There is More to Blogging with Your Students

There is more to blogging with your students than simply creating a blog and starting to copy and paste work, that traditionally was done on a paper journal or worksheet in the classroom, into that digital space. Blogging is about quality and authentic writing in digital spaces with a global …

You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader

If you are blogging with your students, you have been exposed to them. You have been exposed to hundreds of unimaginative, cloned, generic and uninspiring BLOG TITLES. When opening your RSS reader that contains the latest blog posts of your students,  you are confronted with a list, similar to the …

NASA’s Global Selfie Crowdsourced on Earth Day

Today, April 22, 2014, NASA is crowdsourcing Global Selfies. NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while …

The Story Behind Langwitches

I get asked all the time about the name of my blog: Langwitches. So here is the story… It’s a cultural thing… Some cultures see “witches” as a normal part of human history and playing an ongoing role in literature throughout different time periods. Other cultures don’t have a place …

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Blogs and Labels are about Information Literacy

My Middle School is using blogger (part of Google) as a platform for our students’ blogfolios. The blogfolio (term coined by Andrea Hernandez)  is part blog and part digital portfolio. Students not only showcase their best work, but document their learning journey. A blogfolio shows student work at a particular moment in time (due to its chronological nature) with a reflective component to show evidence of growth and learning over time.

Using a blog as a platform amplifies the opportunities for:

  • social learning
  • for writing with a global audience in mind
  • for receiving feedback, new perspectives and becoming a link in the chain of learning of oneself and others
  • archiving information over time: organizing, linking, connecting, categorizing

One component of the blogging platform, that supports a strategic and pedagogical redefinition and transformation of learning are labels (as used in Blogger) or categories and tags  (as in WordPress).

Blogs and labels are  also about INFORMATION LITERACY. We are in the age of information overload. Our students will amass more and more digital information at a faster and faster rate. We have to prepare them to not only create it, but also to organize that information.

Labels/categories function as a tool:

  • for searching
  • for filtering
  • for curating
  • for organization
  • of assessment over time.

Our students use the blogging platform as their hub for documenting and reflecting on their learning. It means that they do NOT have a separate blog for Math, another one for Humanities or P.E. All there work is on one blog. With time that means hundreds of blog posts in one school year and potentially thousands of posts over several years. When not organized well, this can become… well… a mess…

Students won’t be able to find a particular post or another , when selecting blog posts for their Student Led Conference. It will make it impossible to search for specific posts, when not choosing blog post titles containing specific, related keywords.

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Teachers will spend more and more time having to look through hundreds of student blogs to find a post, created for their subject area. Instead they could have been subscribed (via RSS feed) to their subject specific category or tag, filtering like this other student blog posts irrelevant to their feedback or assessment.

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Labeling  becomes indispensable for bloggers. Being able to organize your work, tag it, categorize, group them and later on find them again IS PART OF INFORMATION LITERACY!

 

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As our school (K-12) is slowly spreading blogfolios across all grade levels, we have to look a labeling as part of  the “big picture”. How will we use the blog for growth over time?  How do we facilitate connections and the learning process for specific skills?A reader of a blog, should be able to tell, by simply looking at the list of labels/categories what types of blog posts the author likes to write about.

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When labeling, keep the following in mind:

Universal: It is important to keep labels/categories broad. When choosing a label/category, ask yourself if you will be blogging about this type of content again?… frequently?…. Think of your readers. Would a potential reader be interested in finding more blog posts like the one you just labeled with that category?

Less is more: The broader your labels, the less labels you will need in the future. The less labels, the easier for your reader to find items of interests.

Pre-set Labels: As a school community, we have pre-set labels, that we ask every students to choose from for EVERY blog post they publish. Grade Level and subject area labels are a must and the label “SLC” will be used, if a student chooses to highlight a particular post to present during their Student Led Conference. We are also asking students to label blog posts with the identified core values by the school.

Personalized Labels: Learning does not only happen in school during the pre-set hours of the school schedule. We are encouraging our students to document and reflect on the learning and the growth outside of the curriculum areas. Students will create (universal) labels for their out of school interests and learning that they choose to share on their blogs.

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When left to their own devices, some  label/category lists on student blogs have gone a little out of control. Hundreds of labels, when there are only 10 blog posts to date, do not help but hinder the information flow. I am recommending to be extra careful to not create the following labels/categories:

  • Two versions of the same label. Ex. reflective and reflection. Try to stay consistent.
  • Specific technology tools. Unless you are a pro at a specific tool and you envision to be writing regular posts about the mechanics, examples and tutorials about Photoshop, for example, do not label your posts with the tool you happened to use to create an image inserted into your post.
  • No need to label your post with your name…. this is your blog… supposedly all posts are by you…unless you invite a guest blogger
  • A specific book title. Although you might write two or three posts about a specific book, most likely you will move on to other books and never use the same book title label again. Better to use a label called “books” or “reading” in order to tie and connect with other posts about books you have read.
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Examples of current label lists of our student blogfolios

I am looking to learn with all of you. How can we support our student blogs with a labeling system that guides students in learning to work, organize and curate their own digital information? The digital information created by our studnets (inside and outside of school) will jut keep growing exponentially! How are you teaching students to label their work on their individual blogs? Have you created a system for your class or your entire school to facilitate multi-year blogging? How are your librarians and media specialists getting involved?

Further resources about labeling

Redefining My Learning

Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on Ruben Puentedura‘s SAMR model. The framework does not place emphasis on technology devices (or technology integration) in itself, but on the process of upward movement from substitution to redefinition of tasks and learning activities.

Our collaboration in developing said framework became a prime example it itself, demonstrating the power of a metacognitive approach to redefining the creation of a professional development framework. In an attempt to motivate educators to take another look around and evaluate the relevance in our modern world of traditionally taught lessons and activities, skills and curriculum, we encourage educators to continue learning how to learn.

This past week, Silvana  and I hosted our first Google Hangout on Air . The hangout was the next natural step in transforming our own growth as learners. We wanted to share our framework, solicit feedback, gain perspective from the various experiences from other professionals and be open to revisions to our thoughts and framework.

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The short story of our transformative learning experience is as follows. Silvana used to have her own office. Isolated from daily informal interaction with a colleague to spontaneously chat, talk, request feedback, question, challenge or agree with. We share an office since I moved to São Paulo  at the end of last July.

REACHING OUT- Local, face2face
We talked, we pushed each other’s thinking on our thoughts, points of view, practices and visions of educational technology and modern teaching and learning. There were some extremely good conversations going on in our little office. The big huge whiteboard which takes up one entire wall in the office, was being put to good use as we brainstormed, wrote, erased, doodled, starred, circled and started over again several times. Our essential question: How could we best support our teachers in going beyond adding technology to their existing lessons and units?

Silvana marveled at the relationship of the SAMR model, technology and pedagogy and reflected in her fascinating blog post titled Technology shoving Pedagogy to the center stage? TPACK Reviewed.

From our brainstorming thoughts and attempts in articulating our idea of helping teachers think deeply about the difference of using technology to substitute a traditionally taught lesson and what redefining relevant LEARNING means, we started reaching out.

REACHING OUT – Global, Small group

We enlisted the help of 3 trusted colleagues of our PLN, who we knew would support us in starting to create a depository of classroom activities that were put through the different stages of the SAMR model (developed by Ruben Puentedura.

Andrea Hernandez (USA), Allanah King (New Zealand) and Maggie Hos-McGrane (Mumbai) contributed the first three examples and in the process helped us see the value of creating the SAMR framework and exercise to support teachers in working through the relationship of technology, pedagogy and relevant teaching and learning.

REACHING OUT- Global, Crowodsouring, open group

In our belief that a myriad of examples of different grade levels, subject areas and activities would support and benefit our teachers and in turn other educators as well. We reached out further to ask members of our PLN to contribute to a Google Form, that guided them through the SAMR exercise. The feedback was positive, that going through the exercise proved to be “incredibly helpful” and “forced me to think about tech integration”.

SAMR-exercise-evidence

SAMR_Exercise_Template_-_Google_

REACHING OUT- Global, for feedback, amplification, deep discussion and conversation

Blogging is part of my reflection and learning process. It was natural to share and solicit feedback via Langwitches. My readers did not disappoint by leaving thought provoking comments. Dissemination via Twitter is another unconscious part of my learnflow. Monitoring responses, questions and RT (retweets) allows me to gauge the interest, feasibility and helpfulness of an idea, template or resource that I am sharing with my network.

SAMR-exercise-evidence4

twitter-speading

twitter-speading2

SAMR-exercise-evidence5

Challenging ourselves to take it beyond the comfort zone of our blogs and Twitter, we invited Cathy Beach (educator from Canada) and  Laurel Jankewitz (Math teacher at Graded, The American School of São Paulo) to be part of our first attempt in using Google Hangout on Air. We created an event and disseminated the day and time via our PLN.

At one point there were 20+ viewers of the live stream. We truly learned as a group across timezones and continents. Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, UK, India, and Australia were viewers who identified themselves during the event.  The active participation of the following educators truly lifted our understanding and learning to new levels. Thank you for staying / getting up at all hours of the night/ morning to be part of the learning. Thank you Dana Watts, Karin Hallett, Josh Mika, Joe Dale, Becky Fisher, and Chrissy Hellyer!

redefine-learning-3

TweetDeck-2

Below are some of my notes as I was going over the questions submitted during the Hangout. At one point the question was raised, if the Google Hangout in itself

SAMR Exercise Feedback P1

SAMR Exercise Feedback P2 SAMR Exercise Feedback P3 SAMR Exercise Feedback P4 SAMR Exercise Feedback P5

Karin Hallett, a friend and former colleague (we happen to speak German/English with each other) gave me feedback via email after reading my blog posts about the framework. She questions the last step of the process being revision and suggests the addition to evaluation/reflection as an integral part of the PROCESS subfocus area.

SAMR-exercise-evidence2

 

Of course! How could we forget the reflection as part of the process. Back to the drawing board.

consume-produce-feedback-revise-reflect

 

credit for the “reflection icon”that is part of the one above goes to Kevin S. (a Graded student)

Next week, Silvana and I are on our way to ASB Unplugged to present in person our framework and ask our workshop participants to put their activities through the exercise, pick it apart, judge it for usability to think deeper about pedagogy and modern teaching and learning.

Looking back on the process of my learning that I have described above, I truly believe it has been redefined. My LEARNING has been redefined, not because I was able to have a Hangout or blog or tweet, but because of the ability to receive feedback, talk to colleagues and learn with people who believe just as passionately about the value in sharing and contributing to other people’s learning than I do. The biggest take away for me is Becky Fisher’s comment about the IMPACT, not the ACTION that defines the redefinition stage. So… how do we translate that into our schools to give our students the IMPACT, not just the ACTION?

Google Glass: Recording at Schools

I am continuing to document using Google Glass at Schools.

What are some ways we can use Google Glass in schools to document learning, reflections, practices and just life at schools?

google-glass-recording

I brainstormed a few scenarios, I wanted to try out:

  • teacher planning
  • professional development highlights
  • student perspective
  • self-evaluation/reflection
  • interviews
  • conferencing
  • PE skill practice
  • on the spot reflection
  • tutorials
  • videos for flipped classroom
  • Share your school with others (Admission, Recruiting, Marketing)

google-plus-upload

First of all, let me thank all the “brave” teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, who trusted me, were adventurous and jumped in with both feet when I approached them about testing Google Glass.

  • They brainstormed with me potential uses to benefit their teaching and learning.
  • They were gracious about being recorded.
  • They were natural and professionals in  using Google Glass on their own with little more than the instructions of: Put them on your nose, say “OK, Glass” when you see the time on the screen and then say “Record a Video”.

Below you will see snippets of different scenarios. Some of the snippets make it obvious that Google Glass was acting as a substitute for any other device with camera possibilities,. Some of the snippets though show:

  • a unique perspective from the videographer’s point of view.
  • the videographer has two free hands to demonstrate, work, drive, show action.
  • show that the people being filmed were more at ease (instead of a camera obviously pointing at them) and “almost forgot” that I was recording them. This lessened anxiety in some.
  • the potential of the easy access through voice activation of the camera. No interruption of having to pull out the cellphone or grab a camera device.
  • the spontaneity of being able to record a moment in time.

Thank you to Rens (6th grade Graded student) for creating the music used in the above video clip.

Are there any scenarios that you could think of where a device, such as Google Glass could help to enhance and contribute to experience transformational learning and teaching. Share your thoughts… I am ready to explore further.

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Want to Learn More About iPads in the Classroom?

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed.

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Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators

Guest Posts

Augmented Reality that’s “Real” and Focused on Learning

aurasma1

cross posted with permission from Dr. Silvana Meneghini,’s On The Edge Blog. Silvana, the High School Technology Coordinator at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, shared a How-To post to connect augmented reality to student reflection by adding a layer of learning (not technology for technology sake). I highly …

(2 Comments)

Upgrading Our Recipes for Learning: Digital Learning Strategies

digital-learning-stragegies

In an attempt to bring  new additions to your Blog reader, I am starting to feature  guest posts on Langwitches. Be assured that these guest posts are from educational bloggers, I highly value and their voices contribute significantly to my own learning. Today I am sharing a blog post and …

(No Comments)

Is Technology shoving Pedagogy to the center stage? TPACK Reviewed

TPCK

Guest post by Silvana Meneghini, Academic Technology Coordinator, Graded- American School of São Paulo. Originally posted on her blog On the Edge. Pedagogical ideas like student centered learning, collaboration, and critical thinking have been around for a long time and are slowly making the way into the classroom. When technology …

(3 Comments)

Professional Development

How to Create a Backchannel Exit Ticket for Class, Presentation or Workshop?

Creating_a_BackChannel_or_Exit_Ticket_on_Google_Docs_on_Vimeo

This screencast below will show you how to use Google Docs as a backchannel or exit ticket during a presentation, lesson or workshop. Creating a BackChannel or Exit Ticket on Google Docs from langwitches on Vimeo.

(1 Comment)

Redefining My Learning

story

Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

SAMR Exercise Google Hangout: Mark Your Calendars

SAMR-exercise

Silvana Meneghini and I  have created a template for technology, learning and literacy coaches. In an effort to create a depository of examples and scenarios for lessons and activities and how an upgrade movement through the stages of the SAMR model actually looks like in the classroom, we are shared …

(6 Comments)

Download

21st Century Learning

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1

fail

The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …

(2 Comments)

Redefining My Learning

story

Silvana Meneghini and I  work as Academic Technology Coordinators at Graded, the American School of São Paulo. ” A flashlight in the fog of technology integration“, initially the title of a conference workshop proposal, quickly developed into the desire of creating a framework to guide and coach teachers based on …

(1 Comment)

Reflection in the Learning Process, Not As An Add On

Reflection

Is it personality? Are some people born with it? Can it be learned? I am talking about REFLECTION. At the beginning of the week, I had the opportunity to be part of a workshop during our pre-service ( we just returned from our summer break here in the Southern Hemisphere) …

(6 Comments)

The Digital Learning Farm in Action

Student Tutorials- MineCraft, How to Ride a Horse, iMovie and more

minecraft-tutorial

It is no secret, that I am a big fan of Alan November‘s Digital Learning Farm concept. I especially believe in Teaching is the Highest Form of Understanding and the power of motivation and demonstration of evidence of student learning via the Tutorial Designer role. See a myriad of blog …

(3 Comments)

3 Need-Scenarios to Engage Students with Authentic Tasks

core-value-icons-tibet

Alan November’s concept of the Digital Learning Farm, asks schools and teachers to empower students by giving them relevant responsibilities that allow them to contribute in  meaningful ways to their learning community (class/school/etc.). How can we give students the opportunity to CONTRIBUTE versus completing projects that end up in the …

(4 Comments)

Blogging as the Official Scribe of the Classroom

official-scribe-poster

Alan November elevated the “Official Scribe” as one of the roles that empower student learners. I see the role of the scribe as follows: The official scribe plays an important role in the classroom community. Their work is essential for students who were absent from class or need a review …

(10 Comments)

Global Education

NASA’s Global Selfie Crowdsourced on Earth Day

GlobalSelfieLogo_verticalstack

Today, April 22, 2014, NASA is crowdsourcing Global Selfies. NASA astronauts brought home the first ever images of the whole planet from space. Now NASA satellites capture new images of Earth every second. For Earth Day we are trying to create an image of Earth from the ground up while …

(No Comments)

Selfies Around the World

selfies

  On the heels of The Cultural Phenomena of Selfies and  iPhoneography: Photo Challenges, Ideas & Literacy, students from the American School of São Paulo, Brazil want to know more about Selfies around the world. If you and your students would like to CONTRIBUTE with actual images for an in- school and online exhibition …

(2 Comments)

Julie Lindsay: Designing Engaging Curriculum for Global Collaboration in the Classroom

Following the post:  Note- Taking Learnflow of a Conference Workshop, here is the second story of my curated tweets from a session with Julie Lindsay. My favorite take away from her well run workshop was her quote “Flat learning is a pedagogy”. Amplifying our classroom, allowing students to reach out …

(No Comments)

Blogging With your Classroom

There is More to Blogging with Your Students

blogging-with-students_jpg

There is more to blogging with your students than simply creating a blog and starting to copy and paste work, that traditionally was done on a paper journal or worksheet in the classroom, into that digital space. Blogging is about quality and authentic writing in digital spaces with a global …

(No Comments)

You Have 1 Second to Hook a Potential Reader

hook

If you are blogging with your students, you have been exposed to them. You have been exposed to hundreds of unimaginative, cloned, generic and uninspiring BLOG TITLES. When opening your RSS reader that contains the latest blog posts of your students,  you are confronted with a list, similar to the …

(1 Comment)

Student Led Conferences: Sick and Tired of Blogs & Reflection?

SLC

Our students just finished a second round of Student Led Conferences (SLC) this school year (one in Semester 1 and another in Semester 2). SLCs are a formal opportunity for students to present to their parents about the state of their learning. The students’ advisor (a teacher responsible for a …

(1 Comment)

iPads

Evaluating iPad Apps

ipad-components-content

I wanted to take a closer look at the iPad Evaluation I previously blogged about in Evaluating Apps with Transformative Use in Mind. The section of Content and Components deserved a closer look and explanation. You can  download the PDF file of the iPad App Evaluation for the Classroom with …

(No Comments)

Visible Thinking in Math- Part 1

fail

The conversation about visible thinking in Math started with one of our teachers at Graded, The American School of São Paulo, Adam Hancock, wanting to know how he could incorporate having students’ use their blogfolios in Math class. It seemed natural to have students write for Humanities (Language Arts and …

(2 Comments)

Self- Directed Course: iPads in the Classroom

image2-lens-of-pedagogy

Professional Learning Board just released a Self-study  iPads in the Classroom course I wrote. It is a  self-directed course to take in your own time and at your own speed. “You have an iPad in your classroom, now what?” The iPad helps us prepare today’s student for today’s world in …

(10 Comments)

Digital Storytelling

Poetry on Record

Slide1

Inspired by Poetry, Performance & Taylor Mali and Beyond…, 8th grade Humanities teacher Shannon Hancock coached her students to create their own original “Mali Poem”and record a visual and vocal performance. I joined the class to give a brief overview of presentation design. I used selected slides from my slidedeck below to …

(No Comments)

Workflow & Learnflow of an Animation Story

pedro

After teaching a 1:1 Toolkit class for incoming Middle Schoolers tothe 1:1 laptop environment this past quarter, I am currently teaching a Media Basics course for sixth graders. I am using a school blog to document the class (among others), showcase student work, share resources and give written step-by-step directions …

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My StoryTelling App Folder(s)

storytelling-app

Matt Gomez shared a post today with a screenshot of his storytelling iPad app folder. I wanted to reciprocate and share mine. Storytelling I Folder StoryBuddy StoryBuilder StoryPagesHD Toontastic Tappy Memories StoryBoards Premium StoryMaker HD StoryPatch In a World … Drama Build a Story PhotoPuppets HD Epic Citadel Sock Puppets …

(24 Comments)