Sunday, February 24, 2013

Challenge #8 Collaborate and Communicate

This week I was challenged to create and participate in a Wiki. I choose to use my Wiki to discuss how a Wiki can be used in an elementary classroom. I am a lower elementary teacher so I asked the participants in my Wiki to discuss how to use a Wiki in the lower elementary grades. The link for my personal Wiki is below.

This particular challenge was tough for me.  I had a lot of technical difficulties using the Wikispace website. For starters, I had my Wiki set on private and thought I had turned it to public but didn’t. I finally realized my error. But my good friends in the class contributed to my Wiki and alerted me to my mistake.


Wikis I collaborated on:

Challenge Discussion:

What is the difference between cooperation and collaboration?

I think of the words cooperation and collaboration as synonyms. According to the Dictionary App on my phone, collaborate means to work with another and cooperation means to work together for a common goal or action. But after completing the Wiki challenge, I realized that they are actually very different.

In the context of the Wiki project, it seemed like the Wiki participants were only collaborating. We weren’t working together to complete one final and united project. We were simply adding our thoughts to a Wiki space. It didn’t matter if the information we were contributing matched or complimented another person’s entry. We were all just adding opinions or facts to the discussion on the Wiki.

Wiki Project vs. Traditional Group Work

The one big difference I noticed between the Wiki project and traditional group work was that there was no immediate feedback from my peers. There also didn’t seem to be much of a conversation about the topic we were discussing in our Wiki’s. It felt like we were all just posting facts and opinions and not really discussing topics. As a student, I find the conversation part of learning to be invaluable. Listening to other people’s thoughts on topics helps me to process new information. I found that the Wiki didn’t really allow for that aspect of the learning process to occur.

How can collaboration be taught?

Before collaboration can be taught, the teacher needs to teach students how to use the tools that are used for collaboration. Teachers cannot expect students to collaborate if they don’t know how to use Wikis, blogs, or social media. Once students have learned how to use collaboration tools, teachers can begin to create an online learning community within their own classroom. The online learning community, within their classroom, allows students to practice collaborating on projects with their peers. By starting at the classroom level, students are able to get feedback face to face from their peers about their ability to collaborate. When the teacher feels that the students have learned to collaborate at the classroom level, than they can begin to collaborate with others on a local or global level. 

Challenge #9 Assess

To assess the participants in my Wiki I used the Rubric that was included with our book. I found the Rubric in the PD tool kit. This challenge also required us to record our assessment discussion on the multimedia of our choice. I decided to record my discussion on You Tube. The link to my discussion is below.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Chapter 5 Challenges 6 and 7

The challenges in this chapter really got me thinking. First, I had a lot or trouble creating, finding, understanding, and completing Challenge #6 (creating a classroom monitoring profile). I would like to thank everyone who was so patient with all my questions about that one. Challenge #7, discussing social media use with a student, really got me thinking. Below are my reflections on the challenges.


Challenge #6 Creating a Classroom Monitoring Portal

After hours spent searching on the internet, tears, and probably some pretty stupid questions, I finally understand what a CMP is and can do for me. I am not hosting or participating in a project right now. I ended up creating a CMP page for my Flattening Classrooms experience. I have included a link to the University of North Alabama, my Blog, and my PLN. I have also added a Twitter feed for Flattening Classrooms, To Do list, and a news search widget. A CMP lets you keep tabs on everything that is happening with one glance. I can see how this is a very powerful tool for managing a group of project participants. It puts all the information in one spot. I have really learned a lot during this challenge. Below is a link to my public Netvibes CMP.

Challenge #7 Empower Digital Citizenship Action

For this challenge, I interviewed a fourth grade student who has a Facebook page. As a parent, teacher, and a private person by nature, I find social media a little daunting. After speaking with this student I realized just how important it is to teach children how to conduct themselves online. First a little background. The student I interviewed is ten years old and has had her own Facebook account for about one year.  She told me that her Mom only allows her to “be on” Facebook using the family computer located in the living room and can only accept friend requests from people she has met in person. Below are the questions I asked her and her paraphrased responses.

How did you get a Facebook account if the minimum age to join Facebook is 13?

She stated that her Mom set up her page and she didn’t know that you had to be thirteen to have a Facebook account. (This sounds like a question I needed to ask her Mom.)

Why did you want a Facebook account?

She stated that some of her friends, Mom, older sister, and other relatives had accounts and wanted to participate.

What do you do when you are on Facebook?

I look at the information my friends share on Facebook, chat with my friends, and keep up with what is happening in their lives. I also share photos and stories about my life.

Do you ever do anything on Facebook for school?


Has anyone made fun of you, bullied you, or made you sad by the comments they made on Facebook?

Her answer was yes. She explained that a cousin of hers made fun of a picture she posted of herself. She stated that she thought she looked really nice in the picture and the cousin did not agree.

I then asked her how she handled that situation.

She said that it made her really mad and she told her Mom about. They discussed the comments and decided that the best course of action was to ignore the comments.

Have you ever made any comments that hurt someone’s feelings?

She said she didn’t think she ever had but if she did she didn’t intentionally set out to hurt someone’s feelings.

What do you like best about Facebook?

She said she liked talking with her friends and sharing pictures.

My Thoughts
As a parent of a young girl, I don’t think most young children are mature enough or understand the pitfalls of Facebook. Facebook has that age requirement for a reason. That being said, I thought this young lady seemed to be conducting herself as a good digital citizen. From the information she gave me, she seemed to be trying her best to be cordial. She was only communicating with people she had relationships with outside of Facebook. Therefore, she wasn’t unknowingly committing many cultural taboos or having many language disconnects. She did however experience some emotional pain from some mean comments made by a relative. Overall, I thought this girl was being a good digital citizen. I just wish she didn’t have to cut her social media teeth using a site that is so public.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chapter 4 Challenge #5

Challenge #5 Go Mobile!

This time I was challenged to use my mobile device in an educational way. This is the first school year that I have used mobile devices in the classroom. One app that I find very useful is Reading Remedy. It costs $1.00 and works on all the Apple devices. I use this app on my IPad.

Reading remedy is an app designed to determine what basic literacy skills a student needs to work on. The description in the iTunes cite says the App was developed by reading coaches and teachers as an assessment tool to determine the skills students were lacking.

I am currently a reading intervention teacher. I work with students that are in need of reading intervention. Their general education teacher often tells me that they can’t decode words or are having problems with prefixes. Decoding words and prefix and suffix knowledge are two very large sub-topics of reading instruction. Reading Remedy allows me to focus in on the specific skill, letter, or phonics rule a student is struggling with. It has allowed me to effectively use the intervention time I have with the students. I would also like to state, that I use other forms of assessment to determine where a student needs help. Reading remedy helps point you in a direction rather than giving a definitive answer. I would never recommend relying solely on the assessments in Reading Remedy.

Link to the app download: