Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An In-Service to Construct Meaning

Starting to Read, Reflect, Write and Construct Meaning- A teacher In-service

Monday was an in-service day and we began to take the next steps in the world of Web 2.0. at the start of the year we considered the question of what it means to teach and learn in the 21st century. Our topics included, the Net Generation, the history of the net and The World is Flat.

Yesterday was about working with Web 2.0 and imagining the possibilities.

Benchmarks to help set a baseline- Where are we and where are we going?

The first thing we did was discuss the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS-S). These are in the process of being updated but they still serve as good starting benchmarks. It is important to understand that unlike other curriculum standards these do not define a “Class” to be taught but rather highlight for us important components of technology to be integrated across the curriculum. Because they are being rewritten and reflect thinking that is 5 years old the grade specific benchmarks define a minimum standard of technology integration which give us some concrete places to start. In reviewing the standards it also provided the teachers with a chance to self-evaluate their technological knowledge and capabilities and to ask for help or instruction to ensure they felt competent to teach to these benchmarks.

Networking as professional development-

Borrowing a page from corporate America as professional educators we need to find people who are already doing what we hope to do and associate with them to learn from them and to reach our goals. We have often talked about collaboration and professional conversations as important to perfecting our craft and to our own personal growth. As educators working in a small Catholic School ( 1 grade per room and a student body of about 270) our opportunity for professional dialogue with peers has been limited. Suddenly with Web 2.0 the world the world becomes our community and the possibilities are endless.

Here is where the fun begins. Every teacher now has a Bloglines account and to get them started everybody down loaded a feed for Remote Access and Weblogg-ed two of my favorite feeds. We spent time exploring these blogs and then used their embedded links and lists to branch out and begin to seek those voices which most resonated with each individual teacher. I am looking forward to hearing in future meeting what they have read and discovered.

Reading what others are saying is only one part of the conversation. What are students producing? This was our springboard to begin to imagine what our own students might do. We listened to First and Second grade podcasts, we reade a Blog from Clarence’s Junior High class(See entry from 9/17) and we explored a webquest by Anne Davis which was designed to get elementary students blogging. ( It even includes a rubric). The final student products which we explore were a segway into the next part of Web 2.0 which is participating in the conversation.

We read Jeff Utrecht’s post( see below)which empowered us see ourselves as part of the global community. Then we visited the digital art projected posted by the middle school in Shanghai where we posted comments on some of the students work. I also e-mailed Jeff and he said he will pass on to the teacher and the student’s that we visited there work. It really was quite powerful.

Jeff said....

A teacher in our middle school is running a digital photography elective. She came to me a week ago and asked about a place to host the pictures for all to see and to share with the wider school community.

Guess what? You are the wider school community. Their first project was to take 3 to 5 pictures that represent their lives and then manipulate them in Photoshop. Some great digital art that if you and your students have a moment could use a comment. :)

Our goal for the day was to enter Web 2.0 and begin our own journey of reading , reflecting and commenting. It was a great day and opened a lot of doors and opportunities …as with all change it takes time.

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