Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Age of Composition













It is ironic when I hear comments about teens not reading or writing because they are "always on the computer", because when they are on the computer they are overwhelmingly engaged in reading and writing. Watch a student keyboard either on a cell phone or at a computer, and invariable they are relaxed and their fingers (or thumbs) are flying. No writer's block, no fear.

The terrific post from Jeff Utrecht's blog, The Thinking Stick, beautifully lays out the evolution of The Age of Composition, and the need to re-think how we teach writing. We have moved away from writing as a subject to go through, to writing as a subject to be studied. It is a more dynamic and pertinent mode of communication as the world becomes increasingly networked and communication more dynamic. Global events unfold and are shared and reported on Facebook and Twitter in close to real-time, with thousands and sometimes millions of people following and/or participating in the conversation. And there are still people who think kids aren't engaged in reading and writing?

Here is an additional link from eSchool News on the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) - good stuff.

NCTE Defines Writing for the 21st Century
New report offers guidance on how to update writing curriculum to include blogs, wikis, and other forms of communication

Monday, March 30, 2009

Which would you choose?

OK - you are a CCHS student, and you need to do research for your term paper. You go to the CCHS Library webpage and you need to find information to support your topic.
Which interface is more welcoming? Friendly? More appealing?

On the top is our new draft. On the bottom is the old version.

We unveil our new version in a couple of weeks, and will run them side-by-side, seeking student feedback.

Should be interesting!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Want My Social TV!


Take a look at this graph. If you are in any doubt that we are in the middle of an enormous transition, this is your wake up call. Social, collaborative engagement is upon us, so quit whining that you don't get Twitter (last comment aimed at myself).

Gen Y Says: "I Want My Social TV!" - ReadWriteWeb

Now, if I could only figure out how to work my cable remote...

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Third Place

"Theory into practice."

Rolf Erickson on Third Place Libraries

The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. - Wikipedia

Some people really have the view from the mountain top. Doug Johnson is one of those people. His Blue Skunk blog is an ongoing source of professional development for me, as well as inspiration. His recent post, School Libraries as a "Third Place" , takes a variety of scholarly research on healthy social networks, and applies this body of work to school libraries.

My less-scholarly summary is that our students work and live at home, they work in classrooms and in their extra-curricular activities, and they also need a "third place" where they can connect with their disparate obligations and responsibilities. Whether it is checking email, downloading work from a teacher website, touching base with Facebook, doing homework, or relaxing with friends over a chess or Scrabble board, they need a third place.

Does this undermine the mission of the CCHS Library? Not in my opinion. The work of high school students looks very different from the work of college students, or their teachers. They have a higher tolerance for noise, and many are more productive with some noise than they are with silence. They work in relaxed, collaborative groups, mixing academics with casual chat. They visibly unwind, their shoulders and faces relaxing. We are seeing increased use of databases and books. We know this, because our usage statistics are up across the board. We are full to capacity almost every block, every day. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Hmmm.... students using the library - more. Isn't that what it's all about?

photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons
Creative Commons by ocean.flynn

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Assessing Media

I like to keep an eye out for new tools that will help illustrate tricky, nuanced things - like potential bias. Still underdevelopment, this company is definitely going into my RSS feed. Take a look at the graphic and you can see that CNN focuses more on the Congress, while Fox News focuses on the White House.

"Media Cloud is a system that lets you see the flow of the media. The Internet is fundamentally altering the way that news is produced and distributed, but there are few comprehensive approaches to understanding the nature of these changes. Media Cloud automatically builds an archive of news stories and blog posts from the web, applies language processing, and gives you ways to analyze and visualize the data. The system is still in early development, but we invite you to explore our current data and suggest research ideas. This is an open-source project, and we will be releasing all of the code soon. You can read more background on the project or just get started below."

Credit to ReadWriteWeb for being such an awesome source for the latest on educational technology.