Sunday, February 9, 2014

LBS 850 - Week Two Discussion Blog Post

Week Two Discussion Blog Post

posted Feb 5, 2014, 11:52 AM by Dan Boyle
    When I started getting into this Web 2.o world about 4 years ago, it was a very minor introduction.  I had just heard about podcasts becoming a part of the classroom experience and wanted to see how I could create a different way for my students to present information.  Too many of my students seemed to have anxiety issues surrounding standing in front of a room and making a presentation to their classmates, and having them make a podcast seemed like a fine compromise.  I went down to Nobles & Greenough School in Dedham for a couple of days, learned the basics and off I went.
    I was fascinated by the reaction of my students.  It inspired me to take a three-day course the next summer called "Teaching History with Technology."  It was the greatest content specific PD I have ever done.  It inspired me to start a Twitter account, to start my own wiki page, to have my students create more things to share on the web, and, by extension, create blogs of their own to publish and share that information with whoever happened to come by their blog.
    The point was made during that course that if I was going to have my students blog, then I should be doing it as well.  So, I started my own blogger page  ( and away I went.
    As with many new things, my motivation to post things in the beginning was great.  I was excited to share the things that I was doing in my class and what my students were doing with their pages.  I found that the blog became a great place for me to share my reflections and that it really helped my grow as an educator and feel more confident with what I was asking my students to do.  I was certainly an "early adopter" at my school (a title that I, unfortunately, retain), and hoped that people would be excited to jump on board and follow me down the Web 2.0 path, which few did, but most did not, which is still somewhat disheartening.  
    I think my students enjoyed having their work out their for a larger audience.  I believe that they want to have many people look at their work and comment on it.  One of my favorite student assignments was to have them make a short 2-minute documentary about someone from the 1850's.  I have always tried to describe them as you are going to be "Ken Burns," but over the years, this means less and less as fewer of them are familiar with who Ken Burns is.  Anyway, one day a student that I had asked to do this assignment came bouncing into my room, with "Guess what" coming out of her mouth.  I was nervous for what was coming next, but she went on to tell me how excited she was that her documentary about Dred Scott that she had posted to YouTube had almost 2,000 views (here is the link and it now has over 4,000 views).  While she was excited about the number of views, it was what she said as she left the room that stuck with me: "I may have taught someone about Dred Scott."
    Even as I have blogged less and less, my interest in having my students use Web 2.0 tools and publish more and more of the work to the web has increased more and more.  I have move on from having my students use blogs to creating their own web sites, where they can curate the material they create more easily and still have the important reflection piece as a part of it.  I have blogged less, not because I don't want to, but because I simply forget to do it or run out of time in my day.  I have started to do more of it with my efforts at "project based learning" this marking period, and, hopefully, this will inspire me to keep going with the daily reflections.  I do understand how important the reflection can be to make me a better teacher and need to find a way to do it more consistently.

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