Wednesday, July 17, 2013

#CyberPd-WOW!


    In the past two Wednesdays, Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine hosted the first week of the #cyberPD title:  Alan November’s  Who Owns the Learning?:  Preparing Students for Success in the Digital Age, and Jill Fisch hosted the second discussion of chapters three and four on her blog, My Primary Passion.  This discussion of chapters five and six is hosted by Laura Komos at Ruminate and Invigorate.  Stop by her blog to link your posts or visit to see what all the excitement is about! Thanks Laura!

                 I'm so excited, and much of my excitement comes from finally taking the time to sitdown to see what creating a search engine is all about, which comes from Chapter 4, page 58.  
                  I started one that may be helpful to teachers who write with their students, and who may want to search for specific lessons from sites I recommend.  I find it challenging to have thousands of sites come up when I'm searching for different kinds of writing lesson ideas, and often search the same sites, so those are what I chose to include in my search engine.  If you want to check it out, it's at the bottom of my blog site.  At the same time, I came across a blogger tip site here, that gave instructions in setting up a search engine for my own blog, and you can find that search to the right.  That enabled me to get rid of the cumbersome, taking-up-too-much-space cloud of tags in my layout.  



                Visitors can now search for various topics through this new search engine.  I now am imagining all kinds of ways I could help students by narrowing their initial searches in a topic, perhaps especially younger students. It is possible, FYI, to edit and add new sites, too.  Since the book was written, Google has changed the ads policy somewhat. Now you need to fill out a form saying you are a 'not-for-profit' site, like from a school, in order to avoid the ads, or pay to upgrade from personal sites like mine.
                Reflecting about chapters five and six:  I know that it often seems daunting to add more to our learning, but once I started, it didn't take long to figure this out.  And I know even though I have done quite a lot of tech things because I enjoy it, I loved the words from Shelly Zavon the fifth grade teacher at the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School:  To be perfectly honest, the children, the students, know so much about computers these days that once we introduced what we were doing, they basically did everything for us.  There's very little learning that the teacher has to do. The students tell us things we don't know how to do. Teaching students how to search for the global perspectives, deeper searches with Google's advanced search tools and others are part of the teachers' responsibilities, but allowing students choice in research and learning is also part of what we do.  
              As for my personal work at my school, where students study individual topics and are taken out into the greater metro Denver area to interview experts in the topics, or view events and processes happening, think how much more those topics can be explored if they connect via Skype to other students and experts outside Denver, outside Colorado, outside the United States!  Another example is thinking about the 6-7 year olds I worked with in poetry this past year.  How exciting it would have been for them to collaborate with another class to share their poems and to share an actual writing time together!  I believe the idea of sharing would have been motivating, and another group could have added a new perspective.  Even more, what if the class could have written on a theme, such as Colorado's nature, and then connected to a young class in a completely different habitat.  They could have learned about new approaches to poetry along with new kinds of flora and fauna.  
             One additional example is one class that has begun keeping bees this past year.  They did have several expert mentors who helped them get started, they have researched, read bee books, talked with other experts, etc.  Yet, after reading these final chapters, I thought how exciting to have connected to more than one class who was studying bees, perhaps also keeping them, and to have shared the 'how-tos', the problems and the successes.  The list of possible projects that could broaden our students' lives is endless.
             Barriers:  The need for time, at least to begin, colleagues for collaboration, administrators for support, parents willing to trust new ways of learning. 



               

16 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your learning and thinking here. I have had the experience of students taking the lead with technology. They are not afraid to try anything. Technology has changed so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. The kids are savvy. Sometimes I just have to get out of the way. I love your idea of connecting classrooms with different landscapes. I would be interested in this if you pursue it. Louisiana is very different from Colorado. Both are beautiful.

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    1. Oh, Margaret, wouldn't that be fun? I'll keep it on my wish list to find a buddy class to share with. Thank you!

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  2. Linda, your reflection gave me a great idea to try with my fourth grade classes as they study biomes this year. Are there classes of students in differentn biome areas that could Skype or collaborate with our students? What a wonderful way to take down the walls of our classrooms in an authentic way! I have so enjoyed reading all the posts as I have read this book! Lots to reflect on!

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    1. That's terrific Sherell, and you already study biomes, so to share with a completely different one would be great. It reminds me of those museum artifact boxes we've gotten from our museums in the past, or created them for some topic or other.

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  3. Linda. Wow! I love that you have been playing with the search engine. This is something I want to try. I have used Symbaloo in the past to guide information searches, but I am interested in how this might compare.

    I love your idea about the habitat study as this is something I have been pondering. There are so many things we could learn from the similarities and differences around the world. If you are looking for a place in Ohio, I am in!

    I am so glad you found the time to join this event. I always learn so much from you!

    Cathy

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    1. As I said to Sherell, it would be great to share the different habitats, and one could examine all kinds of cultural choices, too, because of where others live. Exciting!

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  4. Linda,
    As always, I am fascinated by your school. What an amazing place to work! Thanks for sharing your ideas and I love that you are experimenting with the search engine. I still need to try that out.
    Katherine

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    1. I've been busy today, so still need to read more of everyone else's posts. Can't wait to see what you shared too, Katherine! Thanks!

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  5. Your enthusiasm is contagious, Linda!

    WOW -- I tried out your search engine and it works like a dream!

    Once again: your school...so awesome...

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    1. Thanks Mary Lee. I think this book will change what things I will offer teachers this year.

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  6. Linda,

    Wow! - Your title is perfect! I love the ideas you have generated for ways to use your learning at your school.

    I also tried out your search engines and loved them. I will definitely have to try this. I will also keep the link to your blog handy so I can use your writing lesson search engine myself. Thanks!

    Jill

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    1. Thank you Jill. It will be fun to see if I'll be able to help those teachers with whom I work help their students with search engines. It really was easy. Hope you do find something helpful too!

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  7. Linda,
    Thanks for taking the time to investigate and add the custom search engine to your site so we could all learn from you! :) I'll definitely be checking it out to see if I can make it work for me.

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    1. Thanks Laura-fun to do something new, and see if it will be helpful in the larger picture with students.

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  8. Linda,
    Thanks for sharing how you built the search engine. I want to try this too...just need more time to explore it. I also like the idea of connecting with your class of bee keepers. We study bees in the spring. It would be neat to hear from kids how they are working with the bees. Would the teacher in that class be willing to have her kids share their learning and expertise?
    Thanks
    Amy

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    1. Amy, how great is this! Reaching out means I've already started a list of people who are excited to connect. I'll certainly talk with the teacher about you. Thank you!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!