Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teaching in the 21st Century: Digital Media

How do we use technology to change (improve?) teaching and learning?  First, we must recognize that our students are social and learn collaboratively.  They are used to creating content online, not just consuming content.  How do we use this to our advantage in the classroom?  And more importantly how do we focus on the content and not the technology?  The technology should be invisible.

A few summers ago I had an opportunity to attend a workshop by Sara Kajder and she always put the majority of the instruction on the content/product and let students figure out the technology to get there.  For example, if students are creating a digital story.  They spend 3-5 days drafting and creating their story.  They spend one day finding the images and creating the final digital product.  That way the focus is on process, not product.

This video was quite interesting:

I want to allow options for students to work together and share their thinking and learning while using technology – to be producers of content.  Maybe this is a wiki, or a blog, or a podcast…it could work with practically any technology.  I just want the focus to be on collaborating and sharing their learning.  By working together, individual expertise becomes collective expertise through interaction with peers and/or community members.  Digital media allows guided, real-time experiences like location/placed-based learning.

“Digital media is changing the ecology of reading and writing.” – James Gee

What are some ways you do this in your classroom?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Ginny’s adventure continues when she gets notification that the last (lost in Greece) letter has been found.  She returns to London to retrieve the 13th envelope and follow Aunt Peg’s final instructions.  The journey continues with Keith, the love interest in the first book, and a new young man, Oliver, who found the lost letter.  When Oliver seems to be less than kind, Keith agrees to join Ginny in completing the tasks for the final letter.   Not sure if a third book in the series is planned, but the author definitely leaves the ending open for another book.

  Themes:  identity, friendship/relationships, discovery

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Some say just before death your life flashes before your eyes.  Others see a bright light in their final moments.  High school senior Samantha Kingston gets to pay more attention than most as she relives her final day over and over again.  Sam’s life ends in a car accident after a party one Friday night in February.  However, the next morning she awakes to discover that she’s reliving February 12 again.  What will she do differently?  How will she change her actions?  Will these changes impact the outcome of her life and the lives of those around her?  I did get bogged down in the middle of this book, but greatly appreciated the journey Sam took to her final day(s).

Has some profanity and alludes to sexual situations – more appropriate for high school readers.

Themes:  relationships, death, bullying, redemption, forgiveness

Friday, July 1, 2011

Goals: Update

Wow, can you believe that one half of 2011, is over?!  Or, I could say that only one half of 2011 remains.  Touché.  It’s time to do a goals progress update and see how I’m doing.

  1. Get published.
Rejected.  Again.  In the fall of 2010, we were rejected by ASCD’s Educational Leadership.  Now we’ve been rejected by NCTE’s Language Arts.  It’s back to the drawing board for a major rewrite and/or to find another journal for publication consideration.  I’ll admit I feel a little stalled at this point.

  1. Read more books.  (Goal of 50 in 2011)
To date, I have read ­­­­­­­­­­­­­35 books.  That’s an average of 5.8 books per month.  If I keep up this pace, I’ll read 70 books this year, which well exceeds my goal.  Granted, six of these books were picture books, but even if you subtract those from the list, I’ve read 29 and that’s over half-way to my goal of 50.

  1. Blog more often.  (Goal of three times per month)
            I knocked this one out of the park!  Whoot!
April = 4 posts
May = 9 posts
June = 7 posts
That’s an average of 6.67 per month!  I have exceeded the standard.

I've never been one to write down my goals (personal or professional), but having something written does allow me to revisit and reevaluate periodically.