Our First Session

Here's a quick overview of what we looked at today:

1) Shift Happens (Do you know?):
On the right hand sidebar, you'll find some Youtube videos. We watched the two versions of "Shift Happens", and asked the question "What are the implications for my teaching?"
Some of the key ideas that jumped out were...

  • so many job changes...
  • so many new kinds of careers: how are we preparing our students?
  • we need to be aware of the world out students live in. (Plugged in!)
  • does their exposure to a digital environment make them scan/read differently?
  • can we get beyond the "glitz and glam" of technology?
  • who answers the questions now? Is it about content?
  • collaboration and cooperation are the new "musts".
The second video raised other questions:
  • self-publishing and self-broadcasting are the new ways to express oneself
  • common knowledge: Wikipedia. (We're part of the answer.)
  • telling our stories: Youtube. (Everybody has something to share.)
  • texting as a way of communicating. ("How many texts per day!??")
  • piracy and inappropriate posts: who is teaching about these things?
  • (BTW, here are some suggestions for using this clip with a class.)

Lorraine mentioned a book she is reading called "Proust and the Squid" by Maryanne Wolf. It discusses, among other things, how reading is something that was invented relatively recently, and this has changed the way we think and view the world. Perhaps our students will have a similar experience with digital media. Click the title link to read an excerpt from the first chapter of her book.

Diane mentioned that we will be posting articles on "new literacies" in the sidebar. Many the key publications (ie Educational Leadership) are available from EBSCO, the journal database the district subscribes to. For home use, you'll need the name and password supplied by your TL, but during the school day, you can access them directly with no login required.

2) What do we already know? (+ Etherpad and Wordle)
Using Word, we asked everyone to make a list of tools and apps they know how to use. Type the word 3x if you're very familiar, 2x if somewhat familiar, once if you have a passing acquaintance. Then, using a public pad from the Etherpad site, (we supplied the URL), everyone pasted their list into a common, shared page. Then, we pasted the entire list into Wordle. See below for the result.

The genius of Wordle is that it generates a "tag cloud" that makes the most common words appear larger and bolder, giving an instant visual feel for what are the key ideas. We could see the areas of expertise, and by omission, what areas we could work on together.

TOOL TIP: How could you use Etherpad in a class? Students could use it for "instant" collaboration on a script or outline. The resulting work can be emailed, posted on a class blog or saved in a Word document. Get instant feedback on what is important, or bothersome or inspiring in a lesson by having all students type into a common Etherpad at the end of a class, or at the start, as a warm up. (The Public pad will handle up to 16 people at a time. For a full class, you'll need to create 2 public pads.)

TOOL TIP: How could you use Wordle in a class? Paste a number of poems from a single author in a Wordle to see if there are common themes. Create a Wordle of the first page or so of a novel: guess the theme, topic, setting, genre, etc. Use the image as a poster, a unit summary, a T-Shirt design, a jumping off place. Collect student opinions, feelings, prior knowledge, beliefs about a topic and "wordle" them. Paste the image in a powerpoint, in a blog or on a class webpage.

3) Where to next?
Here are some suggestions:
  • Explore the two Tools we looked at.
  • Revisit the video clips.
  • Check out some of the links on the blog.
  • If you like, post on the blog, or leave comments on existing posts.

There was some interest in exploring: blogs for lit circles, and iMovie editing and production.
(You can also explore "gordonslearning.blogspot.com" for some examples of projects from last year. Look for the tag "blogs" and "iMovie")

See you next session!