Monday, July 30, 2007

For Dr. Marcovitz

How I met and/or exceeded the project guidelines for Web 2.0:
  1. A blog is created with a welcome message by the 2nd of the semester: The welcome message was up and completed before the end of the firs class.
  2. At least two entries are made for each of three Web 2.0 technologies: As you can see I have chose blogging, podcasts, and social networks as my technologies to view. I have included 3 posts on blogging, 5 posts on podcasts, 6 posts on social networks, and I even included an interesting post on vodcasting using TeacherTube.
  3. Each technology is discussed in terms of its technical features and educational uses: Each technology is discussed fully in how it will work best in the classroom, and I have also included links to articles, and teacher forums about the different technologies. I also discussed how and when things worked well and when it didn't.
  4. The blog is open to everyone to read, and you can choose how to handle comments: The blog is open to everyone, and I have even received outside comments. For now comments are allowed.
  5. An example of your use of each technology is linked from the blog: For my blog example I obviously have this blog, but also included a link to how a fellow AP teacher uses blogs. For the first time ever, I made my own podcast on how I would use podcasting in the classroom. And for the social networking technology I was created my a Facebook & Myspace page to see what resources could be used in the classroom.
  6. At least two helpful external resources for each technology are linked from the blog : As you can see in the post itself I have included links to information and sample items for each technology. On the side of the blog I have included websites that I thought were of interest to do the different topics discussed.
  7. A link is made to each of your classmates blogs : As you can see I included all of my classmates blogs as well as a link to Loyola.
  8. Correct grammar, spelling, and usage is used throughout the blog: Spell check was used for each post, and as I found errors I was able to go back and edit the post.

YouTube for Teachers

I came across the website called TeacherTube and I thought it was a great way for teachers to find and upload their videos that they use in the classroom. Teachers can also use it as professional development to learn about different technologies, etc.

Here is one example of a video that explains How to Evaluate Websites:

This is an example of a video that a teacher created to go along with the song by Billy Joel for "We didn't start the fire." If I was still teaching U.S. History I would use this at the end of the school year for a wrap up. I have seen a few videos to go with this song, but this one seems to be done the best.

RSS in Plain English

I wanted to try embedding a video into my blog, I had seen others with them on their site and thought I would give it a try. So I picked the topic of RSS.

I know what RSS (really simple syndication) feeds do, but this little video from YouTube gave a clear and simple explanation of how RSS works and is connected.

Blogging Rubric

I found this rubric on Education World for grading blog posts. I thought it was an interesting way to hold students accountable for what they are posting. Grading or at least having standards for each blog post would be my concern. You may have students that write a lot and then students who do not write enough. Having a rubric would help all students identify your expectations as a teacher as well as making sure their comments are appropriate. Obviously this rubric will need to be changed to fit your specific assignment, but is a great jumping off point.

Here is another example of a blogging rubric.

H.R.5319 - Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006

In 2006 H.R. 5319 - Deleting Online Predators Act was introduced into the House by Rep. Michael G Fitzpatrick in order to:
"amend the Communications Act of 1934 to require recipients of universal service support for schools and libraries to protect minors from commercial social networking websites and chat rooms." As of July 2006 the bill was stuck in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It was obviously killed or tabled because no further action occurred until it was re-introduced in January of 2007 by Senator Ted Stevens. Again as of January 4, 2007 it was still in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

In essence this bill would take away any federal Internet subsides that schools receive if they do not block social networking sites. The goal of this bill is to protect children from the predators that lie within social networking site. Thought this is a goal of anyone who has or works with children. I think it is also a little too "big brother" as the government would block all social networking site, would that include Elgg? which could possibly just be focused on your group. And what about blogs, instant messaging services, and all the other sites that kids can find and so can the predators. There has to be a better way.

For more information read this article : US House: Schools must block MySpace, many other sites

Elgg: Controlled Social Networking?

According to their website Elgg is:
"an open source social platform based around choice, flexibility and openness: a system that firmly places individuals at the centre of their activities. Your users have the freedom to incorporate all their favorite tools within one environment and showcase their content with as many or as few people as they choose, all within a social networking site that you control."

In August of 2006 ELGG Spaces was about ready to launch, it allows any one to sign up and have a tailored environment for their organization. This seems like it would be great for teachers because it allows teachers to create a space specifically for their class, however they are no longer accepting new sign ups.

Some Universities are using Elgg as a private blogging site, some as a course management tool, and some as a campus-wide social network.

Example: University of Brighton

Say No to Myspace for Education

So in the advent of trying to use social networking sites as an educational tool I moved from Facebook to Myspace, and the consensus is - Myspace would not work well in the classroom.
Here is a link to the Myspace site I created.
Compared to Facebook it lacked some of the on site options. In Myspace you could do polls and add other program features but it seemed to always bring you off site. In Facebook most of it was on the individual homepage. As far as the 2008 election, more of the Republicans seem to have their information on Myspace rather than Facebook, so there was a variety of candidates. Some of the candidates did have videos and pictures and blogs but all these things were found on Facebook and seemed to be better placed. I think I would leave Myspace for just social networking. I don't feel it could be used as well as Facebook and with all the taboo following Myspace, Facebook seems a better choice.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Podcast How To

For those of you looking to create your own podcast - (and it was pretty easy) here is what you need:

  1. Download a program. I used Audacity (it was free) - just make sure you download the lame file as well and remember where you save it, you will need that file to transfer the podcast from a Audacity file to a MP3 file.
  2. Microphone - They are pretty cheap - I think I got mine for about 10$ - and that was a while ago.
  3. A quiet setting - no background noise.
  4. Subscription to some webspace to host the MP3 file. I used File Den. It provided me with the link, and was then able to link location in my blog.

Good Luck!

My Podcast Example

I created my first podcast! This podcast explains how I would use podcasts in my classroom, and it also contains some cool island music in the beginning.

FYI - If you try and just open the file, it seems to not work. However if you save it and then open it should work. Let me know if anyone has any problems.

Podcasts in the Classroom

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thoughts From Teachers on Social Networking & Blogs in the Classroom

After writing my post about the use of facebook as an educational tool I came across this article on Education World. This article discusses teacher use, experiences, and warning when it comes to using social networking sites in classrooms.

Facebook as a Course Platform

I just found this article that is about how a Penn State professor is going to use Facebook as a course platform.

The Educational Face of Facebook

Social networking sites have popped up all over the place in the last five years. Today Facebook is becoming a well known option among college students and older adults. I have had the opportunity to use Facebook as a social networking arena to meet up with old colleagues and friends but this time I decided to create a new page (you must be logged in to see it and add me as a friend) and see what Facebook could do as an educational tool.

At first I was skeptical, especially with all the bad press that social networking sites and children get. I knew that trying to use Facebook in the classroom would present challenges. First, this site and all other sites like this are blocked at school. This would mean we could not "technically" use it in class and it would have to been and out of class assignment(I am sure though that my students would know how to get around the block). Second, some students may not be able to access them at home due to parental regulations. Third, in some instances Facebook, specifically the class or student pages obscene or inappropriate content can be controlled but in search of different pages questionable language and content could appear. And finally, if not approved by the administration, this could be something that could go very wrong.

However, as I looked around, planned and implemented some strategies I found that Facebook does have some good applications in the classroom

  1. I as a teacher could form a group for each class that would allow students only in that class to connect. In each group applications such as voting, short online quizzes could be added.

  2. Students could use the site to look at different political issues such as the environment, Darfur, etc. that would allow them to see different sites and political opinions.

  3. Students would be able to access political candidates profiles and see where they stand on issues.

  4. Since this site is geared toward a student population - political information would be in a format that was understandable to the student.

I am not sure the good outweighs the bad. If I were to try it I would most likely try with an honors or AP class first, and all students would have to have etiquette on their behavior in a site like this and most likely a punishment due to inappropriate behavior. Still not quite sure how that would work.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Little More About Blogs

As I thought more about blogs I went on a search to see how other teachers used blogs as well as some of the things that need to be taken into consideration when using them in the classroom. In searching I found a website by my textbook company McGraw Hill on using blogs to integrate technology. This website had some good points on the benefits of blogs as well as things that need to be considered when utilizing this technology in a classroom setting.

The website provided a list of educational benefits which is good to have handy when either parents or administrators ask why you are using blogs in the classroom.

Educational Benefits of Blogs
  • Excellent tool for communicating with students.
  • Highly motivating to students, especially those who otherwise might not become participants in classrooms.
  • Excellent opportunities for students to read and write.
  • Effective forums for collaboration and discussion.
  • Powerful tools to enable scaffolded learning or mentoring to occur.

Besides using blogs as a discussion such as I suggested earlier, it can also be used by the teachers as a way to post and disseminate information, it can also become a question and answer place for students that otherwise might not talk in class, pretty much creating a alternate classroom community. Blogs can also be used by students as portfolios for their classwork and also as a way for a students to work in groups without physically meeting outside the classroom.

With all these wonderful uses for blogs in the classroom you need to be prepared to encounter issues with administration and student behavior. These can all be dealt with as long as there is curriculum related goals and you teach students safe, acceptable, and sensible behavior as online authors and readers.

Learning out Loud: Podcasts

Most of our students have grown up in a very visual environment. As teachers we are in a constant struggle to entertain our students as we teach them. As a history teacher I have heard many a times "why do we have to learn this?", "this is so boring", and probably have even heard the snore of a disinterested student. With that I thought of one of the documents that I have to teach to not only my AP students but also my comprehensive students, The Federalist # 51. This letter written by James Madison explains how the structure of the proposed government makes liberty possible through the idea of checks & balances. Not the most exciting reading that a government class has to offer a 16 year old.

This is where Podcasting can come in. I came across a website called Learn out Loud which provides podcasts (most are free) that are organized into topics where either teachers or students can download or stream audio podcasts. The reason this site caught my attention was specifically a result of the Founding Documents Podcast section that includes The Federalist #51, The Bill or Rights, The Constitution, and The Articles of Confederation. Each one of these is a core topic in the understanding of American Government and an alternate way for students to learn.

In teaching The Federalist #51, I would use the podcast in class while students are listening to the podcast, they can follow along in their textbooks. This gives the teacher an opportunity to reach two different types of learners. Students can also use this or any of the other podcasts to reinforce their understanding of the any of the founding documents.

The only difficulty I see in using the podcasts in the classroom is actually being able to download the podcast on school computers, as most music players are not supported by the computers, and the administration blocks what we can and can not download. However, if it was downloaded to my iPod it could be played through the stereo I have in my classroom.

Blogs in the AP Classroom

Being a new AP Government teacher this upcoming school year, I have been looking for different ways to teach the ever evolving subject of politics to my students. The expectations I have for my AP students is very different from my comprehensive students. I expect my students to complete assignments and tasks that we might normally complete in class on their own. Regardless of ownership of computers students are expected to type all assignments, as well as have access our class website which will include web based assignments and tasks.

I think blogs be an added feature to bring real-time current events, issues, and opinions to the classroom. Blogs about politics are everywhere! Most 2008 Presidential candidates (Obama, Clinton, Brownback) have a blog that details the life that happens on their campaign. In addition to the individual candidates each having their own blogs, there are other Americans - some qualified and some not that have their own take on the current candidates for President. This is a way for students to learn how to evaluate information, and decide what is truthful and what is not. The Washington Post seemed to have a great example of all different blogs that had to do with the 2008 election. In this instance I could see using these different blogs to help students get an understanding of the issues and the different sides that not only the candidates are on, but the American people.

Not only can you use these individual blogs but I liked what another teacher of AP Government & Politics had done in respect to using a class blog to comment on their thoughts, ideas, opinions about the different blogs or articles they had read. Being AP students it is acceptable to expect them to do this out of class assignment. Obviously with high school students it would be necessary to set out expectations, rules, and etiquette in using the blog. I think the use of blogs in the classroom will be more widely used with time as teachers, and those that design the curriculum see the power and connections that they can help create.

Monday, July 16, 2007


This blog is part of a educational technology course that I am taking at Loyola College in Maryland. During this semester I will look at current technologies and their features, as well as how these can specifically be used in the high school education setting.