Listen to seven National Writing Project teachers plan a Spring Blogging curriculum together.
Find out if seven people can plan a curriculum together over skype. These seven teachers from Writing Projects across the country met and planned a 15-week blogging curriculum that they have started to put together (click read more).
Bob Levin and Gail Desler (Area 3 Writing Project, Sacramento, CA)
As we plan this work, we are looking at other examples of urban/rural exchanges such as the exchange between Joel Arquillos' students in San Francisco and David Boardman's students in a town in Maine.
When Joel Arquillos, a social studies teacher at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology in San Francisco, started his 11th-grade American history students blogging, he didn't know what to expect. Mr. Arquillos set up a group blog as a joint project with David Boardman's English class juniors and seniors from rural Winthrop High School in Maine for students to post assignments online, comment on each other's work and expand their cultural awareness. At first, the students needed to be prodded to post. But the blog took off when Mr. Arquillos had them write about their neighborhoods. A student who lives in the Tenderloin district in San Francisco described her feelings about the drug dealing and gang violence in the neighborhood. The Maine students posted that they had thought neighborhoods like the Tenderloin were urban legends. Soon, the students started posting on their own to find out what their peers cross-country thought about various subjects (the structure of the new SAT's, good reasons to skip the prom, etc.), discussions that almost came to match the assigned writings in volume. "I want to give these kids the tools to say, 'Hey, my voice is important in this world,' " Mr. Arquillos said after the yearlong experiment. "This blog helps me do that."
Here's the kind of frank, thoughtful conversation you will hear on this podcast:
Graham calls it a grassroots collaboration. And that, it is. He set up a wiki
last August called Spin the Globe. It’s a web space where his class and mine can hopefully learn from each other about our respective far-flung parts of the world. Graham gave it a fair review, but I haven’t had a lot to say about it because it hasn’t really come together for me and my group yet. But we’re getting there, and now, since Paul Allison invited me and Graham to discuss it this evening on the Teachers Teaching Teachers podcast, I’m sorting through my reactions to the project so far.
I’ll be honest here and state the goals that Doug and I negotiated have been
our guiding light because the process and the final product has been constantly malleable and subject to redefinition. The big difficulty was making this project important to two very different groups of students living very different lives. My class enjoyed the advantage of being the initiators and being very settled as we were well into the second half of our school year. They knew me, I knew their capabilities and by that stage in the year I knew them all well enough to enthuse them about this mysterious project we were doing with “the kids from Alaska”. Doug, on the other hand, was just starting his new school year and was still working out his group’s particular tendencies and skill sets. From my perspective, his position was always going to be trickier to manage. But I have to pay tribute to his support, his diplomomatic balancing of some of my hare-brained ideas and ultimately suggesting ways to get around some of the barriers (cultural and technological). One of the best pieces of advice actually came from his wife, also a teacher, who pointed out that a top-down approach that dictated specific roles and topics for students was somewhat at odds with the inquiry based approach we were actually wanting for them. In my class, the project gained its largest boost of momentum when I spoke to my students and announced that the shackles were off and they were free to develop whatever pages of the wiki they wanted. After all, Wikipedia contributors don’t get assigned to write specific articles by a superior. I know that a classroom effort can’t be quite as organic as that but productivity and engagement went up noticeably from that point on.
20:14:44 Mdodes -> -EdTechTalk: Good evening!
20:15:04 tkidd132 -> -EdTechTalk: Good Evening Are we the only ones here....lol
20:15:09 Mdodes -> -EdTechTalk: yup for the moment
20:15:13 Mdodes -> -EdTechTalk: still another 45 minutes
20:15:18 tkidd132 -> -EdTechTalk: Oh ok
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20:15:58 Alex Hayes -> -EdTechTalk: hi there !
Ben Papell and Steve Muth are fed up with the number of school districts across the US that are bockingVoiceThread. Even though VoiceThread was one of the most popular Web-tools with educators in 2007, it has also been unavailable to many teachers because of district or school filters that block all free websites or sites that allow for user contributions or that allow students to surf to unapproved content... or for whatever reasons. All Ben and Steve know is that they've been getting a steady stream of emails that say something like: "I love, love, love VoiceThread! I use it at home, but I can't use it in my school. It's blocked! Is there any way you can help?"
Ben and Steve are not the first developers of tools like VoiceThread to run into problems like this. They may be the first to come up with a solution that not only solves the blocking problem, but potentially makes their product even more attractive because it will give students of all ages free (to them), unlimited access to their own VoiceThread accounts that teachers can manage without using email addresses. Here are some of the details that Ben and Steve provided:
The Ed.VoiceThread network is a worldwide community where safety is built upon a foundation of accountability. All users are known users, responsible for their content and behavior. Access is restricted to K-12 educators, students and administrators, and all content is created exclusively by registered members of the community. Web services offering free accounts are blocked in many school districts because of child online protection policies, and are not eligible for federal eRate monies. For this reason, there are no free Ed.VoiceThread accounts and student email addresses are not required. Educators must pay a one time $10 verification fee to become a member of the community, with no recurring costs.
Schools will also be able to pay a monthly fee (about $100), which will make it possible for all teachers in the building to use VoiceThread with their students.
Learn more about this innovative plan on this webcast. Ben Papell and Steve Muth joined us once again to explain changes they are making to address access problems in US schools.
Ed.VoiceThread goes live on Thursday, January 17. Get the inside story on this podcast.
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