Archive for June 2007

My Life Doesn’t Revolve Around My Blog…

June 25, 2007

I know… I know… it has been 14 days since I last posted here, and honestly, I have had the time, but I have just been taking a break.  I opened my Netvibes for the first time in about a week and a half and was beaten down by all of the interesting stuff I have been missing out on, but it is okay… I will catch up eventually.  I have been working in the yard, going to the gym and reading (a lot), and I have enjoyed my little respite from the blogosphere.

I have also been working on the planning of my English III course for next year.  I started this nifty little wiki to help me plan.  I am also working cooperatively with a US History teacher on my campus so we can hopefully help our students see the connections between US History and American Literature.  He has a nifty little planning wiki too.

Right now, I am just outlining what we will be reading and such, but I hope to start creating my Blackboard course soon with specific units and assignments.  As I work on specific assignments, I would LOVE some input from you.  I would like to incorporate blogs, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, digital storytelling and other web 2.0 tools somewhat seamlessly in my course next year.  I would also really like to participate in some book studies and/or collaborative projects with students in other school districts, states, and/or countries… anyone interested?  Another goal I have is to have students keep an electronic portfolio of their best work, refelctions, etc.  Please share your ideas with me about how you have incorporated these tools in your classroom and how I might want to use them in mine.  What has worked well?  What hasn’t? Help! Please?

Teaching “New” Media Literacy to Students

June 10, 2007

I have subscribed to the Mediashift blog since I began my Netvibes account over a year ago. I enjoy the read and am interested in the idea of how mainstream media is changing with the ever increasing popularity of Youtube, social networking and the likes.  And my interest was highly piqued with a recent article entitled New Media Literacy as Important for Educators as Students.

In the article, Mark Glaser, the blog’s author, discusses what he “took away” from the Media: Overseas Conversations IV conference he recently attended, and surprisingly, most of the topics Mr. Glaser discusses have to do with education’s role in media.

“But with the rise of new media, perhaps the focus of media literacy education should shift to educating the educators — and other adults — about blogs, podcasts, social networking, mobile content and virtual worlds. That way, adults could relate better to students and help them understand the world in which they are digital natives.”

I definitely agree with Mr. Glaser’s thoughts.  Educators need to be trained about what these new technologies and media outlets are and how they impact the lives of their students.  Media is no longer just the nightly news on the television or the Sunday newspaper as it was when many educators were young.  Students today access media in an ever increasing variety of ways. 

If you are an educator or student I suggest giving his blog post a look and then taking a few minutes to reflect upon the questions he asks in the article.

Below are my thoughts on some of the questions Mr. Glaser poses.

Should media literacy classes be required in schools? Ideally media literacy  should be “taught” in all classes as students research topics, keep up-to-date with the news, create digital stories, etc.  The problem lies in educating the adults in the classroom about the “new” media and technology.  Educators need to understand the relevance and importance of teaching students how to navigate and validate these new sources, and then they must be given TIME to teach students what they have learned; the “curriculum” is already stuffed full of information being “tested” and unfortunately many teachers feel unable to allocate any time to teaching anything not on “the test.” 

Oh, and teachers also need to be okay with giving up a little bit of control and allowing students to teach them every once and awhile. 

What’s the best way for teachers and students to learn about new media in a collaborative way?  I think the best way for teachers and students to learn about new media (and new technologies) is to explore them together and discuss.  At the onset, students may seem to be more knowledgeable about the “new” media than the teachers, and that is okay.  I would venture to guess that most students feel more comfortable in the digital realm than many of their teachers.  And although students may know how to access the media, they do not always know what to do with it. The teacher’s role should be to guide students in questioning, reflecting, synthesizing and validating what they find.

I have shared my thoughts.  What do YOU think?

Apparently June is National Internet Safety Month

June 7, 2007

Who knew? 

 Here are some related resources you might want to check out.

Death by PowerPoint

June 7, 2007

I saw this video posted over on CoolCatTeacher and thought I would share it here too.  It made me laugh! 🙂 Enjoy!

KIVA

June 3, 2007

When I was on the treadmill at the gym today, I watched a little CNN and was specifically intrigued by a segment on CNN Heroes.  The segment I saw discussed how Matt and Jessica Flannery created Kiva as way to connect entrepreneurs in developing countries with lenders all over the world.

According to the Kiva website, “Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you’ve sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.”

It makes sense to me, so I think I am going to give it a try; I will update you as I receive information on the loan I give. 

If you want to get involved, you can lend as little as $25.00 or as much as you would like, and you can choose specifically whose venture you would like to contribute too.  Pretty cool!  They also have a blog in case you want to check it out. 

What a Difference Time Makes

June 3, 2007

Yesterday was graduation for our campus.  I attended the ceremony, and like every year, was a line leader to guide seniors to their seats and direct them when and where to walk. As a line leader, I have the privilege of being in the “staging area” with the seniors as they get ready for commencement to begin.

Last night as I listened to the conversations and watched the interactions, I couldn’t help but remember these seniors when I first met them… as freshmen.  It is amazing the change many of them have made from uncontrolled, immature kids to self-possessed, responsible young adults.

As I listened to the speeches given by our Salutatorian and Valedictorian, I was greatly impressed with the accomplishments these two young ladies have already attained.  Both young ladies discussed how they overcame obstacles (such as coming to this country and learning English) with hard-work, perseverance and support from their families, and both advised their fellow classmates to remember their past but to look towards their future.

After the seniors picked up their diplomas, I walked amongst the crowd and visited with former students – students I taught last year and students I taught eight years ago when I first began my career.  It was amazing to see how much they have changed in such a short period of time.  And although they were not all the “best” students, they are all doing something positive now: attending community college, attending universities, working as a diesel mechanic, working at FedEx. 

As a teacher, we hope for the best when students leave our classroom, but it is assuring to see them doing well and making responsible choices.  When the “class clown” or the “thug” is trying my nerves next year, I am going to try to envision them a few years down the road and hopefully this thought will be enough to help me hold on to my sanity. 🙂

So, as our graduates go out into the world, I have a few wishes for them…

I hope…

  • when you fall, you get back up and persevere
  • when you make a bad choice, you learn from it and move forward
  • you find success and happiness
  • you look for the good in people
  • you remember where you come from when you make it big
  • you never stop learning
  • you give back more than you take
  • you love
  • you attain your dreams, however big or small they are
  • you listen to your heart as well as your head
  • you remember your teachers

Good luck to all of you.  I am proud of you!