Friday, October 30, 2009


Here it is!!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Photosharing in the Classroom

My family has used Google Earth before with our friends from South Africa. We stayed up until 1:00 AM taking visual tours of each other's home towns and even our former houses! It was so cool to see where we each came from and that our worlds are not so very different. Google Earth would be really fun to use in class even if it's just to show students the settings of some of the stories they read in class. It opens up the world.

Ways I think I might be able to use photosharing in class will probably seem a little boring. What immediately jumps to mind is finding photos that pertain to the subject being studied to use for writing prompts. There are images of anything imaginable on the web, and to be able to look at them and use them for the beginnings of writings would be great. I could use visual images from the web to discuss mood, personification, point of view, persuasive writing, and so many other topics that are pertinent to literature and language. I could also use it to show students real-life photos that relate to the stories we read in class. They then might be able to picture the story's action a little better. At the moment I'm thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird. If I could show them photos of a little towns in the south that are like Maycomb, they might better understand what the town looks like, and then the plot and the interactions of the characters might make more sense.

Other photo sharing might include students collaborating on group projects, presentations and class projects. They might also view pictures of other students' work from around the world. I'm thinking of having access to projects that some of the students I knew in Korea are doing. It would be a great way to show my American students what is being asked of international students.

It's much easier to think of ways to share photos than reasons to allow students access to a social networking site. Having read the articles about photosharing however, does make me realize that there is a potential risk to having students out there surfing for photos. Still, gathering photos from the current technology is far more powerful than the overhead transparencies I am using now. I am excited by the possibilities of photo sharing in class.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Steve Hargadon Points to Ponder

The first point Hargadon makes about how the freedom of failure makes experimentation more innovative is thought provoking. As a classroom teacher in the public schools, I do not feel like I have the freedom to experiment and fail very often. I'm sure students don't either. Given the emphasis placed on test scores and state standards and no child left behind, there does not seem to be much room that allows for experimentation and failure. So when Hargadon makes the assertion that part of the building of a social networking site is the possibility that it will fail in its original intent is interesting. Learning how to change and grow and meet the needs of the people then becomes the true measure of success.

But I suppose there is an aspect of failing in school. Annie O’Connor and I work together all the time, and we are constantly rethinking, discussing, conversing about how we can improve and change our curriculum to better meet the needs of the current students. It’s empowering. Social networking sites, if used for collaboration among teachers, would be great. I would love to network with my friends in Korea and connect to see how to make a site work for us and then possibly extend it into student interaction—like pen pals but through the internet.

I'm also interested in his sixth point about moderating and guiding the network. If I were to use a social network as a classroom teacher, I would be concerned about users being polite to each other and respecting the boundaries set up for the site. I think in a public school setting there would need to be much more teaching of guidelines and boundaries before students would be able to use it. The way they use their own social network sites would be very different from how to use one for a class, and so the rules would have to be slightly different.

I know there are teachers and districts out there that are already on this bandwagon and using it to great benefit, but a serious limitation I have is that many of my students do not have access to a computer. We are also limited by potential legal ramifications with students. Before we could use social networking sites in class, we would need approval form district admin, parents…the list would be long. And then we would be in the scenario of Will Richardson where we are listening to all the ways we CAN’T use a social network in school. Do I sound pessimistic? I don’t mean to. I would love to collaborate with overseas teachers. I think I need to begin with colleagues and then go from there.


I'm writing about the Asian sites because we lived in South Korea for two years and were awed by their use of technology. We found that Koreans were CONSTANTLY connected to cell phones, computers and technology of any kind. We were surprised at the prevalence of cell phones, which they call hand phones, and how often they are used. They took pictures of each other, their food in restaurants, their papers, their hair, each other, and US! We had not seen so much technology in such constant use in the states, so we were a little unprepared for its pervasiveness there. So, I am interested in the Asian social networking sites.

1. What was the target audience for this social networking site?
According to Wikipedia (which I did not edit in this instance) the original intent of one of the first Asian social networking sites, AsianAvenue, was to capture an ethnic audience that shared common political ideas.

2. How long was the site in existence?
The site has been in existence since 1997 and has been very popular, claiming to have attracted more users than Black Planet, which is a "community sister site."

3. Why was it popular? What was its demise?
It seems that most of its popularity arose from its strong political activities and the successes it experienced getting some advertisers to change the way they portrayed Asian women, particularly in relation to white women. Conflicting design intent was stated by a writer who interviewed Yao Ming for the site in which he described the site as being used mostly for dating. So the original intent of the site seems to be a little unclear. Due to the fact that "sometime in 2003" the site began to offer previously free services to "premium users" only, the site lost followers. Subsequently, the site relaunched in 2005 and added more social networking features, which I'm guessing they made available to all members. Since then many musicians have used the site for launching their music, and Barrack Obama created a profile on the site during the presidential campaign.

4. Is/was there another competitor in the same market that was more popular?
Other competitors in their market include MiGente, Cyworld and Black Planet, but I'm not sure whether any of these sites was or are more popular than AsianAvenue. It seems the reason for its falling off was due to cutting some networking services to some of its members.

5. Would you ever consider creating an account and using it? Explain your reason using a personal experience as an example.
Because I am not Asian and this site is for geared toward an Asian community, I would not consider creating profile on it. I'm also not running for a political office, nor am I in a rock band. But more seriously, I have never used a social networking site, even though I have many friends on Facebook. (I may join after this class!) My children are also not quite old enough to have a personal space on any of these sites, but I realize the day is coming and it would be great if I were a baby step ahead of them…maybe?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wikis in the Classroom

After spending quite a bit of time this week making mistakes on my wiki, trying to fix them, sending frantic messages on the discussion board about how to find my original text--why isn't there an undo button at the top of the wiki page?--I have decided that I just want to go to Hawaii!! Ahhh, but seriously, I can see using a wiki for purposes of putting the day's lessons on it, writing the day's homework assignment, posting charts and graphs and explanations that can be accessed easily by students and parents alike. Other purposes might include creating a class writing where every student is required to contribute a few sentences to a paper or poem or help edit a sample paper. It would be a great place to show exemplars so that students would know what they are to be creating with a piece of writing. Perhaps each class period could have its own wiki which is accessible to only that class and students could turn in assignments in the wiki. I read a wiki, that I can no longer find, that was about literature circles. I have used literature circles in the past and have loved them, but have found the sheer numbers of students I now have make them really difficult to orchestrate. If each group had their own wiki and could post their writings as they read, that might be a way to use it. I'm just writing as I think, so these are random ideas not clearly defined.

The biggest block for me and a classroom wiki is how to manage student use. I watched Richard Buckland's video where he explained how he used it in his class, and he spoke about the "wiki nature" often. He taught college level students. I cannot yet wrap my head around how to use it for high school students. Sometimes it seems a blog would be more useful because it cannot be changed except by the administrator, and if I would put a block on a wiki site so that only I could change the text, then what would be the point of a wiki at all? I even asked some of my students how they thought a wiki might be used in class, but they were a little unclear and said, “Wikipedia? It’s great!” But when I explained what a wiki was, that Wikipedia was not the only one out there, they looked a little puzzled and weren’t sure either. However, I have some really bright students who will probably have some ideas for me next week.

At the moment, with the wiki I created for this class about writing a character analysis, I don't think I would have any expectations for students to contribute. When we read and annotate short stories in class, could I have students annotate the story on the wiki and then print the annotations for the entire class? Would that increase the quality of their work, or would most students just allow the over-achievers to create all the notes?

Clearly I have far more questions than answers, but I spend quite a bit of time pondering how I might use this tool in the future.