Tuesday, April 21, 2009

cross posted at TechLearning.com

This is the perfect letter that we are all waiting for. So, we are sharing this with all of you who are intrepid technology users, early adopters, keep trying things, keep taking risks.

Dear Mr. P and Mrs. O,

I just wanted to let you both know how impressed I am re: the Ning Our Space site and the Our Tube site. Ted was very anxious to share his site with me.
The poetry video was a wonderful surprise, I watched many of the students and really was surprised @ the level of confidence some of the students showed.
I also think that this is a wonderfully safe way to introduce our children to Social Networking sites.

Thank you for allowing them this opportunity and for communicating this project so well through my child.

Have a great vacation week,

a parent

This was the best way to begin my spring vacation and will provide the motivation to keep using these new Web 2.0 tools with our students.

If you have followed my blog entries this entry is a follow-up to my Meet a 21st Century Learning, a Prosumer, a Student! post.

As teachers, we create projects, invest our time and our students' time in the projects which really are about the process of learning and demonstrating new skills. The project that our 8th grade language arts teachers and students have worked on all year, OurSpace, is about to come to an end. If you have followed my posts I apologize for this quick summary. We created a ning, kept it private-or a walled garden, as a place for our students to live in a social network where we demonstrate cyber-netiquette, appropriate chat, non-cyberbullying, copyright, creative commons with photos and music and finally uploading of a video poetry project. There is one more piece to this year long project, the piece that started the project, a pilot-an idea that blossomed to this full fledged project, one year ago this month. Next week, the teachers and students begin working in the Ning and take on a character in the book Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher and actually live out the book through a series of descriptions, dialogues and predictions. It is a clever project enhanced by the social networking tools of the day.Since the projects are in a walled garden I captured a page from last year and published it here for you to view. (https://sites.google.com/site/wjhsartifact/)

Often times we rely on our students to 'promote' what we are experiencing in our classes. In theory that is a practice we would like to continue, however, in our busy times we need to be explicit about how that happens. In our case, a note when home to all parents explaining that the students' culminating poetry video project would be published on their web (ning) page. The projects are a glimpse into what is happening in our classes, a glimpse into what is happening in a teen's life, and a glimpse into how each individual student added to the quality and intensity of the grade level poetry project. When we make our classrooms transparent, we take a risk. This is what we must model for our students, the risk is part of the learning and the experience. A note from a parent is worth the risk. Listening to several students who personally thanked me at the end of multiple classes is worth the risk, the student who began her own ning site is worth the risk.

I must thank our school community for taking a risk using Web 2.0 21st Century Tools to enhance literacy. I must thank our principal who champions the use of technology and takes a risk every day promoting these different tools. Of course the teachers are very high on my list as they struggle, with me, through the newness of the landscape. The students did all the work, so a huge thank you to them for paving the way for newer projects to continue in years to come. These skills will keep them on the cutting edge of our ever changing work and career environments. Finally, our parents, I must thank them for attending the Internet Safety evenings, listening and trying out new challenges with their very savvy Internet students, keeping up with the new paths of this digital world. A huge thanks to a parent who found the time to write a note expressing what many parents are thinking and experiencing as they take this digital journey with their students. This makes it all worth the risk.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oh, this stirred things up!

After reading David Warlick's blog post , which was a response to Wes Fryer's blog post, and having left a comment for David, I had to post myself and continue the conversation!

David and Wes were both blogging about Solutions for Dropout Prevention and the recent Dropout Prevention Summit that Wes attended in Oklahoma.I recommend these blog posts as great reading and fodder for an even greater conversation. Include the students in this conversation.

When I put myself in the place of a student in college, high school, middle school and elementary school, what are my eyes be seeing? A time to be f2f with my people. A time to text about what happened last night. A time to share a youtube. A time to wonder about some of the usefulness of some assignments. When I listen to what excites our students what am I listening to? My professor emailed me some really constructive comments for my essay. She really used the technology. I learned how to use the copy machine to scan a document to my email!(A really useful skill for this time!IMHO)Thanks for teaching us how to blog on a ning, it is the coolest part of my day, I can't believe I am in school when I am on my blog! We are playing a math game and giving feedback to the developers!
Have you seen such things in your school? Have you heard such things in your school? What can make the difference?