Sunday, May 20, 2007

Crashing the Server

We have been very busy here at the Runkle school making movies and podcasts. So busy in fact that we have nearly crashed the server several times. Movies and podcasts are big files. Note to self - next year don't do them all at the same time.

The 8th grade has been in movie heaven (although it has at times felt like the other place). They have just completed their element music videos. They worked really hard on these videos, finding facts about their element and then putting them to music and adding visual effects. I hope to get them up on the Web soon, so that you all can check them out. In addition to their element videos, they have also completed travel videos for countries in Europe, and both animation and claymation projects. You can see many of their animation projects here:

Third and forth graders have been hard at work on their book review podcasts. We should be finishing these up soon and I will add them to the Brookline Book Review Website. The seventh graders have finished their wiki project on genetic disorders. You can check them out here. The year is definitely coming to a close with an exciting finish!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A wiki by any other name...

I dislocated my pinkie last week. I know that sounds kind of pathetic, but it really has a serious effect on one's ability to type. Particularly the letter p, the semi-colon, question mark, period, and any capital letters made by the left hand. I'm a pretty fast touch-typist, and this has slowed me down big time. I have gained a great appreciation for the benefits of being able to type as fast as I think, and also for the importance of the pinkie! O.K. enough complaining, on with the blog.

Seventh graders started a wiki project in science class this week. They are working in groups researching a genetic disorder and publishing their findings on a class wiki website. You can follow their progress here. This is a first for all of us, so we are all figuring this out as we go. So far so good. What I like about the wiki is there aren't many formatting options. Students have to focus on the content and can't spend all their time choosing fonts and colors.

Speaking of wikis, most people are only familiar with the wiki, Wikipedia, around which there is a lot of controversy about using it as a source. Here is a video titled "Why Wikipedia Sucks" that does a good job of summarizing that sentiment.

Personally, I am not an anti-Wikipedian. I believe, as with all web sources, all information found on the web is suspect. As researchers, we need to be diligent about using more than one source and checking the reliability of the sources we use. Chris Harris cited a great rule for research in his blog, infomancy:
One is none, and two is one. This rule comes from a variety of sources, including the maxim for flashlights in serious situations like caving. If you have one tool, then you effectively have none because of the source for failure. If you have two, then you can hopefully count on one, but one is none. This is why, among other very silly reasons, that I tend to have three flashlights on me at any given time. In the world of library research, the same is true. Having one source is as good as having none. I don’t care if the source is Britannica or Wikipedia, one source has no validity.
With more than one source to confirm the information you find, Wikipedia can be a great place to start. What do you think?