I have just returned from the ELH11 conference in Lorne where I learnt so much it will take quite some time to process. The conference was excellent with some brilliant Keynote speakers and great discussions and show and tell sessions as well as a few hands on learning activities. The theme was Revolution and discussions were around whether or not there was one and if so, now what?
The standout for me was Jason Ohler who talked about revolutionising the teaching of writing by teaching students media and using Art as the fourth R. His students ended up writing more than they would in a normal English classroom and obviously learnt more about their subject. They produced well-planned and thoughtful responses to their own questions and then learnt about how to use music and image to tell their stories. This is really learning for now and the future, not learning for what has already been. Students are definitely high level consumers of media and the shift to making them high level (and critical) producers of media is a natural one, but one that most of us have not done. I know that I will be looking more closely at this as an English teacher as the value of it is that students create multimodal texts and learn about all of the stages of narrative along the way. Obviously this does help them learn the skills that schools value.
The twitter feed for this was going crazy on Tuesday morning and I know several of us want to order his books for our school libraries. Jason presented a Keynote and then a smaller group discussion at which it was standing room only.
More on this to come….
#elh11 on twitter.
Well, I have got my WordPress app up and running on the iPad so I can now blog directly from wherever I am (with the pad of course!)
One of the things I’m most interested in is portable devices like the iPad and iPhone. They have the potential to alter the way we teach and learn, especially as more apps become available for teachers and students.
Certainly the blogging apps like this one and the blogger one for google users are very handy. I also really like the Posterous one that allows you to upload images from webpages to your Posterous account.
There are also lots of great newsreaders, and my favorite is Pulse so far. You can customize the news that feeds in and even create your own feed which follows all of your favorites. TheFlipboard app also deserves a mention. It’s fairly new and allows you to hook up to Twitter and Facebook as well as lots of other caves and you can read it all just like a magazine. Facebook has honestly never looked so good.
I am interested in using new technology in the classroom as a way of allowing more students to communicate than can currently do so during a lesson. Twitter seems ideal for this. One university teacher in the US is already doing this and has lots to say about it here.
There is also a video here
This looks like something I really have to try.
This article contains some timely advice for those of use who have become slightly addicted to these sites. Common sense really, but still worth a reminder. It may be really tempting to let off steam when you have had a rotten morning with 8F and you have a blank box in front of you asking you how you feel. It is tempting to just go for it and complain about little Johnny’s foul manners and useless attempts at writing/fractions/painting, but does little Johnny’s mother, father or big brother know your name? Could they find you online? Sometimes it is difficult to remember that the demon who is making your life hell on period 6 on Friday is someone’s child, but they did not spring fully formed into your classroom and so there are people somewhere who may not see the humour or pathos in your situation if you complain about them online. Best to keep the rants to the staffroom.
The thing that I have learnt about moving is that not only do you reorganise your files, folders and books, but you also take a fresh look at your online presence because you are now doing things slightly differently. What I have found is that this helps me to redefine the criteria for good online programs. I have decided that I really need something that helps me to simplify how I do things, not make things more difficult. I want a blog where I can post documents and files for students to use. This was not possible so I had to search for a way around it. I decided on Sribd as I mentioned earlier. Then I decided that I wanted a homepage that helped me to stay organised, I decided on Page Flakes as I can have my Facebook, Twitter, post it notes, calendar, news feeds and music updated by the minute.
The process has allowed me to take stock and realise what is important for the current situation I am in. This is useful for our students as they can do the same while they are trying to organise themselves for learning. They could keep their notes on an online storage page or cloud computing site and share them with their peers if they wished. They can update their resources on Diigo or Delicious and again, share them. Organisation is one of they key skills necessary for students (and teachers) and we can help them to learn this skill by using good online tools.
Now that I am settling in to the new school it’s time to take stock and update all of my online presences. In the process of doing this I thought it was a good idea to see if I could do things any better. After all there are new sites all of the time. I have run a ning ( or several) wikis, blogs, twitter, had a look at a microblogging site, Edmodo and all sorts of other goodies.
The first step is obviously to sit down and consider what I want to use it for, and then once I have that worked out, I need to think about whether anything that I am currently using is good for that use. Sounds pretty simple huh?
All that has happened so far is that I have got a headache! There really is so much out there. I am now going back to the drawing board. So many people are doing so many great things so I will do more research and for the meantime stick with the wiki, ning and blog. I’d really like a blog that allows me to have several pages on which I can post, say one for each year level I teach and one for me and other teachers. Is that too much to ask?