Friday, November 1, 2013

Writing: My First Nanowrimo Event...I am Scared.

National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo (na-noh-RY-moh) is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place every November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. Despite its name, it accepts entries from around the world. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing, no matter how bad the writing is, through the end of a first draft.

The idea is that many people are scared to start writing because it won’t be any good, and if there’s a time to celebrate length, rather than quality, more people will write an entire first draft, which they can then proceed to edit if they wish.

Even John Green entered the NaNoWriMo competition 3 years ago. Great words of advice from the author of The Fault in our Stars
video
 Writers wishing to participate first register on the project’s website,  http://nanowrimo.org/ where they can post profiles and information about their novels, including synopsis and excerpts. Word counts are validated on the site, with writers submitting a copy of their novel for automatic counting.

Members from our school’s  Science Fiction and Fantasy Club…(Starships and Dragons), some Journalism students and myself are planning to make the plunge. Come join us…I do not want to be the only person who writes like an moron.

 There is even a NaNoWriMo song.  Dig it.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Education: Collabrorative tools in the classroom

Originally, my focuses in the use of technology in the classroom over the last six years had/has  to do with the collaborative nature of online tools and easy of functionality between the teacher and student using these tools. As far as collaborative tools go for education, Google Docs has proven to be one of the best so far for me. My students and I have made it an indispensable part of the AP World and European History classes. Several of my students are now using it in their other upper level and Dual Enrollment classes. It should be noted that some of my friends also use Google docs collaboratively or allow students to use it in their classes. This has also gone beyond the high school classroom to college as some of the students that we have taught are using it exclusively for collaboration in their classes.

I have had the opportunity along with my good friend Tara Malecki (she should be writing this post) to present at our county’s technology workshops to share our own experiences with Google Docs in 2011 and 2012. In the fall of 2013, I was given the opportunity to present this idea of Collaboration and Technology at the State Social Studies Conference (FCSS). Sharing  with my fellow social studies teachers was exciting and eye opening because many of them were working toward the same goals involving technology and collaboration. It was a great session and confirmed for me that this is the direction I needed to pursue.

These events encouraged me to do more research on the topic of collaborative tools. What I have now learned is that students must also be engaged (Engagement) with the tools.  I now realized that I was addressing only part of what I wanted to accomplish with Collaborative learning for my students.

Carnegie Mellon's,  Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation  addresses Collaborative tools and learning . Here is the synopsis from their site  Collborative Tools  based on a White paper literature review (2009) of collaborative learning, assessment, and tools.  Download Collaboration Tools White Paper
Collaborative learning is essentially people working together to solve a problem, create a product, or derive meaning from a body of material. A central question or problem serves to organize and drive activities, and encourage application, analysis, and synthesis of course material. While the landscape of technology that can be used to support central activities of collaborative learning is vast and varied, it is often lumped together under a single label: "collaboration tools."
Tools that exist to support collaboration can:
  •     facilitate real-time and asynchronous text, voice, and video    communication.
  •     assist in basic project management activities.
  •     support co-creation by enabling groups to modify output in real-time or  asynchronously.
  •     facilitate consensus building through group discussions and polling.
  •     simplify and streamline resource management.
  •     enable local and remote presentation and archiving of completed  projects.
Communication
  •     Virtual Meetings
  •     Email
  •     Instant Messaging
  •     Screen Sharing
  •     Blogs
  •     Voice, Video, Web Conferencing
  •     Discussion Boards
Team Definition & Participant
  •     Social Networking
  •     Presence Management
  •     User Profiles
  •     Contact Management

Project Management
  •     Task Management
  •     Time Tracking
  •     Workflow Routing
  •     Milestones
  •     Calendaring

Resource Management
  •     File Storage
  •     Search
  •     Database Management
  •     Version Tracking
  •     Access Management
  •     Social Bookmarking
  •     Commenting
  •     Tagging
Co-Creation & Ideation
  •     Concept Mapping
  •     Wikis
  •     Virtual Whiteboards
  •     Real-Time Collaborative Editing
Consensus Building
  •     Polling
  •     Question Management
  •     Process Archiving
Presentation & Archiving
  •     Webinars
  •     Slide Shows
  •     Hosted Media Sharing
If you are interested in these ideas and bringing Collabrative tools into your classroom I strongly recomment  Carnegie Mellon's,  White paper literature review (2009) of collaborative learning, assessment, and tools.  Download Collaboration Tools White Paper

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Technology: R.I.P Google Reader

Well, Google killed another service that only journalists, Techie's and news junkies find important, Google Reader. I have been using Google Reader for years and I loved it. So what is/was Google reader?

Google Reader is a content application and platform provided by Google that is an news aggregator of content served by web feeds. It was created in early and launched in 2005, through Google Labs. Google Reader grew in popularity to support a number of apps which use it as a platform for serving news and information to people.
In computing, a news aggregator, also termed a feed aggregator, feed reader, news reader, RSS reader or simply aggregator,  which aggregates syndicated web content such as news headlines, blogs, podcasts and video blogs (vlogs) in one location for easy viewing." Wikipedia"

In March 2013, Google announced that Google Reader will be closed on July 1, 2013, due to declining usage.

The problem for me was that I became so dependent on Google Reader that I did not look at any other news aggregators. Well just in case you are in the same situation I am here are a few links to help you find news aggregates.

http://lifehacker.com/5990881/five-best-google-reader-alternatives

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/03/14/google-reader-alternatives/1986865/