Saturday, October 31, 2009

Last links for October 2009

Image: Japanese Persimmons used under a creative commons licence from Big Grey Mare
Chosen in honor of the black squirrel who is distracting me as I watch him trying to help himself to the persimmons in the backyard.

It's been a great week and I have loads to share.   In the interests of brevity I have posted a few here today but you can check out the rest on delicious.  Over there.  On the sidebar where it says My Bookmarks.

Once in a while I come across a slide set that I really wish I had come up with myself.  Such is the case with Donna Saxby's classy Prezi on Delicious.  (@librarydonna)

It's that time of the school year when we welcome student teachers into our classrooms.  Cybraryman1 has compiled a useful page of links for student teachers.

The Twitterverse has been all agog over the release of Lists to everyone this week.  I've made some useful connections by checking out education or school librarian related lists and created one of my own:   teacher librarians.  My name has been added to a few and a couple have left me scratching my head.  How did I end up on a list of publishers?   Really, this blog doesn't count.

Here are a couple of useful list-related sites:
How-To: Use Twitter Lists by Demo Girl
Listorious: The Directory of Awesome Lists on Twitter

The Unquiet Librarian has written an interesting post on Advocating with more Dimension to your Monthly Reports.

I am User Generated blog has an interesting comment on plagiarism.

My favourite podcast/slideshare of the week from Dean Shareski When You're Not the Smartest Person in the Room.  Pass it on to someone who doesn't understand the value of educational networking.  Click on his name above to see his really cool/creepy twitter avatar.  (This may be time-limited so if it's gone when you get there don't blame me, please!)

I started a Google Doc after asking this question on Twitter:  What one book do you think every teacher should read.  I'm looking for titles that make you think or make you change your practice or open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world.  If you have a suggestion please add it to the list, it's open to everyone.  Take a look, there are some cool titles there.

And finally a great student lesson plan from David Truss:  Halloween Scavenger Hunt on Ning he created it for a class doing a philanthropy project.  Great model!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Drop Everything and Read

Please join me and thousands of teachers, students, government and members of the public across Canada as we celebrate National School Library Day and Drop Everything and Read for 20 minutes this morning.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Collaborative Conferencing

Image used under a Creative Commons License from ChrisL_AK on flickr.

I am more and more loving the idea of the collaborative conference. On Saturday I attended a day-long session with Steve Hargadon on Social Educational Networking. (Steve has officially renamed it). His session model was inspiring. Here’s why:

- He posted an agenda on a wiki page and then proceeded to rewrite it based on the interests and needs of the group that came out during the introduction to the day.
- During introductions he mined the group for talents or knowledge that individuals were willing to share.
- He reassessed throughout the day to determine that individual needs and expectations were being met.
- The feeling of spontaneity and serendipity was exciting. He connected our session with another in California by Skype during the lunch break and the two groups shared what they had learned that day. He brought in three other educators using Skype to talk briefly about their experiences with networking.
- He ensured that the interests of both beginners and more seasoned practitioners were met through the use of breakout sessions.
- He ended the day with an energized speed-geeking session where participants shared useful tools or ideas.
- He developed a real sense of community amongst participants who left with a desire to reconnect with each other and extend conversations beyond the session.
- We didn’t ‘sit and git’ but rather shared our strengths, asked questions and had deep conversations.

I came away with a clear sense of how I might restructure the training sessions I do.  I also wonder how this might be effectively used in the classroom.

Do we have the courage to step away from the front of the class and allow students to create learning clusters that better meet their needs?  Clusters that change as the students' needs change.  Would this help to build a sense of trust and a culture of learning in the classroom?  I think it's worth a try.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Student Bloggers Read for Life

One of the Grad Transitions teachers came to me a few weeks ago with an idea. She wanted students to read books that were contemporary and might give them some insight into the world they are about to enter as adults. The topics could encompass almost anything and we got them started by putting out a display of titles that included themes such as finance, travel, living with disability, the environment, life lessons, memoirs.

A sample of titles:

How To Live Successfully on Your Own
An Inconvenient Truth
Me to We
The Last Lecture
In a Sunburned Country

Then we set up a blog using Edublogs and the students were all given author rights. I love working with Gr. 12s because they know the ropes. Consequently we did not need to spend a lot of time teaching them how to write journal responses. They had done this many times throughout their high school careers.

They were intrigued by the idea that people other than just their teacher would be reading their posts. We offered extra credit for those who got their parents to post a comment. Nothing beats the excitement in the room as they considered what they would write and who might be reading their words.

We talked to them about the importance of tagging. Most had never heard of the concept. We explained how we would be following them using RSS feeds for both posts and comments. They will be required to post at least once per chapter and to comment on other's posts but we are hoping that they will be motivated enough that they will post because they are excited, informed and entertained by what they are reading.

Please stop by if you have a moment and offer your comments, insights and support.
Reading for Life

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Short Stories – Offering Choice Online

I was inspired to put together this list of resources after reading Buffy J. Hamilton's Unquiet Library post from Oct. 16, 2009
Short Stories + iPods + Happy Readers. Her excellent post is chock full of ideas and resources. At the next English Department meeting I'll spend a few minutes introducing teachers to these: – a search for “short stories” turned up 183 results

Google Book Search has a short stories category (382 results)

Short Stories
Nine genres, listed with number of pages, age ranking, study questions, guides and activities, rating, dictionary feature for pronunciation and meaning, and how to contact the author. Notice the tab for children’s stories.

Classic Reader Search by author.

American Literature
Lists 20 Great American Short Stories on the home page. Use the menu tabs to access an alphabetical list by title or author as well as a children’s section.

Classic Short Stories
Search by author or title.

A Few Project Ideas to Get You Started:

Book Trailers using iMovie or PowerPoint

Cartoons using online cartooning tools such as Toondo

Read, Write Think’s list of project ideas.

The English Companion Ning post and replies.

This Week's Smorgasbord of Links

Some good resources that caught my eye this week. Dig in - Enjoy!

Five Tips for Teachers New to Blogging on Gail Desler’s BlogWalker.

Why Twitter? What can Twitter do for my library & my community? How would you use some of these ideas for your school library?

Twurdy: a search engine that uses colour coding to rank sites by readability.

From The Answer Sheet an article – Willingham: Student “Learning Styles: Theory is Bunk

Image used under a creative commons licence by Heather

Saturday, October 3, 2009

ESL Resources from Twitter

Today's question comes from someone who has just introduced her principal to Twitter: "She is looking for info/articles about best practice in ESL instruction - any thoughts?"

So I sent out a tweet to my network asking for the names of ESL teachers to follow, besides @LarryFerlazzo whom I already knew about and follow.

These are the responses:

@mtechman directed me to TweepML for a list of ESL, TEFL and ESOL teachers on twitter. This list was compiled by @shellterrell.

@kristenswanson recommended @SeanBanville @Mtranslator and @daylemajor

@Larryferlazzo directed me to his Best Resources for Beginning to Learn What Twitter is All About which includes ESL teachers to follow.

Also check out wefollow and do a search for the tags esl, ell, languages.

So while I have not directly answered her question I hope that I have provided her with a way to access many great resources. By following some of these ESL focussed teachers on Twitter she can build a powerful PLN. She can read their tweets and ask questions when she wants to locate specific resources.

Some of them have links to their own blogs or sites from their twitter pages which she can have a look at and choose to add to an RSS feed if she finds them useful.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ways to View Videos in the Classroom

This tweet caught my eye.

Unable to answer in a mere 140 characters I came up with the following:

- Show the video with no sound or with sound but no picture. Ask students to tell what they have understood and what questions they have. Show the video again with both sound and visuals and have them complete their summary.

- Show the video without sound and have students write the script or dialogue.

- Have students write down keywords from the video and compile them into a Wordle.

- Have students watch a video clip and then tell the story from another point of view. This could be done in a variety of subject areas.

- Have students watch a video and collect points that might support opposite sides of a debate on the subject.

- Have students write a review as if they were a reporter or critic.

- Play a Kim’s game. Students view a clip and then list as many items as they can.

- Have students compile timelines or a sequence of events.

- Have students create mnemonics.

What interesting, innovative ideas do you have for engaging students when you show videos in class?

k12 Online Conference 2009

Mark your calendars now for some of the most inspiring Pro D. out there. And the best part, it comes to you, in your livingroom, in your PJs, anytime of the day or night. Why not plan to get a group of colleagues together and make it a party.

The presenter's list for the K12 Online Conference has just been posted. Presentations start Dec. 7th. Mark your calendars!

I am thrilled (and terrified) to be part of a team putting together our own very first K12 Online Presentation. It's called LAN: Learning is Social. We will 'tell all' about our experiences this past year bringing the K12 presentations to staff district wide. This was an enormous undertaking as we put together six events that each showcased 4 presentations, skyped with the authors, discussed, offered hands-on training and fed up to 80 people at a time.

This was, bar none, the most exciting pro d I have ever attended. It proved to be an effective way to spread the message and ignite a fire under district teachers who might otherwise have never been aware of the many possibilities K12 Online showcases. I hope I've caught your interest and that you'll tune in when this year's presentations go live.