Monday, October 29, 2007

So many wikis!

Since my goal this school year is to incorporate much more technology into my classroom, I've been doing quite a bit of exploring online. I found this site which is a wiki full of great units from other English teachers. There is also other subjects included as we as many links. What else is out there?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Schools and online collaboration

This post by Louann Reid leads to an article that shows how many schools are still reluctant to utilize the online social networking in an educational venue. Since the vandalism on my wiki last week caused some strong reactions, I was concerned that I would not be able to utilize the wiki. However, my administration proved to be the exception to what the article states is the rule. My students are beginning their online collaboration journey again, and when I let them know about the new wiki they were elated. They have ownership and investment and acted like cheerleaders to others about posting intelligent information and making their site amazing. I'm looking forward to the outcome of their work.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Lesson

On Thursday I introduced my students to their new wiki for the novel unit Great Expectations. The excitement that was traveling through the computer lab was amazing and inspirational. I noticed a few students who had not engaged in the class much this year become filled with motivation. I left school that day thinking how it was one of my best days of teaching.

Then, at nine that night, my principal called. He had just received a phone call from a parent who said that someone had put some racial and sexual comments on the wiki and signed her son's name to it. I closed off the site to public viewing and changed the password right away. I was crushed. I had taken all kinds of precautions to protect the safety of my students, and then someone in my class (or who someone who got the password from someone in my class) caused another student harm.

The next day in school students were talking in halls and many were as upset as I was. I spent the day working with my administrative staff looking at the histories of editing and listening to some students who had information on who might have committed the act.

I was upset all day and thought how I had learned a tough lesson about trusting my students. Then I started thinking more. By the time I had gotten to the website after my principal's call the night before, a few students had already "cleaned up" the site. As my students were talking about the vandalism they were demonstrating ownership of the site and let me know that they still wanted work with it.

I will have the site up again as soon as we upgrade to add more access control. One thing that my students were excited about was that their wiki could be read by many people around the world - I do not want one or two students to ruin that authentic writing opportunity for the rest.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A classroom experiment

Tomorrow I will venture into the world of using a wiki in my classroom. I've been excited as I set up my wiki and thought of assignments to incorporate. My students will be introduced to this tomorrow as we start Great Expectations. With patience and perseverance, we will figure this new frontier together. I hope that students enjoy the authentic writing that is involved and that they utilize the wiki as a study guide and a resource for their analysis of the novel. Please have a look at our site . I wanted to extend a special thanks to Dana Huff, whose blog post insipred this. Also another thanks to Mr. Bariexca's class wiki

Friday, October 12, 2007

student teacher

This semester I have had the privilege of working with a student teacher from Colorado State University. I have been filled with admiration for this pre-service teacher whose enthusiasm and work ethic is incredible.

I remember my pre-service work with various teachers and have been thinking a lot lately about their influence.'s a special thanks to a few teachers who inspired me to be the best teacher I can be! Thanks to Carol Hill, Gretchen Payne, and Shawnee Cowan - you have helped more students than you will ever know!

Without my mentors, I don't know how I could have survived the early years of teaching. Most important, though, was their willingness to always grow and learn. Those lessons are the ones that I remember. They taught me that there is never a perfect teacher - there is always more to learn and more ways to challenge myself and my students. I hope this is a lesson my student teacher will learn.