Thursday, August 28, 2014

543 Social Networking Intro...

Greetings and salutations!
When life forces you to have problems, life forces you to learn, and learning forces you to grow [photograph]. (2012, April 28). Retrieved from
When life forces you to have problems, life forces you to learn, and learning forces you to grow [photograph]. (2012, April 28). Retrieved from
When I first read the syllabus, I realized that I this course was going to take me out of my comfort zone. While I love using technology and see the benefit for social media as a tool, I am not a social media junkie. Fortunately, I joined Twitter during 537, created my blog as part of the M.E.T. program, and have had personal Facebook account for several years, so I am not coming into this class totally blind.
Even though I am in my final semester of the M.E.T. program, I have never really used social media for professional development, except for the blogging and tweeting directly related to classes. However, both personally and professionally, I have a tendency to binge on blogs when I am trying to find information. I haven’t found a balance yet, but I am working on it.
Ten years ago, I attended a workshop on using blogging in the classroom and have been wanting to incorporate blogging ever since. Finally, this year I got the go ahead. In the district where I work all things categorized as social media are blocked, but I found the one exception – Edublogs, probably because it has a “.org” designation. Now that I have an all clear, we began blogging in the classroom 3 weeks ago. It is going much slower than I had anticipated, as the students aren’t all jumping on the blog bandwagon just yet. I do see glimmers of interest in students who are finding an outlet for their creative side. It has been especially helpful for those who don’t normally interact with other students.
My hope for this course is that I will stretch and grow while I learn to use theses platforms to enhance not just my learning and teaching, but the learning of my students as well.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Russell Street School Reflection - Parulis

This site should be a benchmark for what every district should be doing. Of course most school districts in my area do have websites with general information and some links with some information for parents...some of the time.  In an area that is ran by corrupt politicians ( , there are a lot of cover ups always trying to take place and that might be on a greater level, but it has to start somewhere. Russell street school puts everything out there. From the classroom agendas right on a website to their annual reports and meeting briefs, they really don't disclose anything so that is a lesson we can all learn.

As I read in another post, our districts have students make final graduation seminars. I feel that they should be doing something we currently do at Boise. From the start of the term, create a blog and build on it throughout your time at the school. By the time you graduate all of that " I didn't learn anything in High School" talk would be defeated. You have just created a wealth of knowledge for yourself that you may be able to to take with you throughout the rest of your life. I plan on using my portfolio page from Boise with me for job interviews, showcasing my projects and even just to have as a great reference. I think having a digital portfolio is the best way to go in the digital technology age.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Huge Engagement, Few Concerns

This is very impressive how an elementary school is so technology immersed. What Russel Street School is doing is so good for public relations, for parent involvement, and for student engagement. The students must be so proud of what they are doing and to see themselves online.

A few things I wondered when I first came across the site was How involved are the students in this? and Is it just the staff making digital content of what students are doing?

Very quickly it became apparent that the students really are learning to use technology in hugely relevant ways. Apparently they all have Google accounts and probably regularly use them. Here is the first line that suggested this to me from the post Term 2 Student Review: “You need to remember to log into your gmail account, complete the survey and then log out so nobody else completes the survey under your login.”

But that is just the beginning of these kids’ technology use. They even all have blogs, like Abby’s blogspot here. The use of students’ pictures online and first names does raise questions for me about permission and liability. Do parents need to sign off that their kids can post online? Have they had any issues with this? When I think about my own administration, I have a hard time seeing this getting cleared.

As a side note, it was also fun to see the New Zealand dialect in lines like these: “Take your time and have a think about your answers” and this pair of lines that I actually thought was a typo at first “share some of your favourite stories with you family” (“you” for “your”) until I later read this line that got me thinking maybe they just talk like this: “we want to collect you ideas about your learning

Personalized Learning at Russell Street School

Russell Street School in Palmerson North, New Zealand is an excellent example of the possibilities for communication, collaboration, and authentic audience inherent in blogging. While the website contains good information about the school and programs, it is the Thursday Notice Board page that shows the vibrant life of the school. Kindergarten classes posted videos of their learning, with occasional instances of student voice. The second grade blogs were full of examples of student work at both the formative and summative stage. Some even had specific invitations for comment. Older elementary students had their own individual blogs, with both public and private pages. Individual blogs showcased student work or student reflection.

The thing that most strikes me about the blogging at RSS is the openness. Student faces are shown. Student names are used. Learning activities are chronicled. It’s a very different mindset than I’ve come to accept as the norm. Many teachers are concerned that blogging (or any other sort of documentation of what is going on in their classroom) is a potential liability. Many parents worry about their childrens’ images appearing online. And yet when you see a school that is doing it so well, those concerns seem a bit unreasonable. In theory, most educators seem to agree that transparency is one of the best ways to improve teaching and learning, and I think RSS validates that belief. In my district we are starting to talk about personalized learning, and it is clear through both teacher and student posts that RSS is living that vision.

On the down side, I now have a phrase stuck in my head -“wachoo eachoo are”. And the line “Vegamite. Or might not” cracked me up. If that makes no sense to you, visit this post and crank up the volume!

Reflection on Russell Street School

I was very impressed with the blog that Russell Street School uses to build a community of learners.The blog unifies administration, staff, teachers, students, the local community, and the global community. It truly is model for how blogging can be used for a variety of purposes. These purposes include general communication, classroom communication, classroom progress, individual progress and reflection, and portfolios.

First, I see this blog being used as a communication tool. There is a monthly calendar, links to news within the school and community, updates from the principal, and updates from the school office. Parents and community members are able to access the blog to receive general announcements. Second, I see this blog being used as a place for classrooms to communicate their weekly goals, tasks, and progress. I loved scrolling through the classroom blogs. I thought it was neat how the teacher contributed, individual student's contributed, and groups of students contributed. Videos, images, and links all helped draw in my engagement and understanding of what the students and classes were accomplishing. If I were a parent of a child in the school, I would be very excited to have a place that I could access with information about the daily classroom experiences and learning. I noticed that many of the videos were edited with images, video clips, transitions, music, and audio. I wondered how much the students were involved in this process and how time is allocated to complete the videos, as well as, update the blogs. As a result of taking this class on blogging, I have learned first hand how a blog takes commitment and a lot of time to maintain. Third, I see the incorporation of individual blogs that seem to serve as a student portfolio. I loved how students were posting their goals, rubrics, coursework, and even more videos. I wonder if these individual blogs will continue with them as they jump to new grade levels or if they start a new blog each year.

One area that did not seem to be utilized in their blogging initiative is commenting.We have been encouraged to comment on a regular basis to deepen our understanding of content and to provide feedback to our peers. I could see commenting being important in the individual student portfolios or as a way for peer review or instructor follow-up. I also am very curious about the tools that the students are using for videos, images, and blogging. Are they provided with these tools? Do students have access to these tools at home? How much time do students spend developing videos or organizing images? Overall, Russell Street School is leading the way with classroom blogging. It has become a part of their school culture and stands as an example for how blogging can enhance and deepen learning in our schools.

Russell Street School - 21st Century Learning

There are amazing things happening at the Russell Street School.  From blogging to creating i-videos, any visitor will notice that these students are taking technological skills and applying them to their learning.  As you view different classes, you notice the pride that the students and teachers hold.  In numerous classrooms, you find blog posts containing pictures and videos of students learning.  In some classrooms, you find teacher updates with material the students are working on.  In the upper grades, the side of the blog contain individual student blogs - this is the best part of the site, in my opinion.

The student blogs are individualized, each with a different theme.  As you go through the blogs, you notice that the same assignments appear, but each student is taking ownership of their blog by filling in rubrics, creating reflections, uploading i-movies, and individual pictures.  This is what education should look like when you merge traditional teaching with technology.  The technology becomes a mode to help demonstrate understanding of the material - i.e. the kinetic energy and integrity videos. I personally liked the seeing the different subjects intertwined - science, physical education, and writing.

I found that they encourage children to bring their own device (laptop or Apple iPad) or they have parents pay for the devices.  They explain that this helps the school achieve the expectations and vision they see for their school.  In many public schools here in the States, that is difficult to attain.  It does, however, create the expectation that children will be using their technology in meaningful and purposeful ways - which is evident in the work that is displayed. 

As I viewed the site, I thought of all the possibilities that I could accomplish in my classroom.  It is exciting to have a school who understands how to use tools in the "right" ways instead of just using it haphazardly. I can see why this school is a model for how blogging should look and feel.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Russell Street School

Russell Street School in New Zealand uses a different methodology than we are used to see.
Ii amazed me the way of sharing what is going on in the classroom thanks to teachers and students blogs. I see it as school-wide and not just an initiative of one or two teachers.

It is impressive to see how the mentality of the "Board of Trustees" (what we call SBDM) approves and support the elearning in the classroom. Most of the time,we teachers don´t spend time on activities like blogging in the classroom because of the lack of time. We don´t spend time on blogging because we think that the final product (essay, presentation...) can be done in a piece of paper or cardboard and it takes less time. In Russell Street Elementary they understand that blogging is not a tool to publish the essay. The final goal is to be able to publish electronically a reflection, summary...These are needs that students will have in the near future. Students will become workers very soon and should learn the skills to be successful in their jobs as posting properly in blogs or forums. These skills are very different to writing a letter in paper, what was essential years ago but there are other needs these days that we can not avoid. The students from Russell Street School are not just learning how to post in a blog, they are learning to create a community with other classmates, their teachers and parents, who are able to follow their learning in a very interactive way. After seeing how the students from this school create their online portfolios, it came to my mind an app that I shared in my blog a few weeks ago called "Three Ring". It creates online portfolios where students or teachers are able to share the work done in the classroom with their families. This app does not share just written assignments but also videos or audios done by students. I can´t wait to start the school year to start using it.It also surprised me to see the way of incorporating culture in the learning environment, for example with the video about soccer. I feel like sometimes teachers, parents and administrators are too focused on making sure students learn the content, so students are able to get a good score in the standarized test. We forget that education is not only content but also collaborations between students, something that students from Russell Street School show when they make videos, Power Point presentations and publish them in their blogs.

I like how the principal publishes weekly a post with information of the school and keeps the parents updated. I understand that most of the families from Russell Street School have access to the internet and are able to follow online the progress of their kiddos.Unfortunately, most of the schools in the United States are not able to use the model of the school in New Zealand yet because not all the families can afford it. I
feel that we could start using the traditional way (sending home all the school news and written assignments in paper), but also electronically, to start a transition. Encourage the use of the public libraries or let the parents to use the computer labs at school after the instructional time, would help them get used to seeing the communication between teachers and parents about the work done at school, in a different way.