The fact that nearly two weeks have passed since I wrote my last Media 21 project reflections should be indicative of how insanely busy the last 10 school days have been. More time intensive projects and/or an increased number of collaborative projects with other teachers and classes have been on my schedule in addition to my two Media 21 courses. While I am grateful for the increase in collaboration with others, the level of business has bordered on overwhelming.
Here are the highlights of the last two weeks!
As it has gone the first two weeks, the third week did not go according to my timetable. However, the fact that we have needed extra time seems to be less troubling to me—I am not sure if this is because I am more comfortable with this reality, but it has made for less internal stress on my part. The students seemed engaged in our activity of responding to each other’s social media articles—many commented in their blogs that the experience of reading others’ article posts on the class wiki coupled with the act of actually reading those articles and responding created a richer learning experience. The purpose of this activity was to help them to see how dialoging with others can enrich our learning experiences. I was pleased that the students had the opportunity to compose some blog entries on their learning blogs and to have some time to reflect on their learning experiences. Some are still have difficulty responding to the thinking prompt and/or responding with depth, but I realize that many are still building writing fluency, so Ms. Lester and I are not terribly concerned just yet.
My favorite activity of the week took place on Friday—we used our class wiki to collaboratively generate pros and cons for the first persuasive essay (a department requirement in our school/grade level requirement for 10th English). I acted as the scribe to record their pros and cons for using social media in the classroom. You can see the list that 5th period created here and the list created by 7th period here. The act of group brainstorming seemed to encourage some thoughtful conversation and exchange of ideas—I was impressed how they disagreed respectfully with each other. When one student expressed concerns about Facebook privacy, another created a teachable moment by sharing some of the basics of privacy settings and how you can control who sees certain kinds of information.
August 24—August 27, 2009
This week did not go exactly as planned, but we seem to be recovering! On Monday, I was out of the building attending a daylong district meeting, and Ms. Lester was at home celebrating the birth of her first grandchild! The sub and student teacher did not seem to fully execute the instructions of having the student create the thesis for their essay and to start the “shaping sheet” graphic organizer (part of the school’s adoption of the Schaefer writing method).
When I arrived on Tuesday, I finally figured out what had happened (or not happened), so most of the day was spent re-explaining the directions for getting started. We also took some time to review the newly re-organized pathfinder page for researching the essay topic and for students to join the our newly created Media 21 Google Group that we will use for communication and information sharing. We also took some time to respond on our class blog to two blog posts (one from Dean Shareski and one from Seth Godin) as they seemed to address some talking points generated by students in our class discussion the previous Friday.
Wednesday was primarily a working day—students could use the entire period to work on their shaping sheets and then to type their draft into Google Documents.
Thursday (today) was fun—after turning in their shaping sheets and sharing their drafts in Google Docs with Mrs. Lester and me, we got started building our very own Google Sites. Originally, I envisioned students having accounts at Wikispaces for creating a learning portfolio, but after seeing the new and improved Google Sites (thanks to my friend Jeff Johnson) over the weekend, I knew it was the way to go since it is now easy to embed content and seamlessly integrate our work from Google Docs! Today (Thursday) students created a site, added a theme, and then created two pages; we embedded our rough drafts on one of those pages. On Friday, we will create a feedback form using the “form” option in Google Docs; students will then peer edit using these forms by embedding their feedback form into their Rough Draft page on their Google Site—this mode will allow us to engage in virtual peer editing!
Many of our students have Michael Sinco for World History—Mr. Sinco and I are doing a project that involves Google Sites (we did most of our collaboration via Facebook!), so I look for my M21 students to be the “expert helpers” to their classmates the next few days. I love how our work together (Mr. Sinco is working with Ms. Lester on incorporating and evalauting writing in his class) helps reinforce the skills and ideas we are trying to teach.
On a lighter note, my classes mugged for our “Geek the Library” campaign that we are doing at The Unquiet Library! They seemed to enjoy sharing that they geeked social media and Media 21!
It seems there is never enough time! I truly enjoy working with these two classes and enjoy hearing what they have to say. I feel so lucky to be working with Susan Lester—I think our co-teaching of the class represents the highest level of collaboration as we both take on the role of teacher in this project. I feel as though the students see me as a teacher, not just the librarian.
It also struck me that a few days ago, one of our students, who had gone home earlier in the day after throwing up twice and having a fever, took time to message me from her iPod about what she had missed in class! I also have been impressed a few have emailed me this week to let me know about any writing difficulties they’ve had or to just ask me to look over their rough drafts. I also love how receptive they all seem to be to help and direction—I can honestly say that many days I feel as though this project is a dream come true because it feels as though we are doing something that we are building a foundation for helping these students become “connected”learners, which in my mind, is the ultimate form of being informationally fluent.
We will spend Monday participating in the blogathon for the Louisville Free Public Library as an introduction to our mini-study of using social media for positive change/social good! We will loop back to our putting the polishing touches on our social media persuasive essays either Wednesday or Thursday of next week so that we can wrap those up going into the long Labor Day weekend.
I am going to spend this weekend remapping the lessons and activities for September. I hope to blog more on those plans next weekend! In addition, I hope to get some kind of video assessment in next week—I had hoped to do this the last two weeks, but somehow, it just has not happened—arrrgh!
Overall, I feel so positive about the progress of this project—as I said, I only wish there was more time in the day as 50 minutes just don’t seem like enough time. Just as we are getting started and really engaged, the bell rings, and we have to go—I do wonder if a block schedule would lend itself more to this mode of learning?