Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reflections on Fourth Grade Posts

My fourth graders posted their writing last week. Read their funny stories on our blog. I am impressed with their sense of humor. Many stories are genuinely funny. This week, I am giving them time throughout the day to sign on and leave comments for each other.

Reflections on this process:
  • Typing skills, or lack thereof, really slowed the process down. I am not satisfied taking a whole writing period, or two, to type. I think I will have them post one out of every three writings. Another option may be to scan their handwritten copies.
  • Students have to sign in with their email address to post. Their email is (firstnamelastinitial).alsup@think.com, along with a password. Some students are signing in without a problem. Others (15 of my 20?) are taking forever to sign in and/or can't remember how to do it. I made each a laminated cheat sheet to keep in their desks, but the process is tough for them to get used to. Again, a huge time-suck.
  • I really like that my students get a chance to comment on each other's writing. Doing this through the blog is very motivating. Some of my lowest writers are finding errors and are giving feedback through a comment.
  • I have wondered whether this is the best way to post student work. With everyone posting within a couple of days, the first ones to post become "old" very fast and are sent to the second page. I tagged each with their name so that you could click on a student to read their writing. If I post on my website, readers can't comment. I don't think a wiki is appropriate. Maybe blogger is not the best for education. I looked at blogmeister and am not crazy about the look of it. I have looked at edublogs, that may be a better option in the future. Just mulling it around.
  • The hit map and cluster map are awesome! Kids are checking every couple of days to see who else has read. I told a funny story to my fourth graders about me and my college roommate, Neil, who is now a teacher in San Francisco. We looked at the hit map last week and there was a hit in San Fransisco, about 5 of my kids yell out, "Neil!" It is so exciting to see them making connections to the larger community. Seeing the hit map has really changed their perspective of the world.
Feedback? Comments? Insights?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fourth Grade posts

My fourth grade class began posting their funny stories on our room 24 blog. With the help of Joe, I used Adobe Pro to export their writing as a jpg files. They posted those along with a short reflection on the project. Four are posted today, the other sixteen by Friday! They are very excited and are already leaving comments. The layout of the posts don't look like I want them to, I may tweak them a little this weekend. Check them out and PLEASE leave a comment. It means so much to my students when they see that they are being read.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Slideshare test

This is a test on embedding a slideshare of a pdf file. I would like to use this so students could post their writing on our blog, along with a posted reflection on the piece.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Collaborative Effort

On Thursday, I presented my wiki, alsupibworldschoolunits.wikispaces.com, to my grade level team, principal, learning coordinator and UCD site professor. I looked at this project in a much different light in preparation for showing others.

First, I realized that my vision of adding all of the units for all grade levels is much too ambitious. I decided that I would add the units for my grade level as the year progresses and invite others to add theirs as they see value to the wiki. The wiki still shows all of the grade levels in the navigation on the left side, but I'm not going to add any units, unless a grade level is really interested in having them there. (Better yet, I am going to show them how to do it.)

Second, the wiki is of real value if it is a collaborative effort. In order to bring others on, they need to see the potential of it. I don't think the wiki shows much potential when you see the units without any reflection or student work. It isn't much more than another place to house the units. As I am teaching the unit on the Solar System I am adding resources, screen shots of our work and a screencast of a review of a previous lesson. During the presentation I think this showed that the wiki can be used as a way to reflect, as well as collaborate.

Some interesting questions/comments came up along the way that I didn't anticipate. First, Lynn, my principal asked whether this would be a site for just teachers or for parents as well. I think it is for teachers, but made us all think about the potential for more parent participation in the development process of these units. They may be able to provide a unique reflection piece to the units. Our special ed provider for the grade level saw the great collaborative potential. She thought that she could view the wiki before it is taught and add scaffolding/accommodations for her students. Our UCD site professor who works with all of the TCs (Teacher Candidates) in the building has an exchange professor from Asia that she wants to come see all of the great new technology in our district. She took note of the url for the wiki and our global learners blog and is going to show us off.