Thursday, April 17, 2008

Prove Yourself Boy!

The latest attempt to regulate online content has reared its ugly head in the form of a false pretense. Of course, it's all about freeing up bandwidth, so that everyones computer will operate a little faster. Can someone tell me how accessing a blog will slow things up.

Yes, I have been waiting for the day, my own blog has been blocked by our school system. I knew this day was coming. While I was at a training one Friday at a Highschool in another County in Maryland, all blogs were blocked. Waiting to start the training, I tried to access my aggregator to read my blogs. What? Pageflakes is blocked? I laughed, thinking that my own district would never do this.

The difference seems to lie in whether your blogging site is deemed a "social networking site" or a "learning networking site". My district has blocked all "social networking" sites. I guess Blogger is considered social. Oh well. We all know how schools think of being social. 90% of the day, students aren't allowed to talk.

I contacted our tech. guy and told him that I sometime use my professional blog in my class to show students the methods in which I learn on a daily basis. I know he is just the messenger, so I am not upset with him. I also know that this was not a personal attack on me. The tech decision makers didn't get together and say "We have to get rid of this guys blog, he's spending too much work time on it". However this may have went down, I am somewhat disappointed in our school system. When they want to block sites from use for the employees and students of the district, they need to think of what they are actually blocking. When they block whole categories, they need to think of the message they are sending to the teachers and the students. Blocking is saying "WE DON'T TRUST YOU". Not only do they have trust issues, but blocking some of these sites are doing our students a disservice in the classroom. Especially in a classroom like mine. I tend to use many sites to engage students on a daily basis. My options are beginning to be limited. I hope they don't block our WIKI. This would make many students revolt. I don't think the district wants 200 3-5 graders knocking on their door with questions :)

Any way, enough with a rant. Now it is down to me proving that my Blog is educational. What exactly does that mean? How do I prove this? Do I need to invite some Board Members into my classroom on a day that I share an aspect of my Personal Learning Network? Should I invite each of you to a Board Meeting to show them how many people I learn from on a daily basis by being "social"? I don't know the answer. But I need to find one quick.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Help! From the Network

My mother has been an Art teacher for 37 years. She is still teaching Sculpture and Ceramics in a High School setting. She approached me today with a few questions...

1. How can I get my students to listen when I give direction?

2. What type of 21st Century activities can I incorporate in my curriculum?

I relayed to her the importance of being involved in a Network on the internet. She is very interested in using tools such as blogs to refresh her teaching and engage the students. I came up with many ideas. I mentioned the importance of letting the students have a voice in her class. I mentioned that she should have a student ran classroom instead of her always teaching them how to do everything. She liked the idea, but seemed hesitant.

Now, I am asking my network...

Does anyone know of any good blogs or resources my mom could use to answer some of her questions?