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Click on your name to paste your Deliverable 3 below. You may place it below your Del. #2. Please also add more detail to the profile written below your name.
High School English
Elementary Regular Ed.
Mc Monigle, James
Newport, Rhode Island
gK-Horgan El Sc in WWar,RI
Library Media Specialist
High School: Grades 9-12
lms-ER Martin MS--E.Prov
Library Media Specialist
Hopewell Valley Central High School - NJ
Library Media Specialist
Trinity School (K-8)
Ellicott City, MD
Proposal to principal to start elementary school staff book club wiki
R.F.K Elementary School Gr6
Family and Consumer Science Dept.
Woonsocket High School
Tennett Adams, Susan
ELA - Blue Team
I.S. 278 Marine Park - Librarian Grades 6-8
N.A. Ferri Middle School - 8th Grade Civics Teacher
I am an 8th grade Civics teacher at Ferri Middle School in Johnston, Rhode Island. "Current Events" activities are used frequently in my classroom to provide real-life examples of the subjects we are examining. I have used local and national newspapers, online news postings and video searches via sites like CNN Student News.
My plan for the latest look at current events is for students to create a blog containing school, local, state, national, and international events throughout the year. A blog (short for web log) can be defined as “
a specialized site that allows an individual or group of individuals to share a running log of events and personal insights with online audiences. Blogs with political or current-events themes have grown in popularity and become "soap boxes" for instant mass-audience commentary
) Blogs are media rich, and can contain a combination of print, images and even video content. To see how blogs can be integrated into the classroom, visit
. Here you will see Will Richardson, a nationally known speaker and presenter of blogs in the classroom.
I envision that students would rotate roles throughout the year. Some students would have to research a variety of events for that month. Other students would have to evaluate and choose the articles for that month. Another group would have to find photographs and videos to accompany the selected articles. Other students would have to write the script - fitting into a pre-determined time limit for each month. Finally, the last group would act as reporters/hosts for the month's video presentation for the blog.
This is could really be a great experience for my students. We would be meeting standards in Civics, plus hitting English Standards, and Applied Learning Standards. This would also be a technology rich project. Students would be learning skills they will need to create portfolios, which many high schools are requiring for graduation. Finally, one of the biggest benefits to this project will be learning to manage their time, and the importance of working on a deadline. I hope that with some additional funding and purchase of equipment/software I can see this project through.
My idea for the Currents Events Project would be extremely “hands on” for my students. I will provide the guidelines and technology, but they will have control of content and implementation of the project. They will be engaged fully in preparing the final project. I feel that students will learn many skills that they will need to be successful in High School, College and in the work place. Using the Internet for simple searches will be just the beginning for them. They will need to decide which sources are reliable and they will need to be able to substantiate the news they are going to present.
Clearly, not everything in print or on the Internet is truthful. Students will have to sort through and decide what articles they should present for that month. Some articles will not “make the cut” and those decisions may be difficult. This is another skill they will be in charge of – prioritizing and eliminating articles based on the project criteria. Meeting project requirements and deadlines will be challenging for middle school students, but the skill is extremely important.
Using blogging and video editing software will also be useful for my students. This is something many students may not have had experience with before. Once a script has been written, students will have to present that information visually, and then edit the video.
I feel that this year long project will be very stimulating for my students. They will be producing a project that will remain on the Internet and will serve as a reminder of the hot events from that year. These students will feel a sense of ownership over this presentation. They will be in charge of production from start to finish, and will use a variety of skills, including writing, editing, speaking and time management.
Many journalism schools are taking blogs seriously. The University of California at Berkley has added blogging to its journalism curriculum.
There is still much debate on the idea of blogging as real news, but clearly many educators are beginning to see the possibility of using blogs as a form of “real news.” I hope to introduce this concept to my students.
Some of the roadblocks to integrating this Current Events Project would be upgrading my current classroom computers. Since I started teaching 16 years ago I have always attempted to integrate technology into my classroom. Many teachers, including myself, have given up weeks in the summer to participate in programs in order to use technology effectively. There is much desire to teach in a modern classroom. As you know, there is not always money to stay up-to-date, however.
For example, I participated in a program 7 years ago, called “Model Classroom.” The goal was to have one computer for every 3 students in my classroom. (I had approximately 19 to 22 students per class at the time.) I was cutting edge then, completing great projects for that time. As time passed, there is no money to update my computers, and my class size has steadily increased to 30. I am continually frustrated in my classroom, because I want to advance my student’s technology skills, but due to outdated equipment, and growing class size I am limited.
Finally, we live in a video rich environment. A simple search on the Internet turns up articles which remind us of this. (See
The investment made in the equipment today, will payoff for our students in the future. Students are increasingly required to show proficiency in computer skills beyond the traditional pencil and paper. Without funding this is just not always possible. I implore you to consider funding this project.
Lincoln High School – Reading Specialist
After taking an online course, I realized that using technology is a great asset to increase literacy. I am proposing that we increase the use of technology in the classroom. During our Self Study for our NEASC visit this year, our school determined that technology in the classroom was a weakness. With the increase of technology in the classroom, I believe that students’ reading and writing abilities will increase.
I am proposing that a classblog be initiated in the English/Reading 9 course. A classblog is a tool” that is interactive, allowing teachers and students to begin conversations or add information published there”. (Richardson, 8) A classblog would allow students to interact with other students about a similar text. The teacher could initiate a conversation by posting a comment or a question. The students would respond to the question and/or respond to other students comments. This allows students to write for a purpose. The students know that the teacher and other classmates will read their comments. The teacher is able to screen all comments and publish them before they are published to the classblog. This protects the classblog from inappropriate comments or responses.
Explanation of the service:
I will be creating a classblog using the service www.blogger.com. This service is very user friendly. A big advantage to this service is that it is free. I have a sample of a classblog on my site
. I have used this site for a reading class at the Community College of Rhode Island. As you can see from the site, many students have responded to my questions and other students responses.
Explanation of how this plan will fill a need at my school:
By using this technology in the classroom it will incorporate the following GSEs:
R–10–4.3 Generating questions before, during, and after reading to enhance/expand understanding and/or gain new information
R–10–5.1 Explaining and supporting logical predictions or logical outcomes
R–10–5.3 Making inferences about cause/effect, internal or external conflicts (e.g., person versus self, person versus person, person versus nature/society/fate), or the relationship among elements within text (e.g., describing the interaction among plot/subplots)
R–10–16.1 Comparing stories or other texts to related personal experience, prior knowledge, or to other books
W–10–11.2 Sharing thoughts, observations, or impressions
W–10–3.1a Establishing an interpretive claim/assertion in the form of a thesis (purpose), when responding to a given prompt
W–10–3.3 Using specific details and references to text or relevant citations to support thesis, interpretations, or conclusions
This technology will benefit the students by allowing them to communicate in various ways. They can practice using the seven proficient reading habits. If the students have questions while reading at home they can post their questions to the classblog. The students can also make connections and add how they feel about the text on the classblog. Sometimes students don’t like to participate in class because it makes them feel uncomfortable to speak in front of the whole class. This would benefit teachers and parents because other classroom teachers and parents of the students in class could see what the class was learning about.
Evidence that this technology would be useful in this setting:
In the article titled
Blogging: Shift of Control
by Alan November he discusses how Chris Burnett was opposed to blogging in the classroom and now sees it as a valuable learning tool. The students had more motivation to produce quality schoolwork.
In this edublog,
, the students are asked to respond to their favorite Dr.Seuss books. This site proves that even the youngest of students can handle blogging. The students write what their favorite Dr.Seuss book is and why it is their favorite.
this article discusses how we need to change with the times. Technology changes so frequently that it is difficult to keep up. We need to teach students how to use technology and use it ourselves. This site also discusses how we need to teach how to write for an audience.
In an article,
by David Huffaker, he discusses how blogs can be used in the classroom. He also discusses how blogs promote literacy and self expression. Students want to publish their thoughts on the blogs.
List of Roadblocks:
One possible roadblock would be getting the students access to this technology in the school. I would need to talk to the technology people in the school system. Another roadblock would be that some students do not have computers at home. Teachers would also need professional development on using the new technology. Class time would also need to be used to have access to the computer lab.
An after school professional development session could be offered to help the teachers with the new technology. The computer lab could stay open after school for students that do not have computer access at home. The technology people in the system would have to allow access on all the school computers.
I would use Blogger.com for the software. It was the easiest for me to learn because it is very user friendly. It would be nice to also offer a professional development for parents about the service. They could then help promote the use of technology at home.
I would hope that this technology would be used in all four sections of the English/Reading 9 classes for the texts they are reading in class. Hopefully, the students will also make comments about their independent reading books. They could recommend books to other students. The technology use would hopefully make its way to all the English classes then hopefully after teachers see how useful it is other classes would hopefully have a classblog.
Maria Morin Deliverable #3
: To implement the use of a Weblog (Blog) for Carl G. Lauro Elementary School as a mode of communication with administration, staff, students and parents.
Description of Technology
: Blogs are easily updateable websites that allow an author to publish instantly to the Internet from any Internet connection (Richardson, 2006). Information in the form of video, audio, hyperlinks, text and/or images can be posted on a blog to inform, connect, teach and welcome conversation from all who view it. Blogs are organized in reverse chronology so that the most recent postings appear at the top. They can be used for a myriad of purposes, including communication tools, publishing spaces for student work and classroom projects, or portals to increase academic inquiry.
Benefits of using a Blog
: As previously stated, blogs can be used for a myriad of purposes. The creation of a school blog at Carl G. Lauro Elementary will open up lines of communication among administration, staff, students, and parents by presenting current school information for all to view. A Carl G. Lauro blog can be used in several ways: 1) as an electronic bulletin board to post announcements to staff, parents and students from the administration, 2) an instructional resource to provide students and their parents information about assignments and projects from classroom teachers, including samples and hyperlinks to helpful websites, and, 3) as a collaborative tool for showcasing and sharing school-wide projects (Ray, 2006).
Currently, we do not have an active online environment for any of the above. School communications are done by phone, e-mail (staff only), printed notices, and as morning announcements over the intercom system. The school’s Website is not up to date; in fact, it has been at least four years since any of the information has been changed. Implementing a blog will create an instant means of communication for our school community. Daily updates of useful news, announcements, etc. can be posted with ease. Teachers can have their own classroom blogs linked to the school’s blog to share important news and activities. In addition, anyone in our school community can provide comments to any of the postings (where applicable) and engage in a dialogue with each other (a district goal to increase communication with parents and families). A great example of a school blog is that of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Oregon. The link is listed below.
A blog would eliminate some of the communication problems at the school. No more lost notes, children not telling their families important school news, teachers not being able to contact parents, or children unable to remember their homework assignments. Information posted daily on the school’s blog would lead to an increasingly more informed and more active school community.
Evidence to Support School Blogs
: There is so much evidence of blogs being successfully used at the elementary level for a number of purposes, including those listed above. Here I have assembled a small sample of links that support my proposal of implementing a blog at Carl G. Lauro Elementary School.
Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, Portland OR
Principal Tim Lauer uses a weblog as his school’s website to increase communication with parents and staff, post pictures and student work, post the school’s yearly calendar, and create a school community. His work in ed-blogging has been featured in newspapers, books, and online journals, just to name a few.
Grandview Elementary School Library Blog
Sarah Chauncey, LMS at Grandview Elementary School, Monsey, NY, is a technology pioneer in her elementary school. She was previously a business strategist, system’s analyst, computer consultant, and web developer implementing high-profile applications for major corporations before changing careers and becoming a Library Media Specialist. Her innovations have led the way to Grandview Elementary becoming a leader in the web 2.0 world. Visit her Library Blog and the link to Digital Pencil, an incredible site she has created to show how web 2.0 tools can be used successfully in education.
Launched in June (2006), by Steve Hargadon.
This blog h
as been set up to provide an opportunity for students, teachers, administrators, parents, and others to help promote an understanding of the benefits of educational blogging.
Going Paperless: School Weblog fosters Communication with Parents
Story featured by Intel Education. Former Principal of Buckman Arts Magnet Elementary School in Portland, OR, leads the effort to make communication among her school’s community paperless.
Welcome to the Blogosphere: The Educational Use of Blogs (aka Edublogs)
Article by Jan Ray (Kappa Delta Pi Record, Summer 2006) introducing blogs and how they can be used in an educational setting. The upsides and downsides of blogging are discussed including safety concerns. References at the end of the article provide further reading and documentation.
Possible Roadblocks to Implementation:
1. Current school culture does not rely heavily on the use of technology as a means of communication.
2. Most blogs are currently blocked on the school’s server.
3. Staff may need training to learn how to build classroom blogs and learn about how they can be used to foster literacy in the classroom.
4. Blog would need daily updating by administrator or designee.
5. Acceptable Use Policy for school district may need to be altered to accommodate student blogging, addition of pictures of student work, actual samples of assignments, and inclusion of first names or aliases on the school site.
6. Parent workshops would need to be held to educate families on the new informational resource available at their child’s school.
7. Students would need to be taught acceptable use and online etiquette for using blogs in the classroom. Safety issues need to be addressed.
8. School site will need to be re-built. Current Website is not user-friendly, does not provide current information, is not inviting to a school community, and does not provide a forum for online teacher-student interaction.
9. Possible cost to utilize blogging software to build a school site.
10. Not all Lauro families have Internet Access at home.
Ways to Overcome the Above-Stated Issues:
Creating a “buzz” about using technology will be key to getting students and staff to buy into the idea of implementing a school blog. Featuring its arrival at school functions, professional development opportunities, visits to the library where technology already is being used daily will help inform staff, students and parents that this technology is alive and active in our building. Students will need training in creating blogs as well as in Internet Safety. These sessions can all be run in the library during the school day. Setting up workshops after school or in the evening for all interested parties (staff and parents) to learn how to access the school’s blog, view the pages within it and post comments will be very beneficial to getting our school community connected in an online environment. Providing lists of local libraries will help families who may not have Internet access find a place where they can also become connected. In addition, the district’s Technology Department will need to agree to allow access to this new site since most blog sites are currently restricted on our server. Techs may also have to become involved in building a template for the school’s site. The cost factor for the site (if applicable) can be accommodated by utilizing fund-raised money, grant money, or a portion of the school’s budget if necessary.
Software Suggestions for Implementation:
If we were to create a school site with blogging capability, software such as Movable Type would be a good choice. It provides a single platform for powering a Website, individual staff blogs, and provides information to the school community. Cost to implement would be approximately $700.00.
Manila claims to be an easy to use website and web publishing system. For a license fee of $499.00, Manila is a less-expensive alternative to Moveable Type and offers most of the same features.
Lunarpages web hosting service provides free hosting to K-12 public schools in the US. Without having seen any sample sites or designs, I cannot definitively say this would be the best choice for our school. However, the reviews of this company are good and the cost is FREE which means we would not have to tap into any resources to pay for a school site.
Plans and Hopes for the Future:
Creating an informed educational community through our school’s blog would be an ideal goal for the future of Carl G. Lauro Elementary. Students would have a forum to express their ideas, connect with others who have the same interests, receive feedback from their teachers as well as others all around the world. Teachers could share their classroom activities with the school community as well as the online world, opening up the lines of communication and partnership with others around the world. They could also post examples of homework assignments, provide links to helpful websites, and invite feedback from students and their families. Parents would be up to date on all school news, classroom activities, and be able to communicate with all teachers and administrators in an instant. Administrators could inform their staff of important news, announcements, and professional development opportunities. Carl G. Lauro would be well on its way to being an active participant in the web 2.0 world. I would be happy to discuss this endeavor in more detail as well as provide support to any staff member, student or parent who may not be fully convinced that blogs are positive educational tools.
Additional References not listed above:
Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, 2006.
Freedman, Terry. Coming of Age: an introduction to the new world wide web 2006 12/12/2006 <http://fullmeasure.co.uk/Coming_of_age_v1-2.pdf>.
From Lisa Casey, Library Media Specialist, Jamestown School District, Jamestown RI
To Superintendent Lukon, Principal Almanzor and Co-Principal Melucci: I would like your permission to introduce Blogger at Blogspot.com to the fifth grades for use in a project that will enhance their reading, writing, communicating, and computer skills.
After reviewing numerous services I believe Blogger would best serve our needs. Blogger is a blogging software service hosted by free by Google. A blog is an online web journal (web+log) where either a small restricted community, or anyone in the world (depending on how you structure the blog) can post an entry in response to a topic, or like email, respond to the comments of another “blogger” (participant in the blog). It has been characterized as an electronic bulletin board and the users do not have to possess special computer knowledge; it is simply sending an email. Blogs record comments in reverse chronological order, and allows for the insertion of video and audio casts, gif images (such as drawings) and jpegs (photographs). There may be a “blogroll” which is a list of sites that participants may want to click on, either for more content or in some cases, as the starting point for research.
In order to promote reading and to approach reading in a multisensory /multiple intelligences approach, I want to integrate the use of a blog specifically for the books listed on the 2008 nominees for the Rhode Island Children’s Book Awards. This blog will be a place for the children to see what books they need to read to compete in our reading tournament, “The Rooster Games”. They will use the blog to write reviews and post them to the RIEMA/RICBA website. They will also use the blog to contact students of Matunuck Elementary School who will be their partners in the tournament, and they can share ideas on what the objects and questions might be, how many books they’ve read. After securing parental permission forms, students may want to compose a “book commercial” or “book review” and post it to the site. With signed permission, I would also like to insert a small video clip of the Rooster Games 2007 so that the participants (and parents/caregivers) can see exactly what transpires during the tournament. A clip from former participants who are now in 6-8th grade extolling the games will also be an incentive for reluctant readers to read and be part of the Games. Shy students will find this a wonderful to communicate with their teammates. Writers will find a place to voice their opinions where others can read them. Teachers can post their reviews as well. Blogging adds a dynamic new dimension to the reading/writing experience, an interactivity which before the advent of web 2.0 tools, has not been possible.
There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of integrating technology into the curriculum for our students. Studies, from NCREL and CARET suggest “that the overall effects of technology on student outcomes may be greater than previously thought” and that “teaching and technology processes either may directly impact student outcomes” in a positive way. Students need not only to be literate in the original sense of the world, but literate in a technological sense. Teaching the students how to make a digital video, compress it into software like QuickTime or Windows Media and post it to the blog is an important skill. It will inspire students who are interested in technology to be part of the Rooster Games and thus will be required to read in order to participate; which joins both the “literacies” in one project. That is one reason I believe the blog will be successful, and current research bears my hypothesis out. Blogging as a motivation for promoting successful reading and creating fulfilling classroom experiences have been noted in many reading/library professional journals. Linda Wells, in her article “Blog it” notes that in 18 years of teaching she has never seen her students so motivated to read, write, and share their work with their parents and other students. Wells notes that her students “ are highly motivated to learn because technology is incorporated into the curriculum.” Marie Flately mentions another unanticipated bonus of blogging; “I could easily and earlier identify group slackers” that could now be prodded into becoming “Fully contributing members”. Eric Langorst a history teacher found that “A blog is the perfect opportunity for both students and adults to learn alongside one another.” I know from personal experience that parents often share their children’s reading. They may post together to the blog. Perhaps we could even get the 2008-winning author to respond to our blog!
I understand that you might have concerns for student safety or wonder if there are technological or economic concerns. Blogspot is free and the students need only one instructional period to learn how to use it so it requires no staff, no training, no monetary concerns. RIDE blocks all blog sites; If the firewall is lifted for our weblog so the students can communicate, it only unblocks that one site; it enables students to read and post to our blog but effectively blocks them from any other site. Technology and I will run some tests to be positive and take action before the students post. I will enable comment moderation so that every comment must pass by me and be posted by me. I will remove the tag for “next blog” so that the students can’t see this option. I can make the blog inaccessible to anyone but our students. Participants do not need to get email addresses; they can log on as anonymous and simply identify themselves by first name and team color (e.g., Hi, this is Sophie from Team Red). The students personal safety is always uppermost in my mind; their safety cannot be compromised by posting to the blog. As an I-Safe instructor, I will give the students the presentation on the dangers of blogging so they understand the forum that they are participating and how to keep themselves safe online. Students who do not have Internet access at home (and I don’t believe there are many) can use the school and public library computers to access the blog. They may use the computers before and after school to post, so I don’t feel that computer access is inequitable.
As administrators, you may rather just look at the blog without communicating directly, to observe the process without disturbing it. You don’t need to comment to be a part of the blog; you can read it at anytime by just logging on. I think you will see, as the blog progresses, how interested and involved the students become with the blog and the tournament, how excited they become to use this technology as part of the learning process. You will be excited by the possibilities, too.
I believe blogs and other web 2.0 software such as wikis and pod casts will give us an ability to showcase student work, to inspire staff to create new and engaging lessons, to collaborate with the community at large and to keep pace with current technology. Let’s try this small venue and see how successful it is.
If you would like access to some of the professional journals articles that I have described, I can print them out for you or connect you to them online. The bibliography is attached to this proposal. Thank you for your time and consideration of this proposal.
Flatley, Marie E. "Blogging for enhanced teaching and learning." Business Communication Quarterly 68.1 (March 2005): 77(4).
Langhorst, Eric. "The dixie clicks: how a blog about the Civil War turned into a runaway hit." School Library Journal 52.12 (Dec 2006): 46(3).
Owyang, Jeremiah. “What's Better to Build Community: Blogs or Forums?”
Ray, Jan. “Welcome to the Blogosphere – the educational use of Blogs (aka Edublogs)”. Kappa Delta PI Record. Summer 2006. 175 (3).
Waxman, Hersh C. et. al. “ A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Teaching ad Larning with Technology on Student Outcomes.”
Wells, Linda. "Blog it: an innovative way to improve literacy." Reading Today 24.1 (August-Sept 2006): 40(1).
White, Nancy. Blogs and Community. Launching a new paradigm for online community.
-Deliverable #3 Nov 2007
Library Media Specialist
-Ponaganset High School, Ponaganset, RI
Eco Grant Podcast.doc
Grade 5 Teacher
Proposal: To introduce Web 2.0 using the Wiki for BEST. I think creating a Wiki to use as a new teacher to communicate with a mentor and other teachers associated with BEST would create an easier means of completing a tedious task, and also allow for more feedback that usually would take months to collect.
A Wiki is an online website which allows users to add content and edit existing content that may be inaccurate. It takes the ownership away from one person and gives it to the internet community (members only).
The server I would use is Wikispaces. It is not a free site, but with the importance of information being shared on the site, I would want to make sure the quality of security was there. Some free sites are free because the offer little to no security.
My plan for the Wiki is as follows: Each new teacher in the BEST program will create a Wiki. The Wiki will be used to write the new teacher’s portfolio pieces in. Each new teacher has to create lesson plans and observation requirements, along with assessment for their classes. The Wiki will allow them to record this information and then allow for BEST participants to help advise the new teachers with changes/addition to their lessons. This idea differs from the already existing portfolio because MORE teachers and LESS time are involved. Usually because of time and the extensive nature of this portfolio you only have time for your assigned mentor to view and manually write down and tell you suggestions for your portfolio. In my case, I found myself forgetting things she had told me by the end our meetings. The other issue is time, you spend countless hours going to meetings and having sit downs with your mentor. All of which provide you with NOTHING useful. The meetings provide examples of portfolios from 8 years ago and the sit downs are just reminders. The Wiki would take all this away. It would all be there on the site, and instead of old examples, you have new teachers like you to help you. Also you have more than your mentor to view and help as well. This service would be completely a 100% beneficial for the staff and also eventually for the students. It will give the new teachers a better handle on time management, which in turn will benefit the students.
I could not find any evidence of Wikis being used for BEST. I guess I am the first creator of this idea. I really think this is a great idea that could work and be so beneficial.
There are a couple roadblocks I for see with using a Wiki for BEST. The first is time. I think that some new teachers are overwhelmed already with classroom tasks and when they are given a tremendously important portfolio to create in their second year of teaching, things become even more overwhelming. I have already completed BEST and one thing I found was I would complete a portion and then put it aside for awhile. It would be hard for other teachers to help our new teachers in editing and revising their portfolios without a timeline for them to follow in completing the portfolio. I also see some teachers being hesitant to help because it is computer based. I would like to say that all of my district’s teachers are computer savvy, but that would be a lie.
I believe that both of my roadblocks could be prevented with simple solutions. For the concern of time, create a timeline of due dates. Allow a specific time for viewing and editing and then finally for revision. This will take pressure off the new teachers and prepare them better. For the problem of hesitation, offer a session to teach our veteran BEST participants what they should be doing for our new teachers. Make it easy for them, and they will participate.
I would use wikispace to create a wiki. I think this is an easy server to use. It is also providing 100,000 free wikis for teachers in grades K-12. It is a secure server and provides tutorials and guides to walk you through step by step.
I think implementing the wiki into the district for BEST will create a more relaxed attitude for new, incoming teachers. It will give other teachers the chance for sharing their sights and input. It will overall make a stressful situation, less stressful.
Geller, Jennifer-11/12th history/social sciences
During the upcoming school year, I am planning to implement student use of wikis in my classroom. A wiki is a quick and easy way for students to write collaboratively with each other on the internet; in fact, the word wiki itself is the Hawaiian word for quick. If you were to come across a wiki when surfing the web, the page would look like any other web page except that you are essentially able to turn the page into a word processor and edit material on the page. Unlike a word processor, however, wikis also allow one to create links between various sub-pages of the wiki as well as links to the rest of the web. None of this requires knowledge of any code, and wikis can be set up to be viewed privately by only a select group, and/or can be password-protected so that only those with the password may edit. Furthermore, all versions of the wiki pages are saved and are date/time stamped and one can revert to old versions at any point so that a) no one can “mess the page up” permanently, and b) students are held accountable as to who is contributing what material.
The wiki will be an ideal way to document student progress toward the applied learning standards which we need to begin to assess this year with the juniors and seniors in school 2. More specifically, since wikis are primarily a collaborative tool, the wiki will be the ideal teaching tool for leading students through and documenting the process of creating their utopias, developing thesis questions based on their utopias, and finally completing the research for their theses. I envision each group of students having a sub page in the wiki which they continue to subdivide into the different aspects of their utopia, ie: political structures, economy, culture, etc. While each group member may be assigned to develop a specific aspect of the utopia, other group members would be able to see his/her work and add to it/modify it to fit better with their particular assignment. Students would be able to see all the utopias as “works in progress,” and would be able to enhance their own utopias as a result. As the utopias become more developed, students will also be able to ask important questions about each others utopias, questions which will ultimately become the basis for individual theses.
While the wiki will clearly aid students in the process of creating their utopias and their theses, the wiki will also assist me as the teacher as I attempt to assess both the process of creation as well as the products themselves. Students will be creating a specific product as called for in applied learning standard 1: problem solving, and the wiki will provide the documentation of criteria from the standard such as: “shows how the ideas for the design were developed,” and “reflects awareness of similar work done by others...”. I would also have specific documentation for standard 2: communication tools and techniques, as students develop formal presentations and their theses based on the work they did on the wiki. I would note that standard 3: information tools and techniques does not list use of wikis or other “web 2.0” tools in its criteria, but certainly ability to use the wiki itself will be assessed using this standard. Perhaps most importantly, I will finally have concrete evidence with which to assess standards 4 and 5: learning and self-management tools and techniques, and tools and techniques for working with others.
Use of a wiki closely aligns with our school’s philosophy and design. So much of what we have successfully accomplished in the last six years has been around empowering our students and teaching them to be proactive rather than passive. The wiki enhances this idea, as one user of wikis in the classroom put it: “I also wanted to shake the traditional concepts of students being consumers of writing held in books and websites published by authorities. I wanted to empower students to become the authors in their own specialist areas...” (
Freedman, p. 88
). One of the co-founders of Wikipedia echoes my beliefs that the wiki can be used as an accountability tool. Jimmy Wales writes: “The basic thing I think makes it work is turning from a model of permissions to a model of accountability” (
). Will Richardson, one of the earliest users of wikis in the classroom reports that students using wikis are learning all the things we hold valuable at our school from publishing to collaborative skills. Ultimately with a wiki, students begin to teach each other, which, in our mixed-age, mixed ability grouping, is an extremely important ingredient in a succesful classroom (Richardson, p. 65). Finally and perhaps most importantly for our program and our emphasis on revision and reflection, “wikis promote the close reading, revision, and tracking of drafts; wikis discourage “product oriented writing” while facilitating “writing as process”; and wikis ease students into writing for public consumption (
Lamb, p. 44
Unfortunately, despite such clear pedagogical benefits, some road blocks to implementing this plan exist, foremost being the fact that the district blocks all wiki services. To try to do an end run around this situation, I plan to purchase my own domain name and get a wikispaces account that uses that domain name. This will also cost a small amount per month which I will pay out of my own pocket but can write off on my taxes. Wikispaces is the service which will provide the wiki software. I can set up the wiki so that it is visible to “members only,” ie, my students and me, or I can set it up so that anyone can view the wiki, but only my students may edit it. I would like to attempt the latter as I feel it fits better with the true nature of a wiki, but also because I think having students become aware of the fact that their writing reaches beyond the four walls of our classroom is important and will hopefully encourage them to reach higher writing standards.
Perhaps in the future, when we have completed a successful piloting of wikis and can demonstrate their success, other teachers will become interested in the technology and we as a faculty can lean on the district to allow us greater access to web 2.0 technologies. Especially if the district were to relax its hold, we could integrate wikis into our electronic portfolio and assessment systems. They would just be one more tool we could use to help hold students more accountable.
To: Director of Media and Technology Services, Northwest AEA
As you’re aware, the State Legislature reinstated teacher librarians in the 2006 legislative session. As a result of this legislation, each school district is now required to employ a certified teacher librarian and also have a library program in place. In response to the mandate, AEAs in Iowa are planning a series of professional development opportunities for teacher librarians. The professional development sessions will aid teacher librarians in incorporating the components of the new law. I propose creating a wiki as well, to assist teacher librarians in addressing the new requirements. Wikis are web pages that are designed to allow multiple users to add, remove, and edit content. This multiple author capability makes them an efficient tool for group collaborative sharing. The wiki I propose will be a vehicle that can be used to post information, provide links to helpful professional materials as well as a place where teacher librarians served by Northwest AEA can collaborate and share ideas and documents with their colleagues and peers. Because teacher librarians and programs have not been required for many years, schools and the personnel they hire will require some assistance implementing the new requirements. The wiki will serve as a useful site where teacher librarians can seek help.
Wikis are already being successfully used to help librarians in professional endeavors and collaborative efforts. Joyce Valenza, a well-known personality in the school library community has created a wiki at
At this site, teacher librarians are encouraged to share lesson ideas, rubrics, and teacher tips. Valenza encourages teacher librarians to be technology leaders by demonstrating to others how the “new landscapes” can be used to create professional tools. This site offers a wealth of information for teacher librarians including information on Web 2.0, recommended books, information literacy and technology tools. LM_Net, a discussion group of 16,000 school library media specialists from at least 65 countries, now has a wiki as well. Since attachments cannot be sent via the discussion group, a wiki was created to make sharing easier among the group. Newly created, the wiki has lesson plans, documents, PowerPoints, booklists, and information targeted for specific grade levels. The wiki address is:
Davinna Artibey from Denver Center for International Studies created a professional learning community made up of several librarians in her district to learn more about web 2.0 tools. Her wiki can be viewed at
Shonda Brisco from Texas has created several wikis as well. Her first wiki is an online course she developed for teacher librarians working in collaboration with teachers. Librarians enrolled in the course contributed information, resources, and examples of teacher-librarian collaboration. The online course can be viewed at:
Shonda’s other wiki is relatively new, but Shonda is hoping the scope of this wiki will be much broader because she wants it to serve as a place where Texas teacher librarians can collaborate with one another. At her wiki, Texas teacher librarians can find lesson ideas, latest resource lists, or just browse. Texas teacher librarians can use the wiki to locate information pages or they can add a new page with new resources for everyone to use! Shonda’s second page can be viewed at:
After successfully creating a wiki for ALA attendees, Meredith Farkas created a wiki called Library Success. Farkas describes the site as “A one stop-shop for great ideas for librarians.” A site intended for librarians of every background, the site provides an outlet for sharing advice and insights. Says Farkas, “No one should have to reinvent the wheel when another librarian has already done what they’re trying to accomplish.” The site is available at
The South Carolina Library Association has created a wiki at
This site has information for South Carolina librarians of different backgrounds as well. At the site, librarians can easily connect with other librarians working in the same area as them. A resources page is also available. The American Library Association has created a wiki as well. Located at
, the Professional Tips wiki as it is called, provides a pathfinder to using the resources of ALA's website, assembles the library's responses to questions received from librarians, and enables the library community to share new resources. Like the South Carolina site, the ALA site has specific information for librarians of different backgrounds including school librarians as well.
Even though wikis are being used effectively in the library community, the technology is relatively new. Because of this, a number of teacher librarians served by Northwest AEA, will not understand what a wiki is or what the potential of the technology is either. The term wiki may even have a negative connotation for some teacher librarians because of their disapproval of Wikipedia. A minority of the teacher librarians served by Northwest AEA may not have the technological skills needed to contribute to a wiki. A few still do not feel comfortable with new technologies so probably will not feel comfortable with contributing online to a web site. Another roadblock may also be make-up of the group itself. Because the Northwest AEA merger is fairly new, the teacher librarian group may not feel completely comfortable sharing with one another at this point. Another roadblock is not directly connected with the wiki, but rather the content of the wiki. A small number of teacher librarians do not see the need to make changes to their programs or curriculums and consequently will not be interested in using the wiki as a resource.
I believe most of these roadblocks can be overcome with staff development and training. At the first professional development day, a demonstration of the site along with illustrated instructions on how to use the site will break down many of the obstructions. Other teacher librarian wikis will also be shared. Links to online tutorials will be provided as well to help teacher librarians feel more comfortable with the process. Since the tutorials can be accessed at anytime they will provide a way for teacher librarians to learn about wikis on an as needed basis and provide what Jamie McKenzie refers to as just in time support. Publicizing the wiki using the Northwest AEA newsletter and the teacher librarian listserv will help to raise awareness and interest in the wiki. I hope as teacher librarians begin using the wiki, the positive comments and constructive information found there will serve as an incentive for other teacher librarians served by Northwest AEA to use the wiki as well. As more and more teacher librarians contribute to the site, hopefully it will also serve as a means of creating a community. Teacher librarians are often isolated in their schools because frequently they are the only teacher librarian serving a district. A wiki will be a way for them to network and will provide needed support for them. The wiki resource will also be shared with administrators since they also have a stake in successfully meeting the new teacher librarian requirements. Administrative support can also be a powerful motivation.
There are a number of software options that can be used to create the wiki. All of the suggested wiki software packages are free. My first preference would be to use MediaWiki since it is downloaded to the local server and therefore provides more local control. However, because Mediawiki needs to be installed on NWAEA’s server that would require local technical support which also may mean additional time and training for the technical support staff. Other wiki program options are PBWiki and Wikispaces. Both of these options provide WYSIWYG editors, so adding content to the wiki is relatively easy for anyone that has word processing skills. Again both allow files, pictures and other media to be added to the site. Both also provide password protection so only invited participants can add to the web site. Again like other wiki software programs, PBWiki and Wikispaces allow the user to edit and add to the pages, add tags, RSS feeds and see the history of the created pages. Both software packages also provide a means of alerting the site creator when any changes are made to the pages. One distinct advantage of Wikispaces is the larger storage capacity. Wikispaces provides 2 GB of storage while PBWiki only provides 10MB in the free version.
In the first year of inception I propose the wiki would primarily be used to assist teacher librarians in meeting the new state guidelines and mandates and create a spirit of cooperation and community. Once the first year passes, I hope it would continue to be a place for collaboration and sharing of ideas, concerns and successes for teacher librarians in Northwest AEA. Since AEAs across the state of Iowa are planning similar days of professional development, the wiki could potentially be used as well by teacher librarians regionally or even by teacher librarians across the state of Iowa.
ALA Library Introduces Web Tools. American Libraries, Feb2007, Vol. 38 Issue 2, p9-10, 2p;
Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. By: K. I.. School Library Journal, Oct2005, Vol. 51 Issue 10, p26-26, 1/3p, 1c;
7th Grade ELA
Proposal to integrate blogs into the existing school curriculums
After taking two online graduate courses on Internet use and the implementation of blogs and wikis in the classroom, I am inclined to propose the use of these technologies within the existing curriculum wherever possible. I feel that the first step that our district should take is the implementation of weblogs, also known as blogs, into our ELA curriculum at each grade level. From there I am sure that the use of blogs will spread to many other areas.
A blog is an online environment in which all students can read, discuss, and contribute to the extension of classroom material. It is a site to post thoughts, ideas, questions, and revelations which allows the teacher to gently direct the course of student discussion while still allowing the freedom of student and peer directed learning. The teacher can control what posts actually make the page, because approval must be given to each post before it is accessible, thus minimizing the possibility of misuse. As an example, I have created a blog and a unit plan for its implementation within my classroom. You may visit this blog at
The service that I would like to use to create this environment is the same one I used to create the blog mentioned above. It is called Blogger and can be located at
. I have chosen this service because it is free, widely known, and easy to use.
Recently, the SIT committee noted that a greater use of technology within each classroom was needed. This would be an efficient and effective way to include all students within each class in the use of technology, and allows for the expansion of curriculums and extension of class discussions. It also meets the needs of addressing the Applied Learning Standards in many disciplines. Finally, it allows for cross-grade connections in which the teachers can view and connect their classroom with what is going on in other grades.
There are countless examples of how this technology has been used successfully. The following are just a few of them:
This site offers Edublog insights, uses of blogs within the classroom, and an explanation of how blogs work complete with video links. The resources on this site are helpful for the newcomer to blogs.
This is an example of a teacher’s implementation of blogs within the classroom. It mentions a project known as 21classes.com and shows student interaction with the blog. In this case, students are creating and customizing their own individual blog.
In this example, most of the school is involved in the blog space. The principal, library, PE/Health, and many classroom teachers all have blogs linked to the site.
This site shows how a blog can be used to portray outstanding student work, ideas, and projects. It is a great way to push students to achieve their maximum potential and creativity.
As with any undertaking, there are potential roadblocks that may come up while integrating this technology. System availability, lab availability, students who lack computers/Internet access, and the need for staff training all provide difficulties with the use of this technology. To solve these issues, I suggest the following:
The technology department should check the system and determine any potential problems/solutions prior to starting this program.
Lab time should be planned out for each grade to implement the program and availability should be distributed evenly in advance.
Students without Internet access at home should be given extra consideration on assignments, extensions as needed, and additional in-school time to work on a computer.
A PD Day should be designed specifically around teacher training on the use of this program.
I recommend the use of at least two software programs to begin this program. The first, as mentioned above, is Blogger. The second is Microsoft Power Point, and any school computer that does not have this program would need to have this program installed.
Once this program is in place, my hope is that all teachers will see the enormous potential of using blogs in the classroom. I believe that the program will evolve on its own, with the outcome being an extraordinary use of technology within all classrooms in our school.
Davis, Mark-- Reading Specialist
PROPOSAL FOR BLOGS IN LANGUAGE ARTS CLASSROOMS
Addressed to Barrington High School Administration
By Mark Davis
In the following correspondence, I would appreciate your time and indulgence in reviewing a proposal for implementing new technology within our district. As a district that strives to develop rigorous curriculum and implement differentiated instruction, I believe that the following explorative proposal will be beneficial to our students while providing an efficient and effective means of communication for our faculty.
The goal of the proposed technology is to strengthen reading comprehension in our learners through online communication. Using our state-required literacy testing for guidance, our data demonstrates a need to develop the understanding and analysis of literary texts. Through the technology of weblogs, or blogs, students will be able to construct their knowledge and synthesize a literary text through peer discourse.
The blog technology, utilizing an asynchronous discussion environment, allows students to participate in a discussion where all voices are heard. Additionally, teachers can participate and evaluate the students’ comprehension through the transcribed conversation. The “timeless” environment allows multiple discussions to take place and give readers an opportunity to process the discussion at their own pace.
Most of all, the online discourse strengthens the community of learners by allowing faculty, administration, and parents to observe and participate in the discussion. This benefits all learners by providing a circle support beyond the classroom teacher and classmates. To effectively integrate blogs into a language arts class reading assignment and support comprehension, the following procedures are suggested:
Students are provided with an essential question and a literary text to consider when responding.
A directed question that leads to the bigger idea in the essential question is posted in the blog environment.
Students read and given an initial response to the question by entering their response into the blog.
Later, students read and review their peers’ comments and respond to them appropriately
Finally, the teacher assigns a culminating project that requires students to respond to the essential question using the discussion for guidance. Through the blog, students can continue to ask questions to guide their response.
The following standards have been addressed to provide guidance for the academic direction of this proposal:
NET-S Performance Indicators (4, 5, 6 for grades 9-12):
Students routinely and efficiently use online information resources to meet needs for collaboration, research, publication, communication, and productivity.
NCTE and IRA Standards 3 and 8:
Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
Rhode Island State Standard:
Writing GSE 9-10, 14.4:
Using a range of elaboration techniques (i.e., questioning, comparing, connecting, interpreting, analyzing, or describing) to establish a focus.
Reading GSE 9-10, 13:
Apply comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading literary text.
The following sites have been selected to provide a brief explanation of how blogs are being used effectively in classrooms:
Using Blogs to Integrate Technology in the Classroom
__http://www.glencoe.com/sec /teachingtoday/educationupclose .phtml/47__
The article provides a brief synopsis of blogs in classrooms and suggests several practicial applications for emerging technologists in content-area classrooms. Crie reminds educators of the motivation and long-term strategy building nature of this resource in the classroom.
Blogging Classroom Connects to Parents
__http://www.sptimes.com/2005/08 /09/Tampabay/Blogging_classroom _co.shtml__
Emily Anthes records the experience of fifth-grade students interacting with their parents and teachers through the online environment. Parents and teachers noted that unlike popular teen blogs, the school-oriented blog provided a safe outlet for questions and monitoring.
Pedagogical Underpinnings of Blogs in the Classroom
__http://mt.middlebury.edu /middblogs/ganley/bgblogging /006557.html__
Barbara Ganley, a professor at Middlebury College, discusses the importance of the “constrictivist pedagogy” innate in blogging. Her argument develops the importance of focusing on socialization as a means of providing learning through faciliation not direct instruction.
Philosophy behind Moodle CMS
Developer Martin Dougiamas provides support in how the MOODLE (Module Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Enviroment) software packages mulitple tools including blogs into a user-friendly resource for collaboration. Additionally, he advocates for the learning management system as an effective way to assess the educational attainment of students through the mulitple measures provided in this package.
Examples of teachers using Moodle for blogs can viewed at:
The proposal to use blogs with students, particularly in a language arts classroom, emphasizes a need to pursue new forms of non-verbal communication. Students who are not likely to participate in oral discussions and require support in writing are targeted for this technology. Through blog participation, students are participating in a pre-writing activity with a workshop model of discussion with their peers. Ultimately, the discussion allows heterogeneous learners to share their ideas and develop their understanding through a constructivist environment.
Each discussion, which will include both directed and free-flowing discussion topics will give students an opportunity to express their understanding and personal experiences at an appropriate pace. The asynchronous environment, where discussions are not live, allows students to take time and reflect upon their peers’ comments and formulate and more expressive response.
Through the cross-platform and easy-to-use environment, students can continue to participate in discussions outside of the classroom through home connections or public Internet access points. Both parents and teachers can evaluate and participate at their own convenience with their children. At the completion of discussion schedule, all participants can review the comments posted by the community to support a research project or to answer an essential question.
DIFFICULTIES AND SOLUTIONS
As with any technological proposal, some considerations must be made to accommodate faculty and students with limited experience in online discussions. Individuals with little experience in system operations and troubleshooting should be supported by an instructional technology specialist before implementing this technology. With the support of the IT specialist, the instructor should set up the users and online environment settings at least two weeks in advance. If the technology will be used on a network server, the faculty should be prepared for an alternative assignment in case of outage or slow connections. Although the online discussion should not tax bandwidth heavily, appropriate tests should be conducted first.
Students who are not familiar with interactive dialogue online should practice their understanding through e-mail or coaching from a more experienced peer or teacher. Assignments should be completed during in-class time to accommodate students with limited or no technology available outside of school.
SOFTWARE AND EQUIPMENT NEEDS
The proposal is extremely cost effective due to our pre-existing equipment. The minimum requirements for this proposal are five desktop computers with web access available. The software, Moodle version 1.6 or later, is an open-source licensed, online learning environment and would be highly recommended. As an open source software, there are no fees associated with its use, and collaboration and support with fellow educators and programmers is free. Ideally, a server space should be provided to allow online communication beyond the classroom, but the software can be installed locally if necessary. If server space is limited, an online blog services such as Blogger can be integrated with ease.
I hope you will consider this opportunity to support our students with literacy needs while integrating 21st century technology. I am confident that students will be equally excited by the opportunity and look forward to discussing this proposal further. To preview my suggested use of this technology, I welcome you to visit my classroom website and examine a model used with our Freshmen class in an outside reading project:
Simply click on one of the two links under Course Categories labeled “Lang and Lit 112 – Ms. Blake’s Period 1 Class” and use the login information to access the classroom content.
Degnan, Trish--Technology Educator
Trish DegnanTechnology Educator--Woonsocket Public Schools
Proposal: Tech Help/Tutorial Wiki designed for the Woonsocket Public School District
I would like to propose a Wiki designed specifically for educators in my school district. This wiki would be implemented as a hands-on help site which would include tutorials, the latest tech news for the district, tech how-tos, and examples of teachers in-district using technology effectively. The wiki would be a staff resource but conceivably develop into a student resource in the future.
A wiki is an online website which allows users to add content and edit existing content.
We’ve examined many resources in the class. After looking through some again and poking around for more, I would choose Wikispaces as my generator. A drawback would be that eventually space could become an issue depending on the amount of documents, movies, etc. posted, but a “Plus” site is only $50. per year or alternatively, we could use the district site to post large data files such as movie files.
(Review of wiki resources)
As a technology teacher I am keenly aware of what is good in my district and what needs a little help. Woonsocket has always been a leader in the state as far as what we have. This is a result of many things: grant funding; technology-minded administration and state funding to name a few. But as is the case with many school districts, and due to the nature of technology in the 21st century, the cart sometimes gets way ahead of the horse. Thus we need ongoing, up to date, easily accessible professional development.
Conversely, the recent lack of funding has created a group of educators who have embraced technology, but are now facing hardware that cannot keep up with their needs, and a technology department which cannot keep up with work orders and repairs.
Finally there exists the ever-growing, continually-changing tasks teachers are asked to do. Examples include online BlueCross billing; DRA Online; Excel based report cards; online grade posting; and the online database the district utilizes.
This wiki would include tips, how-to’s, tutorials, links, and of course blogging and would be an incredibly beneficial tool to help teachers tackle some of these obstacles. Staff could:
• edit the posts with tips, ideas and tricks
• seek help with new issues
• troubleshoot with colleagues using the same hardware, software and network! (without relying solely on a understaffed tech department)
• use online tutorials from school or at home
• find links to district resources
• add links for their colleagues
• participate in discussions on tech issues
• earn professional development hours
• access how to info 24/7 instead of only at annual district training opportunities
• experience the Web 2.0 first hand
• post examples of their technology integration successes
Woonsocket requires sixteen hours of professional development which can be earned in-district. Technology tutorials at this wikisite could be reviewed by our literacy department for PD approval.
I have not found many examples of this type of wikisite but the best is from the wonderful Vicki Davis. She has an excellent section on “computer fundamentals.” The difference would be that the wiki I am proposing would be staff centered. (with the hope to move eventually towards becoming a student resource too)
This site from the Kent School District in Washington is extensive and worth a look. While I didn’t find a wiki here, these are the type of resources I’d like to help bring to the teachers in my district.
Here’s one at WikiSpaces:
(I think we had a link to this from Session 9?)
Here’s what I hope the wiki would evolve into eventually… a resource for students as well as staff:
Getting the wiki up and running will take a lot of time! On the other hand, many of the how-to’s and tutorials which would be included have already been written by myself or other district staff. Perhaps we won’t have to reinvent too many wheels.
Teachers who may attempt to use the wiki as a “complaint desk” may undermine the usefulness, but optimistically, there would be more helpful posts than not.
This wiki would have the potential to become an excellent resource for educators, not just those employed in Woonsocket. The shiniest end goal would be to develop the wiki into a student resource, that included help and tutorials for all students. Imagine a site where a third grade student could go to see how to add a video clip into a slide show! Imagine getting rid of hard copy help sheets that are in constant need of updating and reprinting! Imagine a 2nd grader finding out how to print in landscape view in Kid Pix if the technology teacher was not in the building that day!
This wiki will require a lot of start-up work but has the potential to be an outstanding resource for staff in the Woonsocket Schools.
D3 goes here.
Manchester, Dawn--Grade 5
To introduce the world of Web 2.0, in the form of Weblogs (Blogs), in the elementary school community. These tools will be used to enhance the overall level of literacy of students and bridge the gap between home and school.
Description of Technology:
Weblogs are interactive, communication tools that serve many purposes. Blogs can take the form of personal diaries, collaborative spaces, or internet reference sites. Blogs, as they are often referred to, bring the vast world into the classroom and connect students with the world outside the four walls of their classrooms. With the use of Blogs, students will have the ability to “write to the web” and create their own on-line community that can be shared with others all over the world.
There are free Weblog services available that can be adopted by any classroom teacher, whole school, or entire district. The two sites below are some that have proven successful and beneficial for some educators:
There are also weblog publishing software systems available for purchase. The list below just mentions a few:
1. Grey Matter:
Greymatter is the original opensource weblogging and journal software. With fully-integrated comments, searching, file uploading and image handling, completely customisable output through dozens of templates and variables, multiple author support, and many other features—while having perhaps the simplest installation process and easiest-to-use interface of any program offering this level of functionality—Greymatter permanently raised the bar for weblogging and journaling, and it remains the program of choice for tens of thousands of people around the world.
2. Movable Type:
UserLand's Manila website and weblog publishing system makes it simple for anyone to create and use web content, collaborate on projects, manage online discussion groups, podcast and share documents. Offering amazing functionality at an even more amazing price, Manila 9.6 makes it easy to publish websites, weblogs, intranets and portals. Manila also comes with built-in tools that make it easy to syndicate your web content via RSS.
Potential Benefits of Weblogs:
Some of the biggest challenges faced by any school or school system are keeping open lines of communication with families and creating a sense of community throughout. Well, with the use of Weblogs these challenges can be alleviated. Encouraging teachers to begin their own classroom blogs, where daily or weekly updates are posted, that parents can access at their own convenience, allows parents to gain insight into what is occurring in their child’s classroom. Classroom blogs can also house classroom assignments, weekly spelling words, project reference links and requirements, links to skill practice websites, and student work, and much, much more. The possibilities are endless. Parents are also encouraged to interact with the blog by leaving comments and sharing other important information beneficial to the community. Here a forum is created that allows communication to grow and blossom.
Once blogging is modeled within a few classrooms and success stories are shared, the excitement will begin to bubble over. As this begins to happen the school can take this process one step further and develop building a school wide blog. Here all classroom blogs would be linked together creating that sense of community and continuity. With the use of these tools, schools will be creating a community of technologically literate persons. Here parents, children and teachers will be interacting and developing skills necessary for success in the world today.
In addition to opening the lines of communication with parents, weblogs can be utilized within classrooms to link students to the outside world. Weblogs develop many levels of literacy for so many students. Developing these programs will ensure computer access and educational opportunity to all learners, at all levels. Allowing blogs into classrooms, students have opportunities to interact with the internet in a safe, and controlled manner. In this safe environment students begin mastering skills that are so important in today’s world and begin deciphering web appropriateness. Students begin to become a part of something bigger then themselves; they take ownership of their own writing; they become an interactive and reactive participant of their own learning; they become empowered.
Teachers as well begin to develop as instructors and learners. They now have a place to communicate their expectations, class procedures and updates to parents in a manner in which they use often. This tool develops ideas of purposeful student writing where students must take ownership of their writing before publishing pieces to the blog. It opens up opportunity to edit and react to classmates work, as well as developing ways to handle constructive criticism. Teachers themselves begin thinking outside the 4 walls of their classroom and open up into the world. They can find support from colleagues or other bloggers across the country and world. Together teachers and students become globally literate.
Due to the current filtering system in place several configurations would have to be evaluated and access would have to be granted to manipulate and interact with the blog software chosen.
There are concerns about confidentiality and keeping student documents on the internal server and not being allowed to float out in cyberspace. This issue will have to be further evaluated and addressed.
Teacher training and maintaining of blog are other issues to contend with. That could be addressed trough Professional Development and having an on-site “expert” in each school maintaining blogs and keeping teachers up to date.
Internet Safety is always a concern as well as what students are exposed to. Training teachers about the How To’s of Internet Safety and how to create a code of conduct where blogging is concerned will be a needed area in Professional Development. Teaching students what is appropriate and how to handle it is much more beneficial then banning and blocking them from it. Blog security is also an area of concern that can be easily tackled. Each blog is managed by its author, which in this case would be the classroom teacher. When comments or posts are made they are first viewed by the author to insure appropriateness and a decision is made to publish or to delete the comments. The district could also monitor blogs through current security/filtering systems. Also, creating a code of conduct within the classroom/school will hold the students accountable for what they publish and use in their blog postings.
It is the hope of this proposal to open this districts future technology plan. Starting with blogging is the first step in developing the districts technology plan. By introducing Wikis and podcasting, as next steps, could open the door in developing plans for the future. When all these tools are used in conjunction with one another they could help establish and manage online portfolios and senior graduation requirement projects mandated by the state. Wikis alone could help enhance the Process Writing Curriculum established in the elementary school classrooms.
Here students explain why blogging is a useful and beneficial tool within a literacy based classroom. It is great to hear their opinion about posting and commenting on their own and other people’s work. They reflect on current work and return to work published in the beginning of the year to evaluate growth. They talk about becoming in touch with the world and getting their “message” out there.
A site that explains what teaching with blog is all about. It gives examples of blogs, blogging in both secondary and elementary schools, and other resources that can be used as references to start the blogging process.
Articles and Reference Sites:
McMullin, Donna--2nd grade
**Donna McMullin--2nd grade**
Proposal for Implementation: Teacher Blog
There are many occasions when our district elementary teachers could be using web publishing as a communication tool to reach parents, and as a classroom tool to instruct and motivate students. However, because of server restrictions, only teachers with access to Frontpage can post on our district website. This excludes most teachers on the elementary level since they all use Macintosh computers.
Since I teach the web posting classes for our district, I am aware of the limitations of our current web posting procedures. I am also aware that many of our teachers could benefit from the use of blogging software in their classrooms.
Ms. H., a second grade teacher, chronicles her annual classroom butterfly project through a series of emails that update students’ families, professional colleagues and friends about the progress of the metamorphosis of caterpillar to butterfly in room 22. My proposal will be for Ms. H to use a blog to document the process of butterfly hatching, the subsequent name selection, and the concluding “butterfly parade” leading to the release of the butterflies.
Rather than sending periodic emails, which loses the flow of her wonderful prose, Ms. H. can add postings on the blog to document the progress. In addition, she can also post pictures and student reflections, as well as her own narrative. I would even like to hear podcasts of the butterfly poems she and her students create.
I would recommend that Ms. H. use Blogger to create a narrative blog to relate the day to day progress of her classroom butterfly project. To increase the security of this public software, I would remove the navbar and would establish it as a “read only” blog to allow teacher posting only. I selected Blogger because it is free, and I am comfortable enough with the software to easily teach Ms. H how to use it. I also like the ability to remove the navbar and to limit participation to invited guests.
Because of server restrictions, only teachers who use Microsoft Frontpage can publish on our district website.
Because of this limitation, we need an alternate vehicle to allow our elementary teachers to have a web presence.
A “read only” blog is an easy work-around.
our district also needs to see a “benign” application of blogging
that will demonstrate how teachers can use a blog as a communication tool in their classroom. Once staff and administration get comfortable with a closed blog, it will be easier to add the interactive component in a “members only” blog so that students can comment on the posts and add their own insights about the butterfly project.
“Bloggers: A Portrait of the internet's New Storytellers”
(Lenhart and Fox) notes the rising popularity of blogging in America. Most bloggers are under 30, and most bloggers do so for” creative expression”.
The Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to Promote literacy in the Classroom (
) the author makes a strong point for using blogs in schools, integrating storytelling and technology to improve writing.
While there are many examples of educational blogs used in high school and college, noteworthy blogs on the elementary level were not so easy to find. Perhaps elementary teachers are opting out of search engine databases, or perhaps blogging is not a technology used in the lower grades. In any case, the blogs listed below demonstrate their successful use with younger students.
2006 Edublog Award Winner
Barbara Cohen created this blog to relate the story of a mallard duck who makes her home at Marrin County Day School. Primarily teacher postings, the blog also includes student comments such as “Second Grade Duck Theories” and First Grade “I Wonder’s”
This first grade teacher uses a blog primarily as a communication tool for parents, and a fun place for her students to check homework assignments and other things of interest. Her school, Butler Elementary, has created their entire school website using a commercial blogging software – resulting in a very long homepage. Each teacher in the school has created his/her own unique looking class page linked from the school’s page.
Mrs. Dudiak’s Awesome Readers and Writers
Mrs. Dudiak has been cited as an example on many lists of educational websites, but this blog has not been updated since June 2004.
This tblog is active. It was created by third grade teachers at J.H. House Elementary School in Rockdale County to “to celebrate the Writing of Third Graders.”
Our district always has a Celebration of Learning in the spring. It would be fun to have an online version – someday.
Ms. H. is
apprehensive to abandon a technology
she can use comfortably
(email) but appreciates the format of the blog as more appropriate to the task. Ms. H could post this on district web but, since elementary schools use Macintosh, she does not have access to Frontpage. This web based application will be easy to use and allow Ms. H. to get the butterfly saga online.
no one is blogging yet in our district
, I started with a “closed blog” without the interactive component since
student safety is our biggest concern
. I will also remove the navibar to keep us out of the blog ring. This will hopefully satisfy administrators and parents new to this technology.
No formal training is provided by district
yet but I promised to teach my friend how to maintain the blog and to provide her with “printed directions” in exchange for lunch! I’ve taught with Ms. H. for many years, and although we are no longer in the same building, I do provide email/phone support for my friends.
Results from a small, but ongoing web survey “Web 2.0 Barriers” (Shareski) notes that lack of understanding (54%) and lack of conviction ( 16% ) were the two biggest barriers to implementing Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. I agree that lack of understanding about blogging keeps many teachers and administrators from using this technology in our district.
The institutional culture set by our
top level adminstration is somewhat fearful of social networking applications
and very concerned with student safety and privacy. The
concept of blogging to many teachers is a foreign one
, and there is always
apprehension about adding “one more thing”
to an already too busy day. There has been no training on any Web 2.0 applications, but our tech supervisor has been previewing various wiki, blog and word processing options. There will always be the “early innovator” willing to try something new, and hopefully spread the word about its’ ease of use. Our tech supervisor wants to use a wiki/blog software package housed on our district network and initially used by staff in-house for professional development. No new technology is implemented without problems, and I’m sure we’ll have our snafus along the way.
The Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) has made social networking a hot topic in our district, and as a result, no one has made consistent use of any of the Web 2.0 applications because of privacy and security issues. We are studying the use of wikis and online collaborative software such as Writely for collaborative projects but nothing has been used with students.
The Butterfly Journal will probably be implemented since Ms. H., a published poet, recognizes the potential for blogging and has expressed a real interest in the project. It is a closed blog so parental permission is not required, and I believe we have complied with all the tech supervisor’s requirements for safe blogging on this project.
I do have concerns about actually implementing the blog for my final project since it involves over 125 students, and requires student posting and commenting. My supervisor was supportive of the idea – he would really like to see blogging software on our district server - but was supportive with reservations since the blog would be available on the open web.
“The Educated Blogger: Using Weblogs to Promote literacy in the Classroom."
13.2 (2005): 91-98.
Education and information Technology Library
. Association for the Advancement
of Computing in Education. 5 Apr. 2007
Lenhart, Amanda and Susannah Fox.
Bloggers: A Portrait of the internet's New Storytellers
. 19 July 2006.
Pew Internet and American Life Project. 5 Apr. 2007
“Web 2.0 Barriers Survey”.
Weblog entry. 18 Mar. 2007. Ideas and Thoughts from an EdTech.
5 Apr. 2007
Messerlian, Amy-Special Ed.--High School
Amy Messerlian writes:
As one of the class of 2008 advisors, I would like to implement a class of 2008 blog. Blogging can be defined as “a web site, where you write stuff on an ongoing basis. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what's new. Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. It's about connecting with and hearing from anyone who reads your work and cares to respond (
I am personally interested in connecting more often with this large group of students (about 400 to me more precise), getting their input on what they would like to do during senior week, where they would like to have their senior prom, how to prepare for their senior project, and just have general conversation about things going on in their class. This would also be a great place to post pictures, such as those taken at their recent prom, during different assemblies, etc. On a weekly basis, my co-advisors and I meet with our 5 class officers to discuss certain issues, plan for future events, etc. Although anyone in the class of 2008 is invited to attend, only very few do. I would like to use this as an avenue to rope in other students and to encourage their involvement in their class to foster school spirit.
This plan will fill the need of building a closer community within our school, especially within the class of 2008. I think bringing everyone together and allowing every class of 2008 student to have access to free flowing conversation about things that involve and affect them will bring about a supportive community. I think students are interested in other student’s opinions and like to hear what others have to say but rarely play a role in what should be considered important to them. This resource would be bringing together a large group of people on a fairly regular basis to discuss things that are important to them. Not only would this be helping the student body, but it would also help me and my two fellow advisors to get to know more of the students we service and in addition be sure we are hearing what they have to say. It would also allow us to post important dates for them to be aware of, etc.
I believe this technology would be very useful in the NKHS setting. Students enjoy using the computer and sharing their opinions/ideas. We are well aware that they like to blog since most have a myspace. With this being said, students will be more apt to participate in class opinions and discussions if they can do it from the comfort of their own home or during free time during the school day through a venue they think is “fun”. In an article written by Stephen Downes about Educational Blogging (
, Downes discusses why more and more educators are using blogs and how successful they can be. One particular quote in the article really caught my attention because it relates exactly to why I think a class of 2008 blog would be beneficial. Downes quotes Mireille Guay, an instructor at St. Joseph: "The conversation possible on the weblog is also an amazing tool to develop our community of learners. The students get to know each other better by visiting and reading blogs from other students. They discover, in a non-threatening way, their similarities and differences. The student who usually talks very loud in the classroom and the student who is very timid have the same writing space to voice their opinion. It puts students in a situation of equity." At Albany High School in New York students write quite frequently on a blog (
After viewing the blog, I found the very thing I have been discussing in this paper. A post was made discussing a junior class event.
I personally think there would not be many, if any, roadblocks in the way of creating a class of 2008 blog. North Kingstown School District is rich in technology and the technology staff is always willing to help and get things up and running. They get excited to hear about new expansions in the area of technology and to them this would be a great use of technology. I would be the main person setting up the blog, along with my two fellow advisors, and through this course I have learned much about how to have a successful blog. I believe this blog would be a “safe place” for students to get involved with their class as a whole and I am sure this would be supported by administration. To get things up and running, there would need to be an introduction of the blog, its purpose, etc. A class of 2008 meeting would need to be held in the auditorium during an advisory period. This way we could reach all students at once and show them how to access the blog via a laptop and projection screen. This would give us the opportunity to show them how to navigate through the blog, etc. This would also allow us to get student input on other things they would like to see on the blog. Since we would chose to use a free blogging site there would be no monetary concerns.
I would suggest to my fellow class advisors that we use a service such as blogger.com. Blogger has very simple, explicit directions and provides a tutorial on how to get up and going. In addition to all of this, it is free. Another server we may consider using would be epals (
). This site has been specifically designed for the educational community, with built-in safeguards and the ability to control permissions and settings according to who can post, participate and access the blogs. The reason I would choose to use an outside server rather than the one provided by my district (the one I have been using this semester) is because the outside servers would allow us to post pictures, videos, etc.
I would hope this class of 2008 blog would encourage more students to have an interest in taking part in their class. I would hope this would be an outlet for students to share their ideas for senior week, senior projects, fundraising for the class, community service projects, etc. Given that this class is graduating next June, I would hope this blog would continue to be a way for students to communicate once they leave the walls of NKHS and go their separate ways.
Orburn, Clare--4th grade
Clare A. Ornburn--4th Grade Teacher
Ashaway Elementary School
Ashaway, RI 02891
May 2, 2007
To Linda Perra, Ashaway Elementary School Principal
Proposal for beginning a professional
for the teachers of Ashaway Elementary School
I would like to implement the use of a wiki in our school to help foster a conversation about, and the sharing of rubrics, strategies, and materials being used in the classrooms across grade levels. This wiki would help us communicate with each other even if we don’t see each other daily. It will give us a chance to share what we are doing and the tools we are using. It can be a place to share rubrics, write new ones, and rewrite others to make them more user friendly.
The word wiki is short for the Hawaiian word wiki-wiki, which means “quick”. A wiki is a website where anyone can share information they have in a very quick and easy way. You can add on to someone else’s information, add your own information, or even change information you know to be inaccurate. In short everyone is editor-in-chief of the wiki. It is a collaborative site for all to use and learn from.
The service I would like to use to create our school wiki is a site called PBwiki. After watching many video clips and visiting various sites, I have found this to be the most user friendly for those of us who are not as technologically savvy as others. Pbwiki will let us collaborate, with each of us having our own personal web page. It is a free service with 10mb of storage space, unlimited pages, and can have an unlimited number of visitors. All educational wikis from this site are ad-free as well. Anyone with the password can edit the wiki, we control who has access to it. It is named Pbwiki because they claim it is as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich. It takes about 5 minutes to have a page up and running. Any data we put onto the wiki is backed up hourly. We can monitor every change that is made to the wiki through our email, so we can keep up to date with what everyone is doing and saying.
Using this technology will be a great benefit to our staff. With our school improvement plan initiative to create more consistency across grade levels, this will help to facilitate a constant updating of what we are using and doing. Rather than waiting for professional development meetings to rewrite our rubrics so that they are consistent across the grades, we can continue our work through out the month. We can even post work that could become models for the rubric. The wiki could become an online faculty meeting so to speak.
One example of teachers using wikis as a collaborative tool is from North Carolina. The Teacher’s Lounge,
/, is a site that allows teachers to post their lesson plans and resources and to work collaboratively to refine and perfect them.
A power point on wikis offered at
talks about how wikis can be used to bring groups together in a virtual space. It can encourage campus collaboration and departmental communication.
At the Website
they state that,” beyond student projects in schools wikis can support professional development. Faculty study groups can share collected knowledge. Teachers and administrators might use them as planning tools for drafting new policies or for planning upcoming meetings or in-services. Individuals could comment on and contribute to agenda items prior to an event and offer feedback on those items following the event.”
St. Francois Xavier Community School in Manitoba
uses their wiki to communicate with teachers, parents, and students. This site has many important documents, schedules, activities and other things. There are many links to other important pages for this school.
There can certainly be some roadblocks to wikis. Many members of our faculty do not feel comfortable using new technology. Some have just begun using email. We would need to make this as easy to use as possible with plenty of training and support. We could introduce the concept using the tutorial offered on
. This site offers a “Wiki Walk Through” that puts it all in very user-friendly terms. Pbwiki also offers a very basic step-by-step tutorial on how to use their site. If we use this free site the financial aspect will be a non-issue. Because we are not making this accessible to our students the security issue should not be a problem.
We can use some of our professional development time to do group training on how to use our wiki. If we can have one teacher from each grade level volunteer to be that grade’s trouble shooter this will give those reluctant teachers a liaison to turn to when they need help. Starting off small and helping each other will be the key to making this work in our building.
I hope for this wiki to grow into a learning tool for all of our teachers. I envision it becoming not only an Ashaway Elementary School wiki, but also a Chariho wiki. I hope that someday all of the elementary teachers in our district will be using and collaborating on this wiki. We could develop consistency among the schools in our district so that when they merge into the regional middle and high school all of our elementary students will have had very similar educational experiences.
Panzarella, Karen-High Sch-Sp. Ed
D3 goes here.
Pereira, Lisa-High Sch-ELA
D3 goes here.
D3 goes here.
Rollins, Scott-High Sch.--Bus/Computer
As the class advisor, I am proposing to create a Class of 2009 blog at South Kingstown High School. As the class moves into their junior year, the ability to disseminate important information is becoming more and more crucial. One of the biggest complaints heard from the student body the past two years (this applies to other areas of our school as well) is that they simply don’t know when certain events are taking place, or they aren’t aware of all the details of class happenings.
Description of Technology
A blog is basically a journal kept on the internet. This journal is often updated daily and contains all information that the person/group maintaining the BLOG (Blogger) wishes to share with the world.
How will a Class Blog fill our Need?
With events like SKPades, Junior Prom, Senior Trip, etc. just around the corner, it will be important to have a good flow of communication amongst the students, faculty, and administration and of course parents. I believe that creating a class blog will allow this communication to be a two way street, where as up until now it was class officers or myself telling the student body what was happening. Initially our class officers will create this blog and make it available to the student body as early as September. During the junior class assembly, the first week of classes, our officers can let the class members know the web addresses where the blog can be accessed. This blog will allow the entire class to feel like they have an input in class decisions. As you know, in early fall, the junior class is in charge of running the homecoming dance. We can kick off the blog interaction by letting the class to weigh in on dance details such as: theme, DJ used, food to be served, decorations, etc.
Evidence of Blog Success
There are many many examples of how blogs are currently being used successfully in different facets of education. The following are a few articles, success stories and examples of how blogs are being used in schools today.
is a blog used by a high school in Albany, NY. On this blog you will find postings about everything from “Falcon Pride Day 2007” to “The Pro’s and Con’s of Albany High”. This blog is used in way similar to what would meet the needs of our class.
is a blog created by HS Principal Alan Knobloch. Navigating through this site, you can see how interesting life is at Puxi HS. This blog allows the Alan to have an open line of communication with parents and students. You can find out what is going on in the school, his ideas for raising school spirit, and even how the sports teams did the previous day.
is a blog created by Bud Hunt, a high school language arts and journalism at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado. He is a teacher-consultant with the Colorado State University Writing Project, an affiliate of the National Writing Project, a group working to improve the teaching of writing in schools via regular and meaningful professional development.
is an interesting interview with Margaret Lincoln, a media specialist at a HS in Lakeview, MI. This interview/article explains how blogs, Wikis and other technology have been introduced at her HS. I think it’s a good article to read when considering introducing these concepts in a HS.
Possible Roadblocks and Overcoming Them
Like any implementation of technology, I’m sure there are going to be some roadblocks. I think the first thing that would need to be addressed, would be to explain exactly what a blog is and how it actually will work. Since not everybody is tech savvy, this explanation is crucial. During our class assemblies, the first week of school, we could go over this with the student body. We’ll have to explain how to set up an account, and exactly how the blogging experience will work at
SKHS. This explanation and inner workings of blogging will also be important to explain to faculty and parents. I believe we can introduce this to the faculty at our conference day that takes place the day before school starts, and we can take place with parents on “Open House” night. I think as far as the parents and faculty are concerned, it will also be important to alert both to the fact that comments will be monitored before being uploaded to the blog. Being the class advisor, I would be willing to be the moderator of the comments. I think that parents who are unaware of blogging might be a bit apprehensive to what might be posted for the world to see. With all the bad press lately regarding sites like myspace.com and facebook.com to name a few, it will be important to alleviate these fears immediately. Like any roadblock in education, I believe the best way to overcome them is with communication and explanation. I will be more than happy to make myself available through email, to any parent or faculty member that would have a concern with the blog.
Use of Software
Although there are several FREE blog sites available for us to use, I would recommend going with blogger.com. I have used blogger myself to create a blog, and find it very user friendly. In addition, there are several online tutorials available to help even the novice blogger out. These tutorials make it very easy for someone to not only create a blogger account, but to also create their own blog is interested. I am listing some of the tutorial sites below:
Plan and Hope for the Future
My hope for this blog, is that it will encourage more students to actively take part in class decisions, and eventually in all school decisions. With SK being a large HS, communication is always an issue. If this blog is successful, I believe overall communication throughout the school will be improved. We have all learned that the more input a student feels they have in school decisions, the more likely they are to treat the school with respect. We could use the Class of 09 blog as a model to create other school blogs. School decisions such as lunch menus, activity dates, grading policies, curriculum, etc. could all receive input from the entire South Kingstown community, thus creating a larger overall sense of ownership.
Saunders, Mary-High School--LMS
The GHS Site-based Advisory Committee (SBAC) has identified increased parental involvement as one of the school improvement goals for this coming year. A parent handbook was suggested as a means of providing information for parents. We all agreed that informed and involved parents are essential to the success of GHS students. I propose that Gloucester High School use a free Internet service to create an online parent handbook in the form of a wiki, initially for the parents of entering freshmen and ultimately for all parents. Wikis are Web sites that can be modified by those with permission to do so. They are easier to set up and more flexible than Web pages. They have their own url which could be a link from the Gloucester Schools Web site. Using this wiki, a subcommittee of the SBAC can collaborate to produce such a handbook, easily present it to the SBAC for comments and revision, and then publish it through the school Web site as well as print copies as needed.
Farkas, Meredith. "Using Wikis to Create Online Communities."
. 01 Sept 2005. Web Junction. 19 Jul 2007
Meredith Farkas is addressing the library community when she describes how wikis can be used as Websites to build community through the dissemination of information. The article begins with a brief history of wikis and a general description of their function plus links to examples of successful use.
Jakes, David. "Wild about wikis: tools for taking student and teacher collaboration to the next level (Product Guide)."
Technology & Learning
27.1 (August 2006): 6(3). Educator's Reference Complete. Thomson Gale. Peabody Library (Georgetown). 19 July 2007
The collaborative functions of wikis in education are described as well as online tools and resources. The article provides links to more examples of successful uses of wikis in education.
Lawson, B. "Frontpage."
Royal School Parent Handbook
. 18 Jul 2007. Royal School, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 22 Jul 2007
This is an example of a parent handbook that uses wiki software to provide an online, constantly updated source of information for parents.
Sidney Secondary College Band Program
. 16 Jul 2007. Sidney Secondary College, Leichhardt, New South Wales. 22 Jul 2007
Another example of a parent handbook, this uses the Wikispaces service that is free to educators. For some reason they have chosen to display ads on the right of the page; this is not required. This site is an example of the access structure available to us on Wikispaces. To make changes in the text of the handbook site, one must click on “join this space” which links to a form to fill out requesting permission. But, for a parent who wants to make a comment, the discussion tab at the top of each page links to a form in which to add comments to the discussion, thus giving the parents a voice without changing the original content of the handbook.
Some of our committee members may not be comfortable using the wiki technology, but I believe that once they try it, they will find it quite easy to use. If not, other members of the committee could enter the revisions suggested by those who are not ready to use a wiki. Once the parent handbook is published online, only designated committee members would be able to make changes. Someone would be needed to monitor the site, keep it current, and approve changes.
Of course, not all parents have access to the Internet so print copies would be necessary. Eventually, fewer print copies will be required as parents choose to use only the online version. The advantage to the online will be the instant publication of updates. Parents and other members of the Gloucester community would be able to add comments to the handbook through the discussion feature of the wiki. In this way our freshmen parents will benefit from the experience of other parents and create an online community of parents. Increasingly, our teachers are using online classroom management systems like Moodle and Nicenet. They can each provide links to the parent handbook on their sites.
I have begun an example prototype
of the proposed online parent handbook incorporating Dr. Sullivan’s initial message to parents of freshmen students for the
Cape Ann Beacon
. I am proposing the use of Wikispaces
because it is free and, when used for educational purposes, it does not include advertising.
As we teachers and administrators use and become comfortable with Web 2.0, we will find, as other educators have, that wikis and blog can be powerful tools for collaboration in the classroom as well.
Mary Saunders July 23, 2007
To mandate that every element of Beacon’s Capstone Project be online in the forms of blogs, wikis and video hosting.
) is essentially an electronic portfolio to store student work. It has capabilities far beyond that. The site can be customized to serve a number of different uses such as an interactive résumé, a journal of educational experiences, an archive of work produced through a course, a collaborative project, and a teacher’s compilation of learning materials. More importantly, it allows other students to see and comment upon the work of their peers as the projects are being developed.
Most of the tasks involved in Beacon’s Capstone Project are written: a project proposal, a thesis statement, several drafts of a screenplay, a production breakdown report, as well as journal entries on each step of the process from scriptwriting through editing the final film. By putting all of this work online, we open up student work for peer review and comment as well as examination by Capstone judges. These volunteers are often busy educators, artists and business leaders. The ability to offer them an online option for much of the Capstone dossier review is a big leap forward.
In addition to the material and labor costs associated with creating eight copies of the printed dossier for each student [(8 judges X 35 students X approximately 70 pages each X $.05 = $980 in materials) + approximately $250 in personnel cost for a total well over $1000!!!] By having the site hosted externally, I can instruct students to use it as part of standard classroom instruction. Judges will receive training as they have before, except the training will now include Digication. Also, students will develop meaningful online skills that will aid them in many different future fields of study and/or careers. Students are allowed to keep their Digication portfolio account open indefinitely following graduation. Also, many faculty have expressed desire to see student films, but DVDs have not always been available. Now they will be able to review them at their leisure. This will help faculty buy-in to the Capstone project.
Demand for digital portfolios continues to increase. Traditional high school students may benefit from this by having access to their work to show growth throughout four years. As an arts high school, Beacon has additional portfolio needs that can best be met digitally. The following sources demonstrate the need for digital portfolio sites like Digication:
This article extols the benefits of blogs and online portfolios for meaningful professional growth opportunities by building on students’ familiarity with sites like myspace.com and facebook.com.
The Read/Write web finds a meaningful tool for educators and students in Digication. Jeffrey Yan, co-founder of Digication refers to the Web 2.0 as the “social network which lets users drive the application.” Can you say “student-centered learning?
Here’s the kicker: Digication service is free for a school’s first 1000 students. Beacon’s anticipated student body for 2007-2008 is approximately 170. As cash strapped as we are as a new charter, this allows us access to an extremely powerful tool.
Digication was designed by students and faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design to enhance RISD’s art education program. It has been easily adapted to our visual arts curriculum and will not be a culture shock as I introduce it as the vehicle for delivering Capstone assignments.
Our primary roadblock may be access to technology for the first half of the year. Although our student to computer ratio is highly competitive with most public schools, our curriculum may hinder implementation for the first semester. We have a Microsoft Office course the first semester which ties up our computer lab for 2 of the 4 block classes each day. This will make the computer lab highly difficult to access for one of my two Capstone courses. However, I have 4 student computers in my room. With creative planning, I should be able to keep them on pace until the year’s midpoint. Culturally, I think our school is ready for this. As I am the only Capstone teacher, faculty training is a non-issue.
The key here is for us to use as many web-based applications as possible to allow students to work in many different environments. The key software/sites to be used include:
– to host all assignments, rubrics, student work and comments. Free, RI-based company with amazing personal support.
- freeware that allows students to create many of the written components of their project (i.e., script, production reports, etc.). Film production software tends to be pricey ($300+). This is FREE!
– a site specifically created to host student academic videos.
This plan is ambitious but doable: Immediate implementation! The product I provide for this Friday will be ready to be used beginning in the fall complete with due dates and expectations. Existing school resources should be able to handle the project and students’ buy in will be easier if they immerse themselves from the beginning, rather than shifting gears somewhere in the middle. The amount of written work for the Capstone Project begins slowly then accelerates in the late winter/early spring. This should allow students to get acclimated to the environment prior to a heavy workload. Long-term plans would include connecting with similar courses across the world.
Michael Skeldon (7.25.07)
Proposal for School-Wide Vocabulary Wiki
Okay, so – I have been wildly distracted this week by the coming of HP & the Deathly Hallows and
at Harvard Yard. I now have my book, though I cannot bring myself to read it; my children have grown up with Rowling’s characters. I could not bear it if awful things happened to Neville again, or if Hagrid is killed. In any case, it has ceased to become a work-stopping distraction.
Here is what a wiki is:
The simplest online database that could possibly work.
Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the fly.
Wiki is unusual among group communication mechanisms in that it allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself.
Like many simple concepts, "open editing" has some profound and subtle effects on Wiki usage. Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users."
From Ward Cunningham, originator of the wiki concept
I wrote in an earlier post about using wikis for group vocabulary building. This is an expansion of that idea.
A brilliant colleague of mine, Kathleen Bridgewater, is always looking for wonderful and inspiring ways to raise up student learning. Earlier this year, she taught some professional development sessions for our staff at
Erving Elementary School
and presented some exciting, fabulous, and very do-able ideas.
One of Kathleen’s main concepts is the idea that vocabulary, in order to be meaningful, must be taught in context. Lists of vocabulary words to look up (and write sentences with) are not so very useful if our goal is to expand our students’ actual use lexicons. Instead, we need to show kids how words are used, in phrases, idioms, the quirks of our language. Some tools she showed us are the Collins Cobuild Dictionary and the Collins Concordance Sample website:
Another of Kathleen’s awesome ideas is that vocabulary instruction can happen across the grades. She envisioned bulletin boards throughout the school, like a ribbon at 3rd-grader eye level, on which words that children were learning and using in their curriculum could be posted. The words, their definitions, the specific phrases in which they were encountered, and some visual representation of the meaning. While lining up for recess or bathroom trips, kids would be surrounded by useful words in useful context! Kathleen also envisioned days when everyone in the school, staff and kids, would wear words around their necks, like field day for vocabulary: People would be invited to stop in the halls and challenge one another to define the words. They could swap words, share words, talk about words! Kids might even stump teachers!
Here’s where the wikis come in. Earlier, I had written about classroom vocabulary wikis, updated daily by a designated student. I think that this could go school-wide. Words could be added for each subject area as they come up. Students will each get a turn to be their classroom’s daily word wiki recorder, entering the word, where they saw it, during what lesson, in what phrase, and the meaning that makes sense in that context. As the year goes on, students in other classes could add entries for the same words as they see them, with new phrases and shades of meaning. Everyone, including parents, could read the entries. One hope is that kids would become inspired to add words that they learn via their free-choice reading, too. The librarian (me) could oversee the project, making sure entries stayed true to the spirit of the project and school-worthy.
I think I would start by sharing the practicality of wikis with my colleagues in a professional development session. I might show them the
pb wiki video clips
that Dave shared with our class. I might also show them the
, though we wouldn’t watch them together, as they’re too long for an afternoon professional development session! Next, I would show them the prototype vocabulary wiki that I will have set up. We’ll use pbwiki or wikispaces because I have heard of them!
The biggest roadblock to vocabulary wiki success would probably be time. Teachers are so busy. They might like this idea or be inspired by this, but wonder where they are going to find the time to get comfortable with using the wiki so that they can turn around and show kids how to do it. I think the solution is for me, the librarian, to be the keeper of the wiki. I’ll set it up, I’ll maintain the content. I’ll train everyone during a professional development session so that they don’t have to carve out time to learn. All staff members will get printed directions, and we’ll make a link both to the wiki and to the use directions from the school web page. We’ll practice together for an afternoon. There might be some staff who will choose not to use this in their daily practice, and that’s okay. But I can already see in my mind’s eye who will get excited about this and begin using it right away. Once we have some substantial entries and begin sharing the link with parents, I think things will really take off.
There are so many benefits!
1—Vocabulary building. Students will get tuned into discovering new words during their lessons and reading. When they see new words, they will grab them instead of sliding over them and hoping they are not important.
2—Community building across grades. Students will have a chance to read one another’s entries. They will be encouraged to talk with one another about them, especially if kids find that they are reading and enjoying the same novels or have the same non fiction interest.
3—Friendly competition. How many common phrases can you find that use that word? How many distinct definitions?
4—Critical thinking. Students will be asked to use at least two different dictionaries when recording definitions for the words they post. Which dictionaries are easiest to use? Which have meanings for more of the words? Which are easiest to understand? Kids might even write dictionary reviews!
5—Community building across roles. Staff, students, and parents will all be invited to read and contribute. Parents will have a bigger window into how their children spend their days. Staff will learn more about their colleagues’ curricula. Staff will get a glimpse of the thinking and writing styles of the children that are coming their way in future years. Kids will get to contribute to something big and exciting.
6—Technology skills. Students will learn to use this technology.
7—Archive. The wiki can serve as an ongoing, always-accessible archive of vocabulary learning. Words can be revisited at any time, from any computer. This can be an incredible organizational tool for kids and staff alike.
8—Opportunities for kids with different learning styles. Kids can each work at their own speeds. The writing can be done at home or at school, during a designated class period or during any other time if kids need more time to reflect and choose their words. Kids will also have limitless opportunities to revisit and add to their entries. Such efforts can be tracked by the teacher via the page history archive and time stamp features. Kids can get credit for their enthusiasm, their effort, their time put in, as well as their final products.
9—Wiki software is free. We already have the computers, and our kids have the word processing practice already built into their school week.
Articles in support of wikis as collaborative learning tool:
Fernando, Angelo. "Working off the same page: based on the idea that more minds are better than one, wikis let you collaborate with colleagues and strangers alike.(tech talk)."
24.3 (May-June 2007): 11(3).
. Thomson Gale. Jones Library, Inc.. 26 July 2007
Gordon, Rachel Singer, and Michael Stephens. "Putting Wikis into Play.(School libraries)."
Computers in Libraries
27.2 (Feb 2007): 42(2).
. Thomson Gale. Jones Library, Inc.. 26 July 2007
Lamb, Annette, and Larry Johnson. "An information skills workout: wikis and collaborative writing.(infotech)."
34.5 (June 2007): 57(3).
. Thomson Gale. Jones Library, Inc.. 26 July 2007
McPherson, Keith. "Wikis and student writing.(literacy links)(Column)."
34.2 (Dec 2006): 70(3).
. Thomson Gale. Jones Library, Inc.. 26 July 2007
Szymkowicz, Joe-High School
Proposal and Lesson using
As I complete the final stages of this course, using technology in my classroom has been reinforced with some of the new concepts learned. During the last school year, all of my lessons were presented using a laptop and an in focus projector. In addition, I had infused technology within all facets of my classroom. Why? Two reasons, it benefits multiple intelligences which helps all of my students, and a selfish reason; my health. Thus I recently completed my masters in integrating technology as technology is the only way that I may continue to teach.
The technology being used for this proposal and lesson are not necessarily new. Also, I have just completed RITTI training (second time), which will make more technology available for my classroom. Ultimately, I will use many forms of technology for the lesson proposed. Power point, Movie Maker, use of computers for research, and finally a reflection using either a podcast or posting a word document on to the RIEPS online portfolio system will all be used for this lesson. While the “performance task” is being completed, students will post comments and complete homework assignments via a blog which I set up for my classes this year.
How will this benefit my school? I’m not sure. Certainly Coventry has been in the fore front of new “ideas” for education. Currently, I am one of less than 10 teachers at the school who use the online portfolio system. Thus the more use of technology and creation of “performance tasks” will benefit the school, but more importantly the students. The evidence that technology helps students is everywhere. The more students are hands on or are asked to complete performance based tasks, usually creates more learning because kids are active in their learning. For examples of using technology, please view my website:
for examples in my classroom and links and examples from “experts”.
After the completion of the RITTI training, I will have several computers put into my classroom. The only drawbacks I can foresee would be filters that are put upon some of the websites could block a blog or wiki. Another possible problem would be the installation of technology, as it must past through the usual red tape at all public schools.
The final proposal for a lesson to be implemented during the first 2 weeks of school has been attached. In addition, a video introducing the task, a prompt with possible questions, and the rubric are also attached. The new blog will also be included.
To: Susan Naysnerski
Principal, Narragansett Elementary School
Cc: K. Sipala, Superintendent, J. Paolucci, Assistant Superintendent and C. Batchelder, NES Technology Coordinator
I am submitting this proposal for developing a Wiki about best practices in teaching Writing. My rationale for suggesting this is the following:
1. A Wiki fosters collaborative professional development, establishing a Professional Learning Community (PLC), through the use of this online tool.
2. This wiki would align with NES’s major goal for improving writing achievement as stated in our School Improvement Plan (SIP) for 2007-2008.
3. Using the wiki in this way would provide a tutorial about this online software. Hopefully that will encourage teachers to try developing wikis with their students and/or lead to further professional development sessions about Read/Write Web tools.
Your knowledge of such software and its applications make this a comfortable proposal for me. It has been your stewardship that has moved NES well along, implementing technology to better prepare our students for the 21st century. Your voice resonates in my head as I consider John Dewey’s quote: “If we teach as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of their future.” Your vision led us from crimping the wires onto the ends of those online cables so many years ago to the endless possibilities we have yet to realize.
For those who are not as familiar with wikis, this would be an opportunity to introduce the software to them. We could begin with “What is a Wiki?” sites that might be helpful:
Pbwiki is an easy program to use for creating a wiki and it’s free!
Carol Batchelder and I could examine the wiki engines list for other possibilities to consider.
“Wiki Walk Through” was written to guide teachers through the steps of designing a wiki. I found it to be straightforward.
This slide show is a comprehensive tutorial about the online software, their uses and strengths. We could use it with staff or follow its model to create one of our own. It has numerous hyperlinks and multi-media included. I’d rate this a full five stars!!
For those frequently asked questions, we could consider using the following:
Why use Wikis in an
From the O’Reilly Emerging Tech Conference in San Diego, March 14-17, 2006, I found this presentation. The authors are Tom Hoffman, manager of School Tool and Tim Lauer, principal of Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. Points they made were how security is simple, accessible only to the local school community. Classroom teachers’ expectations carry over to wiki writing, and how software permits students to “focus on the writing instead of navigating file servers”.
Another school success story with wikis is from Buckman Elementary, also in Portland. They find their students are “negotiating meaning, have knowledge construction, and develop student-to-student interaction”. I love the focus questions used by students to evaluate their thinking: How does it feel to have someone edit your document? How can you see a document from someone else’s mind?
How does a Wiki impact learning?
All learning begins with us. Online tools may require a shift in our thinking. What we do know is how wikis foster community collaboration, demand respect for other writers/contributors, demonstrate for students how to work in the public domain and provide accountability since all authors are identified and comments are date/time stamped. Best of all, wikis require only simple word processing skills.
3. Since our TIME is so limited, why should we take more time to develop Wiki work?
At this same site, the author Dana Huff expands on this point when she points out how wikis enable students to connect with the world through their work. Huff contends that when students work through the writing process, we only give “lip service” to the final stage. She believes that “publication should be real” as it is when students place their work on a wiki. I believe Huff overlooks how comments received are a form of online conferring. They may cause the writer to reread, reflect and revise the writing before publication.
One comment made to Huff comes from Luyen Chou: “Wikis tend to bring out the cooperative spirit…helping students examine complex situations and then define solvable problems within them.” Isn’t that the essence of thinking and learning?
Dewey’s Four Primary Interests of Learners expand on Chou’s idea: Inquiry (or Investigation), Communication (Social Interaction), Construction (delight in Creativity) and Expression (Reflection). Talk about differentiating instruction!
__http://www.readingonline.org /electronic/JAAL/5-02_column /index.html__
So what problems do Wikis present to educators?
John Pearce of Victoria, Australia has a year long journal about developing wikis with students on his site. In “Overcoming Obstacles”, Pearce acknowledges the difficulties he faced, but concludes that they tended to be the “problems of education in general”.
I also found a podcast discussion, “Weblogs, Wikis and Feeds, Oh My!” The contributors are from the National Writing Project. They begin with the dilemma of defining “new literacies”, but work through how social online tools are not about the technology. They demand of us to think and refine how we teach thinking skills.
Susan, what I’ve presented so far deals with wikis and students.
I’m sending along two more links that look at using wikis for professional development:
__http://www.wikieducator.org /Biology_in_elementary_schools #Tested_%20%20teaching_ideas__
Check out “Tested Teaching Ideas” and “Island of Misfit Ideas”.
Another one is a presentation made to pre-service teachers.
__http://coolcatteacher.blogspot .com/2007/02/teaching-wikis-to -future-educators-my.html__
Developing a wiki with my colleagues is an exciting prospect. The collective learning that can be shared through a wiki would become invaluable. Beginning with baby steps, thinking about teaching and learning of writing only, our staff has a wealth of successful ideas to share. My hope is that this becomes a rich learning experience for us, a collaboration that will lead to people raising questions about their own practice. I believe that is collective intelligence. “Best Writing Practices at NES…or we get by with a little help from our friends.” I can see the potential for expanding this to other content areas, how student work can be showcased and the ability for parents (SIT team members and the school community) to become informed and engaged with this work.
I thought I would end with what Kathy Cassidy’s first graders think about wikis (found on the slideshow I listed above.). Their writing is built on the model using a text,
The Important Book
by Margaret Wise Brown. 1949. New York: Harper Collins. (You may recall how I modeled this lesson for our staff.) Since learning begins with the learner, here are their words:
The important thing about a wiki is…that anyone can edit it. A wiki can be about almost anything and you can comment when you edit. It can have a 1,000 names. You can put pictures on it, or not. But, the most important thing about a wiki is that anyone can edit it.
I look forward to working with you on this project.
Robert Kimball ("Toby")
Social Studies Department
South Kingstown High School
Wakefield, RI 02879
Rather than post a long note you will skim, I encourage you to instead appreciate the brief nature of
post and realize that the following assignment was further augmented by students in my classes over the course of 2+ days using a mobile laptop lab and a day of content prep and a day of reflection. I hope you enjoy their link selections - particularly enjoy the links from the Conclusion section - I encouraged the students to be "creative" in that particular paragraph to highlight the fluid/unreliable nature of the wiki-world.
-I propose that VoiceThread be put into practice in our school to allow students and staff to share and collect group conversations.
- VoiceThread is an online multimedia slideshow that holds images, documents, videos, and audio and lets people leave comments using audio, video, or voice. Group conversations can be followed and commented on from around the world.
VoiceThread could be used in the classroom in many different ways.
Oral Histories-Students interview or record grandparents talking about their life, war stories, etc.
Vocabulary Training/ESL Lessons-Teacher records vocabulary lessons and students practice responding.
Art-Teacher or students upload images and other students comment on these images.
Visual Math Lessons-Teacher records lessons explaining concepts for students to use at home.
Lab Reports-Students can record video, audio, and written work relating to experiments to VoiceThread
Digital storytelling-Students actually make something that people all over the world can see and comment on. Imagine the first time a student reads a comment on his work from another country.
Digital Portfolios-Teachers and students can upload examples of student work for archival
Field trips- teachers can upload images of field trips and students can comment or add thoughts vocally or written.
Parental communication-teachers can communicate with parents with video, audio, or written notices.
Teachers can differentiate lessons according to student’s individual needs. Lessons can be extended if needed as well. VoiceThread can be as simple as a student recording spoken words into a microphone or typing a story onto the computer or very complex using a video camera or embedding a VoiceThread onto a website. Each student is able to have their own identity with many different avatars attached to their identity.
VoiceThread allows students to make and post something they created which is closely related to the theory of “constructivism,” which says that learning occurs when people actually construct something. VoiceThread also allows students to work with their own learning style. Visual learners can use images and videos, auditory learners can use audio and vocal posts, and musical learners can use record songs, while kinesthetic learners can record videos of dance, sports, or other movement-based option.
Evidence Showing VoiceThread Works
These are some interesting VoiceThread posts and articles about VoiceThread.
This post shows how a teacher recorded a lesson on measuring angles on a smart notebook.
This post has a student instructing how to multiply and divide fractions.
Here is one where students read their favorite poems.
This post has students writing poetry and drawing pictures relating to weather.
A site formed by a group of educators using VoiceThread for Educators
Excellent article on VoiceThread and how it improves on PowerPoint
This is an article describing the positive virtues of VoiceThread and digital storytelling. The article has a link to a VoiceThread project trying get students enthused in reading using “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
This final article explains what you can do with VoiceThread and how to join.
Cost-$60 per class or $1 per student for whole school
Security-Many people are worried about security of students and their work online.
Cyberbullying-Students can be victims or victimizers of online intimidation.
Teachers and students who don’t know how to use VoiceThread.
Blog sites are often blocked by district filtering software
Ways to overcome roadblocks
VoiceThread has special pricing for district orders.
Cost is less than having to buy and administer new software. No software is loaded onto district computers. VoiceThread is flash based and 99% of computers already have this installed.
Ed.VoiceThread is only for educators and students. All users on this network are invited, known users and student email addresses are not required. Only the administrator knows all information other than student’s first name.
VoiceThread tutorials on homepage to assist teachers and students using VoiceThread.
VoiceThread homepage has information on how to unblock VoiceThread site on filtering software.
Long-Term Goals for Improvement Using VoiceThread
I think that the district will see many areas of improvement if VoiceThread is incorporated into the curriculum. Students who have trouble with class discussions will soon be able to open up more both posting and commenting on other posts they see and listen to. This service will make PowerPoint obsolete. We are all tired of seeing all of those boring PowerPoint presentations. Once VoiceThread is implemented, students will begin adding video, voice, and written works for the whole world to see and comment on.
I think the district will be pleased with the small, $1 per student, investment in VoiceThread. I feel the upside is seemingly unlimited with what students and teachers can do with it. It will help students, staff, and families communicate with each other and others around the world in ways we have never been able to before.
Lincoln High School
I am writing to propose the implementation of school-wide blogging for promoting and assessing reading/literacy and the use of wikis for promoting research.
In this age of technology, we need to utilize the available technology to stimulate student interest as well as teach them the skills necessary for the 21st century.
Blogs are an opportunity for students to express their ideas and to demonstrate comprehension of the assigned readings.
For too long, high school educators have assumed that their students already know how to read and concentrate on content without realizing that students may lack the reading strategies to make the content meaningful to them.
Therefore I am introducing blogs as a way to assess reading and as an outlet for virtual and active student participation with both class discussion and readings.
Wikis are an opportunity for students to get actively engaged in the research and construction of classroom papers.
The school’s mission statement claims that we teach students to be respectful and become lifelong learners.
Wikis (as well as blogs) are vehicles to attain these lofty goals.
They give students the opportunity to work together in appropriate settings to establish goals and fulfill the desired outcomes.
Research has shown that students will collaborate and can learn from this type of interaction.
We are dealing with a “brave new world” of education and technology.
The world is changing rapidly and new forms of communications are constantly being created.
It is incumbent upon educators to recognize this fact and integrate them into our curriculum to benefit our main clients: the students!
Donald Leu of Syracuse University tells us: “Internet resources will increase, not decrease, the central role teachers play in orchestrating learning experiences for students. Teachers will be challenged to thoughtfully guide students’ learning within information environments that are richer and more complex than traditional print media, presenting richer and more complex learning opportunities for both them and their students” (
Blogs offer a way to tap into this new form of literacy.
Anne Davis of Edublog Insight gives several rationales for using blogs in the classroom:
Blogs provide a space for sharing opinions and learning in order to grow communities of discourse and knowledge — a space where students and teachers can learn from each other.
Blogs help learners to see knowledge as interconnected as opposed to a set of discrete facts.
Blogs can give students a totally new perspective on the meaning of voice. As students explore their own learning and thinking and their distinctive voices emerge. Student voices are essential to the conversations we need to have about learning.
Blogs foster ownership and choice. They help lead us away from students trying to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer.
The worldwide audience provides recognition for students that can be quite profound. Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond. It gives them motivation to excel. Students need to be taught skills to foster a contributing audience on their blog.
The archive feature of blogging records ongoing learning. It facilitates reflection and evaluation. One student told me that he could easily find his thoughts on a matter and he could see how his thinking had changed and why.
The opportunity for collective and collaborative learning is enormous. Students have the opportunity to read their classmate’s blogs and those of others. This is not possible in a regular classroom setting.
Blogging provides the possibility of connecting with experts on the topic students are writing.
The interactive nature of blogging creates enthusiasm for writing and communication.
Blogging engages students in conversation and learning.
Blogging encourages global conversations about learning–conversations not previously possible in our classrooms.
Blogging provides the opportunity for our students to learn to write for life-long learning.
Blogging affords us the opportunity to teach responsible public writing. Students can learn about the power of the published word and the responsibilities involved with public writing (
Perhaps the best features of using blogs are their simplicity and expense (or lack) to implement.
I recommend Blogger.com because it is easy to use and best of all, FREE!!
Wikis are also an under-utilized technology opportunity.
Research has shown that wikis have educational benefits.
Naomi Augar, Ruth Raitman and Wanlei Zhou of the School of Information Technology at Deakin University claims that wikis are easy to use, inexpensive (free again to educators at wikispaces.com), and have been demonstrated to help students collaborate and participate in e-learning environments (
Teachers are often reluctant to implement new technologies because they do not feel comfortable using them.
The discomfort comes from the lack of knowledge about the technology itself, the benefits of the technology, and how to implement it.
Readily available professional development opportunities would appear to be the best way to overcome this reluctance.
In this manner the faculty would be introduced to these new technologies and their benefits in a non-threatening manner.
In addition, specific and practical applications need to be presented.
On December 11th, I will present my classroom blogs as reading strategy as part of a PD unit with the Literacy Committee for the Lincoln, RI district.
In this PD opportunity, I will reference the successful roll-out of my blogs this year (p1pysch.blogspot.com and p5psych.blogspot.com) as examples of how to use blogs for assessing reading.
The proposed high school rubric for reading comprehension will be used as the assessment tool.
In addition, I will set up a blog for the committee as a demonstration of the ease of starting a blog for the classroom.
A sample of an appropriate exchange between students (their names have been deleted) in discussing a class topic follows:
In my opinion, animal research in definitely a waste. Not only is it a waste to society but it is harming innocent animals in our world. As said in the document titled Animal Research is Wasteful and Misleading "...animal experiments, however, merely reflect the unique biology of the species being studied...". With that quote animals bodies clearly cant produce the same results that a humans body will so why are we going through all of this research? Certain animals can produce different reactions so why are we trusting certain results. Each species has different dna and as discussed in the document pertaining to wasteful and misleading (animal research) studies may be causing cancer instead of sending it away. Imagine being a chemical being tested on rats and they are not effected by it so doctors think it is okay for humans yet where is the real proof that humans wont have any type of negative reaction to it? Animal studies seem to be more dangerous then they are beneficial. There are more diseases out there than ever before...if animal research has yet to solve anything why do we bother? Animal research has yet to prove any tangible results with humans so overall it seems to be a waste of money and time. It seems as though animal research can prove whatever types of results you'd like because there are so many different animals you can use and so many different variables you can change.
Even in the Animal Research is Vital to Medicine document it is evident that there have not been any discoveries that are one hundred percent beneficial and haven't thus caused other problems to human kind.
September 10, 2008 1:29 PM
--------, I must disagree with you on the statement Animal Research isn't necessarily. On the contrary, it is vital to the development of newer medecines. If it is a question of morality, think of the animals we kill for food everyday. For us to survive, something else MUST die whether it be animal or plant. In short, their deaths go to our betterment. The same goes for animals we use as test subjects for chemicals. However, I believe your idea is concerning effectiveness of animal research. Animals and humans are different in some respects, yes, that is true. However, certain animals species have remarkably similar organ systems to those of humans. A pig has a virtually identical circulatory system (in terms of functionality, not necessarily vein structure) to a human, the gastro-intestinal tract (intestine) and immune system of a cow almost replicates those present in people. Although we do have differences which may affect test results, 99.5% of the time they are negligible. In addition, animal testing does reveal vital information concerning research. In 1981, scientists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center created the world's first, fully functioning genetically engineered vaccine (for Hepatitis B.) This vaccine was later approved in 1987, through years of animal testing followed by human trials, and is now administered to every newborn within 48 hours. The vaccine has been proven to be totally safe with virtually no side effects. Finally, animal testing is also necessary, because some form of testing is needed before beginning human trials. Some data is better than none at all, even if it has flaws.
September 10, 2008 2:43 PM
-------, I too understand your view and your side on the matter of animal testing. When we kill animals for a basis of survival we know that we are eating them. When animals are used for testing we don't always know that it is to better humans, or the animal. The matter of animal testing I guess in a sense what gets me is the fact that animals are being used and they may not directly have a positive outcome. In one part of the reading it discussed how chemicals being used on rats yielded later on humans had different and serious effects. In this situation I understand that using a cow or pig for research is okay because as you said their internal organs mirror those of humans pretty closely however using other animals for minor situations seems to not always be the smartest idea. Perhaps animal research can be limited to the necessities such as vaccines that you need at birth like the one you mentioned. I understand how it can be beneficial at the same time I feel like there are too many flaws that could harm us in the long run.
September 11, 2008 5:41 PM// (
The value of this exchange is evident.
The students display appropriate skills in discussing this topic and have effectively utilized sources to frame and support their arguments.
A similar Professional Development session can be scheduled for the use of wikis.
However, at this time wikis are theoretical to me since I have not had the opportunity to start one.
Currently, I am not aware of a person at Lincoln High School with a wiki.
Therefore, I need to start one for next semester to have as an example for a PD session in the spring.
While using examples from outside the system could be beneficial, an actual one currently being used within the district is the ideal example for demonstration to reluctant staff members.
If the school district wishes to completely fulfill its mission statement, it must embrace the available technology of the present and the future to teach students not only how to use it but also use it appropriately.
The teaching of reading strategies and writing skills can be integrated with the available technology to enhance the learning experience.
However, they must be given multiple opportunities to use this technology through more computers in the classroom and assignments crafted to fully exploit these uses.
Teachers need to be flexible in their approach and be given the professional development opportunities to learn how to integrate these opportunities to supplement their teaching.
help on how to format text
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