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The last few reading assignments helped me gain a better understanding of the difference between a wiki and a blog. Wikis are great platforms for exchanging information and collaboration. K-12 educators can use wikis to launch, monitor and scaffold projects.  Teachers and administrators can use a wiki to create a repository of their students. Currently, our school uses an Excel worksheet to describe our students. Going to the “u:” drive to fetch and record information on a student is cumbersome. I believe a wiki format would be easier to use and more inviting. Lastly, teachers collaborating around their experiences in the classroom can be facilitated with a wiki. They can exchange ideas around what worked and what did not work in the classroom. They can learn from each others experiences without having to talk over the phone or meet face to face.

Most of the wikis that I found for educational and classroom purposes were geared towards the humanities. The following wiki was great to view, it was nominated for a 2010 Edublog Award  Digital_Artstech_Academy.  This wiki, ScienceInquirefreestuff, although geared for science, is full of resources. I learned about the Website, FREE-Federal Resources For Educational Excellence, as a result of reading the wiki ScienceInquirefreestuff.  The following two wikis were created by mathematic teachers MathsYear7 and Math 12 Outcomes Portfolio: the latter wiki was nominated for a 2007 Edublog award.  The wiki Maths_VEL_Model introduced me to the VELS domain of Personal Learning.

Collaboration_ChallengesThe wikis I found most interesting were used as platforms to display personal learning. The wikis served as portfolios of student work. Both the Digital_Artstech_Academy and the Math 12 Outcomes Portfolio are made up students’ work. They were not a waste of time to look at and they were more than a compilation of links. These two wikis went so much further than being a location to access course information and homework assignments. They contained students’ portfolios and problem solving strategies. I like the online portfolio that wikis can be used to create. The students can respond to prompts and questions presented by their peers and teachers. They can proceed to share how they arrived at their outcomes pertaining to the same topic. Just as students can benefit from collaborative work, so can teachers.

As a teacher, I see, at least, two benefits working with wikis; 1) the development of group skills, 2) my subject matter knowledge will grow.  I believe working with wikis in the classroom requires team work and trust. The students must learn to trust each other and learn how to learn from each other. As a teacher, my ability to implement group work and project based learning would improve as a result of using wikis in the classroom. Secondly, reading wikis that are directly related to my subject area will grow my knowledge base on the subject. Also, my expertise as a teacher will grow as a result of seeing new ways to present topics and differentiate instruction using technology. I was very impressed with the embedded flash based math lessons I viewed on the wiki MyMathResourcePage. Learning how to create software based lessons is a third another benefit of viewing wikis on a regular basis.

All levels of the school building can gain from using wikis. However, a mind shift must take place because most people are not used to sharing their ideas. Educators must also become comfortable with writing for the purpose of collaboration using Web 2.0 tools and not just socializing. I now have a better understanding of the difference between a blog and a wiki. Both are great tools for collaboration and I foresee more widespread use of each.

 

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My understanding of what a blog looks like and what I can expect to learn from a blog was outdated. I found five Blogs that were very interesting. The five blog sites that I found are Free Technology for Teachers, Math Made SimpleMath-Intervention-Snyder, STEM-Bainbridge and Tools for the Common Core Standards. To my surprise, two of the five Blog sites contained embedded video tutorial clips. All of the Blogs contained links to other sites. All five of the blogs I included contained current post and appeared to be updated periodically, some contained advertisements while others did not.  The Free Technology for Teachers blog I found to be a great resource.  The how-to videos are very informative. Free Technology for Teachers website and Tools for the Common Core Standards are great websites for educators. On the other hand,  Math-Intervention-Snyder, and the Math Made Simple websites are great for students, parents and educators. For a K-12 educator there is plenty of information that can be harvested from blogs for classroom use.

The narrow scope of many blogs is very useful. The titles alone speak to the focus of the blog. Unlike text books, blogs are updated frequently and are interactive. Newly launched sites can be included in the blogs links list as they are rolled out and discovered by the blog administrator or by someone posting to the blog. The content of blog websites provide teachers with various ways of presenting lessons.  Teachers are always challenged to teach the same topic in various ways and to not only rely on the way they were taught. Blogs supplement text books very well and expand the range of possible lessons presentation.

Following blogs related to curriculum development, project based learning, Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) and simulation software for K-12 education would improve my expertise as a teacher and curriculum developer. I would use these sites to learn how to create curriculum addressing the aforementioned topics. Because of standardized tests and too many students entering ninth grade with math and science skills are below grade level, these areas are very specific and difficult to incorporate into the curriculum. In addition, many teachers are not trained on how to deliver lessons related to these topics and strategies. Part of being an expert in your field is implementing the changes that are moving your field forward. The Common Core Standards changes the expectation of what the student must know and the outcomes the curriculum must deliver.  Tools for the Common Core Standards blog and other blogs that share the same focus are very useful sources for educators.

Blogs allow for the “instantaneous” sharing of knowledge. I can use the instantaneous and interactive nature of blogs with my students to improve how I assess there skills. Students are motivated by feedback. Immediate feedback to them based upon their post would be most beneficial. Furthermore, having students watch video tutorials and create video tutorials, that can be uploaded to a blog would be a nice show case. Math text editors, like Mathtype, need to be available with blogs.

Learning and increasing productivity are my two main concerns. How many web-pages of reading equal one text book?  How many, web-pages, videos and podcast equal one good text book?  The New Literacies and 21st Century Skills are not replacing the “old skills and literacies” they are add-ons to them. The requirement to sit still, think, focus, and reflect on an idea will never go away. Blogs must be recognized as another source of information and knowledge. Books, magazines, journals, newspapers and now we have blogs, all vehicles for delivering information and knowledge.

ReflectingSchool building leaders and teachers must embrace the change that technology affords. The affect of technology
change has permeated all aspects of our society. Our current generation of K-12 students is truly native to the digital
environment. Using the digital highway to share experiences and ideas is an every day occurrence for most youth. At a
minimum, texting and the use of email are, indulged in by many at a very early age. Let’s not forget the wide spread usage of
handheld games that the youth are enjoying; I witnessed my eighteen month old nephew manipulate a digital hand held
device with such ease to watch movies and play games. So often, I hear the students around me, making reference to the
use of Facebook as a method to reach out to their peers, in lieu of making a phone call. So, the teacher and school
building leader must recognize and capitalize on the digital skill set the digital native brings to class, in addition to using Web
2.0 tools to be more effective as a teacher and school building leader.
The digital environment that is readily available to teachers, students and school building leaders is the World Wide Web and
the software applications that run and can be accessed on this ubiquitous platform. The time when the bulk of digital
technology could be described as disparate computers performing arduous tasks for scientists, engineers, mathematicians
and researchers is well behind us. The motivation of the aforementioned users to use computers was very clear. The
forward movement of their work depended on it. Would space exploration be possible without the use of computer
technology? Why should a teacher or school building leader be motivated to use a Web 2.0 tool? What literacies are
employers expecting high school and college graduates to have developed prior to graduating? Some times, I feel the
terms “social media” and “social technology” are too limited in scope or bad branding. I am no anthropologist or
sociologist but Web 2.0 tools are not just being used to engage in “social sharing -fun stuff-”, but businesses are using
these tools to stay competitive and to gain the competitive advantage. For me the phrase “Collaboration Media” paints a
better picture. I find it to encompass the possibilities of social exchange, productivity undertakings and a platform
for learning.
Yes, learning our students must be motivated and engaged in learning. Our teachers and school building leaders must
understand the new literacies. To learn, one must be motivated and engaged. The new literacies that Collaboration Media
requires fosters peer learning and allows for critical exchanges. Web-based educational tools permit both the teacher and
student with the opportunity to customize the learning experience. The success of flipped classrooms, which requires
access to the Web, is reliant upon the students’ ability to analyze digital media critically, whether the delivery application is
Power Point, YouTube, Flickr or any other software based application. Leveraging our students experience using Social
Media is paramount. In many, if not most cases, students enjoy working with Web based applications from games to
Facebook to just simply sending email. I have used blogging with my students to implement an interdisciplinary
assignment. The students had to post sentences on a blog, using vocabulary words they first learned in mathematics. They
were required to write sentences both in a mathematical context and a non-mathematical context for their Math and
English teachers to check for grammar and proper usage.
Again, learning is the goal. The student must be motivated and engaged in the process of learning to produce the desired
outcomes. In many cases, teachers and school building leaders must overcome their insecurities, and ignorance of what
technology in general, and Web 2.0 technologies in particular bring to the learning environment. The communication and
learning between, student and teacher, teacher and leader, leader and community can call be done in an interactive manner
using Web 2.0 technologies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills and International Society for Technology in
Education are examples of two standards bodies that have defined frameworks and standards for teachers, students and
school building leaders to appeal to as they implement Web 2.0 technologies for learning in a safe and secure online
environment.

“Since knowledge is infinite continue to question, there are no bad questions.”- JRS

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