Monday, February 1, 2010

Westward expansion resources

Go West Across America with Lewis and Clark national geographic interactive)

Lewis and Clark - Great Journey West

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My own blog - entries that I like

This is probably the fourth time that I am trying to write this entry. It is very much unlike me to say something that I like about myself. So, I will be very brief. I like my Blog Reflection entry for its face value - reflection. I also like my Hatched rock entry because the rock spoke to me and it seems that I was able to show what it was saying. I like the overall design of my blog - featuring my favorite books on the sidebar. I have also enjoyed using the blog for a notepad of sorts - jotting down notes or ideas as they come to my head.
As far as people's choice award goes - I would give it to Mary K.'s blog! Mary, I love reading your thoughtful and very insightful entries. I hope that you will keep writing when the class is over.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Digital Writing Project

My project is ready! I am so excited - I think it turned out really well. I can use it as a sample with my students, and I really learned a lot about Windows Movie Maker! I used Click to DVD program before, but not having it available at school prompted me to try this new tool. Windows Movie Maker is awesomel!:)
Be ready for the "In Search of the Hawaiian Turtle!"
I was really reluctant to start on my project, but then I could not stay away! Now I am trying some new tools - I am working on a staff presentation usting the Presentation tool I wrote about in one of my previous blogs. This tool is also very intuitive (just like the Movie Maker) and so far has been quite fun to use. If you like, check out my work in progress. However, I would recommend looking at some completed projects as well. If you do look at it, please keep in mind that it is not done yet and it is designed to be used in a particular order while I am talking and adding other things to the presentation.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Interesting Tool

I just stumbled upon this "presentation tool" called Prezi - I think it is worth checking out. Reminded me of something Maureen showed us. They also have a free plan (not the greatest, but nevertheless)...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blog Reflection

Looking at the calendar three months do not seem like a long time. But apparently you really can't judge time by the calendar. September happened so long ago. I was thinking of the progress my students made in this short period of time, and I really can't believe that they are the same kids who walked into my room on the first day of school.
I also had the same experiences of school this year. Coming to class every week is exhausting and very difficult. My brain tries to block the idea of class out of my memory, but there is one thing that keeps it in check. My blog. It seems like it is always due. We just had a class, I just posted something, and it is still due. That annoying little word "due" makes me appreciate my students so much more.
My blog also helps me sort my thoughts out and create order out of the chaos of synaptic connections. Sometimes it does not even matter what I write, order is still born if not on paper, but in my head.
I think that the main goal that I had for this class was learning new digital applications and actually applying them with my students. Reading the assigned readings certainly provides the framework and food for thought, but ultimately the product that I personally strive to create is not so much my reflection, but rather the application of the readings and learning.
Have I been successful? To a degree, I think that I can answer that I was. I have had my students work with two new forms of writing - wiki/role play for descriptive and persuasive writing purposes, as well as voice thread for descriptive writing. I have been through ups and downs with my digital projects. There are some things that I will do differently next time, but some things will stay the same.
Today was a very important day in my personal digital journey - my students posted their essays on the wiki. They read their peers' work, and provided feedback for each other. Together as a class they have produced more writing than I could have ever imagined. Can I attribute that to the digital format? I think so. I believe that this particular group of kids enjoys the self pacing of digital writing, as well as the ability to take a break for a minute or two, but not get too distracted by outside factors. Computer screen does not intimidate them as much as paper does. Did all of them follow the writing format that we have been practicing? No, not really. But I have to keep in mind that most of these kids just came to this country this year or last year! I just can't imagine myself writing so eloquently (forget the grammar for a moment!) in a language that I have not even yet internalized. And as a bonus I have kids now who could be labeled completely proficient creators of wiki. They are really amazing!!!
Voice thread... Well, we'll see what we will get. I hope that it will happen sooner rather than later. We are trying to create voice threads using the pictures that we took during our ESL field trip to the Science museum. We are at different stages of writing at this moment, so I will have to report on that one later. Kids love it so far.
Well, I hope second semester of my studies will be as fruitful as this one. I have definitely enjoyed the enriched classroom opportunities that digital writing is providing. Can't wait to do more... Can't wait to get below the surface and discover what makes learning so unpredictable - you never know exactly what you will find below the surface.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Collaborative Writing

This year I used a wiki for a role-play in my classroom. The final project (students are working on it right now) was going to be a collaborative writing essay. Having gone through the process with my 9th graders has been a valuable experience. Some things were very successful (level of student engagement and the amount of writing they were willing to produce). Other areas require a lot more work.
I am going to concentrate now on areas of growth for all of us.
First of all, while students are working on their wikis or any other collaborative writing tool, it is very difficult to monitor what exactly they are working on. By nature they are very social creatures, so they just can't help it but post comments unrelated to their assignment. For the wiki and the purposes of letting students express themselves freely, I let them post social comments after they have done their assignments. They really enjoyed that freedom.
Second, writing collaboratively lacks a certain amount of responsibility. I have seen some students work very hard on reading/analyzing literature, while others just let their partners work hard. As a teacher I certainly realize that not everyone puts equal amount of effort, but I have seen students work harder when they were accountable for their own work.
Third, collaborative writing requires a lot of time. And I am not talking of writing only. It is also teaching students how to collaborate, when to write and what the appropriate etiquette is, etc. Again, it requires a lot more time than individual writing.
Having gone through the process I am wondering if I would do it again and what I would do differently... I think that I would definitely do it again, but I don't know how I would modify it yet. Also, every year the make-up of my classes are very different, and I would definitely not work on a collaborative writing with all of my students.
If anyone wants to check out our "wiki in progress", go to Mrs. Wegner's classroom here and check out the side bar on the right (9th grade role play).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Digital Practices and Media Education in my Classroom

A few weeks ago I posted a picture on my sidebar. I titled it "A Hatched Rock". This picture was taken two years ago in one of the State Parks on the shores of Lake Superior. Thanksgiving up north is one of my favorite times of the year. Nothing is what it usually is. A rock is not a rock, and leaves leave the strangest impressions on ice. It seems that I went back in time into an ice age or sorts. Or maybe exploring an alien planet.
"A Hatched Rock" was the most amazing sight: the warm sun pushed the thin ice off the rock that it was covering creating the most amazing shell - beautiful in shape and color. Exceptionally unexpected right in the middle of a path. Created collaboratively by the rocks, water, sun, and cold temperature. Nature's multitasking and appropriation at its best. On top of it, ice managed to adopt a completely alternative identity. Normally brittle, it looked exactly like a rock. And yet, I couldn't pick it up, couldn't touch it or possess it. I did actually manage to keep it - in my memory - after I admired it and took a its picture.
Digital literacy, I think, is in many ways like my hatched rock. It is collaborative in nature, and it creates things that are exceptionally unexpected. I hope that one day I will be able to create a hatched rock of my own - walking with my students on the path of digital literacies and experimenting along the way.