Saturday, March 27, 2010

Final Reflection: Thing 23

To think that I nearly forgot about this final post! Can you imagine --all that work and forgetting the last post! Seriously, I nearly missed out on the MP3 or 4 or whatever thing that I will get if I finish before March 30. Good thing for Twitter -- being on it today reminded me of 23 Things, which reminded me of the last post! Thank you Cheryl Choinski! If it weren't for her Twitter, I would have forgotten about my last post.

Let's see...where do I start? How about with what worked and what didn't...

What Worked with 23 Things
1. Flexibility! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, for providing a flexible way to earn technology hours. I appreciated it immensely, and I can't stress immensely enough. I often find it quite tedious to attend a training session before or after school. I live far away and I have kids with schedules of their own that I have to follow. 23 Things exposed me to so many more things than what I would have been able to attend at school. Also, many tasks took me a long time, longer than what I would spend in an hour session at ASH.

2. Excellent Resources! The information given to explore the different things was awesome. All the links worked, explanations were thorough, the information linked to was also thorough, etc. It made it so easy to do. Thanks for that!

3. Interesting "Things"! For the most part, all of the things were pretty interesting and worth my time to look at. The only one I didn't like a lot was LinkedIn, and that's because I already have an account and it bores me to tears. I found most of the applications interesting and I loved that I had the option of choosing some for myself. Choice is always a good thing.

4. The Timeline! Thank you for the timeline, because without it, I probably would not have finished. Schedules are good :)

What Didn't Work with 23 Things
Well, not a whole lot didn't work. I think the only thing that was difficult was that some things took a LOT of time, more than I thought. Sometimes I would sit down and start a "thing" thinking I could wrap it up in 15-20 minutes, and that wasn't the case at all. I'm not sure what you could do about that, but I thought I'd mention it because that was my biggest obstacle.

Honestly I don't know what else to put here. The blogging was a great idea, reading others was a good idea. I have no other comments on how to improve it.

My Favorite Applications
1. Screencasting: A great application that I'd like to use for essays. It's sort of what I've been looking for...sort of. I would like to try it out to see if I can make it work for me.

2. Slideshare: Probably the most useful tool I found. I hope more people use it and upload presentations. Now that I know I can edit them, there are endless possibilities.

Final Thoughts
I would most definitely do something like this again. Admittedly I was motivated this time to finish my 60 hours, but hopefully I would feel just as challenged to win a small prize next time. I seem to work that way...a little incentive generally works for me. 23 Things was an innovative idea and I hope to see it again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thing 22: Edmodo - an educational Facebook of sorts?

I have to be honest. I did not enjoy working on Thing 22 at all. It took me an hour just to find and application that I was interested in AND didn't cost money. Needless to say I'm a bit cranky as I write this blog entry. With that said, I did manage to find a tool that I think is pretty cool and has some potential in my classroom. It's called Edmodo. My group is called Techniques in Academic Writing, and if you'd like to check it out, the access code is gs7ucm.

After playing around with the application for awhile, I can best describe it as a cross between Facebook and Moodle. If any of you know me well, you know that I'm a huge Moodle fan and I use it regularly in my classroom. You may also know that I'm interested in using Facebook in the classroom as well. Edmodo MAY very well be a good cross between the two applications.

So, what can Edmodo do? Well, you can invite students (and others) to join, much like you would with Moodle. You can post assignments and upload files just like in Moodle as well. There is a polling choice and an RSS feed option. There is also a way to post links. One of the best features I found was that you can message to the whole group or individuals. This is a message more like a Facebook wall post or a Twitter tweet, which is considerably better than the Moodle messaging capability. In Moodle you can only send messages (much like email), and the user must seek out the message to read it. None of my students look at the messages, and honestly, neither do I. But this instant message feature places the message prominently on the front page of the group or the individual specified. This feature appeals to me because I can easily post homework assignments or answers to questions that several students have asked me. Edmodo offers an easier way to communicate with students than Moodle or email.

With the positive aspects come the negative though. Moodle has other features I use continually: journal, forum, upload assignments, to mention just a few. These options don't appear to be available on Edmodo. So if Edmodo is a community tool, I see more value in creating a Facebook group for communications of this type and running a separate Moodle along with it. There also isn't an easy way to figure out how to do things without contacting live support. Live support is great when you can't figure it out on your own, but most of the time I don't need it if there are sufficient support tools to help figure it out on my own. For example, I can't figure out how to add a feed to my group page. There is no "help" button that will direct me on how to do it. Instead I have to contact support and wait for an answer. True, they are very quick to respond, but I'd rather just read about it than have to list a bunch of questions on how to do something on the site.

Still, Edmodo is at least an attempt to provide some sort of real social networking ability similar to Facebook. I often find myself communicating via email at night information that could and should be shared with everyone. I'm not sold on Edmodo simply because it's one more site that students have to link to. Most high school students have a Facebook account and check it frequently. I want to be where I can reach them. Will they come to the Edmodo site on a regular basis? Or am I better off setting up a Facebook group that I know they'll see regularly? What do you think?

Twitter! Thing 21

I have a personal Twitter account: but honestly I don't tweet a lot on it. I use Twitter personally to follow a few "famous" people (Logan from Project Runway, and Gavin Rossdale). I've not found much use for it personally. However, over the past week I have been using Twitter to send updates on my Project Term experience to Galveston and Habitat for Horses. You can find the Twitter here:

I had a relatively positive experience tweeting during the week,especially since I figured out how to post pictures using twitpic: By using the Twitpic feature I was able to update all friends and family at home by sending pictures as well as text about our experience in Texas. It was easy to do, and not very time invasive. I did find some shortcomings though. I'll list them in bullet form:

1. I couldn't post pictures with text. There could be a way to do this, but I couldn't figure it out.

2. I was limited to 140 characters, which didn't allow for much expansion on things. I think some people at home were a little disappointed because there wasn't elaboration, but I couldn't elaborate unless I sent a series of messages, which would have become time consuming if I did that. So,it may have come off that we weren't very busy because the tweets were brief, but we were awfully busy, including me, which meant that I didn't have a lot of time to update tweets!

3. For tweeting to work successfully, you should really have a phone with Internet access so that you can see the comments tweeted back to you. I was able to tweet, but couldn't check the responses to my tweets because I don't have Internet service on my cell phone. It's not that I don't want it, it's just that I can't afford it. Hence, several people posted responses that I was not able to answer until I returned home -- kind of defeated the purpose.

Other than that, I think Twitter was a good idea for PT. It may have been even more effective if the kids could all have access and post their individual thoughts as well. I also feel that for Twitter to be effective, individuals must update frequently. It seems to be the nature of the beast with Twitter.

Slideshare: Thing 20

Well, here's something new for me: Slideshare! I love this! How did I not know about this previously? I don't know. I often search YouTube for video presentations on different ideas, and I've had relative success in finding something that suits my needs. Slideshare offers another layer of options, if not just to spur ideas to create my own presentations. I found two presentations of particular interest for me. The first is a Facebook presentation. I'm interested in using Facebook in the classroom and am searching for ways to do it. (I'll be listening in on a webinar in April using Facebook in the classroom). So, I searched Facebook and looked for the education category and found this slide:

I basically had to skip to slide 27 to get to the information that I was looking for because the first 26 are an introduction to Facebook, which I didn't particularly need. It's a long presentation and the audio is not the best. I can hear the presenter fine, but can't hear the questions posed by the class very well.

Viewing this presentation prompted me to search for presentations on analytical essays. I came across this promising one:

While this presentation has some limitations (I don't necessarily like some of the suggestions for theses, structure, etc.), it would work well for 9th or 10th graders in helping them understand what an analytical essay is and how it differs from other types of essays.

I find many ways that Slideshare can be used in and out of the classroom. I might even post some of my own that I created for different literary theories. If I have a general interest in, say, cooking, I might find something of interest on Slideshare (believe it or not). The opportunities seem endless here.

The Portability of Podcasts: Thing 19

After looking at the various podcasts available through and I find myself wondering why I haven't checked out more podcasts. Since I now have the ability to play my iPod in my car (a fabulous Ford Focus -- I highly recommend!), listening to podcasts would be an excellent way to pass the time during my long drive to and from school every day. I found both websites easy to use, although I preferred the Learn Out Loud site more. It appeared more straightforward to me than However, both would work fine for general searches.

One podcast that I'm already familiar with is Grammar Girl: I've used her audio recordings in class before, although not on a consistent basis. When I grew up, grammar was stressed and I had to know all the parts of speech and how to correctly use commas, semi-colons, etc. I find that kids today lack in this area a great deal. Grammar Girl is a quick, yet painless way to introduce mini-lessons on grammar. I don't know how effective they are, but at least Grammar Girl is a source I can refer students to if they have questions about grammar and mechanics (and often in high school they do want to know these things).

Another area of interest for me is foreign language. I've had 6 years of French and 1 year of Spanish. After travelling to Costa Rica two years in a row, I would like to speak Spanish better and understand it a lot more. I searched "Spanish" in the podcast sites and found this gem: Out of all the "learn Spanish" podcasts available, I selected this one because the podcasts are longer (11-15 minutes) and it receives high ratings from others that have used them.

With all this said, however, I am having trouble subscribing to them using iTunes. When I try, I receive an error message 1202 from iTunes. The last time I received this message I contacted technical support only to be told that it's a firewall or security issue with my computer. This is an ongoing problem with iTunes on my computer since the dreaded reimaging that took place this summer. :( So, for now, I am unable to download these two podcasts to my iPod. But I sure would like to!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thing 18: Working with Wikis

For my Wiki experience I chose to work with the ASH 23 Things Wiki to add an entry. You can link to it here: I added an entry to the Vacation Spot place and wrote about Monteverde, Costa Rica.

This particular wiki was very easy to work with. I had no trouble figuring out how to edit, add pictures, and change font color. I've created wikis before using a different program (can't recall the name at the moment), and it proved to be cumbersome. Editing was difficult, setting it up was tedious, nothing was essentially easy. So I was happy to find that this particular one was easy to work with.

In terms of comparison, wikis work well when you need a discussion format. Although I have to be honest and say that the forum function on Moodle works fairly well. Plus, I sort of prefer it because I can comment and grade a forum post. So, I don't use wikis very often. I found wikis useful when preparing for Project Term. It was an easy and creative way for students to post their research on the country prior to the experience. Plus, they could add pictures, which is always a plus.

Thing 17: Exploring Wikis

I visited three Wiki sites: Wiktionary, Greetings from the World, and the Holocaust Wiki Project.

Wiktionary: Like Wikipedia, but a dictionary. It appeared rather easy, but I did find shortcomings. I wouldn't trade in or in for Wiktionary. Why, you ask? Well, Wiktionary just gives the definition and an example of the word used in a sentence. I want more than that; I want root words, synonyms, antonyms, etc. So, I don't foresee myself using Wiktionary as a dictionary. However, I do see a potential for my students to create their own Wiki Dictionary during a lit class. For example, we are reading Jane Eyre in British Literature and the vocabulary is fairly rich. It would be good practice to have the students enter in vocabulary words into a common dictionary. So, at least I took away one idea from Wiktionary.

Greetings from the World and the Holocaust Wiki Project: both make me want to be a history teacher! Well, I technically am a history teacher, but I don't teach history. What a wonderful concept. I think that the Greetings from the World wiki could be set up differently to make it more approachable. I see that they have broken down geographical areas on the side, but the information seems to crowded and overbearing for me to want to navigate and read. Perhaps they are growing faster than anticipated? The Holocaust wiki is much more accessible, but I also feel it looks so much like Wikipedia. Why is that? Aside from that, I love the idea and could possibly see using a wiki of this type for Creative Writing (of all classes). Seriously! Think about how students could create a life for a fictional character through creating a wiki such as this. Endless possibilities.

Which Widget? Thing 16

I have to be honest. I could get crazy with the widgets. They're just so darned interesting! Fortunately, the choices on Blogger are not that exciting, so it was easy to limit myself to two: search and poll.

The search feature I generally find useful when trying to shorten the time I spend looking for information on a site. Why would I want to take the time to read every entry when I'm only looking for one thing? So, that's why I added it to my blog. If someone were interested in reading something about Widgets, they would easily find it using the search tool on my blog.

The other feature I added was the poll. Despite not being statistically valid, they can be a fun distraction. I thought I'd ask if people are up-to-date with their 23 Things, just out of curiosity. I'm a week behind, but I don't feel so bad about it. Hey, I'm almost done!

It's the week before Project Term and the end of 3rd quarter...what could be better?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Little Out of Order: Thing 14

Add your voice in VoiceThread!

Ah! I've never been one to come up with good taglines or jingles. I'm much better with more words than less. I'm good for a harangue, or diatribe, or filibuster because I've never been short on words. Blunt maybe, but never short on words.

I find VoiceThread an interesting tool that I could definitely see using especially when it comes to looking at art in class. But what I really want a tool like this for is to grade and give feedback on essays. I want to have a "video" of my corrections and feedback that also records me talking through my changes. I have tunnel vision as far as this is concerned. So I tried it with VoiceThread and found that this particular program does not work for this purpose. I uploaded the essay fine, but was unable to keep the document zoomed in to add my edits. So, the document is virtually uneditable, because I can't see it (too tiny).

So my search for "the holy grail" of programs for my commenting/feedback idea for essays continues.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Calling all actors? Thing 15: Screencasting

Although I'm not new to screencasting, I honestly haven't used it beyond the training I received on it during a technology training class. However, I certainly have been looking for something like this for essay grading. I have a vision that instead of handing back a marked up essay with written comments, that I can return to students a visual and audio of my thought process while I mark up their essay. Since feedback is critical to improvement in writing, I want to give as much feedback as possible. And let me be honest, the further I get down in the pile of essays, the less inclined I am to write tons of comments. That's why it takes me so long to grade papers. With a visual though, I can write minimally but talk through and show what I'm talking about in the paper. I've not been able to find such a beast to help me accomplish both things at once though. Screen-O-Matic gets me there somewhat, but the shortcoming is that there is no way to filter through the entire essay. It appears that I can only chunk it, which will lead to multiple files for students. Not good. However, I have to say that it's at least a start. Here's what I practiced today using Screen-O-Matic. Forewarning: it's choppy and awful! But, it was worth the practice.

Initial thoughts: excellent concept! I want to be able to use this for my essay grading. I see that files can be exported as MP4s. I just need the capability to go through an entire essay in one file.


I LOVE YouTube! Did I say that I loved YouTube? I love YouTube. I have found so many uses for YouTube in the classroom. I found endless instructional videos on writing effective introductions and conclusions, and here is one that I found to liven up a PowerPoint presentation on postmodernism:

Not all videos are good though, so it does take time to watch and filter out those that don't accomplish what I want them to accomplish. However, I don't find that a deterrent to using YouTube in the classroom, much like I do some other programs.

YouTube also opened the door for amateur movie makers. One thing that I discovered today while on the site are the "shows" uploaded. You can follow certain people as he or she creates new episodes of his or her show. I've not explored this before, although my kids have exposed me to Fred and Dax Flame, who are both very funny (and stupid) at times.

My 79-year-old mother has also taken to YouTube. She likes cute cat videos the most, but enjoys all sorts of funny videos as well. Evil Eye is one of her favorites:

While Evil Eye is definitely a cute video, I about fell over laughing when I saw this one:

Thing 12: Fun Web 2.0 Tools!

Wow! Thing 12 can sure take a lot of time out of my day if I wanted it to. What amazes me most about these applications is that they are free. FREE! I tried out a couple of them, but clearly could have spent more time exploring the majority of them because they look so interesting.

One tool I used was, which is a fun to with which to work. I know that there are a lot of programs out there that do some of the same things as befunky, but there seems to be a lot of choices in this particular program. Not all of them look so good. Here is one that I do like though.

I can see using this program for photo variations on homemade Christmas cards. You can even use it to change clip art. In this next image I took a simple red "no" circle clip art and added an effect to it for a completely different look (see the before and after photos).

I also created a video AND learned how to embed it into this blog!

This program ( has potential in the classroom. If you don't have time to allow students to create their own videos from scratch, Xtranormal is an easy and creative tool your students can use to quickly make a video.

Thing 11 is Delicious!

Before I begin blogging about Delicious, I just want to comment on how thankful I am for snow days to catch up on 23 Things! Lately I've found it increasingly difficult to stay on top of everything I have to do for school, and 23 Things is one of them. So I'm thankful for the 6.7" of snow that has already fallen in Ann Arbor by 7:35 this morning!

Now, on to Delicious...

I joined Delicious last year, and once again, I find myself wondering why I don't use this tool. I see the last time I logged in or used Delicious was about a year ago. Delicious' best feature, in my opinion, is the fact that you can capture all of your bookmarks in one spot. Although it's not much different than adding a website to your favorites, it appears that there is the added feature of being able to share links or search links with other people. Is that right? So, if it is correct, then I can see a greater benefit using Delicious over the Favorites option in Explorer. It appears that you can set up groups maybe? So if you have a group of English teachers using Delicious, you can tap into the links they've found. If what I write is true, then that would be the biggest advantage to using Delicious, in my opinion.

I'll add though that, for me, there are too many of these page thingys to keep track of. When do you use Delicious? When do you use NetVibes? It's all so overwhelming to me at times. That's when I resort to my "old ways" of searching and adding to my Favorites. I'm not sure I will use Delicious. I suppose there are some ways to use it in the classroom. It might work for group projects for a pooling of Internet resources; I'm not sure. Does anyone have any thoughts on this application? I don't think I'm resistant to it; I just don't know if I've found enough value in it to make a concentrated effort to go to the page.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Thing 10: Mashed Potatoes -- I mean, Mashups

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After 30 minutes of trying to figure this mashup out, I finally did it. Sadly, it was the easiest thing to do, but I wasn't finding the directions that clear despite it saying "Spell" and having a blank box following. I don't know what my problem was, but I'm happy I figured it out. So, here's my creative output using this mashup. I have to say that mashups are pretty interesting, and they certainly give the techno people out there something more to do with their time. Again, just another thing to find myself sinking numerous hours into if I started checking out all the mashups there are out there. The Flickr ones are evidence enough at how consuming some of these applications are.

Thing 9: Flickr

Flickr is one tool that I wished I used more. I have an account, but it has been so long since I've used it that they deactivated my account. After exploring the site again today for a good 25 minutes, I was reminded of the breadth of beautiful work posted by "ordinary folk" taking pictures for fun. Anne Rubin uses Flickr (or at least used to use Flickr last I checked) and she's posted some beautiful pics. I wish I could link you all to her images, but I'm still waiting on my reactivation from Yahoo to fully access the site. I tried searching for her images but was unsuccessful. Anyway, Anne is a brilliant amateur photographer and if I find her photos, I will post in a follow-up blog post for all of you.

One of the things I like about Flickr is the fact that you can use the images of most of the photographers at no charge. So often if I want to use an image here or there, there is a charge to do so, or I get that dreaded "photosearch" inscribed on the image. Blah! While there are certainly some free stock photo sites out there, there seems to be a lot more choice in Flickr. For example, right now I'm very, very hungry, so I searched "food" in the advanced search feature. Well over 250,000 images came up! I've posted one in this blog that I found beautiful and tantalizing! What do you think? Don't you want one of these rolls just looking at them?

This picture was taken by Renata Diem, who is a member of Flickr. She has kindly offered use of her images as long as she is given credit. How easy!

I always store my digital photos on my computer, which works well when I want to use them or send them. However, I can definitely see the benefit of using Flickr to easily share personal photos with family and friends. A good example is a family reunion or any other family party. Instead of emailing people the photos, think of how much easier it would be to email a link to the entire list of people and have them view your images. In addition, they could upload their own photos and tag them the same. That way everyone's images from one event could be easily viewed at one time.

So what's stopping me from doing all of this? Time. It's always time. I need time to upload the photos and tag the photos, which I either don't have time for or don't want to make the time for. Clearly I could filter some of my Facebook Mafia Wars time to something a bit more productive. I just haven't found the drive to put that energy into my photos though.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thing 8: NetVibes = Bad Vibe?

I wish I could like customized start pages. I really do. I created a NetVibe account last year as part of a technology workshop, and completely thought it was the coolest thing since Dance Dance Revolution. But until today, I haven't looked at it since. I was playing around with it when I was reminded about all the cool things that it can do. If I just had time to browse everything I wanted to browse! In addition to editing my personal page today, I created a public page that you can access here: I have to say that I'm not particularly impressed with what I did or didn't do with the layout because I'm playing catch up with 23 Things this weekend. Next thing you know it's tomorrow and we're on to another set of Things for the week.

Back to the matter at hand...I like the idea of the customized start pages, but have not become an enthusiast of them. But I couldn't tell you why. I don't know if it's too much information at one time with all the tabs, pages, and stuff, or what. Maybe I just haven't given it a chance. If I were to set my homepage to my NetVibe page, maybe I would use it more. Instead I'm set to my email sign in page, which is virtually useless when I'm at school anyway. I certainly can access my email through NetVibe, so why not switch my homepage and give it a shot?


Maybe. We'll see ;)

I could see some potential with students, perhaps. It might be cool to use it for a project of sorts to show them how they can set up their page to do automatic searches on specific topics. I don't know. It does seem a little more complicated than running a Moodle or a shared OneNote notebook. I would love to hear any ideas that others have for potential student uses of these customized start pages in the classroom. What do you think? Do you see any viable use for a NetVibe or Pageflakes in the classroom?

Thing 7 - RSS, I FINALLY get it!

I have to be honest, I didn't think I'd ever subscribe to an RSS feed. This is primarily because I didn't understand it. My first encounter with an RSS feed was a horribly complicated site that tried to sell me on how great RSS was, but did so in such a complicated manner that it did exactly the opposite! That person could have used a crash Marketing 101 course, which I would've been more than happy to teach, but I digress. Anyway, I had no idea what he was talking about and all I wanted was some sort of frequent update to...something...(I can't recall what). I couldn't figure out where these updates would go. Into the air? How would I "capture" these feeds? It was all Greek to me, and I'd like to think of myself as open to new technology and not particularly stupid when it comes to computers in general.

So, thank you 23 Things! When I saw the RSS topic I groaned...oh no, not again! But surprisingly it was fairly easy, and who knew that I only needed Google Reader to manage all of them. Really, who knew? Clearly not me.

What I like best about this RSS feed is that I do have all of the blogs in one spot. Like many other people I often spend far too much time reading things here and there on the Internet, hence my apprehension to even subscribe to the few that I'm looking at for 23 Things! It's far more interesting for me to look at possibilities than the task at hand, in which case is not good for my classes because I clearly need to focus on the task at hand to figure out what I'm doing in class tomorrow. Fancy my plight?

Anyway, RSS has a new fan. Now...what am I doing in class tomorrow again?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Addictive Nings!

My biggest concern at the moment is trying to figure out what I could write about Nings that I didn't already write about in my previous post about Nings! So, if any of this is repetitive, I apologize in advance.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, I subscribe to the English Companion Ning. Here is the link to my EC site: Truthfully, I happened upon the Ning quite by accident. I was researching student-centered discussions and came across a post from Jodi Rice, an English teacher from Canada about Harkness Discussions. Jodi attended the Phillips Exeter Academy Summer Institute where she was trained to use Harkness discussions in her classroom On her Ning she posted specific steps that she took to launch the discussions in her classes, which I found very helpful. She also uploaded a few documents to help track and evaluate discussions. I was able to communicate with her back and forth on the Ning asking for clarification and feedback. Really, without the Ning I wouldn't have known what to do or how to do it without attending the Institute myself.

On the EC Ning I document my progress in launching Harkness discussions in my own classroom. I received feedback from other teachers across the country and I have to say it was pretty exciting to get the first few comments. I'm now able to stay in touch with Anne Rubin professionally as well since she also has an EC Ning!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thing 5 -- LinkedIn (or NOT)

OK, so I've been a LinkedIn member for awhile now and I have to say that I'm not impressed. I am a frequent social network visitor and I find LinkedIn, well, quite ho-hum to say the least. Perhaps a better word would be BOOOOOORRRRRRING! Realizing that this particular network is a professional network, I understand how some of the features of Facebook like the games, funny applications, etc. are not appropriate, but honestly, the layout is bland and there is absolutely nothing aesthetically pleasing about the site at all.

I think the only useful aspect of LinkedIn is for job networking. It certainly serves as a no-frills way to connect with others in your field of expertise at times when you are looking for a job change or employment in general. However, that's the only benefit I find in the service. Otherwise, it's a lot more interesting staying in contact with former colleagues via Facebook because it's not so serious. If I had to label LinkedIn, I'd call it the conservative Republican of the social networks.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Nature of Blogging (Thing 3)

After reading some of the links to the different blogs posted on the 23 Things site I've come to several conclusions about blogging. Blogs read a lot like editorials in a newspaper, which are often pretty interesting whether you agree with the writer or not. One thing that's better about blogging is the availability of immediate commentary on the blog. I suppose this works much the same as responding to an online editorial. This aspect of the blog creates a type of discussion or conversation between individuals, much like a group of people sitting around a table drinking coffee and discussing the issues of the day. Although the tone is informal, it doesn't take away from the credibility of the content (within reason, of course). In fact, it makes the information more accessible to everyone.

What I love best about the commenting feature are the different ideas that surface on professional blogs. On the English Companion Ning, often the best ideas come from those people that tag onto the original post. Plus, anyone (for the most part, depending upon the blog) can attach links to other webpages, documents, etc.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nings! (Thing 2)

I couldn't tell you exactly what a Ning is or how it's different from a blog. My best guess is that a Ning is a social network, similar to Facebook, but used for professional dialogue rather than personal. I belong to the English Companion Ning, which I find incredibly helpful. Basically English teachers at all levels post discussions on topics concerning, well, English (naturally). I started a profile there to post discussions about launching Harkness discussions in my Honors/AP Literature classroom. Here's the link if you care to check it out:

Sometimes I get "lost" in the Ning because once I search for something I'm interested in researching, I find myself clicking on all sorts of interesting topics. Next thing I know, it's an hour or two later! The Ning also forges new connections for me in the English teaching world.

I guess one thing that I still need to work out is how to use blogging or these professional social networks with students. One way that I think could work is to set up a social network for my classes. Since my students are relatively academically motivated, I can see some of them using the network for discussion and help in certain classes. Of course that might open up a whole other slew of problems with inappropriate posts, irrelevant posts, etc.

Relatively New to Blogging (Thing 1)

I'm relatively new to blogging. I have a Ning that I've been using to blog about my classroom discussions (English). I love the feedback that I get and I've also found it useful to search out advice from other English teachers around the U.S., and I guess even the world. This particular blog will be used to document my work on "23 Things", which is a technology "program" (for lack of a better description) for my school. Over an 8 or 9 week period I will tryout different new technologies and blog about how they went, how I used them/plan to use them, etc. I don't know how exciting it will be, but hey, you never know.