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Web 2.0 Thing 6 RSS Literacy

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We are resistant to things we don’t understand or aren’t familiar with (I’m envisioning the process involved in getting my 7 year old to try new foods – and she’s not a picky eater – she’s just scared of things she doesn’t know).  It’s part of being human and probably at some point served as a useful defense mechanism.  I have been reluctant to “try” new technology becuase it’s foreign to me and I don’t understand it or trust it. Now that I understand blogs, RSS, and Google Reader, I am much more receptive to using them.  I’ve tasted a new food, and I kinda like it!

A freind of mine has recently been hired to write blogs for Teaching Tolerance, and I was excited about adding her blog to my Google Reader.  I don’t have to go searching for her articles – they will come right to me now. 

I found several feeds that pertain to teaching English and Writing. One in particular that I liked immediately is Writers Write Daily. The blogs are short and very insightful and inspirational.  I’m still learning to quickly scan the items in the reader and choose the ones I want to read. It can be overwhelming becuase I have a tendency to want to read every word (the curse of the English teacher!).  Writers Write Daily is a great place for me to start when I open my Google Reader. I’ll practice scanning and browsing on the other feeds.

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Web 2.0 Thing 5 Google Reader

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There have been quite a few times in my teaching career that I needed Dwight Carter’s article, “10 Steps to Overcome Self-Destruction.” His simple list of encouraging ideas reminded me that we are often our own worst enemies and we allow ourselves to spriral down into a sea of negativity. If that’s not bad enough, we bring that negativity with us into the classroom, and students often misinterpret the underlying unhappiness/dissatisfaction/insecurity as a criticism of them. 

Instead of allowing ourselves to be our own worst enemy, we need to take an active role in focusing on our blessings and spreading positive energy in our classrooms.  In his simple wisdom, Carter reminds us to stop complaining (and avoid people who do) and avoid excuses.  Focus on your passion, take action, and learn something new.  So simple, but something we all need to hear!

 

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Web 2.0 Thing 4

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As I was reading the information about blogging, I was struck by the concept of blogging as a GENRE. I assumed all the genres had long been established – poetry, novels, short stories, essays, etc.  The idea of a new genre of expression really excites me as an English teacher! It now has relevance to my classroom. I have always loved the idea of students journaling not only to express themselves but also to improve their writing fluency.  Students need practice in getting ideas on paper, or in this case on the computer.  Blogging seems like an easy and natural way to get students more fluent in expressing their ideas.  I think it can lead to better writing. (We can work on the revising and editing in formal essays.) It also gives students a voice and empowerment.  I want my students to know that their ideas are valid.  I’m excited about the possibilities!

I’m realizing that blogs can be very helpful to me in other ways.  I can gather information for the classes I am teaching.  I can learn better teaching strategies (for example, Sylvia Tolisano’s Digital Learning Farm) , and I can also find emotional support from other teachers who are experiencing the same things I am in my class.  I immediately related to Shelley Wright in her post “Synthesis” (Wright’s Room) and her reflections after a not-so-good teaching day. Sometimes we isolate ourselves as teachers and we are afraid to admit that we have made mistakes or had bad days.  You can find comfort in the blog posts of other teachers. 

The reason many of us teach, I think, is that we love to learn new information and considering different viewpoints.  I knew there were blogs “out there,” but I never really knew how to filter through them and access the ones that are relevant to me.  I’m still not really sure how to do that, but the list in Thing 4 has me excited about blogs for the first time.  Some of the blogs that got me thinking are “Spies Like Us” and “The Myth of the Digital Native.”

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Thoughts about Web 2.0

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I finally realized that I have to change the way I teach because the way students think has changed.  It’s a little scary, but it’s also very exciting because more responsibility can be put on students for their own learning.  I might even be willing to exchange my books for Kindles if  “electronic dialogue” is actually possible and students can comment simultaneously on the same text.  I might actually get my more reluctant students to annotate as they read! 

As I read Steve Hargadon’s article the following ideass struck me:

  • “age of the collaborator”
  • “collaborative scholarship”
  • “it’s the hallway discussions after the lecture where learning actually takes place”
  • electronic collaborative study”

As students take a more active role in their learning, I become more of a facilitator than an expert.  That’s kind of  a relief!  I

I am also realizing that we need to update our research methods because time now is spent not in finding information but in determiningwhich information is reliable and relevant. We need to use research tools such as Google Scholar and itunesU. 

I like the idea of using wiki sites for student-generated study guides.  I am wondering if you can have too much information.  If it’s overwhelming for me, is it overwhelming for students.  Are all the podcasts, blogs, and resources really helpful tools, or do you start focusing too much on technology and not enough on content and students?

Collaboration sounds good, but I still have reservations about the inundation of information.  How do we manage it all?

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Time for Change

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I love books. Good old fashioned pages that you can touch and smell and turn and write on…with a real pen, not a stylus.  I’ve resisted technology and used the minimum amount of it as long as I could, but now it’s time to change. And I’m ready to embrace the change…I think.  I’ve already used a fragment and started a sentence with a coordinating conjunction.  It doesn’t feel like progress.  I feel as though I have to give something up to make room for technology.  I feel overwhelmed.  Nevertheless, it’s time for me to stop making excuses and wasting my energy resisting and start taking responsibility for my own learning.  The next most important habit for me will be to have confidence in myself as a competent and effective learner.  Confidence is also my biggest challenge. Like most people, I like doing things that I understand and that bring me a feeling of success.  So far in my life, technology has not fallen in to that category.  Shrouded in mystery, it usually brings me frustration.  I need to treat myself as I would my students and celebrate the small accomplishments and view even the smallest improvement as success.  I mean look at me – I’m writing a blog without the help of my 11 year old daughter! That’s HUGE!

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