Dare to Care

construct, create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

02/Feb/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.  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.QR Business Card

 

 

 

 

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?

30/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

Cartoons and Puffins, the Magical Media

Embedding Media

OK, here I go again, spending way too much time having fun with all the new webapps available! ToonDoo and Blabberize were both very entertaining!

My post will be a short one today because I have been writing other posts about my blogging addiction, my genius students and former genius student.

I love teaching and learning! So much to learn, so little time. I could stay up all night again learning new things in Activity 6 of the Kick Start Your Blogging Teacher Challenge, but I must go to bed. That way I can start dreaming about Activity 7 and widgets, which just came out.

Photo: By the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region. They have made it available with an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license. That means I was free to share and remix, which I certainly did. The puffin in the original photo was very stately and handsome, and he wasn’t blabbering at all.

I’ve also included a couple previously-created embedded media. I use SchoolTube to upload my videos. I like it best because all the videos are uploaded to a school site, with teacher moderators.

Prezi is an awesome webapp. I’m still trying to figure it out. That non-linear feature has so much potential! Here is one attempt.

28/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
8 Comments

I Found it! My Genius

Oh, my! You are never too old to believe in your genius! When my 8th graders came in today, I asked them to write down the first ten U.S. presidents. (During the first quarter we memorized those and had regular quizzes, but they hadn’t reviewed for months.) Groans all around!

“No grade given!” I quickly assured them. “I just want to see if you remember them.”

I heard many replies and questions. “Do they have to be in order?” “What if I don’t remember them?” “Oh, I know these.”  And so forth.

After a few minutes of working on their own, they began to collaborate with their neighbors. “Oh, yeah, I forgot that one.” “Yes, I remember that sentence now; I forgot about that.” Bells of remembering, dancing brain cells, presidents quickly written on papers.

After I called time, most students had gotten the first eleven U.S. presidents down on paper. Eleven? Yes, when Allie, who remembered the mnemonic I had taught them–Will a jolly man make a just, but harshly treated president?” –reminded others around her, many students quickly remembered and began recording: So many presidents!Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, Jackson, Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler and, the eleventh (equivalent to president in the mnemonic), Polk.

“Woohoo!” I shouted. “Who thinks that together we were smarter?”

Everyone enthusiastically agreed.

I continued, “Just like Angela (@angelamaiers) told me last week at my workshop, together we ARE smarter.” And then I gave them the newest installment of my genius speech, inspired and revised daily by Angela and my new genius hero, Kelly Sigler (@kellysigler).

“You know, the future of education is collaboration. We are going to be doing it more and more over your high school and college careers. It’s already in the working world. The very best, most exciting employers right now are looking for great collaborators. Just like you did right now.

“However, they are also looking for another thing. And that would be contribution. You have to contribute your creativity and genius to the “together” part. Those companies, like Google and Apple–they can’t afford to hire leeches. If you don’t contribute your own genius to “together we’re smarter”, you’ll be left behind.

“The exciting companies to work for now are looking for collaborators AND contributors, and we have to get ready for that world. At our school, we want to make sure you are ready to have fun and success in that world where together we are smarter, where everyone contributes and collaborates. The leeches, those who don’t contribute, but just take, are going to be left behind. You all have something to contribute. You are all geniuses!”

I saw the face, Angela. A little more jaded than the five-year-old’s “AHA” face, but it is there nonetheless. They are geniuses and they are going to change the world for good!

My genius speech was to get them ready to start work on a history project on the Give Me Liberty!book Give Me Liberty by Russell Freedman. I explained that we will post the projects (or a digital form of them) for all the world. “Maybe it will help other students to preview or better understand the book when they have to read it in school,” I explained. I’ve posted a video showing their storyboarding. They collaborated and contributed, and I think they looked more like geniuses today than they did yesterday. Check back later for the end products. We’ll be sure to put them out here for you to see.

How are your students showing their genius?

Photos:
Book cover from Amazon.com
Mt. Rushmore: Royalty free collection from http://schools.iclipart.com

27/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Consumption vs. Production

Darren Rowse gave a great challenge in the ProBlogger post “Don’t be Paralyzed by Over-Consumption in 2011”. I was challenged reading the resolution his friend made, “I will be a producer, not a consumer.”

This resolution has many important applications for me.

  • I resolve to produce more of my own food in the summer because I’ve been entrusted with this beautiful Iowan soil.
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  • I resolve to move more, so I can lose that extra ten pounds.
  • I resolve to produce more effective experiences for my students, rather than just read another great teacher blog post.

Of course, consumption is good too. After raising them, we need to consume those beautiful veggies. We need to consume calories, so we have energy to run our bodies. And all teachers know, we need the input of colleagues to plan productive school days.

Regarding the 21st century’s overabundance of information, and my last year’s inclination to over-consume. Here are my resolutions:

  1. I will not check Twitter or email until after I take my morning walk and write my 750 words, http://750words.com (The only Internet site I use first thing in the morning. It is a very refreshing way to brain dump as you begin your day. It gets you ready to produce!)
  2. During the school day, my Internet usage will be limited to the resources and communication necessary for me to be an effective teacher.
  3. I will not check my subscriptions on Google Reader until after a full productive day of teaching.
  4. Lastly, and most frightening, I will not just infosume, but I will join the educational conversation. I will write on my blog regularly and learn and share through Twitter (and in the halls at my school, of course). @mrsdkrebs

Infosumption in the 21st century, has the potential to put me into a tail spin of inefficiency and overindulgence. My head becomes obese with all the information, but since I’ve been considering the idea of consumption and production, I’ve done something about it. Now, I feel refreshed.

If you are still reading this little blog post, thank you, and I suspect you may tend to over-infosume, too. We must, as Darren’s friend said, dare to become a producer, and not just a consumer. In the last three weeks, I have become much more productive with information as a result of my four resolutions.  “I resolve to be a producer, yet rejuvenate with adequate and measured consumption.”

Photo: Royalty-free image from http://schools.iclipart.com

27/Jan/2011
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

Anna’s Genius

I walked into my classroom on Wednesday morning and saw my white board covered with messages. They were written by a genius. Anna had been in my room the evening before, as it serves as a dressing room for the cheerleaders at our home basketball games. She decided to Image from subscription iClipart for Schoolsleave a message for the junior high students I teach. One message became two, then three, and finally it became a whole book. A guidebook to life. How to live it to the fullest. Anna is a genius, and she had something to share with the world. Would that all our students were so passionate.

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