Archive for June, 2008

Week 2 – Discussion – Master’s Work

Posted in Educational, Masters work on June 30, 2008 by Mister A

This week’s topic is an interesting one for me. I have always struggled with tracking student’s work and progress. I am becoming far more organized with online things than I have been with hard copies in paper. For me it is easier and less messy to track things utilizing web resources. I will often joke with my students; my desk could be compared to a black hole. Don’t put anything close to it or it will be sucked in and taken to another dimension. Our goal for this week’s discussion is to identify and describe an idea to utilize new technology to break our paper-trained mindset.

My idea deals with both the storing of student information and records and the way in which students complete work. I teach a class called Math lab for students who struggle in Mathematics. Previously, students in my class utilized folders to track their work which were cumbersome and very often lost by the student. To replace those folders, I plan to keep a classroom wiki next year where each student I have will maintain their own page. You can create a free space at Wikispaces if you are a K-12 educator . They are trying to give away 100,000 free wikispaces to teachers. They are Plus Plan wikis so they are ad free. I plan to have students reflect upon their learning at least one time each week…If possible every day during the end of each class period. Each student’s wiki page will serve as a place where others can comment on their reflection and on any work they complete in it. Evaluation and commenting on the work of peers will be encouraged.I have recently been reading the work of Konrad Glogowski on the effectiveness of classroom blogging. My classroom wikis will be similar to the blogs he discusses in his work. In fact, I just finished attending a workshop led by Dr. Glogowski this morning on Ustream Television and in Second Life where he presented his ideas. The fact that I can watch a presentation in San Antonio, discuss it with educators in Australia, all from the comfort of my own kitchen is indicative of how much our world is changing…has changed.

Walden University – First Discussion – Final Class

Posted in Educational, Masters work on June 24, 2008 by Mister A

I have just begun my final class towards gaining a master’s degree in integrating technology in the classroom. I believe educational blogs are a valuable tool that teachers can use to communicate their ideas to students, colleagues, and parents depending on the objectives you place on your blog. Therefore, for my final class, I plan to place each week’s discussion assignment in my blog, which will ensure that I begin blogging on a consistent basis. This weeks discussion concerns the importance of dealing with an ever-changing world, something we must teach our students to do.

One important change that has occurred for me in my practice recently involves my belief that educational blogs like the one I have started maintaining at https://teacherman79.wordpress.com/ and like the ones maintained by the teachers I have placed on a list in my blog provide an excellent forum for professional development. Through my journey to find Tek Zeno in our last class, I have met several cutting edge educators recently who have been maintaining educational blogs for a significant amount of time. Each of my new colleagues have told me of the value their blogs have in helping them develop as professional educators. I began reading their blogs on a consistent basis and realized what a valuable tool they can be. I decided that I should start a blog myself because of the value I saw in them, so I did. Blogs are very similar to the discussions we have each week in our classes at Walden university, and to me provide the same types of opportunities for learning, only they are free, just a little time-consuming at first.

Blogging has already made me a better teacher. I am more mindful of my beliefs with regards to technology in the classroom and also better equipped to defend my beliefs if the need arises. I believe there is a certain amount of resistance to the use of emerging technologies in the classroom. Maintaining a blog will better equip me to deal with that resistance if and when it occurs. And what is good for the teachers is good for the kids – see this link to find out about utilizing blogs in your classroom. Blogging encourages students to reflect about the work they are doing and also comment on the work that their peers are working on.  I plan to begin having my students begin a reflective process like this in the fall by having each class maintain a wiki in which they will periodically reflect upon classroom activity.  Any feedback you have for me would be greatly appreciated.

Educational Blog Fear is a Tragedy #2

Posted in Educational on June 20, 2008 by Mister A

This is a quote from a conversation I had with Scott Merrick…Blog fear is a tragedy…

I was recently asked by our district’s Assistant Superintendent k-12 what I needed in order to teach web 2.0 strategies to my students, in order to get the content to my students. First of all, I believe we need to stop blocking educational blogs and at least one web mail service. The most innovative, effective, cutting edge teachers maintain educational blogs and provide resources for students and parents to access some type of web mail. If we cannot access web mail or educational blogs, we have no idea what innovative teachers are doing and cannot share what they are doing with our students and our teachers. More importantly, our students cannot share with each other. Resources are currently available to make sharing and communicating with other students via the web, safer than ever before. Some places that are blocked are listed below:

  • wordpress.com and Edublogs…Blog places that teachers utilize
  • Webmail access…at least 1…gmail would be good…
  • You tube videos…This would need to be filtered and monitored carefully..
  • tinyurl.com
  • google videos

And there are numerous others. Those are just a few.

I believe we need to stop blocking Educational Blogs like the ones I have listed in my blogroll on the right side of my homepage. Many of them contain valuable content that I would like to share with both teachers in my school and students too. The best content, teachers, and classrooms maintain educational blogs in one form or another. We cannot access those things if educational blogging spots are blocked.

Information Communication Technology needs to be utilized in our classrooms more effectively, I think. If I simultaneously have a conversation (Text, group, or voice based) with several innovative educators around the world in any room in my house, I should be able to do the same thing in my classroom. If a teacher like me, a Montana native, can figure these things out, then I believe we are in store for some very big changes in the near future. Innovative teachers all over the world are using these tools everyday in their classrooms. We need to be doing the same thing here, in Great Falls.

Any feedback anyone has on this post would be greatly appreciated. I initially made this post on May 30, 2008. It is amazing how much even my own thinking has changed over such a short period.

Grant Writing and other things

Posted in Educational on June 13, 2008 by Mister A

I have recently been working on writing a grant, something I have always wanted to do, but always had an excuse not to. I finished the grant yesterday and sent it in both electronically and physically. It may have been the finest thing I have ever written. However, in no way would I have been able to write such a fine document (MHO), were it not for the help of two new friends I have recently made: Joanna M. Kay, an educational consultant and Dean Groom, an educational technologist. I learned to use a Google service called Google Docs with their help. It is still a little surreal to me that I can be editing, discussing, tweeking, and pimping a document with professional educators thousands of miles away while I sit in my kitchen wearing Homer Simpson slippers. By the way, they are two of the finest educators I have ever met. Hopefully, I get this grant. It is for a computer lab that I plan to utilize to help both teachers and students develop digital literacy skills, something which I believe our schools are lacking in. The web is changing, has changed, and we need to train ourselves how to utilize some of the wonderful learning tools that it provides us with, not only for our own benefit, but for our children’s as well. Many children already possess some great digital skills, however, they are using them in an unsafe manner. In a project I worked on with Dean Groom, I discovered several students had secret email addresses and Myspace accounts that their parents had no idea about. We can try to block them from these things, but, believe me, they will find a way to use them, safely or unsafely. Perhaps a better approach to the new web (Web 2.0) would be to get parents and teachers to start learning about it so we can show our kids how to utilize these tools more effectively.

My sincere thanks go out to Joanna kay and Dean Groom, not only for all the help they have given me on the grant We wrote together, but all the help they have given me in many other areas of my life as well, just ask MissieZ, I am a changed man.