Archive for the ‘RSS’ Category

When I think back to my beginnings with the web over ten years ago, I remember my growing list of bookmarks that inhabited my browsers. Eventually I created web pages to keep track of links and tried to keep things organized the best I could.  As a classroom teacher I eventually developed subject area web sites that contained links within the content I shared with my students, and my students became the hunters and gatherers of interesting and informative web sites that helped us learn and grow.

Wikis became a good place for me to quickly add developing lists of links over time, but it always seemed that my bookmarks and favorites became scattered on various computers that I used on a regular basis. Exporting these links helped, but it always seemed I had a mess on my hands!  Often, as every teacher knows, time was the issue, and I would find that as time passed when I finally got back to sorting my links, over the summer, many were 404 and no longer found!

As a new educational technology specialist I now had the time to search for and organize web resources as part of my service for teachers; however, the key to valuable resources is working with teachers to find things that they need to embed into their curriculum.  This process has to be streamlined, simple, and manageable, and I have focused my attention on del.icio.us as a possible answer to our challenge.

Now, what is del.icio.us:  “del.icio.us is a collection of favorites - yours and everyone else’s. You can use del.icio.us to:

  • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, reviews, recipes, and more, and access them from any computer on the web.
  • Share favorites with friends, family, coworkers, and the del.icio.us community.
  • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite — they’ve already done the work of finding it. So del.icio.us is full of bookmarks about technology, entertainment, useful information, and more. Explore and enjoy.

del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website — the primary use of del.icio.us is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On del.icio.us, you can use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders.

You can also use del.icio.us to see the interesting links that your friends and other people bookmark, and share links with them in return. You can even browse and search del.icio.us to discover the cool and useful bookmarks that everyone else has saved — which is made easy with tags.”

I have used del.icio.us personally for awhile now, but as with any list of links, they must be managed, sorted, and updated to be usable.  Over the summer I decided to share del.icio.us as a resource in my “Utilizing the Internet” workshop and it is proving to be a valuable resource.  The teachers I worked with, so far, helped to brainstorm an idea of creating a central repository of online resources based on their del.icio.us lists.  The process has begun.

A big plus with del.icio.us is that you can access your links anywhere you have an internet connection.  If you are on the road and find a great site it can be added via your smart phone, laptop, or any internet device!  A great feature of del.icio.us is tagging and the ability to search for other links based on the tags you create. This enables the social networking part of del.icio.us and makes for effective gathering of related links.  The tags also foster organization of content and help to easily put together a repository of information related to grade levels and subject areas.  You can also subscribe via RSS to various del.icio.us pages to keep up on added resources over time.  As one adds users to their network, a collaborative effort is facilitated as teachers easily can help build a repository of resources shared across the del.icio.us site while simply creating and sharing their personal list of sites.

To get things started I have begun gathering resources I have collected over time and have focused on the elementary grades at this point.  I put together some web pages to serve as the gateways to grade level and subject area information, but the key will be inviting teachers on board to share their personal resources. Teachers are the experts in their fields, and my goal is to facilitate the organization of the resources they find valuable for their students.  With ten elementary schools in our district, I know as teachers share their information it will be beneficial to all staff.

The potential exists to not only collaborate with teachers within our own district but also with educators around the world.  That is the power of such social networking sites, and this resource is there for the taking with only the cost of time.  Time is always an issue, but I believe that through collaboration the time will pay off for teachers and students.

The following link is our initial repository of links:  NPPSD Online Resources.  It is a work in progress, but I am excited about the potential and power that it will have in our district.  If you have a del.icio.us account, please add us to your network!  We are all in this together, and  as we share we can save valuable time that can be spent working with our students.

How have you used del.icio.us in education?  Please let us know!

Space I thought this picture was great (Click it to see it bigger or go here), and it caused me to reflect on us down here on the good planet earth. I have been quite busy it seems for the past year, and as over 600 articles pile up in my RSS reader, as April 15th looms closer and closer (It is my youngest daughter’s birthday too so I’m excited about that part), and as life seems to zip by at an ever increasing pace it takes a picture from space to give a little bit of perspective from up so high to way down there or here depending upon if you are in the space station or not. If I do have readers on the space station, thanks for stopping by during your busy schedules and I would recommend that you not stop by anymore and just stay focused on your space station duties! ;-)

Speaking of time, I have been debating what I could enroll myself in via MIT’s Open Courseware. What a great opportunity, as there are with many universities now. A visit to iTunes U opens up many lessons to be had and learned. That is what I like about this “new” world, it is smaller, flatter, and it is easier to get around. It brings us closer together, if we make time to do so. That is what I need to do: make the time, shape the time, capture the time. A focus on things that matter most is the key. Peace!

Also, go here if you haven’t as of yet (PBS Frontline special “Growing Up Online”).  We really need to address digital citizenship!  Things are happening each day and we need to help young people navigate this digital world.

Madison Middle School This has been a busy and exciting week for me. I had the opportunity to teach another SMART Board mini class on Tuesday. We had parent teacher conferences last night and this morning and deployed the parent portal portion of our student information system. Many parents stopped by our display to gain their access code that allows them to view their children’s grades online. Special thanks to Connie, and it was a pleasure to work alongside her!!!

This afternoon I took part in a professional development with the staff from one of the middle schools in our district, and we learned about RSS and everyone left with a brand new blog added to their arsenal of teaching tools. I look forward to following up and supporting these great teachers in their pursuits of blogging, and I hope that it becomes a useful tool for many of them and their students.

This middle school staff is great, and I have to admit each time I am with them or in their building I wish I was teaching with them, sharing their students, and being a part of what is very special. Their instructional leader is superior and a person that I am honored to work with. They may not even recognize the excellent situation they all have, and if they do I hope they cherish it, nurture it, and hang on to it with all their beings. Madison Middle School, I am completely impressed with you all. Thanks for letting me be a small part of all you do!!! Peace!

Several educators are sitting in front of me right now watching me type this into my blog!!!

Updated info to this post!!!

Click Here for a Mini Class Video Review (at TeacherTube)

Links to web resources shown in the mini class:

Google Reader Login Page

The wiki page with info for the mini class

Hokanson’s Wikispaces Page

WordPress.com

Edublogs

Wikispaces

PBWiki

Will Richardson Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts,… Today I finished Will Richardson’s book Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms. I have always appreciated Will’s viewpoints on his blog, and I like the straightforward, easy to understand approach he presents in his book. Having used many of these tools in my classroom for over a year now, I was familiar with much of what Will shares, but I had many “I should have tried that moments!!!” Now, I am in a new position (district level educational technology specialist) with a new audience (educators) and the book proved valuable in giving me ideas and ways that I can share these tools with teachers.

Teachers themselves will benefit from reading this book (Get it ASAP!), and I believe it would serve as an excellent textbook for in-service training and for use in teacher preparation programs. Even a seasoned Web 2.0 teacher (Can there be such a thing in such a short period of time!?! :-) will pick up new ideas or ways of using these tools that they hadn’t thought of before! As with any text that concerns the web the reader will encounter shared links that have since moved on in such a short time since the book was published; nevertheless, I could easily search the name of a particular person or topic mentioned and find the new location of the information on the web. (Maybe Will could add a page to his blog with updates or create a wiki page where readers could help update links.)

The book, to me, is written for the now, and it is intended to jump start educators and students into using the many Web 2.0 tools that exist today. I know Will has much more to say concerning these tools and the future of integrating technology to facilitate collaboration, critical thinking, and self-directed learning, and I feel his blog serves as a continuation and expansion of the text. One of Will’s main points in his book is to recognize the “teachers” that are and information that is out there, on the web, ready to fill your RSS feed reader! His text is really a staging area for the journey that he invites the reader to take in using these powerful web tools in the classroom, and I think it is a good place to start and to take ownership of your own learning.

While at the Building Learning Communities 2007 Conference I had the opportunity to attend a couple of workshops by Will Richardson.  I have been reading Will’s blog for quite some time, and I finally purchased his book:  Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.  I am a few pages into this text, and I am already considering this as a resource for professional development in my school district.  I believe it is a must read for educators in today’s schools, and an excellent, practical “how to” guide to using these web tools in the “classroom.”