Virtual Bulletin Board

At ISB we’ve struggled over the past couple of years in defining our web spaces. Although we’ve been getting better at using the “Core 3” (Moodle, Google Apps, WordPress) we still need to define spaces based on purpose and audience.  One thing I’m focusing on this year is creating what I’m calling a Virtual Bulletin Board for our high school students. A place where they can find and post announcements in whatever format they choose.  Here’s the site: http://inside.isb.ac.th/high Audience: High School Students at ISB Purpose: To get announcements out to students, information from the office, campus updates Once we have defined the audience and purpose we can then start to create and mold how the site will work. I know there are probably better bulletin board systems out there than a blog….but I’m committed to showing teachers and students just how flexible the WordPress platform can be. The platform of WordPress is so dynamic, so powerful and so customizable that really your imagination is the limit. If you have clicked on the link above to the bulletin board site you’ll be thinking to yourself “it still looks like a blog to me” and you’re right…it does for now and probably will for awhile yet.  Steps to making it a virtual bulletin board. Step 1: Every school computer in the high school has this page as its default start page for every browser. So we are forcing eyes on the page to begin with. It becomes crucial that we spend this year gaining the trust of students and showing them this is the place for them to come for information. Next year we roll out 1:1 in the high school where we will no longer control the home page of the browser. We need to get this right or we’ll loose them. Step 2: We have created the “quick link” section that links students to all the other applications they need in the high school. Step 3. Work with the high school administration to push announcements and updates to students on the site. Step 4: Train students to post things to the site Step 4 is what I’m most excited about and I think shows the true power of WordPress and going with a blogging platform. My idea is that we’ll have students post announcements on their own blogs (every student already has one) and then have them tag the announcement with the word ”hsannouncement”. Using the AutoBlog plugin I’ll then grad the RSS...

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Reverse Instruction – U.S. History

U.S. History has to be one of the hardest classes to teach at an international school. When at best half your students would be from America and at worse none…yet our U.S. based curriculum says we have to teach it. So how do you motivate students who for the most part have no buy-in into U.S. History? The teachers do a great job of trying to look at U.S. History with a wider lens and that’s what this reverse instruction lesson is about. Some rights reserved by ViaMoi What are the characteristics of a civil war? What were the causes of the U.S. Civil War? So those are the questions posed to the class yesterday. The class was broken into two groups. Each group would research one of the questions and was paired with a partner researching the other question. Our plan followed much the same process as the one I blogged about using with the IB English class. However instead of using the blogs to post their research the students in this class will be using our school Moodle install. We set up a forum for each question. Students will post their information in a forum where their partner will be able to read and comment on it. Everyone in the class of course can read all the entries making one big study guide for the class. On Friday we’ll be doing a similar fishbowl routine as in the English class. The group who researched the characteristics of a civil war will talk about the U.S. Civil War while those that researched it will be in a chat room listening and commenting on the discussion. We then reverse the roles the second part of class. The teacher Casey Corning, has been doing a lot of great things with tech this year, and is probably my best user of a teacher blog in the high school. She has a blog for each of the courses she teaches, and has helped to transform our senior seminar class into using the blogs as their semester long reflection. So it wasn’t a shocker when she stepped up to want to try this approach in her classroom. She then decided to take it one step further and we’re doing a little action research around it. She teachers two periods of U.S. History. So one period is getting the “traditional” teaching model while the class I’m...

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Tracking Independent Reading in high school

As I started talking about in my last post, we’re in the process of setting every high school student up with a blog to use as an e-portfolio. To help you wrap your head around why we’re using blogs as our container for this, I suggest downloading and reading the Free PDF I produced at the end of last year. Once you wrap your head around the idea that these blogs are just a container that we can link into and out of then we can build our portfolio taking advantage of all the Web 2.0 world has to offer. You’ll be able to find everything I’m talking about on my school example blog here. I would suggest opening it in a new window so you can see how we integrated all the parts together making the blog the central location of content/knowledge storage. Our “one stop shop”. Independent Reading Tracker: First the teachers wanted to have a way for students to track what they were reading and what genres they were finding themselves pulled towards. On top of that they wanted to be able to encourage students to read genres they might not always read, and of course they wanted it in one place that was simple to use and see. Using our schools Google Apps account. The English Department, our high school librarian, and myself came up with a template that satisfied everyone’s need for information. I then took that template and created a Google Spreadsheet using it. I shared that template with the students at our school so that they could make a copy of it. Once each student had their own copy we shared that copy with their English teacher and then we made the document public, copied the link, and linked it to our blogs. On the example blog you can click on the IR Tracker page at the top to be taken to the template. Student blogs work the same way. Now readers to the blog can see what each student has been reading, and the teachers can see in their Google Docs account what every student has been reading. Picture if you will these 9th graders blogs and Google Spreadsheet four years from now when they are seniors. Think about how much information they will have, colleges will have, and teachers will have about how much they are reading, what their interests...

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At the speed of a click

(Scribefire, my blogging platform finally updated to work with Firefox Beta 4 so now I’m back!) I had the most incredible experience today. First of all I’m loving working with the high school kids. They just ‘get it’. I don’t have to explain things at a very deep level and we can just fly through the technology stuff and get down to business. And when I mean fly….I mean…..at the speed of a click. Today in a 45 minute session with eighteen 9th graders we: Logged into or created a new blog Had a refresher on how to blog and all the blog options Logged into Google Docs for the first time Searched for a Google Doc, made our copy, shared it with the classroom teacher, and linked it to our blog as a page Created an account at goodreads.com, talked quickly about how the site works (Facebook for books) and then connected our goodreads.com account to our blog so that when we write a review of a book on goodreads.com it automatically posts that to our blog as a blog post. Discussed why we want every high school student to have a blog and talked about the “Social You” of Facebook and the “Professional You” of the blog/efolio they are creating here. Now….even for me that’s a lot of stuff to do, and a lot of clicks to get it all done in. I did two classes of 18 students each in 45 minutes. In fact, I could not have talked or clicked any faster. Not one kid could not keep up, in fact I had two students who followed along, completed everything while still reading a book. Are you kidding me? Follow all those directions, and read a book? Yes…this generation has just grown up clicking! INSANE! The best part was in 45 minutes we got the students ready to start tracking their independent reading using all the above mentioned tools (see next post for the layout). Now that they are all set up, we can get down to business of reading, reflecting, and tracking what and how much reading we’re...

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Looking into the eyes of our students

Friday was a half day at school. A little extended weekend for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Our High School took part in a couple different sessions. One of those sessions was by me giving a talk on “The Flat World”. I would have titled it “Your World” but the title doesn’t really matter. I had 20 minutes with every 9-12th grader at our school I started by saying, “You are very fortunate. You get to grow up in an amazing time in history.” I then played Karl Fisch’s Did You Know presentation with the follow slides added. There are 57 Million Blogs 100,000 new blogs created daily 1.3 million blog articles created daily That’s 54,000 articles being published every hour. Who’s verifying this information? Who’s telling the truth? Last year more students in China took the SAT in English than did so in the United States. The information comes from the latest report of the blogosphere from Technorati and from this update from Karl Fisch. After the PowerPoint was over we had a discussion about what all this information means. One student shouted “Shift Happens” the rest of the students laughed and I said “Exactly!” Another student spoke up and said “Everything we’re learning now doesn’t matter.” To which I said, “I know all your teachers standing around here are going to hate me, but you are absolutely right.” I then talked to them about the skills they need to learn while in high school starting with learning how to learn. We then talked about their generation. I asked the students “What’s the name of your generation?” a student spoke up and said “Millennials.” I then talked about the book Millennials Rising, and how in 1997 abcnews.com ran a poll on their website where this generation got to choose what to be called. They were proud of it, laughed, and thought it was cool. I asked them how many of them had a myspace.com account. To which over half raised their hands. I asked how many of them had a cell phone and a mp3 player. Every single student raised their hand. I asked how many had their own computer. All but a handful raised their hand, but when I asked who had access to the Internet in their house? Again it was 100%. I asked these questions for one reason and one reason only. I wanted the 20+ teachers...

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