One of my goals for working with educators around the Common Core is to showcase how technology and media also fit into ways that we can engage our students as composers and creators. During two full-day sessions this week, I led a group of teachers not only through the layers of Common Core in our state, but also through various technology tools that were part of the learning. In other words, I tried to embed the technology as much as possible, and then made that embedding visible, so that teachers might see some possibilities for doing the same in their classroom.
Feedback at the end of our two days together indicated an appreciation of deeper understanding of the Common Core standards, but also an appreciation of how technology was used in meaningful ways as part of the learning. As I told them, I hoped I was planting some seeds for them for the future, and that by using the technology themselves for learning, they might transfer that to their students.
The creator of this video — Frank Romanelli — shared his work in an online inquiry group I am part of. It’s a fantastic and intriguing video — from content to presentation. Notice how the theme is the ever-increasing importance of teachers even as literacy is undergoing change. The power of writing — in whatever form — still remains a powerful force of expression and understanding.
As part of some professional development I am leading this summer around Common Core, I created this “flipped” TED assignment to share with teachers (both to use for discussions and to show how to do a flipped assignment). The emphasis here is on how to do a close reading of a video (by The Teaching Channel), thinking about stance and choice and use of video to make a point. Feel free to give it a look and I would love feedback.
I stumbled upon this site — Vuvox — the other day as I was reading a blog post about remixing in a college composition classroom. One of the students used this site to remix a graphic novel with a rap song. I decided to see I could create a media collage from last year’s National Day On Writing, with the theme of Why I Write. I used images from my classroom and a podcast collection that we created that day. Check it out and see if you can think of possibilities for the classroom.
I created this video a few weeks ago for a contest around representing your ideas of connected learning. It turns out there weren’t enough people in the contest (I am getting a token prize, so I am fine with that). I was trying to show how technology allows my students to connect to the world.
I am always on the look-out for ways to teach my students some basic html coding, as a way to show them the “underneath” of the Internet. I’ll sometimes pull up a source code of a website we are using, and talk a bit about the coding that goes on to create the tools that they are using. A friend sent me a link to Mozilla Thimble, which is a fairly recent online tool that teaches a bit about coding, in an interesting way. Everything is online — from the coding itself to the publishing.
One of the links from Mozilla is a “create an animal” page, and so I went there this morning, and spent a bit of time. What I love is that the interface shows both the html coding on the left, and the results on the right. The instructions are simple (for the most part) and within minutes, I had created an imaginary beast and published it online (hosted by Mozilla).
This kind of site might be a perfect introduction to coding, and creating,and you could easily tie it into a unit around animal habitats, too.
An interesting thing happened yesterday. I posted an introduction to a P2PU study group that I am part of around digital curation. I used a webcomic to create my intro (see yesterday’s post). And then, my friend Terry, who is part of the study group, took my comic and used a screencapture program to respond to my points about identity and curation. His views of my points was fascinating to listen to.
I decided to go another step, and grabbed his video of his response, put it into Vialogues (which allows for discussions of videos), and then responded to his responses, which he (of course) added further responses, too. It’s an interesting concept, how these tools allow for interactions on a variety of levels (from comic to video and voice to chat), and I appreciate Terry for coming along for the ride with me as I explored the possibilities (plus, he gave me a new hat — see the end of the video to understand). You can join in, too.
As one of the editors and writers in Teaching the New Writing, I thought it might be time to step back and reflect a bit on how the book is holding up against time. In other words, do the chapters by classroom teachers writing about how technology may or may not be changing their teaching of writing (in a culture of standardized testing and assessment) still hold relevance for teachers?
I know such reflection is a bit self-serving, given my role as an editor and writer, but I genuinely wondered about it. So I perused the book once more and decided to just start talking as a video reflection.
In the end, I conclude that there are some chapters that still can be very important to teachers considering or using technology. A few pieces don’t quite stand the test of time. And I think the question of what does writing look like in a digital age is still up for grabs. Is technology changing the way we write, and therefore, the way we teach writing?
A recent survey by CommonSense Media gives us yet another picture of the extend of social media in the lives of teenagers. This infographic – Social Media/ Social Life — gives a larger picture, but a few highlights for me:
The prevalence not just of social media, but of Facebook, in particular, as the social media platform being used. Given Facebook’s intent to consistently change its rules on privacy (see this week’s flap around email), I find it worrisome that so many young people put their trust and their data with one single company;
There is a general positive feeling about the use of social networks to strengthen ties with other people;
Despite appearances, a majority of teens still value face-to-face time, and see it as more important than screen connection time;
A significant number (but nowhere near a majority) indicate they wish there were more “unplugged” moments;
Most social media use is across genders, except for sharing of photos (girls do it more), and girls are also more apt to be stressed about that photo sharing.
So, interesting stuff. Be aware that while CommonSense Media is a great site, full of resources, they are also a site that is very critical of the ways that technology influence children. So the quotes used in the infographic and the ways that findings are presented no doubt serve the identity of the organization. But, even so, I found the information useful as a father, and as a teacher.
(Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for this one)
I know this may be little more practical than the “cool” factor but this is .. pretty cool. Google has released an automated version of its Google Documents that allows you to collaborate with dead writers. As a story unfolds, you’ll see Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare and a few others pop into your writing, adding a phrase or word here and there, and maybe even an entire sentence. They might even remove some of your words and do a bit of editing. I found it interesting, if not a bit unnerving at times, to try to keep up with them (such as “they” are) and end up with something a bit coherent. (And I have no idea how the site actually works.)
If you want to see my document on Google, check out this link: