Learning Log – Final Reflection

As this course draws to a close, I have to say that I am amazed by how much I’ve learned about ways I can use technology in the classroom. Prior to this, I thought I was doing pretty well with technology. I’m a frequent user of the Promethean Board, I tried to incorporate YouTube videos and cartoons I found online to make class a little more interesting, and I had even experimented with digital storytelling a little. But now my eyes have been opened to all the ways I might employ technology as an educator.

First, I’ve thought a lot about how technology can help me as a professional. I can use blogs and tweets to get my name out into the professional community as an innovator and dedicated educator. I can also create and share Diigo lists that others might find helpful. These are all important ways to boost my online presence in a positive way. But to me, I am compelled to keep using these technologies for the information I can gather. No, I don’t plan to leech on to the system and just take, take, take from others who put themselves out there. But I am so invigorated to see just how many fantastic teaching ideas I can get from doing something as simple as scanning Twitter here and there. I think one reason many educators leave the profession after a few years is a feeling of isolation and an accompanying loss of enthusiasm. I can’t imagine that teaching will ever feel dull with such a constant influx of new ideas and inspiring stories.

I’ve also learned so many ways to not just “hook” students with technologies like Voicethreads and Screencasts, but to reach all different types of learners. We’ve talked a lot about differentiation over the past few years at my school, but we’ve all struggled with the “how” of it. How can we make it happen? How can we find the time? The resources? I’ve discovered through this class that the resources are out there. Yes, the tools do require a time investment, but once I’ve created a Diigo list of resources (video, print, visual) for one topic, I can use that list time and again with many classes. I can also continue to add to and modify the list to suit the audience or changing times.

I also love the vision of a different type of school that may be coming in the future. The more I hear about the idea of a “flipped” classroom, the more curious I become. What if students didn’t really attend a typical class? What if they just met in communal meeting areas to work on group projects, while teachers created digital content and held more informal study sessions with smaller groups of students? What if? They are thrilling ideas!

For my final assignment, I created the lesson plan that can be found here. This is my fledgling attempt to create a lesson that takes place more virtually than face-to-face, and my biggest challenge in writing it was trying to focus my ideas. I’ve been exposed to so many technologies that I’d like students to learn as well, but I had to scale back and realize that I couldn’t cram EVERY online tool into one lesson. As I result, in this lesson, students will collaborate on Wikispaces. They will watch an online tutorial that I created in Screencast through the wiki, and they will also use Diigo to make and annotate a list of resources. See? I just couldn’t limit my enthusiasm to only one technology!

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Learning Log – Wikis

Welcome to the wonderful world of wikis! I’ve spent a good amount of time over the past few days learning about how wikis can be used in the classroom to support student learning. I’ve discovered that they are amazing tools for collaboration and, from visiting, several classroom wikis, have gotten several ideas of how I might use wikis in my classroom. Here are some descriptions of what I found:

Miller’s English 10

Mr. Miller’s English 10 Resource Wiki is full of information that would help any student in his class learn more, understand more, and enjoy the class more. When I visited, the front page included a Prezi presentation about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, an essay test question, quotes to study for a test, and links to several homework assignments related to the play that students completed on the class wiki. Miller also lists some essential questions that he uses throughout the course.

I was really impressed by how focused the wiki is. It’s well-designed and not too complicated. The idea of Essential Questions that carry throughout a semester would be enormously helpful to students in that they would help them see the connections between texts and the real world relevance of the texts. The homework assignments that Miller posts also support students in their learning, as they tend to be tasks that bridge the gap between the world of Shakespeare and the 21st century student. For example, in one assignment, students are asked to write about a connection between a song lyric and an idea in the play. This wiki could also help support students’ learning because it’s a great place for parents to go for information about what children are learning in Miller’s class.

Ms. Cohen’s English Class

Ms. Cohen uses this wiki as a space for all her classes: AP English Language, AP English Literature, and Pre-IB. This, in my opinion is one of its strengths, as it allows students to see what is happening in other courses and make connections between courses. In addition, it allows Ms. Cohen to be efficient – she can post information and resources that apply to all class in one central spot, then post course-specific information on each class’s individual page. Another strength is the “Discuss!” area of the wiki. Here, it looks like you participate in a live chat or request a time to set up a live chat with Ms. Cohen (and maybe other classmates). This level of accessibility could really help create a climate where students feel comfortable approaching their teacher with questions, concerns, and ideas. Another way Cohen seems to use this wiki to create that climate is by announcing that she is seeking nominations for the “Mizcees,” which are awards she gives to deserving students.

Hogue’s Classroom Wiki

It appears that Ms. Hogue uses her classroom wiki as a space where students collaborate on projects. When I visited, the site seemed very clean. By this, I mean that on the front page there wasn’t much more than a “Current Projects” heading with “English 11 Salem Witch Trials Webquest Reports” written underneath. In the right-hand navigation, I found links to the Webquest Reports that students completed in small groups as well as directions for the assignment. Now, I don’t know if Ms. Hogue still uses this wiki, but it helped me think that, for some students, visiting a wiki or other online space that was crowded with links and assignments and videos and images and other items – well, it might be confusing. I know I have some students, especially some in my inclusion classes, who would be overwhelmed by a wiki with too much going on. I think the lesson here is to know your audience. If I decided to use a wiki with that inclusion class, I’d probably try to make it as clean and simple as Ms. Hogue’s.

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Social and Collaborative Media

I just finished creating a presentation using VoiceThread, which is an online presentation tool that has great potential for use in education. Through VoiceThread, teachers can create interactive online lessons. It allows users to present material in a variety of formats (text, audio, video), thus fitting the different needs and learning styles of a variety of students. The platform also provides a model of an engaging technology tool, as it enables students to contribute their own responses in writing, or through audio or video.

The presentation I have created should show you some of these features. In addition, it explores some of the ways educators can use social networking tools like Diigo and Twitter in your classroom.  Please let me know what you think!

Networked: The Potential of Social Media in the Classroom

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Learning Log – iGoogle

I recently discovered iGoogle, which lets users customize a homepage to suite a variety of needs. The picture above is a shot of what’s on my iGoogle page right now. Here are a few of the gadgets I’ve added and how I hope they’ll make my life easier and more interesting:

  • To do list – This should be useful for obvious reasons. I’m a big list-maker, and if an item isn’t on the list, it doesn’t exist in my world. Don’t be fooled by the lack of items on there right now; I just hadn’t started transferring my paper list when I took this screenshot.
  • Google Reader – This tool helps organize all sorts of content from various online sources. It’s comparable to my own personal news feed. Here, I’ve subscribed to lots of education-related feeds, like the New York Times Education section and The Learning Network.
  • Literary Quote of the Day – Everyone needs a little inspiration, and the gives me a quick daily dose. I’ll probably end up saving some of my favorites and sharing them with students.
  • Weather – Most high school teachers leave for work before the sun comes up, and we need to know what to wear at that early hour, right?
  • Twitter Gadget – This links to the people and publications I follow on Twitter. Easy to just stop here and pick up inspiring tidbits and ideas without having to separately log on to the Twitter web site.
  • I also have a Google News feed to help me keep up with current events, a calendar gadget, and a link to Epicurious, which features recipes, because I like to cook and need new ideas for dinner!

Overall, iGoogle strikes me as a useful organizational tool. It offers easy access to new information and ideas through the Twitter, Google Reader, and news-related gadgets. I could see myself bringing some of the interesting/relevant articles to the attention of my students, so in this way it will support their learning. Being able to stop at this one page for all this information is efficient and can help me, as a teacher, stay informed and current with what is going on in the world of education. The more efficient and informed I can be, the better position I will be in to teach well. It will also help me be a valuable member of the professional community, because I will be able to forward useful information to my Twitter and blog followers, and bring ideas to my own colleagues.

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Learning Log – Goodreads

I just created a bookshelf in Goodreads to support IB English 12 students in their in-depth study of poet Elizabeth Bishop. We study her writing style very closely, looking carefully at her topic selection, diction, syntax, and other distinguishing characteristics. To receive an IB diploma in English, one of the examinations is an oral exam. For this exam, each individual student is handed an excerpt of about 20 lines from an author or poet we have studied in-depth (not all students receive the same excerpt or the same writer). The student is then given 20 minutes to carefully read and mark up the excerpt and prepare an oral commentary on it. Following this, the student meets with me alone and speaks for about 12 minutes, explaining the purpose of the excerpt, its structure, and how it fits into the larger work. The student analyzes and interprets the details, and compares the poem to other works by the same author.

It is an intimidating assignment. Those who do best are those who have really studied the author and know him or her inside and out. The bookshelf I created above should help support students in getting to know Elizabeth Bishop and her style even better. I would ask students to check out one of these books from the school library or local library. I would allow students to stray from this list, but ask that they share any additional titles so I could add them to this bookshelf. I would then create a group for the class so we could get together and discuss additional insights students gained from what everybody read.  This would really help these students prepare for this oral examination.

There are a few other ways I can think of to incorporate Goodreads into my teaching. I noticed that there are some groups for things like short story writers and that some even have contests. I could encourage students who like to write to join these groups or even just assign students to join one of these groups so they can give feedback on others’ writing and see peer review modeled outside of a school setting. We could also create our own writing groups. I think Goodreads can help students select books for independent reading; I could create bookshelves and recommendations for different genres. Students could pick up suggestions from classmates if each class member had their own Goodreads page with recommendations. Finally, I might be able to use Goodreads when students were completing a research assignment. Perhaps they could create a bookshelf for their topic and share it with me; I could then help them narrow down their choices and even help them locate the books in the library (either a school or community library).

What ways will you use Goodreads in your classroom?

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Sliderocket Characterization Lesson

I just finished using Sliderocket.com to create an interactive presentation on characterization. I started with the idea that when I teach Tim O’Brien’s novel The Things They Carried in English 12, I like to spend some time reviewing characterization so that my students enter the novel thinking about how and why O’Brien lists the things the soldiers carry in the first section of the novel. I want them to understand the tools an author has at his disposal to create characters. This lesson is something that I could use in any of my English classes. I could go through the presentation in class with students, or I could ask them to view the presentation in a lab or as homework. Here’s the presentation, with some thoughts on creating it below.

If you’ve never seen or used Sliderocket before, you might want to watch this tutorial I created using Screencast.

I have to say that I loved using Sliderocket to create this presentation. I spent a lot of time exploring some of the bells and whistles of the program (such as the delayed “entry” of certain portions of the slide), and I got excited about incorporating other Web technologies like Voki and xtranormal in the presentation. I also think the Flickr assignment at the end will be a nice extension of this lesson. I had a lot of fun creating this presentation, and I hope you like it, too!

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Learning Log -Flickr Slide Shows

Visual literacy is an important part of the Montgomery County Public Schools English 12 Curriculum. For the purposes of this curriculum, the authors expand the definition of the word “text” to include video, images, web content, and other non-traditional formats. When we watch films or parts of films in class, I consider it vital to get students to consider how each choice a filmmaker makes influences how the audience experiences the movie. As such, we talk a lot about the effects of music, camera angles, and lighting as we are watching. As an introduction to the idea that camera angles, the type of shot (wide, medium, or close), and lighting can be manipulated to create certain effects, I created  this Flickr Slideshow.

In class, I would use this at the beginning of a film unit. I would project the slideshow on the Promethean Board and ask students to consider the feeling evoked by each image. I would probably have students write down a word or two for each picture in a notebook, then have them discuss their responses to each image with a partner before leading a whole class discussion. Hopefully, consensus would emerge, leading to some new insights about how we are manipulated by a director’s or cameraman’s choices. Students could then apply this new awareness to additional visual “texts” as we encounter them in the unit.

This lesson would help students achieve mastery of the following MCPS English 12 standards:

Standard 1: The student will comprehend and interpret a variety of print, non-print and electronic texts, and other media.

Standard 2: The student will analyze and evaluate a variety of print, non-print and electronic texts, and other media. 2.1.2— Analyze stylistic elements in a text or across texts that communicate an author’s purpose; 2.1.4— Analyze and evaluate the purpose and effect of non-print texts, including visual, aural, and electronic media.

An extension of this activity would be to have students experiment with their own digital cameras (phone cameras, digital cameras, or even ones on loan from the school) to see what effects they can achieve using angles and lighting. They could work with partners and create their own Flickr slideshows to share with the class.

Works Cited

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Learning Log Flickr Galleries

I wanted to create a pre-reading activity for Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, so I put together a gallery of images relating to Paris, Spain, bullfighting, and drinking. Essentially, I would use this to activate prior knowledge and as a prediction guide. Students would be given a link to the gallery along with a worksheet with the name of each image and the following instructions:

  • Look at the set of images. For each picture, write down one word that comes to mind when you see the image. Name a feeling, emotion, descriptive adjective or other association. Do not repeat your response from an earlier image. For the final image, write a three- to five-sentence prediction for the novel based on the following questions: Besides bullfighting, what do you think the novel will be about? What topics or themes will the novel treat? What do you think the characters will be like? Be prepared to share your responses in class discussion.

Then, after students have had time to respond, I would use random calling methods to elicit responses to each image as we looked at them again on a Promethean Board. We would also discuss and record student predictions for the novel and return to them either during or after reading to see how their predictions match up with the actual story. One thing I wish I could modify about the Flickr gallery setup would be to make it possible for students to comment on each image directly on the Gallery page without the comments appearing under the original photographer’s picture. I just think that if I were the photographer and saw 75 or so one-word student comments (3 classes’ worth) under my image, I might be a little confused and annoyed. Does anyone have a way around this in Flickr?

Overall, David Jakes’ article on “Using Flickr in the Classroom” gave me the best ideas of how to use this technology in my teaching. I love the idea of a virtual field trip or tour through the settings of a novel. This is certainly something I could see using as I introduce books to students. One drawback might be that the images were taken fairly recently; if I am teaching a novel set in the past, I would have to get creative regarding how I incorporate both current images and those that are contemporary from the time of the novel. Perhaps we could compare images found elsewhere of 1920s Paris, for example, with Flickr images from today, though I am not sure how/why I would do that to fulfill curricular goals. Maybe I could use an activity like this to help students see the thematic relevance of what we are reading.

As usual, I’d like to think about how to put students in the driver’s seat when it comes to using this technology. In the past, I’ve assigned students soundtrack projects as a culminating activity for a novel. With Flickr, I could assign a gallery project. Students would assemble a gallery of images that best represent the novel. Of course, the project would include a written component in which they explain and justify their choices in order to demonstrate understanding of the novel’s plot, themes, and characters. Flickr seems ideally created for this; in the Gallery function, I noticed that the creator of each gallery can include a written explanation of why each particular photo was chosen.  Students could then view and comment on each others’ galleries.

I’ll end this post for now with a couple of questions:

  • Do you know of a way to make it possible for students to comment on each image directly on a Gallery page without the comments appearing under the original photographer’s picture?
  • How would you use Flickr in math or science classrooms?  I’m studying to be a school librarian, and have a lot to learn about ways to incorporate these Web 2.0 technologies in non-English/Social Studies classes!

Works Cited

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Kids These Days!

Alright, alright. If you saw the title of this post and expected to join me in some eye rolling and lamentations about how much better we were when we were kids, just go away. Because I’m about to get all impressed by some kiddie bloggers out there in cyberland. Today, I’m exploring some of the best student and classroom blogs out there, hoping to get some ideas for how I might incorporate blogging in my English classes as well as how I might use them if I become a media specialist someday. I decided to write about some specific student blogs that are representative of an entire class since the students in one class all seem to complete similar assignments.

Haille’s Happy Blog. Nine year-old Haille lives in Australia and is part of a whole class of bloggers at her school, which is pretty amazing and is giving me all sorts of ideas. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The posts are mostly school-related, and the comments seem to be from teachers, classmates, and Haille’s grandmother. Haille writes about field trips, swim lessons, and the  class’s Skype conversation with Jenni, a scientist who works for the National Dinosaur Museum (how cool an experience is that?!)  Beyond the overwhelming cuteness of a happy 9 year-old blogger who uses fantastic Australian slang, I love how Haille ends each blog entry with a question or two for her audience. What a great way to invite readers to engage directly with her!

Through the Edublogs web site, I found Huzzah, an entire class of 10 and 11 year-olds who are blogging together. From looking at the class blog page plus several individual student blogs, it seems that there are some common assignments students have been completing, and it’s all giving me some good ideas of ways teachers and librarians can use blogs in the classroom. I’ll use Bekkam’s Blog as an example. First, Bekkam seems to be using the blog as a place to complete surveys for a class inquiry project. Her topic is hockey skates, and she has used Google Docs to create a survey about skates. Bekkam is also trying to start a jewelry-making business and has created another “market research” survey to help her in this endeavor. The blog also includes a post titled “Me as a Reader” which describes her reading habits and preferences, a poem about snow, and info about bald eagles, one of Bekkam’s favorite animals.  One thing I really like about this blog is that each post is edited by two classmates; I love the authenticity of having classmates edit work for publication. Though I appreciate that each image the students use in these blogs are linked to the original site from which the image came, I would encourage the teacher to require students to include proper citations when using images. It’s a habit students should begin at a young age.

Simone is a teen who has some great stuff on her blog. This blog is filled with examples of the work Simone is completing for her classes at school in all content areas; it’s giving me many ideas of how I can use Web 2.0 technologies as well as blogs with my student. In effect, Simone is creating an online portfolio of her academic work, something that I would encourage all students to do. I found posts about her favorite movies, a glog and a prezi presentation she made for science class, and public service announcement she created for health class. There’s an entire section devoted to Underground to Canada, a book by Barbara Smucker that Simone read and discussed with a small group of classmates.  Again, Simone could use some lessons in respecting copyright, as there are a lot of unattributed or uncited images here. Overall, though, a great student blog to visit.

The Jets Class Blog documents the activities of grade 2 students in Derbyshire, England.  The blog is written by teachers, though the students seem to be active commenters. I found pictures from an outing the class took to the park, videos of class performances to explain the water cycle, information (including a BBC Video) about an artist the class studied, and even a collection of poems written by the students.  The families of students seem to be the primary audience of this blog, which elicits a lot of comments. It’s a great way for teachers to keep in touch, and also for parents to sit down with children and talk about what they did in school.

In Session: Sentiments from Silveri’s Class is one of the high school blogs I found. It’s interesting and a bit disappointing that high school blogs are harder to find than elementary and middle school blogs. Silveri uses her blog in some good ways to generate online discussion. In one section, titled “With All Deliberate Speed,” she creates a space where her AP Language and AP Literature students can interact and share ideas about the same text. She uses her blog post to introduce the assignment (which includes reading one common document, followed by independent research, followed by responses to specific questions) and resources for it. The “comments” under her entry are where students post answers to the questions and responses to each other. When I checked, there were nearly 100 comments. In addition to using this blog almost like an online discussion board with her classes, I noticed that Silveri’s love for her students comes through constantly, and that she includes spaces for students to discuss some less academic current events, like the death of Whitney Houston.

Implications

I started with very few ideas of how I could use blogs in my classroom, and now I have many! Thanks, world! I love the collaboration across disciplines evidenced in Simone’s blog, and think the learning implications are fantastic if teachers from all content areas could work together to have students reflect on what they are learning in all subject areas, emphasizing areas of connection and crossover. It’s a tall order, but exciting to think about.

I can also now see that blogging can be a powerful tool to make a home-school connection, particularly with parents of younger children. If teachers can get parents involved in reading classroom blogs, there are so many possibilities for how that could open up communication between parents and teachers, and between parents and children.

Finally, the blogs I found gave my some great ideas of new ways to use technology in the classroom. I now have ideas of how I could incorporate Google surveys, Skype, and digital video both on classroom blogs and in class. And taking my cue from Haille, I’ll end my blog with some questions:

  • What are your thoughts on why great high school class blogs are harder to find?
  • Do you have some more examples of innovative class blogs?

Works Cited

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Nerds, Skunks, and Educational Theory, Oh My!

I’m a high school English teacher considering making the transition to becoming a school librarian/media specialist. So in seeking out teacher blogs to read, I’ve been looking for some bloggers who would offer some creative ideas for the English classroom as well as some new ideas for how to incorporate technology in teaching.  Makes sense, right? Does to me, anyway. I found three very different blogs, all with something to offer.

The Blue Skunk Blog

Doug Johnson is Director of Media and Technology for Mankato, MN, public schools. His blog, The Blue Skunk Blog “serves as a sounding board for ideas [he is] currently thinking/writing about.” (I include this blog under the “Educator Blog” category because it seems to me that Johnson writes as an educator who happens to be a librarian. In addition, this is not a blog primarily representing a school library.) This blog is funny, conversational, and thought-provoking. Johnson has been an educator for 35 years and his love and passion for the profession come through in his posts. Some of the things you will find here:

You’ll find a lot more, too, including a thoughtful community of followers who comment on and question Johnson’s ideas. I really like this blog a lot. Everything from the casual tone to the questions Johnson asks seem designed to help educators step back, consider some larger issues, and reflect on the role they have in the education of this country’s children. There is a LOT to explore here – Johnson has been writing the Blue Skunk since 2005 – but exploring it seems like it will be a pleasure.

Moving at the Speed of Creativity

Moving at the Speed of Creativity is technology educator Wesley Fryer’s blog. As he explains, he focuses “primarily on issues related to engaged learning, web 2.0 technologies, digital storytelling, educational leadership, literacy, blended learning, creativity, appropriate uses of educational technologies, digital citizenship, and educational transformation.”  As soon as I read this, I was excited to explore, and I had a fantastic time reading ideas about the intersection of technology and the classroom.

Some of these posts are dense and contain A LOT of ideas. Take this one titled “Serving and Delivering does not equal Teaching or Learning. Fryer uses a 60 Minutes piece on online education content creator Kahn Acadamy as a jumping off point to address the idea that delivering content doesn’t mean students learn the content. He then moves on to examples of how when students teach others and create their own online lessons, they learn more.  He makes the point (with a Bill Gates quote as reinforcement) that access to resources, technological and otherwise, is important, but isn’t everything; access to good educators is just as important, ones who don’t simply think knowledge is something to be passed from the teacher to the student. Fryer cites Paolo Freire and others as he builds his argument, concluding that he supports online resources like Kahn Academy, yet also sees them as ways to help us “ask basic questions about teaching and learning.” In other words, this is somewhat heady stuff – don’t expect feel-good fluff. In reading one of Fryer’s posts, expect to do a lot more, including watching linked videos, visiting other web sites, reading outside blogs, and revisiting some of your grad school educational theory. Whew! I’m exhausted!

Here are a few other entries that grabbed my attention:

The Nerdy Teacher 

Nicholas Provenzano is an English teacher in Michigan and has been blogging since Jan. 1, 2010, about ways to incorporate technology in the classroom. He even has a Masters degree in educational technology and presents regularly at edtech conferences around the country. Honestly, I was kinda turned off by the brag sheet that is Provenzano’s “About Me” section, and almost left the blog after my eyes glazed over from reading about how great Provenzano is (Case in point: “In December 2011, my blog was voted the 3rd Most Powerful New Blog in the World. 🙂   I was also nominated for Best Teacher Blog as well.”). Despite my misgivings, I soldiered on. I am I glad I did, with reservations. This blog is full of technology ideas and, I hate to say it, but the 3rd Most Powerful Blogger in the World knows his stuff. The guy seems to live, eat, and breathe an intoxicating combination of education, literature, and technology.

The downside of this blog is that it’s a little like stepping into a sci-fi novel about half way through. I was immediately greeted with LOTS of acronyms (MACUL, ISTE), techno-jargon, and references to something called “The Rebel Alliance” which seems to be some sort of Twitter-based education reform movement, not a reference to Star Wars .  I couldn’t find an organized archive of any sort to help me negotiate the blog. After scanning through a bunch of posts, I stumbled upon something familiar – a post about Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Finally! Back on familiar ground. I read three posts about Provenzano’s Twain project (here and here) and I was struck by how it combines the familiar (students putting Twain on trial for racism) with the new (using iPads, Twitter, and streaming video at various stages during the project). This is the best of what technology can do; it doesn’t reinvent good teaching, but it does facilitate it and keep it engaging for students. I wish Provenzano had included more details about the ways in which he integrated these technologies. I wonder if he includes information in earlier posts about how he managed to get iPads for his students, for instance, or how he uses Twitter as part of his class. Again, an organized archive would be helpful.

I’m still exploring this blog. It seems like being a subscriber or regular reader could pay off and that teachers of all content areas would eventually find some great ideas, including reviews of great classroom tools like this digital microscope. Provenzano even has guest bloggers, such as this one by an employee in the education division at Adobe about the importance of tech ed.

My next step with this blog is to see if I missed something in terms of its organization. I’ll keep you posted on the results!

Reflections and Implications for My Life as an Educator

As I’ve begun exploring more blogs in the education world, I’ve been a bit annoyed at myself. I’m annoyed that I didn’t start reading educator blogs earlier in my teaching career. I found myself writing the following in my Learning Log for SLM508 @ McDaniel College: “The best part about reading [blogs] so far is that in the absence of regular discussions about education through classes and professional development, blogs seem like a fantastic way to keep my teaching new. There are so many great educators with so many fantastic ideas out there, and just reading about them inspires me to try new things and take a different approach. Teaching is the most intellectually and emotionally demanding job I have ever had, and the longer I teach, the more I realize how important it is to surround myself with a community of enthusiastic educators. Whether this community is physical or virtual does not matter that much; either way, it is key to helping me remain committed and enthusiastic.” So for me personally, I plan to use blogs to continually inspire me to be a better educator.

I was thinking about how I will be able to “spread the word” to other teachers about how inspiring blogs can be, and I have a few ideas. First, if I do have my own library one day, I think that might give me a good platform to keep my own blog that I can share with other teachers in my building (could email them when I post a new entry and also ask them to subscribe).  I believe the key to getting teachers to do something voluntary is to show them how it can be useful and make their lives easier. As a librarian, I could target specific groups of teachers (one content area, for example), and write a blog entry with resources for them, then share it directly with those teachers in my building. I could also work with my building’s admin to design some presentations on the power of blogging at faculty meetings. This could be a great way to recruit new readers of my blog and to show other teachers how easy it can be for them to become bloggers themselves. In the virtual world, word of good products spreads. If one department head finds my blog useful, she is likely to tell a colleague at another school, who will let others know about it, etc.

I’m still struggling with how I would use blogs in the classroom. For the second part of this assignment, I had planned on looking at librarian blogs, since I plan to become a school librarian. I think, however, I may shift gears and look at student blogs, as I am hoping they will give me ideas for how I might be able to actually use blogging in the classroom.

Works Cited

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