Tag Archives: To Kill a Mockingbird

“Social Networking and Literacy” at #Teach21c

http://teach21.theschool.columbia.edu/

http://twitter.com/teach21c

As I wrote in my last post, Teach21 was a professional development institute for 21st Century educators organized by faculty and administrators at The School at Columbia University. Every day there was a keynote speaker (Sree Sreenivasan, Howard Gardner, A.J. Jacobs, Karen Cator) and many half-day and full-day concurrent offerings.

Thursday, I offered a session about “Social Networking and Literacy.” We started the 2.5 hours together with a discussion about literacy. I used to think literacy was just the reading and writing of text. Nowadays literacy is about learning how to comprehend/research/navigate/communicate/cite/re-mix/share all sorts of media.

We started off the session with a conversation about the new literacies and looked at a couple of sources:

Then I showed a couple of projects where students publish individual and group work online and collaborate via shared access, commenting, hyperlinking, and other interactions. We looked at The Independent Reading Site that I set up with Marisa Guastaferro three years ago and the To Kill a Mockingbird book groups set up by Eve Becker for her 8th grade English classes. Both projects are described in this post: http://karenblumberg.com/social-networking-and-literacy-on-2511-at-600

Then we looked at ways to set up similar projects with other available technologies.

Resources from this and other Teach21 sessions are here: https://sites.google.com/a/theschool.columbia.edu/teach21-resources/

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Eighth graders formed small reading groups on our in-house Elgg social network to discuss *To Kill a Mockingbird*

Eve Becker, 8th Grade English, is one of the most interesting people, gifted writers, and talented teachers I’ve had the pleasure to know. She actually gets kids to love reading and she inspires them to dig into the words, text, tenor of each piece like a surgeon. Every time I enter her classroom, I learn something new.

She (and I) are reading To Kill A Mockingbird with the 8th graders. This is the 50th Anniversary of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic. TKAM ranks as one of my favorite books ever, and while the last time I read it was over 10 years ago, I’m excited to read it along with the kids and participate in their online discussions.

After briefly discussing the best platform for the students to collaborate online (wiki, Google Site, Drupal, WordPress…), Eve chose to use our in-house Elgg social network. As a school, we try to reinforce how to use technology academically, respectfully, and responsibly, and we have a variety of tools at our disposal including The Social Network, where we show students how to behave in our protected spaces and hope that they continue to make good choices online when left to their own devices.

She divided the 8th graders into small reading groups of 3-4 people, and each member of the group helped populate their group’s space on The Social Network to include:

1. A bookmark from the full-class group to their small reading group

2. An avatar/icon to represent their group

3. A Group Discussion space where the students address teacher-led discussion questions like:

Chapter Nine: Why doesn’t Scout tell anyone but Uncle Jack the real reason she beat up Francis? What does this demonstrate about Scout?

4. A Group Blog section where students post their own questions/thoughts about the book and respond to each other’s posts.

Chapter 8: Do you think it was racists for Jem and Scout to build a black snowman?

5. A Page for Vocabulary terms where students follow a follow 5-step format.

NOTE: the page itself consists of the guidelines for adding vocabulary terms (see below), while students actually contribute to the page via the Comments section. Thus there exists a timestamp with their name each time they add a word to the page. This is great for individual accountability even as they working as a group.

1. Word

2. Make an educated guess (using context clues)

3. Look it up

4. Part of Speech

5. Make up your own sentence 

please specify the page/chapter where you located the word

6. A Page for Quotations where students write a quote, why they chose it, and page number.

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“I gotta go back, back, back to school again.”

This first week back was nuts. After days of meetings and heavy lifting, I finally had a chance to talk curriculum with the 8th grade team. It was such a thrill to listen to them discuss ways to integrate pieces of their curriculum, starting with the first project of the year and looking towards January: Apartheid and governance in Social Studies, To Kill a Mockingbird in English, the Empty Bowls Project in Art… It’s one of my favorite parts of my job.

Besides having way too little time to discuss upcoming projects, I had a crash course in TeacherEase, an online grading/communication tool we’re piloting across the middle school. It looks pretty powerful, as you can track grades, attendance, comments, send email alerts to students and parents, and log in as a teacher, student, or parent to access performance assessments.

I spent a long time researching iPod and iPad storage/syncing devices from Parat, Tribeam, Cambrionix, and Bretford. We ended up buying the 20-slot Bretford iPad cart, but I’m torn about what to get for our iPod Touches. I almost purchased a couple of docks from Parasync, but it won’t house the new iPod Touches without some retrofitting to accommodate the slightly different shape of the updated device. And while the Bretford case houses multiple generations of iPods, I prefer the look and design of the wireless Parasync tray. Suffice it to say, we didn’t make a decision.

In addition to physically and mentally preparing for Tuesday’s arrival of students, I’ve been emailing, meeting, and teleconferencing with other organizers of EdCampNYC (on 12/4/10)  and TEDxNYED (in March of 2011) and finding hosts for my monthly NYCIST meetings. I find it remarkable I have a social life sometimes.

While I didn’t have much time to check out my Twitter feed much, I did forward a bunch of gems to my faculty. I’ll try not to have anxiety over all the resources I missed:

 

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