Archive | November 2007

On blogs and bloggers

Although the assignment was to create a blog using Blogger, I am hoping that this will serve the purpose as I began this blog back in the summer as I was exploring what it was like to be a blogger before I asked my students to do the same.

I spent much time coming up with a title. I tried to be clever, but everything I thought of had already been taken by another more clever person. The title of my blog relates to a place near and dear to my heart, the little alley behind the home where I grew up. I would leave my back door each morning and head down that little alley to my grade school about 1 block away. Even that close to school I was often late! Some things never change.

In the course of learning about Web 2.o over the past 2 years, I realized that I would be a student until the end of my days. I don’t think a day goes by that there is not an opportunity for a new learning experience. Teachers know they must prepare the material, know it inside-out, if they are to teach the material to students. How can I expect students to be bloggers if I have not traveled the road first?

Well I have to admit that, although my intentions were good, I failed in my first attempt, because I allowed myself to be intimidated. What I mean is, I had been reading other blogs for some time, some people with very good ideas, innovators, movers and shakers, people with a very large following. Occasionally I would come out of the shadows and change from a “lurker” to a “commenter” but I never provided a link back to my little blog because I convinced myself that I really didn’t have anything of interest for anyone else to read. It was more or less an outlet for my own reflection. As anyone can tell from the date on the earlier posts, this little blog has been dormant for some time.

I then turned my attention to classblogmeister as a tool for student blogs. My goal was to establish the blogging routine, the parameters and guidelines, and then have other teachers begin to use the tool in their classes. Well so far, the only topics have been tech related and I have not managed to hand the baton. But that’s okay because the students have taken to it, and we are working on “continuing the conversation” rather than just commenting “Hey, I love your blog!” Of course, we may need some meatier topics, but …baby steps, baby steps. I have also posted on our tech class blog as the “writing prompter”. It has been somewhat overwhelming to have a class full of blogs coming in for approval at one time. My biggest concern is the difficulty in accessing the site during the school day when we need it most, but many students blog out of school hours. In fact, some have started to go to their blog and post their thoughts on any even that happens. In only 2 cases have I asked a student to re-do because of inappropriateness, and it wasn’t anything really bad. I do plan to check out the other site mentioned for student blogging, though I wouldn’t change until a new school year. Students have network passwords, wiki passwords, blogmeister passwords, and some grades have others as well. I can’t throw anything more out there at this point. I also deal with the issue of the quality of the writing and spelling…how much editing to do before allowing a post to be published? How to maintain standards without sacrificing creativity?

A very valuable resource I would like to share is a post by Vicki Davis who writes the coolcatteacher blog. It is Ten Habits of Bloggers that Win and it provides very good tips to those starting on the blogging road. She is in the trenches every day teaching her students and still finds time to share so much with educators everywhere. I truly admire her. In fact there is a great group of women who are encouraging teachers in their use of Web 2.0 tools and that is the WOW group (Women of Web2.0)

So I finally wrote a post that other people (the online class) may read. Let me cut the eye holes out of my brown paper bag.

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Second Life Experience

I have been involved with Second Life since the beginning of August. Due to the frequent chatter about it among Discovery Educators and the fact that they were planning to have meetings there, I finally dusted off the old avatar I tried to get going in February and finally got her through orientation. There was a bit of a learning curve, but once I put my mind to it, it was not so bad after all. ( How I started out as a fox I do not know. I look much better now.)

It has been great fun to meet with other DEN members at DEN Headquarters. The members of the leadership council have worked very hard to organize informative sessions such as getting around in Second Life, podcasting, and digital storytelling, as well as fun events such as a Halloween party and walking tours of the island. I think by far the most awesome experience I have had, however, has been the opportunity to meet and become friends with people from all over the world. Chance encounters shopping for shoes or striking up conversations with someone you land next to after a teleport can open a world of opportunity in communication. It does help that I can speak Spanish of course, and most of Latin America is in a reasonable time zone for communication. But I have friends on my “friend list” from England, Ireland, Spain, France, Israel, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, and USA. Some of them have become very good friends. It is also humbling to see how many of these people around the globe speak excellent English. I actually have only 2 friends with whom I can only communicate in Spanish. I am embarrassed at my limited language skills in comparison.

It can become somewhat addictive at times. I actually wonder what my friends are doing and what I am missing when I am not “inworld” but all in all it has been a most educational experience. And the shopping and dancing are not bad either!