Thing 11: Flikr

“The love for culture” by Pakyuz

There are BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS on this creative commons flikr site – it’s amazing what people are making available to the public.  I simply searched ‘black and white’ and ‘sepia’ because I like the look of those photos and a wealth of images appeared.

I like the idea of teaching my students a)how to use creative commons so that they understand that they can’t simply copy and paste images from the internet into their presentations b) that flikr has more beautiful pictures than they will find googling around the ether that they can relate to any picture

I may use flikr in some sort of photo assignment–where the students take photos (Perhaps ‘Capture the Essence of America’ or Take a photo that illustrates some historical philosophy or ideology.)

Thing 10: Creative Commons

Some Rights Reserved.  Hmm…

So, Creative Commons (CC) does two things:
1) allows a creater of content let the public know how it can use his/her stuff (as opposed to not being able to use it AT ALL per copyright law)

2) allows users of content to responsibly use other people’s content

So, we should direct our students to this site when they want to find images/audio/video for projects rather than let them run wild on the internet?

What’s the difference between a student getting something off CC and citing it in a project and a student getting it straight off the internet and citing it in a project?  Is the latter still illegal with citation?

I need to familiarize myself with internet usage and copyright law.  Ugh.

Thing 8: Wiki World

I used a wiki in my AP US History course for the first time this past year.  It was more of a professional development experience for me as a teacher than it was a tool for my students, at least this time around.  I found out the following things about myself as a teacher:

1. I am very focused on the relationship between individual effort and individual reward.  The idea of a wiki scared me because I was fixated with the idea that some kids would do a lot and others would do nothing and both would have equal benefit.

Wiki Lesson #1: Set up clear rules of engagement–students must contribute democratically, that is, in a way that ensures the public good (in my case, the good of all students in my classes). 

And kids who don’t contribute, don’t learn as much.  They pick up on this pretty quick.

And kids who don’t contribute hear about it from their peers.  They pick up on this pretty quick too.

2.  What if kids just copy and paste things off the internet?  Is that learning?  Is that quality effort?

Wiki Lesson #2: Whether I like it or not, kids are learning from sources out of my control (ie textbook is in my control, wikipedia and other web info sources are not.  That said:

Make sure kids know how to cite so when they do this, they do it responsibly.

Teach kids how to vet information from the web (or any source, for that matter).

Use this as an opportunity to ask interpretive rather than factual questions.  The factual questions are now very very easy to answer.

3.  What if the stuff the kids post is junk?  Is a wiki just another thing I have to correct/keep track of?

Wiki Lesson #3: Publishing in front of peers is a powerful motivator for students.  And when it isn’t, others are usually good about setting them straight.

Also, the Wiki belongs to US, not to me.  It is OUR responsibility, not mine alone.  This is powerful and liberating.

Thing 7a: RSS and Feeding Your Mind

Wow…a tool that keeps track of everything you want to keep track of on the web…and all in one place.  It’s such a time saver (or a time sucker, depending on how engrossed you become)!  Shelley Paul’s reminder not to FREAK OUT initially was very very helpful–it sure is a lot of material.  Here are my top three favorite things about my Google Reader:

#3: Keeping Track of a Student blog from a school trip to China.  Let’s me know what the kids are seeing and reminds me to respond and keep in touch.

#2:  Keeping track of News and Columnists I like:  You can subscribe to any part of the New York Times online.  President Obama’s got a blog you can subscribe to too…it distills the important parts of his speeches and gives you ideas about how you can get involved–it gives a whole new meaning to “Participation in Democracy.”

#1: Getting Neat Ideas from Other Teachers:  Larry Verlazzo’s Website of the Day is neat.  He’s got stuff on current events, teaching, learning.  Instructify had a bit by Bill Ferris called Monday by the numbers with various lists of interesting things.  I like lists and brief explanations a lot.  I also like how these sites send you to other sites that you might like to add to your reader…the connections are endless, like the information available!

Anybody out there find good feeds on the following?  Let me know!:

  • high school history (U.S. especially)
  • history classroom technology use
  • teaching history writing
  • teaching critical thinking

Thing 5:RSS: Tapping into Thomas Friedman

Anyone who teaches United States History, World History or Current Issues should subscribe to Thomas Friedman’s Op Ed pieces from the New York Times online.

His discussion of national and international issues is concise, punchy, thought provoking, and, thankfully, in the vernacular!  He lays out his arguments clearly, alludes to historical and current events as evidence, as writes in an engaging way.  Whether or not you agree with his perspective, his pieces are great models of writing and perfect critical analysis starters in the classroom.


Thing 4: Blogging for Bozos (like me)

Aha! Blogging is not simply reflective-stream-of-thought journaling. When blogging, DO:

  • use SHORT, PUNCHY paragraphs, even ONE-LINERS, even ONE-PHRASERS, even ONE GOOD WORD
  • use BULLETS to get across info that can be enumerated
  • ASK QUESTIONS, so people have a reason to leave a comment and start the conversation
  • BE THOUGHT PROVOKING, so people are moved to respond

So, good blogs are INTERESTING and work really well for those of us who have a SHORT attention span.

Blogging is a writing style in and of itself, a style that seeks to DRAW PEOPLE in. The nature of blogging, good blogging, builds meaning by encouraging and sometimes inciting response from others to which you can then respond–every response builds meaning on the last.

By using blogs, by being taught to write a good blog, students learn to write in an engaging, thought provoking way and to respond critically to others.

Ruminations on Lifelong Learning

I am learning about Web 2.0 and the habit that will be most challenging for me in this process is viewing problems as challenges.  I think that I’m fairly proficient with technology.  I also generally see myself as a problem solver.  But some days, when my computer’s on the blink or i cant figure out how to format something correctly or a student comes in saying they couldn’t access the website they needed to do homework or they emailed me their paper–didn’t I get it?–I get totally futless (translation: exasperated, frustrated, grrrrrr…).  So, my challenge in learning about 2.0 tools will be to stay calm, be patient with myself, and allow time to fool around, make mistakes, accidently delete whole pages of work, etc…and giggle.

I am very very very curious about how Web 2.0 tools  will add to my toolbox of teaching and learning strategies.  My students love the web.  They love blogs.  They love facebook.  If i can harness all that love so that they love history too…well, then its all worth it.  I can use technology to hook my students and to free up our precious face to face time for more meaningful–scratch that–web 2.0 stuff can be meaningful–for meaningful face-to-face activities.  I know that it is my responsibility as a teacher to keep on learning!

I’m looking forward to PLAYING!!!  And to injecting some of this web-playing into collegial discussions and especially into my students learning.  My students tend to be quite serious when it comes to their studies.  Ok.  I tend to be quite serious when it comes to their studies too.  If i can teach them how to do this and have some fun doing it–well, that would make my year.

Got Ideas?

Using Web 2.0 in the History Classroom

Below are some ideas for using Web 2.0 stuff in a history classroom.  ARE YOU A HISTORY TEACHER OR STUDENT WITH SOME IDEAS????  Please comment!!

Post questions on the blog and have students respond (esp. when we are interpreting literature)
Have students create their own blog, subscribe to classmates blogs–ask and answer questions.
Have students tag resources for eachother (i don’t know what tagging really is but i hope we’ll learn!)
From the Warlick Article:
Use the blog to teach students how to write persuasive, well-considered judgements (versus opinions) on issues by considering evidence on all sides
Have students create study guides in teams on wikis and reward the group with the best guide
Use podcasts (don’t know much about this yet but sounds interesting)
MAKE podcasts – seems like a great way to validate students learning and product beyond just my gradebook–their contributing to the body of information on history!

Using Web 2.0 for Professional Collaboration
A History Department Wiki and/or Blog to handle general announcements and feedback from members so that face-to-face time can be used in other ways
Use wiki to post curriculum map
Use wiki to post ideas for classroom practice, lessons, assessments, resources
Use a blog to hear department members issues, concerns, challenges, ideas

Why Web 2.0 Matters

Web 2.0 matters because it is the world that our children and students will live in or live in already.  Steve Hargadon made the most compelling argument for educators/parents to get in on web 2.0 when he wrote in his blog post that students are living in a world increasingly separated from adults.  Adults must enter the digital world that kids live in so that we can help them navigate this new environment.   It is our responsibility to provide guidance for our students, our children.   It will also help us to understand kids–their desires and hopes and passions and dreams.  If we don’t ‘go digital’, at least minimally, we become that parent or teacher that “just doesn’t understand”…I’m only 31 and I can feel the generation gap growing.  Wesch’s YouTube film “A vision of students today” creates a jolting visual of this generation gap.  The students are sitting silently in the classroom–if i couldn’t read their minds via the handwritten/typed notes on their notebooks–I would have thought that they were just like me in college– Eager to read and study, to find a career and to hang out with friends too.  Yet, the film reveals that they are not like me because a good portion of their lives is spent in the digital world.  Their research is on the internet, not in the stacks.  Their not writing as many papers or reading as many books but they are blogging, emailing, texting, engaging the web.  Their learning is not alone, it is together.  Their cell phone, facebook, emailing, skype–they are with eachother constantly.  And yet, they are not.  They are not necessarily occupying the same physical space, rather, they are sharing the same digital space.  There are so many opportunities there and also many dangers.

Not only are students chaning as a result of the digital age, but so is the workplace that they will enter when their formal education is done.  Fisch’s “Shift Happens – Did You Know” lays out the digital age shifts in demographics, language use, access to info, access to a qualified work force, the nature of the work force and perceptions about jobs and career.  It poses some of the same questions that Thomas Friedman poses in The World is Flat : How will we prepare our young people for this rapidly changing world?  (Note: Daniel Pink has some good ideas about this in his book A Whole New Mind — it’s a good book with some interesting ideas that can be translated into the classroom!)  I have had to ask myself in this process about learning about Web 2.0–am i teaching my students how to be the problem solvers they need to be in the context of the digital age?  Am I teaching them about how to be ethical contributors to our digital world?  Are they effective communicators in this medium?  Am I teaching them how to be responsible and effective collaborators?

Finally, while I believe education is partly to help prepare students for their lives in the future, I also think it’s about helping them to be life long learners–to love to learn long after they’ve left the formal classroom.  My students love group work and they love technology.  My concern that they are doing their own work, that they are not mooching off another group member, that they are using group time to accomplish and task and not *gasp* socialize is, I am learning, somewhat passe.  Rather than struggling against
their natural desire to socialize and to play with computers/ipod/iphones, I think both the students and I can use this shift to our advantage in teaching and learning. 

The first step will be to shift mental gears about our notions of hierarchy in the classroom, about individualism versus partcipation, about information access verses information creation (this would require that we see ourselves as competent contributors rather than empty vessels)…This is a big change that may take some time.


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