Friday, March 28, 2008

Delicious Links

WWW / Working With Wikis

Researchers Build a Wiki at Moberly

This blog is being written today (Thursday afternoon) at-the-scene, live from the school library where I have been invited to help grade 7 students get started on their wiki assignment. They are going to build pages for the whole-class project -- a wiki -- on Ancient Greece. Students will research subtopics in pairs and create a report with images on pages linked to the wiki-assignment page. They have recently been introduced to and are using to collect the best websites for their research. They will use pbwiki to publish their work.

The product is emerging at: Ancient Greece. You will need to click on Sidebar to see the linked student-project pages.

Teacher Ms J is happy to see the students enabled by the technology to use both their creativity and their learning to create new products such as wikis. She appreciates the engagement that such assignments offer her students.

On seeing that the students are happily and fully engaged, that they are easily helping each other venture into the world of wikis, that they don't really need my expertise at all, I have found a computer, opened up this blog, and am about to interview a few of the participants to capture the "feel" of this learning experience.

The teacher is Ms J. She tells me, without hesitation,"This is the future, the new literacy that they will need to develop and understand .... It's great to see them taking steps that will help them in their futures." Ms J has been teaching for three years and is currently doing a master's degree in Language and Literacy Education. She recently took a UBC course, the same one taken by "our Mary," called The New Literacies with Instructor Dr. Marlene Asselin. She loves working with Gwen, the TL, and sees how Gwen is always looking ahead. Clearly Gwen and Ms J are deeply exploring Web 2.0 with their students.

So what do the students think of this learning experience?
  • Student Monica finds that it's faster, neater, easier to use, new, and fun to learn this way. It is something you can use on your own and when you're older. She has been here at Moberly since Kindergarten and always likes coming to learn in the library.
  • Suchjot finds it interesting to learn something new about the internet; it's "portable," she says, "so you can use it anywhere on-the-go." Suchjot thinks it's a much better way to learn because you can add and others can too, and everyone can build it and learn from it. Suchjot's words, colleagues ... can you imagine this!
  • Harveer adds that it's cool making your own webpage; if you travel you won't have to use (or risk losing) your flashdrive because you have a wiki you can post to. It's interesting to learn new things -- the first time (learning these new and useful tools in the library) is always a privilege, he tells me. He says it's better working with the teacher and the teacher-librarian together because they know a lot of different things and it's always nice to work on the computers.
Thanks, Moberly, for the invitation! You are inspirational.

Linking Delicious Things

In keeping with Wendy C's Hot Reads talk at the February Winter Tonic where several recommended novels and mysteries included recipes, I have been meaning to include some too, yours, not mine. Tillicum-visiting with TL Sharon just before the Break yielded her wonderfully and delicious recipe for chocolate, and it's really easy -- or so she says:

Tiger Butter

3 cups white chocolate dipping wafers
½ cup milk chocolate dipping wafers
2/3 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter

  • Microwave white chocolate wafers slowly until melted (3-4 minutes in one minute intervals).
  • Add peanut butter and beat until mixed.
  • Spread on waxed paper to 1/8” thickness.
  • Microwave milk chocolate until melted (1 minute on high).
  • Spoon milk chocolate onto the white chocolate in rows 1-2” apart.
  • Drag a knife or tip of a spoon gently across the rows to form the pattern.
  • Air dry until hard and cut into 1” squares.
TIP - I had to ask about the chocolate "dipping wafers"; they are about the size of a nickel and are available in the bulk foods section of Save-on Foods. Sharon's Tiger Butters were perfectly peanutty squares of chocolate about the size of AfterFive Mints.
NOTE: Thanks, Barb McB and VP Darren at Tillicum for the invitation to your lovely school, and thanks, Sharon, for the tour and recipe. I am so impressed with this little annex and its lovely large library, Smartboard, lab, and program of technology integration, that I am planning to have the May Update session for Annex TLs here. We can call it "On the Urban Edge" as you will need to plan to travel to the Far Eastern reaches of our city. We are working out a date for this. Can you let me know which day of the week would be best (you can email me)?

Technology-Integration / Linking Readings for Deeper Consideration

Edutopia is a great website for keeping up with technology integration. Underpinned by the awareness that social change is faster-paced than ever before, the George Lucas Foundation envisions a new world of learning, an education system where innovation is the rule, not the exception ... well, you can read this by clicking onto the "about us" page. But there are some great articles to be considered from amongst the Priority Topics. I offer this suggestion as a starter:

Adopt-and-adapt: shaping tech for the classroom by Marc Prensky (or, 21st century schools need 21st century technology). Prensky (2005) posits the notion of "digital immigrants" and "digital natives." Many of us, he would suggest, are the "conservators" of our culture and are resistant to change but resisting today's digital technology "will be truly lethal to our children's education"! He's pretty provocative, is Prensky, and I actually don't agree with him.

Here's what I think: Learning anything new takes time ... something many of us in education don't have a lot of ... and there is heightened anxiety attached to our "adult" learning about technology that needs to be acknowledged. We need not be viewed as "immigrants" but as students on the learning continuum who need to be "scaffolded" across the points of frustration.
Not immigrants, but learners, we are also educators steeped in critical capacities that enable us to offer students the thinking skills as our part of the technology-learning equation where often they are the teachers. Certainly their sense of adventure in the technological learning environment is what leads us on ... but this is not a colonial enterprise; it's a partnership where our relationship to what is being learned has changed. We have not changed who is the expected master or authority for learning and who is the "slave" or obedient recipient of knowledge, but rather we are seeing a flattening of the leadership roles -- a blurring of the boundaries or borders -- in relationship to acquiring and transforming knowledge. We are all required to become lifelong learners. The statement about the importance of being a lifelong learner is not just for our students. We are not "behind" our native students trying to catch up but rather "beside" them bringing different capacities to the collaborative learning experience.

How's that for an analysis? And Ms J and her students are right: every student needs to leave school knowing how to do these things and how to think about them.

You will undoubtedly want to read more from the Edutopia Priority Topics page. Here's Prensky's (Feb 2008) concept of literacy explained. Prensky is a little too techno-bedazzled in his thinking for me, but it's a great place to start in considering your own place and the place of your school library program, as well as district directions for school libraries in relation to these ideas.

Check out the free Edutopia teaching modules too.

Here's a great article: "U.S. educators seek lessons from Scandinavia High-scoring nations on an international exam say success stems from autonomy, project-based learning," by Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor, eSchool News. I thought it advisable not to ask about the recent e-testing! Abstract for the article reads: "A delegation led by the Consortium for School Networking recently toured Scandinavia in search of answers for how students in that region of the world were able to score so high on a recent international test of math and science skills [PISA]. They found that educators in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark all cited autonomy, project-based learning, and nationwide broadband internet access (emphasis mine) as keys to their success."
Thanks, again, Moberly and Tillicum too: you've got us thinking! You are engaged in cutting-edge learning.

1 comment:

Lana said...

Great post, Moira.

The 'digital native' vs 'digital immigrant' represents an either-or situation that often does not apply. Here's a link that discusses other categories. You'll need to scroll past the first screen:

In fact, many of our students are not digital natives thus illustrating a concern that Jenkins has about the participation gap. The role that librarians and teachers play in closing this gap is very important.

Furthermore, to say that some students are digital natives does not mean that they will remain so for the rest of their lives. Unless we nurture life-long learning in them they, too, will become digital immigrants.

All the more reason for librarians and teachers to take up the challenge of staying up-to-date.