Friday, May 30, 2008

It's del.icio.us!

Del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us, 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 del.icio.us, 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 del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us, 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 del.icio.us 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 del.icio.us!

9 comments:

Meghna said...

Yes, I agree that delicious is a delicious tool and a social bookmarking application. Children should be encouraged to use this to learn more in their writing process. I have been using this since long and found to be very useful for all my writing related projects, posts and references. Thank you for sharing!

murcha said...

It is just on 12 months ago that I started using delicious and like you, it was my first web2.0 tool and one that I still recommend for newbies to use.
For me it was a trigger point to then explore other tools so this led me onto blogging. I like the way you use it in your classroom. My students all have their own delicious accounts now and I need to explore the social networking aspect more.

samccoy said...

Meghna, I am glad to hear from a student that uses del.icio.us. Since you are writing blogs, I imagine that del.icio.us comes in very handily when referencing your information that you want to talk about. Referencing, making citations, is really sharing, and that is what communication is all about in the real world.

samccoy said...

Thanks for the comment and your own story. I like the phrase "trigger point". If you don't mind, I will work it into my presentation next week.

I am gearing the del.icio.us presentation towards teachers who have never used any type of social bookmarking, so I want to tell these stories of how it can help streamline their teaching practice.

It seems to me that most teachers will pick up and use tools that promise improved achievement in student work combined with increased efficiency.

Anonymous said...

Yes, and now many of these social bookmarking tools are starting to branch out into social networking - then schools may have to block them like myspace! For instance MSN live spaces just announced social bookmarks and Danogo has become an all in one Web 2.0 site.

samccoy said...

@Anonymous; Thanks for the important comment. I am sorry you weren't able to access the identifier, or I would be able to access your blog in return and call you by name.

Nonetheless, you bring up some excellent points that reinforce my reasoning that del.icio.us is probably the best online bookmarking web application for schools to use.

I would remind all teachers that internet applications are only a tool to be used effectively in conjunction with research based, effective teaching and learning systems.

I believe that Safety On The Web classes are as important as Lab Safety classes. When using the internet, I have encouraged students to abide by a set of common sense rules (in writing) while using online applications.

Most schools have acceptable use policies. I would recommend to any teacher who wants to use applications like del.icio.us that they make sure their favorite applications are valued within the school. That means doing a little prep work to explain your goals, but it is worth it in the long run.

As always, a positive behavior plan based on the principles of the Quality School encourage and reward responsible behavior. I have found that keeping students actively engaged in interesting projects and activities at an increasingly difficult level of achievement helps them stay focused on the appropriate tasks.

Thanks for the information about MSN Live Spaces and Danogo. I don't use MSN Live, and I am not familiar with Danogo. I will check it out, so I will know what it is.

I would like to let you know that there are educators who work together to form interactive online systems that weed out spammers, predators and the like. One of the most secure, as well as the oldest online, free K-12 teaching venue is TappedIN. Wikispaces provides free premium services for teachers, and you can keep them private, just allow subscribers (your students) or make the wiki public.

This is an interesting topic all to itself, and I thank you for discussing it.

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