The Return of 1


In July of 2009, I launched The One Comment A Day Project. My mission was to promote new bloggers and bring comments to existing blogs. Initially, The One Comment A Day Project burst on to the scene with the celerity of a gazelle, however, it soon became another faded project. The members of the ning remained, however, the collaborative dialogue that made the project so amazing, faded.

This decline happened because the project took off so fast that I, as a moderator and organizer, could not keep up with the progress. Couple that with the start at a new school year and a flooded basement and you have the decline of The One Comment A Day Project. However, in my absence, the members of the project remained true and continued the project along with its collaborative heart.

Now is the time for a renaissance. The One Comment A Day Project will no longer be a project, but serve as a forum for promoting new bloggers and illuminating the voices of the education world. This project will continue to be collaborative, but open up an entirely new forum for discussion and educational dialogue. My vision is that every Thursday at noon and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, The One Comment Project can come together and discuss two different blogs via twitter. These conversations will be filtered through the hash tag #onecom. After the conversation on twitter, members will then provide constructive feedback on each blog post for that day. The goal is to generate discussion from the content of a blog and continue the conversation through comments and feedback.

Each week, members of The One Comment Project will vote on which blogs to discuss that week. I will accept e-mail submissions for blog posts at ontheroad51@gmail.com. The submission deadline will be Sunday night at 9pm. Once the blogs are selected, we will read each post and begin our conversation on Thursday. Each twitter conversation will be archived so that bloggers can read through the tweets and dissect the conversation. The twitter conversations will allow for authors to participate in the dialogue and even lead the conversation. It is my hope that conversations will linger far beyond the hour time slot on twitter and provoke our thinking and generate new ideas for the classroom and beyond.

If you cannot make a Thursday conversation, there will be RSS feeds on The One Comment Project Ning. Members of the Ning will be able to see archives and also read the blogs that are discussed for that week. I have also set up a Diigo group for The One Comment Project that all members can join. This way, we can create an online resource library of blogs that are making progressive strides in education.

I hope that you join me in this venture and help make The One Comment Project a forum that promotes new and existing blogs, expands the educational dialogue, and provokes our thinking.

Please join The One Comment Project Ning at http://onecommentproject.ning.com/#

We will begin our first twitter conversation next Thursday, February 18, 2010 at noon and our second round will commence at 7 p.m. Please submit blog posts at ontheroad51@gmail.com by Sunday at 9 p.m.

Language 2.0


Today I was called out by one of my students.

I teach tenth grade Literature and Composition class back to back for first and second period. I am teaching them through various Web 2.0 and open source venues. Every now and then we tend to digress into a conversation about technology and its role in the 21st century classroom. I often tell them that technology is changing faster than ever and everyone else is playing catch-up. This is very evident in education and the way in which we use language and communicate. I like to feel that I am on the cutting edge and can see what is around the corner before anyone else, however, today I felt archaic.

During a random tangent in class, we began talking about text messaging and the length. One of my students said, “I bet Marcinek’s text messages are like this five paragragh essay we are writing. He probably uses punctuation as well. “

I paused. Reflected on how cool I thought I was and how quickly I became my father. Standing in front of the next generation of learners and realizing that I was behind. Or was I?

From a distance, I showed my students a text message thread I had going on my iPhone. They all began to laugh and couldn’t believe the length of each individual message.

One student interjected, “How do you spell ‘though’?”

I responded, “Though.”

“What! You mean you don’t spell it tho?”

“No, what’s the point?” I shot back.

“Yo, if I got a text that long I would never read it. I’d be like, delete!”

This conversation, this tangent provoked my thinking and led me to question the relevance of my entire career and what content I was teaching. If this is what kids are currently engaged in, they why am I teaching them to read a novel at length? Why am I teaching them to spell and use grammar if the majority of their day is spent not using it? What is the future of language and grammar and punctuation? Are we on the precipice of a major language shift? And if so, what will it all look like in five to ten years?

In a brief vision I could see the future of education. Students walk into class, sit down in complete silence. I give them a copy of Lord of the Flies which has been shortened to 140 characters. They tweet me their thoughts on the 140 character novel they just wrote. They hurl me shortened adjectives over their all in one, do everything but slice bread Smart Phone. This smart phone is ironically titled Brain 2.0.

That vision started to scare me. Kids spend the majority of their day reading and writing, however, none of it is correct. They read more facebook profiles through the week than content from a text book. They write more text messages, e-mails and wall posts than essays or critical analysis responses. And this, THIS is where we, teachers in the 21st century come in to save the way in which we learn.

*Standing on my soap box* we need to be responsible with the spelling, grammar and mechanics of the English language. Teachers must teach students that when they post on walls, or send emails that they cannot break down language and toss the rules aside. Students must take it upon themselves to know when to type ‘you’ and when it is ok to type ‘u’. When technology is brought into the classroom and students find themselves typing more than writing with a pencil, we, as teachers, as facilitators, must monitor the content to which they present. We cannot sit back and let this slide or we will be disrespecting everything that is good about our language.

However, I still think there is merit to twitter and facebook in the classroom. We should not take this trend and simply ignore its appeal. I have posted before on several lessons which I have built around these two social networking forums. I use concept of twitter to elicit key ideas and focus a student’s thoughts when reading a chapter in a novel. I use the concept of facebook for characterization and reflecting on character arcs throughout a novel. There are plenty more as well. The key factor is that we need to teach our students to not just use technology, but use it with purpose and responsibility. We need to create rubrics that catch students writing when it digresses into text message format on a blog response or a discussion thread. When we combine the two, the technology in the classroom can open up many learning opportunities for our students.

Finally, I asked my students what they thought about the idea of language digression in online and text forums. Here are the two questions I asked them along with some of their responses. NOTE: I did not edit their responses to make my point. This became a teaching moment and a lesson on the responsibility we have when writing online.

Yesterday I was called out by several of you for sending paragraph length texts and it prompted two questions;
1. What are the language requirements or responsibilities when we write online and in text messages?
2. What will become of language if we continue to shorten it in length?

Answer each question in a brief paragraph. I will post these responses on my blog and share the comments and reader responses. Proofread your response for spelling and grammar.

1. i tnink that u can use and make ur own language when we write in txt meassages and in e-mails but when we are doing something professional then we need to use the write way of spelling and talking.

2. i think that sometimes you may forget how to spell a word or two nbut i think we will be fine.

~ OMAR

When you’re online you try to talk proper and try to make sure you spell your words right. But when you text you spell words a different way. If we keep spelling words short i think that it will be hard to write a story..!

~Khalid

The language requirements for certain people when there writing online is just being thrown out the windows when they are online but at the same time it’s still there in ways too. I say this because when we write a text message we do still use things like acronyms in our text messages. If we continue to write like this our language will be way different because most people will want to write the word in a different way than it is properly spelled

~Jaylen

When many people in the world don’t always follow the rule of language while they text. They either use lol (laugh out loud ) idk (i don’t know ) and for the people who follow the rule of language don’t always know what it means. Many people throw out the rules of English because they figure that they don’t have to apply it to modern life. The same for online like myspace facebook etc . In other words people now days are too lazy to type a full sentence, and instead write a response to have less to type .the language rules we learn now could be no use if we continue if we don’t apply at all times.

~Devaun

My Letter To Parents

To Whom It May Concern:

This trimester in English Literature and Composition, my class will be taking a new approach to learning. We will be utilizing various technology resources to communicate, collaborate and differentiate instruction within our classroom.

Each student will be setting up their own free e-mail account for my classroom. We are utilizing the G-Mail platform through Google Applications. This e-mail will only be used for our class. I told each student that they will have the opportunity to communicate with me through this e-mail and I ask you to do the same regarding any questions or suggestions you have for this venture.

Secondly, I have created a classroom website that will only be used for my class. It is a completely separate platform from the school’s webpage, but serves many of the same functions. Our website is created through a wikispace. A wikispace is a site where we will communicate, collaborate and engage in a variety of classroom activities. The wikispace is a private platform and can only be accessed when you are invited by the organizer. I briefly showed the students how to use this site and informed them that they now will have 24-7 access to their classroom. If students miss class or are absent for some time, they can keep up with their work simply by accessing this site. All that is needed is a computer and an internet connection.

We have created classroom rules for this venture and on Wednesday, I had the students come up with their own rules for technology use in our classroom. They know these rules will be enforced and you can view our rules on the reverse of this page.

Finally, one of my primary goals for this venture is to include everyone in the learning process. I invite you to join our wikispace and become a part of the learning process. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me or call me (e-mail and number to follow). If you would like to be a part of our wikispace learning community, please provide me with your primary e-mail address so I can send you an invitation to our page. Please provide your name, signature and e-mail at the bottom of this page.

Sincerely,

Mr. Andrew P. Marcinek
e-mail: amarcinek@boyslatin.org
Phone: 484-416-0424

Parent/Guardian Name (Printed):__________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature: ______________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian e-mail:_________________________________________________________________

ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY

The Following Rules were designed by periods 1 and 2 at Boys’ Latin Charter School of Philadelphia

  1. No social network sites in school
    1. Myspace
    2. Facebook

  1. No games
  2. Laptops are not to be used for notes
    1. When teacher is talking, laptops are down
    2. Notes can be written and transferred to computer
  3. No Youtube unless it is being used for a presentation or reference
  4. No inappropriate searches for images
  5. Background must be a solid color


Consequences

  1. First policy offense – cannot use laptop for the rest of the day. Parents and Administration notified
  2. Second policy offense – cannot use laptop for the week and assignments will be done through another platform (i.e. pen and paper). Parents and Administration will be notified. Student will also have an after school detention.
  3. Third policy offense – student will lose laptop privileges. Parents, Administration, teacher and student will have a conference. Student will have to earn his laptop back by completing the following:
    1. Write a laptop reinstatement letter to teacher and administration detailing why they broke policy and why we should let them have their laptop back. **


**If student has his laptop reinstated and break a policy rule again, the laptop will not be used for the rest of the year.**

This is my letter to parents. I welcome your feedback and ask you to share your own experiences with incorporating technology into your classroom. How did you involve parents? Administration? What was the experience like with parents working within the website? I look forward to hearing your experiences and I plan on writing about mine as we progress in the classroom. Also, if you would like to join our wikispace and become an observer, please feel free to get in touch with me at the e-mail listed below.


Let’s make learning ubiquitous!

15 Slide Show Tools for Teachers

Slide shows are a great way to present information and engage students inside and outside the classroom. This article contains of list of 15 free slide show tools that would be useful to almost any educator.

Empressr – Empressr is a free multimedia tool that is virtually effortless to use. The tool creates, manages, and shares slide shows without limitations.

VoiceThread – With VoiceThread, teachers can create dynamic multimedia slide shows for students or colleagues to comment on. Comments can be made through microphone, telephone, audio file, text, or video.

SlideShare – SlideShare is the world’s largest community for sharing and managing presentations. The site allows you to upload presentations to the public or a private group of people.

Slideroll – This site offers free software for creating smooth slide shows that can be viewed by anyone with Internet access. Created slides can be published on the site or embedded in web pages, blogs, or emails.

PhotoPeach – PhotoPeach is a slide show creator that uses photos, text, and audio. This is a great tool for teachers who want to create entertaining slide shows within minutes.

Joggle – This free beta site allows users to manage and share photos, music, and video. Joggle provides the tools for quickly embedding slide shows into websites, blogs, and more without the use of complex coding.

Yugma – Teachers can use Yugma to upload and share presentations, collaborate in real-time, or host a web conference. This site makes it incredibly simple to make educational presentations for students.

Animoto – Animoto is an easy-to-use slide creator that offers unlimited videos to teachers. Within minutes of signing up, teachers can start creating custom slide shows of images, audio, and text. This site can also rearrange your photos to create a new slide or custom video.

Slide – This interactive presentation site features tools for creating slide shows, posting video, and creating an online group.

One True Media – One True Media offers a free subscription for teachers who want to upload and share images, music, and videos. This site also features special effects for a dynamic, personalized touch.

Vyew – This free web conferencing site provides tools for hosting presentations, webinars, or online meetings. Vyew also allows teachers to upload and create real-time courses and collaborative learning.

Vcasmo – Vcasmo is a rich media presentation solution designed for personal use and academic teaching. As soon as you sign up for a free account, you can start uploading images, audio, and video to create a personalized presentation or simply publish a pre-created PowerPoint presentation.

LectureTools – LectureTools is a free lecture and slide tool that can be used to engage students in lectures. The site provides tools to upload and organize slides, make notes directly on them, and post questions.

iWebPhoto – This site is a free image hosting site that allows you to create slide shows for embedding and sharing with colleagues and students. The free membership includes five free slide shows with 50 photos each that can be linked to websites and blogs.

Sliderocket – Sliderocket offers 250MB of free storage for slide show presentation and creation. This site also allows you to import, organize, synchronize, and share your presentations.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.

25 Free Technology Tools for Teachers

Finding free technology tools and teaching aids is a great way for teachers to engage students in learning while keeping their class within budget. The Internet has tons of hi-tech resources for teachers of language arts, history, math, science, art, and music. Here are 25 tools and sites to explore before the beginning of the new school year:

Language Arts

Cast UDL Book BuilderThe Cast UDL Book Builder makes it easier for teachers to build reading skills in students. The site provides tools to create, read, and share digital books.

Shmoop – Shmoop is a unique study guide site designed to help students appreciate and understand literature, history, and poetry. This site is a way for older students to hone and improve literary analysis and writing skills.

Academic Skill Builders – This site is loaded with free online video games for learning language arts, vocabulary, and mathematics. The goal of Academic Skill Builders is to make classroom learning as effective as possible.

TumbleBook LibraryThis reading site can be used with interactive whiteboards in the elementary classroom. TumbleBook resources include a collection of free animated books.

VisualWords – This online graphic dictionary is a great literary tool for building K-12 vocabulary and language comprehension. With VisualWords, students can see an illustration of how words relate to one another through word webs.

History

DoHistory – DoHistory provides an interactive way for students to understand the skills and techniques needed for interpreting history. This site, which can be used on interactive whiteboards, is based on the 200 year old diary of Martha Ballard.

Race for the Superbomb – Complete with a teacher’s guide, PBS’ Race for the Superbomb takes an in-depth look into the creation and use of nuclear weapons. Throughout this virtual experience, teachers will find films, timelines, maps, and special features.

History Podcast Network – The History Podcast Network offers links to a wide variety of historybased podcasts. Teachers can use the site to find podcasts on the military, U.S. history, British history, periods in history, and much more.

History Classroom – The History Classroom from History.com offers a wide variety of interactive games, learning materials, and tools that teachers can use in the classroom to create a fun, engaging history experience. Resources include study guides, videos and speeches, and lesson plans.

Library of Congress – The Library of Congress offers media-rich tools and interactive opportunities that teachers can use in the exploration of history. This site also features activities, lesson plans, and themed resources.

Math and Science

The Blobz Guide To Electric Circuits – This interactive guide teaches groups of students about the intricate networks of circuits. The Blobz guide is a good interactive teaching aid for math and science classes.

Volcano Explorer – The Discovery Channel‘s Volcano Explorer can be used to teach students about volcanoes. With this interactive exploration, students will get an up-close look at this beautiful yet deadly force of nature.

OceanNow – This interactive expedition into the ocean is a wonderful teaching aid for exploring the science of nature. OceanNow allows you to view video, track maps, and get instant updates.

NumberNut – NumberNut is a free elementary math teaching aid. NumberNut covers everything from shapes and colors to ratios and money math.

Mathgrad This site is a free mathematics podcast that teachers can use as part of their curriculum. Mathgrad offers practical mathematic information in terms that everyday people can understand.

Art and Music

Renaissance ConnectionThe Renaissance Connection can be used to teach students about Renaissance art history. This site connects students with the past through in-depth looks at artworks, innovations, and other visual learning tools.

Artopia – Artopia is a comprehensive art experience for middle school children. This site allows students to examine and learn about styles, principles, and processes in dance, media arts, music, painting, sculpture, and theatre. Teachers can also find a how to guide for incorporating Artopia into their classroom.

ArtsEdge – This interactive website provides teachers with tools and technology for exploring and understanding art. Throughout ArtsEdge, teachers will find resources for teaching, connecting, and exploring several different art forms.

Essentials of Music – This site for music teachers provides materials on eras of music, composers, and a glossary with examples. By using this excellent teaching aid, teachers can provide a vast amount of information on composers and eras through MP3 formatted examples.

ArtPad – ArtPad is a creative and mess-free way for students to express their creative side. Once students are done creating art, the works can be printed or emailed.

Miscellaneous

GeoEdu – GeoEdu is a free game and interactive atlas for learning worldwide geography. This software is designed for teaching children of all ages.

PlanetInAction.comThis site offers a 360 degree virtual tour of historical and geographical sites. PlanetInAction.com is an interactive alternative to images in books or slide shows.

BrainPop – BrainPop is a fun teaching aid for all subjects. This interactive site uses games and activities to engage students in subjects ranging from art to social studies.

ARKive – This site allows students to explore life on earth through videos, images, and facts. ARKive offers an extensive collection on thousands of species around the world.

The Periodic Table of VideosThe Periodic Table of Videos is a nice teaching aid for illustrating the periodic table. This site utilizes webcast for a visual demonstration of each element.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the About.com Guide to Business School. She also writes for OnlineCollege.org, an online college resource.

Create An Online Resource Library; Enjoy A Butterfinger

In years past, we all used to browse through endless web pages, bookmark the ones we liked and then scroll down a long list trying to locate that “great site we found but cannot remember what it was about”. Sometimes, if we found a site that had a dancing hamster, we would bookmark and e-mail it to friends and relatives. In my district, there is always the one teacher who loves to send out a mass e-mail that is simply a link to a great site that he or she found. It is a kind thought, but working on a PC at school gives me reservations about clicking. What if I click and instead of a great new blog I get dancing hamster ninja porn and all of my districts computers are infected right before final grades are due!!!!
Wanna get away…

No, this is not an ad or link to an even cheaper Southwest Airlines flight, but a new way of organizing your web content. It’s simply called Diigo. Yes, another quirky web 2.0 tool name that will have all your colleagues asking, “Diigo, who? Diigo, what?” What is a good blog without a little Jay-Z humor!

Diigo is a very easy to use site that allows users to bookmark a site, define the site and then categorically organize your sites. The web interface allows you to tag all of your websites you save and access them easily by each tag. You can also create groups and add friends to share in all of your bookmarks. When you add a colleague you both will be able to share and exchange bookmarks.

Creating a Diigo group is a great way to organize your department this fall. Before you get into all the chaos of the school year, e-mail your department colleagues a link to a Diigo group. Tell them that this year you want to create an online resource library for links and blogs that fit your discipline. For those who say, “Now what? Something else to sign up for and receive junk mail” bribe them with candy. I usually go with Butterfinger, but also provide moist towelets, because no one wants a sticky keyboard!

Once you have them hooked, branch out and look into creating cross-curricular groups! Create a digital bridge with language arts and history; math and science. With Diigo, users have the ability to create wonderful learning communities and collaborate with each other. Building an online resource library should be on the “To Do” list of ever teacher this summer!

As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback and how you have created your online resource library. If you want to see one in action, feel free to join my Diigo group at http://groups.diigo.com/groups/the-one-comment-a-day-project. We are building an online resource library for web 2.0 blogs that focus on education. It is an extension of my last post, The One Comment A Day Project. Please join and expand the learning possibilities!

The One Comment A Day Project

After my last post on discovering your Personal Learner’s Network (PLN), I had a brief epiphany. This vision came in from simply adding a comment to a bloggers post that happens to reside in my PLN. I read the post, processed the information and responded constructively. Simple. Painless. Helpful.

At this point I thought, wouldn’t it be great if everyone in my PLN did this at least once a day. Yes, it would!

So here is my idea…

I’m calling it the “One Comment A Day Project”. This project will help promote educational collaboration throughout the blogosphere and promote and stimulate educational dialogue. All you have to do is pick one blog a day (you can obviously choose to read more) and leave a positive, insightful comment for the blogger. That’s it! One comment a day and you can change the blogging landscape and make a blogger smile.

Here is the process.

1. Read a blog

2. Post a comment that is insightful and constructive.

3. Tweet a link to the blog and your comment. Use the hash tag #OneComment

EXAMPLE: I just read a great piece on iTeach blog, check it out! #OneComment

4. Bookmark the blog and return to it another time.

It is just that easy! This Project will help create a positive forum for all who blog and comment. There are so many good educational blogs out there and I look forward to hearing your feedback and engaging in your comments!

The second phase of this project will be a featured blog a week project. This forum will review and promote one educational blog per week. It will also try and introduce new edu-blogs into the learning community. I will be setting up a Ning for this venture. The sole purpose of both ventures is to promote learning and create an engaging dialogue between so many great academic minds. The twitter hash tag for this will be #1Newblog

Please send me your thoughts, suggestions and feedback on both new ventures!I would also like to put together a small team to help with this venture due to the time consuming nature of the project. If you would like to help your fellow bloggers and be an integral part of this venture, please contact me at onecommentproject@gmail.com

I have also set up a separate twitter account for this second phase. It will be @1commentproject. Please follow it for blog updates and blog promotions. When we spread the word about great blogs, we all shine!

I would be looking for help with the following:

1. Finding new blogs

2. Posting Reviews of Blogs

3. Archiving a Blog roll on the Ning

4. Monitoring the Ning

I am very passionate about this project and am putting a lot of time and energy behind it. My belief is that we can all learn from each other and have endless technologies to help us collaborate! I really hope to see my PLN jump on board with me and help promote the edu-blogging community!

One Comment Project T-shirts, beach towels and pillow cases to follow!

We are the Knights who say…NING!

As the school year dwindles down towards summer days and departmental planning for next year, why don’t you take an educated risk and start a Ning in your school or department for next school year!

A what now?
A Ning! A Ning is a social networking platform that allows users to create their own network! It is very easy to setup and use, plus the collaboration aspect is excellent! Creating a ning allows users to share information, such as links, personal blogs and even create discussion forums. You can make your Ning private or open it up to the entire world. Users can send messages, write on your personal page and share, share…share! Plus it would flatten the walls of your department and allow you to collaborate easily in the summer and over vacations.
A district wide Ning would be a great idea, but starting small within your department would be a more practical idea for next fall. Plus, when you and your department are talking about this cool new word next year and sounding like a movie reference from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you can then begin to pass on the great idea to other departments.
If you are still confused and still trying to figure out just exatcly what social networking can do for your school or department, I will leave you with a brief video courtesy of Mr. LeFever. Enjoy and I look forward to hearing about all great departmental Ning’s you have created!