Well, if the skill I needed to focus on for this class was “play,” I guess you could say I spent the entire day playing! My blog, Reflecting Pools, is running; and I think I’m pleased at this point. I really spent time playing with the Edublogs features, and I really learned a lot and grew a bunch of confidence.
When I began exploring some of the blogs that were suggested, though, I fell into a world where the clock stopped.
As my Web 2.0 post stated, I am committed to making much better use of blogging with my students this year. I studied each blogsite, both posts and comments, and focused on points that should help me and my students. From Dan’s article about “Why I Don’t Assign Homework,” I learned about the importance of conversational tone and tackling issues that are of active importance to a real audience. I also felt the sting of teaching the only two courses where preparatory reading is often needed for homework—as pointed out in the post and comments.
Discourse About Discourse presented ideas about how to create an environment ripe for collaboration, ideas that mesh perfectly with blogging. When students feel that there is value in the ideas to be discussed, they are more likely to buy in. If they have freedom to explore open-ended questions, independently and interdependently, their interest may be piqued in ways that “how-tos” and “do-thats” won’t spark. Learning about productive collaboration makes the learning environment (and the blog!) richer, and having that richer experience just grows the quality of the collaboration. Does that suggest the never ending circle? 😉 Sounds like a blogging dream waiting to happen.
Arthus Erea truly snagged my attention and convicted me at the same time with Teaching Brevity at Students 2.0. Focus! Be specific! In this age of information overload, master brevity! Why do we urge kids to write more words? Politicians do that and put us to sleep! We shouldn’t stress how many words, but which words our students use; and Erea gives some great ideas. Fortunately, I do this in my students’ writing; thus, posting quality blog responses is a great goal! Now, if I could just use the hatchet on my own musings! ;D
From the glories of collaborating and blogging with brevity, however, I moved to two blogs that would shake even the most complacent among us. Vickie Davis, the CoolCatTeacher, showed the convincing power of current research and active links in Spies Like Us. She made a number of chilling points about how vulnerable educators are in the presence of children who know what they can do with technology, but don’t typically think if they should, whether the issue is teacher humiliation, cyberbullying, or cheating. Mostly self-taught users of technology, today’s students have a critical need for weekly, even daily, chats about acceptable use and ethics. I even bookmarked Davis’ Acceptable Use wiki!
One final blog post that I want to share was Andy Carvin’s “An Open Letter About Cyberbullying” on the Learning Now page of PBS Teachers. Wired Magazine presented “Beware These Six Lamest Social Networks,” and included a community of educators who collaborate to help true victims of cyberbullying, the latest and fastest growing in the cruelty epidemic. The result was such an onslaught of vandalism and attacks on the site that the administrators had to close the site from public entry. I’ve requested admission to the Stop Cyberbullying group because I care deeply about what happens to my 7th graders—the age with the greatest likelihood of devastating bullying.
What a day! A new blog, hours of reading, exploring, researching, recording, and writing. Well, I said I was going to play!