What’s Up?

k12badge.jpg Well in about 9 hours according to my clock, from when I am writing this, my keynote for the K12 online Conference will be posted. I was chosen to keynote the “Obstacles to Opportunities” strand. I hope what I put together is useful. I ended up making my focus examples of what my students have done the last few years, with an eye to making a case to those that haven’t used technology as a learning tool … much. You’ll note I kind of “hammed it up” accordingly. Give me feedback … but be kind. : )

Working on my Keynote took a lot of the thinking that I usually put into my blogging, but it isn’t the only reason I haven’t been blogging as much or as thoughtfully of late. I’m really trying to do things differently this year … not just doing the same old stuff but with technology … and I have been somewhat successful, but it takes more thought and planning to do school this way. I don’t exactly have a road map for this, and maybe more importantly, I don’t have other teachers at my school site that are doing this with me to help work and think through this … to “draft off of” so to speak. On the other hand I do have my network here and on Twitter that help more than I know, and I plan on accessing their (Your) expertise more now that we are really off-and-running since my class size was reduced (from 33 to 26) and we all have laptops again. All of this has conspired to cut down on my blogging, but I suspect will give me much to blog about as we progress. Actually I have a list of blog topics to write about which is unusual for me, I typically blog on something soon after I get the idea.

One of the issues I’m dealing with right now is how to do things differently when faced with mandatory curriculum programs that don’t lend themselves to “doing things differently”. Instead I take time to think through how to do “the program” while at the same time trying to approach it and evaluate student learning differently … but still “do the program”. On top of that is the pressure of not wanting to mess up this opportunity. Not many teachers get to do this (1:1 laptops and blogs and wikis and more with “at risk” students – more than 90% of my students receive free lunch, and some get 3 meals a day at school)… although I’m kind of hanging out here on my own. I’m doing this “at my own risk” which adds to the pressure. On the other hand it is very invigorating and I’m mostly having a blast … my family doesn’t have my attention like they deserve, but I’m re-learning how to do a better job there too. And so far I’m not feeling stressed out and I think that is a good sign because I have been very busy.

I think too that Twitter is to blame somewhat for fewer blog posts. I find I sometimes will “Twit” something that happened that day, or something I read about or saw … i plan to blog about it in more detail … but somehow my “NEED” to blog about it is dissipated by the fact that I Twittered it and the blog post doesn’t happen. Although that may seem like a reason to stop Twittering I find the ability to ask for info … and knowing what others are up to and issues and celebrations they are experiencing right now to be both invaluable and addictive … um … but in a good way addictive … mostly.

I’m really pushing my students hard right now to be more critical and careful of their written work … and we are doing that with blogging. I can tell that there is a “gap” between what they already have the ability to do and what they are putting out generally. In other words, like I tell them … you aren’t going to catch the mistakes you don’t know are mistakes, but you can catch the mistakes you do know about – capitalizing the first word in a sentence, grammar, spelling (“you spelled “there” 6 times correctly – then you misspelled it here and here”), and it is paying off. They really are trying harder because the work will be published. Right now they are kind of the “Not Ready For Prime Time Writers”, but they are already doing much better …can we sustain that progress? Is blogging and other forms of publishing going to help us get there? Stay tuned and find out.

Well with interruptions in writing this it is now only 7 hours before my keynote goes live … so again be critical, but be kind.

Learning is messy!

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5 thoughts on “What’s Up?

  1. It was an inspiration to watch your video. You have a lot of ideas, thanks for sharing.
    There are obstacles that we have to deal with. For example, no computers in the classroom or the mandatory curriculum but I think the most important thing is to try and give technology an opportunity.

    Thanks again 🙂

  2. you aren’t going to catch the mistakes you don’t know are mistakes, but you can catch the mistakes you do know about

    This is a great statement. What this says is, “don’t be lazy!” Fix what you know is wrong.

    can we sustain that progress? Is blogging and other forms of publishing going to help us get there?

    YES. At the bottom of this tool for me is the fact that blogging gives the students an audience. That automatically increases engagement. Thanks for pointing out this simple fact. The more they write, the better they write. Weblogs are also a great way to organize student writing. I read every word my students write on their weblogs. Strictly as a writing tool, blogs are amazing to use with students for this reason alone.

  3. I’m about to look at your keynote tonight.

    Can I suggest something? Maybe if you blog about what your trying to do, you can get feedback that way? The problem with twittering is that it’s great for quick answers (how do I do an audio hookup for x.y.z) but not necessarily for more nuanced discussions around pedagogy. I find the feedback I get on my teaching reflections helpful.

  4. Hi, I just watched your keynote and got all excited about the possibilities out there. A quick question, did you get your parents permission to put the kids photos online or in the videos or did you just do it?

  5. Jim – I always get my students’ parents to sign a release at the beginning of the year. My school district has one on the district web page and I modify it slightly (http://www.washoe.k12.nv.us/intranet/forms/pdfs/mediareleaseform.pdf). Then I write a letter to the parents that I copy on the back of the release explaining what kind of work we will be doing (Photo, digital video, wikis, etc.) and why we do it … what it has to do with the curriculum. That way even if a student moves during a project (if their work or image is on the project and no release it can’t be published … and what if you can’t get ahold of them? Lots of disapointed students) we can still use their work. On one video we made I never had more than 26 students in my class at a time, but I had so many changes in my room during the 7 weeks we spent on it that 33 students are in the video.