Thing 23: Brave New World Revisited

It’s official: school is in session.

The challenge, then, is in managing time efficiently so as to implement the cutting-edge ideas & techniques all year long.

The good news is that I’ve already started! But what’s most excellent is the paradigm shift that has occured both personally and professionally.

And I’m hooked! My goal now is to stay current and at least somewhat ahead of the curve in extending my web 2.0 education by way of collaborating, researching, reading, asking questions.

And man, do I have a lot of questions!

Thing 22: O Brave New World

I absolutely get how an aggregator like pageflakes ties in with Classroom 2.0, and I can see myself developing such a classroom that enables this innovative style of shared learning. The public nature of such sites makes me feel a bit like the proverbial fly on the wall, as though I’m doing mass observations of master teachers, accessing classrooms even outside the confines of my own campus. I’m finding the forums – discussion groups and blogs – most engaging and rewarding because of their collaborative nature. Similarly, I hope my own students will find learning in such an environment just as stimulating and gratifying. I look forward to the changing face of the manifestation of reciprocal teaching and learning in my classroom.

And I found useful insights on K12 Online Conference 2008 network’s Take My Hand wiki, as well as the Classroom 2.0 wiki found through the Ning networks.

Thing 7c: Speaking of Flurries . . .

The latest message from the Google Reader Team details a “flurry of features for feed readers,” making sharing, finding, organizing, and consuming feeds more painless. For instance, you can send feeds to Delicious, pageflakes, etc., find and follow the feeds of people we know, and a further specified “mark all as read” menu (panic button).

I wanted a little help developing an educational repository-style wiki, so I found Successful Teaching’s Educational Wikis: Articles and Resources helpful.

Likewise via Successful Teaching, I scanned the Playful Learning site, which is a great site for families that are all out of  ideas for creative & interactive learning activites / games to play with their young-ish kids. Granted, I don’t have young children (or, for that matter, any children) at home, nor do I have young students, but I was inspired by some of the reading and writing activities (like A Poem in Your Pocket). I highly recommend for moms and dads to check out the site in general.

Lastly, if you like boba / bubble tea, this is a simple recipe from Allrecipes. If you attempt it, cook the boba, pearl tapioca, for longer (30 ~ 45 min.), and my favorite teas for this recipe are green tea and spiced chai!

Thing 21: Pageflurry

So far, I see major potential for community-driven coolness (pun intended) in pageflake land. (I can see the kids stoked about this.)

I imagine organizing pageflakes around a novel &  narrative motif & theme, book club, class, etc. — the socially-prompted aspect is sweet!

It’s consolidated, streamlined, efficient — just when I was wondering if it’s possible to create a homepage where I (and others) could easily access my wiki, blog, weebly, feeds, bookmarks & tages, etc. Better still, I can customize my pageflake for my class by adding word of the day and question of the day feeds, a daily crossword feed, even Library Thing!

It’s a lot to screen and manage, though, so I’m a smidgen worried about upkeep & time management. If anyone has any suggestions . . .

Thing 20: Processing the Writing Process

I’ve been using Google docs for some time in my instruction. Google docs lends itself to teaching the processing part of the writing process. My students can easily regurgitate the steps in the writing process, but few understand and appreciate the value of multiple high quality revisions. Too often, students will cut corners when  they think no one is looking (i.e. it doesn’t count for a grade). Google docs not only encourages collaboration to unfold organically, the students are held accountable for individual contributions by their teachers and peers, the latter often being the more cogent authority with teens.

It is time efficient, green, and centralizes and codifies student work, thereby subverting the anxiety associated with corrupted files and crashed computers (and the terror-stricken attempts to recover them) and lost hard copies.

Thing 19: YouandMeTube

The how-to videos (holy cow, there really is a video for everything how-to!) were useful, like Gardening Tips & Tricks: How to Grow Orchids Indoors. (Orchids equal parts thrill and terrify me, and I had recently made the tentative goal of wholeheartedly trying to keep orchids alive and flourishing in my home.)

I was a bit frustrated at times, though, that sound quality can differ pretty drastically from one video to the next.

I had a lot of fun with the nostalgia scavenger hunt: I plugged The Princess Bride, a favorite childhood book and movie, and up came this hilariously impeccable reenactment of the Battle of Wits (arsenic-laced wine) movie scene:

Someone actually posted that the kid “fell wrong” at the end, and someone else commented: “This video needs real wine and a hot princess. But then I guess if you could get either of those, you wouldn’t be making this video.”

And for the grand finale: How NOT to Use PowerPoint! I actually found this on TeacherTube under “Most Viewed,” but because the sound quality was bad, I found a better version on YouTube:

Thing 17: Podcastmania

As a huge supporter of NPR, I’d already subscribed to and begun neurotically following my favorite programming: KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic Video Podcast as well as audio , KCRW’s Left, Right & Center Podcast, All Things Considered, KCRW’s Bookworm, PRI Selected Shorts, for starters.

I also really like Learn Out Loud’s subject-specific podcasts. I found a few great ones for Literature that have useful curricular ties like the Classical Mythology Podcast and Intro to Poetry Podcast. And there are free audiobook, novella, and shorts podcasts to boot!

I wasn’t crazy about the EPN format, though; I ran into several roadblocks when attempting to listen to / download a given podcast, and I don’t know that iPodder is very user-friendly.

Thing 16: LibraryThing = BFF

One might ostensibly assume that an English teacher loves books; one would be correct for this assumption. I have yet to meet an English teacher who doesn’t adore reading. Naturally, I signed up right away, and I was thrilled with my findings.

The Suggester and the recommendations that automatically show when you do a book search are pretty spot-on. I found the reviews mostly adept, often written by members who are well acquainted with the breadth of a given author’s works.

So far, I have only used LibraryThing to expand my own repertoire of books to read, books to reread, books interesting enough to dialogue about both on and offline. But the potential for classroom use is far-reaching. Of the standing groups, I think Author Chat is the coolest!

What’s more, when you sign up, you can view information about events like book clubs and author readings under the Local tab!

Back to cataloguing…

Thing 15: Delectable Earmarks

I’m not in the habit of bookmarking websites, so it took me a while to navigate Delicious. I get its value, though, in spite of not yet having a full grasp yet of tag intersection and tag bundling.

I get the feeling that I’ll have to go back into my bookmarks and refine my tags.

One question: how is subscribing to RSS feeds in Delicious any different than subscribing in Google Reader? And doesn’t this mean de-centralizing RSS feeds? I’m not sure how this is more efficient or effective.