Monthly Archives: September 2010

Phototaking? Photosharing?

Ok, I admit it, I’m not a photography type of gal. My husband and I have very few photos of our family, and most of the ones we have are mediocre (I take terrible pictures!).

A few years ago, we bought a digital camera, at my instigation, because at least if the picture was terrible, I could delete it! Even so, with the ease of digital technology, we remain photo-illiterate. My excuse (and I’m sticking with it!) is that we LIVE the moments, rather than take pictures of them. We rarely remember to take our camera with us, and when we do, chances are we forget to take pictures! We often think of and reflect on the times we have had, but rarely do we look at the pictures we managed to take. (Oh, boy, does that ever sound reactionary! 🙂 )

On the other hand, all of my own children are digitally wired! They all bought digital cameras (right after they bought cell phones. Priorities, priorities!) and began to take pictures and upload them on to Facebook, creating album after album. My students are digital as well…and even I must admit, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Photo sharing, for me, is limited to my sisters-in-law sending me their Picassa web album updates, and I ooh and ahh over my nieces and nephew (all of whom are truly the cutest, brightest toddlers I know). My experience with working with digital pictures is the one Smilebox I created for my daughter’s graduation. My goal is to take pictures of my kindergarteners this year, and create Smileboxes for their graduation. I’m going to start taking pictures next week. Promise.

With that in mind, I joined Flickr, and uploaded a few of the digital pictures I have. I then began to research to understand how this tool could work for me in the classroom. Will Richardson talks about how Flickr is more than a photo-sharing site. He states that it has become “true social software where the contributors interact and share and learn from each other in creative and interesting ways.” (p. 100) He refers to David Jakes who lists some great ideas: annotating pictures, using pictures for writing prompts and using pictures to create virtual field trips. Jakes also has a terrific compilation of sites for using Flickr. One of the things I LOVE about these ideas is that we can use any digital image (remember, I take terrible pictures!). This leads to a lesson on copyright, and on appropriate pictures vs. inappropriate pictures.

I also liked Richardson’s idea of using Flickr for current events, although I would tend to use Dogonews with younger students. For older students, the ability to tag photos and search for images on Flickr by tagging invites many possibilities. In the grade five Weather science unit, why not have students search Flickr for a type of weather and create annotated slideshows of the phenomenon they are researching. I am also thinking of our grade 3/4 classrooms, who create digital journal entries with pictures they take in the school. Why not use Flickr and have them create journal entries about ‘found’ pictures, then comment on each other’s ideas?

On the other hand, perhaps I need to rethink my stance on taking pictures: step back, look for opportunities, and if the picture isn’t quite right, there’s always Bluebots!

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Get going, get Webbing!

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and the Web is the sun.
Arise, fair Web, and show the envious crowd,
Who languish, wan and pale with need
For thy light to shine!

http://wp.me/p14Cqf-4

Blogging….what’s it all about?

I have blogged off and on for 3 years now…and I still feel like a novice.  I thought a blog was either a diary or a chronicle  (similar to Julie and Julia .  In my first excitement about blogs, I created one for my extended family to share. No one looked at it or posted except me. (sniff)

Then I began a classroom blog to have students share their response to reading. They LOVED seeing their words online, especially when I would share their comments with the class via the Smartboard. I was on the computer responding for 1 to 2 hours each night in addition to my regular marking/planning, and this was with only 15 students.  Soon, however, they began to see the blog as just more homework, and their comments became less spontaneous and more in the form of answering questions on a test. My mistake? I think it was treating the blogging like a test, where they all responded to my posts in a certain proscribed way.

My next blog was one that was set up through our Technology Cohort. In it, I was supposed to share my experiences with technology, but keep it upbeat and inspiring. Well, THAT set up writer’s block! Not a ton of posts on that one.

Moving on to taking on the TL job last year. Wait! I have an idea! A reading club online…a BLOG!!! Hey! Readers connecting with other readers…again, an idea that started off with a bang, and then drooped. (Somewhat to my relief, as I was again online responding for 2 hours or more a night) Why the droop? I wasn’t sure. I was trying to let kids comment on books, hoping they would connect with other kids and comment on their comments. It started off vibrantly, but after a while, nuttin’ (as Cornelius would say).

Creating yet another blog for my eportfolio was fun, and valuable, but in a way, static. It is not a conversation or a social media thing. It is valuable, but it is not really blogging as I now am learning it to be.

Wikipedia states:

Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video…Most blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via    widgets on the blogs and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static  websites.

The Trailfire link “The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging … And When To Use Each One” helped me to understand one of the things I was doing wrong. I was not posting often enough. Students were returning to the Reading Dragons Blog only to see the same post over and over again. Not very engaging.

Langwitches Blog has an interesting post about blogging. She talks about all of the posts she has put up on teaching teachers how to blog with students, but that she has missed posting on teaching teachers about blogging itself. Check it out, some great downloads and ideas!

So WHY BLOG?

Shawn Ram says:

I Blog: To share my experiences and reflections, To share what occurs in my class, To reveal my passion for education and my understanding of education, To provide some insight and ideas when it comes to Special Education, Finally to ask questions.

George Couros talks about the classroom blogs in his school as providing vehicles for conversations and communication as well as learning opportunities for students.

Kathy Cassidy in Moosejaw has an amazing blog that she does with her grade 1 class.

I am always up for trying something again. Yet, if I am worried about building a professional presence on the web, can I share ALL of my reflections? If I am writing for an audience, do I only share the high points, the ‘inspiring’ stories? Maybe so. Maybe writing about my doubts, trials and tribulations, yet always looking for the way to make it better, asking questions and sharing my search for the answers IS a reason to blog.

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