Monday, December 24, 2007

Tracking my Web 2.0 Journey 2006 - 2007

My Blog Stats for 2007

It all began at the Building Learning Communities Conference in the summer of 2006. Tim Tyson, Alan November and Will Richardson opened my eyes to Read/Write Web. I came back to school that year pumped up and ready to participate. I set up a account and a feed reader in August, 2006 and I was on my way. I returned to school in the fall ready to start a podcasting project. I posted my first Book Review Podcasts in December of 2006. I presented on the project at my first conference in March of 2007.

I posted my first blog post on March 31st 2007. That began a new explosion of learning for me. Writing regularly for a global audience is an inspiring and daunting task. It took me a while to find my voice and figure out what I have to say. On April 10th, 2007 I joined Classroom 2.0 on ning. That is where my network truly started to expand. The conversations there were global. I found people who understood the intellectual transformation I was going through. Thanks so much to Steve Hargadon - one of my Web 2.0 heroes and a really nice person.

In the June of 2007 I attended NECC for the first time. It was Edubloggercon (thanks again to Steve Hargadon) and the blogger cafe that set me off on my next journey. I met people face to face that I had only "seen" Online. I actually spoke to Joyce Valenza, Chris Lehmann and Will Richardson. The conversations I had there were inspiring. That is also where I learned about Twitter.

I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now. I've written about Twitter before, so I won't say much in this post. I will say that Twitter is the most powerful new tool I've encountered this year. I've discovered a network of amazing, interesting and helpful people. The collective Edtech twitter mind has helped me when I was stuck, alerted me to interesting blog posts and online learning opportunities, introduced me to many useful tools and just made me laugh.

I can't imagine what 2008 will bring (hopefully a democrat in the white house - I digress), but 2007 is a hard act to follow.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two for Tuesday 12-18-07

1. Taking Your Slideshow to the Next Level: Avoid Powerpointlessness! Scott Elias, the assistant principal for Loveland High School in Loveland, CO, has created an amazing slide show with audio that brilliantly explains and demonstrates how to use slideshow software effectively. The link above is to the slideshare Website. You can also read more about this on his blog. Thanks so much Scott for sharing this with us.

2. Give Credit Where Credit is Due: This Website was designed by David Warlick to make the process of citing sources more manageable. The Website supports MLA, APA, Chicago and Turabian citation formats. It is really easy to use.
Citation Machine is an interactive web tool designed to assist high school, college, and university students, their teachers, and independent researchers in their effort to respect other people's intellectual properties.The primary goal of this tool is to make it so easy for high school, college, and university students and other researchers to credit information sources, there is virtually no reason not to -- because SOMEDAY THE INFORMATION THAT SOMEONE WANTS TO USE, WILL BE YOURS.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Teaching Teachers to Fish (or cut bait)

Learning anything new is frustrating. Learning how to use new technologies can be especially frustrating. I think it is a given that nothing ever works the way that it is supposed to - especially not the first time. In my experience, the model for rolling out new technology to teachers is to provide them with training and support materials in an effort to help them avoid those frustrations as much as possible (the other model is to provide absolutely no support at all).

I'm beginning to wonder if we need a new model. A model that celebrates frustration and poses a challenge to teachers to try to figure things out on their own. Most technologies in the "real" world don't come with user manuals. I constantly have to figure things out. I do (often) get very frustrated. But, the more I do it, the easier it becomes. If we constantly baby-step people through every new process, will they ever learn to feel confident doing things on their own?

As teachers, our ultimate objective is to prepare our students to face and conquer whatever challenges life might throw at them. We teach our students to think critically and help them to approach life's problems with a tool box full of good strategies. Why should we expect anything else from ourselves?

Many could argue that since this is what I do for a living, of course I feel comfortable and of course I'm willing and able to devote my time to figuring things out. Others might suggest that I am trying to get out of doing my job.

I would respond that instead of focusing on specific applications and stepping people through them, we should be modeling and teaching general problem solving strategies so that they will be able to handle the curve balls that technology will inevitably throw them. We need to teach teachers to fish - not just serve it them on a platter.

So the question is - how do you we do it? How can we help teachers to interact with new technologies in a confident way so that when they are faced with a road block they can navigate it (at least initially) on their own? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

Image Citation: Eesti, “Big Fish Story” The Rocketeer's photostream. 8 Aug 2005. 17 Dec 2007 .

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Read the Fine Print!

Recently, I learned about a Website called Elfyourself from several different sources, including Twitter (of course) and my brother (who is not on Twitter). Elfyourself is a Website created by OfficeMax that will let you upload a picture of yourself and put it on top of a dancing Elf's body. You can send this elf to all of your friends as a holiday greeting. Sounds like fun... until you read the fine print.

I sign up for things constantly and rarely read the terms of use. I'm not sure why I decided to read these, but I'm glad I did. Among other things, when you upload your picture to the Elfyourself Website you agree to the "unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual and royalty-free right and license to use... distribute, display, publish, broadcast, transmit or otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever your submission throughout the universe, in perpetuity."

Who writes these things? If it weren't my picture I was worried about, I would be on the floor laughing about this. However, if I had any hope of running for office (which I don't at the moment), I might not be thrilled about a picture of my head on top of a dancing green elf's body that OfficeMax has the right to distribute, display and transmit throughout the universe in perpetuity.

Something to think about!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Two for Tuesday 12-11-07

1. Twittory-The Darkness Inside

Just after writing my "Found Twittery" poetry, I discovered a different meaning for the term. "Twittory" is a word coined by Cameron Reilly, a blogger and podcaster in Australia. A Twitory is a story written 140 characters at a time by 140 contributors from around the world submitted through Twitter. You can read about how Cameron came up with the idea here. I signed up to be one of the contributors and am eagerly waiting for my turn - I'm number 51. We are being slowed down a bit by time zones.

I've added a bunch of the people on the list of contributors to my Twitter network. Many of these people live in Australia and most are not Ed Tech people. It has been interesting to follow their tweets. My network is becoming much more diverse. I'm hoping it will lead me to new and intriguing resources.

Cameron is using Wikispaces to post the Twittory. You can follow the story here. I think this could be a great class project even without using Twitter. Why not use a Wiki and have the kids contribute in a round to a story. That could be a lot of fun.

2. Google Street View

You can now see photographs of many streets using Google Maps by clicking on Street View. If a street is highlighted in blue, that indicates that a street view photograph is available. This could be a great tool to help you find your way using landmarks. Students could also use the street view to explore different locations around the world.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Found Twittery - Micro-blogging goes Macro...

In the spirit of found poetry (and due to some writer's block), I thought it might be interesting to go back over my recent Twitter posts and turn my micro-blogging into micro-poetry. Here is my "found twittery..."

Thanks for the Learning

Feeling like I have
blogger's block!
I know I've got to get
out there -
don't yet know
what it will be.

Back on Twitter
catching up on Tweets.
Amazing resources here -

Lately, I'm a taker, not a giver.
I really appreciate all of your gifts!

Comments on my blog -
I have never gotten so many.
It is great to know
I'm not
talking to myself.

Good night all -
It got late when I wasn't looking.

Thanks for the learning.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Two For Tuesday: 12-04-07

1. Test Your Information Literacy Skills: November Learning, an organization "dedicated toward supporting and challenging teachers and students to expand the boundaries of learning," has a number of very useful resources for becoming more information literate. You can test your own information literacy skills and/or have your students take the quiz. The quiz includes an answer key and follow up activities.

2. Vote for your favorite education blog: Every year people nominate their favorite educational blogs for an edublog award called the Eddies. This is a great resource for finding interesting and useful blogs to add to your aggregator. Voting concludes on the 6th of December, so there is still time to pick your favorite.