Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Wiki Can of Worms!

In my previous MET class, I had the task of creating wikis tailored toward a certain goal.  A digital storytelling kit and a place for 5th graders to collaborate on persuasive writing.  Working on these projects helped me see the power and versatility of a wiki.  Teachers can create an online workspace for their students.  Links to research, video clips, and helpful images are just a few of the elements you can add to create this workspace.  

While I was building my wikis, I looked at a lot of examples to find what I liked-and what I didn't.  What I found was that there are SOO-OO many educational wikis out there!  This wiki link has MANY examples of educational wikis across all grade levels, disciplines, from all over the world.  

Some of the wikis I found had so much information that it was hard to navigate the real purpose, and they seemed more like a class website than a place to collaborate effectively.  Here is one example from a 2nd grade class.  While this wiki is easy to navigate, the collaboration is hard to follow.  Each topic on the sidebar takes you to a taxonomy where it seems the class might have collaborated on ideas, pictures and links, but it is hard to tell.

Another wiki I found was geared towards teen readers.  This wiki has not been updated in a while, but it clearly was a collaborative place for teen readers to share their thoughts on many different genres of reading.  It is not the most visually stimulating, but it hits on some of Vicki Davis' other elements of an effective wiki.  It has a collaborative effort (teens write book talks), the book talks are organized into genre links, some readers provided hyperlinks to outside sources, and contributors were original in their reflections.

I think that wikis certainly have their place in the classroom.  It can be a wonderful way for students and teachers to collaborate, but I don't think it should be confused with a class website.  I think collaboration is the key, and a wiki should clearly show how students have worked together to create the learning space.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

my "take away"

I really enjoyed the introduction to the Literacy 2.0 text.  I highlighted several spots (in my Kindle edition :) and the one that really stood out was this-"The most profound technologies are those that disappear-they weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."  I found myself looking around and thinking about my house.  So many things in it were not even around 50-even 25-years ago.  But now they are so commonplace and I can't imagine my life without them.  Then I thought about my classroom.  And how my experiences as a teacher have totally changed since I had my first group of 3rd graders 15 years ago.  I had a chalkboard and one computer that I shared with the students.  Five years later I moved to my current district and school and thought I moved into a whole new world!  I had a DRY ERASE board, my own computer, and a small set of laptops for students to share.  

Now here I am beginning my 10th year in this district.  I have a Promethean Board in my classroom, and so does everyone else (except 1 teacher) in my building.  And when I say everyone else, it's not really an exaggeration.  In order to get the board, teachers had to attend district-provided training and classes, and create units and lessons as a final project.  SSD teachers, "specials" teachers, even the counselor went through the training and have their boards.  The 1 teacher mentioned earlier is close to retirement and has not fully embraced how technology can impact and change her classroom.  In the end, I really feel sorry for her class and all that they miss out on.  Other technologies that have weaved themselves into the fabric-all teachers in my district now have their own laptop that they take to and from school.  Students from middle school to high school also have their own district-provided laptop that they get to take home.  Second through fifth graders have classroom laptops and kindergarteners and first graders have at least 6 desktop computers per classroom.  Not to mention all of the different types of software we have for teacher and student use.  

When I began teaching 15 years ago, there is no way I could have predicted what my classroom would look like today.  Most likely I will be teaching for another 10-15 years-at least!.  I can only imagine what teaching, the classroom, and students will look like in that time!

intro & expectations

I am so excited to be continuing my journey through the MET program.  The classes have been very informative and valuable so far, and I really enjoy the interaction among classmates.  

In my teaching life, this year I have moved to 1st grade after teaching 3rd grade for 13 of my 14 years.  I am loving the change!  I have a Promethean Board in my classroom.  I love using technology with my class whenever possible, but I find it difficult to incorporate it as much as I would like.  

My expectations from this course would be to see how I can incorporate literacy 2.0 technologies in my first grade classroom.  When you conduct a search on literacy 2.0 or web 2.0 tools, the list of results can be overwhelming.  It's hard not to get lost in links looking for that perfect idea to fit into your classroom.  I look forward to learning from others some of the successes they have had incorporating new tools.  In searching for a link for this assignment, I came across this entry from a McREL blog titled- What's so different about Literacy 2.0?  I thought it was very timely for the topic of this class

In my student life, I am also taking courses from the Library Media Specialist program.  I hope to be my school’s new LTS (Library Technology Specialist) in the near future. Classes from 2 different programs certainly keep my brain busy, but it is interesting to see how the two programs complement each other.  

In my personal life, my husband and I have been together for 15 years and have 2 sons.  Fisher is 6 and just started Kindergarten at my school this year.  Sawyer is 3 1/2 and is quite the character!