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Network Filtering: Hmmm.........
Philadelphia is one of those districts that blocks YouTube. I struggle with the filtering system we have here in Philly.
On one hand, I am very supportive of it since many teachers have terrible classroom management or don't seem to think twice when they let their students have 'free time' on the computer. However, these 'rotten apples' ruin if for the whole bunch of us apples who have GOOD classroom management and, as a good parent would, monitor what our students are doing on the computer. Legally, SDP cannot afford to NOT block YouTube. Legally, they have to filter certain material (adult content, violence, social networking.....) to receive E-Rate money to support its large infrastructure.
On the other hand, I am frustrated that teachers do not monitor what their students are doing on school computers. After all, there is a 4 page Acceptable Use Policy that I make all of my 4-6th grade students sign in order to use the computers at all. I also think that teachers should consider themselves the responsible adult at school. Would they want their child's teacher letting their child go anywhere on the internet unsupervised? We get requests from people to block internet radio sites because their students keep listening to them. Easy solution: you abuse your internet privelege, you lose it. Blocking things do not teach students lessons. When they go home, they are exposed to EVERYTHING!!! We are skating around teaching our children to be responsible Digital Citizens by pretending that these kinds of things don't exist.
Would I Use It?
So would I use YouTube? It's hard to say. I think it'd be useful for instructional videos that either I create or find, but it would require heavy monitoring to make sure that students are not straying from the assigned material. I would probably use TeacherTube for these kinds of things, though the educational videos on TeacherTube are not of high quality like those on YouTube. I would probably give it a try and see how it goes and 'play it by ear.'
I do agree with the article "Is Education Ready for YouTube?" that our students go home to a digital world and watch movies and videos constantly, so using this format to reach them in an educational way cannot be thrown aside. Proper use of this tool must be explicitly taught in structured lessons and activities, and Acceptable Use Policies must be well known and signed by all users (adult and student!)
Aside from Digital Citizenship, how will schools/districts/teachers handle putting student-created works up on the web? For a student's image to be publicly displayed a parent needs to sign a waiver. How will parents feel about their child's image being displayed on a global network? How will students react to their personal projects, which are, by law copyright protected, being displayed publicly with the possibility for wider dispersal, exposure and theft?
Digital Citizenship Resources
Cyber Smart Curriculum - Grade-appropriate lessons on being safe and responsible in the digital world.
Ms. Hertz's Internet Saftey bookmarks - kid-friendly sites about being safe on the internet
WebWiseKids.org - information for parents on keeping kids safe on the internet
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Why I Don't have a Twitter Account
Just to show how obsessive people get about Twitter, here is a blog with the top ten (no joke) Twitter songs--songs written specifically about Twitter.
I currently have a Facebook account and a MySpace account AND a Friendster account. This shows the progression of social networking (SN) sites over the last 5 years. When I first entered the SN scene in early 2002, Friendster was the place to be. All of my friends were on Friendster. Then, about a year later, I got a friend request to join MySpace. Slowly, over the next few months, my friends migrated to MySpace. We all still had our Friendsters because some people were still there and, you know, you just GOT TO KEEP IN TOUCH! Eventually everyone was on MySpace and I am now stuck with a useless Friendster account that I'm scared of deleting because I won't be able to track the info that's on there.
Then, a couple years later I went to my college reunion and all of a sudden it was Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. All my friends had migrated to Facebook. So, I followed the crowd to keep in touch with my friends. I actually like Facebook the best out of all of the SN sites I have used. Mostly because it is void of spamming and random friend requests, and it has an easy interface (though when they changed the interface a few months ago, people went berserk!). I still check my MySpace every once in a while, but most of my friends have moved over to FB.
So NOW, it's all Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. I'm all "sorry guys, not this time." It seems that every few months to a year there's a new SN site that takes over. I can't keep up! Twitter is very different from Facebook, since it is more about updating people on what you're doing, thoughts and sharing photos and videos, so I'm not worried about having to switch over to keep in touch with my friends.
I have over 200 friends on Facebook. This is not bragging, this is the reality of living in different places, going to college and making new friends. I can now track my social networks and keep up with people I may not have time to call. I have to sort my friends by groups so I can view their updates because I get so many that many get pushed off of my front page. I am also a 'fan' of things like NPR, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and others, so I get updates from them as well. Many are informative and entertaining.
Imagine: 200+ people to follow on Twitter where people can, from their iPhones and Crackberries tell me what they're doing or thinking at any time. AHHHHH!! System overload.
I think I'll stick with Facebook.
Twitter in the Classroom
I can't be totally closed-minded because the reality is that Twitter is very popular and highly used. It's actually, as of now, not blocked by the SDP filtering system. Here are some bulleted thoughts:
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Yesterday one of my former students, now probably 17 years old, walked into the office with a tiny baby in her arms. My heart skipped a beat. I tried not to draw attention to myself, as I was not sure how I would react or what I would say to her without a look of horror on my face. Once it was confirmed by a teacher through conversation I overheard between the two that the baby was actually hers, it really got my mind spinning.
First, I thought "what a shame." Then I thought, "I'm almost 30 and I couldn't imagine having a child!" Then, I thought "what is the 'right' reaction to her new motherhood?"
Part of me feels like I shouldn't judge young mothers as much as I do. I have respect for teen moms who manage to raise well-adjusted, successful children and manage to make something of themselves, too. However, these cases are the exception to the rule. I can't count how many times I've seen a 16 or 17 year old girl waiting at the bus stop with her toddler wandering 4 or 5 feet behind her while she talks on the phone, not watching her child at all. Or the number of times I've seen a young mother grab her child violently, cursing at him or her in reprimand.
Many of my students have younger siblings and act, essentially, as the parent. They make sure their sibiling(s) make it to school, make sure they get home, make sure they eat and I'm sure the list does not stop there. This a mother does not make. A teenager taking care of younger siblings or taking care of a younger child does not necessarily have the patience or the knowledge of child development to raise a child of their own.
I have a 5th grade student who comes and spends time with me nearly every day after school. After seeing my former student, my mind racing, I was reminded of a time my mom approached me while I was washing my face before bed and reminded me in her best 'mom voice' to use protection. Thinking of my 5th grader (who jokingly calls me Mom), I had a sudden urge of maternal instinct along the lines of my mom's friendly reminder. While in the shower that evening, I went over all of the things I wanted to tell her.
"Whatever what your friends decide, remember, it's YOUR decision whether you have a baby or not. Remember, once you have a child, your life is no longer about what YOU want to do. It becomes what your child needs. You won't be able to go the movies whenever you want, or go over to a friend's house on a whim, or spend your money on new shoes, a manicure or a new hair do. Instead, you'll be buying diapers, baby food and baby clothes. Promise me that you will come back visit me to show off your high school diploma and not your new baby."
So why my high horse? Is it very middle-class white girl of me to judge what I have never experienced? (after re-reading this post I wanted to add that it's not limited to any race in particular. i see this happen across racial lines.) At my age, I can count on one hand the number of my closest friends with children. Most of them just recently got pregnant. I'm starting to wonder myself about what my choice will be. I was always taught (as my friend Nana reminded me in her May 13th blog post --http://returnandfetch.blogspot.com/) to take care of myself first. My mother was not terribly young when she had me, her first child, and I was raised to believe in the possibilites and opportunities available if I worked hard and didn't give up. I don't remember having any conversations about marriage, childbirth or even desiring such conversation. (Although that might be a personality thing.) I think that my next conversation with her might address her thoughts on motherhood and whether she is happy with her decision on when she had children.
I'm starting to worry that I'll be 40 and suddenly realize I'm too old to have a child. I refuse to do fertility treatments, and I refuse to be 60 when my child is graduating college. I have spend my life LIVING. I have been across the country, across the ocean, and I have had the freedom to explore and socialize on a whim. I wouldn't trade this in for a child any day (does that sound horrible?) But now my life is winding down. I've partied myself out in some ways, and now that I have my Master's degree and my Level II certification, I feel ready to move on with the next stage of my life. So what will this new stage be?
Apparently, I'm not alone. Newsweek's most recent issue has an article entitled "Why I Froze My Eggs." It seems to be a modern phenomenon that women of my generation are experiencing 'en masse.' I wouldn't freeze my eggs, though. Even if I did have $15,000 to pay for it.
After re-reading this I wanted to add that my final thoughts are: "So what the hell is wrong with being
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Technology and Project-Based Learning
As I think about planning for my summer lessons and begin putting together some projects I find that I keep coming up with ideas that involve technology. I know that this is not a bad thing, but I'm realizing that anyone planning a project that integrates technology requires access to technology. Perhaps I take the access I have at my school for granted. On the other hand, I can't help but notice that most project-based learning experiences I come across involve technology in some way.
Am I Doing Project-Based Learning?
In my classroom, my students complete long-term projects that are graded using a rubric and require multiple steps. I suppose that this would be project-based learning. What I'm missing is collaboration among students. I am also missing colleague collaboration. I have not had a chance to bounce ideas off of my colleagues about what I'm doing and to get ideas for problems or humps I may come across. I am also wondering how others implement PBL in their classrooms and what they have found successful.
Does PBL work?
Supposing that I am doing PBL in my classroom, how will I know if it works? I don't have a class of my own to monitor and as a result there are way too many variables to know if my projects help students with core content and skills. (i.e. time limits, environment, interruptions, technology skills, etc..)
Things to Think About
Perhaps for this coming year I should think about how to assess the projects I do in my classroom. This year I will use Survey Monkey to create an online survey that the students can fill out to help me know if they feel like they're learning something.
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Philly Teacher by Mary Beth Hertz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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