Friday, December 8, 2006

Freshman DigiFolio

This comes from The Reflective Teacher. I found it on Todd Finley's blog. It's not an answer to the questions in my previous post but it looks like what we're trying to put together.

Students, Please Read My Comments Carefully

I've always been suspect of the effectiveness of those scribbly comments I spend hours writing on students papers. In an effort to make the most of this feedback exchange, I've tried all sorts of things, like commenting on rough drafts, making comments and filling out a rubric but not writing a grade, having students respond in writing to comments when I give the paper back, electronic comments on Word, voice comments, individual conferences, etc. Today, Will Richardson's post grabbed my attention, discussing the issue of commenting on papers and blogs, and what some new technology is going to allow us to do. Essentially, comments will be able to be placed within a blog post, and the blog becomes a digital writing workshop.

Best Education Blogs

I read a blog called EduBlog Insights where today there's a post with a link to the nominations for the 2006 EduBlog Awards. This is a great resource.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Layers Of Literacy

For the last year or so, the freshman English subdepartment has been working towards a common experience for students no matter which teacher they have. At some points in our discussion, this common experience meant an assessment we all give, then it meant using a common language for writing and reading. We've distilled it down to a two-part end-of-the-semester project. One part is teacher-driven, consisting of a new piece of reading, a student-led discussion, and a written response focusing on some significant detail from the story. Part two is student-driven and will be in the form of a digital portfolio of work that shows growth in the freshman year. The current discussion has revolved around the platform for the digifolio. We have to decide whether the portfolio should be strictly text-based, or whether students should be able to also post multimedia work. This led to the question of whether or not we give the same value to this kind of work in an English class. And what value do other kinds of literacy have in an English class? How do we, as teachers, know quality multimedia expression? And how do we teach students to do it?

I'm excited to say that the portfolio, for my class at least, will be in the form of a blog. I'm imagining examples of work as posts, and podcasts as reflections on the work. I've also been taking digital photos of other kinds of assignments the students have done, like storyboards based on direct quotes, methods of characterization pictures, amongst other things.

But I've been thinking mostly about this question of valuing other forms of literacy. Is writing going to be pushed to the back in exchange for flashier expressions of thought? No. Because if we ask students to not just post their work as a virtual notebook but to interact with each other by commenting and responding, Student A might not know how to precisely express his/her thoughts in writing but can do it with a short video. Then Student B is asked to respond to A's video in writing. B can read the comment and begin to formulate his/her own written response after seeing how others respond to the video expression in writing. But again, we'll have to design rubrics for other forms of literacy and learn them ourselves.

The pictures at the top of this post are examples of student work.

Pearl Jam Prescience

On December 2nd, Pearl Jam played the Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. I was there, and it'd been 15 years in the making. As a teenager in the Seattle area during the early 1990's, Eddie Vedder was my idol. He was my inspiration during the freshman talent show when my band and I decided not to compromise our lyrics after they were deemed inappropriate by the administration. (They had a "Jeremy-esque" theme). My friend Tim gives an accurate account of the PJ show.
As a pre-show fun activity, some friends and I decided to do a little research and generate our own predicted playlists for the show for a little wagering. We bet on things like first song, closing song, etc. I was feeling very Pearl-prescient, scoring with calls like, "Oceans" and "Why Go." But what made the show especially powerful and put it in the category, like Tim writes, of "best show ever," was the way the songs seemed to speak to Hawaii. Here's a found poem of PJ lyrics that do just that:

Lemon yellow sun
Ruled his world
The oceans away
Guide me towards you
The sea will rise...
Please stand by the shore
I'll ride the wave
Where it takes me
I'll wait up in the dark
For you to speak to me
To the ocean of my platitudes
Longitudes, latitudes, it's so absurd

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Creativity is...

…creativity is continual surprise, and only because it is surprise can it be truth. When we grow self-conscious we hide, we cloak, we disguise, we lie. So the true writer artist always hopes, through working swiftly with his emotions to spring forth the delights and terrors, to trap them before they escape.

Ray Bradbury

Image found through web zen