Friday, March 4, 2011

Journal 4: It's Time to Trust Teachers with the Internet: A conversation with Meg Ormiston

Schaffhauser, D. (2010). It's time to trust teachers with the internet: a
conversation with meg ormiston. T.H.E. Journal, Retrieved from
Dian Schaffhauser interviews cirriculum coach/school board advisor/conference presenter/proffesional development specialist/grant facilitator Meg Ormiston about all the obstacles in place that are preventing elementary, middle and high school teachers from using the Internet effectively as an education tool. The obstacles include such nuisances as built-in software that blocks out certain websites, presumably based on key words, even if the sites are perfectly suitable to the students, lack of technical know-how on the part of administrators who block everything because they don't know what to block on the school computers, and issues of bandwidth tempering the influx of videos, photos, and text students have access to. The unfortunate consequence of so much shutdown is that many teachers give up using computers altogether, crippling their students learning. Moreover, when web access is hamstrung so strongly at school, students are stripped of the opportunity to learn how to use such websites as youtube and flickr effectively; instead they are losed into the wilderness without a leash. What needs to change is the attitude administrators have toward their teachers and their students and start trusting the former to use the Internet wisely, so they in turn can teach their students how to use the Internet wisely. Ormiston propses a "tiered approach" involving opening up websites a little at a time, first to teachers, then to students, so as to get everyone acclimated to using the resources responsibly.

Question 1: What can students do to be more proactive about freeing up the gridlock that Internet access in school apears to be stuck in?

Students can research websites that they feel are appropriate to mastering their cirriculum and show them to their teachers.  If they take the initiative in demonstrating responsibility, this could get their teachers to trust them to use the web wisely. Teachers in turn can relay this to their administrators, the better to earn trust from them with respect to using the Internet maturely in the classroom. 

Question 2: Who else should be involved in rectifying this porblem besides students, teachers, and administrators?
Parents should come forward with concerns they might have about their children not knowing how to use the Internet responsibly, or they can teach their kids themselves. Politicians should also be aware of the issue as well; as with other resource shortages in schools, the problem of funding is ever-present and teachers, principals, parents, and other concerned citizens should petition their state congressman or whoever for more funding which can go toward buying more hardware and/or software that would permit more Internet time in classrooms.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Journal 3: 100 things that make me happy

100. My girlfriend 99. The feeling I get after completing all my homework 98. A cup of English tea
97. Mumford and Sons' music 96. Depeche Mode's music 95. Radiohead's music 94. A good book on the Titanic 93. A good book on  American history 92. A good book on astronomy 91. A good book on politics 90. A good book on philosophy or religion 89. Reading a very good poem 88. Writing a very good poem 87. Sleeping in on the weekends 86. Hiking 85. Going for walks on cold days 84. A dash of liquor in my coffee 83. Traveling in Europe 82. The films of Robert De Niro pre-1990 81. The film Fight Club 80. The film Titanic 79. Celtic and Gaelic folk music 78. Rainy days 77. Pat Metheny's music 76. The film Terminator 2 75. A very good episode of Real Time with Bill Maher 74. The idea of Jonny Greenwood playing the accordion or banjo for Radiohead someday 73. The tv show Father Ted 72. The scene from one episode of Two and a Half Men where Jon Cryer walks into the room with spray-on hair dripping down his face 71. The writings of Christopher Hitchens 70. Watching or listening to Hitchens give a speech or debate someone 69. Dancing 68. Hanging out with friends 67. A good game of scrabble 66. Sitting by a fire on a cold night 65. Any book by Chuck Palahniuk 64. Any book by Sam Harris 63. Not having any homework to do at all 62. The sea breeze 61. The smell of the sea 60. A hot bath before going to bed 59. Fishing 58. Snowboarding 57. Drawing portraits of the moons of the outer gas planets 56. Drawing castles 55. Helping my mother around the house 54. Looking at the night sky on a clear night 53 George Carlin's stand-ups 52. Irish spring soap 51. Lightly toasted buttered bread 50. Taking off my dirty shoes and socks after a long day outdoors in the rain 49. A woman's smile 48. The smell of incense 47. Bowling with friends 46. Teaching someone something 45. Recovering from a headache or sickness 44. Reading in bed before I fall asleep 43. The rare times my sister shows me warmth or affection 42. The end of a traffic jam 41. Singing along to good music 40. Driving in the country side 39. The film The Godfather 38. The film The Godfather Part 2 37. Good conversation with my aunt 36. The anecdotes my aunt's boyfriend tells  35. Taking a cool shower at the end of a hot day 34. Beautiful women in full length overcoats 33. Drinking coffee or tea in the sun on a cold day 32. Writing about my life memoir-style 31. Reviewing and critiquing films 30. Critiquing books 29. Critiquing music 28. Period films with exquisite set design 27. The smell of liquor 26. The smell of pine trees 25. My cat snuggling on my lap 24. Cornish pasties 23. Hamburger casseroles 22. White castle cheeseburgers 21. Pot pie dinners 20. Tuna fish subway sandwiches 19. Meatball marinara subway sandwiches 18. Half-spaghetti-half-ravioli dinners at Bruno’s 17. French fries 16. Sambuca coffee/liqueur mixes 15. My cat sleeping flat on his back 14. The jingle bell of my cat’s collar 13. Raisin bran 12. My cat lapping up the milk in my raisin bran  11. Bran muffins 10. Blueberry muffins 9. Taking naps in the afternoon 8. My father not nagging me 7. The feel of my face after shaving for the first time in a week or two 6. Taking a warm shower when my house is fifty degrees 5. Wearing my hair long and shaggy as opposed to short and "teacherly" 4. My girlfriend's hoarse voice in the morning 3. Scrambled eggs doused in ketchup 2. Going to the bathroom after holding it in for a long time 1. Completing this assignment 

Journal 2: Join The Flock!

Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock!. Learning and Leading with
, 37(8), Retrieved from

Summary: Middle school teacher Hadley Ferguson's article on using twitter as a networking mechanism is something that will undoubtedly prove invaluable to me as an educator. The piece is basically an in-depth exploration of how people, including teachers, can use twitter to build alliances with likeminded people in order to learn how they can improve their lifestyles and professions, as well as help others do the same in turn. For example, she writes of herself following history and middle school teachers on twitter because those are individuals whose books she can take pages from as it were. She mentions how the simple act of posting a link to another website as part of a "tweet" is how twitter can be a way-stop toward expanding a person's sphere of resources.

Question 1: What are the possible disadvantages of using twitter as a networking mechanism?

As Ferguson herself notes, "tweeting" can be be very addictive. It can be addictive to the point that a teacher might put all their egss in twitter's basket, and forget that twitter should ideally be just one of many information-gathering and -sharing resources in an educator's arsenel. Not relying too much on any one tool is the key to success.

Question 2: How can students (as opposed to teachers) use twitter as an educational tool?

Students can use to twitter to gather and share information when working on group projects, for example. Or they can use it to build alliances with students outside their class but who may be taking similar classes as them, or have taken the same or similar classes already; they can reach out to potential mentors or study-buddies that way. They can also use it find out more about the educational system and hence learn how they might be more proactive in making possible changes as they see fit. The possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Journal 1: Do Web 2.0 Right

Light, D. (2011). Do web 2.0 right. Learning and Leading with Technology,
38(5), Retrieved from
Summary: Dr. Daniel Light's treatise on Web 2.0 raises important issues about the role of blogging in education. He mentions that K-12 teachers who use blogging wisely can get their students pumped up about their learning by getting them to feel that they have something to contribute. And when students feel that they have something to contribute, they feel that others are contributing and become curious to listen to each other. In another sense, classroom blogs become just another venue for the teacher to exercise their expertise with regard to getting students motivated because ultimately, as Light points, the best examples of classroom blogs being used to enrich class participation are cases where the teacher asked the right questions or provided the correct prompts that got the students fired up. However, implementing such a practice in the form of a blog has a leg up because when students can see each other's responses to the prompts from their own computers, as opposed to waiting for the next class meeting, they get inspired to have debates about what each other knows and what their thought processes are. This is especially true for students who might be too shy to speak up in class in person.  

Question 1: How might this feature be useful in an English class?

Getting students to have a dialogue between class meetings allows the class to move forward at a faster pace. This in turn may permit me to cover more material in a given school year than I otherwise would if I had to wait until each class meeting to find out what students were thinking about the material they're studying. Blogging by definition also gets students more comfortable and adept with writing, which is beneficial to any class they take, but is absolutely essential in an English/language arts course, so I sure as hell would embrace this instrument of teaching.

Question 2: What about students who are still too shy or bored to participate in class discussions, even with the use of blogging?
Blogs don't have to be accessible to the class.  Dr. Light mentions that one format of classroom blogging is to have individual blogs wherein only the teacher can access each student's blog; no student can read any other student's blog. This might free up the students who fear voicing their opinions before the class, either in the classroom or online, lest they be ridiculed by their classmates. Unfortunately, when it comes to students who still feel unmotivated, not because they are shy or timid or anxious but because of boredom, this is where I must remember that I can't save everyone. Some students are just slackers by nature and have no interest in school whatsoever no matter how the class is run or taught. Or, perhaps they aren't being properly challenged, and the solution to their academic docility isn't how the course material is presented but the curriculum itself.