Random Thoughts

Recap of work

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I swear I passed myself in the hallway today. The last two weeks have been a whirl wind but I wanted to take some time at 11pm tonight to actually reflect on the past two weeks and some fun and amazing stuff that is going on here.

Last week I set up all 3 of my classes with a netvibes account (RSS reader). This week we started taking the first 10 minutes of each tech class to read through our feeds. We learned all sorts of stuff. A strange shark found off of Japan. Parents suing Myspace, we get the latest football and basketball scores from the guys and the girls give us the latest scope from the entertainment world. I allow the students to wonder away from tech in these 10 minutes although I always share something about technology to model what I expect. I see it as connecting, as gathering and reporting information. At first they were a little unsure about the whole netvibes thing. This week they are adding feeds left and right, reading, looking, interacting and today started responding to others. I’ve decided to do this backwards this time. Starting with RSS, then reading, then responding, then writing. It’s working I think as today every class asked me “When do we get our blogs?” so the interest is there.

I did try and get the students registered with our WordPressMU installation today. But for some reason it wouldn’t let them register. There are 122 blogs registered at the site and I’m not sure what happened today. It said they had registered, but their blogs never showed up and the confirmation e-mails never came.

Also over at our blog headquarters I successfully installed a plug-in that list the latest postings. So now when students go to the site, the latest 10 postings show up with the first 100 words. It’s fun to see an 11th graders post on the human brain, next to a 5th grade reflection of their day of learning. A great mix that I hope will see some cross river (our two campuses) and cross grade level comments.

I also set up the 5th grade teachers with netvibes accounts and showed them how RSS works so they can easily monitor all 18 of their student blogs. They loved it and just kept saying how much of a time saver this was going to be. I also gave them 22 edublogs to start reading (Full Disclosure: The Thinking Stick, U Tech Tips, Pudong Nerve Central, Teentek.com and Techlearing, all blogs I post at were included in the 22 links)

Last Friday was our first podcast at Pudong Nerve Central for the 2nd Semester which meant two new DJs for the program. I also was thinking about….and continue to do so….how to help students to understand the issues behind downloading illigal music from such Peer 2 Peer programs as LimeWire. So I talked to our DJs and we decided that each podcast will feature a “Free Download of the Week”. This song will be a legal free download from such sites as www.podsafeaudio.com or music.podshow.com. Each week the girls will choose a song they want to share with our listening audience. In the podcast notes we will provide a link to that artist’s web site where others can download the song for free under an open-source or CC license. Last week we featured Win or Lose by Donny Carver. Yesterday we received a Thank You e-mail from Donny for playing his song. Which we thought was pretty cool. The DJs are into it now, I just hope the student body gets something out of it. I know it won’t stop them from downloading songs via LimeWire, but my issue here is they don’t get that it’s illegal. Everyone does it here in China and most of the rest of the developing world. I understand that it’s not going to stop, but I want them to at least understand the issues around it, which I’m finding to be very difficult. I struggle with this on a daily basis. Ethics when it comes to anything digital in China, doesn’t exist.

On top of all this I’ve also been chin deep in planning our upcoming Tech Fest. Trying to finalize David Warlick’s schedule that spands a week on two different campuses, includes two parent talks, and a host of other meetings is one thing. Trying to organize 30+ technology sessions is something completely different. I’ve been luckly as I’ve had a couple of tech team members step up these last two weeks and help out a ton.

It’s now 11:30 and I’ve only commented on one of about 30 postings I want to. But the eye lids are calling my name, so the comments will have to wait yet again.

Update: The opml file that I started my students with.

[tags]SAS, Techfest, David Warlick, podcasting[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Jeff-
    Regarding using netvibes with students/teachers, have you been using the “tab sharing” feature? I’ve been experimenting with that during some trainings I’ve setup for educators over here in Portland and it seems rather promising (see http://edtechservices.com/blog/netvibes)

  2. One of the (many) thinks I’ve failed to accomplish in my school so far is getting folks excited about RSS. I really want to convince a couple of teachers to help set up their students with RSS next fall. I face two major problems. One, as high school teachers, these guys are so focused on their “curriculum” that it’s a little bit of a tough sell to convince them to take time for something like RSS that doesn’t appear to be directly related (I know, I know, but I’m working on it). But second, and where I hope maybe you can help, is with providing a base set of good RSS feeds for students. Could you share some of the feeds you’ve “seeded” students with?

    Ultimately, I’d like to develop sets of “starter” rss feeds by subject area for my teachers, so that they still feel it’s directly relevant to their curriculum to get them started. But I haven’t found the time or energy yet to do this, so I’m looking for shortcuts like some kind soul who’s already done some of the legwork already . . .

    Also, any tips you’d like to share about students adding their own feeds? Any places you specifically tell them to look? Any “instructions” you give them? Or are you just turning them loose once they get the hang of it?

  3. andrew torris Reply


    As your supervisor, I can see that a weekly recap of your work like this would be most helpful in creating your yearly evaluation! (smile, HA!)

    Nice work! I love to drop by and watch the kids marvel in the world they are just beginning to realize is blossoming around them. Through knowledge of the here and now, the student will grow!

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