Amy Barnabi - Reflections of Blogging

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 4 - POST #7 SECOND LIFE

Second Life

I joined EDtech in Second Life tonight. It may serve as a valuable resource for teachers like myself, but I was less than impressed when in this PG rated room, I overheard an X-rated, let’s say, “simulation” taking place. For myself, that is the biggest concern of this virtual community, the content that sometimes slips through the cracks and gets filtered out for all to see, or in this case, hear. For educators who think real life does not offer enough opportunities to practice their profession, there is Second Life, an Internet-based virtual environment that counts thousands of educators among its enthusiasts. Second Life bears a passing resemblance to an online game, with users represented by digitally drawn characters, called avatars, that can interact and engage in a vast array of activities. But a growing number of K-12 educators and groups have come to see the 3-D virtual environment as having educational potential that is very real (Science Daily, 2009).

Hundreds of leading universities and school systems around the world use Second Life as a vibrant part of their educational programs. Linden Lab works enthusiastically with education organizations to familiarize them with the benefits of virtual worlds, connect them with educational peers active in Second Life, and showcase their in world projects and communities (Second Life Grid, 2009). For the thousand of high schools and middle schools wanting to use Second Life, there is the teen site, Teen Grid. where only teenage players can socialize. When teenagers turn 20, they must automatically leave Teen Grid and join the Second Life “real world.” Studies produced by Northwestern University show that most teens are chatting and interacting with their real life friends, or friends of their friends. In the virtual world we have found ways to follow the trends of teens. In our own world where we often find it difficult to find out information about what’s going on in our own teenagers life, this study is phenomenal!

Online chats and virtual worlds, than often are recreated in historical relevance, help students become proactive in their learning. Most people, even educators, think online learning doesn't require participation or engagement with course material. But in "Second Life" there's real-time interaction, which means students need to engage in the discussion -- much as if they were sitting in a brick and mortar classroom (CNN, 2006).

Wong, Grace. (2006). Educators explore second life online. Retrieved September 25, 2009 from, http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/11/13/second.life.university/index.html

Northwestern University (2009, February 14). Tracking the digital traces of social networks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2009/02/090213161031.html

Second Life (September 2009). Second life grid. Retrieved September 25, 2009, from http://secondlifegrid.net/slfe/education-use-virtual-world

Month 4 Action Research

http://web.me.com/abarnabi/Amy_Barnabi/Above_Average.html

LINK TO MY IWEB SITE WHERE NEW BLOG ARP Month 4 - IS POSTED! CHECK IT OUT :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WEEK 4 - POST #8 Reflections on Blogging

http://www.youtube.com/my_videos?pi=0&ps=20&sf=added&sa=0&sq=&dm=1

The above link is my Reflections on Blogging video on YOUTUBE!
The video is also posted at the TOP of THIS blog page!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Week 3 Post #6 - Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice

COP’s or Communities of Practice are defined as, the process of social learning that occurs and the shared sociocultural practices that emerge and evolve when people who have common goals interact as they strive towards those goals (Wikipedia, 2009).

Learning is fundamentally a social phenomenon! People organize their learning around the social communities to which they belong. Therefore, schools are only powerful learning environments for students whose social communities coincide with that school.

Knowledge is integrated in the life of communities that share values, beliefs, languages, and ways of doing things. These are called communities of practice. Real knowledge is integrated in the doing, social relations, and expertise of these communities.
The processes of learning and membership in a community of practice are inseparable. Because learning is intertwined with community membership, it is what lets us belong to and adjust our status in the group. As we change our learning, our identity–and our relationship to the group–changes (Rodriguez, 2009).
Recently I started blogging with my sixth grade students using Classroompress.com (Classroompress, 2009). My kids feel empowered by their own learning environment via the web. This site offers a unique blogging experiences, and at the same time, allows me to totally control their online environment. I have special education students who are intimidated in the classroom, but become at ease when behind a computer screen learning at their own pace. The success that technology gives to all my students is invaluable. Blogging has opened up a world that maybe I become a part of in the spring. Students are sharing and answering academic questions via the blog site, Classroompress.com, without the dull every day life of just pencil and paper.

Communities of Practices such as Teachertube and Youtube, allow me to pull curriculum based material shared by thousands to empower my teaching, creating a unique environmental classroom that my students actually want to take part in.

Rodríguez, Marco, A. R. (2009). Communities of practice. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from, http://www.funderstanding.com/content/communities-of-practice

Wikipedia. (2009). Communities of practice. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_practice

Week 3 Post #5 - Social Media

Social Media

While most districts are still figuring out Web-based collaboration tools from pedagogical and security perspectives, a large number of teachers are already out there using these tools to supplement instruction, engage learners, and encourage their students to become producers of information, as well as consumers of it. In other words, they're experimenting (Nagel, 2008). 1. Digital Media Sharing & Learning Communities that include such sites as – Schooltube.com: 1. SchoolTube provides students and educators a safe, world class, and FREE media sharing website that is nationally endorsed by premier education associations (Schooltube, 2009). 2. Blackboard: You may not have thought about Blackboard as a social media tool, but it offers all the interactivity you can desire with students and with parents. Corporations and nonprofit organizations now use this platform to stay in touch with employees and members, for educational purposes and to increase organizational performance. 3. Moodle: This virtual learning environment is free to use, and it includes a myriad of ways to build ‘community’ in the classroom (Digital Learning People, 2009).

Great digital media sites for teachers include: 1. 4Teachers: If you want to learn how to teach with technology, or if you want to hone your current skills and teach others what you know, then this venue might be for you. Learn about new tools, get support and stay on top of your game. 2. Promethean Planet: Billed as “the world’s largest interactive whiteboard community,” this site offers support for teachers through searchable resources, lessons, educational Web links and many more tools.
3. ProTeacher Community: This is a community for school teachers in grades PreK-8. Participants mostly are from the U.S., but guests from around the world are invited. 4. TeacherLingo: Tryout this educational community that connects teachers from every educational level.
5. We the Teachers: Find teachers in your neighborhood or from around the world to share lesson plans and other classroom resources (Digital Learning People, 2009).

While all of these sites are wonderful, we must remember that we have a responsibility. Social Media is a wonderful tool for educators and helps us bridge the gap. The future is literally at our fingertips, but with that comes a greater and more important factor; to teach our students the responsibilities of online learning. Not everyone out there wants the same things we want for our students, and not every parent is monitoring their children as much as you and I would monitor our own. Keep in mind, that social media means teaching kids to be responsible and smart while accessing information. While we do our best to keep the “bad guys” out in school, we don’t have that luxury when they leave our rooms. First and foremost, do your best to keep them safe and smart.

Nagel, David. (2008). Spotlight: Free social media tools for educators. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from
http://thejournal.com/articles/2008/04/16/spotlight-free-social-media-tools-for-educators.aspx

Schooltube.com. (2009). About schooltube, page 1. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from http://www.schooltube.com

The Digital Learning People. (2009). 25 excellent social media sites for teachers. Retrieved September 21, 2009 from,
http://www. toponlineuniversityreviews.com/2009/25-excellent-social-media-sites-for-teachers/

DAY ONE.......

It went well :). Kids are excited. Wish we had more time in the gym. I hadn't anticipated the kids coming in at varied times. Bugs to work out, but kids love it!