Wednesday, December 23, 2009

To Wiki or Not To Wiki - Some Examples from Hattie Deraps!

Early on as we began to move technology into the classrooms, many educators struggled with wikis.  At the time, the general consensus was they had no great educational implications in the classroom and might even be too cumbersome for educators.  However, over the last several months, many have been rethinking this point of view.

Hattie Deraps, alternative education teacher at MT. Blue, comments on her use of the wiki for her students ...

"I've used my classroom wiki this year as a place where students and parents can go to find materials, links, and samples of student work. I've found that this wiki is a great place for storage of materials and that it works well with my classroom blog. I can ask students to read a description of what we're doing in class and then they can go to the wiki to view sample products and open blank documents. This eliminates the need for a lot of paper and it makes it easier for students to store work and materials on their laptops.

At some point, I'd like to transition toward having my students use this wiki in a more collaborative fashion.  First, though, I feel like I need to show my students how to use this tool before they are given permission to edit and add materials to the wiki. I've found that most of my students are not comfortable with wikis and don't really understand what they are. I'm hoping to model the use of wikis before I ask them to use a class wiki or have an individual wiki. I am excited for all of the instructional and critical thinking possibilities that wikis offer!"

...and her colleagues.

"As part of a requirement for my graduate program, I was asked to create a professional resource wiki. I decided to make this wiki as user-friendly and inviting as possible. I find that some professionals who are uncomfortable with wikis need to see a wiki that looks like something with which they're more familiar, like a blog or a website. So, I added lots of pictures and verbage to my wiki to make it more appealing to those who have less experience with wikis.

Though this wiki is  pretty basic, it could easily be turned into a space where teachers share their ideas and experiences. I'd love for our staff to have a dynamic space where they can upload materials for others to look at and use. I think that professionals need to be able to see examples of strategies and have the time to really look at teacher samples before they decide which materials and strategies will work for their students. Wikis are the perfect vehicle for this type of collaborative process. Staff can look at materials and use them as-is or change them quickly to meets the needs of their lesson. It's an easy, non-threatening way to share ideas and collaborate. Plus, wikis save on paper and printing costs! No more handouts that teachers and kids toss after a quick read-through!"

If you think you might be able to use wikis in your classroom, here is a link to video tutorials wiki spaces has provided for teachers to help them learn to use wikis.  They are simple to follow and teacher friendly. Remember, wiki spaces are free and access to them can be monitored.

Teachers First is also offering tutorials once we return from vacation.  Here is the information you need if you are interested.

OK2Ask 2010 plans: a January doubleheader 
January's offering from OK2Ask, TeachersFirst's series of free online "snack sessions" for teacher professional development and exploration, is a Guided Wiki Walk, a two-meeting offering to kick-start your own class wiki. Read the description (pdf)  and pre-register now - but be sure to mark your new 2010 calendar. We cannot chase you in the January snow.
Guided Wiki Walk:  Step by step to create your own classroom wiki
Thursday January 14 and 28, 4:00-5:15 pm EST BOTH days or
Thursday January 14 and 28, 7:00- 8:15 pm EST BOTH days

Choose one or the other or both!  Enjoy! 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New from IRA

Taken from IRA.  This link is new.  IRA has begun publishing monthly updates.  They are excellent.  I have basted the link right here because I know many of my viewers will have macs.  I hope you can find the time to listen to this - maybe while you are wrapping:)  This piece touches on our redefinition of literacy due to the use of technology and the strategies involved.


IRA Reading Radio

IRA Reading Radio airs monthly on the BAM! Radio Network, a radio website for the education community. In each installment, IRA Executive Director William Harvey interviews an expert on a key topic relating to reading education.
Attention Mac users: The IRA Reading Radio program and other BAM! radio programs are formatted to be played using Windows Media Player. The BAM! Radio Network recommends the following downloads for Mac users:

This month's show

Broadcast Archives: 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcome, Bill Giasson!

We welcome our newest member of the Maine Literacy and Technology Committee, Bill Giasson, third grade teacher at Winthrop Grammar School.  Bill has always wanted to be a teacher.  He was on his way when he left high school, but got drafted.  After he completed his military duty, he went into scocial
work with kids for 15 years. At 40, Bill had the opportunity to go back to college and received his Masters in Education,  He achieved his goal at 44.

Bill's project with literacy and technology will be using the internet for social studies in order to communicate with other third graders around the world, learning about one another's culture. 

Stay tuned, we will share the process:)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Writing Collaboratively With Technology - an Equalizer?

During a recent high school coaching visit, I observed a teacher using in order to have students in the class construct a timeline together.  All students were focused and worked hard, conscious of their peers eyes on them.  When talking to teachers who use this type of collaboration, they often observe their students performing at a higher level in response to the immediacy and reality of their peer audience.

The following article explores another perspective on the use of technology for collaboration.  It is well written and thought provoking.
Classroom wikis are collaborative tools for young writers
Young writers at a Massachusetts middle school are using online wikis, or collaborative Web sites, to share and revise written work in a group setting. A recent class wiki project featured fall poems written by sixth-grade students who collaborated on revisions to each other's work. Even shy students are empowered to participate, language-arts teacher Neil Kulick said. "The wiki is an equalizer in classroom participation," he said. The Boston Globe

In this age of a shrinking globe, collaboration is becoming a  essential, universal strategy for individual and national survival.  Take a few minutes and let us know what you think.