Archive for the 'educators blogging' Category

Antiracist, social justice education and web-two-point 09

It has been almost a month (not to mention a new year) since my last post, and I am feeling quite deprived.  Although I have never left my 2.0 journey, I have had to refocus my energy on teaching and learning (of others), and move away from the complete focus on self-learning that I have been absorbed by the past few months.  So, even though I have been reading blogs and wikis, and posts on social networking sites, watched videos, and listened to podcasts and slideshares, I refrained from commenting on them.  Instead, I have been creating and revising course syllabi so that I will be ready to teach again at the end of this month.

As I was preparing my education-related course focusing on antiracism in schools and society, however, I realized an important omission I made during my ethnoblogging venture.  As I scrolled through my lists of sites bookmarked in Diigo, I noticed that I had not saved any examples of k-12 lessons for teaching with an antiracist or social justice perspective that also  utilize web 2.0 tools or digital media.  I know that I saw some as I reviewed numerous web sites, but I did not think  to highlight them.  Perhaps I was in denial about re-entering the classroom. Or maybe I thought that I would easily be able to find them, but such was not the case.  While reviewing my own posts, I realize that I did highlight a few lesson plans related to the election in November (some of which had a social justice orientation – see post of 11/19/08), but very few of my posts relate to my work in antiracist education.

One of the assignments for my students in the coming semester is to have them identify a lesson plan that purports to be antiracist or multicultural and then to analyze it according to several criteria as outlined by antiracist, multicultural theorists.  I have done this for several years with very good results.  But this year I added a new dimension: I wanted them to find a lesson in which the teacher employed digital media or web 2.0 technology to accomplish his/her lesson objectives.  For such assignments, I usually provide students with some examples or links they might access.  But for this assignment, I did not have any sample lessons or links that combined social justice (or multicultural or antiracist teaching) with technology.  So, I decided to provide them with some web sites that have lesson plans for social justice teaching and some different sites that have lesson plans incorporating technology. By reviewing each of those sites, they will find lesson plans that incorporate both social justice education and web 2.0 technology, but they will need to do the synthesizing to complete the assignment.  The text of my assignment reads as follows:

Assignment: Search for and identify a multicultural/social justice/antiracist lesson for any grade level (K-12) and in any content area that uses Web 2.0 technology (ex. blogs, podcasts, wikis, Youtube or other videos, digital storytelling or other digital media etc.) as part of the lesson.  Bring a copy of the lesson (and the web link) to class.

The following sites may provide you some ideas. The first 3  sites refer to  multicultural, antiracist teaching which may or may not have lesson plans that utilize web 2.0 tools.  The remaining sites contain lesson plans with digital media that may or may not be multicultural or antiracist in focus.  Use your searching skills to find a lesson plan that combines multicultural teaching with digital media (or web 2.0 technology).

o       Use the Teaching Tolerance site at www.teachingtolerance.org.

o       Use the Multicultural Pavilion site at http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/.

o       Use the Rethinking Schools site at http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/index.shtml

o       Use www.educatorsworld.com.

o       Use the PBS site at www.teachersdomain.org.

o       Use the Teachers Link and Learning Page at the Library of Congress site at www.loc.org.

o       Use the Teaching History site at http://teachinghistory.org/teaching-materials/lesson-plan-reviews.

o       Use the Newseum site at www.newseum.org.

o       Use a site for digital storytelling such as http://www.wtvi.com/teks/ds/#1.

o       A site for digital media in the classroom such as http://its.leesummit.k12.mo.us/digitalmedia.htm.

As I read through this assignment, I see that I was not as negligent as I thought for by asking them to do the synthesizing, they get to utilize their skills and creativity instead of my giving them all the resources.  So maybe it will turn out fine after all (note the apprehension of a teacher returning from sabbatical – can I  stilll teach effectively?).  Perhaps, though, I should not have them bring a copy of the lesson to class, but ask them to post it on the class wiki – now there’s a web-two-point 09 approach!
More, though less, on web-two-point 09 to come…

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Creating, Collaborating, Connecting

Creating, Collaborating, Connecting – these 3 words were the themes arising from the keynote presentation by Wesley Fryer at the MassCue conference on (11/19/08).  In fact, these words could also be applied to the entire conference and even Web 2.0 technologies in general.  In his talk about media literacy he used videos and other visuals to get his point across, and it came across clearly.  One memorable quote that really stuck with me concerned the speed of processing images.  He reported that “processing images is more than 1000 faster than processing text.”  Incredible!  So, why don’t we educators use images more often to get our point across?  Maybe I should be using an image in this blog instead of just text?  He also provided us with a number of useful resources as well as his own website where he describes his learning as well as numerous useful links.  He ended his fast-moving and engaging presentation with a projected quote from Alan Kay: The best way to predict the future is to invent it.  Most people try to predict the future by preventing it.”  Wesley urged educators to get involved in helping students create and connect and to assist them in acquiring the 21st century literacy skills that they will undoubtedly need.  He also reminded us to continue to focus on our own learning and to join some groups for help with learning innovative tools.  He listed the K12 Online Conference 08 as one professional development source and Classroom 2.0 as another.  Check out his website entitled “Speed of Creativity” – a valuable resource!

My first webinar

Yesterday I attended my first webinar entitled “Blogging for Beginners” by Janni Black sponsored by ISTE. It was quite an experience to participate in comfortable clothes, with an espresso by my hand and my cat in nearby chair watching and listening to Janni present information in a clear and engaging manner.  Although I have been writing this blog for a few months now and I don’t really think of myself as a beginner, I decided to attend this webinar because I knew there was lots more I needed to know about blogs.  Janni will be doing an intermediate session on blogs next month, and I may do that one as well.

Janni urged all educators considering using blogs with their students to first read some educator blogs to get a sense of what they are all about, then, when ready, post a comment to someone’s blog.  Thereafter, educators should set up their own blog and get a feel for what the experience is like.  I am pleased that she outlined this process because that is exactly the route I took.  As I was beginning to learn about Web 2.0, I found that educator blogs (and the wikis some of them created) to be my main source of information.  I was amazed how many educators from all levels already knew about these web technologies and how many of them were just getting started, like me.  There’s a whole community out there exploring these tools, and their blog posts (which tend to highlight an article they have read, a conference they have attended, a tool they have used, or an idea that they are thinking about) have led me to other blogs, other tools, new ideas, etc.  The learning is endless. Janni mentioned that blogging can enable you to take charge of your own professional development, and i concur.  Although the wealth of information can get overwhelming at times, I have found that a time-limited web session is the best; otherwise, the links from one site to another can eat up hours upon hours without me even noticing. Engagement with the content is never an issue; would high school or college students in a course be similarly engaged with this type of learning and exploration? (a question to ponder in terms of application to the classroom).

Throughout her presentation, Janni offered suggestions for how to choose blogs in terms of their features and their applicability to a classroom.  She spoke highly of Edublogs for using in high school settings and also for a one’s own educator blog (Note: Edublogs and WordPress are hosted by the same company).  And she gave suggestions for blogging sites for teachers who want to use blogs with their elementary students. You find many of them through her blog and a wiki on Wikispaces created by Support Blogging.com.

One caveat that she mentioned in educating students about blogs and other web-based tools is not to fall into thinking that students are natives to all of this technology (I discussed this in my last blog).  Although they may have more digital experience with certain technology applications, they do not know all of them.  Janni cautioned us to break down the steps involved in using these tools and to incorporate many of the excellent videos available free on the web that teach students (and us) about these tools accurately and sensibly.

Thank you, Janni Black, you gave me lots to ponder, and I look forward to learning more.

Focus on learning how to learn

Today as I was reading some of Jeff Utecht’s blog called The Thinking Stick, I came upon a concept that is central to what I am doing in my investigation of my own learning about Web 2.0.  While commenting about a conference he attended (or spoke at), he hoped that participants would leave the conference with at least 2 important ways of thinking.  One, that “learning happens through connections,” and secondly, that it is important for educators to focus on how they learn how to learn (not just how their students learn how to learn).  Since this blog is focusing on how I am learning about web-based tools, I find that I think about my own learning a great deal.  One thing I realize is that I need a gatekeeper of sorts – a guide, a coach, a support person (or persons) who stay in the background until I need them.  Sometimes a one sentence statement by a coach can eliminate hours of moving in circles.  One person that has become by guide or gatekeeper is Mary Glackin who works in IT at my institution.  She continues to give me valuable support when I ask for it.  And, that has helped to alleviate some of the frustration of feeling like I am going-it-alone despite the zillions of online contributors who communicate about these web 2.0 tools in blogs, wikis, and videos.  I feel assured knowing that Mary is just a phone call or email away.  Does that mean I am an old-style learner who needs a real person to connect with in a live environment?  Or, am I just not experience enough with these tools to know how to access them in ways that can be real?  Maybe both.  I guess I will find out more as I continue.

Advice from Bloggers Cafe

I have been trying to begin this blog for a few weeks now.  Each day I expect to begin, but I don’t.  Often times I get so caught up going from one blog to another (or just following links) and learning tons through reading them, that I just don’t get to writing mine.  I admire the experienced bloggers as well as the novices for taking the leap.  So, now it is my turn.  Reading the July 2008 edition of the Bloggers Cafe by Doug Johnson in Learning and Leading with Technology (an ISTE publication) gave me a push in the right direction.  He said “Every educator should blog.”  While I’m not sure that every educator should, I know that this educator has been on the fence for too long.  So, I am taking his advice at the end of the article “Blog, fellow educators” and beginning today.


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