Monday, November 2, 2009

2009-2010 Reflection Journal Entries

It is very important to step back and reflect on what is going on around you. Taking notice of your habits of the mind is the first step to becoming a better problem solver, critical thinker, and communicator. The following are the journal entries that have been assigned in class so far. We will continue to add to the list of entries as we address essential questions pertaining to the grammar and writing skills we are developing in class.

1. 8/20 What kind of communicator are you?

2. 8/25 Compare and Contrast an electronic dictionary vs. a book dictionary. Which one do you prefer?

3. 9/8 Using Lesson 3 of Vocabulary For Achievement, use 3 words in context as you creatively write about an imaginary character.

4, 9/15 After analyzing your writing, share what you have noticed to be your writing habits. Include strengths and weaknesses.

5. 9/16 Check out our class blog and share your thoughts about one particular blog post that you find interesting. Explain why you chose the one that you did.

6. 9/25 Provide an in-depth explanation of how to find a subject in an inverted sentence. What else do you know about simple/complete subjects and verbs?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

20th vs. 21st Century Classroom

Our world has drastically changed in the last few decades, and education reform has taken off! There was once a disconnect in what was being learned in the classroom vs. what was occurring in the outside world. Desks were arranged in rows where very little opportunity for collaboration took place. Skills were taught in isolation and the relevance of what was being learned was often lost.

Now, The 21st century classroom is designed to encourage active learning and interaction as critical thinking, problem solving, and computer literacy skills are being taught. If the curriculum is not relevant, the students will become disengaged and unmotivated.

Imagine this: the students are opening their wireless laptops to their wikis so that they can continue their collaboration on their writing; they are creating glogs which are digital posters to display their creative ideas that can link to websites to support what they have learned on any given skill; they are reading and commenting on blog posts and sharing their ideas about various topics; they are logging on to digital quizzes that they can submit upon completion for instant feedback; they are skyping with other classrooms around the world and gaining new perspectives; and they are gaining knowledge of how we live in an interconnected society where technology is essential.

This is a snapshot of what it looks like in a PDS classroom on a day-to-day basis. The boys are engaged in a curriculum that is connected to their interests and that will benefit them in the world that they are facing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Staying One Step Ahead...

I am really looking forward to the start of this year feeling a little more prepared since I am no longer new to the 5th grade English curriculum. I am also a lot more experienced with implementing technology as I use a classroom blog and wiki as tools for teaching grammar and writing skills. I now have a better sense of direction and plan to take different approaches for helping the year go much smoother. After reading up on blogs, Kelly Hines had a great idea of planning ahead even though there are still a few weeks left before it's time to start back to school. I think it is a great idea to stay a step ahead to avoid beginning the year feeling stressed. The following are just a few ways that I plan to accomplish this:

Make Learning Visible: Not only will I leave space to showcase student work, but I will also use the walls to display information to promote a thinking classroom: hanging banners for thinking strategies, showing ways for developing a growth mindset, displaying a chart for habits of the mind, creating a bulletin board for the language of thinking, and hanging posters/banners that contain relevant information for enhancing writing skills.

Establish Ongoing Communication: I plan to use Glogster, a technology tool, as a way to communicate classroom expectations to the students as well as the parents. This will include the following:

*student responsibility in the classroom as well as homework expectations
*weekly tests and quizzes which will include Quia, an on-line test generator
*uses of technology in the classroom and the agreement they are held to
*procedures for making up work when absent
*List of the main websites used for assessment: quia, wpponline, AR, and ARmath
*Easy access to the interactive classroom blog and wiki that will be used as a tool
for learning and collaborating with other schools around the world.
*Classroom news and upcoming field trips, school events, etc.

Create a Classroom Theme: I plan to create an environment that will allow the students to make connections to what they are learning in the classroom. I am using a common theme that involves "building" complex sentences, paragraphs, essays, vocabulary, character, a language of thinking, etc. This seems fitting for an English classroom where the focus is to enhance verbal and written communication. For the "building" theme, I have used bricks for the borders and background of banners that I have created, and I thought that it was a perfect theme for an all-boys' classroom.

Clean up and archive
: Being new to using a class wiki, I am now faced with the question of what to do with my prior students' work. I have decided that I will create a new home page and store all of last year's assignments in a folder. This will be perfect for referencing great examples of others' work for students to model after.

After finishing my professional development reading and doing my own research, there are many things that I would like to try this upcoming school year:

*Expand collaboration with more schools/countries (so far there are 4 on the list)
*Use Moodle with the students
*Continue my efforts of going paperless
*Implement more problem solving activities for developing critical thinkers
*Use more authentic lesson plans
*Have students to podcast

The technology that I continue to use on a regular basis includes the following:

Wpponline-This is a website where the students submit their writing and get immediate feedback as their writing strengths and weaknesses are described in detail. Tutorials are even recommended based on the needs of each individual student. I love the way that each student has a online writing portfolio that contains a graph that records their progress made over the course of the year. A new feature even allows the student to send a message to the teacher in regards to something specific about the writing piece, a response can be returned, and dialogue can continue as needed.

- this is a wonderful test generator that offers many test-taking format options. Each student has his/her own username and password. Once the test is taken and submitted, the scores are available which mean instant feedback.

Class Blog
and wiki
- I have always wanted to have a classroom blog but wasn't sure how to even begin. Being that my students were extremely technologically advanced, I felt that I needed to engage them in ways that they would learn best. I completely jumped in and immersed myself in all the latest technology tools that could be used to teach grammar. We even began a class wiki and this opened the door to collaborating with other schools across the country. I found my students even working in their free time on the weekends. The students' growth was undeniably impressive, for they had a more meaningful purpose for improving their written communication skills.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Playing for Change: Peace Through Music"

Click here to watch the video
I am following blogs of some very talented educators, and I saw this video posted on a colleague's website. As I was viewing it, it really touched me to see musicians from all over the world come together as one in their efforts to bring "change through music." I shared conversation with the person who posted this inspirational video, and I thought that it would be perfect to begin the year teaching my 5th graders about our class theme, perspectives: one's attitude toward something or in regards to something; a point of view. We will cover this throughout the year as we address how one's perspective might change through experiences.

I will have them view the video, listen to the lyrics of the song "Stand by Me," and reflect on the apparent diversity of the musicians, but also look deeper to gain insight on the importance of global unification: even though we are different in many ways, there are many commonalities that bring us together। I love how this video uses the common language of music to promote change in the stereotypes, prejudices, and oppression that not only plague the people of our very own city of Memphis, but also the people of the world.

These are the questions that I will my 5th graders to respond to:

What would the world be like if there wasn't diversity?

Why is it important to demonstrate the need to be accepting of others' differences?

How can you make a difference? In what ways can you positively influence others at school or in your community?

Make a connection to the video and relate it to something that you have experienced in your life.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vocabulary for Achievement

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Vocabulary
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The boys got to use their creative side to illustrate their vocabulary. They were instructed to take a VA word and use its letters to demonstrate the meaning of it. They were also to find a synonym and antonym of the word in addition to the derivatives. Each derivative had to include the part of speech since that changes when suffixes are added to the ending of the word.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Twitter Mosaic

I just accidentally ran across the new Twitter Mosaic as I was catching up on reading some blogs that I follow. @Crista has a great blog called Reflections on Practice, and I happened to see where I was tagged for "passing the torch" so others can see the latest way for easy access to all of your Twitter friends. I am a member of several social networks, and in my opinion, Twitter is at the top of the list! I just feel a greater connection where I can log on to and have quick access to a wealth of information.
Twitter is an important part of my newly established PLN where I can read the latest findings for research, best practices, cool classroom technology tools, and all other interesting (or even bizarre) discoveries that compel readers to click the attached link for more information. Even though I began using Twitter for educational purposes, I have gained so much more from recommended books to read and recipes to try, to political views and thoughts on the economy. The best part is that I can count on a quick response to an unanswered question that I toss out there in an update of 140 characters or less. I have found that there are so many gifted and talented educators all over the world who are willing to spend any amount of time sharing their experiences so that it might benefit someone else. It just gives me the feeling of being connected and being on the forefront of the latest uses of technology in the classroom.

Just three months ago before I knew of Twitter, I was implementing limited technology. I continued to just "think" about blogging, I had never heard of wikis, and I never knew what technology tools could do for strengthening my students' grammar and writing skills. Now I am using an interactive blog with my students, a classroom wiki, and we have partnered with another school across the country collaborating on our writing and sharing about cultural likenesses and differences. Not only am I gaining from social networking, but my students are greatly benefiting as well.

I decided to track the mosaic back from the person who tagged me, who tagged her, etc. I found some new fabulous educators to follow and it was neat to see some familiar faces among the different Twitter Mosaics.

I will now tag some "Tweeples" who I have gained so much knowledge from and who have been such an inspiration. The first one is @msmithpds my tech support who introduced me to the land of Twitter. The second person is @cthumphreys who I give credit to for my blogging efforts. @grammasheri is a brilliant, dedicated, and creative teacher who has taught me so much in the short 3 months that I have known her. @AngelaMaiers is doing remarkable work as she is always posting the latest educational research on her blog as well as making her tweets so informative and thoughtful. @Kellyhines has an awesome blog where she discusses the latest educational topics and uses of technology in the classroom, and she is dedicated to helping others on Twitter. As others have said before me, don't feel obligated to continue tagging. I wanted to highlight some pretty fabulous people who have made a difference in the transformation that I have made in the past few months, and this was just a way to say THANKS!!!

(I had to remove my Twitter Mosaic because it tremendously slowed the loading of my blog site)

Here are the rules:
1. Go to to create your mosaic (you can choose friends or followers).
2. Copy the code and paste it into a blog entry.
3. Reflect and comment on your mosaic.
4. Tag some “tweeples.”
5. Link back to this post or the post where you were first tagged.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Habits of the Mind

The Benefits of Classroom Technology

This is a Text-To-Movie about the benefits of using technology in the classroom. The things that are mentioned include using technology for making global connections, having a larger and more diverse audience, relevance of real-world and current events, and giving meaningful purpose for learning the curriculum.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nespelem Shares Culture With PDS

We have had the privilege to work with a Native American school on an Indian Reservation in Coulee Dam, WA for the past several weeks where we have collaborated on our writing, shared about the community in which we live, and have learned about perspectives as we have become more familiar with a culture that was once thought to be very different from our own. There was a connectedness that PDS boys from Memphis, TN realized existed between two different cultures: the same interests in sports, technology, the love of outdoors, and music.

During our recent skype with Nespelem School, PDS got to experience traditional dances that are a big part of the Native American culture. The PDS students saw many styles of Native American dance as well as stunning regalia that were handmade and in some cases passed down to a new generation of Native American dancers. The PDS boys were able to watch intricate dance moves and listen to a culture of spiritual music in which the sound of drums lulled them into a trance. It didn't last when the drums picked up the rhythm and found its way through the spirit of the boys who found themselves forming a circle trying to mimic the moves of the dances they just saw. They soon realized that the dances that seemed so effortless actually required a lot of practice and skill. It was such an awe inspiring moment where two different cultures were coming together as one.

We are so grateful for our new friends at Nespelem School who have enriched our lives with a beautiful culture, allowed us to make global connections, and changed our perspectives about life of Native Americans.

Check out the photos taken by Nespelem School and posted to whatelse wiki.

Also, read a fabulous blog post that discusses Nespelem School's experiences collaborating with the 5th grade PDS boys!

Seconds After The Call

Here is a link to Edtechtalk where they interview Sheri Edward with Nespelem School about the amazing work that she is doing.

What's Your Mindset

We have been discussing mindset in the classroom throughout the year, and I found a great critical thinking activity to put the students' mindset to the test.


This problem solving game had no directions, and the students had to use cause and effect to get through each world and move on to the next. I wanted to share the comments and I am going to categorize them according to mindsets, fixed and growth:

Fixed Mindset Comments:
What's the point?
I don't get this.
This is too hard
It's impossible
Oh my gosh! What do you do?
This doesn't make sense
I could beat this if I wanted to
Fixed Mindset Actions:
A boy threw his hands up.
There was huffing and puffing.
Pouting took place.
Deep sighs were heard.
Heavy typing was heard as if a forceful stroke on the keyboard would solve the problem.
Hitting the desk out of frustration was seen.

Growth Mindset Comments:
Yes! I did it!
You just gotta think and you can do it.
It makes me feel good when I finally do something.
yea! I accomplished it, I so accomplished it.
That level 3 was really hard but I got through it.
This takes a lot of patience.
This is awesome!

These comments reflected the features of the boys' thinking which are not giving up, asking a lot questions, generating multiple ideas and explanations, being a critical thinker, and not stopping or giving up too soon. In the book The Thinking Classroom it states, "Good thinking is a mind-set, a collection of attitudes and inclinations with which one approaches thinking." It goes on to point out that "students have misconceptions about good thinkers, often equating good thinking with 'being smart.'" They need to realize that in order to be a good thinker, they have to learn that it is a matter of a disposition and not intellect alone.

Friday, March 6, 2009

How is the Structure of a Sentence Like a House?

When learning about sentence structure and the importance of always writing complete thoughts, the students were asked to apply their knowledge of how a sentence functions to that of a house. The students were given the freedom to discuss capitalization, subject/verb, phrases, punctuation, etc.

The students were each given a sticky note where they wrote their thoughts as they made their comparisons of how the structure of a sentence is like a house. Then, they placed their notes on the house that was created out of poster board and displayed on the wall.

The following are the responses that were shared:

*A chimney casting out smoke is like a pronoun casting out an overused noun in a sentence.
*The structure of a good sentence is like the base of a house: it's strong, firm, and well constructed.
*The walls separate rooms as punctuation separates sentences.
*The front door of a house prevents intruders like end punctuation of a sentence prevents a new idea from intruding.
*Prepositional phrases of sentences are like the colorful painting on the walls because without them, the house is dull.
*Fixing a fragments is like fixing a hole in a house: once repaired, they both are complete.
*A run-on is like too much furniture of the house that soon creates overcrowding.
*A house is like a complete thought because they both need structure to support them.
*The structure of a sentence and a house must be strong or they will fall apart.
*You have to have a plan to build a house as you have to have a plan to build a sentence.
*A variety of decorations adds details to a house like a prepositional phrase adds details to a sentence.
*A subject and verb is the frame of the sentence as the two by fours create a frame for a house.
*Words stack up to build a sentence as bricks stack up to build a house.
*The paint, shutters, and gardens are like adjectives in a sentence.
*Prepositional phrases are like the decor of the house, they both add detail.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Showcasing Tech Tools With Prezi

Where to Begin with Blooms Taxonomy

Click on the Wordles for a link to our class wiki page on Blooms Taxonomy.

It was once thought that students needed to have a strong foundation in Bloom's lower levels of thinking before they could analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the information at the higher levels.

I recently read an article "Measuring Skills for the 21st Century" from that explained how complex thinking and analytical skills are a part of learning at every stage of development. Where we once thought that learning had to be a linear process from lower to higher levels has now been proven otherwise. The idea from Bloom's Taxonmy, "You can't apply until you comprehend, or you must understand before you analyze" has been revised by a group who has studied these ideas and discovered that these processes can be learned simultaneously or in a different order. In order to create a solid foundation in each subject area, knowledge and thinking must be interwoven. For a student to be able to think analytically would make it easier to obtain even the most basic skills.

The article mentions a nonprofit group Core Knowledge Foundation and how their ideas, "support the point that learning factual knowledge and the ability to apply, analyze, and solve problems go hand-in-hand।" The question important is it to spend valuable class time memorizing information that is readily available on the Internet? The message that is being conveyed is that we should be spending our time wisely and teaching the students to be thinkers, researchers, decision-makers, etc. and they will have the "know how" to be problem-solvers with any level of information that is given.

This is a site that I ran across that ties in technology with Bloom's Taxonomy. It is pretty interesting so check it out. Digital Bloom's Taxonomy

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Teaching Transfer in the English Classroom

I have discovered the importance of using strategies for helping the students think through each word of a sentence, how each word functions, and how applying what has already been learned can lead to new discoveries. Creating new habits of the mind can help in developing a greater understanding of the English language.

It is so important to encourage students to think strategically and demonstrate their understanding of the steps to take when analyzing a sentence for parts of speech, phrases, and clauses. This way of thinking can be applied to solving any real world problems or problem solving in the classroom as cross curricular connections are made.

Traditional teaching of grammar often involves textbooks or worksheets where basic identification of parts of speech is applied. This doesn't allow the authentic learning where the students create sentences as they apply grammar skills in the context of writing. This style of teaching doesn't promote strategic thinking where the students have to build sentences, placing words in order for correct sentence structure.

We have been discussing English tricks in the classroom as the students would discuss tricks to solve problems in math. Thinking is a process, and when approaching a sentence, the students have learned ways to find nouns that they usually overlook, distinguishing between action and linking verbs that has always been a challenge, and knowing what questions to ask when they want to find direct objects or objects of prepositions. This creates a better understanding of how to discover patterns within the sentences of our language that is known for being so complex.

With grammar in mind, here are some questions to ask that would reinforce or develop mathematical thinking:

* How many ways can you find ...?

* What happens when we ...?

* What kind of sentence can be made from ...?

* How many different ... can be found?

* What does this remind you of...?

* What are some examples of ...?

* What kind of pattern do you see ...?

* How can this pattern help you find....?

* What are the steps for distinguishing between......?

* How many different ways can you write this sentence?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Making Connections with MapSkip

Our latest writing assignment was to write a five paragraph essay about helping our friends from Nespelem School learn a little bit about our life in Memphis, TN. We wanted to show them around town by identifying and writing about the city's hot spots.

The writing process was used to help turn a few ideas into a well developed ESSAY. Some of the great attention getters that were used to hook the reader are as follows:
  • What city has the best barbecue, is home to the king of rock-and-roll, and is always hopping?
  • The sweet sound of Memphis blues fills the streets of Memphis.
  • "Yes!" I exclaim, with a rib in my hand, while the Memphis Tigers' point guard, Tyreke Evans, makes a three pointer against Tennessee. Oh, how I adore the Memphis Tigers and ribs.
  • This city is like a playground for hyper children, but even more entergetic. This awing urban area is known as the soul of the Mid-south.
  • Exhilarated, enthusiastic, and fully prepared, the sightseers are eager to arrive.
  • "Walkin' in Memphis" is a song of the great City of Blues.
  • Get ready to “put on your blue suede shoes” and head to the “land of the Delta Blues!"
  • Dismissing the powder-like snow from my mind I thought about Bar-B-Q, basketball, and blues. As I took off on a plane from Denver I wondered what it would be like to show an out of town person the sights of my hometown, Memphis.
  • The birth place of the blues, the new city sensation, and the loving generations make up the great city of Memphis!
  • Sights, sounds, and great food are all a part of one of the greatest cities in the United States.
  • Rendezvous, Graceland, and Beale Street are Memphis at its finest, but the Tigers, Grizzlies, and all the Rock n' Roll are, too.
  • Flashy lights and beautiful music bring the town of Memphis to life everyday. When Memphis comes to life you have no chance of stopping it.
  • The sky revealed its blanket of blue over Memphis, the city of history. Over time, many things have changed in our aged city, but some have not moved on.
After putting the finishing touches to the essays, it was time to take our visitors to these locations on the map. Each student located a favorite Memphis site and added a descriptive paragraph of support from the essay. Before long, stories were present all over the city and pictures were uploaded to provide a great visual.

To complete our unfinished project, we will be adding our voices which is another great feature of MapSkip. We hope our friends from Nespelem School will enjoy learning about Memphis history and its many wonderful sites. Before long, they will have the option of listening to them as well. Click on the picture for a short cut to MapSkip.

Click here to listen to the voice recordings of the students' paragraphs.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Using Prezi in the Classroom is a nonlinear presentation that allows so many options that a PowerPoint can't. It is a great way to display information, and at the same time, provide visual representations by uploading pictures or videos, drawing arrows or lines, highlighting, etc. It is a great way for a visual learner to analyze a sentence for parts of speech. The frames on Prezi can help to organize and keep ideas separate, and a path can be created for the order in which the information can be presented.

I have created a Prezi presentation for teaching the function of linking verbs, a skill that 5th grade students have trouble grasping. Check out my first attempt here.

Other examples of great Prezi presentations that I found:
*Myst Writing
*Learn Prezi

I am excited about how it can be used for so many purposes!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Classroom Wiki

A wiki is a website that can be created for posting or uploading content which can be added to, edited, or removed by anyone who is given permission to access it. Here is a link to a great breakdown of the many ways it can function: What is a wiki?

I have chosen to use for classroom use.
After researching, I have discovered so many fascinating purposes that it can serve in the English classroom.
  • creating individual student pages to simulate an actual blog
  • uploading relevant pictures to support writing
  • peer editing on any type of writing
  • making global connections with other students around the world
  • collaborating on a group project
  • posting reflections to various writing assignments
  • embedding technology tools that support learning about current skills
  • posting assignment descriptions
  • commenting on published work by posting thoughtful feedback
  • creating folders to store rubrics, best practices, resources
  • creating links to relevant curriculum sites
I have begun implementing ideas that can be viewed at

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Technology Tools for Classroom Use

I will list the technology tools that I have used and provide a brief description of how they have been applied so far.
This is a great site where pictures can be uploaded and a song can be selected for a 30 second video. All you have to do is click "submit" for a video to be created for showcasing events, projects, etc. It will leave you with a code to embed where you can copy and paste it to your blog. I have used Animoto to display pictures from our class party as well as a newsletter project that my students published.
I love this site because it involves mind mapping. My students are studying linking verbs and I thought that a visual representation of how verbs link adjectives or nouns back to the subject would benefit those visual and tactile learners. You can zoom in and out to determine the size of the map, and you can also collapse or expand the nodes that show the parts of speech of the words that are being linked. I am still learning how to use it, but pictures can be added to represent words and there are so many other possibilities for its use. You can even store your maps and search for public maps that have already been created and available for others to use. Here's my mindmap to show how it can be used in the English classroom: Mindmap
This a great way to use words creatively. I have used them to display a list of vivid verbs that could be used in a paragraph or essay. The vivid verbs I used in my wordle all related to the to the action that would take place during a New Year's Eve celebration. The more a word is entered, the larger it appears on the wordle, and in order to connect compound words, a tilde (~) can be typed between them. You can then play around the font style and color as well as choose a horizontal and/or vertical view. I have also used Wordle to display the 6 levels of Blooms Taxonomy to get the students familiar with the level of thinking they are using when completing various activities. You can check this out on my class blog and wiki site.
Verb Wordle & Blooms Taxonomy Wordle

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tweeting on Twitter It is great to feel connected to the rest of the world! I feel excited to know that I am a part of a network where the latest technology is being shared and a wealth of educational information is posted, and it all happens in a 140 character tweet!

I began taking time to read Twitter bio's in order to find other educators who I could learn from, but I soon realized that there are people who are educators who don't have teaching degrees. I follow people who travel the world and tweet about their experiences, as links to authentic photos are shared. From a writing teachers perspective, writing prompts are born and pictures can tell a story all on their own. What a great idea to use as a critical and creative thinking/writing activity. The students could analyze the image captured and headlines or captions could support their interpretations.

I also follow someone who posts daily quotes. These quotes could be used as a reference when needing to grab a reader's attention in an essay! Better yet, they can be analyzed for meaning and students can determine how it applies to their own life.

Not only do I get writing ideas, but I also learn about the latest news. Someone sent out a tweet that was about the HMS Victory wreck being found and with it came a direct link to the site. The Los Angeles Times quoted, "American salvagers say they have discovered the long-sought wreck of HMS Victory, the mightiest and most technologically advanced warship of its time, which sank during a violent storm in the English Channel in 1744." This is historical news at our fingertips and a great way to bring current events into the classroom for discussion about what was happening during the time of the Colonial Wars.

Through Twitter, I have learned about the latest technology tools that I can take and creatively gear toward an English or writing skill. The tech tools can serve so many purposes and can be applied to almost any skill that is being taught. It can be a bit overwhelming because of all that is available, so I need to remind myself that I should really learn the use of one tool before moving on to another.

One thing that I don't want to forget to mention is the importance of giving back. I always make sure that I am doing my share of research outside of twitter and contributing just as much, if not more, than what I am taking.

Hello World!

A little push from my tech coach and seeing an awesome blog that a colleague created and I am totally transforming the way that I teach. I have always wanted to start a blog, but I never thought that I would have the "know how" to do it, so I started small. Six weeks later, I am a self-taught blogger and wiki user. If I can do it, anyone can. It really only takes time. Time to research and time to apply what is discovered. And now it is time to take on a new approach and leave the old traditional style of teaching behind.

That is the first step. I then began joining social networks and looking at other blogs to see how they were being used. I knew that I wanted to start an interactive blog that I could use as a learning tool in the classroom and have the boys apply what they learned along the way. In my research, I discovered a whole new world that I didn't realize existed. I found myself not being able to get enough of it all! Blogging became an electronic classroom where everything could be found in one central location.

Gadgets are awesome! On the layout of a blog, you have the option to add gadgets to your side bar. When choosing this option, it will take you to a list of choices from news, tools, communication, fun & games, technology, etc. Since I began an English blog, I went for all of the gadgets that could be used for the English classroom: Daily Spelling Tips, On-line English Grammar Links, Puzzles and Riddles, & You Tube. I also added educational links that would provide extra practice or reinforcement. Of course I have my blog roll, another great gadget that gives direct links to some blogs that I follow. The most exciting gadget is ClustrMap and Feedjit which the boys are always checking out. They learn so much about world geography as they see where our blog visitors from other countries are located on the map. Through my research, I found a gadget called Site Meter that can be hidden within a blog. It is a visitor tracker that gives all kinds of information about who is visiting your site, how they found you, where they came from, what interests them and all of the demographics on their country.

It is so exciting to see that within a month's time, our blog has had over 5,600 page reviews! Twenty-two different countries and 554 cities within the U.S have stopped by. It is a great to feel connected to the world!

Our class blog will serve many purposes and will be used (but not limited to) in the following ways:

*Using the latest technology tools for applying grammar and writing skills
*responding critically and creatively to specific on-line activities
*posting links to sites for reinforcement or practice of grammar/writing skills
*making global connections
*showcasing the great work of the students
*writing with a real purpose as the world is our audience

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Beginning of a New Journey

I was speaking to my technology support who happens to be a good friend of mine and she suggested that I begin reflecting on what I have learned through my research for implementing technology in the classroom. It has been such an awesome adventure to collaborate with educators from all over the world, to discover the latest technology tools that are being used in the classroom, and to be innovative in applying it toward teaching grammar through writing. I have been going at this for about six weeks now and it has really transformed the way that I approach teaching boys.

I have begun my own interactive classroom blog where I have the students to respond to a blog post that involves applying a specific grammar or writing skill. I have made sure that critical and creative thinking skills are part of the learning and I will address these as I post more information about all that has been applied so far.

In addition to the blog, I have also started our own class wiki. The boys have their own blog within the wiki where they have been given freedom to be creative as long as it remains educational. I will later discuss how the wiki has been used as a way to collaborate with one another on their writing.

I must say that I have seen a huge difference in the way the boys respond to learning, and the blog and wiki have given writing a real purpose. The boys know that the world is watching and they want to impress those who might be stopping by to read what they are doing, how they are thinking, and what they have to say.