Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Key to Changing the Teaching Profession


Just got my new copy of Educational Leadership. Love the new issue. Focusing in on teachers, "Are we going grey or green?".

A great tidbit was an article on "Preparing to Teach Digitally". Here is the link to the wiki mentioned in the article.

"In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing,not running office automation tools."



---Nicholas Negroponte, Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let's Start at the Very Beginning



How do you hook your readers in? On my pursuit to make it to the oscars, I have dusted off my rough copy manuscript for a Young Adult novel. It has sat their miserably looking at me because I didn't know how to revise. The Lit Maven has an extensive bookshelf of writing books. I should have enough information...but can you really have enough information?

Here's a great one that I pulled off my shelf Hooked by Les Edgerton. If you are like me and you have no idea what to do after your first draft, this book gives you a start at possible structural trouble shooting. If you get a chance...check it out...you will be Hooked...

Unitl Next Time
Lit Maven Out!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just A Spoon Full of Trailers Helps the Medicine Go Down....

Here is something creepy to start off your Friday. Did Mary Poppins have references? I think someone forgot to check!




Have a great weekend!
Lit Maven Out!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Twitter Chats for Writers



Here is a link to Twitter chats for writers.


Compact writer chat schedule (for details, read further down on page):
EVERY DAY: #amwriting, #writegoal, #writingparty plus others (see hashtag list below)
SUNDAYS: #writechat, #scriptchat
MONDAYS: #litchat, #journchat, #ThrillerChat
TUESDAYS: #kidlitchat, #poettues, #FaithLitChat,
WEDNESDAYS: #litchat, #memoirchat, #wnw, #yalitchat
THURSDAYS: #bookmarket, #JournalChat, #poetry, #dnchat, #kidlitart, #scribechat
FRIDAYS: #followreader, #fridayflash, #litchat, #scifichat, #StoryFriday
SATURDAYS: #ScreenwritingSaturday

Also check out there Writer's Guide to Twitter!

Lit Maven Out!

"The Fortune is in the Follow Up"-Rock Thomas


I subscribe to Rock Thomas' motivational chats. These are mostly about business. But who said education wasn't a business? How can this weeks topic help you in the schools.


The Fortune is in the Follow Up


Oh Lit Maven...what are you talking about?

Well as I see it. Helping someone else out is great. That's part of my job. But what if I followed up more. Did what I suggest work? Was I perhaps unclear? Can I do a better job next time?

What can we possibly learn from one visit?

So next time you help a colleague, a student or even a family member. Follow up!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What George Clooney Taught Me About Web 2.0




1. Choose your wigets wisely, you don't want your blog to look like a bad batman costume.

2. Create a strong PLN. Ocean's 11 would not have been the same as Ocean's 2.

3. Have a great profile pic. Smile...alot.

4. Look professional. Wear a suit everywhere you go.

5. Don't be limited in your role. If you want to learn how to write, act and direct...GO FOR IT!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What Super Grover Taught Me About Blogging



1. Just get in the air...don't worry that you might fall, you might soar too.
2. Look for people to help, don't just stay at home, get out there.
3. Dress the part. What does your blog say about you? Does it scream SUPER?
4. Make an entrance. Crash landing is effective if it garners some attention. Don't take your blog so seriously!
5. Keep talking. Eventually you will figure out what you want to say. Those left standing will be glad you did.

Until next time,
LIT MAVEN OUT!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Literacy Junkie! Time to Rehab Your Collection


IMG00061-20100408-1831
Originally uploaded by LitChick35
Last week we had a vortex of garbage spiraling around the city. I snapped this pic of a tree outside a cafe, with 6 bags hanging off the branches. SO...this brings me to my point. DO you really need those files of "just in case" activites hanging off your literacy tree? Is it possible you could be a paperless teacher? Here's a strategy:
Put a sticky on every activity file you look through. At the end of the year check for the stickies...no stickie, no keepie!
I think we need to get away from the just in case. Ever move classrooms? Do we really need all that stuff?

Until next time...
Lit Maven OUT!!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Words Do Educators Love Too Much?

Inspired by a post on After Deadline, which words are overused in education?

Please note, the words mentioned below are good words. They did not harm anyone...but they have a severe cringe factor due to their overuse, not their value.

Let me start:


1. Differentiation
2. 21st Century Learners
3. Digital Natives
4. YOUR TURN

When You Find the Time....There's "After Deadline"


Thanks to my friends at the English Companion Ning, I found out about the NY Times Blog called After Deadline.
About This Blog
To better inform readers of the story behind each story, Times Topics blog provides access to the contents of NYTimes.com and the most informative sources on the Web on hundreds of subjects. This blog provides a place for informed discussion about the events and circumstances that shape the news and lets readers in on those conversations.


Check it out!
Lit Maven Out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don’t You, Forget to Tweet Me…Don’t, Don’t, Don’t You….Forget to Tweet Me (Post 10 Reflection)



 

January seems so long ago. Back then I was Web 1.0, so "old" school. Now I am Web 1.999…

As I sat thinking about this post, among all the other crazy thoughts came John Hughes. Oh Lit Maven! Too much book glue!

Stay with me here.

I am fluent in all things John Hughes. I am still waiting for Jake Ryan to be waiting for me outside my church. But I am happily married and I wouldn't want to clean his messy house.

Those of you not familiar, John Hughes has contributed to great films such as:

Sixteen candles

Pretty in Pink

Breakfast Club

Uncle Buck

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Home Alone

All of these movies have limited to no technology. If Web 2.0 would have existed, Ferris Bueller would have tweeted he was sick, Steph would have noticed Andie
on Facebook and told Blaine about her "other side of the track" friends. The kids in the Breakfast Club would have collaborated on a wiki document or GoogleDocs, instead of a piece of paper. Photos from the party at Jake's House would have been uploaded onto Flickr or Facebook during the party.

So this reflective post will be called…

5 Ways John Hughes' Movies Reflect My Web 2.0 Journey

  1. Home Alone with E-Class

I cannot tell a lie. This course SCARED me! The outline was menacing…menacing I tell you. I wasn't sure what I was thinking. Could I even get through? Would I be accepted on the web?

My previous PLN (Personal Learning Network) was made up of me, myself and I.

E-mail and I were tight friends.

"Oh, Hi Amazon, What's that? You have a book you think I would like? How nice of you?"

"Hi there Stenhouse Publishers! Wow, new titles. How do, you read my mind?"

"Oh EPL, are my books due…how sweet for the reminder."

Then the course happened!

Pandoras box from Michael Flückiger on Vimeo.



 


 

Warlick (2009) states "PLNs open up doors to sources of information that were not even available a few years ago, and continually evolving technologies are making it easier to capture and tame the resulting information overload."


 

Key words OPEN UP DOORS….INFORMATION OVERLOAD.


 

Pandora's Box------PLN…similarity…I think so….


 

Initially I wanted to clone myself… like Michael Keaton in Multiplicity.


 

But we all know how that worked out. The more you replicate, the more "special" you get. Not to say I wasn't "special" at times.

Hijazzi (2004) states "....While the amount of information increases at an exponential rate, we still have the same number of hours every day" (p.121). That was evident right away. Checking in and discovering all the unread blog posts and class discussions.


 

The panic was echoed by classmates who developed coping strategies, such as Pauline (ED ES 501) who suggests, "Using Excel I have made myself a check list of all the things I need to check out with the days of the week running across the top. This way I can keep track of whose blog I've commented on, what sites I've checked out, etc. I'll try this method and see how it goes." This course took organization to a new level.


 

Gradually I got used to the flow of the course. Still my PLN in "real" life was just not this crazy. I explained my studies to other co-workers and got the blank stares or the "sour" faces. Sour as in, "WOW…that sounds like a lot of work" followed by a whiskey face.


 

I did start this course feeling isolated, overwhelmed, tethered to a laptop. My dreams became disjointed to the point that I started reading fiction before bed to get my brain back to normal.

I felt left behind on Friday nights when the family was eating popcorn and relaxing…HOW DARE THEY?    

Like Kevin, I developed strategies, I made a plan and I reached out to my new network, the Breakfast 2.0 Club.

2.Breakfast (2.0)Club

So there we were the Consultant, the X-Ray Tech Teacher, the Primary Teacher, The Phys Ed Teacher, The Doctorate Student, The Librarians, the Professor and…what ever happened to Mary Ann?

…All thrown together in the Web 2.0 club.

The professor told us to write a blog post telling her who we thought we were…

The shyness began to melt away as we bonded over common tools and other course related anxieties.

Podcasting was the "devil's" tool and we realized that perhaps LAME was a great summary of that.

My classmates were the start of my PLN. Through their blog posts and discussions on elluminate, I discovered that there is strength in numbers.

Our first area of consensus was trying to get a handle on our networks.

How did we take in all that information?

Rob (EDES 501) had this to say," I find that most of my reading is typically the comments sections of blogs that help me to get a better feel for what other users are doing with the knowledge, and how they are responding to the world we live in."

Brad (EDES 501) echoed all our feelings with,"
I read for both learning and understanding. It depends on what I am reading and like anything else, it depends on my interest level in the material. If a printed article is boring, I am not going to get anymore out of it than an online digital one."

I was proud of myself this course. I printed only a handful of articles. It's a strong possibility that I am an official "online" reader. However with fiction, I am right there with Nancy (EDES 501) who stated "Love the touch, sight, physicality of the book, still."

Hijazi (2004) refers to the possibility "… that every new technology is introduced with the hope of replacing an old one, but what happened is the "new" technology will be added to the existing list of others and the "old" and the competing one will 'adapt' " (p.122). I think that for me and my classmates, the new tools and information were overwhelming. For the most part, Web 2.0 did not replace old tools but merely added to the pile and conflicted with our loyalty to the old ways. However that may change over time as Tom (EDES 501) noted, "As with most things [tools] we have been exposed to this semester I just need some more time to "play"."




 


 

Hijazi (2004) speaks of learning to understand the difference between data, information and knowledge. I think that I was always trying to internalize and create meaning with everything I read. Gradually I realized that some information was irrelevant, thus mentally discarded. Some was "taggable". Yet the few keepers where posted and Tweeted about. This was where the thinking and the knowledge creation occurred and was truly remembered. This process is what our students are going through, sifting and sorting through barrages of information.


 

This comment was retrieved from a comment posted on PLN: Your Personal Network Made Easy "Online learning can be very serendipitous. You have to leave behind the worry that you are going to "miss" something, because something is always going on!"
Gradually pressing the "Mark all as read button" in Google reader became less guilt ridden and at times rebellious!

Tom (EDES 501) said it best with this tip,"
I think for students I would stress this skimming, tagging, marking as fave techniques. This way they can go through a lot of material and locate enough articles related to their topic to get a good start on any project." Yes and I think we all finally learned this, I hope, but still I continue to read so fast like the blogs might self destruct.

So how do you use these networks?

3.
Sixteen Candles (burning at both ends)

Sam loves Jake.

Farmer Ted loves Sam.

Sam tells Ted about Jake.

Jake tells Ted about Sam.

Sam and Jake find each other. (Then there is that cool make a birthday wish scene, totally diverted from the topic here.)

Towards the end of this course, networking and connections became everything.

Nings. Tweets. Staying in the loop. Talking to others you may never have met before. Throwing questions out to people. Networking. Joining in on hashtag discussions etc.

If Sam had not made her intentions known and networked, Jake would have been left with Carolyn, uneven hair and all!

Janet Abruzzo asks in her blog post "Why do we connect?"


 

Indeed, there is a commitment involved with establishing a PLN.

Warlick (2009) states "Working your PLN involves a great deal of responsibility because you are almost certainly part of someone else's network" (p. 16). I had never thought of this, in this way. Of course, they attach to you. They expect something in return. All the networks I am in are not as patient as my Facebook friends. There is a level of commitment implied or otherwise. At the end of this course, I think I will have to pare down my participation in Nings. Still, difficult to decide, which is in? Which is out?


 


 


Warlick (2009) makes the point that as educators we need to be learners ourselves. We owe it to our students to be up to date and "in the know". Perhaps that is the best response to other educators when they question the need to learn Web 2.0. If not for their own needs at least consider that the students will live and work in this evolving digital world.

Here is a great reminder of what it means to be a "connected" student. So much depends on Web 2.0, never mind that red wheelbarrow.



 


 

Gilroy (2010) states"…social networking sites represent a new way of communicating that also is changing the way the public interacts with and perceives higher education" (p.22). I would think that it also changes how the school community interacts with parents and students. It's one thing for parents to access newsletters online, it's quite another to be engaged on their child's classroom blog.


 

This blog,
Once a Teacher…offers some ideas on how to establish your own PLN and explain the process to co-workers and stakeholders.


 

So where does this leave the Lit Maven?


 

4. Pretty in Pink but mostly in sweats as I have blogging my butt off most days…

In this movie,

Lit Maven (played in the actual movie by Molly Ringwald) chose Blaine (2.0) new and interesting to Ducky (1.0) the old reliable.

This is definitely a turning point for me. Where do I see old tools fitting with the new tools? Do I send PowerPoint in a basket down the river?

What is the future of my PLN? I like to think of my net-life in two parts, personal and professional learning networks.

Personal Learning Networks

When a learner or worker has a problem, where do they go first?

Friends or Google, sometimes one in the same….

Facebook will always continue to be a forum for my jokes, insights about life and connecting with friends. Friends on Facebook are more interested in life topics and I don't feel comfortable linking to educational issues. I don't want to be that person: the person who always talks "shop".

On the other hand, I have seen the potential in using my Google reader, blog and twitter to create a network for my personal interest in writing. The networking for a writer is a must, with such a solitary activity.

Professional Learning Networks

I see some really opportunities for strengthening my learning networks I look forward to time to reestablish myself on Nings and to develop ideas. As a consultant, the resources are hard to find. It is not as easy to find information, as compared to a school administrator or teacher.

Warlick (2009) states "It is human nature to incline toward sources that agree with our own worldviews, so we must try to cultivate networks that challenge our thinking and frames of reference" (p.16). I guess this depends on the goals of my network. Forcing myself to consider different ideas and perhaps even to question things more. I think that we like to think that our workplaces couldn't possibly be similar across the nation but I have noticed common themes emerging. Soule (2008) adds "Networking through technology can form powerful alliances, connecting leaders and experts locally, nationally and internationally" (p.15).


 

This question was poised on a Selling Learning Communities: Not Everyone Will or Wants a Group Hug:


 

How do I communicate the value of social media as a learning tool to my organization?


 

My next steps will be to add web 2.0 tools to job delivery. Creating a solid learning community and offering exposure to these tools may create interest. I consider technology to be part of my role. It's non-negotiable considering the literature on the
new digital literacies.

My goal of this course was to find a way to increase the communication with my teachers and to offer additional support in the form of podcasts, wikis and tutorials.

Ÿ Trying to experiment with newsletter updates

Teachers appreciate new ideas and info.

Blogging requires a lot of initiative on the part of the others.

What if they don't check in?

Subscribe?

Ÿ Being consistent with posting and the variety of information

Ÿ Creating a theme for daily posts or a structure or perhaps a series of posts

Ÿ Engaging in deeper educational discussions (Could I be Lord of the Nings? Maybe…)

Ÿ Helping teachers set up a PLN

    How could I take this further with my teachers?

Would they set up a PLN?

Is there an easier way to help them since they cannot invest the same amount of time?

Is there a first tool? Mel (EDES 501) suggests, "focus on quality rather than quantity, so I would start by introducing teachers and students to just two tools: Google Reader and Delicious. I believe this would be a great place to start that would be manageable and practical for most."

ŸDemonstrate how to use the program of studies as a basis to demonstrate where these Web 2.0 tools fit


 

Nicola (EDES 501) sums this up nicely, "The amount of time and money saved is priceless. Making sure that colleagues and students realize they have these resources available to them is vital in extending our learning to others in the community. For example, our high school subscribes to several online databases and encyclopedias and yet few staff or students use them as a resource, preferring to Google most of their searches. It takes in-service, modeling and integration of these resources into assignments to see an increase in use."


 

DuFour (2007) states "The rise or fall of the professional learning community concept in any school will depend not on the merits of the concept itself, but on the most important element in the improvement of any school—the collective capacity, commitment, and persistence of the educators within it" (p.7). Although this pertains to PLC's I do think the idea easily translates into PLN's and the idea that it is the users that maintain the usefulness, the strength and the power of these networks.


 

5. Weird Science"It's my creation, is it real?"

This whole course was an experiment of sorts. Our Frankenstein was our weekly post. What kind of shenanigans could we get into every week?

The different tools required different demands. Specifically writing was extreme between blogs and twitter. Twitter required an on the fly response edited to 140 characters. The blog posts were a huge process, requiring several different steps.

There were demands to keep the message consistent. Trying to establish and maintain the blogging voice over the weeks.

"I'll give my voice to Ursula... if she'll do the legwork!" was how Todd (EDES 501) articulated the weekly demands. Indeed as Lois (EDES 501) said, "I've tried experimenting with my voice but alas, much like my haircut, it just keeps going back to the same style no matter what I try."

The professor and the fearless crew (A.K.A. EDES 501 winter session 2010) have been on this amazing journey with me. A journey that at times was more Rocky than Steve Perry.


 

On paper, this course is about developing a PLN through Web 2.0, never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be so much about writing.

My news resolution was to become a better writer. Look what happens when you throw that into the universe.

I hope this becomes one of those everlasting habits. Dr. Phil says it takes 21 days to make a habit. Well then I guess it's settled. I will be a blogger.

Here's a little Lit Maven ditty:

1-2 Twitter for you

3-4 Blog some more

5-6 Flickr Pics

7-8 Nings are Great

9-10 Blog again

Sincerely Yours,

The Lit Maven


 

Nonlinked Resources

DuFour, R. (2007). Professional learning communities: A bandwagon, an idea worth considering, or our best hope for high levels of learning?. Middle School Journal, 39(1), 4-8. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Gilroy, M. (2010). Higher education migrates to youtube and social Networks. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 75(7), 18-22. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Hijazi, S. (2004). Too much information--Too much apprehension. Association of Small Computer Users in Education (ASCUE), Retrieved from ERIC database.

Soule, H. (2008). Transforming school communities: Creating dialogue using web 2.0 tools. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(1), 12-15. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Warlick, D. (2009). Grow your personal learning network: New technologies can keep you connected and help you manage information overload. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(6), 12-16. Retrieved from ERIC database.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet, Except if You Were a Librarian Media Specialist!




This cold arctic day in Edmonton, reminds me of how unpredicable things can be. Just when we think we have all our ducks in a row, the unexpected arrives. Today I heard news from a colleague that her school is changing her title of Library Media Specialist to School Librarian. What does this mean? Why the change? Just when we take steps forward, suddenly there are leaps backward. Names are important! Technology is important. Our students are important. Please let our specialists do what they need to do, they are Roses is our school gardens, and any other name would smell like feet!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eat-Pray-Blog- (Post 9 Blogging in the Time of Cholera)

Blogging is About Letting Someone into Your Virtual Home…Just Like the Friendly Giant Created His Ambiance


 

Burling Down and Down The Network, That's Where the Blog Writer Learns to Type Lightly (Learning the Tool)

Finally! Blogging about blogging…how not easy. It's funny I have been blogging all term. Never giving it much thought, perhaps taking it for granted. But no more, Blog…

HERE IS YOUR LIFE!

Where I started?

So I began this journey in the cold days of January. I spent an entire day deciding on a blog platform. The top two choices were Blogger and Wordpress. It came down to compatibility. E-harmony chose Blogger. Blogger and I both liked Google Reader and well, that's what I look for in a blog. I have tried to blog before but I would get three days in, forget to post, and then abandon the project. Why bother? I didn't post everyday…no one cares. Bring on the sad Eeyore.

So What Was the Problem?

I knew I had something to say.

BUT I was afraid no one would read it.

AND I was nervous if someone actually read it.

Confused? Me too!

With my past experience murky at best, there was no where left to go but up.

I'm Baby Steppin'
Creating the Lit Maven

  1. Name: Creating a name for the blog was a struggle. I tried to find a blog naming rubric and then I experimented with NameThingy, a word generator. Finally I went with my first choice, The Lit Maven, isn't that how it always goes?
  2. Layout: You would think my life rested in on it. Two columns or three…what's better for resale? I still aspire for three columns like those in Wordpress but so far Blogger is limited to two.
  3. Widgets: I added a clock, fish, blogroll and some images. Very conservative, you would think they cost money. I wasn't sure what to add. I was thankful that my fellow classmate told me that with the HTML widget you can add miscellaneous things. With the HTML widget I added a tagroll for De.licio.us.
  4. Posts: I posted sporadically, always on the Monday, with a sprinkle of posts in between. I thought about posting more often. But in all honesty the Monday post took all week to write and I rarely had enough time left.

What I found out?

Later on

  1. During podcasting week I added Feedburner. The feedburner has interesting statistics. Watching subscriptions go up and down has been troubling. I am not sure what is causing that. I ended up erasing a post because it was too literary based. I am beginning to understand the importance of being a consistent poster with a consistent style.


     

  2. I added a Clustr Map
    because I noticed them on other sites and I wanted to see at a glance where users were viewing from. According to this article, key words are huge with attracting readers. The post where I referred to Shaun White, Olympic Snowboarder, I noticed a blog reader from California. I have no idea if that was a coincidence or that a search of his name brought up my blog. Either way, I find clustr maps very motivating.


 


 

  1. During wikis and social networking weeks, I began to add badges. Kinda like Girl Scouts but without the effort or the creepy brown dress and putrid brown tights. So far I have the three Ning badges. I am starting to see how a personal blog can be your main control panel to access everything else. The confusion at the start of this course was how everything related and how I could find it quickly. I was joining so many things that I felt I needed my own cruise director. Redirecting back to a personal homepage from Twitter and vice versa seems to be the best way to go in terms of building your brand on the net.


     

  2. During twitter week I invited Stephen and Chris over to redo my space. My blog was getting to me. I ended up dumping all my widgets. YES…that's the noise you heard a few weeks ago! I reflected on my e-class discussion on blog design. I decided that the blogs that I loved were clean and crisp, right to the point and that is what I wanted my blog to reflect. I also decided to get rid of widgets horizontally along the top because they pushed down my blog posts from view. The color is now blue and the columns have been flipped. I have added a Google search button that works within my blog. In addition I have maintained my Shelfari. All and all, I am very pleased.

Google Reader

When the professor said we had to follow a list of blogs plus the classmates' I had no idea about Google reader. I imagined checking the blogs separately every day. In addition to twitter and e-class, this was almost a deal breaker. Then Google reader came into my life. I become a subscription maniac! Google Reader is an aggregator that is fed by RSS feeds. Honestly, the little orange button has become my best friend.

But guess what? I had no idea that you can view the blog entries in Google Reader, expanded or in list format. I had it expanded for the first two months of the course and the downloading of each post was lengthy. I hit the list button by accident once and I finally cued into the class conversation of the importance of blog titles. Love those light bulb moments, but just wish they happened earlier.

What I Learned?

Celebrations and Challenges

I have learned that blogs are not static. They are evolving and dynamic. The more you blog, the more you can create a look or brand for yourself.

The writing process of a post: 1) Find an Idea 2) Thrash Around 3) Clean 4) Do Laundry 5) Revise 6) Edit 7) Post

Commenting on other blogs is a lot of work. I comment on my classmates but not any of the others. I have noticed that people prefer quick responses such as retweeting or sharing articles but to engage in dialogue seems to be left for Nings or perhaps sites that you are devoted to.

I need more blog traffic. I am still unsure of the current direction for my blog so I am hesitant to string people along.

The most difficult part has been deciding on content. The course has set up a direction. But how will I continue after the course is over?

Little Miss Muffet Sat on a Tuffet Blogging and Posting A Way (Personal and Social Uses of the Tool)

"Don't worry about retracing the path of ten thousand other creators. Make the journey your own with your honest, authentic thoughts and feelings. No one can accurately duplicate that." - Matt Dickman

A Path to Rapid Growth: Find Your Formula suggests that blogging is about finding a formula that works for you. Make it work…as Paula Abdul would say, "Make it Your Own." (Never thought Paula Abdul would make it into my blog posts. I promise this will not happen again.)

So I decided that learning about anything requires a mentor. I chose three of my current favorites.

Why do I love them so and how do they relate to my future blogging?

1.Copyblogger – This is my number one favorite. With unusually lengthy posts it takes some commitment to get through. But the style feels like a daily pep talk or words of wisdom. I appreciate the witty anecdotes and the general content. The design is crisp and clean, easy to navigate with links to the most popular articles. Began in Jan 2006, the first post is found here.
This blog has maintained the same look and feel for four years.

2. Seth Godin's
–This blog is very minimal, quick concise writing, not flashy. His books are written the same way. Here are links to his ideas on redoing your website/blog such as:

Ÿ "What is the goal of the site?"

Ÿ
"Are we hoping that people will watch or learn?"

and trying to increase blog traffic such as:

Ÿ"Write like it's the first post for everyone everyday"

Ÿ "Why are most people on the net? What do they need to know?"

3. HipWriterMamaThis blog is a favorite because I want to write. Write anything, really. Vivian has numerous links to writers' blogs and resources, a one stop shop. I found this interview on why she blogs.

This reflection has taught me:

  1. These bloggers wanted to write, even if no one ever read their blogs.
  2. Begin with a passion and keep on going.
  3. You are never alone in the blog-o-sphere, other like-minded bloggers will find you. This seems to be something I am missing with my writing, a support group. Richardson (2008) states "…Publishing content online not only begins the process of becoming 'Googleable,' it also makes us findable by others who share our passions or interests" (p.18).


     

My huge issue: what kind of blog will I have after the dust settles? Of the 25 different styles, what fits me best? Do I want it to be one that fills my personal goals, professional goals, or both?

  1. I have been bouncing an idea for a YA book for some time. The struggle has been the format. I am now considering writing the story in the form of a blog. Perhaps this hybrid format will suit the idea. In addition to this course, the other inspiration has been from this book Skeleton Creek. I read this book in the summer…and it freaked me out!


     

  2. Another idea, is to continue my blog but focus more on literacy. In that case I will take the advice of Brogan & Smith (2009) who talks about viewing your blog like a resource. Create it with common questions concerning your topic. Most people returning will have common questions.


 

  1. This summer my husband set up a blog to support my dad's car detailing business. I see the value in using blogs to showcase your work. In my other life, when I have more time, I can create a blog of my painting.


     


     

  2. I have tossed around the idea of creating a blog for my daughter's artwork. I think that would be an excellent way to document her artwork overtime. Relatives could see it…and I could…sshhhh….recycle some of them!

Blogs for social use… I am not sure if I would endeavor to that. I think Facebook facilitates that purpose of sharing my life, for me.

If Your Blogging and You Know it, Post A Link (Educational Implications Uses of the Tool)

As educators, we have to make a decision about what we do in our classrooms. There is so much content and not nearly enough time. Where does blogging fit?

There are many forms of writing such as: narrative, report and essay. But what makes blog writing an enticing option?

Ohler (2009) explains that

"…blog writing requires a kind of visual rhetoric I call 'visually differentiated text'. It uses conventions intended to make on-screen reading easier, most notably the four Bs: bullets, boldface type, breaks, and beginnings. That is, students must visually sculpt blog writing" (p.3).

For some students, blog writing speaks to their strengths but for all students it puts emphasis on developing concise writing. Furthermore, Redekopp & Bourbonniere (2009) add that for some students blogging might provide their only voice in the classroom. Students, who otherwise stay silent in class discussions, come alive online.

Lastly, Ducate & Lomicka (2008) add "In addition to the social aspect of blogs, they also serve as a space for micropublishing, where sharing, collaboration, responsibility, and ownership are key features" (p.11).


 

Once the decision has been made to include blogging in the classroom, what type of blog supports your classroom needs?

Zawilinski (2009) suggests this tidy list of four.

  1. Classroom News Blog: This type of blog allows teachers to post classroom events, make announcements.
  2. Mirror Blogs: This type of blog allows the teacher to reflect on events, like conferences, and give an account of her learning.
  3. Showcase Blogs: Support showing student work, such as art.
  4. Literature Response Blog: A teacher can post a question about a selection of literature and encourage students to log in and respond.

Blogs are a tool. Blogs themselves do not create the magic of learning. Teachers should expect to provide a lot of additional scaffolding and support. Zawilinski (2009) suggests these steps to support reading comprehension.

1. Bolster background: Building background knowledge before reading.

2. Prime the pump: Stopping after an initial reading to clarify confusions, make statements.

3. Continue the conversation: Summarizing and synthesizing information.

4. Make multiplicity explicit: Students responding to each others' posts and final thoughts on the reading.

Blogs can also be used to gather research. Valenza (2008) suggests ways to incorporate blogs as a research platform. Here is a Research Log Template blog. Valenza (2008) adds "We've found that many of our students who resist writing don't mind recording their progress in a blog that they own, a space that they decorate and populate. The fact that they have audience validates their efforts and engages them in deeper analysis and synthesis of their research." (p.11). This form of report writing is a convincing alternative to the standard report writing assignment.

Research can further be enhanced through the use of RSS feeds. Glotzbach, Mohler & Radwan (2009) explain "The use of RSS feeds in a classroom also allows for a more collaborative learning environment and enhances communication between educators and students, creating new networks of knowledge" (p.2). RSS feeds bring outside information into the classroom in a manageable way, providing up to date late breaking news.

Bigenho (2009) suggests a teacher can use an RSS aggregator to subscribe to student blogs. Bloglines provides a notification feature when a student adds a new post. Students can also subscribe to class bookmarks that you create in delicious.


 

One important ramification of blogging in education, Richardson (2008) states "…the things we create are searchable to an extent never before imagined and will be viewed by all sorts of audiences, both intended and unintended" (p.19). Students need to be aware that what goes on the net, stays on the net.


 

Helping Educators Get Started with Professional Blogging

Blogs provide a forum for professionals to exchange ideas about education. Many of the blogs on my blogroll are dedicated to issues surrounding education reform. There are a plethora of sites that detail how to get started. All blogging platforms have tutorials. But the difficulty seems to be 'What am I going to write about?' Rempel & Gronemyer (2008) suggests choosing blog content that is broad enough to appeal to a large group of people. This is what I discovered too. The blogs that appealed to me were the ones that had a general appeal. I can use the same information to suit so many different purposes.

Part of my job is to introduce teachers to literature. I am by no means the book whisperer but I do feel I have a way with books. I have a school district blog, that has many links to books but it requires a log on/password. I enjoy adding the newest and latest information but it is difficult to locate on our portal. Not sure what to do about that. But I think that is where my strength lies. Books and writing. What to do with a book?

Bird (2009) discusses whether specialized blogs, such as Kid-lit themed ones, have influence outside their community. Bird (2009) suggests that the existence of these blogs, rather than the hard to find journals, bring book discussions and reviews to eager audiences. Librarians, educators and parents no longer have to rely on book awards.

At the core, blogging is about writing. It is about a conversation. Globally or locally it's about making connections. Pull up a chair, would you like a cup of cyber tea?

I will leave you with a quote by Gretchen Rubin's
that speaks to my experience thus far:

"My blog gave me a new identity, new skills, a new set of colleagues, and a way to connect with people who shared my interest. I'd expanded my vision of the kind of writer I could be. I had become a blogger."

Lit Maven…out!


 

Nonlinked Resources    

Bigenho, C. (2009). Mining for gold. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(6), 18-20. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Bird, E. (2009). This blog's for you: Ten of the best blogs for folks who take kids' lit seriously (but not too seriously). School Library Journal, 55(11), 26-29. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Brogan, C. & Smith, J. (2009). Trust agents: Using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ducate, L., & Lomicka, L. (2008). Adventures in the blogosphere: From blog readers to blog writers. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21(1), 9-28. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Glotzbach, R., Mohler, J., & Radwan, J. (2009). Really simple syndication (RSS): An educational approach. Journal of Interactive Media in Education, Retrieved from ERIC database.

Ohler, J. (2009). New-media literacies. Academe, 95(3), 30-33. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Redekopp, R., & Bourbonniere, E. (2009). Giving reluctant students a voice. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 34-35. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Rempel, H., & Gronemyer, K. (2008). Infodoodads--building a new blog community. Computers in Libraries, 28(4), 16-21. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Richardson, K. (2008). Don't feed the trolls: Using blogs to teach civil discourse. Learning & Leading with Technology, 35(7), 12-15. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66(3), 16-19. Retrieved from ERIC database.

Valenza, J. (2008). A few new things. Library Media Connection, 26(7), 10-13. Retrieved from ERIC database. (print this out)

Zawilinski, L. (2009). HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. Reading Teacher, 62(8), 650-661. Retrieved from ERIC database.


 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough...The Lit Maven Get Going

"Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there." ~Josh Billings

April 4th, 2010...three months to the day, I started my web journey. If not for the professor and the fearless crew the LitMaven would have been lost. I look back at all the web 2.0 tools and I am pleasantly surprised how natural they have become. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be so engaged, so motivated, to write and collect information. But here I sit. Today's song goes out to all those graduate students who fight the good fight...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcome Back...To the Same Old Place that You Laughed About...



I used to like this opening number to Welcome back Kotter, until today when this article triggered other thoughts.

Making Physical Changes to School to Improve Learning

Why do our classrooms physically look the same, year, after year? I am a strong believer in 'thoughtful' classroom design. What will it take to move these ideas forward?

Perhaps Arnold would have prefered sitting on a ball....who knows. But please...let's gt rid of those desks!