Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Goals

My Goals
Present and Future

I've been tagged for a meme by Kelly -and by Eduardo Peyrano a few days later. This has rules fully detailed in Educational Discourse blog.

This meme is kind of difficult to play. When I read this, my mind got puzzled:

"List and write about the top 5 to 10 goals that you gotta’ get so that
you can truly say you have achieved your wildest dreams in life. These
have to be your best, most exclusive, and over-the-top goals that you
can pick off your goals list."

The thing is that although I keep lists for almost anything, from supermarket and to-do-lists to wish lists for the next holiday, I do not have a list for my life. I am joining because I like what I have learnt about Kelly and Eduardo in their posts. Because blogs can bring us closer.

I'd rather replace the word goals for dreams. (Blame my capricious nature for it). The ones that came true will be outside this post -many things will be out, ouch! But we are interested in learning about those things that drive us towards the future. Things we do not always mention, but they underpin our posts.

Image attribution: punkasz
That picture reminds me so much of the days when I commuted for about 4 hours a day from my parents' to College and back. Getting a degree was indeed a goal/dream come true.


1) See the Egyptian pyramids. I think I was ten years old when this wish shaped in my mind. This is what I call a dream without a due date. That is, as long as it happens one day, I will be ever so happy. Needn't be soon. No anxiety about it at all .

2) See The Police concert next December in Buenos Aires. I thought this reunion would never happen. You cannot imagine how thrilled I am about this. It is strange to have wanted something to happen for 24 years.

3) Celebrate my parent's 50th wedding anniversary next December (same day of The Police concert!). They are incredible people who have drawn even closer in the face of adversity. They are like. no. other.

4) Travel again. Same places and different places. The more, the merrier. Feel the delight of meeting different people in their familiar surroundings.

That is all about the future. My mind is here and now focused.

5) Recent Achievements
I was very happy this week when I posted this in my fceblog for students. That blog experience has taught me so much. So much. Now that the blog has been singled out in a book as a model to encourage teachers to get blogging for their students, I feel a goal has been achieved.

A blogger wants to get attention first and then spread the word. Make an impact in the blogosphere. But there will always be those teachers who feel puzzled or overwhelmed with info. They go to the printed word first. Will I reach any of them via the book? Hope so.

The donation to charity I mention at the end of that post came without my asking for it. Somehow, it is making me close an inner circle. A path that has to do with losing, recovering, dedicating an action and now giving back. I feel content.

Education is about making our life quality better, without imposing any model of what is to be understood by 'better'.

There will always be people who simply do not get it.

-People who are suspicious of technology integration, for example.
-People who think technology is dangerous because there is no perfect security online. Risk management does not occur to them.
-Students who crave for lots of structured guidance and not the marvelous open-ended activities we can think of -now that we are empowered by Web 2.0 tools.

I hope I do not get too despaired when I see they do not get it. I will have learnt very little if I cannot tolerate the divide between the blog-haves and blog-not. My goal is to keep the dialogue open.

One last wish before I tag you.
6) Hope this blog continues being a means to meet and converse with people.

Yet another,
7) Hope one day my posting frequency matches the speed of my thoughts. Well, let's be reasonable, keeping up the pace would suffice -or I will get a ticket for speeding on the blog.

How about your goals?
Karyn Romeis
Teacher Dude
Chris Craft
Steve Dembo
Baxter Tocher
Related post: Not part of the meme, but inspiring post from Will Richardson

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Blogging Rules

Blogging Rules
Putting the signposts in a new road

Yesterday we had our language class in the lab. We reflected on the role of peer reviewers of our classmates work uploaded to the class wiki. Students became interested and involved in expressing their own views, gradually performing edition tasks that used to be exclusively the teacher's role. I think they did not leave me much to do. Their observations were accurate enough for the task objectives.

I was observed by a school coordinator. Class observation is a regular thing, but I was interested in showing how the students work at the lab. She had seen our wiki for the first time earlier that day. Her first comments were very positive. Students enthusiasm on the rise was clearly felt. So far so good.

Everytime enthusiasm peaks, I get a strange feeling. As if I were crossing a street without looking up and down the road.

Every game has rules. My class wiki and blog have sections to discuss them. Yet I wonder how many students have read them. I notice also that they seem to want to forget that they are in a public and visible place. Perhaps because they have never done it before. Perhaps because they are blissfully unaware of any danger. So far, I have moderated a couple of times when real names appeared.

Technology integration makes studying fun. It does not feel as work anymore. You can even lose track of time. Your creativity flows.

Yet all this fun brings new responsibilities. We are to be accountable for making it fun without ignoring the risks. Particularly because there is no best practices book written on the subject. We are experiencing and shaping and reflecting all along. And we are even more responsible when the wiki or blog project is a personal project and not a school initiative. This is my case.

Part of the rules of the game is that teachers have new roles. Excelling at communication skills is a plus for a teacher today. Sometimes it is difficult to make school managers and parents aware of the value of what we are doing. I discussed the management issues on a previous post, reflecting on an experience from a colleague's meeting with school authorities.

This morning I read a story about things going wrong with a wikified class. This time communication with the parents failed. After two months of collaboration work between two classes sharing a wiki, the parents of one of the schools had grievances about the project. Although there are written privacy rules, both teachers and students failed to apply them.

The post closes with some questions:
“Who failed?” Was it the teacher who didn’t set up enough rules and guidelines for the students that were written down? Was it the parent who failed to work with the teacher and understand the nature of the collaboration? Or, was it the students who couldn’t grasp the public nature of the internet?

Because of one or a combination of these factors, these students are being shut out of an avenue for self expression and learning. What can we do so that this doesn’t happen to us?

I transcribe my comment (number 9), which is still waiting blog moderator approval. Update: a thank you mail from the blog author -Ben Wilkoff- has just arrived as I write this post).

  1. Claudia Ceraso Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    May 11th, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Got here via a tweet by Bud.

    Lot’s of points to comment on, but I’ll try to focus on the post question: “What can we do so that this doesn’t happen to us?”

    Tell them. Teachers/project designers; students/protagonists; parents/school authorities and website lurkers. All of them. Whoever is involved in the project should have a clear sense of the value students expression bring to the learning process.

    Evidently students were happy and teachers too. Yet, it seems to me the project was not exactly a classroom without walls. Fear appeared in those who probably felt left out -without a place to express themselves about this. So they went to the authorities and tried to find the force of a law to demand a place for that denied chance of expression. So they affect ours.

    For those of us who have understood the value of technology integration, not publishing out of fear of the consequences is simply not an option. But we very well understand that the benefits outweigh the risks. If problems come up, we will analyse, share in blogs and resort to the network to solve them quickly. Closing down a class wiki? Never. We learn and continue.

    There is nothing to complain about parents being so concerned with safety. We should share with them what we have learnt and encourage their posting questions in blog comments or perhaps a wiki page within our class project. I’m beginning to work on that here:

    I haven’t had any complaints from parents so far, but I expect some will crop up. I teach English as a foreign language. Students post homework late in the evenings and not all parents understand what they are saying. I’m sure there will be room for misunderstanding. I will just try to avoid snowball effects and keep up the work.

    My policy is not to reveal students private info in a wiki or class blog. Thank you for the link to the Blooging Rules. Let me share mine:

    A work in progress, of course. I keep reflecting on these things.

    Please keep up posting on this. Love to know how the incident was solved.

Earlier this afternoon, Darren posted his thoughts on the subject. I do not think Darren was able to read my comment because it was approved after he published his post. Not having read my post, I find our coincidences more surprising.

"Transparency is important, for all of us. We should be transparent about what we are doing with our students, our administration and the parents in our communities. I wonder if this particular parent would have jumped to involve the attorney general if she knew just how much her child was learning and growing in the rich environment orchestrated by this teacher. I wonder if the school might have looked at this more as an isolated incident amongst many positive experiences students were
having in similarly "connected" classes."

David Truss had an identity theft issue involving cyberbullying to solve. His post details the incident and every step taken inside and outside the classroom to solve it. This is an example of a teacher who has not only clear rules in his mind, but he is able to reflect on them and apply them to the core. And he acts quickly:

"For my class, the first thing I did (while still at home) was to send out a wiki mail message to everyone. Basically it said, 'Don't use wiki mail until we get a chance to talk tomorrow.' I didn't want it used to perpetuate any more issues or, for that matter, gossip.

Next, I changed my lesson plans for Science. It was our last day for the project, (talk about putting a damper on the whole thing), and our school dance was scheduled for the afternoon so I thought this would be a great opportunity to have a lesson about bullying and cyberbullying.

Once I went over the situation, I emphasized that the issue has been taken to the office and is indeed being dealt with appropriately, and that my lesson goes well beyond this one incident.

Why is this an important step? If I don't do this, then I am a bully too! I am ostracizing Student 2, and I don't want to do this! She is a wonderful kid who made a bad choice..."

Even the blog post reporting the incident is aimed at integrating his students as readers. They will certainly read how their teacher reflected and planned action accordingly. I think they will learn a lot from sensing the teacher's commitment with his new roles.

Difficult decisions await the teachers of the schools of the future. We are discoverers and creators. I believe recruiting teachers in the future will not be so much about how passionate you are about new technology, but rather about having a sense of ethics in the way you implement innovations. Clear principles, common sense, proactive attitude and super communication skills will get you the post.

Follow up on this post on
My PBwiki resources page
(I've included the resources emailed to me by Ben Wilkoff with the privacy policy for school model that they are working on for next year
Image attribution: marcne
Idea attribution: I really liked Darren's metaphor of using road signs to illustrate the point.
Link attribution: I heard of Ben's story via Twitter from Bud Hunt.

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