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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Commenting Post 4: Podcasting the Power of Comments

Anne Davis invited a class of grade 5 student bloggers to share the impact that the comments left by visitors to their blogs has had on them. It began with a post of hers called Podcast on Comments.

From: Podcast Playground
Post Title: Learning Audacity - Act 1
Written By: Anne Davis

Yesterday I began learning the ins and outs of Audacity. Thank goodness for tutorials on the web. Otherwise, I would be forever learning this program. I still think it will take some time to become proficient with it but I'm beginning the journey! If anybody has good tips or suggestions they would be most appreciated. The first thing I did was to break the large podcast down into individual podcasts (students, my part, music). I think I will post those files since I promised to post them soon. I know the House kids want to hear their voices! Then we'll see what happens when I begin the editing process. Should be fun!

Download JHHIntro.mp3

Download Derrick.mp3

Download Angel.mp3

Download Diana.mp3

Download Jason.mp3

Download Zachary.mp3

Download Marisela.mp3

Download JoseJuan.mp3

Download Janae.mp3

Download Graciela.mp3

Download DerrickFinal.mp3

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A del.icio.us idea ...

I started having my students sign up for del.icio.us accounts last semester. I also installed something I call a del.icio.us box on all the class blogs.

We discussed it in all my classes on Thursday. I did a little demo in class. Using a projector I guided one of the students through the process of signing up for an account, installing a browser button and saving a link in del.icio.us. It took about 15 minutes to explain the idea and do the demo.

We began our spring break today, we go back to school on April 3. All my classes have a del.icio.us assignment for the break. They must sign up for del.icio.us accounts and then save at least one link for each unit we have studied, tagged appropriately, for the course they are taking: Pre-Cal 40S (pc40s), Applied Math 40S (am40s) and Calculus 45S (cal45s) -- the kids in the Calculus 45S class have to save 2 links each. The AP Calculus class (tag: apcalc) has had a del.icio.us box on their blog since November but they haven't really been adding to it since December. (Actually, the last few links were contributed by me.) The students have been instructed to choose links carefully, not randomly. This way for each link one person finds they can get over 20 others that have been just as thoughtfully selected.

If you have a del.icio.us account you can also use this as an additional means of communication with the classes in the commentary you include with each saved link. I did that when I posted a link to their del.icio.us boxes about how to use Word to post to blogger.

If you don't have a del.icio.us account you can read this tutorial on how to get started. You might also be interested in watching this screencast that illustrates just how powerful this web tool is.

Thank you for continuing to encourage excellence in all my students. ;-)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

On Commenting Post 3: Art & Aspirations of a Commenter

From: A Pirouette: Commenting
Post Title: The Art and Aspirations of a Commenter
Written By: Lani Hall

I believe in the power of a free exchange of ideas. I also recognize that words or access to some information can be of harm to others, intentionally or unintentionally. As a commenter, I therefore aspire to participate responsibly in the great online conversation by:

  • treating all bloggers with respect.

  • seeking first to understand what is being said.

  • celebrating another's accomplishments.

  • using school appropriate language.

  • rephrasing ideas in the blog that made me think, made me feel, or helped me learn to let the blogger know his/her voice has been heard.

  • commenting specifically and positively, without criticism. If I disagree, I will comment appropriately, politely stating my perspective.

  • being mindful always that I may be a role model to my audience, especially if they are younger than I.

  • making no reference to, link to, and/or giving access to any information that may be inappropriate for a school setting.

  • asking at least one question in my comment with the hopes of continuing a conversation and deepening thinking.

  • using a triple check before submitting any comment: Would I be happy to have my mother read this comment? My grandmother? My favorite teacher?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

On Commenting Post 2: Comment Starters

From: Edublog Insights
Post Title: Thinking about the teaching of writing
Written By: Anne Davis

A while back I posted about comment starters.......
  • This made me think about.......

  • I wonder why.......

  • Your writing made me form an opinion about.......

  • This post is relevant because.......

  • Your writing made me think that we should.......

  • I wish I understood why.......

  • This is important because.......

  • Another thing to consider is.......

Then I posted "More Comment Starters.
  • I can relate to this.......

  • This makes me think of.......

  • I discovered.......

  • I don't understand.......

  • I was reminded that.......

  • I found myself wondering.......

Asking good questions is so important in our classrooms. We use them to guide our discussions and push our students to a higher level of thinking. So the questioning and the discussion part is crucial when blogging. Then, the comment feature on blogs has the potential to really push those learning connections. I discussed these comment starters with my students and encouraged them to use them in the beginning of their comments. It was not required. I just encouraged them to try it out and perhaps add to the list themselves. It seemed to help the students get to deeper type thinking. I think the important thing for us to remember is that we're fostering cooperative work and guiding the process. We teachers have to be knee-deep in this process. We can≠t just say, "Get in groups and critique each others posts or comments." We can't just expect our students to know just what to do. We have to model it, teach it, guide it, discuss it and most of all have fun with it. Show them the joy of language. I often share parts of my blog with my students and walk them through how I have replied to someone. I read a post and then share my thinking as I prepare to respond. I show them great examples from other blogs.

I focus on the need to be sensitive to others' feelings and the need to place the emphasis on the writing and not each other. I give suggestions on how to word responses. We talk about it. We share good thoughts. We support each other.

I want to come up with a list here. I'm looking for another word other than guidelines because we want it more open-ended. We need give and take. I don't want rules. Suggestions is too weak. Possiblilities, I overuse. Any thoughts?

I also encourage them to write thought-provoking questions at the end of their posts. Hopefully this will be an enticement for those reading their posts and may spur them on to commenting. Those thought-provoking questions are an art. I work at steering them away from empty phrases like "This is good.", "I like this." We work at being specific.

I think I'm a better writing teacher now than when I previously taught it in my classroom. I was bound within 4 walls and had been taught to work at getting a good final product. I was not a writer myself. That's the most important part I was missing. Blogging myself shows my students that I value writing and I realize the hard work it requires. I also have learned how the larger community can be a powerful motivator. I want my students to know that feeling. The other missing piece in my writing classroom was a truly authentic audience for my students. I have found that blogs help us move away from thinking of writing as a 5 paragraph essay or a set of steps to move students through. Blogs give us an avenue to teach writing (blogging) as a cluster of complex thinking and writing behaviors that provide ownership to the student and the possibility of getting a multitude of responses from others. We have to orchestrate that. Yes, it takes time but we can truly model this process through our own blogs and provide the type of environment to support young writers and give them the challenges necessary to foster writing development. What a joy!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On Commenting Post 1: The Artful Comment

The mentors in this project will begin by "living in the comments" on the class blogs. I say "begin" because I don't know how your relationships with the students will grow; only time will tell. It may be that you reach a point where you want to address the whole class in a post of your own; either to "get something off your chest" or to share something with everyone at once as opposed to directing your comments to a single student at a time.

There is an art to commenting and each of you will develop your own style. This series of posts on commenting will bring together posts from edubloggers everywhere who have discussed the effective use of comments on their blogs. This first one is about how I like to comment. Food for your thought ....

From: A Difference
Post Title: The Artful Comment
Written By: Darren Kuropatwa

I think the greatest motivation to write well on the blog comes from the comments I leave them and they leave each other. But the comments they receive from "outsiders" are far and away the most powerful motivator of all. The "farther away" the commenter is, the greater the impact they have. Also, when they collect comments from diverse places around the globe the impact is greater still.

There's an art to leaving students a good comment. I'd like to share my thoughts on what makes a good, or artful, comment and I invite you to share your two cents as well (or tuppence as Ewan would say).

The Artful Comment ...
  • ... is always expressed using a positive tone.

  • ... if critical, is both gentle and sandwiched between positive statements.

  • ... is very specific when giving praise. This creates a sense of authenticity and believability in the comment.

    This is a good scribe post Nikki. I like the amount of detail you included. It will be really helpful for anyone who missed class and for everyone when it comes time to review for the test and final exam.

    Way to go!

  • ... may be brief or lengthy but leaves the author of the blog post with the sense that the commenter is "on their side" and genuinely interested in their success.

  • ... The Artful Comment (2 minutes 18 seconds): an excerpt from a longer podcast I did five weeks ago where I discuss my style of commenting on student's scribe posts. The scribe post discussed in the podcast is Scribe for Today!!

  • ...

Your tuppence?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Top 10 Characteristics and Activities of Mentors

This blog is for blogging mentors of students in my classes. I am atrying to put together a list of guidelines to concretize exactly what it is a blog mentor does.

This article helped to give my musing some focus. Adapted for the context of blog mentoring my students ....

Top 10 List of The Characteristics and Activities of Mentoring
1. Mentor-protege relationships grow out of voluntary interaction.

2. The mentor-protege relationship has a life cycle: introduction; mutual trust-building; teaching of risk-taking, communication, and study skills; transfer of educational confidence; and dissolution.

3. People become mentors to pass down information to the next generation.

4. Mentors encourage proteges in setting and attaining short- and long-term goals.

5. Mentors guide academically and personally. Mentors teach proteges skills necessary to survive high school and promote advancement to post secondary education.

6. Mentors protect proteges from major mistakes by sharing their own past experiences.

7. Mentors provide opportunities for proteges to observe and participate in their learning.

8. Mentors are role models.

9. Mentors support proteges academically and personally.

10. Mentor-protege relationships end amiably.