer in hands-on projects working with technology and project-based learning, it is difficult for me to come up with a rubric for the evaluation of the projects. I find it hard to be vague enough to allow room for creativity, but concise and detailed enough that the objectives and state standards are met. When I was exploring more about digital storytelling, specifically in the English classroom, I came across a great website. This website has an extensive definition on what digital storytelling is and great examples, too. Along with the definition and examples, the website also has a tab titled, “Evaluate”. This tab gives great insight on ways to evaluate student’s digital storytelling projects. It links to a sample rubric, explains the benefit of Student/Peer Evaluation and gives information on creating your own rubric.  The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling.

The sample rubric linked on the website listed above is actually taken from another really cool resource. I am planning on using this website often and sharing with others, too. Rubistar. How do you plan on using digital storytelling in the classroom? What or who do you turn to, to create rubrics for these projects?

I came across an e-mail from our Instructional Technology Specialist announcing that Discovery Education will be presenting a “Back to School Webinar Series”. As I was scrolling down and looking through the topics, quite a few of them fit directly into what we are learning in ED 620. (Connections, Conversations, and Collaborations: Creating a Personal Learning Network that Works for You; Devoted to Digital Storytelling; Microblogs and EDU-Making the Most of 140 Characters; Supporing Project-Based Learning with Web 2.0) So, I definitely felt the need to share!

Each session is FREE and will last one hour. All teachers and administrators are welcome to attend as many sessions as they would like. Attendees will only need a computer with Internet connection to attend these live sessions. Once you register you will receive an email with links to attend the LIVE online webinar.

Check out the site below to get a full listing of the webinars offered.

Webinar List

I am planning on attending a few and blogging afterwards on new and interesting things I discovered with Discovery Education!

Also, came across this VERY COOL video and wanted to share.

“Using technology tools with high school students is always a good idea. Okay, maybe that statement is a bit bold, but let’s face the truth. High school students are more connected to online forums, Facebook accounts, and cell phones than ever before. Meeting students “where they are” requires meeting them online.” – Free Technology for Teachers, Using Technology to Find Students

This week, I have been learning all about collaborative Web 2.0 Tools. A few examples were given and we were then assigned a group assignment to work hands-on with these tools. Our group set ship and sailed away with Pirate Pad. It is a quick and easy way to communicate, collaborate, create and contribute. You don’t have to be online at the same time, in order to contribute to the topic at hand. This is a great tool that I can see myself using with a variety of different people:  group of colleagues, friends and my students!

It is quick and easy to create a new pad. Just go to the Pirate Pad website, click on the link provided, and then type in a name. After that, click on “Share this Pad” and a link is provided for you to share with others you want to join in the conversation. Pirate Pad has a ‘pad’ feature and a ‘chat’ feature. Both are saved and available to be viewed by anyone that goes to the web address. You also never need to refresh the page, as it automatically updates and there is no sign-up/sign-ins required. Another great feature is that the pad can be exported as a text file.

Pirate Pad is a great tool to meet students half-way with. Students are always looking for something new and it would be easy to modify a lesson and incorporate this technology tool into it. Students would especially get a kick out of the chat feature as it is similar to an AIM or Facebook chat session. One way to use this in the classroom is for students to create a KWL (what you know, what you want to know and what you’ve learned). Another idea would be for students to use this to research a certain topic and share websites they’ve found and notes related to the topic. Basically, anytime you split the class into groups and ask them to collaborate and share together with pen and paper, could easily be turned into a technology lesson, using PiratePad. Feel free to share other ways you’ve tried or would like to try with PiratePad in the comments section below!

This week, my group was assigned to create an Internet Scavenger Hunt. We used PiratePad to idea generate on a topic for the assignment and even used it to figure out a time when we were available to ‘meet-up’ to work on the project together. We also used it to compile our scavenger hunt questions, answers and websites for the project. Here is a screen shot of my group’s pad, as an example of an -in progress- view, of this collaborative tool.

View of In-Progress Pirate Pad

During this past school year, I wanted to try a little bit of everything. I dabbled into creating a wiki and worked on projects with Google Calendar, Sites, and Docs, etc. I immersed myself into technology and stretched myself in way too many different directions. I knew just little tidbits about many things. (Wikis, Wordle, Moodle, Google Tools, Twitter, etc.) Because of being stretched, I started a lot of projects, that I wasn’t able to find the time to finish. I also didn’t have time, as a first year teacher, to move into the Evaluation stage, let alone Perspective or Balance. This class (or perhaps, summertime, in general) has helped move me from the PLN Adoption- Immersion stage into the PLN Adoption-Evaluation stage. (Stages of PLN Adoption, The Thinking Stick) I have had a chance to sit back and explore some great websites listed through the Website of the Week assignment. A few of my favorites, so far, are listed below:

I also have had time to organize the above, along with many other websites, by using my Delicious account. So now, even if I don’t know it all right this second, I at least have it ‘socially bookmarked’ and/or socially organized to come back to it, at a later date.  This class has also given me direction, by giving me so many helpful links to really delve into the Web 2.0 Tools, that I previously only heard about or knew a couple things about. I am also learning how to evaluate websites and what educators to follow on Twitter (and to continue following), etc. I am hoping to continue this year to work on finding a balance.

Learning about the Wikis, this past week, made me think about revisiting the one I signed up for at the beginning of the school year. The last ‘update’ prior to today’s, was in October 2009. Linked below is my -work in progress- Wiki for my English 7 classroom.

Ms. Wilcox’s Wiki

Isn’t it funny that when Twitter first came out and for a long time after it defined itself as something less complex and actually, quite shallow compared to what it really could be and in many cases, it really was. When arriving at the homepage of Twitter it used to state a question, “What is Twitter?” The website then explained Twitter as, “…a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Well, that is ONE way to use Twitter and that’s the way that some of its users chose to use it. But, that statement doesn’t explain the service in its complete and complex form. … Though maybe it’s not ‘funny’… It’s more than likely, just like all things that we, as educators do- analyze, evaluate, create and share new and innovative ways to teach our students. Similar to the saying, that English teacher’s think/analyze books three times more than the authors do themselves. That’s all that we are doing with Twitter… reinventing the wheel that was given to us.

More recently… Twitter has changed their homepage to state, “Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”… it explains Twitter as a rich source of instant information. “Stay updated. Keep others updated. It’s a whole thing”. It also links to Twitter 101, which is a guide for those that are using Twitter for business purposes. Twitter has updated their original mission statement and is keeping up with the movement and trend that it probably didn’t realize it would be, when the website first started out.

Another article explains Twitter as a big noisy teacher’s lounge. Everyone is talking (texting) at once. Then someone might share a conversation with one or two teachers in the lounge, and catch fragments of other conversations around them (Teaching Village). I liked this analogy…. Though I wanted to expand upon it. Sometimes, during lunch conversation in the teacher’s lounge, a topic comes up where most or all participants are part of. There may be laughter or short, jabbing comments, maybe even insightful pieces of information and advice shared. That is when collaboration and true collectivism happens. This reminds me of when people tweet a link, with a few words of explanation… where then others following click on the link and bookmark it for later, retweet it and share with others, or use or make a comment on the article/blog that is posted. This is when the conversation comes alive and in real time, too.  Again, just ANOTHER way to utilize Twitter.

One of the highlights of this week’s class, for me, was when I was reading the NEA Article – Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching? and came across a quote from Chris O’Neal. “Twitter is a great way to keep your students thinking after class,” says Chris O’Neal, an instructional technology coordinator in Charlottesville, VA. “You can tweet a quick provocative question about a social studies lesson, for example, that will keep their brains active.” Chris is actually one of the first educator’s that I began to follow on Twitter. I heard him speak at the 2010 Education Leadership Conference, hosted by the RIU6 this past May.

So keep up the great work educators, as I don’t believe we will stop analyzing, evaluating and creating more ways to utilize Twitter and other Web 2.0 tools, anytime soon. Nor, do I feel that we should stop!

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