Friday, February 29, 2008

Podcasts & iPods for instruction

I hosted a podcasting/Garageband class last night here @ SHHS, and for me, in continued to prove that iPods in the classroom should be much more the rule than the exception. While I think people were able to try Garageband & see what it could do, I think that the power of the class was in looking at what you can do with an iPod in the classroom with kids . That's what got people talking.
On a policy note, someone asked about whether or not administration would be okay with seeing iPods in an instructional setting. My answer was that if it is clearly being used for learning, I didn't feel that our ad team would have a problem with it. But boy, I hope I'm right. Now that I think about it, I asked Jeannine about this idea but not the other administrators. If it gets kids engaged, why wouldn't we capitalize on that?Honestly, I'm not sure I did a very good job in explaining what makes a podcast a podcast. My hope was to have people create a podcast in the class setting so that I could upload it to the district's server. It's that RSS feed that makes it "subscribable," but that's hard to demonstrate without actually showing it. Luckily, one of participants made a great little podcast sample, and I was able to upload it this morning. It was a canned script that I made for the class, but she did a great job with it! I was pleased.

So, thanks to those who came last night. It's just so hard to hang in there after a full day, but I'm hope there was something useful. If nothing else, I got a sample podcast to upload & test out! Thanks, Angela!

* This post was originally published on the Smoky Hill Blogosphere blog before the move to Blogger.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Seeing your stuff online - whoa. . .

As the web "master" as SHHS, I am used to seeing content that I put together online. That being said, what is posted on the website isn't my voice but rather a reflection of information deemed important, usually in the words of others. There is really something powerful, though, in seeing your thoughts online, which is so clearly evident in the blogging tool.

Here's an example of this power: my husband, not a techie at all, is absolutely passionate about music. He recently bought an album from iTunes from someone I've never heard of (do we still call it an album? what is the correct vocabulary term?). He decided to post a comment/review on iTunes about this artist -- Gary Louris, for those who may be interested. He could not get over the idea that his review was ON iTUNES!!! We have probably visited that album's reviews on iTunes at least 4 times since he posted, just because it is a thrill to see his stuff published. He has even called friends/relatives to have them go online to see his review. Did I mention that he is not a techie?

Seeing his enthusiasm made me think about something I heard/saw Alan November say on one of his vodasts: kids are social creatures, and they like seeing their work in a social context. They will revise & revise to make sure it is "good." (FYI: this is not a direct quotation, but rather a summation of what I took from his presentation.) If my husband was excited to see his writing online, how would a student feel? Would a student feel the same passion & enthusiasm?

Why am I just now seeing that this could be such a great tool with students? How can I pass along the power of this tool to teachers who are willing but aren't armed with time? And how does this type of writing support our writing goals?

My hope is that if my own blogging experience is indicative of some kind of natural progression, I can encourage teachers to commit to blogging just for their own thinking and maybe they'll have a similar a-ha moment. Maybe.

* This post was originally published on the Smoky Hill Blogosphere blog before the move to Blogger.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I think we should look at other things . . .

. . . that also fit writing. One thing I like about the wiki is the option to have something collaborative. However, given that you can't have more than 1 person editing a page at a time, it is difficult to apply in the confines of a classroom setting.

Well, stop the WordPress. Just after I'd typed this blog entry, I read a cool idea for using wikis on David Warlick's blog . He referred to a teacher who was using a wiki for multiple drafts of a piece of writing. I thought this was a great idea - and I wondered why the heck I hadn't thought about that application. Since you can see the "history" of a page, what a great way to teach revision & peer editing. I'll have to try that . . . someday.

GoogleDocs is cool, too, but it's yet another tool that I just haven't had a chance to a implement for myself.

My other question is about using other blogging servers, like EduBlog or blogspot or blogger. Do those tools have some options that might be a better fit?

And where does Blackboard fit? I think I like the discussion feature in terms of layout more, but Bb can be daunting to a user. I don't think it's intuitive. If you were only going to use the discussion feature, it would make things easier. But if it's not public (ever), doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of a blog?

* This post was originally published on the Smoky Hill Blogosphere blog before the move to Blogger.

This time of year (February) is always lame

* This post was originally published on the Smoky Hill Blogosphere blog before the move to Blogger.

So, here I am. It's after President's Day weekend, and I always feel my energy draining at this point in the year. It doesn't help that we have been short-staffed for technology support at school, but I think that I feel low every year at this time. Just me? Maybe, but I don't think so.

So what I'm thinking is that I need to design something "innovative" for myself every year at this time. Maybe it's trying to use something I haven't had a chance to explore. I have been talking about blogs, even training people on how to use them, but I have not yet used them myself on a consistent basis. And that is going to be my chosen tool for this year.

My goal: I'm going to try to post something on my blog at least weekly and see what it's like. I need to get a firm grasp, for myself, on how these technologies can change instruction. How does a wiki differ from a blog? Why would a blog be a good tool and for what? Should we be encouraging kids to create their own or should we start with them commenting on a post? If they do create their own, what things do we need to consider in terms of public access?

Hopefully, by the time I begin seriously working with our English 9 and English 10 teachers, I'll be able to speak to using blogs with a bit more comfort and expertise. We'll see . . .