Wednesday, November 11, 2009

23 Things-The First Thing Con.

I can't believe how much time I just took searching through other people's educational blogs! I have known for a while what blogs are, but I guess I thought that they were just sort of online diaries. I know a few stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood who have them and use them to chronicle their kids' day-to-day activities to share with their familiy members who live out-of-town. I've never searched for educational ones and I found some fantastic ones! Some were great and others were definitely not so good. In my opinion, here are common themes that I found in the "good" ones:
  • Information on the author: Is this person an expert in their field? Do they currently work with students and if so, do they teach a grade that is comparable to mine so that the information provided is relevant to me.
  • Links to additional information: Many authors gave reflections on how they felt for example about using The Daily Cafe language arts techniques in their classroom and how they incorporated them. They might then have links on the web for further information on that topic for me to read.
  • Student Projects: The best sites for me were the ones that contained links to actual student projects. There are many educational blogs out there on Web 2.0 tools that have great links to completed student projects. This is invaluable to me, because even if someone has a great description of a student project, it always helps me to see a completed one.
  • Archives or a search button: Great for searching for particular topics. I found a blog with fantastic information about Web 2.0 integration in student projects. Recent entries were all about Twitter. I am more interested in Teacher Tube. When I searched, I found 5 entries on Teacher Tube in the archives with further links to information and student project examples.
  • Jazzy images and text formatting: Hey, I'm only human! If a site looks bright and colorful and fun, I'm much more apt to take a minute to read what the person has to say because it shows me that they put more effort in putting their blog together.

I think that a blog could help to enhance my district's website by giving parents and other teachers more current and class-specific information instead of just district-wide information. It's also an easy way to publish student material. How cool would it be to have teachers subscribe to and follow each other's blogs! For example, I'm always a little frustrated when my students are suddenly gone from class because they need to add an extra band practice for a concert. The band teachers don't always remember to let us know and here and there, I will suddenly be missing 6 students from class. If the band teacher had an up-to-date blog that I subscribed to, I could get a blog entry with information on the extra practice with a brief video posting of the students from the last practice showing their hard work before the concert. How cool!

I definitely see Web 2.0 tools as playing a large role in 21st century teaching, especially in the areas of research and cooperative learning and project creation. The Blogs in Plain English video I think did a good job of showing how different news is created and reported on today. Students used to research topics using books, reference materials and the internet within the confines of their school day. Web 2.0 tools allow students to access the most up-to-date information, connect with primary sources themselves via social networking tools, and collaboratively create projects outside of the classroom day. In the five schools I've taught in, each has had posted their school mission statement. In almost all of them, they include that they want students to become "lifelong learners." I think that Web 2.0 tools help to foster this.

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