classroom


This morning I was checking my daily updates from one of my Diigo Groups and I was excited when I checked out this Myths and Legends Story Creator site. I can already imagine how I can use this with my students. In a myths and legends unit or integrate it into some project based learning this would be a fabulous way for the students to create stories. I can think about the discussions and planning that will happen then once the students start using the story creator their stories will come alive.

The site has free membership which is a bonus. Each year I create a class email account for my students to use for sites like this that allows me to create a class account on web sites. It’s so much easier if all of the students are using the same password. Occasionally this creates a problem if the site has difficulty managing so many users on the same account but then we adapt. I would want to see if we could embed the story on our blogs but if not we could probably using screen shots to post the story. I could also envision using the screen shot pictures and using iMovie to create a movie. I think I might be getting ahead of myself here. I’ll have to play around with the site then introduce it to my students. We could have used it for our Solar System unit to tell stories about the constellations, hmmm…maybe I can incorporate it into my current project “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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I’m just beginning Block 6, Adventure # 2 ~ The Quicksand of Multiple Literacies ~ for my EC&I 832 master’s class. I read the Wikipedia definition of Multiple LiteraciesMultiliteracies is a term coined by the New London Group.[1] Because the way people communicate is changing due to new technologies, and shifts in the usage of the English language within different cultures, a new “literacy” must also be used and developed.” I then moved on to the Educase Article Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century which stated that “Perhaps literacy, and numeracy for that matter, have never really been optional for fully functioning members of society. In our 21st century society—accelerated, media-saturated, and automated—a new literacy is required, one more broadly defined than the ability to read and write.” Next on the list was Dr. Michael Wesch’s video Information R/evolution which “explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.” The readings and video made had me thinking about last year’s  Saskatchewan iT Summit where David Warlick was the key note speaker. Warlick challenges the way we are teaching and learning. During his presentations to teachers he wants to challenge them to expand their perceptions of teaching and learning and dare to consider our professional future with optimism and excitement.”

Mike Sansone CC

“Today, we are not just about Literacy,
But, “Learning Literacy,”

Not just about Literacy Skills,
But, “Literacy Habits,”

Not just about Lifelong Learning,
But, it is a “Learning Lifestyle.”


I went back and reread my blog post after listening to Warlick speak and found that what he said a year ago still resonates and challenges me.

Redefining Literacy with David Warlick March 24th, 2009

http://davidwarlick.com/wordpress/

How do we prepare students for a world and future we don’t know about. We need to stop integrating technology but integrate literacy. If students are literate “in terms of their information landscape” they will ask questions and challenge information. Students must be willing and encouraged to ask questions. In fact, we want students to become digital detectives; look for clues and evidence about where their information is coming from. We want literacy to go beyond reading text on paper and answering questions about the text. Students are reading in a global electronic highway where anyone can publish which means that the demands for literacy are changing. Today literacy means that students need to “expose what’s true: find, critically evaluate, organize and apply.”

We also need to teach students to communicate their ideas in a compelling way that moves beoynd text to videos, photos, digital storytelling, music and art.

Contemporary Literacy:

karindalziel CC

Exposing What’s True

Employing the Information

Expressing Ideas Compellingly

Do it all within an Ethical Context

Redefine Literacy, so that it reflects today’s information.

In more recent blog posts and presentations Warlick continues to challenge educators and  the literacies they are teaching for.

“I frequently talk about expanding our notions of literacy from the 3Rs to 4Es, expanding:

  • Reading to Exposing what’s true A range of skills going beyond simply reading to finding the information within a global network, evaluating the information to determine its value, organizing the information, and decoding the information.
  • Arithmetic to Employing the information An appreciation that all information is structured from numbers today, and the skills to work those numbers to add value to the information.
  • Writing to Expressing ideas compellingly When technical information doubles every 72 hours, information must compete for our attention.  To produce a message that will attract an audience, literacy includes the ability to communicate effectively with text, sound, images, video, and animation.
  • and adding in Ethics as a critical part of any definition of or conversation about literacy.”

With so much to think about I question whether I’m doing a good job acknowledging the different forms of literacy in the classroom. Am I doing what I can to help my students explore the various forms of literacy by giving them opportunities in the classroom? Every time I read articles, blogs or view videos I find myself reflecting and questioning my teaching practice which I guess is the whole point.

Cristóbal Cobo Romaní CC

I just finished viewing and reflecting on Steve Wheeler’s slide presentation on New Pedagogies for the Digital age. As Wheeler states “The future of education will be premised on what students need – and that will include creative solutions, flexible, personalisable tools, and device responsiveness that is culturally relevant. It’s going to be exciting and challenging!” It occurred to me that there is much discussion about what type of education students need and what pedagogy is best to prepare students for an unknown future.

In Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age: Designing and Delivering E-learning Helen Beethem and Rona Sharpe argue that there is nothing new about using technologies for learning. From the beginning of time every tool that has been introduced to enhance learning and teaching has been a new invention. Beethem and Sharpe continue with “The networked digital computer and its more recent mobile and digital are just the latest outputs of human ingenuity that we have at our disposal.” Beethem and Sharpe contend “that these technologies represent a paradigm shift … on the theory of learning.” Beethem and Sharpe question how digital technologies constitute a new context for learning and explore this in their book.

In his paper How has pedagogy changed in a digital age? Hayat Al-Khatib concludes that “The full potential of ICT support should be explored in learner-centered strategies to shift pedagogic orientation to cater more for the role of the learner in the learning process, taking advantage of the resources and tools made available in the digital age.”

Our goal as educators should be to develope a curious, flexible and creative student who is able to work cooperatively in group situations. Whether that group is within that student’s classroom, school, city or even country depends on the student and teacher’s ability to connect to a learning network outside of the student’s building. The biggest change since I started teaching is that type of tools and technology available to me. I still remember learning how to use a gestetner machine and how exciting a photo copier in the school was. The difference now is that we live in a digital age and as educators, digital tools are what we have to use with our students. In Block 5 for my EC&I 832 class we’ve been exploring various web tools and questioning how they can help us in our teaching practice. If we consider the cartoon sites, movie makers, digital story telling and social networking applications as technological tools we can use them wisely to enhance learning in a digitally relevant way.

To filter or not to filter? That appears to be a big question for school divisions. My own opinion is that we don’t filter because I find it an insult that someone in an IT department is going to make teaching decisions for me. I think that my professional judgement and education should allow me some decision making power and the respect to know how to teach my students to be digitally responsible. If I don’t teach them who is going to?

Google Australia posted on their blog concerns about an Australian government proposal to implement filtering in all schools:
“Some limits, like child pornography, are obvious. No Australian wants that to be available – and we agree. Google, like many other Internet companies, has a global, all-product ban against child sexual abuse material and we filter out this content from our search results. But moving to a mandatory ISP filtering regime with a scope that goes well beyond such material is heavy handed and can raise genuine questions about restrictions on access to information. ”

Google Australia goes on to say “Our view is that online safety should focus on user education…” which are exactly my feelings. “The government has committed to important cybersafety education and engagement programs and yesterday announced additional measures that we welcome.”

On ConnectSafely’s blog Anne Collier states “Many young people are using ‘proxy servers’ to get round their schools’ internet security systems, ” the BBC reports, adding that students’ use of these free school-filtering workarounds is on the rise. “It sounds like an obscure, techy area of computing that only geeks would know about. But when we asked pupils in one secondary school classroom who had heard of proxy servers, every hand went up.” I started looking into proxy servers and found blog posts that instructed students how to bypass school filters and for a step by step  directions you only have to look as far as YouTube.

So, our school divisions set up all of these filters and students start a quest to find a way to work around them. It makes me wonder what exactly we’re teaching here. Collier goes on to say “Instead, schools should embrace and teach with these devices (cellphones etc.) and technologies so students can learn and practice wise use…That helps develop the 24/7 cognitive “filter” in their heads that improves with practice and is as flexible as their use of technology is…” And if all else fails you can insert images or graphics on your blogs and wikis to truly express how you feel.

On  Chris Matyszczyk’s blog Technically Incorrect he pokes fun at filters with this blog” School Web Filters Force Beaver into Hibernation.” Matyszczyk goes on to explain that the Canadian Natural History’s magazine “The Beaver” ,established in 1920, has
run into problems with school filters. “… web and spam filters, especially the robust ones employed by schools to keep their students from reading about naked bodies and manual exercise, are rejecting The Beaver’s hardy historical e-mails and other communications.” Now, doesn’t this seem silly?

On the blog Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, Christine C. poses the question “Are school content filters keeping you and your students from learning and sharing information?” Christine discusses the problems that teachers and students are having when their access to social media is blocked. Christine also introduces ” Buffy Hamilton, a high school librarian in Canton, Ga., who argues that media specialists should try to overcome digital roadblocks by presenting reasoned and well-resourced arguments.” Hamilton shares her thoughts on Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering on slideshare.

I think Will Richardson sums up my feelings about filtering in schools “It insults the profession to not at the very least provide desktop overrides for teachers when they bump up against a filtered site. Have a policy in place to deal with incidents where teachers make poor choices if that’s what the concern is.”

I’ve been watching Henry Jenkins video on Edutopia.  Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Media and Implications for Learning and Teaching | Edutopia.  He believes that students and teachers are being hampered by schools due to filtering and sites being blocked. The access to technology is being restricted by school IT departments who are not the people actually using the technology. I’m starting to see this trend in my own school division. I know that the internet has more filters and restrictions in the high schools in my school division and right now there are very few sites filtered in the elementary schools. This means that my students and I can access information, videos and web tools whenever we want to. Yes, occasionally a student goes on a site I don’t want them to go on but that becomes a teaching opportunity when I talk about digital responsibility. Jenkins also states that teachers and districts need to recognize that there is a lot of learning going outside of schools. He believes that educators need to value this learning and incorporate it into our teaching. If we give students to discuss and share what they are learning beyond our four walls we open up our classrooms to rich sharing and discussion opportunities.

Jenkins states that it is time to get rid of the roles of digital natives and digital immigrant.  I’ve often thought that those terms were over used and not always correct. There needs to be a shift that we work and learn together particularly in a culture of connectiveness and sharing. Jenkins also believes that we need to move away from the autonomous model of learning and move to a collaborative culture of students and teachers being partners in education. To accomplish this teachers need to be connected and build a supportive and social network to support the work they want to do in their classrooms. I believe that if teachers are connected we are more apt to connect our students to enrich their learning.

Jenkins suggests we need to make a paradigm shift in our teaching to give students the skills they need to work in the new media landscape: play, performance, judgement, networking, negotiation, collective intelligence and appropriation. These are collaborative skills that translate into all subject areas and into students lives beyond school. The bottom line is that students won’t remember a lot of the subject content that we teach them but they will carry they skills we teach them far beyond us.

Jenkins poses some interesting discussion questions which makes me consider the roles of teachers, technology and schools in teaching students for the future.

1. How are schools limiting kids’ access to digital tools? Do you agree with these policies?

2. Do you see the participation gap in your school and community?

3. How do we create shared learning opportunities across generations?

4. Are schools ready to give up control to kids, families, and communities of learning? What are the opportunities and challenges?

5. What does authorship mean in the digital age? How do we teach it to kids?

Big Thinkers: Henry Jenkins on New Media and Implications for Learning and Teaching | Edutopia.

I’m playing in the sand with some new web tools. I’ve been frustrated by how difficult it has been to embed different media into my blog posts. I decided to try one of the compatible medias to see how easy it would be. I chose PollDaddy because I have never used a poll on a blog before. I also was involved in a discussion  earlier in the week about the value of polls for classroom data collection and math literacy. I can see how my class could design polls or surveys, collect data then graph the results. I think the results could lead to some rich learning and discussions.

I created a PollDaddy account, created a poll and saved it. I then opened up a new post and chose “create a poll” from the upload/insert options. One of my options was to link to my PollDaddy account and then…ta da…I had a poll. Well, at least I think so because I haven’t published it yet so I really don’t know if it is embedded in the post. Wish me luck and if you read this post please respond to my poll.

I checked and it worked! I showed my husband and he said I should find out who everyone thinks is going to the gold medal for Men’s Hockey. I made a poll and put it on my class blog for my students to vote on. I’m adding it here because I used a very cool background, plus I want to see what everyone thinks.

This evening I decided to dedicate myself to playing in the sand. I’m messing with web 2.0 tools that I’ve never played with. The first one I’m trying is Sketchcast. I created a sketch of myself playing in the sand. It’s a bit frightening and I didn’t add my voice but you can get the idea. I could see it as a digital storytelling tool with younger students so that they draw the story that they are telling. Fun!

But, now for the difficult part. I wanted to embed the sketch on my blog. I’m now back having the same frustrations as I did trying to embed an Animoto video. Now, after much reading and searching I found the reason. WordPress uses Codex which is a “Function Reference/wp embed register handler” or in lay person’s terms it was designed to make it easier to put media content in your blog. But, the trick is that it has to be a site that it recognizes. No wonder this has been such a nuisance. “The oEmbed implementation in WordPress has discovery disabled. By default, you can only embed from websites that are listed on the internal whitelist. This is to prevent accidental embedding from malicious websites.”

“The easy embedding feature is mostly powered by oEmbed, a protocol for site A (such as your blog) to ask site B (such as YouTube) for the HTML needed to embed content (such as a video) from site B. oEmbed was designed to avoid having to copy and paste HTML from the site hosting the media you wish to embed. It supports videos, images, text, and more.”

Well, I don’t think it’s easier, I think it’s very limiting and makes some of my work impossible. Lesson learned. Check the editing functions of any blogs I use in the future!

Okay, now I’m back at it. Hmmmm….what to try out? Creaza looks interesting. There’s mindmapping, cartooning, video and audio editing. Cool! “Creaza offers you an integrated, web-based toolbox for creative work, both at school and in your free time.  You use the toolbox along with various fully developed thematic universes:  historical periods, fairy-tales, fantasy worlds, and current challenges, such as climate/environment.” However, it’s another site not supported by WordPress. Oh well, have a look at my creation:  http://www.creaza.com/members/classroomqueen. It’s pretty basic but then again I didn’t read the instructions.

I guess I could try the sites that are supported but maybe tomorrow because I’m down to 21% power and the red line is showing on my battery icon.

In case you were wondering, here are the supported sites.

“You can use all of these:

I wonder what I should try tomorrow?

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