Reflections on 7 Days to a Better Edublog

7 Days to a Better EduBlog run by Stephanie Sandifer at Change Agency has just ended and I wanted to take a few minutes to:

  1. Finish the Day 7 assignment which I have been thinking about for the last day & a half
  2. Reflect on the process & what I learned
  3. Thank Stephanie for all the work she put into her mini course.

Day 7: Setting Up A Blogging Schedule

I have always been a when the mood hits me kind of blogger. I have come to realize that if I really do want to build an audience for this blog I do need some kind of schedule so people have a reason to come back. I’m just not ready to commit to blogging every day. I may get there but I know if that’s the schedule I try to set that I won’t do it and I’ll just feel guilty about it. I have decided that I am going to try to blog at least once a week. During the school year, I will post what worked and what didn’t that week in the lab. I also plan to post at least some detailed information about projects as each one ends. I can’t put a time on that because it will vary but I can post something every week. During holidays and summer vacation, I know I can find something to blog about every week and I intend to do it. I’m not sure which day will be best for this – I’m leaning toward Mondays – but I’m not making that decision  just yet. Once school has started again and I see what my schedule is going to be like – not only for school but for my mom duties too since my youngest daughter is starting high school this year – then I can decide which day of the week the blog will definitely be updated.

Final Thoughts on 7 Days to a Better Edublog

  1. How did I model these best practices in this mini-course?
    Some of the assignments were not really natural to me at least as a required exercise. Looking back at my previous blog posts, I see that I already do a lot of what was discussed during the course. I do think all of the assignments have value and they all add interest to a blog, but I had to stretch to actually do the assignment sometimes. Like I said I’ve been a when the mood strikes me kind of blogger so it was good thing to stretch and create a post even when the mood wasn’t really striking me. Things like setting and keeping a blogging schedule and engaging with media and discussion questions will help to draw in readers for my blog. I need to remember that I shouldn’t be a sage on a stage here any more than in the classroom!
  2. What strategies did I incorporate to encourage participation and a more social (engaged) learning environment?
    I tried to do incorporate all of the suggestions (except new pages since I already had the ones I wanted) as they were made but doing them once won’t suddenly make my blog more engaging or encourage better participation. I think for me the biggest strategy that I need to incorporate is blogging on a regular basis. I also need to make sure to not only read other blogs (you should see my reader – it’s out of control!) but to comment on them too.
  3. How might you incorporate everything you have learned in this mini-course in your own edublog — whether your audience includes students or other educators?
    My plan is to start NOW and to blog consistently once a week about something related to technology in education and to make it a point to comment on at least one other blog a week. During the school year, there really is plenty to blog about – then it’s about making the time to do it. During the summer, I can spend more time finding current events and things that I think will be interesting to use as subject matter for my blog.

And finally, thanks to Stephanie for putting this together – it got me to blog regularly at least for 7 days and it made me think about the things I should be doing.

Exploding Head #1

This week one of the things I am trying to complete is the Week 2 assignment for PBL Camp. Part of my problem has been trying to nail down where I want my students to be at the end of this project.

  • What do I want them to know about the oil spill?
  • What do I want them to know about their own use of oil?
  • What kind of project or action plan do I want them to have to show what they’ve learned?

So, I have set up a page on the PBL Camp Wiki using the PBL planning form developed by the Buck Institute for Education. We’re supposed to be concentrating on page 1 of this form this week but of course I had to look ahead. The Assessment section bothers me because under Summative Assessments section two of the selections are Multiple Choice/Short Answer Test and Essay Test. Why are those there? Isn’t this Project Based Learning? If it is then shouldn’t the Summative Assessment be the project?

I have heard Chris Lehmann speak both online and in person and one thing that he stresses is that you are not truly teaching with Project Based Learning if your final assessment is a test. The student’s own work should be the most important work in Project Based Learning. If you don’t know who Chris is, check out his presentation at NECC 2009 on School 2.0: Progressive Pedagogy and 21st-Century Tools. This is fairly long and if you want a shorter introduction to Chris, try his TeDxNYED talk.

What do you think?
Should a test be used as a final assessment in a PBL unit? Should a test ever be the final assessment?
Why or why not?

Summer: A Time For Learning

I look forward to the summer – not as a time to get away from all things education related but as a time to regroup and to take some time for my own learning. I hope to help my students become life long learners and what better way to do that but to model a passion for learning myself. Our school has no budget for travel to the many wonderful conferences that are happening all over the country during the summer and sadly, I personally have no budget for this either. I didn’t let a little thing like money stop me, I put together a plan for myself to attend and participate virtually in conferences, classes and whatever else I could find this summer. Here’s what I’ve done or what I am doing or what I plan to do:

  • ISTE 2010 Unplugged & ISTE 2010 Live & Recorded Sessions
    This was an amazing few days of following along on Twitter and Plurk and attending as many virtual sessions as I could. There were so many wonderful ideas and I’m still trying to synthesize it all and figure out what I’m going to actually make a part of what I teach. This will be a subject of a future blog post.

ISTE Unplugged by McTeach

  • Flat Classroom Workshop
    I have long thought of having my 8th grade class participate in the Digiteen Project but have been rather intimidated by it. When I saw a tweet about participating virtually in a Flat Classroom Workshop, I jumped at the chance. This was a whirlwind couple of days but I learned a lot about putting together a project like this and think I’m ready to sign my class up for the Digiteen Project.
  • PBL Camp
    I do projects in the computer lab all the time but I wanted to get more of a handle on true Project Based Learning so I signed up for the camp. This one is on week two and I’ll admit it’s still a bit overwhelming still but I’m hanging in there and hope to start collaborating with another teacher on a project for our classes.
  • 7 Days To a Better EduBlog
    I have not been the best blogger this past year and I’m working on catching up on some blogging about last year’s classes and thought this would be a good thing to do to make sure I do something blogging related at least for 7 days.
  • Plurk Book Study: Drive
    This has just started but I’m looking forward to reading the book and having some discussions with fellow educators.
  • ntcamp 2010
    This is an unconference that will be streamed live and archived. I have heard wonderful things about these types of conferences and hope to be able to catch a session or two live and will visit the archives when it’s done for things I’ve missed because I really don’t plan on being up at 5am on a Saturday in the summer.
  • Reform Symposium 2010
    This is a new online virtual conference that has some amazing presenters. My biggest problem on this one will be making sure that I actually sleep!

And, if it’s possible, I also try to participate in chats and webinars that I think will expand my thinking or help me to be more successful as a teacher. I don’t make all of these but lucky for me (and you) they’re all archived and I can revisit them even if I miss them live!

  • Twitter #edchat
    Sometimes I find it easier to go to the archives for this one because it moves really fast!
  • Classroom 2.0 Live
    There are amazing live events all year long here. I love to attend these live but will often find myself visiting the archives when I need some inspiration.
  • Steve Hargadon Interviews
    Steve interviews some of the most interesting people and all of these get archived too if you miss them.
  • EdTech Talk
    I enjoy the webcasts here all year long and during the summer there are less shows webcasting but I am especially finding ideas and inspiration from the Teachers Teaching Teachers webcasts this summer.

Whew, just looking at this, I think my head is going to explode. Is it too much? Maybe and if I do get overwhelmed, I can always do less but so far I’m finding it invigorating and inspiring!

What are you doing to stretch your brain this summer?

Photo from ctkmcmillan’s photostream