Saturday, October 31, 2009

Another Teacher Commends Blogging

Read from one 6th grade teacher, named Teacher of the Year, practical ideas for using blogs in the classroom. Bill Ferriter of North Carolina offers these practical suggestions at Teacher Tips for Blogging in the Classroom. Here are some of his summative points for effective student blogging:

  • Emphasize the important role that quality writing plays in successful blogs.
  • Consider naming and training student editors.
  • Require that students use pseudonyms while writing.
  • Include—and regularly explore—visitor maps and statistics on page views.
  • Remind students to respond to commenters.

Check the link above to access his full description, covered in a 3-part blog, about tips for integrating blogs in the classroom. There are also numerous links off of Ferriter's site worth exploring. This might be one site you want to bookmark for future reference. Let us know which advice that Ferriter offers you find useful. His blog is sponsored by Teacher Leaders Network.

Photo of Bill Ferriter is from his blog site, The Tempered Radical at the Teachers Network Site, whose logo is also displayed.

To Catch a Thief

As stories abound about cheating in the computer age, we have to wonder if the blame lies with the tool or the person. Check out this story that Gina sent from The Hartford Courant, "Nationwide: Computers Increase Students' Temptation to Cheat." Even the title maligns the computer, but what or who is the real culprit? Do we stop using computers in schools?

This blog post from Education Week, Once A Cheater, Always a Cheater, addresses the fact that we need to start building character in students to counteract societal influences. Data from the blog post is based on the Johnson Institute of Character Survey, which you might want to look at as well.

Logos from Education week and Johnson Institute as posted on their sites.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday: Internet Turns 40!

Forty years ago, on October 29, 1969, the first Internet message was sent. It was no more than a two characters, lo. The message went from one computer at UCLA to another at Sanford U., and it was considered a monumental event. To read more about the birth of the Internet, check out Dennis Baron's post on the Web of Language: The Internet: It was 40 years ago today that the series of tubes went live.... Also, here is a link to a Fox broadcast with one of the inventors of the Internet, Leonard Kleinrock, the UCLA professor, speaking on the eve of the 40th anniversary. Or watch this National Geographic video about the birth of the Internet. Is it time to get out the birthday candles and celebrate? Where would we be without the Internet? Where do you think we will be with telecommunications in another 40 years?

Photo is of Leonard Kleinrock, readily available on multiple Internet sites.

Sample e-Port with TaskStream

As some of you in the education program at Saint Joseph College know, we are using the TaskStream platform for creation of portfolios. Here is a professional one I found put together by Helen Barrett using TaskStream. Check out how she has organized her professional accomplishments. Let us know if you get any ideas for how to arrange your own e-portfolio and what to put in it after viewing Helen's sample. If you're not presenting doing an e-Port at the College, how else might you use one and for what purpose? Helen has also put together this same portfolio using other platforms, and you might want to check out some of these for comparison sake.
Helen's Portfolio in Googledocs
Helen's Portfolio in PBWiki
Helen's Portfolio in Google Sites
(image from Helen's TaskStream e-Port)

Why Use an E-Portfolio

Enjoy this short video on why use an e-portfolio for professional purposes. After viewing it, let us know what you think of the video and e-ports.

How to Embed a YouTube Video into Blogger

If you are using Blogger to create your Blog, and want to embed a YouTube into a blog posting, check out this video on how to accomplish the task.

Free Technology for Teachers

Check out this blog, Free Technology for Teachers. This site is worth bookmarking and returning to weekly for access to sites that you can use. Just today I discovered from this blog this slide show Tap Into the World of Comics: Strategies for Using Comics in the Classroom as well as Museum of Humor, which offers teachers a host of lesson plans. The left sidebar on Free Technology for Teachers offers a list of links for resources in teaching social studies, English/language arts, math, science, and foreign language, while the right sidebar has links to a variety of resources. The site's designer boasts: "In 2008 Free Technology for Teachers was awarded the Edublogger Award for 'Best Resource Sharing Blog.' Free Technology for Teachers is read by an audience of more than 8000 subscribers." I know this is one blog that I have bookmarked and follow weekly. Hope you do too, and share with us helpful resources you find through the blog. Yesterday, October 29, the blog's main post was on the Crash of 1929, with the 80th anniversary of the Black Market marked on that date. A link to CNN Student News to a short segment and a PBS series American Experience with an hour long video about the stock market crash of 1929 were provided as well as this offering for watching an American Experience: The Crash of 1929 by clicking here. I also learned about the Science Netlinks - Dozens of Science Lessons, including ones for integrating science into the elementary school classroom.

For those of you seeking videos beyond YouTube these are offered:

Great Alternatives to YouTube
Dozens of More Resources
Teacher Tube
Edu Blogs TV
Ted - Ideas Worth Spreading

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Need A Laugh?

Looking for cartoons on the Internet to clip into your multimedia work, check out We Blog Cartoons by Dave Walker, who invites views to grab his artwork and use it freely. Here's a sample.
Let us know if you find one you like.

Why Use Blogs in the Classroom

In browsing through the Web 2.0 Ning, I found some compelling reasons posted for using blogs in the classroom.

Ways to Use Blogs in The Classroom
The following ideas are based on suggestions made by Anne Davis
"1) Students can use blogs to create a reflective, community-generated journal to reflect on their learning experiences.
2) Provide some how-to type instructions on using specific skills/strategies in the class
3) Explore important issues. "

"Teachers can use a blog to...

1) Post class-related information such as calendars, events, homework assignments, rubrics, and other pertinent class information.
2) Post assignments based on literature readings/content-specific concepts and have students respond.
3) Communicate with administrators, other teachers, parents, community members, and/or anyone else interested in what students are doing.
4) Post prompts for writing.
5) Provide examples of classwork, vocabulary activities, or explanations of concepts.
6) Provide online readings for your students to read, research, and react to.
7) Gather and organize Internet-based resources/rubrics for a specific course, providing links to appropriate sites and annotating the links as to what is relevant about them.
8) Post photos/links to downloadable files and comment on class activities.
9) Invite student comments or postings on issues in order to give them an opportunity to develop a writing voice.
10 Publish examples of good student work completed in class.
11) Showcase student questions, observations, work, ideas, art, poetry, and creative stories.
12) Create a dynamic teaching site, posting not only class-related information, but also activities, discussion topics, links to additional information about topics students are studying in class, and suggested/selected readings to inspire learning.
13) Create a reading circle based on content-specific reading passages.
14) Create an online book club (note: books can be fiction, nonfiction, or merely related to a concept being explored).
15) Make use of the commenting feature to have students publish messages on topics (thereby giving them an opportunity to practice giving constructive feedback).
16) Post tasks to carry out project-based learning tasks with students.
build a class newsletter, using student-written articles and photos they take.
17) Link your class with another class somewhere else in the world."

Anne continues, "You can encourage your students to use a blog to share...

1) their reactions to thought-provoking questions.
2) their reactions to photos you post.
3) journal entries.
4) results of surveys they carry out as part of a class unit.
5) their ideas and opinions about topics discussed in class."

And, Anne goes on, "You can have your students create their own weblogs to...
1) complete class writing assignments.
2) create an ongoing portfolio of samples of their writing.
3) express their opinions on topics you are studying in class.
4) write comments, opinions, or questions on daily news items or issues of interest.
5) discuss activities they did in class and tell what they think about them (You, the teacher, can learn a lot this way!).
6) write about class topics, using newly-learned vocabulary words and idioms.
7) showcase their best writing pieces."

Anne concludes, "You can also ask your class to create a shared weblog to...
1) complete project work in small groups, assigning each group a different task.
2) showcase products of project-based learning.
3) complete a WebQuest."

With all these ideas that Anne Davis has listed, perhaps you have found some that appeal to you. Which would you consider?

Cartoon image found on Dave Walkers Cartoon WebBlog. Other images are readily available online and found at numerous URLs.

Top 25 Websites for Teachers

American Association of Libraries posts the Top 25 Websites for Teaching and Learning. Check out the list, and let us know if you use any of the sites professionally. Which sites pique your interest? Which would you explore using for your teaching? Another recommended site for teachers is PBS Teachers for featured teacher resources by grade level and subject area. Let us know what you find there that's of value to you. What are your favorite sites for teaching and learning? What would make your Top Ten list?

Nings in Education

Looking for a job as a new teacher? Looking to connect with other teachers even if you have a job? Nings, professional social networking sites, are expanding exponentially. Check out this article The World’s Largest English Department to find out how teachers and would-be teachers have been using Nings. Beginning teacher Laura Abercrombie, anxious about her first year on job as an 8th grade English teacher, joined The English Companion Ning, and within 12 hours of posting a “Help” message for ways to teach Thoreau’s Walden received 60 teacher replies. Also, explore the Web 2.0 Ning, a social networking site for teachers focused on technology and Web 2.0 tools.

In digging around The English Companion Ning, I found a digital story created by a student for an English class and posted by the teacher at: The Power Of Digital Story Telling.
Here is what the teacher wrote: “My co-teacher and I spend a lot of time during the course of the year working with our students to help develop their storytelling skills. At the beginning of each year, many of our students struggle with the writing process. They lack confidence. We use digital storytelling as a tool to help inspire our students to strengthen their skill sets. After all, the digital space is a familiar place to most of them. The video below [go to the link The Power Of Digital Story Telling] was created by one of our students. The film is an excellent example of how a student has taken a lesson on symbolism and pushed it to the limit. As educators we need to continue to push our limits as well." Another teacher upon viewing the student’s work responded: “Wow! I am blown away - what a beautiful project. I am thinking that this is a perfect supplement to a Carpe Diem unit when we're in the middle of our hurry-up-and-seize-the-day discussion! Would you ask Jennifer [the student who created the film] if I could have permission to use this in my classroom? I teach AP Language and Composition in which argument, both verbal and visual, is a large part of the curriculum. I also like this idea as a way to have the kids create visual arguments…. Thanks for sharing this inspiring lesson.” This example should give you an idea of how teachers in distant schools can connect to share teaching ideas. Take a look at the student’s film via The Power Of Digital Story Telling post, and think about how you would incorporate digital storytelling into your classroom.

But also post comments on nings, and how they can help you as a teacher. Have you used them? Would you use them? Maybe it is time for teachers to say goodbye to Facebook and spend their time on professional networking nings. What do you think? Here is another one to check out: Content Literacy. In the age of shrinking school budgets and limited travel funds to attend professional conferences, maybe nings are the next best thing. I have heard new teachers no longer read professional journals in print and turn to online social network sites like nings for their professional growth? Do you see that as true for you?

Okay, there's a lot to absorb in this post, so take you time. But let's hear your thoughts about nings, the ones you have seen, and how you use them or might use them.

Image: English Companion Ning

Would You If You Could? Online Master's Degree

How would you like to earn a master’s degree by never attending campus? What about professional development for teachers conducted online?'s article, “The Online Option,” declares a growing trend to earn credit through online work. The article cites the National Education Association (NEA), one of the largest teachers unions, with 3.2 million members, as a prime marketer of online professional development and education through its NEA Academy.

There’s even talk at SJC about offering a master’s degree in education technology entirely online. How do you feel about earning a master's degree in an online format? With the proliferation of online courses, webinars (e.g., PBS’s free webinars for teachers at PBS Teachers Live!), and improvements in technology for delivery of online instruction in interactive formats, do you think there's a strong audience for the option? Would you adopt this format for future courses or professional development? For more information, check the links in this post.

Also, check this recent article, Coming Soon to a Classroom Near You, about how schools in Florida on using videoconferencing for teacher professional developoment in an effort to spread "model classroom" practices. The concepts will give teachers a chance to watch model teachers in practice and then dialogue with them through videoconferencing. Do you think this method would also work well in a teacher preparatory undergraduate or graduate program?

Image: Saint Joseph College, Maine

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cell Phones as Learning Tools

I have posted on this topic before, but wanted to again, as I just read about another school incorporating cell phones into the learning process. The original story was posted in a St. Petersburg newspaper and then picked up by Teacher Magazine. The students in the school have been using the phones for science, literature, and other classes: "Florida School Allows Cell Phones in Classrooms." In addition to the use of the phones in these classes, mention is made of using them to assist English-as-second-language learners. This is not the first school where cell phones are augmenting the learning process, and given the proliferation of cell phones, their use might be an economical way for schools to integrate computer technology. Check the article, and let us know what you think.

In addition, here is a link to a recent article from The New York Times addressing the controversy of cell phones: "Industry Pitching Cell Phones as a Teaching Tool." My two earlier blogs on cell phones in schools can be accessed by using the Search feature at the top of the page and typing in cell phones. Also, note the label (see right column) for cell phones. In addition, you might want to check the blog on clickers, using the search feature.

image 1 from:
image 2: Dusty Oliver, caption from photo, "A teacher at Southwest High School in Jacksonville, N.C., said the special cellphones helped students improve their math skills."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Is the Technology Frustrating You?

If so, you need a break. Take a look at this YouTube video Introducing the Book, which will put contemporary life into perspective. Enjoy, and post your comments. By the way, how might this video be used in the secondary classroom?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Teacher Tube

For those of you who can't use YouTube in the classroom, don't forget TeacherTube is a growing repository of resources. In addition to videos, podcasts, photos, you will find other resources on the site. Even if you can use YouTube in your classroom, TeacherTube offers a a wealth of instructional resources geared toward the K-12 curriculum. Check out the site, and let us know what valuable resources you find or what you think of the site in general. Image is the logo from TeacherTube site.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace Prize

By now, you have heard Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's a link to some world reaction. If you care to, weigh in on the situation. At the end of the article, you will find comments from readers. As of 7:11 pm., Oct. 9, 2009, more than 340 comments were posted. Here is a link to a running debate on What Does A Nobel Do for U.S. Leaders?

Image from: Stephen Crowley, New York Times, Oct. 9, 2009

Visual Search Engine

Try out this visual search engine Spezify. I just typed in Isaac Asimov, and got some helpful results. Also, tried Obama. Enter a topic of interest to you. How do you see this form of conducting a search fitting into the educational setting in which you teach or will be teaching? Do you think the search engine will take off?

Blog's Appearance

Is this blog getting too busy? Are the font colors annoying? What recommendations do you have for changing the fonts for text, blog titles, links, visited links, the sidebar, and other features? I have been making changes, and have considered changing the main template also. Suggestions are welcome, as I work to make the blog more user friendly.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Your Course Grade

Check out this e-Campus article "Instructor to Outsource Grading to Students." Let me know what you think? Should we implement this system? Is it a reasonable way to assess learning?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How Powerful Is PowerPoint, or Is It Pointless? User Beware of Your Power

Last spring (March 2009) I posted a blog about PowerPoint, but realize some of you don't check the archives. Thus, I'm re-posting, because we can all use a refresher on what we do when we use multimedia tools. The power is in the hands of the beholder, not the software. Check this article, "Of PowerPoint and Pointlessness," and this YouTube Video, "Death by PowerPoint." Don't skip YouTube video; it will give you pointers for the next time you use PowerPoint.Post your responses. We want to hear from you. Check back to see what others have had to say.

Phenonenal Use of Blogging by 6th Graders

Last spring, I posted a blog about this site, Tell the Raven. Check out the blog, maintained by an Alaskan teacher and his students. The teacher, Mr. Noonan, writes: "Tell the Raven is a community writing project for my Grade 6 (grade 4 material is in the archives) students in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Raven totem pole stands in the middle of our playground. Our stories go out to the world." Note that in addition to the class blog, each student maintains blog, accessible by clicking on the student's pen name at the end of an entry. Visit a few of the the students' blogs to see what they have been writing, and check the teacher's list of online resources and the blog's archive. The archive reveals how the blog has been used by former students. This blog project illustrates ways to integrate Web 2.0 tools into the classroom. Post your comments after browsing the blog, looking at students' blogs, checking the archive, and using the resource links. What purpose do you envision blogging having in the K-12 setting? Would you consider maintaining one? Why, or why not?

Image from:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Vooks In the Classroom and Beyond

Books with pop-up videos create a new reading experience, and are finding their way into schools. Called Vooks (Video+Books=Vooks) can be read on computers, iphones, iPods, and online. While some experts contend that Vooks, multimedia books, are necessary to lure young readers accustomed to working interactively, others fear the new format forebodes the end of the reading experience as we once knew it. In addition to video feeds, social network tools are also finding intertwined with Vooks.

For instance, HarperCollins has added to its young adult mystery series "The Amanda Project" (check it out) the opportunity for readers to discuss plot hints with one another via an online discussion group, and plans to incorporate readers' comments into character and plot development in future books, making young readers collaborators in the authoring of the book.

The verdict on books with video clips, social networkings features, music loops, and other embedded media is mixed. Read more about the possibilities and responses to it at this article from the Oct.1, 2009 New York Times: "Curling Up with Hybrid Books, Video Included." Within 24 hours, the article had over 100 comments posted. Check the comment section after reading the article to see how readers have responded to the news. Also, check's article, video included, at: "What is a Vook and Will It Change the Way You Read?"

What do you see as the potential of Vooks in the educational setting? Will Vooks be welcomed in schools? What do you think will be the reaction of educational reading experts? Some are quoted in the New York Times article. Do you believe that hybrid books are a wave of the future that educators can't deny and need to embrace?

Image from

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