Blended Learning

Blended learning is a hot topic in education today.  In essence, schools are incorporating computers into the classroom and letting the students work independently. Is this the model for the future of education?  Here is the link to the VoiceThread on Blended Learning:

http://voicethread.com/#thread/6759267/35452154/36777171

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Screencast for Word it out Web tool

Here is a screencast on how to use Word It Out with a social studies lesson.  The lesson requires students to create word clouds of two documents – the Declaration of Independence and a chosen Lincoln text (the cast uses the Gettysburg Address, but there are other choices.)  The students could access the screencast as needed to get instructions on how to use the web site, edit the clouds, and send them to the teacher.  The word clouds can help to make the complex text of comparing these documents seem more interesting and easy.

http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cofl3KeRwm

Best Teacher Blogs – Reviews

Being a teacher at any level (primary, secondary, and beyond) is a difficult profession.  Inherently, having one person be responsible for the learning of twenty to thirty individuals requires skills, talent, and profuse planning.  Teachers can be great collaborators and will frequently share their successes.  To that end, I like teacher blogs that offer a variety of resources or helpful ‘hacks” for presenting engaging lessons to students.  Here are three blogs I recommend:

In the vast ocean of the Internet, blogs that help navigate to good sites are always a boon.  The Edutech for Teachers blog is maintained by Jamie Forshay, an IT Specialist and teacher from Pennsylvania.  The site is chock full of cool tech links and tips for how to use them.  For example, here is a math link that I think I will pass on to the teachers at my school:

http://mastermath.info/ The site linked provides math tutorials and worksheets that teachers can use.  A great resource for a subject students may find challenging.

The subtitle for this blog says it all – “a real teacher helping you be really amazing.” The blog is maintained by Vicki Davis, a full time teacher and IT director in Georgia.

Ms. Davis writes articles that cover a wide range of tech-related topics like incorporating software in lessons, using social media, and topics for personal professional development.   Two articles that caught my eye were on passwords and a link to a video on copyright (that topic sounds familiar…) Links for each are presented below:

http://www.coolcatteacher.com/10-things-everyone-know-passwords/

http://www.coolcatteacher.com/copyright-101-simple-video-lesson-licenses/

These articles offer clear perspective on issues that I am sure the teachers at my school would find useful.  I would definitely include the website among the tech resources list, and share relevant articles with all teaches.

This blog by Ann Michaelson, a high school administrator in Norway, presents a variety content that is thought provoking and offers a global perspective on technology and issues in education.  The blog does present ideas that promote “active exchange and critique,” a hallmark of good blogging as suggested by Drs Bernette and Brock Eide in Brain of the Blogger. While I do not think this would be a constant “go to” for me, I do think it would be an excellent resource for topics for teacher PDs.

I found this post about “An Apology from a Teacher” to be very powerful:

An Apology from a teacher, Lizanne Foster

I’m sorry that you are forced to sit for six hours each school-day despite research thatreveals the detrimental cognitive and health effects of excessive sitting. I’m sorry that you are age-batched, forced to move through the school system with people your own age as though chronological age had anything to do with intellect, maturity, skills or ability. I’m sorry that many of you who struggle to cope in school do not get any learning support because prevailing economic policy does not prioritize funding your needs. I’m sorry that you have to study subjects that you are not interested in at a time when the sum total of human knowledge is doubling every 12 months. I’m sorry that you are made to believe that there is a scarcity of A grades for which you have to compete, when all human progress has been the result of collaboration, often considered “cheating” in schools. I’m sorry that you have textbooks with outdated information and classroom technology that is not maintained and practically obsolete. I’m sorry that what is being called personalized learning is not actually personal at all. Truly personal learning costs too much, you understand?

Best Library Blogs – Reviews

From what I have seen, librarian blogs fall into two categories: link-shares to present resources or ideas that other librarians may find useful or running commentaries about the activities in the blogger’s library.  I have reviewed some example of each type of blog below.  In general, I find the resource share blogs more useful as they are more likely to have content that I can adapt to my library (and tend to be easier to navigate as well.)

This is the resource blog to end all resource blogs. The blogger, Julie Greller, has collected and organized links on a wide range of topics useful to teachers and librarians.  The site easy to navigate and frequently updated.  Ms. Greller posts links for a wide range of useful information, for example you can find a page entirely devoted to links for ideas for what to do with old books (see link below.)

http://mediaspecialistsguide.blogspot.com/search/label/art%20projects%20with%20old%20books

The variety and quantity of the topics presented in the blog are sure to provide some inspiration for whatever you are looking for – from a video on how to repair damaged books to a list of academic search engines – this blog is jam packed with information. I will definitely add this to my bookmarks to refer to for ideas.  I think the information she posts would be useful to share with all of the teachers and could be incorporated in technology PD or as part of a web resource page on my library’s blog.

The Library Voice is a blog by Shannon McClintock Miller, a librarian in Colorado.While the blog updates seem topical and interesting, the bulk of the website seems to be devoted to promoting Ms. Miller and chronicling the events at her school.

The actual blog seems to be real time posts of things that are happening in her school, projects she has done, or resources she wants to share.  Some of the information that she presents may be useful, for example this link to a Symbaloo she created for cantata learning, which helped me understand how to use Symbaloo.

http://www.symbaloo.com/mix/cantatalearningfall15

However, since the primary purpose of her blog seems to be a narrative of her life as a librarian, the navigation and organization of her posts are not particularly user friendly.  I do give her credit in that I am sure the blog has a favorable impact on her digital footprint.  Perhaps she has had a class equivalent to this one at some point, or has read David Willmer’s article on Managing Your Digital Footprint because she spares no opportunity to remind readers of the “positive associations” of her accomplishments.  All in all, this is not a blog I will use too often.

I could tell I was going to like the Daring Librarian blog of Gwyneth Jones by the little Dr. Who call box in the top corner. It turns out that Ms. Jones is local as a middle school librarian in Laurel, MD.  Her blog has some nice features like links to technical resources and information about topics on which she will come and give presentations.  She seems pretty cool.

Ms. Jones seems to be very tech savvy as evidenced by the links to her Flickr and Pinterest pages, several wikis she has created, her Youtube channel, her Twitter feed, and a slideshare of different screenshots from different presentations (I didn’t even know what a slideshare was, here is the link: http://www.slideshare.net/gwynethjones.)  I think this blog could be a great resource for creative ways to use technology, and I would even consider reaching out to have her do a presentation in some capacity (probably for teachers.)