Working on Listening and Speaking

CaptureThe world has been a little too much with me over the last two years. This will be my first post in over two years.

Have been thinking about the six strands of literacies and the manner in which we take in and express ideas, thoughts, and emotions.

Reading/Writing; Speaking/Listening; Visualizing/Depicting

Traditionally we have focused on Reading/Writing. Which we still need to emphasize and skillfully develop. The expert use of writing and reading can greatly enrich our understanding and our ability to express ourselves in detailed deep meaningful ways.

I did recently come across this site that I feel is well done regarding Listening and Speaking.

The information is provided by Erik Palmer regarding Effective Communication.



Role of the Librarian (22 Years of Evolution/Revolution)

In looking to capture the changing role of the teacher-librarian I remembered viewing in late summer or early fall Joyce Valenza presenting on this topic.

In 1989 librarians were the gatekeepers of infomation.

In 2005 librarians helped to navigate and evaluate the vast information that exists in written text online.

In 2011 librarians help to navigate and evaluate information that exists in multiple literacies. And assist in helping to produce a variety of meaningful formats of expressing understanding.

1989 Sally Madonna

 2005 Sally Spears

2011 Sally Gaga

Motivating Others

In disscussing leadership, one of my fellow students in the tl-dl Master’s course provided this video encapsulating Dan Pink’s research on motivation. The research shows that money is not an effective motivator for effective change, especially in regards to anything dealing with mental challenges. The research emphasizes the threefold powerful influence of: Sense of Purpose, Mastery of Skill, and Experiencing Autonomy.    Dan Pink 

Dance vs. Powerpoint, a Modest Proposal

In viewing Ted Talks from Nov. and Dec. 2011, I came across John Bohannon presenting at TEDxBrussels. He puts forth a “Modest Proposal” to have dance replace poewerpoint as the preferred medium to convey and express meaningful understanding.

John Bohannon felt so strongly about this idea that he proposed and created a competion for academics doing their Ph.D’s called “Dance Your Ph.D”. Here are the over 50 entries, mostly in science, that had been entered for 2011 as of early October. List was found in ScienceNow.

Reviewing the Semester With VoiceThreads

VoiceThreads was the final tool I used and is something that I want to become familiar with especially for the EAL students at our school. I know VoiceThreads could be used in a multitude of classes, but the new EAL teacher has expressed specific interest in using VoiceThreads this semester despite confiding that she is not very comfortable with technology.

I was worried that using a web cam would make it more difficult to produce the VoiceThread. In the end I think the opposite might be true, and it actually made it easier. I think the combination of visual and audio strengthened the final production.

One of the final aspects of VoiceThreads that I experimented with that I really liked was its collaborative capabilities.  As I have exposed myself to Web. 2.0 tools I have been pleasantly surprised with how many of them have collaborative features built in. I invited a technologically savvy friend into my Voicethread  after I had completed the production. He was then able to add his comments as a follow-up on the slide dealing with the engaging use of Facebook in a Philosophy class.

Family, Friends, and Facebook

My three children do not use Facebook but my three step-children do. My relationships with my three children that I have raised from birth is incredibly close, but I am still just getting to know my step-children. Presently one of my regrets at having such a busy lifestyle, is that I have not had as much time as I would like to develop a closer relationship with them. Facebook is not the solution to the situation but it is a potential stepping stone in the right direction. I am friends with all three on Facebook and when they went with their dad to Boston last week, their first time ever outside of Canada,  I was able to share in their experience from afar.

I’m not quite sure why the bottom right corner has the date of Feb.2008, when the picture was taken in late November, 2011.

I also found new additions to Facebook that I had not been aware of before. The ability to interface in communication like Skyping was  something I just stumbled across. I was trying to communicate with my wife and it was quite entertaining. At first  I could hear and see her, but she could only see words that I was posting. I had to re-set the audio options on my computer before she could hear me. She never was able to see me because I don’t have a web cam built into my laptop. The fact that we were able to problem solve the audio shows that I have become a lot more comfortable with technology because before this Fall I would probably just thrown up my hands and said it was out of my control. The ability to persevere, and problem solve, are two qualities needed to work with modern technology.

An informative Blog Facebook Friending 101 for Schools  recently produced by Vicki Davis in her Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Finally Facebook allowed a medium for me to be informed about theFifthEstate showing the tragic story of one of my best friends from high school.

Facebook Projects Engaging Students: Take #2

When looking at Facebook and its origins with Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard the start began with sharing, or exposing, pictures. So when I went in search of places where to see Facebook was being used to assist learning, finding it in the Photography class seemed to be a natural fit.

The Photography teacher, like the Philosophy teacher mentioned in the previous blog, created a closed grouping  within Facebook for the class to use. The assignment in the Photography class is not nearly as detailed as that in Philosophy but it is simple and effective.

The teacher has the students post their pictures from various photo assignments and asks the student to do three things:

  1. State why they took the picture they did?
  2. What do they like, or dislike, regarding the picture that is posted? (and why?)
  3. What process(es) were used in creating the picture? (and why?)

The teacher and students can click on the like thumbs up button for the pictures they like. Then they can give an explanation for why they like.

To get into the grouping the teacher simply invited me in as a friend to the class, and all I had to do was confirm friendship.

I was able to click on the like button for the following three examples I’m going to post here:

The first two pictures go together. I liked the student explanation of how she was using Photo Shop after taking the picture to alter the lighting to create a late afternoon glow. The second screen clipping shows that I clicked on the like button and that I was viewing it from my Facebook page.

The last picture was selected to show the picture a student selected to represent their assignment dealing with capturing light.

In reflection, the strongest benefit of using Facebook is that it inspires students to be engaged in their learning. Since I’ve been added to the Photography group I get postings to the e-mail address that I signed up to Facebook with. So I am often getting these pictures sent to my new I-Phone. The pictures are taken and posted at a variety of times in the day and week, showing students engaged in their learning outside school walls and times.


Facebook Projects Engaging Students: Take #1

In early October I had a student come to me to ask if we had a copy of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations in the school library. I’m proud of the collection of books that we have in the library, but I doubted that we had this primary source from the 2nd Century C.E.. Together we were able to find that the Saskatoon Main Public library had two copies in its special collections, and we were also able to find a couple of online copies from U.S. university education sites. I had coached this student in basketball last year and I knew he was interested in history and thinking, but also knew he didn’t have high honour role grades. I wondered what inspired him to tackle such challenging subject matter. When I asked he said he was working on a really interesting Facebook project in his Philosophy class.

In the course readings for the Master’s program that I am presently part of, both William Kist and Will Richardson make reference to how Facebook  is being used effectively in the classroom. Inspired by my Marcus Aurelius’s experience, I approached the two teacher’s I knew who used Facebook to have them show and explain to me how they used it with their students and the benefits that it provided. I also received permission from them and their students to post some examples of the assignments and the products produced.

The first teacher I approached was the same one who gave me permission to post his course blogs earlier. On the cover of his two History post blogs you can see and gain access to the article How Facebook Changed the World , referencing the influence Facebook had in the Spring and Summer Revolutions in Northern Africa and the Middle-East.

Here is the Philosophy assignment that inspired the student mentioned earlier: Facebook edit; Facebook Philosophers; FACEBOOK Rubric

Below are the screen clippings of the students Facebook profile of Marcus Aurelius Antonius and Jean Rousseau.

Also here is the site from which to view the students entire Marcus Aurelius’s Product.The work representing Rousseau is recommended as an example of a strong student product. If you are prompted for or need an e-mail address and/or password to gain access contact me and I can provide that for you.

So what are the benefits of the students using Facebook to take on the characteristics of their chosen Philosopher, instead of writing, drawing, or using some other format like Power Point?

  •  It’s in a medium that most students are familiar with. They are comfortable with the use of the technology, so it is easier for them to convey their thoughts.
  • They can express their thoughts in multiple forms. Not only in writing but especially visually, and potentially with audio if they so choose.
  • The variety of literacies can help  them take in the information in a format that best suits their learning style. (Again strong benefits for visual learners)
  • The posting of discussion allows for students to express thoughts in writing, and exchange ideas with other students and the teacher.
  • The teacher can observe the discussions and posts and poses questions for students to clarify and share their thoughts. (In the discussion board the teacher is the one faceless character named after the school)
  • Finally, as stated at the beginning, it helped to peak the interest of a student and had him tackle a challenging topic not with trepidation but with enthusiasm. It helps the students to be engaged in their work.

Some people fear the public nature of Facebook and in order for this project to be approved by the school division it had to be created in a closed group setting.

My second post that will be addressing how Facebook is used to assist learning and student engagement is in a Photography class.

Opening My Mind to the Treasure of Blogs (#3) Blogging Four Keeps

How does one determine what makes an effective blog?

How does one become an effective blogger?

In describing  the qualities of effective academic blogging Will Richardson gives an 8pt guideline. In his guideline he describes how academic blogging can evolve from simple posting of information to complex thoughtful communication. Here’s his list from page 31in his book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.

  1.  Posting assignments. (Not Blogging)
  2. Journal, i.e., “This is what I did today.” (Not blogging.)
  3. Posting links. (Not blogging.)
  4. Links with descriptive annotation, i.e., “This site is about…” (Not really blogging either, but getting close depending on the depth of the description.)
  5. Links with analysis that gets into the meaning of the content being linked. (A simple form of blogging.)
  6. Reflective, meta-cognitive writing on practice without links. (Complex writing, but simple blogging, I think. Commenting would probably fall in here somewhere.)
  7. Links with analysis and synthesis that articulate a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience response in mind. (Real Blogging.)
  8. Extended analysis and synthesis over a longer period of time that builds on previous posts, links, and comments. (Complex blogging)

Recently this list was often referred to in a small group discussion with fellow Teacher-Librarian Master students regarding what constitutes effective blogging, and how one becomes effective at blogging. Of the many interesting comments from those discussions there was one indicating that at times some blogs that would be ranked simple by Richardson’s above guidelines can still be considered effective blogs, depending on the purpose of the creator, and the desire of the audience.  For example, sometimes readers just want to become aware of a list of sites that they trust the creator will have reviewed on his/her own, and will give the audience an opportunity to experiment with it themselves.

So some of the thoughts I have had and gathered regarding what makes a good blog:

Four Keepers to Remember

  • Keep the Audience in Mind: I’m prone to self-reflection and sometimes forget the audience.
  • Keep it Brief and to the Point: I have been trying to keep my posts between 300-500 words.I’m prone to be long winded and too random abstract in my thoughts.
  •  Keep Multiple Literacies in mind: I’m a visual learner so I’ve tried to keep visuals in mind, often including screen clippings to help express what I’m saying. I hope as my technological skills start to develop I’ll become better at including other elements such as sound for people who are more inclined to be audio learners. Also need to become more proficient at posting video.
  • Keep it Interactive: Skillfully combining all of the three elements from above. Post insightful questions, promote/invite discussion having a prominent easily accessible place for responses to be placed. Have places for the audience to be a participant instead of just a consumer. (My blogging is nowhere close to including all this)

For me Joyce Valenza’s Never Ending Search Blog is a good example of an excellent blog.

You might be aware of more examples, or better ones, of blogs that incorporate the Four Keeps.(If you are, please inform me of them.)