Thing #10

I found the videos explaining Creative Commons a relief, because I have always been perplexed by copyright issues, seeking permission, and what qualifies as “fair use.”  Which, I confess, is not a good problem for an English teacher to have.  So, now I feel like I have some resources that can teach me what I want to know about using material and giving credit where credit is due. Not that I at this point understand it.  I just feel like I could, now, if I really wanted to.  Up to this point, I have been pretty much shamelessly stealing material off of the internet to use in my classroom.  In my papers, I can attribute and cite all day long.  But, for images (really images in particular), I don’t give copyright a lot of thought.  And, I only start thinking about the fact that I probably need to learn about it when the prospect of teaching my students how to deal with using online material begins to approach…So, at least I have some resources under my belt, and I can find out this information that up to this point has eluded me.

Looking through OER Commons kind of blew my mind.  I knew about MOOCS through platforms like Coursera, but I didn’t realize there were entire courses online with all of their material available for use.  Or at least, that’s what it looked like.  For example, I found an entire English 101 course with all of its materials available for use.  Looking through it, I really would rather create my own materials, but it’s interested that materials like that are available online as resources.  Or are they?  Can I just use them?  It still isn’t very clear to me. What would prevent me from just teaching that course instead of my own?  That doesn’t seem like the best idea…do people just do that?  So, really, this module has raised more questions than answers for me, but at least I’m thinking about the issue rather than guilelessly taking material off the web without a second thought.

Thing #7

I spent some time looking at a bunch of the tools and ended up playing with Mindomo.  I assigned (among other books) Charles Dickens’s Hard Times for summer reading, so I made a mind map of part of Chapter 5 while I was doing my own reading.  Making the map was fun and easy.  I haven’t explored enough to see whether you and students can all collaborate on a mind map together in real time, but I think that Mindomo would be a fun thing to put on the board during a class discussion and make a mindmap of our discussion as we go – so as students bring up topics and ideas, we can put them on the mind map, and by the end of class we’ll have a visual diagram of our entire discussion.  They could perhaps use the mind map as a study tool – and if we have a course Wiki, I could post the discussion on the Wiki.  Absent students could see what we discussed that day, and students could use the map later, as I mentioned, to study or use for ideas in writing their essays.  Students could also use the program to make their own mindmaps as they are reading – we could explore how to post these to a group page so students can see one another’s ideas.

Here’s a link to the map I made.  I think Mindomo could possibly be Bang more than just Bling.

Thing #6

I find it really helpful when a teacher talks about an application he has used in the classroom along with a detailed description of exactly how he used it and why it was useful.  This post from Powerful Learning Practice, again on Evernote, did just that.  I also found the post on creating a Student-Centered, Problem-Based Learning classroom really inspiring.  I’ve read a lot about letting students help create their own learning process, having the teacher get out of the way, moving the teacher from the position of authority/knowledge-dispenser to motivator/facilitator.  I’m trying to figure out exactly how to do that in a high school English classroom.  For example, in the Ted talk embedded in the link above, Shelley Wright talks about letting her students get really excited about raising money for a school in Uganda in her science classroom.  That sounds really great.  However, while she was talking, I wondered when they were “doing” science.  Yes, the process was student led, but it didn’t seem to have much to do with her subject?  That might be fine, but what if we’re really, really supposed to be reading Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, or something – we can’t just abandon that if the students want to, right, so they can “create their own learning”?  What if when they want to create their own learning, it has nothing to do with English, Literature, Language at all?…how do you let students collaborate in their learning process, have a Problem-Based Learning classroom, in which you’re still teaching a difficult subject in which they might not have a lot of experience?

I clearly have a lot of questions.  I want to create a student-centered classroom.  If anyone has ideas or experience doing this in their own high school English classrooms, I’d love to here from you.

Thing #5 Part 2

I was at first not thrilled to be adding a bunch of education blogs to my current Feedly mix, but after I started using Feedly’s ability to categorize my different blogs according to their content, my reader got a lot more organized.  So, I created an Education Category along with an Art & Design category; Farm Life; Cooking; Friends & Family; Christianity, Art, & Culture; and Podcasts.

I added all the education blogs recommended through the k12Learning class and then started looking around for blogs written specifically by high school English teachers, since that’s what I’ll be teaching.  I found a few, and so far I’ve enjoyed browsing through Nicholas Provenzano’s blog, The Nerdy Teacher.  I especially have appreciated his post on using Evernote in the classroom this past year.  It seems he’s written a pretty thorough guide that might be helpful to me.  I use Evernote now, but not as extensively as Provenzano has.  The ways he used it last year as a pedagogical tool seem really interesting.  So, to sum up: Feedly = helpful.  I’m looking forward to exploring more of these education blogs.  Up til now I’ve just used my reader to keep track of design trends and good recipes.  Using the reader for professionalization is opening up a world of possibilities.  Don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before…

Thing #5 Part 1

I’ve been using an RSS Reader for awhile now, and I love it.  I was an avid Google Reader fan until Google notified us all that it was going to do away with Google Reader (no idea why…still baffled, since it was such a useful platform that its users seemed to love).  Since I found that out (maybe 6 months ago), I’ve been using Feedly, which is pretty great.  I like the simplest display version of Feedly, in which all article headlines are lined up without pictures or icons.  You can change the view by doing the following:  Click All on the left side of your Feedly main page.  On the top right hand side of the page you’ll see 8 icons, four of which are different arrangements of lines and squares.  Clicking these will change the way your posts are displayed on the page.  I like the one that looks like four parallel lines, because with this arrangement, I can quickly scan through blog post titles and see what I want to give my attention to.  That’s the key to avoiding the dreaded overwhelm when it comes to the Blog Reader – if you don’t check your Reader every day, then when you do check it, depending on how many blogs you subscribe to, you could have over 100 posts waiting for you to read.  Which, could immediately cause a panic attack.  So, when I haven’t checked my Reader in awhile, and I do have a ton of blog posts piled up, I deal with this pretty ruthlessly.  I scan the post titles, and if a title doesn’t grab me, it’s deleted.  If I click on the title and the first sentence or two don’t grab me, it’s deleted.  I might miss some great content this way, but I also see a lot of great content, and since there is infinite information on the web, if I throw out something good and I really was supposed to see it, I’ll probably find out about whatever it is somewhere else.  So, word of advice for dealing with your reader content:  be ruthless.  Don’t worry you’ll miss something.  You will.  But if you worry about that, you’ll spend all your time reading these blogs, and you won’t enjoy it.  You’ll be a slave to them rather than using them to help you.  Ok, I’m done talking in second person.

So.  I clearly really like Feedly.  I think I’ll continue my Thing #5 in another post, since this one’s getting so long…

Thing #4

In EduBlog Insights, Anne Davis includes the following quote from Donald Leu:

The new literacies include the skills, strategies, and insights necessary to successfully exploit the rapidly changing information and communication technologies that continuously emerge in our world. A more precise definition of the new literacies may never be possible to achieve since their most important characteristic is that they regularly change; as new technologies for information and communication continually appear, new literacies emerge (Bruce, 1997; Leu, in press a; Reinking, 1998). Moreover, these changes often take place faster than we are able to completely evaluate them. Regular change is a defining characteristic of the new literacies.

This simple observation has profound consequences for literacy and literacy education. The continuously changing technologies of literacy mean that we must help children learn how to learn new technologies of literacy. In fact, the ability to learn continuously changing technologies for literacy may be a more critical target than learning any particular technology of literacy itself.

Leu uses the word “literacy” a lot, so I think it might be useful to define it so we’re all on the same page.  The OED defines literacy as “The quality, condition, or state of being literate; the ability to read and write” and “In extended use (usually with modifying word): The ability to ‘read’ a specified subject or medium; competence or knowledge in a particular area.”  Literacy is not relegated to the English classroom; literacy is the ability to “read” texts, and a text can be anything.  A website, the way I dress, the design of a room, a book cover, a CD insert, the blanket I choose for my bed are all texts to be read – they all create meaning.  The math classroom, the way it is set-up, the way the teacher presents herself and communicates are all pieces of a text that work together to create meaning:  how the teacher feels about her subject and her students, how the students can read that feeling and be excited (or not so excited) about the learning process in that room.  Everything we do communicates, and we need to teach our students the ability to read many types of communication.  When a student accesses a website, which is often, the student needs to have the literacy skills to read that website, to gather its implicit messages, to see whether the website is created by a credible source, to be able to glean what the website wants the student to believe, and be able to engage with those messages critically.  To teach our students critical engagement with rather than passive consumption of the world around them, we need to teach them literacies, or as David Leu refers to it, the “new literacies” that  “include the skills, strategies, and insights necessary to successfully exploit the rapidly changing information and communication technologies that continuously emerge in our world.”  I don’t love the word “exploit” – so utilitarian – but I do like the words “engage with” with suggest an active, critical mind that can understand the implicit meanings in any given text and evaluate that meaning as valid or invalid, true or false or a mixture of the two.

Another helpful quote –

“It is not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into digital spaces. Teachers need to address writing for a public audience, how to cite and link and why, how to use the comment tool in pedagogical ways, how to read web materials more efficiently as well as explore other ways to consider pedagogical uses of blogs. Blogging requires us to teach students to critically engage media. Students need instruction on how to become efficient navigators in these digital spaces where they will be obtaining a majority of their information….Blogs foster ownership and choice. They help lead us away from students trying to find what the teacher wants in terms of an answer.” Anne Davis, EduBlog Insights

This chunk of text helps me understand more of blogging’s usefulness – why would we write on a blog rather than on paper, I wonder?  Davis makes the helpful (and cited around the edu-blogosphere point) that blogging is “not just a matter of transferring classroom writing into a digital space.”  Blogging can help students become aware that when one writes one is always writing for an audience (a potentially global one), that media is more than something to passively consume.  It can help us teach our students how to be active and thoughtful citizens, and they can be excited about that because the feedback they might get on their blogging could come from voices all over the world.  Bo Adams talks about that encouraging phenomenon in It’s All About Learning: “If we truly  are preparing students to lead and serve in a changing world, then we should teach students to utilize respectfully and responsibly the methods and processes that can be used in an engaged and purposeful citizenry.”

Final thought:  it seems that some of these blogs feature educators reflecting on theories and ideas, others are about the daily activities, successes, and failures in the actual classroom.  Others have student collaboration.  It seems like one could potentially run several different blogs.  Is it better to separate these purposes across several different blogs or put them all into one and use tagging to differentiate the various types of posts?  Thoughts?


Thing #3.2 – Thoughts About Web 2.0/New Learning

In a lot of ways, I’m really interested in the ways Web 2.0 can be implemented in a writing class.  I’ve used online portfolios to showcase student work, but I think that some of these applications that allow collaboration between students, in which we are all dialoguing together, will help students begin to understand that writing is not a linear process.  Writing is, actually, a recursive process, and digital texts allow students to more easily participate in its recursiveness.  I also really like that in many ways Web 2.0 allows my students and me to be learners together.  I’m a little nervous, because while I am a fairly confident social media user in my own life, I haven’t used technology in the classroom in any extensive way.  I hope that my students will be aware that, as Katie Gamble said in her post, like technology is ever-changing, so will my classroom as I experiment with new technologies and see which will be most useful for my students.  I’m also excited about blogging to catalogue my own learning process.







Oh hi. Thing #3.1

Hello!  I’m one of the newer (-est?) members of Prince Avenue, and I’ll be teaching English to your 10th and 12th graders next year.  My name is Katy Van Wyk and for the past seven years I’ve been working on an MA and a PhD at UGA.  I’m a dissertation away from finishing my doctorate in English, and I’m writing on this guy. I’ll let you know how that goes.

My husband and I live in Winterville, and we have these:


Who guard and fiercely protect these:


I also have a cat, Stella.


Clearly, I like my animals.

I also love to garden, and my husband tilled up our whole front yard so we could have one.  We are watching and waiting for the first tomatoes of the year.  So. Excited.

I’m really looking forward to becoming part of the community at Prince Avenue, and I’m already enjoying this class.  Though I’m relatively well-versed in some aspects of social media – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, a personal blog through Blogger – I’m really interested in becoming more conversant in “Web 2.0,” especially as it will help me implement useful technology in the classroom.  I really want to work on how I define “useful” when it comes to useful technology.