Monday, January 30, 2006

Silly iTunes Fun

Chris Lehmann got this ball rolling and I thought it would be fun to play along.

My iTunes, well iPod really, top 10.

1. The Handshake - Bad Religion
2. Sick of it All - The Distillers
3. Dancing Through Sunday - AFI
4. Man With a Mission - Bad Religion
5. Can't Spot It - Bad Religion
6. Fats Terminal - Bone Orchard
7. Dismantle Me - The Distillers
8. Die on a Rope - The Distillers
9. I am Revenant - The Distillers
10. The Gauntlet - Dropkick Murphys

Looks like punk is the flavor of the moment. Good high energy music to keep the heart pumping.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Echo Chamber No More

Lawrence Lessig is a constant source of powerful ideas, but his newest wiki, the Anti-Lessig Reader, is a rather impressive attempt at inviting, as he puts it, "the other side of the story". What better way to get away from the echo than opening the door yourself and inviting in new voices.

So, how can we take this example and use it with students? A wikified debate seems like a logical first step. Small groups of students could take various aspects of a complicated issue and, using the wiki, share the arguments and work toward understanding the depth of the issue.

Of course, given the ease of editing, I can already see students "helpfully" making changes to the opposition's information. What great opportunities for discussing ethics, integrity, and respect for multiple view points.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Web-based Resources: The Musical

Today, I presented a number of useful resources available out there on the web to the district's technology committee.

From a show of hands, many of them had heard of and read blogs, which is a great start. Unfortunately, only one other person had a blog, and she admitted that it was in need of an update. Still, this is a start. My hope is that the resources I showed them today help push them toward using these tools in their own lives and in their classrooms.

We started with blogs and, specifically, Class Blogmeister, which is an incredibly teacher friendly way to have students use blogs in a safe, managable way.

Then it was time for wikis. Most had heard of/used wikipedia and used the tech committee wiki I had set up for posting subcommittee work. This is encouraging. Those of us on the tech committee are seen as the ones out in front of the wave (rightly so or otherwise); we need to be using the tools.

We then spent a fair amount of time on bloglines and furl as tools to help control the flow of information. I also showed them how these tools are part of the social, information gathering network, which naturally led to how powerful the sharing of information can become in a classroom.

We wrapped up with SuprGlu. This tool has enormous potential for pulling together all the bits and pieces a class is creating on line. All the furled content, all the blog entries and flickr postings, across multiple classrooms (and even subject areas) gathered together in one place for the students to use.

I only had an hour, and I really feel like I ended up blasting through most of it. My hope is that a few bits sink in, here and there, and people start by playing around with these things on their own. I have already been asked to do a more in depth session when we can get together in a lab and really do some hands on work with each of the resources.

Overall, things went well. Anyone visiting from the committee, leave a comment, become part of the conversation, and have fun playing with these new tools.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Is it Time for Podcasting?

Over the last three or so months I have been really getting into listening to podcasts. I had sampled a few here and there but been turned off by the more aptly titled vanietycast nature of the programming, so I quit listening.

But then Tim Wilson started producing Ed Tech Coast to Coast. Being a fan of Savvy Technologist, I decided to take a listen. The light bulb went off immediately; here there be content.

I was hooked.

With some more digging, I uncovered more content-rich podcasts. Alt.npr's YouthCast is a regular listen. Anyone teaching Romeo and Juliet should listen to the story of NetNet and Rome.

But now, like blogging, I want a better understanding of the tool. How do podcasts work? What tools do I need (I'm not ready for this just yet)? And what do I want to say?

The answer to the opening question seems to be not quite yet, but soon.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome to '06

Being a teacher, the start of the "new year" has always felt a bit off. Nothing really changes for me on January 1. Semester doesn't even switch until the 20th. My new year is the end of August when the students come back from summer vacation.

Still, this seems like the moment to take stock. This time last year, I was only two or three classes into my Master's Degree. Now I am three from the end.

I had just started learning about weblogs, had only written a few posts, and was reading just two or three weblogs regularly. While I still haven't become a consistent, even every other week, blogger; I certainly have become dependent upon my bloglines feeds.

(As an aside, I just ran blogger's spell check and discovered that it doesn't have "blogger" in its dictionary. Spell checkers amuse me; I wonder if other English teachers get the giggles watching how they behave?)

My goal, now, is to start putting all the theory I have been reading into some form of application. There is plenty of "what" and "why" spinning around; I need to develop the "how".

  • How are these web-based resources going to work for me, my classroom, my students, my school, and my district?

  • How am I going to be part of the solution, part of the answer to the problem of getting these tools used?

  • How do I best use these tools and model their use to others?

Part of the answer is using this space more. I need to push myself more to blog the process. To wrestle with the hows in this public space.