Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bloglines..Is it time to move on…

Today I read a post by Clay regarding the new image wall on Bloglines. I must admit even though I had seen it I had not looked at it very critically. Clay makes some very important points, especially in my case, since I work in a K-8 environment. I understand that we can not protect the kids from everything and I am not interested in censorship BUT I do believe we have to make responsible choices and model those for the students. ( It seems to me that the image wall just makes it too tempting and too easy for the students to do the wrong thing)We haven’t set up student Bloglines accounts but it was on the near horizon and all of the teachers are just getting started.

As my previous post indicates I have become a huge fan of Google productivity tools and so today I exported my Bloglines account to a Google reader! It was painless and now my notebook and my feeds all pop up on my homepage…How much easier can it be?

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Google notebbok a great productivity tool

Okay I am the first to admit this is probably very old news to most of you but I am hooked on Google notebook. As I am preparing for CUE I started to really put this tool to the test. If you have never used this handy little tool you need to check it out.

It is a fantastic intuitive application that has made my WEB 2.0 journey a lot easier. It sits quietly in my tool bar as I read the blogs from my aggregator, But then when I read something I think is a powerful concept or an important quote it jumps to life. I highlight the selection click add to notebook and there it is complete with references and always available on my Google homepage!

For a student doing research or anyone doing research or preparing a presentation it is an incredible way to keep all that great stuff together in a simple and concise way. There have been numerous posts about teaching students to deal with the large quantities of material available and this is one tool to make that job easier. Yes, you still have to be selective and you may still need to delete something when you gather too much but at least for me, it is simpler than a clip blog or and it lets me take snippets but keeps the link to whole!

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Learning from experience and thinking about the future

A week full of immersion excursions and also some thought provoking reading!

First for the immersion excursion….(Sorry, couldn’t resist) This week has been busy with the photo-a-day project! It is growing daily and currently has 13 school involved from across the globe. In my own community it has gendered quite a bit of interest at all grade levels and among the parents too. Because we are taking photos all around school I sent a letter to the parents with a permission form. The reaction was characterized by comments like “That sounds really neat. How can we see the pictures?” It is really exciting to see the parents wanting to be involved. All of the teachers also want their students to view the project too so this will be the first school wide Web 2.0 activity.

On a personal level it has been an opportunity for me to “practice what I preach”. That is to plan and carry out a project even though I was not well versed in using the particular tools we employed. To plan the project I built my first wiki and to do the project I built a Flickr group. Both of which were firsts for me. There were kinks and bumps but I feel good about how it is all coming together. And I can say with confidence it is okay for learning to be a little messy! Monday the student photographers and I will meet to talk about the project, what we have learned so far and what we can learn from the pictures posted by the other schools…. And then the next level of fun will begin with student interactions! Sooo much to learn…sooo much fun to learn!

While I was busy with all of this I have also been reading and thinking about the next level… the next Bhag…. How to have one foot in the here and now and one foot and an eye on the place we are headed. There are so many of you who are forward thinking and who keep stretching me…thank you! So these are the things that I have seen this week which have me thinking. Miguel at Around the Corner has taken up the BHAG challenge in his own way and has posted a wiki for us to answer the questions……
1. How are you building your network?
2. How are you modeling your learning?
(Source: Questions asked during Will Richardson's preso at the Connectivism Conference )
My own thoughts are centering around call for passion by Konrad at the blog of proximal development. (If you haven’t read this post you need to). Rekindling passion…. encouraging passion… about our subject matter is the life’s blood of education. If we are not passionate about what we are doing we are only half alive. So what works against passion? I see an intersection here with another topic that keeps coming up….moving away from dependence on textbooks and staying current through Rss feeds. Curriculum can not afford to be mind numbing…it must be dynamic and engaging must be empowered….and my next Bhag will have something to do with kindling passion for course content through the dynamic interactions of web 2.0.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Articulating BHAGS –Big Hairy Audacious Goals

I recently began reading Scott Mcleod’s blog Dangerously Irrelevant and he addresses the components of initiating and sustaining change. This in connection with my own reflections as we are preparing to tell our story, “O to 60 in Six Months” at CUE in Palm Springs at the end of this month lead to this post.

Last summer at NECC and in many of the edublogs there was a lot of talk about telling the story. This, as Scott says, is a critical piece It builds vision, a common language and a sense of urgency. Telling the story by ripping, reflecting and remixing was the starting point for our school community and as the year has progressed we have continued to talk about the story because it takes time to plumb its depths. However the real change that occurred this year was driven by what Scott calls BHAGS- a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

As an instructional leader setting a BHAG drove systemic change forward. It was no longer just an important idea but an action. The BHAG for our community may not be as lofty or as big as Scott had in mind but it was nonetheless a BHAG in our context- a single K-8 school seeking to institute systemic change in our educational program. The BHAG- Connect teachers and students with Web 2.0 as an essential means of teaching and learning.

I believe that at all levels of school organization from the district to the classroom we need to identify our BHAG as the necessary compliment and call to action which should follow our story….interestingly once again, this is about education learning from business as Scott links us to the origin of the concept….

So do you have a BHAG? "A tangible, concrete target that lets us know when we’ve reached some crucial point." ( Scott Mcleod)

Just as the story has been shared, ripped and remixed I think we need to articulate our BHAGs so we can draw inspiration and ideas from each other as well as clarify our own thinking. So who is willing to take the challenge and articulate their BHAG?
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Friday, February 02, 2007

Are you in? Part 2

Ready! Set!Go!

The student photographers will be armed with cameras and roaming the campus on Monday! Hope you are joining us!

The FLICKR Group has now been created- But you need to contact me so I can invite you to join because we have a public group that is set to "by invitation".
Steps to be included in the group:
1. Set up a Flickr account
2. Search for our group - Photo-a-Day for schools or me ( Babs2teach)
3. Add me to you contacts and send me a message
4. I will reply with an invitation to join the group

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