Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week 14-15 Blogging


Section 21f of the 2013 School Aid Act radically changed the regulations regarding students and online learning.  Please watch the following ~11 minute video that discusses the changes to the limits and procedures regarding online courses and students' abilities to take courses from a variety of locations.  As you watch the video, think about how online instruction can be beneficial, and think of the pitfalls/problems that arise.



Also, I would like you to download and read the documents in the .zip file noted on the first slide of the video by clicking here.

Now, think of the following scenarios:
  • You're a rural district with only a few hundred students total. A child wants to take courses like calculus, but they cannot feasibly be offered by your high school.
  • You're a principal of a school. An overbearing parent comes to you. Their first son had Mr. Siko for chemistry and hated him. He's the only chemistry teacher, and now their younger son has him. They want to pull him out and have him take it online. Can you prevent this? Should you prevent this?
  • A child comes into your class, having transferred from a 'cyberschool'. It is clear the quality was subpar. Any of this child's standardized test scores this year are tied to your performance evaluation under the new teacher evaluation guidelines.
  • I am a teacher whose district is embracing online learning. It is attracting many students from other districts, and this generates extra revenue (students = $$). I am asked to be a 'facilitator' for these students, who are not required to attend during the school day. I am not given extra release time for this. 
  • I am a 12th grade student who was diagnosed with leukemia the summer before my senior year. I am unable to attend a full day of school while receiving treatment. I want to graduate on time with my friends.
Do you think schools are equipped to handle these changes?  Do you think the changes will occur rapidly (i.e., this coming fall) or will they be unnoticeable by most?  How is your school handling this (consider asking your administrator to see how s/he is imagining the larger picture)?  

Your initial response should be posted by 11:59pm on Sunday, April 19th.  The following week you will be placed into groups as usual for comments and discussion.

(One final note:  if you're one of the students not currently in K-12 or in Michigan, I would appreciate any additional knowledge about online learning in your state; conversely, you may ask your children's teachers about it as well.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week 12-13 Discussion

Your discussion entry this week is a two part task (i.e., YOU WILL HAVE TWO SEPARATE POSTS THIS WEEK). The first part MUST be done before you begin the reading for this week.  Please accomplish AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (i.e., you should have this completed no later than Tuesday, March 31st).

For part one, I want you to write an entry TO YOUR OWN BLOG that describes what you currently know about K-12 online learning, virtual schooling, or cyber schooling (all three are the same thing, it is just called different things). Here are some questions which can guide you (although note that you do not have to address each of these questions, they are just to get the juices flowing so to speak).
  • What does it look like? 
  • How is it done? 
  • Where it is done? 
  • What kind of students take it? 
  • What kind of courses are offered?

For part two, you will post a second blog entry TO YOUR OWN BLOG by the end of the day on Sunday, April 5th. After you complete the readings for this week, visit and read the Top 10 Myths about Virtual Schools. Based upon the readings and this website, what did you learn that surprised you? Where there things you posted in part one that were false (were any of them listed in the top 10 myths)? Where there things you posted in part one that were accurate?

In Week 13, you will be given specific instructions (groupings, prompts) for the discussion period.  However, in the meantime, feel free to comment on either of the two posts of any of your classmates.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Directions for Week 8

Here are your groupings for the week:

Group 1
Sawyers
Jalambo
Crutchfield
Wilson

Group 2
Franklin
Wilfong
Considine
McGuire

Group 3
Manganello
Puvalowski
Buzun-Miller

First, review the directions for the initial post and make sure you've completed all of the requirements.  Next, read/reread the articles for week 7 and 8 (Deters et al, 2010; Fu et al, 2013) located in the folder.  In your discussions, think about your comments related to Wikipedia and YouTube, in which many of you said it was a) a good starting place but b) not necessarily reliable.

There are two things I want you to consider.  First, is it possible to sort bad, good, really good information within Wikipedia (i.e., what would make one entry more trustworthy than another)?  Second, how do you handle this in your own classroom if you say, "We're going to make a wiki, but Wikipedia is BAD."  Doesn't that taint the experience for the students?  

Comment on a minimum of two of your group member's posts, be sure to specifically mention content from the readings, and respond to any comments made to your post.  My directions are, admittedly, a little less structured than before, because I want you to question your assumptions about how information is curated, shared, and interpreted.

One final comment:  Comments related to posts about the blogs and feeds are not tied to the grade for this assignment (e.g., "Hey, Jill, I really like this blog you found last week.  I'm going to use it, too.").




Monday, February 23, 2015

Week 7 Prompt


For this week, you will have two SEPARATE postings.

Post #1 - Building and Refining your PLN

At the beginning of the term, you created a Twitter account and set up an RSS reader. Now it's time to refine and expand this process. Using a site like Google Blog Search (https://www.google.com/blogsearch?gws_rd=ssl), or http://www.blogsearchengine.org/, search for blogs that might be of interest to you based upon your own teaching background (e.g., grade levels, students, geographic location, subject area, etc.). You may also want to consider searching in Google with phrases such as (without quotes), "[your content area] blogs," "K-12 blogs," "Best [content area] blogs," etc.

Select THREE ADDITIONAL blogs to add to your RSS reader (and feel free to select more than three if you find others that are of interest to you).

Write an entry to your blog that lists the three blogs you have selected, the address for each of these three blogs, and a sentence or two about why you selected to follow them. Please include more than something to the effect of, "It was a blog about using technology in elementary school." or "It was about teaching high school mathematics in an urban area." There are dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of blogs that meet those criteria. Why did you pick that specific one? What about it caught our attention and/or interest?

Similarly, I want you to follow other teachers on Twitter. Using the same idea as above, search for experts in your content area that post to Twitter. (There are also links such as this which give a top 10-100 list). Find FIVE people/organizations to follow on Twitter, and a sentence or two about them (you don't need to be as detailed as you are with the blogs).

Finally, I'd like you to write a one paragraph reflection on how you have used these tools so far this semester (note: it's OK to say you haven't), which one have you gravitated toward, and what is something you'd like to do to improve your information gathering skills.

There is no requirement to comment on others' blog entries for this post...but you should at least read what each other has found. Be sure to have this completed by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 1st.

Post #2 - Judging the Quality of Wikis and Non-vetted Sites

There have been many opinions about the use of resources like Wikipedia and YouTube in the classroom. Some teachers refuse to accept information from students when their source is Wikipedia, while others are more than happy to allow their students to use it as an authoritative source. A group of scholars even examined the issue of the accuracy of Wikipedia. Also, some schools block YouTube in the classroom, some teachers only use educational videos vetted by Discovery Education, SchoolTube, TeacherTube, and others.

At the heart of it, Wikipedia is a wiki that anyone can contribute to and anyone can change. Likewise for YouTube: anyone can post just about anything, AND people can comment and rate what is published. How do you view Wikipedia as a resource for your students? Why? Do you let them use either as a resource? Do you yourself use them during instruction?

[Keep in mind, though, that just because anyone CAN edit and upload to these sites, not everyone DOES.  Consider the gender discrepancies in Wikipedia editors (listen or scroll to the bottom of the page for the transcript), as well as other gaps in age and race when it comes to content creation on Web 2.0 sites.]

As usual, we will spend this first week developing our own post, and the next week will be spent in discussion. Please have your initial post completed by 11:59pm on Sunday, March 1st.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 4 Prompt - Web 2.0 Tools and the SAMR Model

Your initial post for Week 4 will revolve around Web 2.0 tools and potentially spur ideas for your project.  In the comment phase of this round of reflective blogging, we will throw in some empirical research for discussion.

There is a model of technology integration called the SAMR model.  Here is a link to one description (https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/samr-model) of this model.  If you find this to be insufficient, a simple Google search will provide more resources.

However, your post this week will simply be a detailed response to this question:  What could you do in your class (or workplace) with a (i.e., any) Web 2.0 tool that would equate to each of the four levels of the SAMR Model?  That is, how could you use a Web 2.0 tool as a Substitute for current lesson, to Augment a lesson, and so on.

To clarify:

  • I want one example of each (S, A, M, and R) from your current or future work situation.
  • Please clearly state your situation at the beginning (e.g., I teach 10th grade social studies) of your post.
  • No, you don't have to use the same tool for each example.
  • No, you don't have to use the same lesson for each example.

Please have your initial post completed by 11:55 pm on Sunday, February 8th.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Unit 1 Prompt

In this unit, you're being introduced to some of the literature concerning today's students - who people think they are, what characteristics, they have, etc. Does any of what you read sound like your students?  Next week, you'll exposed to some the research regarding generational differences. 

For your blog entry this week, I'd like you to reflect on the videos in the Unit 1 folder as well as the Prensky reading and the articles on Generation Edge. How have each of these described YOUR students? What have each of the articles and videos shown/said that doesn't describe your students at all? Are there any characteristics, traits or behaviors of your students that none of these authors have even mentioned? Basically, how do your students compare to what these authors have to say?

[Before you ask, "Wait, what do I need to write about?" read the last few paragraphs again.  Watch the videos, read the Prensky article, and read the two Generation Edge articles.  Then, collect your thoughts on all of the readings, and use most/all of the above questions to guide your writing.  Be thorough, but not robotic when crafting your post based on the above questions.]

Your own response to this prompt should be posted by midnight on Sunday, January 25th.  You may comment on each others' posts this week, too.  However, I will have additional directions for Week 3 where you will need to respond to specific points to specific people (i.e., I will put you in groups).

As this is your first reflective blogging assignment, please look at the assignment description in Blackboard [Course Information section] to see what constitutes quality reflection and discussion.  Early on, I will be active in commenting; however, good online pedagogy states that instructor involvement should wane over time to prevent the instructor from being a crutch in maintaining good discussion (Mazzolini & Maddison, 2007).

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Introductory Post

For the first post, similar to many online classes (only we're doing it on a blog versus a discussion board), spend a little time introducing yourself (employment, hobbies, family, why you're in this class, etc.).  I would also like you to make at least one comment on someone else's blog, if for no other reason to say hello.  The purpose of this, aside from getting to know one another, is to get used to navigating in Blogger.  You must be able to create AND publish a blog post (as opposed to saving a draft), as well as be able to moderate comments.  This is good practice in a classroom setting (i.e., having students learn how to set their blog so that they must moderate comments to their blog BEFORE they become public to prevent embarrassment, bullying, and the like).

Finally, while you are not required to do this, I highly recommend that you learn how to set up a blogroll on the side of your blog (see my classroom blog, http://mrsiko.edublogs.org, as well as this blog, as an example).  Since you will be commenting on each other's posts throughout the semester, you will want a quick way to view what other people have said instead of hunting down their URL and typing them in by hand.  As with many of the tools we will use this semester, a little front-end time will go a long way in making your life easier later on.

Your post and comment, which are part of your reflective blogging grade, should be completed by 11:59 pm on Sunday, January 18th.

PLEASE NOTE:  Do not respond to this post, unless you have a question.  You are to complete this assignment on your own blog.

Also, please watch this video to make sure you have the correct settings for allowing comments.