Saturday, September 25, 2004

Morning break...

Morning videoconference
Class Picture,
originally uploaded by mazzi70.
Hello Bernie, thanks for the great seminar class on blogging...I learned so many cool things and am filled with ideas for using blogs in my classroom!

Poetry Blog for 8th Grade English Students

Author: Darlene Scangarello
Montgomery Middle School teacher
Graduate Student of SDSU's Educational Technology program

Objective: Students can benefit by using weblogs to post their reflections on poetry readings required in the California State Standards. Students will be able to:

  • Write at least one paragraph reflecting on the poem they read,

  • Include at least one link to the author of the poem,

  • Include at least one link to a web site that is relevant to the subject matter of the poem,

  • Lastly, comment on other students posts at least two times.

Context: The intention is to implement this poetry blog within the middle school classroom, the computer lab, at home, or in a public library. The users and learners of the blog are my English students participating in the Poetry Unit; however, parents, fellow staff, friends, and family are welcome.

Duration: This blog will be about a month long depending on how often we can access the computer lab as a whole class.

Goals: I hope eighth graders learn to communicate on a higher level with one another through this medium that instantly publishes their ideas, giving them an immediate audience for what they wrote. The standards I will be addressing are:
3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
Students read and respond to historically or culturally significant works of literature that reflect and enhance their studies of history and social science.

Structural Features of Literature
3.1 Determine and articulate the relationship between the purposes and characteristics of different forms of poetry (e.g., ballad, lyric, couplet, epic, elegy, ode, sonnet).

Participants: I am going to leave this blog open for external comments and see if this promotes the audience effect that I am looking for. The students' roles are to reflect on poetry readings, give and receive comments, and provide additional resources to one another via links.

Process: Before students begin interactions within the blog, they will:

  1. Bring their signed contract to me.

  2. Set up their own accounts to be used within the class blog.

  3. Read their assigned poem.

  4. Post their reflection(at least three sentences).

  5. Search the Internet for an appropriate website about the author and link it.

  6. Search the Internet for an appropriate website about the subject matter and link it.

  7. Post their comments on two other poem reflections from other students.

Resources: Here are a few web sites to use for this project:

What rules do I want to abide by on my personal log?

My expectations for myself and those commenting to my personal log are to refrain from inappropriate language, vulgarity, and links to sites that are not relevant to the focus of the conversations. ...keep it clean and adhere to the subject matter being discussed at the time.

What language do I want my students to use in their blogs?

I like the sample AUP: which discloses the district policy on netiquette and provides a contract for everyone to sign before accessing the Internet at school.
I will use something very similar to this based on my district's policies and modify it accordingly.

Products: Students will be equipped with a better understanding of what it means to take engage in a group process of fluid writing and emerge as better communicators. By conversing with one another on various poems they can learn from one another and share their ideas.Although not tangible products, the process of blogging allows everyone to participate and see other points of view without the anxiety that often accompanies public speaking.

Evaluation: The effectiveness of this poetry blog will be evaluated according to the types of reflections, links, and comments that stem from the project. I will evaluate students using a very basic rubric on a scale of one to four.

Blogging as a Dynamic, Transformative Medium in an American Liberal Arts Classroom by Barbara Ganley

This teacher is a great writer and provides an excellent use of a blog. She writes in her web log in order to reflect on her thoughts, feelings, and attitudes about incorporating technologies as this into her classroom.
I like the links she provides to other resources.

Personal Webpublishing as a Reflective Conversational Tool for Self-Organized Learning by Sebastian Fiedler

Whew, that's a long title that pretty much sums up this 18-page article. It was an enjoyable read, though a bit long. It took me several times to sit down and read it because I am not a good speed reader...maybe I should take a speed-reading class.
To begin with, Fiedler emphasized a change in traditional task-focused learning and introduced the idea of process-learning that is self-organized, autonomous, and tailored to carry out a goal that will meet the needs of the learner.
He is concerned that the art of learning is not taught in traditional training and education and that skills, habits, and attitudes need to be developed so that they "work well beyond traditional contexts". I thought he was going pretty far when he defined learning as "a continuous construction and reconstruction of reality" but it probably boils down to a matter of semantics as to how each person defines reality or if you prefer to one general definition of reality...
I love the potential for Personal Webpublishing to elevate the process of education to a level of awareness of PROCESS (p. 7). Logging ideas in a sometimes impressionistic manner is natural and acceptable in this new writing genre and as the previous article mentioned, its roots seem to lie in constructivism.
As a teacher, I like the dynamism of RSS - especially useful is its ability to encode content so that I can extract conversations that are very focused on a particular theme or topic! I also like the way that Persoanl Webpublishing breaks down boundaries so that we all become a learning resource for each other.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Educational Blogging by Stephen Downes

I think this new genre of writing (educational blogging) holds vast potential for engaging learners. By default, it is less restrictive and more informal, two key ingredients for an authentic learning environment. I like the fact that Weblogs provide a safe and easy way to communicate with a group of people who are gathered together for a central purpose, whatever that may be. Sharing in a process and connecting to one another empowers learners and I would think that my students could benefit by considering points of views from their peers that pertain to the topic at hand. Blogging could be a great way to mature young students!

In the educational setting, it's power is rooted in the immediate publishing nature of blogging. Students of all personality types will sense that who they are writing for is a larger audience than merely one teacher...that alone is a huge motivating factor.

It is a great tool for pooling thoughts and reflections, and as the author pointed out it should be used as a place to post reflections on readings once the readings are completed and mentally digested. :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Poetry Blogs

8th grade English students can benefit by using weblogs to post their reflections on poetry as well as include one or two links to the author of the poem and another relevant link to the subject matter of the poem.

By conversing with one another on various poems they can learn from one another and share their ideas.

Here are a few links I found on poetry blogs:


Day 1

I have two more days until I began my 3rd short-term contract for a San Diego school district.
I will be teaching English Intercession at a middle school in order to give at-risk students an opportunity to improve their grades in English. I taught this same kind of class for Spring Intercession 2004. I used thematic teaching based on a novel and incorporated several of the key writing assignments that are required by the California State Standards.
The curriculum also included lessons on MLA formatting, research, and computers.
I intend to simplify English Intercession this fall and concentrate on about HALF the amount of content covered last time.
I hope that narrowing the scope will increase their depth of understanding in a few key areas of middle school English.

I wish I were watching the sunset right now.