Saturday, February 28, 2009

Teaching Writing in 21st-Century Demands Change

At a recent press conference in Washington, "Writing in the 21st Century," the National Council of Teachers of English promoted a new literacy based on omnipresence of technologies that demand adjustments. Kathleen Blake Yancey, a chief spokesperson for the organization, advocated for incorporating in the curriculum new modes of communication, such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. She stated, today we write "with new audiences, for new audiences, and to new audiences," and called for the recognition of modes of communication that have relevancy for our students in this century. Yancey’s report, "Writing in the 21st Century," proposes that educators formulate curricula and teaching methodologies that prepare students for the multifaceted, multimedia ways in which communication will emerge in this century. Skim her report, and post your responses regarding her plea to teach writing in new ways. Do you believe shifts are essential? If so, how might your teaching require adjustments in respect to your discipline and target population? credit for image.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The End of Books as We Know Them

Kindle books already available speak to the possibility that in the near future, books as we know them might be a palm away. In a palm-size computer device, thousands of books are available, readily accessible, readily organized, and ready to end the clutter of home and office bookcases.

What do you believe the future of books online will mean for education K-12? We already use the Internet to access information from online databases, limiting our need to find magazine, newspaper, and journal articles on the shelves of libraries, unless libraries are conceived of as virtual spaces and no longer as physical spaces within the school building or the local community.

To learn about Kindle books, which are just the tip of the iceberg, dive into this New York Times article, assuming a password log-in does not lock you out. If it does, do an online search to find out about Kindle books or e-books, or try this link to another New York Times article featured on Feb. 26th, A Walk Through A Crop of Readers

Be sure to post your comments on this controversial topic. Remember that when Guttenberg invented the printing press, people of his time mocked his innovation. Online e-books seem hardly as revolutionary, but are they? Do you think they will be the innovation of the future? Will they end the clutter of personal book collections? Will they mean the end of libraries and bookstores as we know them today? What advantages do e-books offer? What disadvantages? Is the onslaught of technological books inevitable?

Here are the URLs for both the articles referenced in the post.
credit for image: last URL provided above

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PowerPoint Tutorial

Check out this tutorial to learn about PowerPoint and how to use it.

Post your response to the tutorial.

Tips on PowerPoint

Check this article, "Of PowerPoint and Pointlessness," and this YouTube Video, "Death by PowerPoint." Post your responses.

Where Goes the Librarian?

In the age of the Internet, school librarians are no longer responsible for solely shelving books and encouraging reading. They now also face the daunting task of teaching young students to do online searches and check the credentials of web authors.

In one case, a school librarian taught students a valuable lesson using a backdoor method. Confident that students accepted content on the Internet at face value, she designed a lesson using a website with conspicuously erroneous information. One bright student noticed the error at the bogus site, but most other students glossed over the claim that the Indians enjoyed cell phones and computers brought to America by Columbus.

Librarians today teach students how to use tools like PowerPoint and social networking sites for debate platforms and the sharing of creative writing. However, in the age of budget cuts, librarians may be the first on the chopping block.

For an overview on the status of school librarian, consult this front page story, "In the Web Age, Library Job Gets Update," which appeared in The New York Times, Feb. 17, 2009, . The photo is taken from the story. Also check out for a valuable site to use with students, and let us know what you think about the newspaper story and the Explorers’ site. Here is also the URL for the newspaper story, which might not be accessible without a password, but try, and still post your thoughts on school librarians today. When you visit the Explorers' site, be sure to check out "About This Site."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do We Need Black History Month?

The below posting was found on the Teacher Magazine blog in a discussion called, "Is Black History Month Outdated?"and was posted 2/10/2009.

“Claims that African-American history month is no longer constructive are growing, according to a recent Associated Press story. Critics, pointing to shifts in American culture, say its observance in schools is ‘paternalistic’ and potentially divisive. Others, however, contend that it is still needed ‘to solidify and build upon America's racial gains.’ What do you think? Does the month-long celebration discourage or encourage separatism? Does it disrupt the curriculum? Would the teaching of African-American history be more effective if it were incorporated into the curriculum year-round? How are you incorporating it into your instruction this year?”

To read the discussion, click here:
Image from

Do you think Black History Month is relevant today? Post your comments.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Virtual Tours

Interactive websites with virtual tours bring into the classroom places students cannot easily visit. Online tours provide exciting ways to achieve interdisciplinary teaching and crossing grade-level boundaries. For instance, a tour of the White House can work for a kindergarten class or a high school physics class. It all depends on how the teacher decides to integrate the site. What's more, with immersive panoramic photography, students can view buildings from above, below, and the side, as well as sweep down into rooms and feel a "live" view of the site. Students gain a sense of behind the camera lens, changing focal lengths and angles. Virtual tours reinvent field trips, bringing the site to the classroom, instead of the reverse. The value of virtual tours in the school setting, however, depends on the creative, ingenuity, and lesson planning of the teacher. Take a tour of the White House, or try out the site United States Panoramas, or look at one of our National Parks online, and figure out how you can use the site in your teaching. Post your comments.

White House Tours:
For more White House Information:
United States Panoramas:
Mountain Visions:
The New 7 Wonders:

Check the National Parks by doing an online search of any one of them, and linking directly to the Park.

Let us know your thoughts about virtual tours, their place in your curriculum, and how you would use a specific site in your teaching.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

English-Only School Policies

Should students be able to speak languages other than English in school? As part of the English-only movement, schools have prevented students from speaking other languages. In a recent case, a math teacher in New Jersey issued a policy banning any language other than English in the classroom. Some schools ban the speaking of another language even on school buses.

To read more about the New Jersey case, refer to Dennis Baron’s weblog. Dennis is a world-famous linguist, and his blog is an excellent example an educator's use of blogging. Poke around his blog. Save his blog as favorite for future reference. Let us know what you think of Dennis’s blog or the language ban.

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