Monday, 13 September 2010

'COETAIL' Teaching?

The first idea that comes to mind is a feeling of confidence that I might be able to pull off a genuinely successful lesson (or even a project) trying something completely new in
the Web 2.0 world. That I might be as comfortable with these technologies as the students are in their everyday world further validates this feeling.

Last semester, I actually tried out the Final Project I described for Course 1. When I first wrote it all down, I thought it was definitely too ambitious for me and that the return would not be worth the investment. But then after deciding to give it a go, I was pleasantly surprised to read the students' final reflections in the end. Here are Shin's, Jan's and Kaho's blog posts—their reflections on the Speak Project. We basically all stretched ourselves. Once I got started thinking about how teens could connect with others and communicate about teen depression, the Web 2.0 ideas came fast and furious. Every student had to comment on a professional blog. The kids who were able to get communications back from these professionals on teen depression were amazed. They felt a real sense of accomplishment, and so did I. Here's a look at the final presentation two students put together and posted to SlideShare. I liked feeling that after all these years of teaching—kind of a booster shot in the arm.

What seems to sustain for me (and at the moment for the students), are the blogs. When I asked my Theory of Knowledge, gr. 11s last semester about the use of the blogs, one girl wrote back something like: "It's our world." This really hit me. It's as if I had somehow breached a communication gap. Maybe I'm embellishing here, but I have to say, I'm still amazed today at the level of depth and critical analysis that can result in a blog post, even without it being graded. It's that 'publicness' that seems to make the difference. They're writing well despite our help.

So, I'm left wondering this year about the need to pursue formalized teaching of blog writing. The NETS-T we looked at during the last two courses help keep me on course. It's not just a matter of looking for something motivating to do in the classroom, but it's a matter of integrating these new-found interests into the curriculum so we can ensure that this new form of literacy—reading and writing with web links (blog reading and writing in particular)—is effective.

Under Standard 2: Design and develop digital-age learning experiences:
"a. design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity"
Here it seems to point to our responsibility to further analyze what blog writing entails and add it to the standard 'text types' as a tool to promote student learning. We've got much to add to the curriculum, when you start really applying NETS-T, but it's relatively easy when we have the Web 2.0 world to work with. Found these in the blink of an eye:

"How to write great blog content"
"How to write a blog post"
"How to write a great blog post in just 15 minutes"
"How to write effective blog posts"
and this looks like a read find: "Digital Writing, Digital Teaching"
Meanwhile, we can carry on with reading and writing on the Internet and use the experiences to help all of us know what to do. Saw this week's assignment from 'Visual Literacy and the Classroom' read that reminds us of our charge:
"... if students are to successfully meet the demands of new literacy, they must be able to navigate and communicate through evolving mediums..."