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It’s Been a Busy Quarter

January 30, 2011

I hope that this finds all of you well.  I know it’s been quite sometime sine I have written anything but it’s been for a very good reason.  I’ve been busy with teaching and continuing my curriculum revisions.  Quite simply, at the end of the day, I didn’t have the time to update.


This went very well.  My students’ enthusiasm for their topics really shined through in their research and narratives.  What worked best was having them write about their passion about the time period.  This allowed them to take ownership of their blogs and learning, and in someways customize my course to suit their learning pursuits.  Some of my students even discussed their learning with other faculty, and some of my colleagues followed along with my students throughout the semester.   Each time a blog post was due I was really excited to read what they had done and learned.

But, nothing is perfect.  I still have to find ways to reach out to all of the students and engage them.  There is no one size fits all approach to any of this, and the thing about being pioneers in this is that I have no models to fall back on.  My colleagues and I are creating the models.

Another thing to make sure of is that this does not turn into a ubiquitous, ho-hum kind of assignment.  Some of it is novel, but if it becomes something that everyone is doing just to do it, or doing without purpose then the power of this assignment is lost.  Additionally we have to be sure that students aren’t being asked to manage too many different blogs and accounts all at once.  Blogs are supposed to be learning journeys…ideally they could maintain one blog for four years that could be a portfolio.  But to get there we have to take baby steps, and I feel that this blog project was a baby step.

Wikis and Copyright

My U.S. II Wikis were a learning experience.  We as educators need to engage students in understanding copyright and intellectual property.  As I see it now students see citations, works cited and bibliographies as an added and troublesome step in research and/or summative projects.   This is a conversation we are having at our school, and it’s one that should be occurring at every school.  What I ran into with the wikis is that not everything was cited properly (which is common on many research assignments), some of the material used was not allowed to be used according to the copyright holder, and that students confused “public domain” with “don’t have to cite or accredit”.  This is a major task that I want to tackle in the Spring Semester.

The content itself was great, and the students did put unique voices into the work.  I was pleased with their final products in that respect, and I feel that they did connect with the human side of the Great Depression.

The Future

For this coming quarter I plan on using Diigo to manage group collaboration in my classes, embarking on student analyses of the use of social media by politicians and government officials, continued conversion to Project Based Learning in my courses and the continued revision of curriculum Understand by Design.  As these things unfold I’ll be here asking for your help and sharing my progress.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2011 10:26 pm

    Hi Keith,

    I’m curious to hear more about the blogging, since I’ve been doing that a lot this year. My experience has been mixed (you can see the summary here: I’d love to hear how your experience compared. And any thoughts on how to avoid having blogging fall into the “ho-hum assignment” category?


  2. Keith Dennison permalink*
    February 5, 2011 11:15 am

    Hi, David.

    I hope this finds you well; I’ve been transitioning between Quarter 2 and 3 so apologize for the length of time it has taken to get back to you. I think there are many similarities among our responses and experiences in this way.

    Colleagues and I have been reflecting and we think one way to overcome the ho-hum assignment dilemma is to discuss moving toward 1 blog for each student that they use in each class which demonstrates their learning over the 4 years that they’re at Central. One thing to consider is that students by this point may be managing about 3-5 different blogs (some active, some abandoned at the end of the quarter), so they may just appear as tack-on assignments, or like the novels we distribute and collect during the course. But, we all know that blogs aren’t like that — they’re a different way to learn and reflect. So, as we continue with our discussions I can keep you up to date.

    Also, feel free to join us on Twitter on Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8 for a chats. We use the #hcrhs tag to communicate and follow along. Students are starting to join in, too. Other colleages at Central are blogging, too and you can get their perspectives there as well.

    I hope this helps. Feel free to get back to me to continue our conversation.

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