Dare to Care

Creating, Contributing, Communicating, Connecting, Collaborating & Curating

February 21, 2011
by Denise Krebs
5 Comments

21st Century Digital Citizenship

We are in the 21st century, and there are some new skills we must learn to be good citizens.

iPhone by William Hook
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Internet etiquette, or netiquette, is important for all ages, but as teachers we are in a unique position to teach digital citizenship, copyright laws in an age of plagiarism, and protection of our digital footprint.

Inspiration for my Netiquette rules is Virginia Shea in her Netiquette book, available online by Albion.

Literary cat by SuziJane
Attribution-ShareAlike License

With my class, I need to work on my Comment Guidelines, so I have taken inspiration from two exceptional class blogs. I’m hoping to use these guidelines this semester while my students and I gain experience in commenting enough to write our own. The teachers and students at Huzzah! and Scattergood Biology have some excellent commenting guidelines. Thank you for allowing us to learn and grow from your good work.

Since we have such a large job curating all the information about new digital literacy, I’m including several links in a Diigo List of Internet Safety and Acceptable Use and another list on Copyright.

We have a big job becoming 21st century digital learners ourselves. We have an even bigger job teaching our students to be responsible, safe, and effective digital citizens. Let’s help each other, shall we?

February 21, 2011
by Denise Krebs
9 Comments

The Do’s of Classroom Blogging

KrebsClassBlogs

Do Create
Make your class blogs a place to showcase the creativity of your genius students. Post their work, so their audience is not limited to just one–the teacher. For years I have posted student work on our web page, but now I believe posting it on our blog makes our potential audience so much greater than just family and friends.

Do Contribute
As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Everyone has something important to contribute. Allowing the students to do so makes the world a better place.

Do Connect
Make a commitment to connect with others in the blogosphere. For one whole year, we “blogged” with a very small audience; it was just classmates, parents and me. I guess I was hoping someone else would read, but we never reached out. Now, I understand that it’s our responsibility to develop readership, so we have begun to make connections with the world by commenting, asking questions on our blog posts, and using Twitter.

Do Collaborate
As a result of new connections, we are hoping to find partners to collaborate with. This is new for us, and we are just in the baby steps of collaborating. Here is our first attempt.

Do Curate
A curator is a manager. Like in a museum, the person in charge of deciding what to display is a curator. According to the Smithsonian, less than two percent of their collection is on display at any given time. Teachers have a great opportunity to begin to manage for students the excessive information in the 21st century digital smorgasbord. I’m still figuring out what this looks like, but I do know it is imperative to help students learn to manage and organize. In blogging, we have a perfect opportunity to model for our students. I’ve learned that I need to have clear objectives and organized categories and tags. If I want to publish something on my blog, but it doesn’t fit, I might need to wait, or post it on a different blog, or add a new category, which was the case with this post. I added a category called Blogging with Students Challenge. I also learned, through last month’s challenge, that I needed both a professional blog and a class blog–two different ones. Kevin was a good example to me of how this looks. His professional blog is Kevin’s Meandering Mind and his class blog is the Electronic Pencil.

I love the words create, contribute, connect, collaborate, and curate to describe what we are doing in education in the 21st century. I am just beginning this journey. My classroom blog is just one month old, so I am open to suggestions! Do you have any additional ideas for what classroom blogs should be?

Graphic made with Iconscrabble and BeFunky

February 12, 2011
by Denise Krebs
22 Comments

Twitter Non-Guidebook: What NOT to Do

Have you ever wondered how NOT to use Twitter? Probably not, but I’m here to tell you. According to HowLongHaveYouBeenTweeting.com I have been tweeting for 1 year, 2 weeks, 3 days, 16 hours, 16 minutes, 46 seconds. Little do they know that I was really incubating in my tweetless nest for most of that time. My first tweet came out last October after two colleagues went to an education conference. They came back and told me that educators were using Twitter to stay connected and share resources. Oh, yeah?  I love to learn new things, so I hatched right out of my Tweet shell and chirped a message to  the whole world. To the world? Maybe not. Actually, it went out to my one friend who had become my follower. She probably didn’t even have her TweetDeck open.

My First Tweet
In the past three months, I have made some important Twitter mistakes. So, without further ado, here are my top unlearnings about Twitter. What NOT to do!

1.  Don’t tell anyone when you are talking to them.

No audience for this Tweet!

In the above tweet, in my make-believe world, I was part of a conversation with my NaNoWriMo novel-writing friends following @nanowordsprints, but I forgot to mention it in my tweet. At this point in my Twitter history, I still had one follower, and since she was not writing a novel with me, she didn’t know what I was talking about. After a few tweets like this and noticing mine were not showing up in the Twitter stream, I did finally catch on and began to reply back so my voice could become part of the conversation.

2.  Write about questionable activities.

Family of skinny dippers? Really?

Yes, one of my very first tweets was about skinny dipping. I may have used the dare machine on NaNoWriMo. I honestly don’t remember why I wrote a skinny dipping family into my novel and reported it during a word sprint. Anyway, after I had sent just a handful of tweets I went to Mrsdkrebs’TwitterWeighsATon.com. Here you can see my top five tweeted words, one includes someone I was word sprinting with–Jonny Boy. Since you can only weigh your twitter stream on this site once, that’s what is out there for all time. It’s pretty lightweight, actually–my Twitter didn’t weigh a ton at all, maybe just a shekel.  If I started over today, I probably wouldn’t go to MyTwitterWeighsATon and I may have thought twice about admitting I wrote about a skinny dipping hippie family.* Not such a proud moment in my profile building, or brand, as Angela Maiers calls it.  (*11-4-11 — I outlasted MyTwitterWeighsATon, but I still wouldn’t recommend tweeting about questionable activities.)

3.  Don’t properly use the four symbols in the Twitter language. RT, d, @, #

Misuse of the Hashtags

This tweet was sent when I first started to get it. I was so excited to say something to the people in the room with me as Angela Maiers spoke to us at a Digital Literacy Conference. “Brenda, Mary, Eileen, Stacy, Erin and Angela!” Here I come, world! I tweeted out. Stacy sweetly explained to me that using the hashtag in that tweet probably wouldn’t get all of my friends to see it. I needed the @ or mention symbol. Thanks, Stacy!

4.  Don’t leave any room for Retweeting.

Flickr CC Search Toy - So much to say, ran out of characters!

Yes, once in a while I have something valuable to offer. Like the tweets about word clouds, NEH Landmarks in History free with stipend summer workshops, and my new favorite the Flickr CC search toy. However, when you use every single one of your 140 characters to tell about the wonderful resource you are sharing AND put the URL at the end of the message, it’s a hassle for others to RT your great find. Especially when they are novices like me.

Now, not only did I want to share my What Not to Do Twitter Non-Guidebook. I do want to conclude with two more things that you should do. I’ve learned from the best of them…

Do Be Gracious to Others

So many people are out there to help us newbie Twitterers. They are playing nice in the digital world. Thanks for everyone who is patient with us when we make mistakes. (Number 7 on our class netiquette list.) Also, a big thanks to those who are teaching me good etiquette in a new medium. So, for those of you who haven’t started yet, go ahead and get an account.  Have fun, because even though I do the things in my Non-Guidebook, people are forgiving and kind.

NEH Landmarks Worshop

Ron retweeted this announcement about NEH Landmarks of American History workshop,  changing my hashtag to a more useful one. (Notice it had to be continued on deck.ly because I had hogged the 140 characters. Non-rule #4 above.)

Thanks from a fellow teacher!

Beverly offering thanks and reciprocation for our students’ blogging efforts.

A retweet from a new friend in my PLN

Nancy retweeting my blog post. How nice is that? I was nervous because it was my first attempt after the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge ended. Not only did she read it, but she retweeted it. I receive other messages thanking me for following or commenting on student or teacher’s creative work. I’m learning from others in the Twitter community how to be patient and kind with others.

Do Read a Bit About Twitter

Usually, I’m pretty confident to just dig in and figure things out, but, for me, Twitter is one of those things that has a steeper and more slippery learning curve than some of the other tools I’ve used. Here are helpful posts that I finally read about three months after I got started. In the past few days, I’ve learned so much that I probably wouldn’t have had to write this post had I done the reading earlier.

Hashtags.org – To follow trends and figure out hashtags.
Twitter Wiki
Mashable Twitter Guidebook
Follow the links for Tons of Twitter How-to Posts – By Jon M. Reid
Topsy.com – An archive of all your tweets – even on skinny dipping
Angela Maiers’ Twitter Resources Library
Make graphs of all your Twitter stats.

Create a word cloud of your Twitter account with MyTweetCloud.
http://mytweetcloud.com/
Jessica Hische’s “mom, this is how twitter works” – Not just for moms!
http://tweetcloud.com/

What about you? Do you have other things to add to my What Not To Do Non-Guidebook for Twitter? What other important things are on your DO List for Twitter? I’m learning, so I’d love to hear more!

February 8, 2011
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

Cubism at its Best

cubism studyFor the last two days, we have done a nature of science activity in seventh grade. The students were given a variety of cubes. On five sides of each cube were written some bits of evidence. The students were to try to predict the pattern begun on the cube, and identify some possible solutions. As scientists, they were to think divergently, use background knowledge, and not be afraid to make mistakes as they came up with many possible answers for each cube.  Our genius students did all of those things. Some of the cubes we gave them were:

  • the first five Fibonacci numbers 0, 1, 1, 2, 3…
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Small towns in our area
  • First five elements in Group 1 of the Periodic Table – H, Li, Na, K, Rb…
  • Synonyms for glad
  • Squares – 1, 4, 9, 16, 25…
  • and more, about ten in all

Cube

One of the trickier cubes for the students was the one shown above. Our students struggled with it, according to Vanessa, “for half the period,” but they began to see a pattern emerge. Here is a video showing their discovery and subsequent teaching to the rest of the class.

I hope you’ll share with me a comment or link to what your brilliant students have been up to!

Photo: By Jenster181 Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License

February 3, 2011
by Denise Krebs
14 Comments

Class of 2011 KSYB Teacher Challenge Commencement

I like that we call graduation “commencement” because commencement literally means beginning. As we graduate from the “30 Days to Kick Start Your Blogging” teacher challenge, I realize it is really the beginning. It is the beginning for all of us new (or freshly spiffed up) bloggers. An interview with my blog started this challenge, so I thought I would end the challenge with a final interview. But before my blog comes out, I wanted to show a word cloud of my blog over the past month. I am delighted with the big ideas and topics included.

Teacher Challenge Blog Posts in a Wordle

Teacher Challenge Blog Posts in a Wordle

Well, Dare to Care Blog, why do you need readers?
Mrs. Krebs and all the fine educators who have been in this blogging challenge learned they have joined a conversation. They believe that they really do have something to offer in their listening to others and in their sharing of their own voices. According to my ClustrMap, in her first eleven months of blogging, she had about 450 visitors. In one month, as she participated in this awesome 30-day professional development program at Edublogs, she had 300+ visitors. From little over 1 visitor per day to 10 per day! Of course, we all know how that happened. Neither she nor I did anything new or exciting. There were no prizes, no gimmicks, her writing skills didn’t improve, nor did she have incredible new insights. It wasn’t the fancy widgets she put on my sidebar or the categories and tags she cleaned up. The only thing that really changed was she joined a community of educators willing to help each other by listening and sharing. It was transformational. Mrs. Krebs and I, her trusty blog, thank all of you!

How can we stay networked? How can the conversations continue?
I believe it will be more difficult without the regular prodding of Sue Waters, Ronnie Burt, Sue Wyatt, and Anne Mirtschin. However, it will be possible, if educators do a few things.

First, join Twitter, if you haven’t already. Follow the four educational leaders above and @mrsdkrebs. Send out tweets when you post a new blog entry. Follow educational leaders and read their blogs.

Second, dare to share. (Just a little play on my name there!) Write posts about incredible lesson plans, questions one has, cool new web 2.0 apps, genius student work, and any other professional and personal reflections. And write them regularly!

Finally, because there won’t be the handy “Posts of the Week” links to visit each others’ blogs, you’ll need to be proactive in going out to read others’ blogs. Have you found some favorite bloggers already? Add them to your reader or subscribe by email. Or add them to your blogroll and visit them regularly.

Why has this challenge been important to you and your blog?
My writer, Mrs. Krebs, asked me to yield to her on this question, so she’s taking over.

It’s an exciting time in education. According to Tony Wagner, American education is due for a major renovation. It’s happened just once before. Over 125 years ago, our school system was reinvented. It went from a one-room school house model to an assembly-line school system, the same factory model we still have today. American education doesn’t just need a reform, it needs a re-invention. I know it’s true. Students think education is irrelevant to their lives. They don’t believe the stale promise, if you work hard and get good grades, you’ll get a good job. I don’t want to waste any of my valuable time teaching in a way that is irrelevant. I want to be in on the conversation that is reinventing education. I don’t have grand ideas, but I do believe I can be part of the discourse. I am eager to listen and share and reflect. My blog has become a part of that!

Check out Iowa Future and Tony Wagner’s motivating talk:

February 3, 2011
by Denise Krebs
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Curiosity and Imagination are Survival Skills

I’m loving the new Iowa Future website. In the Overview section, it explains how we can’t teach to our past, but to our students’ future: “That is why Iowa Future is promoting the need for innovation in education, sharing ideas from across the state and nation, and highlighting the work underway to prepare for the future, to help all students realize success and possess the knowledge and skills to be ready for tomorrow, not yesterday.”

On a post yesterday at Iowafuture.org there was an interview with Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap. On the video, addressing Iowan citizens, he explained that to be ready for college or the workforce, our students all need to be lifelong learners and active and informed citizens. The following are the “Seven Survival Skills” our students need, according to Tony Wagner:

1. Critical thinking
2. Collaboration across networks & leading by influence
3. Agility and adaptability
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
5. Ability to access and analyze information
6. Effective oral and written communication
7. Most importantly, curiosity and imagination

In addition to these intellectual survival skills, Wagner reminds his listeners that the habits of the heart have always, and will continue to be, important: The qualities of empathy, moral courage, and a strong work ethic are skills of the heart.

Wagner said we need to develop core competencies and work to teach and test them. Most countries leading the way in education have already been doing this. In Iowa, we are not. An example he used is that the Iowa Test of Basics Skills does not even attempt to test whether our students are critical thinkers.

His talk made me open the Iowa Core Curriculum website and take a look around. I quickly found evidence of the first six survival skills in the sections on Literacy, Employability Skills, and Technology Literacy.

I guess I wasn’t surprised that I did not find evidence of the seventh—curiosity and imagination—the skill he describes in the video as “most important.” Am I wrong? I hope so.

Is curiosity and imagination a standard—either explicitly or implied—in the Iowa Core Curriculum? Is curiosity and imagination in any state or country’s curriculum?

February 2, 2011
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

A Wall Full of Widgets

Another snow day in the Midwest, along with teacher challenge Activity 7 on widgets, compelled me to go searching for snowflakes to lightly fall upon my blog. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until some of my students noticed it, and were rightly impressed. Now I can show them the code and let them put it on their own blogs. If you would like the snowflake code, in honor of the greatest snowstorm in U.S. history, you can cut and paste it from here:

<script src=”http://cdn.techknowl.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/snowflakes.js” type=”text/javascript”></script> or get it Techknowl.com

The rest of my blogging time today was spent with a potpourri of widgets! I have seen some interesting things about QR codes, so I made one for the first time. (Is a QR code a widget?) I couldn’t figure out how to capture the HTML code (if there is HTML), so I didn’t put it in my sidebar.  QR Business Card If you have the means to read QR codes, you may be able to scan this and read my profile.  I don’t have a device that reads QRs, so I can’t check it out. Check out this video for some amazing educational applications of QRs at McGuffy School District. A good blog post by Kimberly at I Heart EdTech also gives uses for QR codes in educational settings.

Yesterday I saved an archive of my blog so I could monitor changes in my sidebar, before and after the big cleanup. I used Photovisi to make a collage.

Yesterday's Sidebar

It is a bit mixed up, but I think you can get the idea that it was full of widgets. The link sections were too long, as I had 21 students’ blog links listed. Those were moved to my new class blogs page. I removed extraneous widgets that were there by default, and I followed Sue Waters advice on what were must-have widgets. Additionally, I added a little note about my blog. I didn’t want my sidebar to be  long and cluttered again, but I still needed to add some must-haves, and I did—an RSS feed chiclet and a subscribe by email box.

In addition, now I have useful categories, newly named and organized, and I kept the tag cloud. I also went back and tagged all my old posts, something I hadn’t done since I started my blog a year ago. The ClustrMap went to the bottom of the page, along with two other badges I’m proud of—we’re in the blog directory and I’m an Edublogs supporter.

I believe my sidebar is still less cluttered today than it was yesterday. Hopefully, it will also be more effective today than it was yesterday. However, as I drafted this post, I stopped midstream and added a Twitter feed widget.

My, what fun! OK, I must stop now, or I’ll be back to my meter-long sidebar. But, wait, how about Shelfari? And I’ve definitely been wanting to check out a grocery list widget, a springtime in Paris widget, and the ubiquitous Elvis classics widget. Oh, never mind! Really, I do need to stop widgetizing this blog!

What do you think about my new sidebar? Did I improve it with Activity 7? Any suggestions for making it better? Do you think it’s still too cluttered? I would welcome any comments from my fellow #ksyb friends! In addition, if you can read a QR code, will you please let me know if mine says anything?