Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour is Today, March 27th at 8:30

Don’t forget to switch off your lights tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 for Earth Hour. Glad someone told me about this or I would have thought the power went out!

Students Can Write Dynamic Content Too...

I came across this blog post by accident while following another Twitter post. It is from Ralph Jean-Paul a marketing blogger who is trying to get more visitors and subscribers to his site so he can turn them into customers, but I think the message can be translated to the classroom no matter what subject we are teaching. Jean-Paul calls for dynamic content and really isn’t that what we want from our students when we ask them to write? Check out Jean-Paul’s blog for his explanations of the following, here’s my take on what he says:
Be Unique- Jean-Paul says not to just share common information but to personalize your writing. In this day and age when teachers worry about plagiarism this is good information. We should ask our students to share their stories, not just spit back the information they have gathered from other sources.
Write for Humans- I know you are going to say... well duh... and Jean-Paul’s reasoning here is blog specific... he says write for humans and not Google. Write so you get human attention and not so the aggregators at Google will pick up your blog and make it a top hit. But in educational terms this is where we can tell students not to use the same words over and over again. Librarians can teach about key words and how if I wanted to learn more about the topic you are writing about why would I want to read or listen to what you have to say!
Be Interesting- Jean-Paul says: “Using captivating and exciting descriptive language will help your readers stay interested in your writing.” And really isn’t that what we are trying to teach our young charges? He suggests using stories, examples, and humor to keep readers engaged. How can we do this in the classroom? How about instead of an audience of one (the teacher), your students had an audience of thousands or millions? How would that change their writing? Even if it is not through technology your students can write well for a real audience. Why not add a comments and compliments page to their next written assignment, or when students are giving a presentation have the other students write comments and compliments as they are listening?
Commit to Quality- Jean-Paul suggests that readers will know and forget your blog if your topic is not “well researched and organized,” if there are too many grammar and spelling mistakes. Here is our library lesson in a nutshell! Research, Research, Research! But after students research they need to read the volumes that they find. If students do not know enough about their topics they will plagiarize. You can not write from your own knowledge unless you first gain that knowledge.
Have a Call to Action- Jean-Paul asks “What do you want your visitors to do once they have read your post?” He says to emphasize the desired action “somewhere in the beginning, middle, and conclusion of your post.” Here is the perfect opening for an inquiry based project. We do not want our students to simply spit back researched information. We want them to ask why and to expect a reply. We want them to make their readers want to do something after reading or listening to their report. For this reasons teachers need to start our projects with the end in mind. What is the action we want to come out of the project? Why are we having our students do a project in the first place? If we ask for a state or country report should the report not reflect a desire to visit that state or country? A call to action on the part of the reader will do away with those dull facts and figure reports. Ralph Jean-Paul has several blogs, none that I have read have dull facts and figures, most are dynamic in content. That's how I want my students to write!
How do you get your students to write dynamic content? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Public Education -

Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press takes on No Child Left Behind and other public education plans that involve testing in a very short and simple yet poignant political cartoon. Check it out! Public Education -

Monday, March 01, 2010

Smart Board Tips and Tricks

Just found this on You Tube... some SMART Board tips and tricks...