School Spirit Banter

I am SO impressed by the creativity of two local area high schools and their students’ videos. As quoted in this Get Schooled post, these ARE examples of what the best “spirit cheers” look like today. You can check out the original video in this “battle” here and the response here.

For me, these videos show just how multiliterate our students are and all of the neat ways in which they are reading, writing, and engaging with the world around them. These videos use rhetorical strategies, rhymes, video angles, music — and this list only continues — all to help show their school spirit. And, I love the fact that they pull in lots of different members from their respective student bodies to be a part of the banter.

No matter which school wins the game, the main point is that these two videos have just under 400,000 hits (combined) in two weeks. Where these students’ voices heard? [I think so!]

Positive Footprints

As you all know, I feel very strongly about helping kids understand how to create and why to create positive digital footprints. I’ve thought about this topic a lot, and yet it’s something that is still weighing heavily on my mind. [Maybe it’s because the means in which we work digitally is constantly changing???]

Anyway, I’m seeing more and more kids not understanding what their digital footprint is all about and how it can/will affect them now and down the road. I know that I stress it a lot when I work with my students and try to emphasize it’s not about culling their creativity, but a way to push them to think critically and post information that is appropriate (and in a way that still gets their point across). So, I’m curious…how are others helping their students develop positive digital footprints? How can we keep kids motivated to produce and stress to them they can still “own” that digital space (without them not being “googled well”)?

Digital Essays

I’ve been intrigued with the idea of a “digital essay” ever since Jim Burke posted an example of one awhile ago. When I asked him what his assignment sheet included, Burke said that he didn’t really have a “formal” one and just told the kids to create. I think the biggest reason I’m drawn to the idea of a “digital” essay and what that “format” might encompass (beside my love for rhetoric and comp!) is the fact that I see this format as one that would be more real-world applicable in many ways versus a traditional essay for English class.

When I tried it out with my students Continue reading

You call THAT reading?

I keep thinking about two specific comments from my AP Lit workshop that I am struggling with in regards to adolescent reading and writing practices today. When I first started researching new literacies and the ways in which students (and really all of us) are becoming increasingly multiliterate, I truly believed that “Literacy as we know it is not in a crisis, but instead evolving as we know it.” This belief still holds true today as I think the majority of kids are reading and writing, a lot, just not in ways that the traditional classroom has always valued.

With my belief in place, I think many of you will see why the two comments below got my attention… Continue reading

Footprints (& filters) everywhere

With more and more people jumping on the social media bandwagon, I’m constantly thinking about people’s digital footprints and how it travels around the world (literally, ha!). I truly believe that part of our responsibility as educators is to help our kids understand what their footprint says about them now and years from now.

But how do we teach kids how to use these resources carefully? How do we help them understand the consequences of taking one bad “step” in the digital world? Classes? Warnings? (Dare I say it, but “filters?”)

I think a large part of educating our students on technology comes from the parents’ side.  Parents need to be on board with what their kids are doing online. However, I wonder how much of an issue access plays into account when trying to educate all on digital practices???  And again, then there is that “f” word I mentioned above that comes into play here, too.

Speaking of filters, I do NOT think that is an answer to solving the problems of kids accessing and posting “bad” content. The bottom line is that when they leave our classrooms, they are going to find ways around those “filters” anyway. And what happens then? We’ve tried to protect them by blocking all of the “bad” stuff and then there they are, faced with it right in front of them not knowing the effects their interaction with that content can have (and yet we wonder why they don’t understand how their footprint affects them!).

I don’t think there is an easy fix here (or is there?), but for some reason this topic — footprints and filters — has been on my mind a lot lately. I really stress safety and common sense to my kids during all of our digital endeavors and also let them know why it matters (in and outside of school).

Curious: how do others handle footprints and filters in their classrooms?

What the 2012 Campaign Means to Me

Today I saw a tweet from our President, @BarackObama, discussing what the 2012 campaign means to Americans around the country. With everything going on around the world, I am constantly reminded just how fortunate we are to live in a country where each individual can share his/her opinions/ideas on what he/she feels the campaign (rather the future of America) truly means. For this reason, I wanted to share a few of my own thoughts on what the 2012 campaign means to me.

Times are hard…for everyone. And yes, changes need to be and have been made. However, one of the most important areas our country does NOT need to cut corners with is EDUCATION. Education is the key to success and empowers people. That’s why when I hear about programs that work (and no, I’m not talking about ones that “supposedly” work surrounding more standardized testing that ultimately influence teachers’ pay scales) and the fact that they are being cut, I feel very concerned about the future of our country.

Our future is dependent on the generations to come. The generations to come are being taught by teachers every day all over this great country to prepare them for jobs that are not necessarily even present today. So why would we cut programs that help our educators? Educators that touch the lives of tons of kids a year? Why would we cut funds that directly impact our future?

Teaching is a profession many of us choose because we wanted to make a difference. Please help us do that by supporting, by valuing, how we grow professionally and how we help teach kids. Please help us continue to engage, challenge, inspire, and motivate the next generation of critical thinkers, consumers, and producers that will be running our country years from now.

So, in my opinion, the 2012 campaign is about protecting our future…and valuing what truly matters — EDUCATION. Focus on what WORKS! And support programs like the National Writing Project that make a difference in the lives of Americans all over.

ISTE Young Educator Video

Here is the video I created for my entry to the ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award. I had so much fun creating it and it really got me thinking about how important it is to think critically about the technology we use in our classrooms. We have so many opportunities today to engage, challenge, and motivate our students through the use of technology — the possibilities are endless!