I've been working with Twitter and learning how to follow real-time events. Text can be limiting, though and I'm just beginning to understand the subtleties of this.
The London riots have exposed me to another way to get the same info as Twitter but in a more human way...Audio Boo. It's a simple application to make a recording from your computer or iPhone or iTouch. Somehow the human voice transforms an already tragic situation into something that grips you emotionally.
Listen to RadioKate's heartbreaking account of events.
This is the raw power of the Internet and it's ability to let us hear first hand what's happening in the world. Such a simple to use piece of software makes it possible to create high quality audio files that are easy to share.
Another colleague has been using AudioBoo to record his ideas and to share them with the rest of our working group. When we hear his voice explaining his thinking, again those non-verbal cues are there.
A conclusion I'm coming to is this....unlike the sterileness of text, hearing the human voice adds more information to the exchange and I understand more. What are the implications of knowing that? Where and when should I use the human voice to interject more cues into the communication?
I've been on the lookout for ways to engage my students in science that's outside the walls of our classroom. And for the past couple of years, I've driven past price tags on trees which have piqued my interest because who has ever heard of price tag on a tree?
Turns out I found out where those price tags come from...The Heartland Tree Alliance. This seems like a fantastic project to raise awareness in the community about the value of trees. And it makes me wonder fi this wouldn't be a perfect way for my students to become interested in things within our neighborhoods, parks, backyard and playgrounds.
One of the outreach projects I read about was a Twitter feed from Penny Oak.
Everyday this tree tweets about what is happening to it and in the park where it lives. Wouldn't this be another great seed of idea for the kids to use? I know they'd turn it into something even more than this...don't know what, but I know it's be terrific.
"How much is that tree, please?" could be the start of our very own citizen science project. I've been inspired by Science for Citizens @Sci4Cits and think this might be our entree into that kind of learning.
"Digital footprints? For real, Mrs. Ratzel? I've never heard of anything like that...I can surf the web and no one knows who I am or where I come from."
"Do I worry about who sees my work that I post? No way."
"I love talking with my friends online and posting on their walls. It's a blast and there's no one to tell me what to do."
I hear these whenever I bring up the subject of digital footprints to my students. They feel all the power of surfing the web; going wherever they chose, no one to say yes or no; the perfect place for them to flex themselves as they grow and mature. Can you blame them? We felt that way too and just expressed it in different ways in our generation (doesn't matter how old you are, does it when you think of it like this). I think the idea of a global generation is important with which to come to terms (the link will take you to a wonderful online speech by John Palfrey). Digital identities leave behind traces of who you wherever you "travel" online. Something like Google will bring these little pieces of "you" all together into a composite picture which mutates into a singular digital footprint.
So digital footprint matters. As the adult in my classroom I know it and what I must do is to provide a learning experience to help students arm themselves with understanding. I've been thinking about this idea of digital footprints before. Will they still feel that invincible power of teenagers? Sure. But maybe it will give them just enough of an awareness that they can hesitate (ever so slightly) and make a better decision.
Do you think they realize that all this goes on?
Now I've always used a digital driver's license approach. It worked pretty well and it includes a set of 4 lessons, based on the Common Sense curriculum, that students must complete before I allow them to do much with computers.
Last year when I started blogging with students, I incorporated a tiered system of gaining access to student publishing by having another gaunlet of skills that they must demonstrate before they were able to get their own blog, publish blog posts without my moderation and/or write posts for the class blog. I read lots of materials, including some interesting work at the Youth and Media project which considers not only how this issue affects American youth, but youth throughout the wordl.
This year in a graduate course I teach, we started talking about all the aspects of digital citizenship and the driver's license. They questioned whether a driver's license was broad enough to incorporate all the places students would be going. Their questions made me realize that I need to revamp the idea and turn the driver's license into a passport.
Changing from a Driver's License to a Digital Passport Makes Sense
It makes sense to me to manage the footprint with a passport because a student has to "visit" so many different places. It allows me to use the metaphor of the internet being another world...and each place we go will be like another country. To enter that country, you have to have a valid passport visa.
I'm in the process of defining each of those "countries" right now. Here's my brainstormed list so far
If there are things on this list that you think would be useful, please make a suggestion. I've been designing an electronic version of the passport which I will post in the near future so that everyone can use it.
So what would you add?
Passport picture Image licensed under AttributionCC http://www.flickr.com/photos/gravitywave/366712496/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Ronnie Burt has done a fantastic job explaining and creating a set of screenshots that help add a Follow-Me button on the webpage. I'm always trying to find ways to improve the accessibility for readers to more of the content that I have....without junking up my blog. This little button is perfect because it's easily findable right at the top.
I think this accomplishes my goal.
I didn't have to do much to tweak Ronnie's directions into Typepad.
I went to the Twitter/Follow Button just as Ronnie directed and copied the HTML embed code. Then from my Dashboard, I went into Design.
Next you'll import this HTML into the Typepad Widgets section where you can customize widgets with your own HTML. Luckily the website generates this for you and you don't have to do anything but copy/paste.
Then at the Design page, you click on Content, Widgets and Add your Own HTML.
Then I pasted in the embed code that the Twitter/Follow button genereated for me on the screen below.
The only thing I did that was different from the directions was I didn't fill in the Label box. I didn't think the button would need a label...since I thought it would be self explanatory and would add more words to the page.
And then I "Saved Changes" and went to check how it looked. I couldn't be more pleased and think this was very easy....so thanks to Ronnie for giving me these great directions from which to start. Keep the suggestions coming because they are wonderful.
Using video can be such an engaging tool for science class...today we took video to record how Matchbox cars can show Newton's forces and another group used it to show how to measure forces with spring scales. In both cases, students worked very hard to get their demonstrations to work smoothly, explain things clearly and get the concept across the audience.
Since we don't have lots of expensive equipment, they borrowed my iPhone and then we downloaded the video clips to the computer. I was bemoaning the fact that my iPhone's battery died so quickly on my Facebook PLN and a colleague made this suggestion.
How cool is that....I didn't know how to do this and all of a sudden, I have a solution. And technical directions from someone who lives halfway across the country as if she was sitting right here in my living room helping me brainstorm what to do.
Back to the story from school....I bought the iMovie app (count that $15) so they could start to edit the video clips and use slow motion. The idea they came up with is to slow the video clips down enough to pinpoint where the Law can be observed and then add a voiceover to explain what's happening. They also needed a microphone so they could add the voice so I had to buy one of those too (count that as $29).
So I've come home tonight to experiment a little bit with doing all this so I can help them out a bit more tomorrow. I still want them to do the bulk of the work, but it would help if I could do something to help. Fortunately I was able to ask my Twitter PLN if this is possible and almost immediately I had three ideas from people who know more about all this.
So guess what I'm off to try....yep. I'm going to try the iMovie idea first because it sounds the easiest to do. If that doesn't work, I'll try the other suggestion. The only downside to this day was that it cost me almost $50 out of pocket. I know I could have put in a request thru proper channels and waited days for it to be approved, ordered and mailed. But we'll have everything tomorrow instead of 10 days from now after the assignment is over....one of the downsides of doing something no one has done nearby. I guess $50 isn't too high a price.
Wish me luck....hope it works and that we can see the science at work. Thanks to my PLN for all your help.
I'm just at the point where I'm learning from my PLN, so imagine my delight when this strange Tweet came up about the 31 Day Challenge. What in the heck is that?
Who plays that? I thought I'd seen this as a math game...but how would it be a PD activity using Twitter?
As part of my continuing commitment to try all things and just see how they go, I am testing the waters for this idea. The newest game just starts today and I couldn't be more excited. The first question was to examine the ideas behind a jigsaw or a graffatti instructional tool and decide which one is the better cooperative learning strategy in your classroom.
Each strategy was hyperlinked with a resource to read which reminds you of how that strategy can be used and then I read thru the Twitter feed to see what other people had been saying.
I'm sure you get the idea. So now, I had to decide for myself.
Well actually it wasn't that hard. I love the way that the graffatti appeals to middle schoolers, how it is to implement and how versitle it is. I'm going to vote for that strategy. There's a whole website devoted to housing the information and strategies from this learning.
What a wonderful...and relatively quick review of things I knew but hadn't recently thought about applying my classroom. What a nonthreatening way to ask for help from colleagues and to build my twittterverse up with other practitioners who are thinking about how to improve. I think this could be winner application of Twitter for me.
The last tip I thought was useful was to bookmark the search results for this so I could easily come back to it everyday (plus this was another tips from one of the game organizers). I love it that the organizers are helping everyone and even a newbie like me doesn't feel overwhelmed or like it's too much. Learning can be so much fun and finding structures like this are the best of traditional learning and the online world.
Keeping a strong home/school connection is vital and providing relevant, timely curriculum support is equally critical. I've found that our class assignments/homework page does that...and now it will do more.
Using a newly found formatting website, we'll be able to read our Twitter feed much like a newspaper. The class website has already recorded over 8200 page views in the 2nd quarter of this school year. And that was before it gave students access to the earth science current events they need and want.
Parents love how students have a one-stop spot to find assignments, page #s, handouts and now a way to easily find the current events information. All without having to remember a log-in, username or password. With the ability to subscribe to the class webpage, I actively have over half of the students' parents who receive emails whenever I update the page. About another 10% subscribe using a feed reader.
This is definitely the sign of the times...that subscribing and RSS feeds are more often utilized means of communciation than the phone or a note to the teacher. It does take a bit of effort to keep the content fresh, up-to-date and helpful. Thanks to the commenting link, Contact Mrs. Ratzel, parents continually send emails to me with ideas and questions.