Seriously?

Well, it’s Labor Day 2009. We’ve been in school for two weeks, and it’s been great! I fully expect for this to be the best year ever, seriously. I’m enjoying my classes and kiddos this year. We interviewed classmates and created Animoto introductions to introduce our partner. Each student also created a Wordle that I plan to put on display in the hallway and in the classroom. We have Open House tomorrow night-September 8th.

What else is scheduled for tomorrow? Oh, that’s the right. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, is scheduled to speak to the nation’s students about “persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning” (US Department of Education, 2009).

Now, when I read that, there is nothing alarming or disturbing to me. This speech has, however, created a huge uproar across the country. I have been thinking about this a lot over the past week and finally decided to just throw in my two cents. IMHO, all of this hullabaloo is simply silly. There are cries of foul, indoctrination, ‘who does he think he is’ and much worse. Most of the issues (negative) that have been discussed in the media have been put to rest as out and out lies and misconceptions.

***UPDATE*** The transcript of the speech has now been released and can be found here.  I could not resist the temptation of some of my Tweeps who created a Wordle of the speech. Here are two that I liked.

This is a wordle of the president's speech found at the DOE website.

This is a wordle of the president's speech found at the DOE website.

one more:

Wordle of President Obama's speech to the nation's students

OMG! Look at those big ideas: school, education, learn, hard and GASP! responsibility.

***END UPDATE***

He is not trying to indoctrinate children with his socialist agenda;  he will not be pushing health care reform; he is not the first president to speak directly to students; etc. I have read several blogs and the ensuing discussions about this topic. I decided to use my blog as a place to record some of the thoughts that others have expressed that struck me for one reason or another. Read on if you so choose. Or don’t.

Blogs you might like to read

Will Richardson discusses what all of this says about our schools. This post has already generated 60+ comments.

A superintendent commenting on Will Richardson’s blog said, “We are supposed to be teachers and the idea that the President telling students to work hard and stay in school is subversive indoctrination is ludicrous. We are not in a particularly conservative community but I’ve been in awe of how vehement some parents have been. I suppose next they’ll want to opt out of any class where an opinion other than theirs may be expressed.”

Gary Stager has spoken on this topic on several different blogs and sites.  In one titled The Parental Veto of Curriculum, he started out by saying, “I believe that it is another hysterical attempt to usurp the legitimacy of a democratically elected African-American President. Denying children access to the President of the United States is unpatriotic and miseducative. The teachable moment should be seized to discuss and debate the President’s words in a civil democratic fashion. Surely, that is consistent with the ideals of public education in a free society.”

Stephanie Sandifer’s Fear, Censorship and Agendas… is also worth reading.

I just can’t believe what this speech to encourage students to stay in school and do well has become. When the POTUS is scheduled to speak,  you tune in; you expose your students to it. It was never mandated, they offered “suggested” classroom activities and it still turned into…this.

Seriously?!?

Glogster EDU

You may or may not have heard of Glogster. It’s been around for quite a while. I first heard of it and started to tinker around with it this past school year. It is an online poster, but it is – or can be – so much more. You choose everything from the wall (background) to graphics, images (you can upload your own), videos, sound and text.

Glogster is used by all sorts of people – young and old, for personal, professional or academic reasons. On my campus, the language arts teachers offered an option for creating a Glog in a novel project. This project was done near the end of the school year in May. There were some unfortunate times when Glogster wouldn’t load properly or didn’t save students’ work. In looking around for examples, I realized that this wasn’t only a local problem. It was also possible to go from the Glog you were working on to see others on the site. This was not necessarily a good thing, as there are many Glogs with images and categories that are not appropriate for school. All of this has been addressed by Glogster’s creation of Glogster EDU.

On Saturday morning (yes, a Saturday morning during summer break; who am I?) I was able to attend a Classroom 2.0 LIVE Elluminate session on Glogster EDU with the education manager, Jim Dachos. (As he said, looks like it rhymes with nachos, but it’s pronounced like in the word bodacious 🙂  ) A few of the high points of the new EDU environment are that you can sign up as a teacher and create up to 200 student accounts (they don’t need email addresses; the account usernames and passwords are automatically created for you!), all Glogs are private and students cannot go into Glogs on the regular Glogster site.The Glogs can be embedded in blogs, webpages or on wikis.

He offered some links to great examples of Glogs being created from as young as first grade through high school and some educators using them to create home pages and newsletters. Here is a powerful one on Darfur. This one is elementary students on “I love Glogster because.” Notice in both the use of images, videos, audio and graphics to get the message across. Here is an example of first grade teacher Traci Blazosky’s front page for her classroom wiki. Let me just say that this lady is amazing. She has created a great tutorial for using Glogster EDU. (It’s also featured on the EDU homepage.)

Here is my VERY simple Glog I created tonight. (Use this link if it does not appear below.)

Glogster also recently partnered with SchoolTube. This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. Many schools still block YouTube. Also the partnership means you can search and upload from inside Glogster.

So what are you waiting on? The possibilities are endless. Just do a quick search in the school section of Glogster or Glogster EDU to see the many ways Glogs are being incorporated in schools. Wondering about the “classroom benefits” of Glogster? They already thought of eleven for you! Everything you need to know can be found in their Glogster EDU FAQ. Or you can go ahead and sign up here!

Ha-ha-ha

I came across Ms. Teacher today through one of my twitter peeps’ RT. I enjoy what I have seen of her blog so far. The post that gave me my daily chuckle was “No Child Left Behind: The Football Version.” With her permission I am reposting it here. I am sure this is one of those that has made its rounds through teachers’ inboxes, but I still had to share it in case anyone missed it. The author is unknown; if you are out there, let us know, so you can receive your credit!

No Child Left Behind:

The Football Version

Author Unknown

l. All teams must make the state playoffs, and all will win the championship. If a team does not win the championship, they will be on probation until they are the champions, and coaches will be held accountable.

2. All kids will be expected to have the same football skills at the same time and in the same conditions. No exceptions will be made for interest in football, a desire to perform athletically, or genetic abilities or disabilities. ALL KIDS WILL PLAY FOOTBALL AT A PROFICIENT LEVEL

3. Talented players will be asked to work out on their own without instruction. This is because the coaches will be using all their instructional time with the athletes who aren’t interested in football, have limited athletic ability, or whose parents don’t like football.

4. Games will be played year round, but statistics will only be kept in the 4th, 8th, and 11th games.

5. This will create a New Age of sports where every school is expected to have the same level of talent and all teams will reach the same minimal goals.

If no child gets ahead, then no child will be left behind.

Building my PLN

PLN = Personal Learning Network I actually had a PLN before I even knew what one was.

During the summer of 2008, I was in my second semester of grad school working on my M.Ed. in Educational Technology. I was just getting involved in everything web 2.0. Thanks to one of my great professors, Dr. Janice Butler, I’d had quite an introduction to using wikis. Her wiki of choice was by PBworks (formerly known as PBwiki).

That summer PBwiki had its first summer camp for educators. The goal was basically to teach you how to set up  and run a wiki for your classroom. It lasted six weeks and once you’d completed your weekly homework assignments, your wiki was ready for the school year. Our extra credit assignment during week two was to sign up for Twitter and follow some of the other summer campers. The most important part of my participation in the summer camp was definitely signing up for Twitter (I didn’t know this at the time, of course.)

Cut to one year later. I am now following about 90 people. Two of my tweeps (Twitter peeps) who helped me early on are @soul4real and @dowbiggin. Soul4real reviewed and commented on some of my projects for grad school. Dowbiggin is also working on her master’s degree, so we were able to share lots of information. These are two people I would have never known existed without Twitter! (Dowbiggin and I are even friends on Facebook!) The majority of the people I follow are in education and specifically have some sort of link to educational technology. I get great information on different technology uses in the classroom. I was able to participate in the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) 2009 virtually because of Twitter and many of the people I follow.  Just today, I added someone – based on another person’s recommendation – who was able to give me some valuable information on becoming an Instructional Technology Specialist. I am tagging sites and marking tweets as favorites daily thanks to my PLN. People are out there and they want to help you.

***UPDATE***I just used Twitter Mosaic to, as the site says, “make art from Twitter.” You can even have your mosaic put on a t-shirt, mug, bag, etc and have Twitter swag! Here is my mosaic.

Get your twitter mosaic here.

***end update***

In searching for information on personal learning networks, I found the following presentation that may be helpful in explaining the what, why and how of PLNs.

From Julie Lindsay

Hello world!

I have had this Edublogs account for probably about two years now. I am now in the process of actively pursuing a career in educational/instructional technology. It’s time for me to put all the information I am learning into one accessible place. As I am nearing the end of my coursework for my Master’s degree in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, I will use this blog to focus my learning and hopefully provide some information for others. This has been an amazing year and a half of learning about integrating technology into the classroom. I am so happy I found the University of Texas Telecampus when I did.

TTFN.

Ms. CRod