Advice to Padawan Bloggers from Jedi Bloggers

Bonjour!

Since many of you are new to the blogosphere, I thought I would give you an introduction to blogging.

Earlier today, I found Konrad Sanders’ great list of advice for novice bloggers by master bloggers. The list was quite extensive, and much of the advice was meant for adults who wish to make money off of their blog or to promote their business with their blog. So, I took the liberty of sorting through all sixty nuggets of wisdom to Continue reading

Reading Comprehension 101: Five Strategies for Scaffolding Challenging Texts for Not-English Teachers

Welcome, Teachers!

A few weeks ago, our instructional coach Val Hoose asked me to help her plan and run a professional development session on reading comprehension for teachers who teach math, science, social studies, and various electives, as well as for new and experienced English language arts teachers. I readily agreed.

Below, you’ll find all of the information from our professional development session, as well as links to various resources you may share with your colleagues. You may also participate in our professional development session from the comfort of your own home! Just follow the directions below! Continue reading

Quills and Thrills: Writing Prompt Week Three

Ahoy, Quillers and Thrillers!

Welcome back to another week of Quills and Thrills: Creative Writing for the Google Generation! Many of you have turned in your Ten Commandments of Digital Citizenship pledges and signed permission forms already, but if you haven’t done that yet please remember to turn them in this week.

If you are new to Quills and Thrills this week, check out the prompts Continue reading

Quills and Thrills: Writing Prompt Week Two

Greetings, Quillers and Thrillers!

Welcome back to Quills and Thrills: Creative Writing for the Google Generation! If you were here last week, I hope you got your Ten Commandments of Digital Citizenship pledge and permission form signed by your parents because this week’s prompt is all about building your online presence!

If you are new to Quills and Thrills this week, welcome! You can check out last week’s prompt here, or just jump right into this week’s. Before you start building your online presence, however, you need to review the Ten Commandments of Digital Citizenship pledge and permission form with your parents and turn it in as soon as possible.

Dont have your Ten Commandments of Digital Citizenship permission form signed yet? No worries, you can still create the tools needed to build your online presence and set them aside until you get that permission form signed.

Figurative Language Throw Down Challenge

Prime your mind for creative thinking every week with the Figurative Language Throw Down Challenge! Check out the rules for the weekly challenge before playing.

Submit your weekly entry to Twitter using #QuillsandThrillsFLTD!

New Experience: Chewing Cotton Balls!

A small percentage of writing happens with a pen in your hand or a keyboard under your fingers. In fact, the bulk of writing happens through new experiences both profound and mundane. After all, how can you write about exciting new adventures without having a few adventures yourself?  Continue reading

Have you heard about Quills and Thrills yet?

Want to know more? Read all about it at What is Quills and Thrills?

Ready to start the first writing prompt? Check it out at Quills and Thrills: Writing Prompt Week One!

Download a printable version of the Ten Commandments of Digital Citizenship Pledge and Permission Form today!

Quills and Thrills: Writing Prompt Week One

Good afternoon, Thrillers!

Welcome to Quills and Thrills: Creative Writing for the Google Generation! Not sure what Quills and Thrills is?  Find out here!

Figurative Language Throw Down Challenge

Prime your mind for creative thinking every week with the Figurative Language Throw Down Challenge! Check out the rules for the weekly challenge before playing.

Thanks to @SSMindSchool for this week’s challenge!

Five Minute Burn

Your first writing prompt will require pre-writing using a nifty method I like to call a “five-minute burn.” Here’s how it works: I’ll set a timer for five minutes. As soon as I say go, you will start writing without stopping until the five minutes are up. If you run out of things to write about, simply write “IDK IDK IDK” over and over again until something comes to you. The trick is to keep your pencil moving. Don’t worry about erasing errors or scratching out mistakes. Just ignore them and KEEP WRITING!

image

Ready for your prompt? Here it is: How would you define writing and why is it important to you?

If you’re following along at home, use the video below to keep track of your time.

Time is up! How did you do? Take a moment to reread your burn. If you come across a phrase or word that you really like, underline it.

Now, we’re going to revise our burn to be a publishable piece of writing. Here’s your new prompt: Use imagery and figurative language to define the importance of writing in your life.

Before you start revising your burn, check out two tricks of the writing trade below to help you jazz up your writing a bit.

Continue reading

Eleven Quotes About Social Networking For Educators

As you may already know, my school district has recently adopted a web-based program called My Big Campus, which is essentially a social networking site for the classroom. You can read more about in my earlier post, Teacher, Meet Technology. Since incorporating the program into my classroom, I’ve began to realize the value of social networking to education. Below are eleven quotes about social networking that I would like to share with fellow educators.

Why teachers need to embrace social networking in the classroom and why administrators should embrace social networking as a professional development tool

1) “More companies are discovering that an über-connected workplace is not just about implementing a new set of tools – it is also about embracing a cultural shift to create an open environment where employees are encouraged to share, innovate, and collaborate virtually.” – Karie Willyerd & Jeanne C. Meister, Harvardbusiness.org

2) “It’s natural online to go to the place where people are already consuming media. It’s less effort than to ask people to leave an environment they’re already in.” – Cheryl Calverley, U.K.’s Senior Global Manager for Axe Skin

3) “Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology.” – Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks

4) “Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.” – Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus

5) “To ignore social networking would be like early man ignoring fire.” – Barry Ross

Social networking and professionalism

6) “You can be professional while also ‘keeping it real’ with your customers. By interacting with customers in a less formal way, you’ll build a strong human connection that helps build brand loyalty.” – David Hauser

7) “How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” – Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

How social networking can help you (and your students) succeed

8) “In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin

9) “Twitter represents a collective collaboration that manifests our ability to unconsciously connect kindred voices though the experiences that move us. As such, Twitter is a human seismograph.” – Brian Solis, Principal of FutureWorks

Why social networking isn’t a “quick fix” – you need to know how to use it

10) “Social Media can be an enabler and an accelerator of existing core capabilities, values, attributes, and plans. It can even be a catalyst for change. But it can’t magically create what doesn’t exist.” – Denise Zimmerman, President of NetPlus Marketing

11) “Social media is just a buzzword until you come up with a plan.” – Zach Dunn

 

iTube? No…YouTube!

I love YouTube. I am not the type of person who uses it every day or spends hours watching different videos, but I love how easy it is to find great videos and share them with my friends. Usually, I will get to YouTube videos through Facebook or Google, but once I am there I will watch a few of the recommended videos and post them to my Facebook page. However, I do try to be selective with what I share.

According to Zwiers and Crawford in Academic Conversations, “popular modes of communication, such as video, podcasts, written texts, music, and images are mostly ‘one-way.’” (2011) They argue that these types of videos have a static message that cannot be adjusted after conversations, so to speak, with their viewers. I originally expressed my disagreement with this statement in my blog, which you can read here.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I read Prensky’s article, which states “Perhaps the thing about You Tube that is least understood by people who do not use it regularly is that it is not just one way, or one-to-many, communication; it is designed to be, and very much is, two-way…Many users post ideas and opinions, looking for feedback, and many get large numbers of responses to their clips.”

Well, well, well! Take that Zwiers and Crawford!

One trendy video topic is Sh*t (Social Groups) Say. I first saw one of these videos, “Sh*t Girls Say”, when visiting a couple of my friends. They could not stop laughing and joking about it, so they showed me the video. I thought it was funny, but I wasn’t as amused by it as they were. I didn’t think about it again until earlier this week when a friend from college posted “Sh*t Burqueños Say” on her Facebook wall. As a “Burqueña” I decided to watch the video.

I watched the video on Tuesday, and I loved it – not only because my students say this stuff all the time, but because I say it too. I linked the video to my Facebook wall, and by the next day the video had over 150,000 hits and forty-eight pages of comments. When I had first watched the video, it had less than one hundred hits. Now, according to my super-secret source, part two is in the works.

I think that one of the fallacies in Zwiers and Crawford’s argument is that they are looking at communication as being between two or more people, with one of the communicators being the original creator of the content. Their argument, simply put, is that the person who created the video, podcast, or blog must be engaged in the subsequent conversations – but this isn’t actually what happens.

Instead, the subsequent conversations occur between completely different people. The content creator (or facilitator) may chime in occasionally by responding to comments or posting a follow-up video, but most of the communication happens between the viewers. In the world of YouTube, the viewer’s respond through published means such as comments, similar videos, Facebook and Twitter shares, blog mentions, and more, but they also respond through unpublished means such as face-to-face conversations with friends, family, and co-workers.

Isn’t this what we want to happen both in and out of the classroom? The students, sparked by the teacher, drive the conversations while the teacher sits back and listens and silently assesses, only intervening when beneficial to the students. The important thing is that the students are talking about and responding to information that is read, heard, and viewed (and yes, that is a direct quote from the New Mexico ELA Content Standards).

Perhaps now I need to make a video titled “Sh*t Teachers Say.”Oh, never-mind, it already exists.

*Disclaimer*

I am not suggesting that we show these particular videos in schools. I am merely thinking about the sociological and educational implications of these videos. That said, it would be interesting to have students create a video of this nature about what characters say in a novel or story as a lesson on characterization.

You can watch some of these videos below (but keep in mind, some of them are stereotypical and offensive).

Sh*t Brides Say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ut8kwaKvZc0

Sh*t New Yorkers Say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRvJylbSg7o

Sh*t People Say on Facebook: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVQeB_LlmRI

Sh*t Burqueños Say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IucBp1yrr7A&feature=share

Sh*t New Mexicans Don’t Say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndbjEvN8AtM&feature=related

Sh*t Teachers Say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLXfwvaBXLc

Teacher, Meet Technology

So, February 1st is Digital Literacy Day. It was also the day I led a My Big Campus workshop for the other teachers at my school. This was completely coincidental.

First, allow me to explain what My Big Campus is.

My Big Campus is a social networking site for school. It has all of the basic social networking features such as walls and profiles and private messaging, but it also allows teachers to create groups for each of their classes, assign quizzes, facilitate online discussions, and even more that I am not going to explain right now. While My Big Campus is a great motivational tool for the students, it will be most effective if every teacher uses it to some degree.

One of the reasons I love my school is because the staff is open to experimenting in the classroom…for the most part. If you have ever spent time in the education world you may know that it can be difficult to get teachers to adopt new methods into their classroom, especially if those teachers have been teaching for a long time. Now throw in computers and technology and it can be damn near impossible – depending on the teacher, that is.

So, because I am such an eager beaver teacher I wiggled my way into piloting My Big Campus for my school. I love My Big Campus, so naturally I think everyone else should too – but when I talked to other teachers about it I realized that they were not as eager to use it as I was. In fact, many of them were worried that they would get into trouble for using it given the recent headlines regarding teachers and Facebook. Others didn’t see how it could work in their classroom because they only have four or five computers, not thirty-two.

These are perfectly reasonable concerns. My solution: lead a My Big Campus workshop to clear up confusion and to help get teachers acquainted with the possibilities of the site. I talked to administration and they agreed that the February 1st early release day would be a good time to hold the workshop.

The workshop went well, but not as I had planned. First of all a handful of teachers were gone due to AVID responsibilities and the Special Ed. Department was pulled away for professional development. A few other teachers had to leave early for one reason or another, so I only had about sixteen show up.

Each teacher retrieved a netbook upon walking into the classroom. I showed them a Prezi on My Big Campus before launching into the details of the site. Most of the teachers were engaged, but one teacher, let’s call him Mr. Lee, was too busy writing on a post-it note to participate in the workshop. He did have a computer open in front of him though, so I just ignored him. A few minutes later I noticed that he hadn’t looked up from his post-it note, so I decided to look at his computer screen – perhaps he needed help.

The computer was turned off. This ticked me off a bit. I mean, I was volunteering my time and energy to help him out. He didn’t seem to notice my presence, so I got his attention.

Me: “Well, Mr. Lee, you won’t be able to set up My Big Campus if your computer is turned off!” I gave him a friendly smile and turned on his computer.

Mr. Lee: “Oh, well I was just working on this…”

Me: “Well we are working on My Big Campus.”

Mr. Lee: “Yes, I know, but we had talked about it already the other day so…”

Me: “So now we are setting it up!” I said with a smile. “Let me know when you’ve caught up.” I walked away.

I turned around and saw one of the other teachers shaking her head and laughing. She caught my eye and winked at me. Golly.

At first, I was annoyed with Mr. Lee for his rude behavior, but then I decided not to spend my energy dwelling on it. Instead, I decided to think about the reasons behind his actions and came up with the following ideas:

1. Mr. Lee has been teaching for about fifteen years(ish).
2. Mr. Lee is from a different cultural group than I am.
3. Mr. Lee is a digital immigrant.

Now, Mr. Lee’s behavior makes a bit more sense to me. When I think back to my job selling wedding dresses, I never liked it when a newer sales consultant tried to give me sales advice. I was meeting my sales goals perfectly fine on my own, thank you very much. I preferred to be the one doling out advice to the newbies.

Educational Psychology 310 pointed out that different cultural groups have different standards of socially acceptable behavior. Perhaps according to Mr. Lee’s culture he was giving support by simply showing up. Any participation thereafter was optional.

Finally, and I think this is the most important point, Mr. Lee is a digital immigrant (someone born before the cultural integration of modern technology). Digital immigrants are naturally more cautious and resistant towards new technology than digital natives (someone born after the cultural integration of modern technology), who embrace new technology and are able to master it much more efficiently.

I consider myself to be a digital native, even though some of my peers consider themselves to be digital immigrants. My family was always very up-to-date with new computers when I was growing up, and my dad now owns his own computer support business in North Carolina. My point is that I was given multiple digital learning opportunities during the critical period for language acquisition. Mr. Lee (I am assuming) was not.

So, the simple facts are: I am very comfortable with computers and the internet. Mr. Lee is not. I am a new teacher. Mr. Lee is not. I am excited about incorporating technology into my classroom. Mr. Lee is not.

Now I feel much better.