Friday, May 30, 2008

It's! was the first social bookmarking web application I ever used. As a teacher, I thought, "Wow! I could really teach my students to paraphrase with this tool!" Yes, I love the online bookmarking part of, and I love the sharing, the social networking part of this bookmarking system.

Unfortunately, the research part of writing; the paraphrasing, the note-taking, the quoting of sources, can be a tremendous stumbling block for students in middle and high school. As soon as I was introduced to, I knew I could teach this to students and they could use it effectively to learn and practice these skills. Since I am always on the lookout for web applications for use with effective instructional strategies that will greatly boost student achievement, I knew fit the bill.

Over the years, I realized that my students could write fairly well, and I credit that to the commitment Kansas has made using the 6 Traits of Writing in a systemic immersion from Kindergarten to high school. Parents, teachers and students know it is a good system. I can depend on students knowing the basics of writing because of it.

Often, students believe this idea, or misconception really, that someone else's words are better than their own. In its pure form, I have to admire that idea, because it means that students honor authors, books and reading. The misconception lies in the idea that THEY can't really learn how to research and write well, but they can. Once students learn to take notes and paraphrase, their writing always takes a great boost in quality.

Another problem for me, as a teacher, was helping each student stay organized throughout the research/writing process. In a way, it seems rather odd that writing or looking for sources is not the beginning writer's downfall, the difficult part is keeping lists of resources, notes, and quotations throughout the writing process. As soon as I saw how worked, I knew it was the solution for this developmental milestone. The wonderful folks at CommonCraft do also, and here is their excellent video, Social Bookmarking in Plain English.

All the organizational problems are solved with and other social bookmarking networks. Students can bookmark their sources and take notes as they find them. First impressions are always helpful to remember. The writer can easily edit, yet it is often difficult to remember just what attracted you to a particular resource. Using, a student can quote, paraphrase or note future areas of research.

As a teacher, I can access all the students bookmarks because I put them into my class network, a social educational network. I can use to check student organization, progress, quality and reliability of resources on the fly. This makes it easier to give timely feedback which encourages students and increases their overall achievement in writing.

That is the beauty of social bookmarking. It's!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dr. Marzano, have you seen this?

Using the concept of simulating the element names from the Periodic Table of Elements, a fantastic mashup of visualizations can remind teachers of instructional strategies, modalities and other important considerations. The Periodic Table of Elements becomes the ultimate Graphic Organizer for teachers interested in improving their art and craft. The authors, Ralph Lengler and Martin Eppler, call it the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. It is fabulous. I wonder if Dr. Robert Marzano has seen this?

Robert Marzano with his research associates, Debra J. Pickering and Jane E. Pollock, completed a meta-analysis a few years ago to determine what instructional methods were most effective according to the research already accomplished. This was seminal research by Marzano's team, because they were able to pull together various ideas on how to improve student learning in a cohesive unit that the education community could effectively put into practice. Their final product was the book, Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement

In their book, Marzano, Pickering and Pollock discuss various instructional strategies that teachers, students and schools can implement to increase learning, but they are very specific in their idea that instructional strategies are not the whole picture in effective teaching and learning. They talk of the

...three related areas [of effective pedagogy]: (1) the instructional strategies used by the teacher, (2) the management techniques used by the teacher, and (3) the curriculum designed by the teacher (see Figure 1.4).


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

YouTube, Copyright and Lucacept

Are you developing lessons on Acceptable Use Practices, copyright issues, or Creative Commons? Then you may be interested in my discussion of this topic, as well as a wonderful blog posting by Jenny Luca at lucacept with her questions about the trends in copyright, education, students, the internet and teachers, YouTube and Copyright: the dilemma for educators.

Jenny ends her posting with these thoughtful questions.

I’m wondering about the future of copyright and what may happen now that user generated content is really taking off. Will we see a backlash against copyright regulations? Will we see users post their content and stipulate that it can be used and reformatted so that educators can employ it in classrooms to convey important messages? Will more people use creative commons licences to allow their work to be used easily in educational settings? Will the copyright council be able to stem the flow of infringements to the law as more and more educators realise the potential benefits of YouTube to provide useful content for classroom instruction?

This is my response, and I am responsible for my opinions and statements on this topic. Thanks go to those who prompted me to think of these topics, but they are in no way responsible for any of my opinions or statements here.

Your insightful lessons using YouTube must encourage students to upload their work [there], and this is a wonderful extension of this popular media venue into their educational life.

Thanks for the tip on downloading before the lesson. That would help prevent ruined lessons from technical malfunctions.

Hopefully, Creative Commons Copyright will become more prevalent. I use the Share-alike Copyright, in my work, and I encourage others to consider it. Even though some dispute it, teachers have permission to use work under American copyright for educational purposes.

I follow Lawrence Lessig's lessons and stories(Free Culture) on what happened when business became more important that expression.

I am all for making money, yet I agree with those who believe that family or corporate empires don't need to be maintained from one person's or group's work. For example, our new copyright laws directly favored Sonny Bono's widow (who replaced him in the US Congress, after his untimely death while on a SKI TRIP).

I am not sure why the work of Sonny Bono is more important than the work of John Phillip Sousa, but hey you never know.

Lawrence Lessig,[Stanford law professor] gives an excellent Ted speech about John Phillip Sousa's active disagreement with long copyrights. Sousa believed that we would have a more creative, richer world if people were allowed to have access to copyrighted work after a much shorter time than we have now. I agree.

Thanks for discussing this important topic.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Making the Rounds

Well, I made the rounds again today! No, I am not a doctor, a manager or a farmer. I am a teacher.

In the World of Matter, I live in Kansas, the first Land of Oz. At various times, I make a special effort to find teachers who also live in Kansas and use technology of all sorts.

This may just be me, but I find it is easier to find teachers on the other side of Earth, who have similar interests, than those living in my state. What has your experience been?

To find like-minded people, I look in the places where I live in the World of Electrons, for instance: Twitter,, Classroom2.0, TappedIn, and Diigo. Today, I found five people, living in Kansas, who teach and use technology. Some are not in the classroom each day, but they all have their roots in education. They also meet the use of technology criteria.

Why do I do this? I made this search part of my professional development plan. I want to help end teacher isolation in my state... in my lifetime. I hear about teachers in other states and countries meeting new area teachers and forming expansive collaborations in the World of Matter and Electrons. I think that is wonderful. What do you think?

To join with other Kansas teachers, to collaborate and share our past, present and future experiences would be a wonderful personal and professional goal to acheive. Kansas teachers have various opportunities to collaborate through area educational networks, yet they don't use them...even when they join.

How do you find like minded teachers in your state, region, or province in the World of Electrons?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New View

Teaching could be compared to sailing a dinghy across the ocean. When the weather is good, teaching is fairly straight forward, but any change in the weather brings a totally NEW VIEW.

It's often the context of learning that causes a change in the weather that trips up our students. Until we guide them through the transfer of learning required, rowing our dinghy will be treacherous. Teachers may think they are rowing by themselves at first.

As teachers guide students through new learning vistas, students will help us by rowing the dinghy of knowledge through the rough waters. Soon they will zoom through the new learning venue like a precision rowing team. Because we are so proud of their accomplishments, teachers may forget how difficult the weather was and how the students almost swamped the dinghy in the rough weather of learning transfer.

Often, as teachers, we need to remind ourselves to be patient with ourselves, as well as our students. When we experiment and take risks, we will need to constantly evaluate our process and product, until we are happy with the results of good teaching and learning.

A very gracious colleague of mine, Gabriela Sellart, teaches her students to write in her EFL class. She is using a wiki, so students can collaborate in editing each others' work. While the student stories are interesting, my colleague was not satisfied with their collaboration. I thought this was a great project, and I know she will guide them through this storm. I believe that the teacher and students will all be very happy with the results.

I have quoted my comments on her blogpost, More on Collaboration. If you are interested in trying this excellent teaching/learning technique in your classes, check out Gabriella's blog and read more about her project. You will learn more about uses for a wiki and how to implement an interactive application that will improve student's writing, as well as your teaching.

Using a wiki to write and edit is an excellent idea. From your posting, I noted that the students wrote and did some editing. IMHO;D You should be very proud of your first effort with your students. In the beginning, participation is a plus. Some teachers try such an activity, and not all the students even participate.

You have analyzed your project startup and the student's ability to edit each others language and discovered that they can make the language corrections as a group. Using the wiki to survey the mistakes from their writing is probably the most powerful use of the wiki itself. By using a wiki, you have a history of changes and you can get an idea of their level of competence and participation. That was a great idea;D

When starting new projects, it is not unusual for students to "appear" to have lost some of their skills. IMHO, the skills are not lost, but need to be "reorganized" within the new format, por ejemplo, the wiki. They will improve each time you do this project, and I think within a few practices, you will be very happy with your students' progress.

I am very impressed with Gabriella's project, and I want to share it with you,my colleagues;D