This week has seemed like a blur—between the lessons with the Media 21 edupunks, juggling lesson plans for other collaborative projects with classroom teachers, working on some upcoming collaborative projects with other librarians (more news on that to come soon!), celebrating my birthday, getting my copy of Pat Conroy’s new book, working on upcoming Media 21 lesson plans, scheduling speakers and guests for the library and my Media 21 peeps via Skype, and then brainstorming my personal Geek the Library campaign, the hours needed to get it all done with quality and still sleep have seemed a bit elusive. However, the hive of activity has been positive and energizing! Here are my thoughts on this week’s work in the world of Media 21:
Two things have struck me this week with my Media 21 students: their patience in learning the new tools and our use of the tools and their willingness to try. Their faith in what we are doing is rather humbling to me—even on days when I have to punt with our lesson because we are moving at a pace I didn’t anticipate, they seem unflappable and just keep moving with a positive outlook.
Most of the time I feel as though I am barely staying a few steps ahead of them. I feel more than confident with the material and tools, but organizing them in a way and pooling together the resources I want to share with them is what is time-consuming. Most of my work is done at home since I am teaching the majority of the day, and the few open periods we have are usually taken up with administrative tasks I must tend to in the library or doing a good bit of one-on-one help. The one thing I do not have in my awesome and dream world library environment is at least 30 minutes to plan/talk with my collaborating teacher, Susan Lester. We try to debrief and discuss at the end of the day, but by then, we are both usually tired and have other school responsibilities calling us. I don’t know how, but I am going to strive to find an hour a week in which we can sequester ourselves and just talk/brainstorm/reflect/dream without interruption. I feel that more time to just dialogue is essential; hopefully, we can also use Gmail chat to do some discussions after hours, too.
This week’s past mini-lessons and next week’s upcoming lessons are now posted. I am struggling right now with the pacing—activities I think that can be done within a class period really wind up needing additional time. I’m still fumbling around to fine tune my pacing for two reasons:
1. This is the first time I am really teaching most of these skills and ideas in a formal, methodical sort of way, so like anything else, you have to tweak it.
2. I have not done lesson planning with this depth for an hour long period in several years. I taught at our district’s evening school for three years, and I had the luxury of blocks of time near two hours—the longer class periods somehow seem to lend themselves to more inquiry based and hands-on/project based learning. I find it ironic that I crave a block schedule now since I was dead set against it as a baby teacher 18 years ago!
I hopefully will hit my stride soon with the pacing; on the bright side, it is better to be overplanned than underplanned!
The students seemed to enjoy using the discussion thread feature on our Wetpaint wiki; they also are in love with Gmail and are falling in love with Google Docs, too.
They jumped right into setting up their blogs that they will use for reflection/wondering/thinking through their research and learning activities; one enterprising young student has already figured out how to embed a YouTube video—YES! I also noticed that not only did they seem to enjoy exploring the dashboard of WordPress, but they jumped into exploring other blogs they could find through WordPress, too. They will be engaging in their first posts next week, so I am looking forward to seeing what they have to say. I have not yet collected all the blog addresses from 5th period (my fault—the week just got away), but you can see where I have pooled all the 7th period blogs here on our Netvibes page; if time permits, I will be creating a Yahoo Pipe with the RSS feeds from each blog. I will also collect the 5th period feeds for their Netvibes space this week.
Susan Lester, my c0-pilot in all of this, is going to be doing some mini-lessons on persuasive writing late next week (unless her new grandbaby arrives on Thursday or Friday–if so, we will flip-flop some lesson plans). I am thinking that for this persuasive essay, we should have them blog the process of brainstorming and drafting the essay—I feel like they might benefit from blogging the writing process as they could then share challenges, how they are going about organizing the essay, what they like or are proud of the essay–in other words, they could make the writing process more transparent.
On Thursday, we reviewed some advanced Google searching techniques and the pathfinder for our first mini-research assignment. Our task was to research two topics: social media and education (or social networking and education, Learning 2.0) in a broad/general sense; the second topic was to pick a social media/ Web 2.0 tool from a list I generated and to research its use in education (K-12 and/or college/higher ed). Students were told they could pull articles from databases, but that web-based articles, podcasts, videos, blog posts, virtual presentations (like SlideShare), or web pages were also welcome sources of information. The only stipulation was that the “article” or info source needed to somehow tie back to education or classroom life.
Once students got their heads around what we were doing and the how to search the tools on the pathfinder (searching blogs and web pages was another skill I had to demonstrate), they seemed to jump in and appeared to slightly unsure but excited about the menu of options. They had all day Friday to finalize their 2 info source choices and used the class period for reading, summarizing ,and or getting help with the citation info.
On Monday, they will be posting their articles to discussion threads I have set up on our Wetpaint wiki. After all summaries are posted (which will include a link to the info source and citation info), students will then choose two info sources to read and respond to on the discussion wiki. I modeled this activity after Dr. Michael Wesch’s “94 Articles” activity; I had actually created a Zoho Creator generator form for gathering the summaries and citations ,but I am not techie enough to create a gorgeous web-based represenation of all that information. Dr. Wesch graciously Tweeted me the blog post by Kevin Champion on how he generated this beautiful web page with the data, but as I said, I don’t know enough programming/code to do something of this nature (or not yet, anyway!). However, the discussion feature of our Wetpaint wiki is a nice substitute for sharing and discussing. I had also hoped to have students create their Diigo accounts and post to our group Diigo account, but the toolbars aren’t installed yet, and we honestly did not have time. I also realized that adding this layer would totally overwhelm them, so I have let this concept go for another week or so.
Last week’s bugs with the Wetpaint wiki and Gmail are resolved–yeah! Here are this week’s technology challenges:
- I’m still looking for a way to make the YouTube videos I use for instruction and/or as information sources viewable when embedded into the pathfinder pages. Zamzar is great for downloading the videos to show to the whole class, but I want them to be able to see the embedded videos as needed. I need to make finding time to implement one of Joyce Valenza’s YouTube solutions a priority instead of whining about the problem!
- Although it doesn’t seem to work with the GALE databases at this time, I still want Firefox installed in my library along with the Zotero toolbar. I love how Zotero picks up the publication info for blogs, online books, and YouTube videos. In addition to meeting my need for transparent bibliographies, a new colleague and friend, Georgia State University librarian Jason Puckett “Librarian X’, reports, “Universities are adopting Zotero like crazy and your students will have a leg up if they learn it while still in high school.” Check out his amazing Zotero LibGuides page!
- Our network guru Todd now has the links for installing the delicious and Diigo toolbars in Internet Explorer in my lab, so I can hopefully introduce social bookmarking the week of August 24.
- Still waiting to hear if my request to have Firefox and the Zotero toolbar installed has been approved for my library. I love all the amazing Firefox extensions and Greasemonkey scripts—I wish my students could have access to all of it to make using these Web 2.0 tools easier.
- Time—enough said about that already!
On the horizon…..here is what I hope will be happening after August 24:
- Video assessment of student learning with the FLIP camera is coming soon—hopefully next week!
- Social bookmarking mini lessons
- Twitter/Cover It Live/Backchanneling lessons as learning tools that we will actually integrate and use in our classroom (the library and in Susan’s room!).
- Research on school filtering policies
- I am working on lining up Alan November for a virtual visit via Skype! YES! Many thanks to edtech guru Kevin Jarrett for inspiring this idea via Twitter conversations earlier this week! I envision the students interviewing him as part of our research on filtering policies—remember, our culminating assignment for the first nine weeks is craft a presentation in which students will argue why social media/social networking tools should or should not be allowed through school system filters for educational use. We will incorporate the elements of persuasive writing and speaking as well as presenation zen skills for what we hope to be an authentic audience (stay tuned on who that will hopefully include!).
- Show students how to start using their own wiki pages for posting content.
- Beginnings of digital citizenship—Creative Commons licensing and resources for copyright friendly materials.
Major Development of the Week
I am in the process of finalizing a group solution with the great people over at the 21st Century Information Fluency Project to provide our students the Investigative Searching 20/10 course. With our package, we will be able to track our student results. While I could come up with lessons for teaching these skills, why reinvent the wheel when something that is awesome and proven is already out there? We will give our students class time to work on the self-paced course and piggyback the concepts into our other class activities/mini-lessons we are incorporating.
Activities and Resources That Informed My Learning/Thinking This Week
My “Homework” for The Next Week
Updated Learning 2.0 Presence for My Media 21 Students
Our LibGuides Pathfinders
Our Course Netvibes
Class WetPaint Wiki
5th Period Class Wiki
7th Period Class Wiki
5th Group SlideShare
7th Group SlideShare
Class Diigo Group
7th Period Blogs
My Favorite Thought of the Week:
from Dr. Monica Rankin:
Learning is going to be messy, and I have to come to grips w/that…and that it’s not necessarily bad.
And who says media specialists in schools are not needed? This post reflects what I am doing with just two sections of classes—it does not even touch the other projects I have cooking in and outside of my wonderful school building.
For those who think certified school library media specialists are easily replaced with a non-school librarian, I dare you to find someone who can do all this at $10 an hour!
Yes, highly qualified school librarians DO matter. Yes, we CAN, and school librarians can effect change that educators and students can truly believe in when they are supported as I am by my fellow teachers, my principal, and my district.
Onward and upward!