I’m recycling a couple of videos that I have posted in the past, mostly because I believe that they’re worth watching again. These videos – the original higher ed version of “A Vision of Students Today” by Mike Wesch, the spin-off , called “A Vision of K-12 Students Today”, and “The Networked Student”, created by Wendy Drexler‘s high school students – bring to mind many thoughts that I find both challenging and encouraging. Hopefully you will, too.
Students are moving forward, in terms of technology, and they are finding limitless opportunities to explore and create on-line. Are we making sure that we teach them how to do this wisely? Are we building on these innate interests and talents? Are we harnessing the power of technology to optimize their educational experience?
A Vision of Students Today (higher-ed)
A Vision of K-12 Students Today
Networked Student (by students)
Here’s a follow-up to an earlier Weebly post:
There have been increasing numbers of educators who find that a classroom website is a good way to stay organized. Here are some basic, very useful functions:
- Class Calendar
- Homework Assignments
- Supply Lists
- Post Student Work
- Parent Involvement/Volunteer Opportunities
- Classroom Rules and Policies
- Your Bio and Contact Info
A website is more informative, while a blog, ning or wiki is more interactive because they allow students to contribute. I actually suggest having both. But because blogs, nings and wikis require constant maintenance, it’s nice to have a website that is super-easy to build and edit.
I suggest using Weebly for this. It’s free and extremely user-friendly.
Here are some classroom websites built on Weebly:
If you have a Weebly website, or plan to get one, please share your URL in the comments!
I’ve gotten to that point where my list of “interesting links” is so huge, I’d better start picking out my favorites to focus on. Here are some of them:
A Directory of Learning Professionals on Twitter – Jane Hart first put out a list of 101people to follow if you’re interested in education and web 2.0, but the list quickly grew into this – 330 and counting!
Soundsnap is a library of sound effects – so cool! Can be downloaded and added to presentations, etc.
Jing is a tool that allows you to capture any part of your screen – images and even screencasts. Very helpful for capturing diagrams and graphs to insert into handouts and presentations.
Make Belief Comix might be the easiest and most accessible cartoon-strip creator to use, even for young students.
EasyBib turns information about a source into a formal, MLA bibliography citation! Even websites!
There’s an older article on the Edutopia website called ‘Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many‘. I love this quote:
“Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.”
The comments are much more useful than the article, itself, in terms of how to actually implement this integration. Teachers share their successes, their concerns, and ideas for technology integration that can work for any subject and any grade.
A more recent reflection on this idea also comes from Edutopia, but from the esteemed authors of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns”, Christensen and Horn. Their article reiterates this:
“The United States has spent more than $60 billion equipping schools with computers during the last two decades, but as countless studies and any routine observation reveal, the computers have not transformed the classroom… The key to transforming the classroom with technology is in how it is implemented.”
From this, from hearing Judy Harris speak at the Innovative Learning Convention, and from many other leaders in technology integration, the message is becoming very obvious and very loud. We need to reach a point where using technology in the classroom is as normal as using paper – no need to think about it, it’s just a given part of almost every lesson.
Try something new in your classroom today!
Tony Karrer posted an interesting article yesterday: “Know Where You Can Find Anything” which brought up the point that, these days, there is a much greater need for students to have ‘search skills’ and ‘network skills’ than to master a ton of content.
This reminded me of a post by Michael Staton in February called “Content Knowledge is Dead”. I don’t completely agree with this statement, but I do agree that there must be a change in what we’re teaching our high school and college students. They need to know how to problem-solve, to locate and effectively use resources, and to collaborate with others. Whether or not state standards are updated to reflect this need, I have faith that educators will not let their students fall behind. But, with everything on their plates, how can they possibly find the time or energy to adapt their curricula? I think that I know the answer: you and me. We are going to make sure that this happens.
The past week or so has been difficult for many parents in Houston – they headed back to work, but HISD was closed until today. What to do with the kids?!?
I had the joy of spending Thursday, Friday, and Monday with a 5-year-old named Aidan. We built a fort, hunted for snails and worms outside, looked at pictures of sea dragons on-line, and tried to figure out what “days” and “months” are…all while I was trying to get at least a little bit of work done. My efforts were nearly futile; this kid is awesome.
What really struck me about him was the spongy nature of his mind. He picks up on *everything*, asks question after question until he can connect some more dots, and always wants to know more. I was comparing him to my high-school students: it often seems like they’ve lost this hunger for knowledge. Yes, it “seems” that way…..but it’s still there! We just need to remember that, at their age, it’s not always cool to ask questions, it’s not always cool to want to learn.
Enter: Web 2.0.
Our teenagers can once again ask endless questions, eagerly seek out more and more information, and explore deeper than they’ve ever been able to before, and all of it can be anonymous if desired. Much of the process is even disguised as purely “social” activity, so that those averse to “learning” might even be tricked into it! At last, the shyly-inquisitive, or even just uninformed, teenage mind can come out and see the sun.
It is our job, as educators, to provide them with the tools to help them along their journeys.
I must admit that I’m borrowing this idea from the incredible Vicki Davis, but I’ve been coming across so many neat websites that I’ve just got to share them:
Create Debate – A new social network focused on discussing issues (or non-issues, for that mater!). Easy to use, a debate could be set up by a teacher, or the site could be used to help students practice formulating arguments. (thanks to David Warlick for posting about this)
Posterous.com – this has to be the easiest, most accessible blog EVER! No need to register, just send an email to email@example.com and you’ve got an entry with the subject line as your heading and the body of the email as your post.
The New York Time Learning Network Lesson Plans – this has lesson plans that are so flushed out that you’re certain to find something that you can use. They bridge literacy with current events and in-depth synthesis of recent articles, with links and a huge range of questions and activities surrounding the articles. The home page has many more resources for teachers, as well as for students, such as the ‘test prep question of the day’.
An innovative video explaining the beauty of Web 2.0 on YouTube.
An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube – Captivating presentation on the evolution and relevance of YouTube in breeding collaboration. An hour long, but it’s worth the watch. (thanks to Ewan McIntosh for mentioning it on his blog)
Also, just thought I’d throw in a word-of-the-day:
folksonomy: a type of classification system for online content, created by an individual user who tags information with freely chosen keywords; also, the cooperation of a group of people to create such a classification system. (from dictionary.com)
Ex: A key aspect of Web 2.0 is describing content through folksonomies and evaluating content via user-rating. (from SQA)