Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Online Professional Development for Literacy Volunteers

The Thinkfinity Literacy Network is offering free online courses geared toward volunteer reading tutors. Click here for the course list.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Collaborative Tools for Curriculum Planning

I've been invited to help draft the Technology Course of Study for one of the districts we work with. I'm looking forward to discussing how 21st century literacies can be integrated into the curriculum. How can we implement some of these collaborative learning strategies in the process of writing the curriculum?

I have a huge stack of paper on my desk with the drafts and resources we are using as a starting point. Presumably when the committee of teachers and administrators meets we will have have separate piles of papers with our annotations and ideas. It seems only natural that we could use online collaborative tools to share our ideas, and to refine the district curriculum using the same spirit of exploring new media that we will expect of our students.

I'm looking for examples of districts that have used Web 2.0 (or other) tools as part of the curriculum development process. A Wiki seems like a natural choice for this type of collaboration, but the limitations on multiple people making simultaneous edits may make this cumbersome. A Google or Zoho collaborative document would allow for this, but then it might be difficult for individuals to monitor the changes being made by a large number of participants.

If anyone out there has any ideas about how to approach this, or personal experience with this scenario, please email me! Thanks, and I'll let you know what we all decide.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Online Flashcards

Found this on Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day:

Knowtes is a flashcard-based learning community;

"Knowtes optimizes your study. By adding a card to your Knowtes memory, it becomes due at optimized intervals. The Knowtes Adaptive Learning Engine then adjusts how frequently you have to study cards in your memory based on how well you do on them. No more wasting time on cards you already know by heart. You can even visually watch your cards move from short to long-term memory as you study them!"

This is similar to Flashcard Exchange - I'd be interested to hear from people who've been using either site to see how they compare. I just created a few decks of GRE words on Knowtes. The neatest thing about this site I think is that you can share your decks with others. This could be great for a language classroom.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

JakesOnline Overview of Web 2.0 Resources

Found JakesOnline site while planning a professional development workshop. The New Tools page provides clear, succinct definitions of Web 2.0 tools - great for someone getting an initial introduction to these terms - as well as quality links to classroom applications and resources.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

What does 21st Century Literacy mean, anyway?

I’ve heard lots of conversations recently about 21st Century Literacies. Are there really new “literacies” evolving in relation to new media and the needs of the workplace, or is the word literacy just being over-applied to the point where it will lose meaning?

Here’s where my thinking is with this so far: traditionally literacy referred to the ability to read and write, those being essential tools to access information in the world. As more and ever-changing avenues for accessing information have developed, the meaning of literacy is expanding beyond the ability to read and write to include the ability to access and learn new information.

I find David Warlick’s recent comment on Weblogg-ed very convincing:

The best thing we could teach kids today is how to teach themselves. It’s my same old rant, that we have to expand our notions of literacy so that it reflects today’s information landscape and then integrate that, instead of trying to integrate technology. If we teach contemporary literacy, then the tech will come because it’s the pencil and paper of our time.

This is the part I’m still making sense of:

But in addition, I would hope that rather than just teaching literacy skills, that we teach literacy habits, and that we teach them as learning literacies, rather than just literacy.

How do we design our curriculum around these literacy habits? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Lesson learned for me about blogging by the way: I knew that I wanted to post something about 21st Century Literacies, but since I’m still figuring this out myself I froze and didn’t post anything for two weeks. But, the process of figuring things out by starting and participating in conversation is sort of the point, isn’t it. So I’m back.