Playing Favorites

When I first heard about social bookmarking I thought it was really cool, but didn't have time to sit down and figure out how it works (I have four kids, remember?) Anyway, I keep a little list beside my computer of things I want to know and want to do. This has been on my list since July! Last night I sat down and created my account on .

Social bookmarking is a way to mark your favorite places on the web from any computer, share your favorite places with your friends and visit the favorites of other people. I want to know the favorites of people much smarter than me!

The best part about it is tagging. In my favorites folder I can only put a site in one place unless I want to save it over and over again, but with tags you can "tag" the site with words that are associated with that site. Watch this video, it will help clear it up in your mind:

Once you have all of your favorites saved in, you can generate lists or tag clouds. A tag cloud is an awesome visual way to look the frequency of your tags and will help you be consistent in how you are sorting your favorites. If you look at someone else's tag cloud you will be able to instantly see if they have saved things you are interesting in.

Get started today so I can "socialize" with you!


Students Today

I ran across this video in the blogosphere today and just had to share it. I've been using the video "Shift Happens" to demonstrate the urgency we should feel in preparing students for the 21st century. I thought this was just as meaningful... check it out.

What did you think?


Our Environment

Today is Blog Action Day in support of our environment and I'm throwing in my two cents...maybe you will too.

In my family, recycling is taken for granted. We have the blue bin that we fill up each week and it goes out to the curb on Wednesday mornings. It is always shocking to me when we go out of town to someone else's home and they don't recycle. Can you believe many cities across the U.S. still don't have a recycling program???!? My kids just notice there is no "blue bin".

It was during one of these visits that I realised I haven't explained to my kids the actual function of having that blue bin. I went online to show my daughters (the little ones are too young) a picture of a landfill and we discussed some of the effects of the garbage we make and must dispose of each day....
My eleven year old was especially grossed out, but just enough to provoke her to action. She stopped taking juice boxes and began taking a refillable water bottle to school.

Even when I was doing the right thing...I wasn't thinking about it and talking about the message wasn't being passed to my kids. Taking the time to stop and ponder has also forced me to think about what else I could be doing... saving containers to give to the art teacher, doing a recycling art project with my students and incorporating knowledge about recycling into our research. Take a moment yourself today and consider whether there is something else you could be doing...


What? So What? Now What?

In response to Stephanie's recent post asking that edubloggers take a break to reflect on what we are doing, why we are doing it, and what outcomes we think may come from the work we are doing... here are my thoughts....

What is going on with my work? Well, I feel like I have learned more in the last six months than I learned in my entire master degree program. My professional development is becoming not only whatever a "next step" is for me...but a step into the future...integrating 21st century skills into all I do. I am blogging professionally and in the classes I teach. I am teaching students, teachers and administrators how to start their own blogs. By reading blogs, I am learning how to use tools like slide, bubbleshare, rockyou, voicethread, clipmarks and sketchcast. I can find a classroom use for just about anything I find!

So What? Who cares? My students definitely care. They can't wait for their turn to blog or record a voicethread. They go home and try these things on their own without my prompting. My parents care because they are getting real time access into what is going on in their child's classroom. My colleagues care because they are learning as I evangalize about learning 2.0. I have always said that if I don't think something is going to make a big impact on my students (whether they be kids or adults) then I should question why I am doing it. Will this matter? I think these skills will change the way my students think about learning forever. When we broach a new topic they are asking me before I can even tell them, "Can we do this in a voicethread and post it online? Can I be the one to blog about this? Will you take pictures so we can post them?"

Now What? As a teacher, the students are giving me my road map. They are leading me in ways I never considered. When I show them something I learned how to do, they don't just want to know how to do it...but also how I even thought to learn that...or where I found it online. I decided that I would do a before school tutoring session for students that wanted to extend their learning into technology outside of what we were working on in class. What is up for the first lesson? My kids have started their own blogs at home and want to know how to change sizes of widgets, how to change layout, etc. Lesson 1: Tweaking html . For me, the "now what" is twitter. I am following the people that are on the cutting edge of educational technology and learning about what they are learning, going "virtually" where they are going and collaborating with colleagues at work about our future. My professional life has always been inspired by something I am reading or doing, but now I am invigorated with a passion for learning and applying what I learn.


Using Subtext

This Wednesday was a WOW (Working on the Work) day at my school. I decided to share the strategy of using subtext to help students understand what they are reading. I got this idea from Breakthrough to Meaning by: Jean Anne Clyde. Using subtext is considering the thoughts behind the action in the story (or reading between the lines).

Here is the way I suggested it be taught in a third grade classroom:
Day 1 - Show the students a photo with several people with different expressions. Teacher thinks aloud about the possibilities of the thoughts in the characters' heads, "He must be thinking, Ugh! this is boring." "She must be thinking, I wish I had one of those!" etc. Then give the students their own picture to try from a picture book for the active engagement. During work session, students use subtext on the illustrations in their own personal books.
Day 2 - Show students another photo with several people wearing different expressions. This time as the teacher thinks aloud she considers different possibilities for the thoughts. They could be thinking____________ OR ______________. Students are given a photo to do the same for active engagement. During the first ten minutes of the work session the teacher passes out a different photocopied illustration to each set of mini lesson partners. Students consider different subtext for the photos.
Day 3 - Transition to text. Prior to lesson the teacher has done a read aloud. I suggest One Green Apple by Eve Bunting because this book deals with a situation the students probably have never encountered. During the mini lesson, the teacher walks back through the story thinking aloud about what they thought the thoughts were behind the actions going on (subtext). The teacher leaves one page for the students to try the strategy during active engagement. They practice subtext during the work session.
Day 4 - Prior to lesson the teacher has done a read aloud. I used The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson . During the mini lesson, the teacher brings out the book with sticky notes that have been placed in all the places where she used subtext while reading. She reads through the book stopping to share her subtext thoughts. One page is saved for student practice in the active engagement. For the work session, students take sticky notes and jot their own thoughts about the subtext while reading a new text.

I think subtext can be an important strategy for intermediate students. Throughout their primary and intermediate years they have learned metacognitive strategies such as questioning, inferring, connecting, and determining importance. Subtext is a way for them to "draw from their bag of strategies" and use these processes to think beyond the obvious and consider what is not written.