Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Spies Like Us

Spies Like Us by CoolCatTeacher (Vicki Davis) was an almost scarey posting to read. I already knew about some of the problems that misuse of technology could cause, but now I have a whole list going through my mind. I personally have had a student, or somebody, get my cell phone number and leave threatening voice messages and text messages. The scarest part is that someone can block their cell number and then you have to get a court order to find out who it is.

We have also had students create web pages as if they are a teacher and make that web page inappropriate to get the teacher in trouble. I think that is the real downfall of technology progressing so quickly. Someone can take your name, make a website or blog about whatever they want and no one can stop them. I honestly don't think there will be a way to stop them because they will be protected under freedom of speech.

The best way, if not the only way, to protect yourself is to google yourself every couple of months or so.

Scribe Posting/SSR Posting

There were two blogs that I thought had absolutely inspired ideas for uses of Web 2.0 in the classroom. Both had educational value and made classroom management easier. SP-817 Math Blog: "Scribe Post" and Mark’s Edtech Blog: Is this SSR 2.0?.

The Scribe Post idea goes hand and hand with Chuck Neuschafer does on his classroom website. He has his lecture videoed and then linked onto his web page. If you don't have the video recording capabilities, you could always use the Scribe Post idea to accomplish the same thing. Scribe posting is exactly what it sounds like...a person who is a scribe posts things onto the blog about what happened in class that day. This isn't just a "he said, she said;" it is a well thought through summary of the lesson with examples, diagrams, and pictures. Making a scribe post have two fold benefits:
  1. The students who missed class or need extra help will have an online version of the lecture, notes, and information to complete assignments.
  2. The student who is the scribe has their learning reinforced by reviewing it well enough to teach or explain the material.
The SSR Posting idea is equally as beneficial. SSR, Silent Sustained Reading, is a part of our everyday life at Winder-Barrow Middle School. Each grade level has an assigned 10 minute frame of time each day that students are to read. It doesn't matter wether they are in Social Studies, Science, Language Arts, or Math. Though we (the adults, the teachers in the room) see the benefit and need of this reading time, the students are still reluctant to get started reading and to do so quietly. Having an SSR blog is a great idea to motivate students. Once they read they can then take turns adding to the blog, discussing what they are reading, what they like to read, and other topics related to SSR.

Why I Don’t Assign Homework---dy/dan (Mr. Meyer)

I chose to read this blog, Why I don't Assign Homework, because our school is currently discussing (Critical Friends Network), and have been for three years now, our grading practices: what they are, what we think about them, and do we need or want to change them. One article on which we are currently reflecting is The Case Against the Zero by Doublas B. Reeves.

As with everything, I see the pros and cons with both of these points of view. I don't think I could ever stop assigning homework, but I have been kicking around the idea of not grading it, while simultaneously thinking about grading all of it for accuracy. The way I see it, as long as I am questioning these things, I'm doing something good no matter how wishy-washy I am being. We need to question practices. We need to consider new ones.

To me the current trend for grading is similar to grandma's cooking. There are things we do in grading and in cooking that we don't know why we do them. My mom taught me to wash chicken off before cooking it. When I did this in front of my five year old, she asked me why I did that. I couldn't answer her, so I called my mom and asked her. She said it was because you didn't want to get a sliver of bone. Apparently, during my mother and my grandmother's time, this was an issue. We probably don't have to worry about that anymore, so there is no need to wash the chicken.

We do the same thing with grading. Why do we assign homework? Because we had to do it. Why do we give zeros for missing assignments? Because we got zeros. Why do we grade in red? Because we were graded in red. A lot of these behaviors have stuck around, because no one has questioned them. We have already established that our world is changing; grading might need a change also.

Questions to ask ourselves about grading/homework?
  • Why am I assigning this assignment?
  • Why am I assigning this homework?
  • What academic purpose or value does this assignment have?
  • Why do I give zeros?
  • For what does this grade stand?
  • For what do I want this grade to stand or represent?

Thing 2

I read the following posts. I chose kind of a random, eclectic variety of titles that struck me.
In general, blogs are much more relaxed even though sometimes their topics are not. The only difference there is in reading them is that it's like reading a conversation. Sure you read conversations in books, but the whole blog is a conversation. When you first start the blog, you don't know with whom you are sharing this conversation. It could be with one person or with 20. People can join the conversation or leave at any time.

Just like a person can join or leave the conversation, what they say in the conversation is just as "up in the air." You have a specific meaning to what you are writing, typing, or saying. Just because you mean it one way, does not mean it is taken that way. Sometimes this can be bad, because this is pretty much the meaning of miscommunication. Sometimes this can also be good. You might have meant what was said one way, but the person reading it takes it a whole new directions. The best way to illustrate this is with music, especially country music. One song that demonstrates this quite well is SheDaisy, "A Night to Remember". On the right click on the CD called "The Whole SheBang." Then click on track #10, "A Night to Remember." It's not what you think it will be. Anyway, contributing to or commenting on another person's blog gives it life. Without that contribution, it really isn't a conversation and it's not Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is all about collaboraion. Web 1.0 is like someone handing you a book to read. Web 2.0 is like someone hading you a whiteboard for you to write.

Writing blogs is different from other types of writing. See my Double Bubble above (Could not figure out how to put it where I wanted it):

One would not think that the last two questions:
  • "Is there a "blogging literacy?" How does blogging affect the way we read and write?
  • (How) can blogging facilitate learning?" from 23 Things Wiki

could go together, but they do. I think there is "blogging literacy." I think there is almost two types of "blogging literacy." There is a formal and an informal way to speak on blogs. In order to properly use blogging to facilitate learning, I think we need to use it formally when in an educational setting. This might be nit-picking, but on my classroom wiki I do not allow "text talk." That is the difference between the formal and informal. I have no problem with students and people using "text talk" in an appropriate setting, but on an educational wiki or on an education blog I don't see it's usefulness. As educators, we reinforce proper grammar and spelling, by spelling things correctly and by counting off when something is spelled incorrectly. The same should be the standard on line. So, if blogging is to facilitate learning, I think it needs to continue with some of the formalities that we require in the classroom.

On a personal note, I can't stand it when students put "IDK" in the answer blank on their paper. Really, I'm not conceited, but I feel as a 7th grade math teacher that I have the brainpower to figure out that if the answer is left blank, you don't know how to do the problem. GRRRRRRRRR!