I invited You and You came in: Thank you

Yesterday, I posted a request for folks in my “network” to help me welcome participants in a Technology Across the Conference being held tomorrow. I wasn’t sure what I would get, but I should have known so many thoughtful and wonderful voices would come through. My hope is that the participants in the conference (many of whom are new to the Web World and technology) will see the power of connecting with others.

This file has been created and published by FireShot

Here are just a few comments that jumped out at me:

  • Bonnie reminds us that, “You have your passion and your great work to move the group along with you.”
  • Michele provides a crucial axiom that I try to follow: do it yourself first. “These tools are incredibly powerful for learning, but it definitely helps when we start with using them for our own learning first.”
  • Cheryl gives a rich portrait of her work with students in all of its global facets and then encourages folks further. “The Web 2.0 offers so many rich possibilities for learning! Grab ahold and hang on for the ride of your life! Once you are hooked, you are there for life!”
  • Sue reminds us to move slow, but steady, forward. “Don’t stress at not knowing it all — just focus on one step at a time.”
  • Tracy puts great faith in us presenters and also notes an important element: learning can be a good time. “Relax and get ready to have FUN: you’re in excellent hands.”
  • Janelle says she will come back to our conference site and hopefully get our folks to return the favor of discovery. “I think reading your blog will inspire me to be more diligent with my own site! So thank you for that!
  • Bud frames his thoughts with the reason for all of this: our students growing up in a global world of virtual connections. “We’ve a big responsibility to learn how to navigate that and to share our learning and guidance with our students.
  • Somewhat new to the blogging world, Ann gives some of her own advice: “Try to make the time to really learn and use these new ideas and tools. They will take you to places you never imagined possible!
  • Rod draws connections between writing and technology. “We write to process that learning. There is no better way to excel learners into the thinking process than by using web 2.0 tools.
  • Mary also wants our folks to enjoy the creative process. “Like the others have said, ‘Have fun yourselves with the technology.’
  • Claire puts the focus on learning new classroom practice. “When I started blogging I had no idea how powerful it was going to be for my own professional development. I am learning so much from so many talented people.”
  • Christine (who is not all that far away, it turns out) also encourages the sense of exploration. “I hope you discover just how fun learning technology can be.”
  • Peter encourages patience. “I know that you will have a great day learning about the many tools available to you. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed–it’s completely normal.
  • Kate knows the adventures that are ahead. “You’ll pretty soon get a feel for the whole Web 2.0 adventure and start thinking about how you can use these great tools to get your students up and running headlong into the digital literacy challenges of the 21st century.
  • Joe moves slowly and carefully into new tools and suggests that all teachers do the same. “Getting started with this can be overwhelming because there are so many choices and so much to learn.

It’s not too late for you to help out, either. You can visit our Tech Conference Blog and leave a comment, too.

Thank you to everyone who has helped. I deeply appreciate it.

Peace (in networks that work and play),

Your Days/Week in Six Words

This week’s Day in a Sentence returns to a popular format — the Six Word Variation. I had been thinking of this for a few weeks now, but then Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach (at her blog, 21st Century Learning) used the technique this week on Twitter, asking folks to submit their Six Word Memoir.

Once again, I was moved by how powerful the writing can be within the six word limit (and see the book called Not Quite Was I Expecting for a collection of six word memoirs — great stuff).

So, I ask you to consider joining us this week with a six word recap of either a day from your week or your entire week. Here is how Day in a Sentence works:

  • Boil down your day or week into six words
  • Use the comment link on this post to submit your six words
  • I collect all of the comments and then post them all as a collection on Sunday
  • Feel free to use podcasting, video, plain ‘ol writing, hand signals (no wait, that won’t work)
  • Everyone is welcome!

And since one of the tasks of the 31 Day Comment Challenge is to use comments and submissions from visitors in a blog post, this works out nicely. So I am tagging the challenge here, in hopes that some new folks will wander in and take part in the activity.

Here is my Six Word Week, and I am experimenting with Odeo Studio for a podcasting workshop this weekend, so let me give it a try with my words that relate to some state standardized testing this week that has kids and teachers on edge:

Math testing stresses us all out.

powered by ODEO

Peace (in minimal words).

Auditing My Blog Atmosphere

I am bit behind with Comment Challenge tasks (isn’t everyone?), but the last query had us thinking about how welcoming our blog is to visitors and how inviting it is for people to comment at our blog. I decided to go the video route again, using Seesmic, and talk through my reflective stance.
Meanwhile, the next task is to develop a comment policy for visitors. Michele Martin provides a pretty comprehensive piece for her blog. I don’t feel the need to go into such depth, although it was interesting to read hers.Here is a draft of what my Comment Policy might look like:

Welcome to my meandering mind!

This blog is a place where I explore writing and teaching and technology. But I don’t like to go on such a journey by myself and I want you to come along as a companion. Although I am doing the writing of posts, I am hoping you will feel comfortable enough to join the conversation and enrich my experience. Teaching can be an isolating experience, but it does not have to be.

If you feel the urge to join the discussions, you should search for the comment link at the bottom of each post. If you are the first, you will see the words: “no comments.” That means I’ve been waiting for you! (If others have posted comments, the link will indicate how many comments are there). This comment link will bring you to a comment box, where you will be asked to fill out some basic information (unless you are logged in as part of the Edublog Community and, therefore, are already known by my blog).

I do have the comment moderation switched on at this point. It is not intended to muffle your voice. Instead, it is intended to keep out unwanted Spam. But I am rethinking the use of moderation, so that may change in the future. For now, though, you should know that your comment will appear only after I approve it. A little note should indicate that your comment is being moderated when you submit it. Rest assured that I do check my blog regularly, so it won’t be a long wait.

I do not edit comments nor change comments. Your thoughts are your own and I respect that. And the voice of dissenters are as welcome as those in agreement, as long as we are all civil in our discussions.
Thank you for visiting and I hope you join the digital dialogue with me.

— Kevin

How does that sound? Any thoughts?

Peace (in policy),

Seeing Your Days in Different Ways

I was interested in exploring some different ways of showcasing this week’s Days in a Sentence other than through the regular posting (which works fine, of course).

Here are snapshots of all of our blogs as remixed in Animoto (with a song called “Days” by the group, Bears).

Here is a Flickr Slideshow of our blogs.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

I wonder if these format detract or enhance the experience. What do you think? I would love to have your feedback. I have my own ideas but I will add them to what others are thinking.

Peace (in different angles),


Days in a Sentence Get Released

This week, we returned to the traditional format of Day in a Sentence and again, my comment box overflowed with your words. Some were celebratory. Some were full of sadness. All of them were heartfelt and I thank you for being part of this reflective community. This month, I have been part of the Comment Challenge and it occurs to me that our Day in the Sentence project (now a few years old) is one way that we are using blogs and comments to connect with each other.

In the spirit of the Comment Challenge, which seeks to encourage more thoughtful interaction among bloggers, might I suggest that you follow the links to one of the other writers here and post a comment on their blog? It would be a nice way for us to connect outside of the Day in a Sentence community.

Here, then, are your sentences:

Jo had the great pleasure of watching learning happening naturally as her students took charge with words and worked together.

At my desk cutting out stacks of freshly laminated writing-prompt pictures (printed for free as a site’s treat for Teacher Appreciation week), I had to force myself not to stare agape, not to gush, as my tenth-graders helped each other discover through snaps and claps and finger pointing the actual ease of blank verse (”no, listen, ’success’ is two syllables: ’suck’ ‘cess’”); those moments of realization, of lights being switched on (or even perhaps undimmed a bit), are some of the sweetest morsels at the teaching table.

Elona had a difficult week in which her doctor’s orders took a wrong turn. Luckily, it was only temporary, and we are glad that she is back to feeling better.

Oh my goodness, I’m glad the week is almost over because I had a bad reaction to some medication I was taking and ended up in bed for a couple of days, although thankfully I’m fine now. )

Anne M. is reminded, and reminds us, that although our circles of bloggers may be immersed in the realm of Web 2.0, there are more teachers in the world who are not aware of it than teachers who are.

Reflections on 10 months of my personal and classroom use of web2.0 tools, enabled me to put together a presentation for our regional teachers, on “where I would start with web2.0″ at a local conference, instigating an awareness that many teachers had not even heard of web2.0, including podcasting. So, where do we start?

Cynthia (she is probably not alone) was happy to have Day in a Sentence back in its traditional format. In a note to me, she calls herself the “prodigal child” who is returning. Hey, Cynthia! You never left! But it is great to have your voice here again, and you’re given some freedom to extend your sentence as long as you need it to be.

Friday I got up at 5:30, saw Larry off to work, Adair and her family to Dallas, before going to school where we worked on our Oral Interp mask poem presentations; then it was off to Baccalaureate practice for an hour and back to school for English II–but not before two students brought me limeades from Sonic; thank goodness I was really thirsty–finished Julius Caesar, took up Macbeth projects, said goodbye to the seniors, played Murder Mystery with the eighth graders, after which it was on to the Catholic Church for a wedding rehearsal and to Natchez for the rehearsal supper; finally, around 9:30 I was home again just in time to fall into the bed so I could wake up and start all over again.

I have had the great pleasure of conversing with Diane in the Comment Challenge and I was so happy to see her submit a sentence as part of this week’s Day in a Sentence. She is a bit cryptic in her sentence, which is very cool.

Putting the puzzle pieces together – the picture underneath starts to emerge.

The prospect of the weekend was looking awfully nice for Delaine. I hope it was fun and rejuvenating, because Monday is staring right down at us.

As we get closer to the summit, the climb gets harder, and I am thankful for the restcamp of the weekend.

Alice seems to have some conflicts going on and determined that bringing things out in the open is always the best way to deal. Keep quiet and the tension and frustration only grows. Bring it out into the open and maybe something gets resolved.

Although this week had it’s ups and downs, it was an improvement over last week, as the conflicts were in the open, and not festering in our minds and souls.

Nina decided against her own sentence and instead, found a great sentence from one of her favorite authors, John McPhee, who writes in the book Uncommon Carriers: “He became the editor-in-chief of Screw Machine Engineering, a magazine whose name a hyphen would have improved.” (p. 25)

She then asks us: “How could I do better than that?” Well, why even try? That sentence carries the day, in my opinion.

Bonnie found light this week and a reminder of the passion that some teachers have for their students, even when their own life interferes.

I enjoyed visiting a middle school this week, watching my student teacher work with a very pregnant, passionate teacher who is only leaving because her doctor demanded it, and this is a district with it diversity challenges. Makes you feel optimistic.”

The number referenced here by Cheryl just boggled my mind, as her district moves on with standardized testing. We do the same next week (it’s Math Time, baby).

This week was week one for our NWEA online testing. We uploaded over 1200 completed tests this week. One day of glitches, problem solved finally! We still have 2 weeks to go. Students take this seriously and try and do a great job.

Larry could use a field trip to recover from the field trip. If he does plan one, can we come along? Hey, I drove down that crooked street once, many years ago. But a video game museum? Interesting. Do you have a link?

Another insane field trip with 100 students to San Francisco — submarine tour, chocolate factory, video game museum, the crookedest street in the world (among other things) — and a day (or two) to recover.

Stacey, who has helped guide some of my writing with her own Slice of Life and Poetry challenges, noted that, on the day she submitted her words, the day had barely begun. I hope it got better and not worse.

My great-aunt, the matriarch of our family, is ill and I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen next.

Spring fever hits Sara P. hard. Does that mean summer is around the bend? Uh Oh. Lots to do and not much time to do it.

I call firsties – first to point out how quickly the end of the school year is approaching (just 21 days for me!), first to admit early summer-ish weather shouldn’t be followed by late winter-ish weather (55 degrees and torrential rain – are you kidding me?!), and first to notice i no longer need to hassle my kids about wearing hoodies and hats into class (though i’ve just switched to the new line “no, if you don’t put leggings under your mini-skirt, you *can’t* wear it.”) – Ah, May!

Ben B. writes about another way in which he is not afraid to stand by his beliefs.

Bloom’s Taxonomy, although convenient, has lately faced pretty strong scrutiny in my world and yet I still stand by it.

Google, Google, Google for Janelle, as she sets off on a Big Explore.

The downpour of rain is not the only thing that pounds down on my head as I mull over mounds of TELPAS files and experiment with Google Apps & Google Sites—forecast is clear for the weekend!

Matt mourned an emotional loss of someone close and dear to him, and I believe I speak for everyone when I say that our thoughts are with you, Matt (who wrote a powerful eulogy at his blog this week).

After 97 years and a couple of appearances in my previous sentences, my grandmother died this week. My heart is heavy but I know that I have learned from her and am a better person for having had her as a part of my life.”

Liza, like Cheryl and myself, is in the storm of testing, and it is clear she does not like the feeling.

Recovering from state mandated testing leaves me feeling unfocused and at loose ends.

And Sue, who is one of the organizers of the Comment Challenge and a wonderful resource for all bloggers, had her battles this week with Technorati as she tried to make sure bloggers in the challenge were connected via their tags. She found hurdles, but not dead roadblocks. And no doubt her optimism kept her going. (yeah for Sue!)

Technorati mocked me, drove me crazy but I defeated it for now.

Please visit each other and tell them that Kevin sent ya on a mission. Leave a comment. Say hello. Make a connection.

And it is not too late to leave your own sentence either. Just use the comment link on this post and your words will be added in. You are invited!

Peace (in our community),

Comment Challenge: Where to comment?

Comment_challenge_logo_2There are daily prompts/tasks as part of the 31-Day Comment Challenge and I am enjoying the various directions these hints have taken me. Yesterday, the task was to move outside the comfortable sphere of the educational blogging community and that allowed me to find some local blogs in my own city and begin some discussions with others. (Of course, one of those discussions veered into the topic of education — in particular, the state of our city’s school budget)

Today, the question for the Comment Challenge centers on the idea of where people should actually comment when inspired by a blog post. Some folks like to comment directly on a blog post via the comment function. Others, however, like to create their own blog post in response to something they have read and create what is known as a trackback — linking their post to the one they read. Over at the Bamboo Project, Michele has provided an interesting article that talks about why some bloggers disable comments altogether on their posts.

In an effort to keep experimenting here, I used Seesmic to reflect on which avenue seems most engaging for me. (Seesmic is a webcam capture site that some people are using for posting video blog comments) What do you think?

If you do a video response, please provide a link (I don’t have the Seesmic plugin here at my blog).

Peace (in comments),

Day in A Sentence/Comment Challenge Reflection

Since I have been blog-deep in the 31-Day Comment Challenge — visiting sites and engaging in discussions — I think it only fitting that this week’s call for Days in a Sentence go out to not only the DayinS faithful but also any folks moving through here as part of the Comment Challenge. After all, the sentence is a comment. (And my reflections on my commenting activities is down below)

Here is how Day in a Sentence works:

  • You reflect on your week or a day in your week
  • You boil it all down to a single sentence
  • You use the comment feature on this post to share your sentence
  • On Sunday, I gather them all up, write some quick introductions and share out as a community of writing/reflecting educators (and associates)

Please consider this your invitation to take part in Day in a Sentence and feel free to read through some of our archives to get a sense of the richness of the sharing that can take place. The Day in a Sentence also regularly heads off to guest blogs, so if you are interested in taking the helms one week, just let me know.

Here is my sentence and you can listen to the podcast version:

From the Goo Goo Dolls to Green Day to the Sofa Kings and my own song with a missing verse, my classroom was a rockin’, songwritin’, dancin’ kind of place this week, and Jack Black would have been proud.

Peace (in words),

PS — Today’s activity for the Comment Challenge is to consider some lessons learned by the act of expanding our commenting activities.

external image comment_challenge_logo_2.png

Here are some of my reflections:

  • It turns out that I love Co-Comment as a way to track comments. I now realize just how much I have been missing in conversations. I am able to follow the comments of others, add my own thoughts, come back and see what has been added. It no longer feels like a paintball tournament, where everyone is just shooting scatter-shot into the wind. I am not so fond of the ads, as I have stated before, but I can live with it for now. I love that Co-Comment gives me a little indicator at the bottom of my browser when a blog post where I have already commented has been updated. That is a lifesaver.
  • I am coming to understand more and more how many different circles of bloggers there are out there, and it is cool to see them periodically overlap (through events like the Comment Challenge). We all have our friends but it is so intriguing to stumble into a network of others and realize they have been at it, too, and now there are some cross-connections taking place. It’s not that I felt as if me and the blogs I follow were the only ones, but still, it is eye-opening to find other groups of people engaged in similar conversations. I had this same experience one day when I came across The Two Writing Teachers site and realized what great work they were doing and how they were also building a sense of a writing community outside of my traditional radar. How many other communities of teacher-writers are out there, I wonder?
  • It occurs to me that we are all so lucky that there are so many people willing to give their time for projects such as these. I look at the Comment Challenge Wiki, and I know there is a group of wonderful people involved in this, keeping the project moving along and thinking and reflecting upon it, and encouraging others to do the same. Just think what a gift that is. The webbed world could have easily been different (and could still take a turn, I suppose). It is a place where people share, collaborate and support each other. I am grateful for the organizers of Comment Challenge and I realize how remiss I have been in mentioning who they are. So, without further ado, I send out some personal kudos to the organizers of the Comment Challenge:

Comment Challenge Video

I just uploaded a video into the Flickr Comment Challenge Group in which I try to give a video tour of some of the blogs I visited yesterday on the 31 Day Comment Challenge. I hope others might also give the video option a shot. The Flickr idea comes from Kate, who posted her own video at the start of the project.
Take a look and please, consider joining the Flickr Group or the 31 Day Comment Challenge (it’s never too late)

(The music is original and part of another song)

Peace (in sharing),

Reflecting on Comment Challenge

Yesterday, I decided to try out the 31 Day Comment Challenge, and I am so glad that I took the plunge. I already feel as if I have connected with entire new worlds of educational bloggers that were outside of my comfortable circle of “regulars” (cue: theme music from the old TV show Cheers) but are worth the connections. One blog mentioned around town was The Bamboo Project and so now, that blog is in my RSS.

It was interesting to read through their Comment Audits, and notice some themes. Many of us do visit a handful of blogs per week, make comments, but don’t track them and rarely return to further the conversations. It’s like a hit and run. If commenting is an integral part of blogging, I know I am guilty of not doing enough on my part as the reader/viewer/commenter.

I also used Co-Comment for most of the day. Other than the annoying advertisements (which I know are necessary for a business, but still annoy me), the platform for tracking comments on blogs is pretty amazing. I use Firefox, and CoComment is now embedded right in my toolbar and browser. I just click on the little blue CO and I am at my homebase in CoComment, looking at the trail of comments I have left, and any responses. This tool makes so much sense and I am kicking myself for not using it before. But I guess that is yet another reason why I am glad for the Comment Challenge.

Here is one example of connections.Over at Kate Foy’s blog — Spinning a Learning Web, she posted a video welcome to the Comment Challenge. It was neat to have some multimedia as part of the challenge, and I wrote a comment, saying that it might be cool to have folks use video to reflect or even to comment (although not all blogs allow that, I think). She agreed (I saw this via CoComment) and now Kate has set up a Flickr Group for Comment Challenge, and she hopes folks will upload videos (you can do short ones via Flickr now, with Pro Accounts) as part of the challenge. Great idea! If you want to join this Flickr Group, you can ask Kate through the invitation at the Flickr site.  I’ll work on a short video reflection later today.

Meanwhile, if you are visiting here from the Comment Challenge, I would like to invite you to consider a weekly feature called Day in a Sentence, in which teachers boil down a day or the week into a sentence (or some variation) and share it out as part of a reflective community. This week’s Day in a Sentence is on VoiceThread but you can also just leave your sentence as a comment, and I will embed into the final VoiceThread later.

Go to the post about this week’s Day in a Sentence

Peace (in connections),