Thing 17 / itunes

After searching the itunes Store, I decided to  preview the Martha Stewart Craftstudio podcast, as I have always found her fascinating.  The information she presented about paper crafting and design was interesting and relevant to my hobby, which is origami.  I decided to subscribe to this podcast, as the updates will help with my designs.

My second foray was into the world of education, where I viewed CNN Student News and promptly subscribed to it.  The news was delivered in a succinct and relevant way and, of course, the newscasters are well-spoken and personable.  My thought is that this is a site I would like to expose students to for a few minutes, several times a week.  The reasons are these:  (1) exposure to the larger world forces students to realize that their concerns are not the only things of importance; (2) the quality of writing is something students would do well to emulate; and, (3) the clarity of delivery by the newscasters is also a skill students would benefit from seeing.

Thing 16 / Classroom 2.0

The most amazing thing about Classroom 2.0 is the obvious, but it bears repeating – the amount of information now available at one’s fingertips is almost incomprehensible.  That point hits home with me every time I tell an  English class that William Shakespeare’s only two books while in school were the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer!

Obviously, there are a multiplicity of worthwhile discussions / resources of value on this site.  One in particular is the Connecting for Language Learners group, which offers the opportunity to connect with educators from around the globe.  Amplifying on that concept is a free site ( that sets up a global exchange for projects of any sort.  Because I teach English, I am interested in doing a story share.  Once I convey the country / region I am interested in, this site will find a partner.  I am excited to introduce this to my students in the Fall, as it will enhance cultural awareness and the sense that it is truly “one world”.

Thing 15/Diigo

Initially, my exploration of diigo was intimidating.   It is a site I had never used and highlighting/tagging etc. is a bit arcane for me (the quintessential digital immigrant).  However, I conquered most of my fears and accomplished the required tasks.

I was impressed by the ease of access to numerous information avenues, as well as the ease of categorization of same.  My students will benefit from knowledge of this  site because it will accelerate a research/learning curve on assigned projects which mandate use of it.  Also, once you become accustomed to it, the site is very user friendly.  On a personal level, I learned about the Irish ground rent situation in County Mayo, Ireland – which was impossible to find on my regular search engine.

Thing 14/Google Reader Reading

In his well-written and thought-provoking blog, How to Engage Active Learners Jeff Dunn makes the case for engaging active learners with whatever “resonates” with them, whether it’s ipads, IWBs, or flipped classrooms,etc.  His pitch becomes more compelling as he describes the summer activities of students, which involve constant activity and engagement [emph. suppl.].  He follows that concept with another visual – those students suddenly transported to a traditional, slow-moving classroom where they would quickly become distracted, distanced and disengaged.

Dunn further cautions that in working with digital natives, the trick is not to become attached to one method.  There are many options available and more on the horizon.  As all active learners are different but for their eagerness to learn, the wise teacher will employ all the available tools to keep the fires of educational enthusiasm burning.

Thing 12/Creating a Slideshow

The slideshow I created is called European Castles and depicts some found in Western Europe; most are still standing.  I find the concept of safety behind stone walls intriguing, as it seems mankind has not progressed much since those times.  Perhaps we should all be living in structures such as these!

European Castles on PhotoPeach

Thing 11/Castles*creative*+AND+NOT+europeana_rights%3A*nd*

The theme I chose for my Flickr project was European castles.  As I perused the options I learned that the array of choices on this site is almost limitless!  It was fascinating to jump from Chantilly Castle in France to the ruins of Chinchon in Spain; an encyclopedia foray on the topic would have taken several books and much searching.  There is no doubt that I will incorporate Flickr both as a means of organizing and backing up my photos and exposing students to the many options they have to illustrate papers, create “posters”, etc. on this website.


Thing13 /is ds 106 Education or Damnation

The K12 Online Conference is the forum for “The World’s Craziest Educational Videos Featuring ds 106”, which is an online storytelling community.  Specifically, it’s a college course that offers no credits and is free to participate in online.  It started as a grand idea – all participants procured their own website, domain and webposts and then all the links were syndicated into the ds 106 website.  The advantages are that it is a visible community that is subscribed to via e-mail.  There are no assignments per se; rather, topics/categories are chosen and people submit their own assignments based on that.

What I learned from viewing the ds 106 materials was an astounding concept – people can become emboldened and confident enough in a community of active learners to make mistakes while learning in public.  The technical support and inspiration that the participants give each other in order to bring projects to completion are attributes that I will encourage in my classrooms, because collaborative learning is an opportunity for everyone to contribute and expand knowledge.  Also, the idea of “create your own assignment” based on certain parameters would undoubtedly encourage greater participation from reluctant students.

Finally, the concept of “online anytime” delivery is user friendly – people with varied schedules and demands are able to participate at the time most convenient for them.  All in all, ds 106 is another demonstration of creative approaches to learning which seem unnerving at first, but ultimately are recognized as legitimate facets of the lifelong educational process.

Thing 10

Upon exploring Creative Commons and its concept of non-comprehensive copyrighting, I was further enlightened by the materials found at OER Commons.  In particular, the information found at “ABCs by the week” prompted me to consider the question, “Who owns your teaching materials”?

The teachers who created the ABCs lesson supply all aspects of their lesson planning, strategies and activities, i.e., learning outcomes, teacher planning, materials and activities.  It is so complete that any teacher could easily transfer his/her materials into a complete, ongoing unit lesson plan – voila!  The question then becomes, is one permitted to do so?  or is the publishing of that information simply meant to be inspirational – not copied in toto?

Fortunately, Creative Commons has implemented a tool which allows the producer of an idea, concept, etc. to specify how much access a viewer has to his/her works.  The blanket limitations of copyright law do not apply.

It then becomes incumbent upon the user to honor those limitations.  Further, in a classroom setting, the teacher has a moral obligation to inform students that these issues must be noted and followed, in order for the collaborative aspects of the learning experience to be both enriching and fairly done.

Thing 8 / Stretch

In response to the directive to look at a wiki topic and analyze it relevant to its validity, completeness and quality of writing, I viewed the information about Moore Hall, Carnacon, County Mayo, Ireland and found it to be both valid and quite comprehensive.  In addition, the quality of writing was above average.

The source of my knowledge is family history – Moore Hall was my Gran’s home before it was burned down in 1923, for complex political reasons.  I did learn a few things I was unaware of, however, including the fact that Maurice Moore’s position as Ambassador to South Africa, which evidenced collaboration with the English, was implicated as the incentive for the act of arson which destroyed the Georgian mansion.  This experience on Wikipedia reinforced my earlier determination that it is a valuable for quick exposure to a topic, although one may have to look elsewhere to validate the accuracy and completeness of the information.

Thing 8 / Part 1 /Education via Wiki

This blog briefly discusses the pertinent aspects of two educational wiki projects I explored.  The aspects I focused on were organization, content, tools used and learning outcomes vis-a-vis where is the learning, the bling vs. bang ratio and what, if anything, I would change.

The TMHS Climate Change Debate is a high school project that focuses on global warming.  It’s organization incorporates a four-part breakdown: 1) explanation of purpose; 2) directions to students;3) areas of inquiry; and, 4) lists of teams involved in the debate.  The content is composed of the fruits of the students’ participation which is not limited to debates, but involves research, taking positions, developing action plans and database information about relevant online resources.  Additional relevant sources/tools are accessed with links to the sites.  Finally, the learning outcomes are achieved by student collaboration with team members in exploring sources of information and creating pages for the project based on the critieria noted above.

The bang heavily outweighs the bling here.  Although the internet component is always alluring for students, the emphasis on solid research and writing skills is paramount.  I would change nothing about this project.

The Code Blue wiki project, which is a sixth-grade site focused on medical issues, also has a straightforward organizational breakdown – it lists relevant websites dealing with general areas of medicine and more specialized topics.  The specific content of the websites listed is related to Body Systems (nervous, respiratory, etc., public health issues and General Resources).  There are also various clinics listed by name, with links to specialists and patients at that particular clinic.

The tools utilized in this project are the various websites organized by category and clinic “blocks” which give relevant information about said clinic.  The learning occurs through the students’ exposure to various medical specialities and areas as explained on the websites.  That general knowledge is expanded and made personal through the clinic links, which contain profiles about/letters from doctors and patients who work at/are treated at that clinic.

This project, like the Climate Change project, delivers more bang than bling.  The students are exposed to very informative sites dealing with various medical topics (although via the Internet, not from a book).  The personal touch conveyed by the stories of the relevant practitioners and patients fleshes out the general knowledge gleaned from the readings and makes it both more interesting and more easily remembered.  This is another project that requires no changes – the relevant information is conveyed in both a scholarly and personal way that makes it accessible to the grade level it seeks to reach.

* Insofar as my idea for personal wiki use, I would be interested in a project that discusses remaining health conscious (through proper nutrition, exercise, adequate sleep, etc.), in the midst of endless work and family obligations.