Ms. Shannon's World History

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Location: Gainesville, Florida, United States

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I have truly enjoyed my experience in the blogging workshop. I do wish that it was longer and that more of my colleagues were involved so that there could have been more conversation. I believe that the workload was very manageable. (Thanks Chris) I will be continuing my blog and have actually started thinking of ways to manage a larger class on the web. (Thanks Mickey) The discussions that did take place and the customized learning that I was engaged in certainly left a meaningful impression on my "personal" development. I really wish that this workshop could last longer or have a period of reflection after the first semester of blogs in the classroom...just to follow up...(I may just do that on my own) Great workshop Chris, I wish more teachers could have been a part of it. You should think of shopping this around to other schools in the county!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I have been challenged to discuss (in the most persuasive manner possible) the necessity of blogs as a professional development setting. First in order to make the notion of including weblogs (that may appear to be more of a hinderance than a help to some of my colleagues) as a part of professional development more friendly, I would like to call it "PERSONAL(IZED) DEVELOPMENT" instead of "PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT." As seen in Jeff Scofer's
Thinking Stick Blog at http://jeff.scofer.com/thinkingstick/?p=108 if "personal development" can be individually mapped and completed in planning time or free time it is much more likely to be beneficial and carried out in practice. When teachers are forced to attend a "generic" professional development seminar there will be undoubtedly a point in time where information that is being presented will not apply to some content area teachers. Be careful to not take the latter statement as a broad generalization or condemnation of "generic" professional development, I am sure that in some instances a general professional development session cannot be avoided...it may even be appropriate at times; but it (generic PD) should be supplemented (heavily) with personalized personal development.

The connection with blogs in this particular discussion is the ease that any educator who has access to a computer with internet capabilities would be able to not only seek out his or her own personal development and weed through sites and/or information that don't address specific needs, but also have a conversation with collegues from around the world through interactive blogsites that will spark professional discussions and will eventually lead to personal and professional growth.

Blogs can offer an open forum with teachers near and far to discuss lesson plans, share classroom management ideas, ideas for summer reading lists, strategies to deal with the stresses of the world of teaching, rubric ideas, and to discuss "hot topics" in education, leadership, and policy. A wealth of sources that can aid in personal development through blogging can be found in Michael Lackner's site on educational uses of weblogs at http://mustangblog.typepad.com/educationalweblogs/2005/02/instructional_u.html his site has links to other edubloggers.

Blogs are relatively easy to create, manuver through, and connect with others and according to Eschoolnews.com may be another way to help teachers meet technology proficiency requirements of The No Child Left Behind Act. What more needs to be said! With our students becoming more and more technologically saavy, I would be hard pressed not to at least try to keep up with them. If not for professional reasons I would do it for the personal benefit, to invite other teachers to discuss my class practices and personal growth and development would be the "tip of the iceberg" of potential gains that WE would stand to make.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

As a first year teacher I found it particularly difficult to assign student "research" projects and papers. Not because I thought that students weren't capable of doing the work but because I had come to realize that it would be inflicting horrific pain on myself to read what the students thought was "research". As an afterthought I realized that it is my responsibility to teach students what "real" research was and to be able to discern between "researching" and "searching."

In this virtual world of endless information that is readily available to our students, I have found that in addition to teaching, grading, assessing, encouraging, etc. we (as teachers of secondary students especially) must hold students and ourselves accountable for modeling and instructing proper research practices, application, and synthesis of information found on the world wide web. We must teach students that research entails much more that typing www.google.com or www.wikipedia.com or www.fillintheblankwithwhateverwebsiteskidsusemost.com. Researching should involve looking at several sources, books, journals, websites (after you teach them which ones are reliable sources), microfiche etc. Students have to learn how to synthesize different opinions that they come across in order to come up with his or her own opinion on a topic.

In a moment of naivete I assigned my World History Honors students an essay on Gender Roles and Social Structure during the Feudal and Heian period in China...I provided primary sources and let them know that their book was also a sufficient source to help them form opinions. I provided a rubric and let them loose (I know the mistakes I made with this assignment...) What returned to me was a conglomorate of sources from the internet strategically (and some not so strategically) pasted into a word document. Needless to say I was livid...(in hindsight I am more livid at myself for my lack of modeling and presumptuous "teaching" style)...But it also brought me to think that students are using the internet as a "reliable" crutch which all of their opinions are based, it isn't my purpose in this blog to bash the search engine internet sites (because goodness knows there's a wealth of knowlegde there) but I think that as teachers we must instill in students that these sites are not where the foundation of strong, solid, academic research stem from. I think that too many times we rely on the English teachers to teach this and other content area teachers assume that students have the knowledge of where to go in order to do scholarly research. Not that I want to detract from teaching in my content area to spend time doing things that I think students should already have known, but I do feel that if they leave high school without proper research (not searching) skills then I have done a serious disservice to my students....ANY THOUGHTS???

Thursday, June 29, 2006

This weeks assignment was to review various classroom blog sites and video and write my impression of them. I enjoyed the videos although I did not understand why they all were focused on "What is a blog?" it seemed like a random survey of people who all knew what they were. I would have liked to see what people who had not heard of blogs thought they were? (possibly for my own comedic entertainment) I really liked the sites created by the teachers. I would like to see how I could incorporate the blog in my own classroom and engage students. One site titled "The Secret Life of Bees" struck me as what I think my blog for my classroom would most likely look like. Because I have such a large amount of students I think that it would be more difficult for me to design my blog, require each student to create a blog of his/ her own (not myspace) for educational purposes, and check to make sure that they are all participating. I would like my class blog to look more like "Room 208" and "American Studies" blog with lots of student teacher interaction. Any ideas on how I could do that?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hi this is Ms. Shannon welcome to our course weblog. This blog will be used as an online forum for the World History course during the 2006-2007 school year.