Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

This last week, I posted a poem for my students to read outside of class that went along with an assignment. The next morning when I arrived at school, there was a gaggle of anxious freshmen standing at my door (gaggle is the only word I could think of to describe them). While working in the school computer lab, they were unable to access the poem I had posted. I told them they must be doing something wrong because I added the poem to the blog at the school with my school computer. It works on the same system as those in the lab.

However, when I went into the the lab and looked at what was happening, the site was definitely blocked. I went to my computer and it was not. The school filter was obviously blocking the site for students and not for teachers.

I would like to say that this was the first time this has happened to me. Sure, I could cuss the web filter and maybe even cry and scream, but in the end, this will do me no good. I didn’t check to see if the site was unblocked. I just assumed that it was.

If you haven’t picked it up yet, here’s some advice for teachers using blogs: check to make sure that links on sites work under a student log in. It will save you, and especially the students, a bunch of headache in the future.


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Last week, I had an interesting conversation with several classes that I teach. My Juniors wrote an essay on a prompt that basically asked them if it was fair for admission offices at universities and colleges to weigh their applications based on content found in Myspace pages and Facebook profiles. I was surprised by the results.

Overwhelmingly, the majority of students felt that it was inappropriate for colleges to view their profiles or pages. Phrases like “invasion of privacy” and “they have no business” were found in almost every essay that I read. Many students wrote about how the theses pages are private places, only meant for friends and only meant for the eyes of those they want to see. Some students were downright angry that this kind of stuff was happening in schools. There were so many students who wrote along this vane, I was both surprised and a little scared. This was the mindset of the students when they posted information to their profile: whatever they posted was private.

After they wrote the essay, we had a class discussion about the topic. I was hoping to turn this into a positive teaching opportunity. I told students that whether they liked it or not, colleges were going to do this. These places where students spend numerous hours posting, chatting, liking and commenting are not private spaces at all, not even close. Instead, they are very public by nature. Most students didn’t realize that by signing up for a Facebook account and accepting the terms and condition, they pretty much sign over the rights of everything they post, or even say, to Facebook to whatever with however they want.

The most interesting thing about this whole conversation was that the students still felt like the whole thing was wrong. I don’t think they totally bought into what I was telling them. They still argued up and down that it was wrong for schools to use Facebook and Myspace as a determiner for college admittance.

They just don’t get it. This scares me a little. In their minds, whatever they do on the web is their business. The problem with this kind of thinking is that, to use a classic cliche, nothing could be further from the truth.


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With a new school year starting, teachers naturally make goals in hopes of becoming a more effective educator. With all of the talk about using technology in the classroom, many of these goals probably revolve around implementing tech into instruction. There are numerous ways to do this. Rather than try and cover them all in one  blog post, I thought I would make a list of what not to do with the technology. Don’t get me wrong, the activities I am going to list here are not necessarily bad, but I am not sure they constitute using technology to enhance instruction. A few of them might be considered torture.

1. Showing movies with the projector is not using technology effectively.

2. Using the interactive whiteboard just like you used to use the chalk board is not using technology effectively.

3. Having students print pictures from Google images to paste onto a poster is not using technology effectively.

4. Using PowerPoint or the document camera as a means for students to copy notes is not using technology effectively.

5. Having students copy notes from an overhead projector should be considered a crime and is definitely not an effective use of technology.

This is just a start. Let me know in the comments how tech should not be used in the classroom.


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This morning, I was watching CNN Student News with my 7th grade class. In the episode today, there was a story about the International Space Station. One of the students asked, “There’s a space station with people living in it?”

I looked at him kind of funny and thought,  “like what do you mean, there’s a space station up there with people in it. Of course there is!”

He wasn’t joking, and he wasn’t the only one who had never heard of the space station. I don’t think any of the students had any knowledge of the space station.

This presented a great opportunity to show how the internet can be used as a tool for learning, and not just to find book sense, standardized test knowledge. All too often this is what we force students to use the internet for; the task has to be tied to a standard and learning that can be measured. I am not saying that this is all bad. I’m not bashing the state standards here, but I do think that sometimes in the focus of what we “should be learning”, we forget about the wonderful world of knowledge that is at our fingertips. From my experiences, most students have no idea.

When a students asks a question in class, modeling the use of Google (or any other search engine) is an excellent way to teach students the powerful nature of the tool. It’s a little scary to do this in front of a class. Every once in a while, a page description or picture will pop up that makes the teacher a bit uncomfortable, but that is what is going to happen when students are working on their own. Honestly, not much can shock students, especially once they hit middle school, so don’t panic and show students how to find what you want. Ignore the junk. That is an important lesson all in itself.

Today, we Googled a few different search terms and ran across NASA’s site for the International Space Station. There were several short videos and a slew of pictures showing what happened there. For about fifteen minutes, we surfed through links and videos. We shared observations and feelings, what was cool and what would be weird or scary. All of us in the classroom learned.

This was learning in it’s purest form: Exploration of the world around us for the sake of expanding our minds.





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I think it on a daily basis, something along the lines of I sure wish those kids would just leave their phones in their pockets for just a few minutes. I’ll even admit downright irritation when trying to give the directions for an assignment and a student is slyly texting under the desk. There is a time and place for technology. I wanted to write, “There is a definite time and place for technology,” but then I changed the sentence. Here is the reason, and much of it has to do with a recent article I read about the speech Adora Svitek gave at the recent Mashable Connect.

Before reading any further, if you haven’t heard of Adora Svitek, watch her TED Talk. This girl is amazing. From an early age, she has been educating adults on what the younger generations have to offer the world.

At the Mashable Connect, Adora talked about how youth are much more engaged in the world around them  because they are no longer spectators of what is happening in the world but are participants in a global community. To see more of what she has to say, go to Mashable, read the article and watch the video. She makes sense.

I really like this idea of teenagers being participants rather than mere observers. In the past thirty years (and I am sure we could find the numbers to show this) people spent a great deal of time sitting around watching television. They were observers of a creative world  where anything could and does happen. Watching television is purely an observation activity, so much so that the brain function is greatly lowered during the activity.

This is not so much the case in the tech charged world of today. I would be wrong to say that teenagers don’t still spend a lot of time in front of the 56 inch flat screen at night. I know they do, but unlike their parents, that is not all teens are doing while watching TV. While watching television, they may be engaged in a chat room discussion about the show or updating their Facebook status. Assuredly, most students will be also texting a number of different people during this time on various topics. This is the point that Svitek makes in her talk. To those who do not know how to text, or update a Facebook, or talk in a chat room, these activities look quite distracting and unrelated, but in all reality, they might be quite closely related. Svitek is trying to show that teens are not distracted, but engaged in the world around them.

This might very well be the case for a classroom where students are allowed to text, tweet, and update during class.

As a teacher, this is still a little hard to think about and accept. However, I think it merits some serious thought. Just think of the possibilities for a teacher who can learn to harness the power of all these different modes of communication and thinking. In my mind, there is more and more validity in using the tools students use in their everyday life.



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A year and a half ago, I worked with a group of 7th grade students to submit video for the One Day On Earth Project. Basically, people from around the world shot video to show what was happening in their lives on 10/10/10. The class I worked with had maybe 3 minutes of video that we put together and submitted to the project. Yesterday, I received an email from Mrs. Filo, the teacher of the class, who told me that the video was going to be a part of the final video made from the project. Of the two hundred worldwide first screenings of the film, one of these is going to be held in Fort Morgan, Colorado in the middle school auditorium.

I don’t write this to brag. Okay, maybe a little, but the more I think about this project, the more excited I get to do more of these kinds of projects in the classroom. It’s great that the student video is being used for the final cut, but the project meant a lot more than that to me, and hopefully did to the students involved. They participated in a global project on that day in October. Their video is now a part of a video archive that can always be looked at by future generations.

This is the beauty of the internet. No longer are we stuck in our schools within the confines of our small towns or even big cities, wherever it is we may live. Student have the opportunity to explore, share, and play a role in the global learning network.

However, there is one condition; students need the opportunity. This can only come from open minded administrators, teachers, and parents who dare to take their students there.


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In preparation for an upcoming conference, I have finally compiled all of the fake Facebook (Fakebook) resources I have collected over the last year into one web page. Basically, the page is a compilation of all the blog posts I have written with the added perspective of using the app with several class since my first post about the activity over a year ago. It is still a work in progress, but the page should contain enough different resources for most teachers to give the project a shot in the classroom. The page contains instructions as well as several good examples of what finished pages can look like. A simple rubric is also included. I would appreciate any constructive feedback on the page, especially if something is missing.

Take a look at my Fake Facebook projects in the classroom resource page.



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