Way to Go, Edublogs!

James Farmer sent out an email this morning, proudly announcing that the Edublogs network now has 100,000 edublogs. That is an incredible number, I think, and I hope that more and more teachers are finding their way to free Edublogs and its network (did mention it is free?).

I also noticed a link there, explaining 10 ways to use Edublogs in the classroom:

1. Post materials and resources

The web is a fantastic tool when it comes to distributing resources – all you have to do on your edublog is upload, or copy and paste, your materials to your blog and they’ll be instantly accessible by your student from school and from home. What’s more, you can easily manage who gets to access them through password and plugin safety measures.

2. Host online discussions

If you’ve ever struggled to create an online discussion space – you’re going to love what edublogs will do for you. Students can simply respond to blog posts and discuss topics you’ve set them without the added complexity of using a bulletin board – commentators can sign up to receive emails when their comments are replied to and you can easily manage and edit all responses through your blog’s administrative panel.

3. Create a class publication

Do you remember the good old days of class newspapers? Well, they just got a lot easier with your edublog – you can add students as contributors, authors and even editors in order to produce a custom designed, finely tuned and engaging collaborative online publication by your class.

4. Replace your newsletter

Always enjoyed photocopying and stapling pages and pages of newsletters on a Friday afternoon? Though not! It’s ridiculously simple to post class information, news, events and more on your edublog

5. Get your students blogging

It’s all very good sending your students off to blog sites, or even creating them for them, but you need to operate as a hub for their work and a place where they can easily visit each others blogs from. Your edublog can be used to glue together your students blogs, and besides which, if you’re asking your students to blog… you should certainly be doing it yourself.

6. Share your lesson plans

We all love planning and admin, right? Well, using an edublog can turn planning and reflection on classes into a genuinely productive – and even collaborative – experience. Sharing your plans, your reflections, your ideas and your fears with other educators both at your school and around the world using an edublog is a great way to develop as a teacher, and a brilliant use of a blog.

7. Integrate multimedia of all descriptions

With a couple of clicks you can embed online video, multimedia presentations, slideshows and more into your edublog and mix it up with your text and static resources. No cds required, no coding necessary – just select the video, podcasts or slidecast you’d like to use and whack it in your blog to illustrate, engage and improve your teaching toolbox.

8. Organise, organise, organise

You don’t only have to use your edublog as a pedagogue… you can equally easily use the tools to organise everything from sports teams in your school, to rehearsals for the upcoming production. You can set up as many edublogs as you like, so don’t be afraid to use a dedicated one for a dedicated event – your can even use it as a record to look back on down the line.

9. Get feedback

There’s nothing that says you can’t allow anonymous commenting on a blog (although you’re also entirely within your rights to put all comments through moderation!) but why not think about using a blog as a place for students – and even parents, to air issues, leave feedback or generally tell you how great you are.

10. Create a fully functional website

One of the great things about edublogs are that they are much, much more than just blogging tools. In fact, you can use your edublog to create a multi-layered, in-depth, multimedia rich website – that hardly looks like a blog at all. So, if you’d rather create a set of static content, archive of important information or even index for your library – you can bend an edublog to suit your needs.

Peace (with edublogs),

Toying (again) with Jumpcut

I am trying some more work with Jumpcut for editing movies (see ABC Movie Project for more information) and I just figured out how to embed JC here into Edublogs (I think), so I went into Jumpcut this morning and took apart, and then glued back together again, segments of some of my own letter movies.

Here it is:
[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.jumpcut.com/media/flash/jump.swf?id=D1F665E06F3F11DC9996000423CF037A&asset_type=movie&asset_id=D1F665E06F3F11DC9996000423CF037A&eb=1″ width=”408″ height=”324″ wmode=”transparent” /]

Peace (in cutting and editing),

My son went to Hawaii and all I got was this blog post

Talk about nervous. My 9-year-old son flew by himself yesterday to San Diego, and then is off to Hawaii today, on an epic journey (for him) to meet up with his uncle, who is a commander of a Navy Destroyer. The ship — the USS Milius — has been in the Persian Gulf as part of the war for the past six months or so, and they are now on their way home to San Diego.

As part of the return trip, they can invite one family member (not a spouse) to join them from Hawaii to San Diego, and my oldest son said “yes” (surprising us) when his uncle asked him to come along.

Needless to say, we were worried about him flying alone (things went fine) but also excited for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. I sent him with a camera and my little flash video camera, and he has to write in a journal every day (that’s what he gets for having a mom and dad who are both teachers and writers) and give a report when he gets back to him in 10 days. This the longest we will have been apart, ever, so I am already missing him!

And most of all, we are happy that his uncle is coming home safe from the war.

Here is a picture of the ship:


Peace (in safe journeys),

K12 Online Conference — a new adventure

My friend, Bonnie, and I are presenting at this year’s K12 Online Conference and we hope to show folks how we used the tools of Web 2.0 to create a learning environment for other educators as part of our Collaborative ABC Movie Project. We’re a bit mystified about how the conference will go but we are confident we can handle it, and already have some great ideas brewing for folks who “attend” our virtual workshop.

K-12 Online Conference 2007

At the K12 page, Wesley Friar asked us to list three reasons why we would attend the conference, so here goes:

  • It’s something new and different
  • I want to share our ABC project with others in hopes of getting more students involved in video collaboration
  • Working with Bonnie continues to be an enriching experience

Peace (in K12),

Technology Reaches Out

(NOTE: this one has been sitting in my blog bin for some time)

This wonderful video — appropriately titled “Inclusion” — was shared through a listserve that I am on through the National Writing Project and it features a fourth grade classroom that uses Skype to videoconference with a fellow student who is homebound due to Leukemia. The video is narrated by students and it is powerful in the ways that we can use technology to reach out and connect with others.

View the movie

Peace (with potential),

Two Poems for the Price of One

I have two poems to share as part of my One Poem Every Month for a Year project (which ends in November). The first one I started writing last month, as I watched my youngest son twist the corners of his favorite blanket over and over again, and the second poem I wrote just the other day. As my students were doing freewriting in the classroom, so was I and in the silence of our work, you could almost hear the echoes of stories and poems being undertaken in our minds.

On the Cartographer’s Map
(Sept. 2007)
Listen to the poem

This creeping cord
of tension slips
its knot
and moves as a snake to the heart
I’d fall apart
but the world needs
an Atlas to keep it balanced
(precarious as it is
and such a reluctant hero, burdened)
Always there is this sense of renewal
just around the bend
with outstretched hands waiting
to grab this globe and spin me free
on the cartographer’s canvas —
crisscrossed with longitude —
layered with latitude —
I am wondering all the while where the edge is
where I will fall off
and tumble into the nothingness.

Comfort Corners
(Sept. 2007)
Listen to the poem

He reaches for the corner, timeworn and faded
with fingers clenched tight
around the corner softened by tears and worry and cries,
as the comforter is dragged from room
to room to room as if it were a tail that could not come unattached.
His three-year-old eyes are intense
and anxious
as he moves from one corner
to the next corner
to the next
and he slips the fabric between
index and ring fingers — always, always, index and ring fingers —
and slowly twines the crux of blanket for a few seconds
in a gesture of relaxation before moving on to the next corner,
and I wonder, sitting here, watching him, as a father removed from sight:
what comfort does this movement bring to him
and how did he ever discover it?
But the boy just closes his eyes
and rests and there
in sleep,
the twisting and turning of his mind
continues, unabated and unresolved.

Peace (in poems),

Google Docs (and now presentations)

I use Google Docs all the time for collaboration for workshops and meetings, and for my own writing — I can move from one location to another without having to hang a flashdrive around my neck. In fact, yesterday, in class, as my students were doing some freewriting, I was writing a poem that I put on my Google Docs and then revised it back home.

Now, Google has added a presentation (powerpoint) format to its Google Docs platform and it seems to be pretty cool. A bunch of folks are already trying it out and seeing what is possible and what is not (you can upload PP shows but not Keynote, apparently), but the idea of collaborating on a presentation seems pretty nifty to me. Cool Cat Teacher created this slideshow collaboratively to show some of the ins and outs of the tool.

Meanwhile, I found this video from CommonCraft (those guys again!) on how to use Google Docs. It’s a bit old but still useful.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/eRqUE6IHTEA" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Peace (in collaboration),

Intro to Apps: Vehicles of the Future

In this first week of school, I try to get my students on the laptops at our school and introduce them to some simple programs: MS Paint and MS Publisher. These are two applications we will use more in the school year. We work on a writing prompt in which they design a vehicle of the future, and the move to the computer to use Paint to draw it and then Publisher to create an advertising flier. I grabbed some of their illustrations this year for a short movie:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=415531743774331741" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

You can also view two of the ads:

Peace (in exploration),


I came upon an interesting article in Wired Magazine about something called Creative Crowdwriting and it involves writing a novel by opening up the publication to the entire world to add to, edit and alter. The platform is often a wiki and the response to such endeavors is mixed — some see it as nothing more than unstructured mayhem while others tout it as an ideal product of collaboration.

Here are two of the “novels” that the article cites:

This concept is similar to the one I have used with wikis and collaborative storywriting, in which I invite a set audience (usually my students but sometimes my teaching/professional colleagues) to add to a developing story via a wiki. The results have always been interesting but the product is less the goal than the collaboration, I think. I am not sure more brains have made the stories any better.

Here are two of my collaborative wiki stories:

But here is an application of this concept that I would like to try with students with wikis and collaboration — creating Make Your Own Ending Stories via a wiki site and I might try that this year.

Peace (in wikis),

The Year Begins with … a podcast

I’ve been busy getting myself and my students situated in Week Two but that hasn’t stopped us from creating a podcast for our class Weblog site. The podcast emerged from a writing prompt on Sept. 11, in which we talked about the impact of change on the world from a negative standpoint and a positive standpoint. We brainstormed ways in which the world needs some help and then they wrote briefly about how they would change the world, if they could.

They did a fantastic job and enjoyed hearing their podcasts the next day (and parents have remarked on the wonder of listening in to the work of the classroom)

You can listen, too:

Peace (with the power to change),