Archive for April, 2010

Digitally Speaking – Week Fourteen: Using Wikis in the English Classroom

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

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I am developing a Wiki for use with a project on the novel Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, an insightful work that immediately engages students as they learn the important lessons of life.  As you know, Wikis, collaborative web-based sites with open editing, have met with some resistance in education.  As is often the case with incorporating Web 2.0 tools in the curriculum, teachers must make sure the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.  One advantage to Wikis is that they can be used to change the individual focus of traditional instruction to one of student collaboration.  Planning and creativity are vital to developing the most effective instruction that meets student learning expectations.  I found David Wetzel’s article “5 Strategies for Using Wikis in the Classroom: Engaging Students in Technology Projects that Support Learning” to be helpful while I was developing my Wiki.  I have included a summary of his major points.

1.  Collaborative Projects using Wikis.  This works especially well as long as the teacher has clear guidelines on what is expected on the project and the roles class members will be expected to fulfill.  2.  Students Demonstration of Knowledge.  Student responses to the Wiki should demonstrate an understanding of the learning expectations.  3.  Online Resources for Classroom Use.  Teachers should provide a list of accepted online resources that students can use on the project.  4.  Wikis as a Classroom Webpage.  Use the class Wiki to post a calendar of events, homework assignments, links to Glogs, and collaborative projects  5. Wiki Filing Cabinet.  Teachers can use a teacher access controlled area to store working drafts and to backup resources.

Digitally Speaking – Week Thirteen: Geocaching in the Natural State

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

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Spring is here.  Are you geocaching yet?  With the arrival of warmer weather, I have started walking again in the afternoons.  While walking, one of my ongoing projects is to find the cache hidden at the local cemetary.  Its discovery has escaped me for several months, but I am determined to find it this spring!  If you have just started geocaching, you might want to check out the website for the Arkansas Geocachers Association.  It’s a great place to join discussions with fellow Arkansas geocachers and to get the latest geocaching news in Arkansas.  Their goal is to expand and improve geocaching in Arkansas.  Membership is free!

Digitally Speaking – Week Twelve: Skype in the Classroom

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

 skype_logo.pngThis week educators in my district took one step toward leading our students on the road to a more collaborative environment in which authors, student writers and their parents, and local community members delve into how writers use rhetorical strategies to develop their message.  While a visit with a “real, live” author is definitely beneficial to student writers, cost is often a deterrent.  Skype was the answer for us.  Authors who skype, such as Roland Smith, made it possible for our literacy professionals to seek out experts in literacy and invite them to share in student-led discussions of their novels.  Teachers are no longer the ultimate authority of knowledge in the classroom.  When I tell my students that authors often rewrite numerous times to get the effect they want, they often think I am just trying to get them to edit their own pieces – something they often despise doing.  When Roland Smith told them why his novel Elephant Run took ten years to write, I could almost see the wheels turning.  By skyping in Roland Smith, we tapped into the potential of Skype to make our classroom open to all experts in every field.