Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Flattening Has Begun

So there I was, fumbling through Joyce Valenza's Information Fluency wiki and David Warlick's wiki only to stumble into a wonderful link from MathReflections called Moving toward a Flatter Classroom.

After reading and reflecting on this blog entry I then realized that I too have slowly begun the shift to a flatter classroom. How have I been doing this?

One way is that I have created a class website through Blackboard where I have incorporated a "Discussion Board." There are many limitations to this way of communicating however, it is a good starting point for me to begin to model how to use these tools to have a dialogue.

With that said, students are finding themselves on the Discussion Board posting original stories, original questions that they have, and reflecting on books that they are reading. The shift has begun but very slowly.

These kids are really fired up about writing their original stories and have begun to realize that they do indeed have a voice and a story to tell. The students are realizing that they do not simply need to write and keep their journals buried in the depths of their desk, but they can share. I find that children love to share their stories and due to the lack of time the Discussion Board has allowed the students the opportunity to be heard.

I cannot wait to get permission from all the parents to allow this group to have their own blogs. I believe that their motivation to contribute and take charge of their own learning will increase even more. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 22, 2007

21st Century Learner

For some reason I have been having an incredibly challenging time to blog as of late. There really has been a great deal of innovation going on in my life and the lives of my students, but I simply have not taken the time (it's all about balance) to write about it.

Our school district hired Elliot Masie to speak at our Superintendent's Conference this month. I was inspired and moved by his entertaining and informative presentation, but finding myself with a lot to say before, during, and afterwards. However, there was really not much opportunity for that with the format of the teachers sitting in the audience and Mr. Masie out in front. I was then thinking about Will Richardson's comments on the irony of this model of presentation where he mentions his frustrations with this.

Later that week, I then experienced the K12 Online Conference and discovered the incredible links to the 2006 conferences as well. My learning curve had a rather large spike after watching several of last years presentations for the first time. Since then I have really tried to wrap my head around everything that I have experienced. David Warlick's Hitchhikr, I discoverd is absolutely genius and again allowed my learning curve to climb.

Basically, I am on "Innovation Overload," and looking for opportunities to stretch my wings and apply this newly discovered knowledge. My goals as of late:

1. Continue to be a 21st Century Learner.
2. Attempt to be a more effective 21st Century Teacher/Facilitator.
3. Find out what tools will help me establish my own personal social network
a. Second Life
b. Twitter
c. Skype
d. Blogging
e. ???

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ready, Willing, and Able

Ready, Willing, and Able
K-12 Online Conference

I stumbled across Brian Crosby's blog entry about this years K-12 Online Conference and found myself following through the links and spending a couple of hours watching last years videos and reading through the notes for the first time.

~ WOW ~

It seems that each new day brings a wonderful new learning gem. So needless to say I am ready, willing, and able to participate in this years event and look forward to the learning adventure. See ya there!


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Friday, October 05, 2007

Wikis in Action

How can teachers save time and utilize their resources among one another effectively? Well, the fifth grade teachers and library media specialist at our school is trying to do just that by using our wiki. I created a PBWiki account several months ago and have been fumbling around trying to find practical purposes for it and I think we now have one.

Objective: The teaching staff will have one place to call their own where we as a building can share our lesson plans, the resources we used, a collection of Internet sites, and a place to share our reflections as well.

I have come across some well developed wikis that has provided a great framework for me to use when beginning to design our wiki.
Wes Fryer
Joyce Valenza
David Warlick

The constant theme that comes up is "time" and there is never enough. I find that even the teachers in our own building struggle to meet and collaborate on a regular basis. I do believe that a wiki could help ease some of that pain but that is just me. I need to somehow build in momentum for this tool with the other teachers to actually get this project off the ground without sounding like an evangelist, which according to my wife, might be my biggest challenge.

I would love to hear from folks who use wikis or if you know of space that has been created where teachers are saving time and sharing resources.