Thing 4: Blogging About Blogs

Why I Don’t Assign Homework

I have to admit that I’ve often felt about homework as Dan Mayer does:  The kids who need it least will do it; the kids who need it most won’t, or will do it badly or incorrectly.  There are enough instances, however, when I feel that the homework I’ve assigned has benefited (almost) all my students.  In any case, I put some thought into the homework I assign.   I continue to engage in the practice.

Blog reading is different from other types of reading in that I feel a closer connection to the writer. That may simply be attributable to the subject matter itself.  There’s a greater sense of spontaneity in the writing, perhaps because of the occasional grammatical errors or because of the painful honesty, as in Mayer’s confession of lack of classroom management skills.

Questions for One of Our Favorite Authors: Grace Lin

What struck me about this post is simply that it’s a great way to have a class use a blog.  The students from Mrs. Edmison’s class enjoyed a tremendous learning experience and, happily, so do other students and teachers who read the blog.  A perfect way to share the wealth.

The Myth of the Digital Native

This blog exposed me to the expressions Digital Native and Digital Immigrant. Even though I’d never used the terms before, I certainly shared the common misconception that these terms convey.  I did think that today’s youth are naturally able to function within the world of technology whereas persons born before the digital age are largely at a disadvantage, trying to operate in a foreign land with a new language.

This blog opened my eyes to how untrue the myth actually is.  Most kids have little knowledge or experience with any software beyond what they need to be technologically barely functional.  I learned a few things:

* Don’t assume that kids already know how to use available hardware and software.

* Don’t assume that kids will “figure it out”.

* Teachers need to actively teach the responsible use of social tools.

* Teachers need to have expertise because it’s important to teach kids to use technology.

* We need to value and combine what both parties bring to the table: the sense of fearless exploration of youth and the wisdom and experience of adults.

Spies Like Us

The information in this blog is quite disturbing.  Here again I’m reminded of the urgency of teaching students the responsible use of social tools.  The author, Vicki Davis, writes of the importance of discussing and teaching values and ethics as a weekly practice.

A Rationale for Educational Blogging

Wow!  Blogging is the way to go!  Just a few of the Anne Davis’ excellent points:

* Blogs provide a space where students and teachers can learn from each other.

* Blogs help learners see knowledge as interconnected.

* Blogs foster owenership and choice.

* Students feel more compelled to write when they believe many others may read and respond.  It gives them motivation to excel.

* The archive feature of blogging records ongoing learning.  It facilitates reflection and evaluation.

* The interactive nature of blogging creates enthusiasm for writing and communication.

* Blogging encourages global conversations about 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.

With each new blog I read I become more convinced of the value of the genre of blogging.  I have learned so much from the blogs I’ve read in the past few days.  The comments transform the writing of one author into a rich, dynamic discussion.  I feel so moved by my newfound knowledge of this process.  I feel more present, more a part of my world.  Amazing.

I shudder to think how long it would have taken me to learn these things, if ever, had I not jumped into this online course.  I feel that my ideas about how and what to teach  have exploded.  I’m dying to learn as much as I can!  I’ve never been so excited about anything to do with teaching and learning!

Thing 2: Thoughts About Web 2.0

My initial thoughts about Web 2.0 were of amazement.  I didn’t know what the term means, let alone guess at the collaboration and interaction that are made possible by these technologies.  Michael Wesch’s Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us enlightened me quickly.  The first thing to change was my perception that Web 2.0 tools effectively isolate people.  I’m becoming aware now of how web-based technologies connect people and ideas.  I’m particularly intrigued by how these tools enable people to achieve, as Wesch suggests, community, relationships, and authenticity.  While I understand that many people strive for authenticity when using this new medium, I think that there are many others who exploit the possiblity of anonymity and duplicity.   Even so, everything I’ve been learning lately about this technology makes me feel wonderfully hopeful for humanity.

I’m particularly pleased with my acceptance of the fact that my students really are digital learners and that it’s necessary that I be able to use technology’s power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions and new information.  I’ve taken careful note of Steve Hargadon’s ten trends with implications for education and learning.  I agree with his assertion that they are paradigm-shattering.  Certainly, in the weeks since beginning this course, I’ve experienced tremendous changes in my understanding of the Read/Write Web and in how I can utilize it as a teacher and a learner.  I’ve especially taken to heart Hargadon’s insistence that we enter our students’ world of texting and connecting online lest they continue to swim in uncharted waters without the benefit of adult guidance.

Thing 1: Lifelong Learning

The habit I think will be most challenging is Habit 5- Create your own learning toolbox.  It is, of course, what I’m doing in this course; the challenge is to create an organized toolbox, (in the allotted time),with all the tools I’ll need ready to go.  Habit 2- Accept responsibility for your own learning, is the easiest for me;  it’s second nature for me to continue to learn.  On the other hand, that habit which will be the most important for me as I work through this course is Habit 4- Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner.  The confidence I experience in all other areas of learning dissipates a bit as I read each new Thing and Task.  I suspect that those areas of learning I most readily embark upon are those which suit my interests and talents most comfortably.  This is not the case here, so I must remind myself that I will be successful.

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