Better Blogging with Students 2018: Week 1

This post originally was a reply to the post you can find here in a course I am taking: Better Blogging with Students 2018.  This is our first week and we were asked to reply to a post about ourselves, our goals, how we would like to integrate our blog into our classrooms, and other such topics.  Below is my reply.

I have been blogging for a number of years, but my attempts are streaky at best- I write about educational technology, best practices, or tools and projects my classes are using or creating, then I drop off. Some posts are written as a model of what the current student project should look like. At worst I post sporadically, once every month or semester. As for my students’ blogs, they blog a couple of times a nine weeks at best, with replying to to other blogs only as an assignment. They are mainly one way avenues, not the vibrant exchange of ideas I hope to create.

My overall goal is to model consistently good blogging practices that I can show and discuss with my classes. This goal is to have a platform for them to use as a model. If I cannot meet my expectations, it is not fair to require them to meet the same expectations. The short term plan is to start small, just post regularly, even if it is just a review of what happened in class that week, maybe even just a cross post from a review pencast or podcast, but just get into the habit of producing a post on a regular basis by creating a set time for the exercise.

My audience is varied, I write mainly for other educators, showing off my students’ work and new tools I have begun to use with my students. Parents can also view the blog to get more of a feel for my class.

My Honors students have their own public blogs, where they post assignments from class, they are linked under my class blog. Students publish many writing assignments, mainly opinion pieces to Edublogs instead of writing to paper and recycling them in a week.

I am entertaining the idea of having a guest blogger on the main class blog as an enrichment assignment. Students can volunteer to write a bout a topic of their choice that fits into the course curriculum, History, and have an open forum to express opinions, interview people of that era, or some other task we agree upon.

The end result is to create a higher quality blog, class and student, where conversations occur naturally, not forced by class assignments. They would need to be integrated into class time so they become part of the class culture and not just an added task.

This has been an ongoing project and goal for awhile. I make small steps forward, I am hoping to make a bit more progress this time and not backslide when done.

January 4: Another New Skill

I have owned a Livescribe Pen for a number of years.  I earned, or was rewarded with my first Livescribe Pen for attending the Keystone Technology Integrator’s Summit at Bucknell University.  I cannot remember if it was as an attendee or a staff member that I received the pen.

My students use the Livescribe Pen to take notes in class, the Livescribe is referred to as “The Magic Pen.”  The notes are pushed over to an iPad and then uploaded to Evernote.  Once in Evernote, the .pdfs are embedded in the class wiki so other students can access the notes if need be.  A written copy is printed for the students who take the notes for the class.

In my quest to take existing skills and tools and apply them to more situations, I decided it was time to learn how to create pencasts with the Livescribe pen.  Needless to say, there was a learning curve for me.  The first couple attempts…or so did not work our so well.  I ended up with an audio file, but no corresponding video to see what was being discussed.

Long story short, I was “pushing” the wrong virtual button with the Livescribe Pen.  I was “pushing” the record button in the notebook, I was supposed to just “push” the little square button on the iPad.

New Year’s Podcast Resolution?

So, for some reason I am on a podcast kick, I have been listening to various podcasts in an attempt to find new content to listen to.  Part of it is based upon my Christmas gift, a Garmin Speak another goes with my goal to use tools I already implement on a deeper level.  Yet, one more reason is to get my daughter’s interest back into creating things instead of just consuming Internet information.

I have had a podcast channel for awhile, but it has fallen to the way side as of late, mainly because no one was going there to use the information and life became hectic for me.  Why invest time that is a major scarcity for me on something no one uses.  Here is the URL for my podcasts, which can also be found on iTunes and mrsalvucci.comhttp://mrsal.podbean.com/

Well, I am hoping to change the scenario and contribute more positive information to the Internet.  I plan on utilizing my podcast channel more this year, we shall see how it goes.  Here is my first podcast/minicast of the New Year:

Old Tools, New Uses Part I

Over this holiday break I have been working on cleaning up my “Digital Clutter” and attempting to learn new concepts.  My daughter is sick, the weather is miserably cold, so we are homebound which gives me time to sit and learn when not entertaining my daughter.

I have been doing double duty, setting up study resources for my students while learning new concepts, the whole “two birds with one stone” adage.  To learn a concept in a vacuum is silly, especially with other work I could be doing.

I let my classes know that they will have a test the Friday we return from break, with two study/prep days to start the post-break classes.  There would be resources posted for students who want to use the holiday break to do some pre-prep work.

I glanced over my TES-Blendspace site that I use to host my students’ projects.  Many teachers use it to host lessons for their students, it could make a great resource for my students.  Upon downloading the app on my iPad I reviewed lessons from other teachers.  They posted various forms of information, media, text, webpages, and allowed for students to respond to the information.

This format was used for my students’ review, the original Prezis were linked via the Blendspace along with webpages that contain both video and text information.  Each block of information was followed by a block of teacher created text that explained what to focus on in the students’ notes or asked questions on the material previously presented.  Once completed, they were posted in the Edmodo classrooms and parents and students were notified via Cel.ly that the resources were posted.

There were three of these that were created for the review, it will be interesting to gain student feedback to see how these work for them.  There is a good chance that these can be used throughout lessons as a self-paced review tool moving forward, or even as a way to push out supplementary information to classes.

Time will tell…but for now it feels good to expand my repertoire and use some of the tools I already implement closer to their full potential.

 

Holiday Clean Up

Ahhhh…holiday break has started and I have so much to do, Christmas shop, well at least finish it, I started it yesterday after work.  In my defense, I have been looking for the presents I wanted to get people, but they are no where to be found…”Thank you Nintendo.”  This holiday season I need to do some digital housecleaning, dumping emails, publishing or deleting blog drafts, and generally organizing some digital clutter on my desktop.  I am an early riser, so 20-30 minutes a day with my coffee before everyone else wakes up may not complete the task; but it should get me close to my goal and set me up for my New Year’s Resolution.

#12DaysofSketchnoting Day 3: Communication/Creative Communicator

So for today’s portion of #12DaysofSketchnoting we have to describe Communication/Creative Communicators. This boggled my mind at first, but that happens at times, especially in the AM now that I drink half-caf coffee.

As a history teacher the first thing that popped into my head was President Reagan, due to his nickname “The Great Communicator.” Bizarre…yes, but par for what goes on inside my mind. Should I try and draw him, or an unfinished movie poster title such as “Bedtime for Bon…” with a partially drawn monkey. My drawing ability is not good enough to draw President Reagan and I was not sure if anyone would get the movie reference. The ideas were non-starters.

I had to do a hard reset and rethink how I could approach today’s topic. I decided to incorporate a blog post to explain my Sketchnote; it would be better explained in that context, than as a standalone image.

On to my Sketchnote:

I believe I can communicate well, for as non-linear as I think. I do lecture more than I should, but I try to make my classroom more of a discussion setting. While doing this, I try and relate issues to local/personal experiences, I have been known to be melodramatic, use various accents, and even act out and model situations. If nothing else, students can recall my bizarre actions, some can even recall the points I was trying to make.

Since communication is a two-way street, listening is a major component of communication. Actually, not just listening, but giving students a legitimate voice in their own educational experience. Listen to them, but put what they say to use, give them a sense of…on second thought, not even a sense, but actual ownership of their experience in your classroom.

The Sketchnote below is the mishmash of visuals bouncing around in my head as I thought about and typed this today.

#SatChat: Time to Adjust my Listening Skills

Ah, two Saturday’s ago I was awake and in learning mode rather early so I jumped into a Twitter #satchat, a fantastic learning and networking opportunity each and every Saturday.   The topic was based upon student listening skills and how we teach those skills.

I had to admit that I do not formally teach those skills in my class, I emphasize them throughout lessons, but do not actually  formally assess student listening.  As I thought more about the topic, I also realize that I need to improve upon my listening skills, in class and real world.

Often, especially in the classroom, I am multitasking as students are asking questions.  This prevents me from giving my full attention to the student which is not only impolite, but it may cause miscommunication between those involved in the conversation.  I am making a concerted effort to address this ASAP.  Modeling skills we want students to use in our classroom is key, if we cannot meet the expectations we ask of our students, WHY should they.

Some other take aways I will implement in my classes are exit questions and peer to peer review time either at end or very beginning of my classes.  This will allow students to reflect with a classmate and practice listening skills while reviewing course content.  To keep this from being a full fledged chat and gossip session, I will have to float about the room and engage the students, which IS MY JOB.  A quick student reply/summary of their peer to peer would allow for students to earn points for their efforts and hopefully give me insight to content with which they are comfortable or need further assistance.

I will post further as this endeavor moves forward.

In the meantime, if you get the chance and are awake by 7:30 AM on a Saturday, check out #Satchat.

Sketchnoting: An old dog learns new tricks…again…

Last night I sat in on a PAECT members only webinar about Sketchnoting, or visual notetaking with Sylvia Duckworth.  I have read about this concept before and encouraged a number of my students to work with the concept over the last several years.  I never practiced it due to a very basic level of drawing ability, my wheelhouse is writing.

A free refresher on the topic was too good to pass up, especially when presented by someone as well respected on the topic as Sylvia is.  I was hoping to pick up some new ideas to pass on to my students, which I did.  That being said I also gained a better understanding of of the overall concept.  This came about by actually practicing or trying out the various strategies as Sylvia explained them.  After the hour and a half webinar I can safely say that I am still far from a Skectchnoting expert.  I can say, however that I am much more comfortable explaining the concept to others.

I also see how Sketchnoting can help me when the need arises to study.  Going back to review my notes and sketching out a re-writing would benefit me the most out of the strategies discussed.  I hope to have a Sketchnote to embed in this post shortly.

Here is a short video overview of the Sketchnoting concept.

This is my Sketchnote Review of the webinar.

Cartoons Go To War 2017

Enlightening-The United States’ effort to explain and teach both citizens and soldiers how to handle the war effort was truly enlightening.

In the video “Cartoons Go To War”…five examples.

The article”When Dr. Seuss Went to War” states 3 supporting details.

One lingering question that has intrigued me during this lesson was Ted Geisel’s use of anti-Japanese imagery and how he adjusted after the war to become more inclusive and accepting of others.