Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wiki Wacky

This is how my head is feeling. Starting two new novels and two wikis simultaneously. Students have a choice between The Cay by Theodore Taylor and Esperanza Risng by Pam Munoz. Plus, except for a handful of students, this is their first experience with a wiki. I am laying the groundwork for both wikis over the long weekend. I know I will need "How to" for changing the icon. I am sure this will be their first order of business. Any advice for teaching 2 novels at the same time?

Short, Fast, and Easy

Short, Fast, and Easy...Anyone who knows me knows I am not describing myself. My name is Erica Hartman and I am a 6th grade Language Arts teacher. Like many other Sparta Middle School teachers, I am trying to make it all work in a one computer classroom this year.
Angela said it perfectly in her previous post when she wrote: "The bottom line is this: Times, they are a changin' and if we, as teachers, don't keep up, we will certainly be kept out."
This scares me because as a teacher, we need to be in the loop and this continuous loop that is Web 2.o technology is moving fast. Our priority is to be able to reach and connect with our students. Well, what if you are trying to stay one step ahead of your tech savvy students but find it frustrating to implement your Web 2.0 ideas in your classroom?
Here are four web tools you can use. They are short, fast, easy, and free. You will feel like you are teaching in a 21st century classroom. Your students will think you are tech savvy. All you need is one working computer in your classroom. A Smartboard is a plus, but not a necessity for all of them. I'd be interested to know what you would do with these tools in your classroom.
Voicethread Example

Sometimes it is hard to remember that technology is only one way or gimmick we can use to connect with the digital natives that are our students. Watch this YouTube video and you'll forget about your technology frustrations. In fact, you might be inspired to give a good ol' lecture today.

What would you tell your students today if this were the last day you would ever teach?

This can't all be true, but if it is...

The title of this movie is "A Vision of Students Today." These are obviously college students, but if this is how they feel, I can't imagine what a movie made by our students would look like when they are in college - if they will even set foot on an actual campus. If you don't have time to watch the movie, just read the transcript and if you want, get involved in the conversation.

I have to wonder if the kindergartners of today will ever walk on a college campus. Will my 2 and a half year old daughter ever have to schlep to a 7 am class in her pajamas in a torrential downpour? (I could do with her missing the experience of a frat party.)

There are obvious pros and cons to virtual colleges. In a recent NYT article entitled, "Classroom of the Future is Virtually Anywhere," Joseph Berger interviewed college professors and got some very interesting opinions. The first are about the cons of virtual colleges and univeristies:

Barmak Nassirian of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers wonders what will happen, should campuses go exuberantly online, to the intangibles — the late-night bull sessions, the serendipitous strolls with professors, the chance to feel one’s oats in student government? And what will one more switch to electronic conversation do to our need for intimate human connections, he asks?

Andrew Delbanco, the Columbia humanities professor, said flatly that it would be impossible to put his seminar on war and culture online because “the energy and spontaneity of discussion among people sitting together in a small room cannot be replicated by electronic exchanges."

Dr Duck, who teaches an online course at Penn State notes in her slippers at her dinig room table has different viewpoint:
Dr. Duck, a respected instructor who taught conventionally for nine years and online for five, said she “wouldn’t go back to the classroom if they doubled my salary.” Her work, she thinks, is on the frontier of education in a global economy.

She also points out that online postings are more reasoned and detailed than off-the-cuff classroom observations. Students learn as much from one another’s postings, informed by the real business world, as they do from instructors, they say. And Kevin Krull, a technology executive, pointed out that introverts reluctant to speak up in class can strut their stuff.

In her dining room, her children sometimes pause beside her as she teaches, and she does not shoo them away.

“It’s good for them to see this in action,” she said. “It’s going to be their world.”

Do you think your children or students will have a traditional college/university experience?

How can we prepare them if they won't?

What will they be missing out on if they don't?