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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When kids lead the way

I believe that part of my role, or any role of a teacher with a Personal Learning Network, is to use that network to spread the word when good things happen with your students. The Operation Smile group here at ISB continues to find ways to spread their message about their trip, about what they learned, and what you can do if you want to take part. Last weekend Ciel, a student on the trip sat down and decided to create a video. But as she said on the Women of the Web 2.0 podcast “I put it on YouTube because I wanted to spread the message.” This is the now third video created by the group. The other two can be found here and here. Because of my PLN and helping them to spread their message, they were invited to do a live podcast with th Women of the Web 2.0 crew yesterday. It was a great experience for the students and as students do so often they truly raised to the occasion. If you get a chance to listen to the podcast it’s funny to hear how at the beginning nobody wanted to talk and I was forcing the mic onto some of them, but about 5 minutes in, it changed and I was grabbing at the mic to get them to take turns. They did a great job of watching the chat room, grabbing questions and talking about their experience here at ISB and on Operation Smile. If you want to know what our school is like from a student prospective you’ll enjoy the first half of the podcast. This is the power of the teacher (in this case me….married to the school counselor who went on the trip) having a PLN to help spread a message. A message that I, as the teacher felt was worth spreading. This is the power of a PLN not only for my own learning but to spread the messages of our students. You can listen to the students (and my wife) on the podcast here or via iTunes...

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A blog post, a tweet, a connection

I have to share this story with you if for no other reason….I’ve shared it with anyone that would listen to me at school today. I believe this story shows the power of: 1. What can happen when we allow students to be “out there”.2. What happens when our teachers become networked and can bring that network to their students.3. That through connections educational possibilities are endless! This couldn’t have come at a better time with Clint H leaving a comment on my last post about a conversation he had with his IT Director: He has some very persuasive arguments for his ‘walled garden’ approach (including “nobody ever reads public blogs anyway so what’s the difference?”) Really….nobody reads public blogs anymore……..please read on! So here’s how the story of connections played out last night. 1. I do a lesson in one of our 5th grade classrooms where we have a great discussion around what it means to blog, what good blogging looks like, and the difference between leaving a comment and a compliment. We also learn how to add an image to our post and how to add a link. Following the teachers lead based on this blog post, the students homework is to write a reflective blog post about the science experiment they did and what they learned. I leave the room with this challenge: I will read all your blog posts tonight and the best ones I’ll send out for the world to read. Of course they no nothing of the 4700+ Twitter followers I have or the 400+ Facebook friends. Nor should they care…what is important here is that their teacher is connected into a wider community to help foster a global audience. 2. Late last night I visited the classes netvibes page and started going through the student’s blog posts leaving comments on everyone of them. I was proud to see that most everyone’s blogging had improved from before our lesson and some students had really taken the time to sit down and write out their thoughts. One such student was Haley who wrote out the experiment that the students had done in class. A great little bit of procedural writing (writing connection). I decided that this was one of the top 5 posts in the class and sent a link to her blog post out on Twitter and to my Facebook Friends asking them...

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How fine is the line between socialization and social learning

Dough Johnson and Ann Krembs are here at ISB this week consulting with our school and the Library Review Committee on creating/restructuring our library learning space. Doug wrote a great post titled: The essential question I would highly recommend reading it and all of the comments. The Ed Tech team and the Librarians (total 8 people) met with Doug and Ann on Thursday to get our take on the new space. At one point Doug brought up the thought about having a space for socialization versus social learning. Just how fine is the line between socialization and social learning? When we talk about spaces and what students’ needs are and what a school’s needs are can we blur the line between being social and social learning? I started thinking of my experience at the local Barnes & Nobles in my home town of Spokane, Washington and just how many times I end up there in the summer time. Sometimes I stop for a coffee at the Starbucks located inside and end up browsing books. Other times I meet friends there and just socialize, and yet other times I go there looking for books and end up drinking a coffee. B&N and Starbucks have blurred the lines between books, work, and social hour. You throw in a little WiFi connection and you’re set for the day. Could we create spaces in our schools that were both used for socializing and at the same time a library and a place were kids go to work and get work done? In other words…can we create the modern school? Could a modern school library be the hangout? Do we want students to be social in a place were social learning should/could take place? Personally I think we need to not only blur the line but start erasing it. B&N and Starbucks do a really good job of being open in one large area but using features such as a change from tile to carpet and a little railing between the Starbucks portion and the B&N portion of the store to let people know when you have moved from one to the other. Physically they share space, but as you enter the store you can easily see where Starbucks ends and the bookstore begins. What if we could replicate this in our libraries? What if we could create spaces that allowed students to work...

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