Reflecting on the Summer’s Work

Finally, I am catching up on some blog reading/writing. This past summer was super busy for me at RCWP, as we did many, many workshops — averaging about one a day over the entire summer — all focused on new literacies and new technologies.
Julie had some kind words to say about one of the sessions:

Well, this was a blast. Not only was it a great review for the technologies I’d already encountered earlier in the summer, but it covered a lot of new ground as well. I particularly loved the Writely demonstration. The collaborative writing exercise was such a kick, a bunch of writers creating a guide to area restaurants in a matter of five minutes…and editing each other with impunity! lol You could tell Troy was an organizer…Bulletman I’m calling him now.

Quillstress

To me, this note really sums things up quite well. We looked at a number of new technologies and tried them out. Julie was one of our die hard participants, making it to nearly every session, and contributing a great deal of new knowledge along the way, especially about games. All told, the sessions were not as well attended as I would have hoped; yet, for the participants who came, I must say that each and every one of them was highly motivated and engaged, two qualities that we like to see for teachers who are learning about technology.

Also, now I am waiting to see what the ripple effects of this summer’s work might be. Of course, we have to write a report for NWP (that’s coming up soon), but I am more intertesed in the intangibles. Anne is helping to coordinate a digital portfolio initiative at her high school. Aram and I will be presenting at MCTE. Julie is thinking about integrating technology into the Teachers as Writers initiative. Tara is asking her students to buy jump drives so they can compose digital writing.
I think that the true value from these workshops comes only partially from the day itself. What I really value are the long-term implications that embedded and relevant technology learning can do for teachers. I look forward to following their work this year.

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Back to School Supplies, Including Jump Drives? Awesome!

Dear Mrs. Klotz,

I think that it is great that you are asking your students to have a jump drive as part of their school supplies. Given the work that we did this summer, I think that this is an incredibly practical idea and I look forward to seeing how this works out for you over the course of the school year. I am interested in knowing how parents and students respond to this request as well as the kinds of projects that you plan to do that will require them to save with the jump drives.
Good luck to you and your students as things get underway – keep us updated!

Troy

TIME.com: 50 Coolest Websites

So, I ran across TIME.com: 50 Coolest Websites the other day. There are many great sites on here that I have tried already like Jumpcut, YouTube, and Charity Navigator, but many more to explore.

I am curious… does anyone else have experience with any of these websites that Time thinks is cool? As an educator, what would you add? Perhaps we can start a list of the 50 coolest websites for writing teachers.

Technology and Change

Karen,

I think that you are right on the money here. Change, in any context is difficult. What I find most interesting about technology relates to the things that we choose to change and the things that we don’t necessarily have a choice over.

For instance, with Spurl and Furl, I have complete control over that decision – it is not about a requirement for work or a class, and I can choose whichever technology suits me better for the time being. However, it seems that most times teachers are faced with tech changes that are mandated. “Welcome to your new grading program, learn it by tomorrow…”

Because of this, I have to wonder if the ideas of “change” and “technology” in the same sentence automatically instigate a kind of fear for people, especially teachers whose job may depend on how well they can navigate a new student record system.

What do you think? How have you seen voluntary change and forced change differ in terms of technology adoption?

Troy

Thoughts on Spurl

Joe,

I agree with you about Spurl – I think that it is possibly the most useful of the social bookmarking sites, although I must admit that I am still using Furl primarily because it is what I started with way back when.

I am interested in seeing how you embed the bookmarks in your blog and, in turn, how you might use your Spurl account with colleagues and students. Keep us updated.

Troy

The Pop Culture Translator

Screenshot of Pop Culture TranslatorThis summer, RCWP has been doing a number of workshops related to writing and new literacies. One of them was on using pop culture in the classroom and the facilitator of the session just shared The Pop Culture Translator with our list serv.

This site is both hilarious and scary all at the same time. Since my son is a fan of Sean Paul, I thought that I would listen to his video translation first. While I was not so subtle in talking to my son about the message of the song (which, he admitted, he didn’t understand all the innuendo, he just liked the beat. Yeah…), this translator is attempts to be as literal as possible, something that our language and technology often don’t do. So, I laugh, while also thinking about the implications that it makes clear. It’s not as if I didn’t listen to music laced with innuendo, nor my parents, but the ways in which things are becoming more and more blatant kind of scares me as a parent.

At any rate, as a teacher, I think that this is an interesting way to appropriate media for critical purposes and would like to know more about how others might use something like this with your students. What would a lesson using this site look like in middle school? High school? College? I can imagine that the conversations would be somewhat different at each level, but I think that the idea of “translating” one text into another discourse is very intriguing and offers many critical possibilities for language learning; take “mash ups” as an example of that. Using technology as part of that makes it all the more compelling. I will try to remember to share it with my son the next time he is over. And, I will see how his translations compare.

I hope that they put more examples up soon…

Another Example of Negative Networking

Newsweek has added its thoughts on the negative aspects of social networking:

What happens when the identity you reveal to friends suddenly overwhelms the façade you present to grown-ups? The results can be awkward—or worse. Photos from drunken parties, recollections of sexual escapades, profanity or threats—all these indiscretions, posted online, have gotten students suspended or expelled, or harmed job prospects. In a couple of decades, a presidential candidate may be called on to answer for a college misadventure that he or she impetuously detailed in a blog entry.

Dangers of Social-Networking Sites – Kaplan College Guide – MSNBC.com

I agree with the above example of how someone can represent him or herself poorly online. And, to the best of my ability,
I have tried to manage my own online persona so that I won’t have to deal with
any situations like this when someone Googles my name. However, there is more to the story than this.

First, why is everything about social networking in the media about the negatives? Why aren’t there more stories about the positive interactions that blogs and wikis promote as well as the great examples of online communities like ELGG?

In particular, I want to take up the point – and it only appears as a caption on a photo of a college adviser – that a site like Facebook (or MySpace or any of the other social networking sites that DOPA is attempting to ban from schools) could and should be treated “like a résumé,” or, I would add, a digital portfolio. These snapshots of your life – good, bad, and ugly – are what will represent you online as you prepare for college, jobs, and life.
To me, this just adds to the buzz about DOPA and how, instead of banning social networking from schools (including blogs, wikis, and the like), we as educators need to push harder to help students understand how the types of situations like the one quoted above could happen; in turn, we need to help them become better citizens of the read/write web. Moreover, we could use these tools as digital portfolios – they allow files to be uploaded and shared, right – that could grow and change over time. If done well, these sites could keep a running record of a student’s ideas (through the blog part) and an archive of their work (by uploading files).
At any rate, if you are interested in finding out more about DOPA, visit the Wikipedia entry on it. And, if you want to send a quick and easy email to your senator stating your opposition to DOPA, visit David Warlick’s blog and click on the “Revise DOPA” badge.

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