Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sample Hosting -- Text

I learned today how to create a PDF file and post a poem of mine to Ourmedia. Now, I can link to the poem from this blog or my portfolio blog. (I don't really like the idea of using a separate blog for my portfolio, but hey -- this is an experiment, right? Some of my students like the idea, so I'm trying it.) This represents my first real entry into portfolio territory -- I was never required to keep one as a high school student. I think, though, that if I am going to ask my students to keep one, it's only fair that I do so, too. So I'm portfolioing from now on.
Elle has been using FictionPress to host her text -- she's got a screenplay up over there (Man, do I feel a bit inadequate.).
I didn't know the site existed until she mentioned it Tuesday. One advantage of FictionPress? The moment Elle hit "send," her work was out there. Of course, that's also a potentially big disadvantage.
Check out the page on our wiki where we're listing our findings on places that will host content and other ePortfolio resources. Feel free to contribute.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Storing and Hosting and Portfolioing

Nancy asks:
Do you have other places for them to store the artifacts?

The answer, thanks to some parellel thinking on our part and her's, is yes. (An "artifact", in teacher-speak, is a portfolio item -- something that documents growth or learning.) We've created a space on our wiki that is a collection of links to hosting sites that could be used to store student portfolio work. The only rules for inclusion in that space are that they are free and kid-friendly. Over the next couple of days, we're going to be playing with different kinds of portfolio entries, the goals being to find free spaces that are relatively easy to use. We'll share what we come up with.
Some questions that I want to figure out as we work on portfolios are:
  • Can we create something for free that is useful as a portfolio? (I'm realizing that I need to write and post a rationale for portfolios as I'm writing this.)
  • Is the e-portfolio easily updatable? Will students (and teachers) be able to do so without too much time spent on technology?
  • <> What permissions will we need for photos and other media online?

    There are other questions that I'm sure are important to such an exploration. What am I forgetting?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Still Portfolio Time

No, really. Maybe I wasn't clear.
Last week, I was asking about portfolios. But you didn't answer.
I'm still asking -- what are the essential components of a useful student portfolio? Since we'll be building our own portfolios this week, I thought that was a good question to start with. Let's hear what you think.
One idea that I have is to simply code all our portfolio entries as such using subject tags. Then we can create a space either in each blog or on a portal page that will only pull up those portfolio entries. But I don't have the technical expertise to do that.
Help me figure this one out, gang?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Portfolio Time

One of the goals of this course is for the students and I to come up with a practical way to implement an online portfolio system for our school. I originally thought that a blog would be a perfect tool for such a creation -- online space that is easily editable. Now I think a blog is one piece -- perhaps the main piece -- but we'll need some sort of content storage or hosting situation. I like Ourmedia, and not just because I'm moderating for them. It's completely free for anyone to store just about anything (Of course, there are a few guidelines to follow, but they're fairly common sense.). Also, they're kid-friendly.
What are the other pieces to an online portfolio? I know that students need a place to reflect on their work (the blog), and a place to promote and or share what they've done (again, the blog) -- but I'm not sure what else is necessary for a successful portfolio, except for a portal where all the students' portfolios or blogs are listed for easy access.
What would you think is necessary for an online portfolio?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Class Wiki Now Up

Hey gang.
I hope your weekend was fun and productive. I thought I'd get more done this weekend than I actually did -- but I still managed to get a little work done. Mostly, I took the time to hang out with my daughter -- who's getting really, really big.
Anyway -- back to work. Some announcements:
* Elle and Moe responded to Will's kind words. Check out his response.
* Will has an essay up that really speaks to why I think blogging is so important -- give it a read here.

On to today's class. Last week, David said:
hey bud we should start having a giant list that we can all enter and add new rules and all they said was no last names and no saying the name of our school and school apropiate correct.
i think that we need to leave it open and flexable so that we can just deal with it when we start to see problems instead of makeing them so defenite and trapping ourselves in and it also allows us to be more open and have really cool stuff going on without much boundaries except the necessary ones that we have to set

He was right, so I created just such a list. It's called a wiki. We talked about them at the beginning of the course. They're webpages that anyone can edit. Go to our new wiki and check it out. Your assignment for today, in addition to posting, is to add your ideas, rules and questions to the class wiki. You're welcome to change the way the pages look, too -- as long as you do your other work FIRST.
As always, I'm eager to see your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Posting or Blogging?

Hey, gang.

I just posted this to my other blog. Hopefully, this will help you as you think about the posts that you're currently writing. Thanks for a good discussion -- I'm eager to hear your thoughts.

It seems like there are lots of people weighing in on what "counts" as blogging. Specifically, Will Richardson has taken the issue on several times, most recently here. I've also been fortunate enough to receive a semi-personal lesson in blogging, which he defines here in another post:

But I've never in my life written the way I write in this Weblog. And frankly, I don't know that I've learned as much from any other type of activity as I have from this type. And I learn when I'm doing just what I'm doing now (sweat on brow.) I'm not journaling. I'm not just linking. I'm attempting to synthesize a lot of disparate ideas from a varitey of sources into a few coherent sentences that I can publish for an audience and wait (hope?) for its response to push my thinking further. That's the essence of blogging to me, and I can't do it without a Weblog. That's the distinction. That's what tells me this is different. And that's what makes me think so hard about the effects that blogging, not just using a blog, might have in a classroom. If we've been blogging without Weblogs in schools all along, then just put me out of my misery now. But I don't think we have.

Will argues that "blogging" is a specific set of skills that are really best utilized in the form or genre of a blog (you can't be a blogger in a notebook, for example) -- and that much of what he sees in schools is journaling, not blogging:

Xanga is not a blog site. It's an online journal site. There is nothing inherently wrong with journaling online (provided it's done with the proper precautions.) But there is something wrong with calling that blogging. And that's what's happening more and more. And the problem comes when parents and principals equate Xanga and other such sites with blogging, which in turn predisposes them negatively toward efforts to use blogs the way we know they can be used.

For better or worse, I agree with him. Blogging is a unique set of skills and much of what my students are doing on their personal blogs (journaling and ranting, mostly, according to one student) isn't really what I'd like to see in the classroom. But I wonder how many students are actually participating in this conversation. Are adults once again making decisions for students without their input? Wouldn't it be terrible if the decisions about blog use in classrooms were all made for students, instead of with them?

I was curious, so I shared some of the debate with my students, and asked them their opinions on the matter -- what uses do blogs have in schools? Are your current uses of blogs something that would be useful for schools now? What would be a way that your personal and public uses of blogs might intersect? Their class discussion was fascinating -- and is important enough that, when their posts are complete, I will share that information with you.

I am currently awaiting their answers on their student blogs. I am eager to see the "second draft" versions of our class conversation.

Friday, April 08, 2005


this is an audio post - click to play
I spent some time yesterday experimenting with AudioBlogger. It was really easy to setup and now I have a phone number in my speeddial to use for making audioposts on the move. Try it out -- it's totally free, minus the long distance phone call. How might we use this technology at school?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

My answers to my questions

Okay, so it's pretty quiet out there. Elle has posted her responses to these questions -- where are the rest of you?
Here are my answers (in italics) to the questions that I asked you. Still interested in your thoughts . . .

1. Why do you use blogs? What do you currently use blogs for outside of school (If you do)?
I am using blogs right now for two purposes. The first of these is that I am blogging as a way to better understand the potential for the use of this technology in the classroom. I think blogs have lots of potential for schools and learning. My understanding of this potential continues to grow and expand, both because of the blogs that I am reading, and the blogging that I am doing. I'm also using blogging as a way to better understand my teaching and how to get better. Okay, so those are both kind of school uses, but I'm doing much of the work on my own time.

2. What are some reasons why you think blogs might be useful at our school?
See above. Also, I'm hoping that we can use blogs to create a community of learning and learners that is less about the time spent in the classroom and more about the time that you devote to the learning that you want to engage in. How the school will function in that role is, well, largely up to you. Your answers to this question will guide my thinking.

3. What are some potential problems that you see with blogging at school?
I worry about student safety and a school's liability. I want y'all to be safe if we use blogs,; I also want you to be responsible. Some questions that I wonder about: What happens when a school and its teachers and students put their thinking out in public? What happens when you ask a community of young adults to act like young adults and to treat blogging with a great deal fo responsibility? Do we teach to the two or three people who will abuse blogs, or do we teach to the 97% of the school that will treat them responsibily? (Sorry -- bit of a teacher rant there -- igonre if you like.) 4. Should student blogs be made public for the world to see, or just our school community?
I think that most of what we use a blog for can be public. But I also foresee wanting a private space for the stuff that shouldn't leave our school community. The problem is that I can't figure out what kind of stuff that would be. Can you guys help me make a list? Also, why should we hide what we do in our classrooms? Or is this not about hiding?

Interested in your thoughts.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Blog Rules


One more thing to think about as you get started with posting. Remember how I suggested that we'll need to come up with some rules about what is and isn't okay for blogging? Well, a teacher is doing some similar work with a group of middle school students, and here is a post on some of the rules that they have come up with -- so I've got another question:

1. What are some rules that bloggers at our school should follow?

Spring Break -- Time for Some Blog Homework

This post is primarily for the students currently enrolled in my blogging course, but feel free to keep reading if you'd like.
Gang, I hope that your individual Spring Breaks are off to a great start. I've enjoyed taking a rest from school -- as I'm sure that y'all have. However, there's not a lot of time this quarter, and we've got lots to talk about, so I've got some questions that I'd like for you to respond to. I'd like for you to write your responses as blog posts on your blogs, instead of comments here. But feel free to cross-post (put them both places) if you'd like.
These are the questions that I'd like for you to think about over the next day or two (I'll post my answers to them later today or tonight.):
1. Why do you use blogs? What do you currently use blogs for outside of school (If you do)?
2. What are some reasons why you think blogs might be useful at our school?
3. What are some potential problems that you see with blogging at school?
4. Should student blogs be made public for the world to see, or just our school community?

With each of these questions, please explain your answers. Thanks in advance for your thoughts on these! If you have questions that you think we should answer, post them on your blogs and we'll see them when we check our Bloglines accounts.

PS -- When I was spell-checking this entry, I discovered that Blogger's dictionary doesn't include the words "blog" or "blogging." Weird, huh?