Thursday, February 25, 2010

More on the blog

I am having second thoughts about the blog. So far, is it really different than their handing in individual assignments? There is not much going on in the way of commenting, and I am even unsure of how much to write  publicly -- some of my comments regarding the assignment find their way to PowerSchool. Comments about content go on the blog. But there's not much in the way of actual discussion. While some of the posts are thoughtful, some are less so, and there is not always attention to spelling/typos and sentence structure that I would like for something so public (not to mention that it's an assignment.).

So, is there a point in this? Still questioning. However, it does appear that we've had some hits from California and Europe.

Doing Diigo again

I went over Diigo again for my current Catholic Theology class, because their first bookmarks are due Tuesday. "This is confusing," someone whined. A little effort, please. All they need to do is come to me for help. It's not that hard! In the meantime, one student was already well underway with her research when the assignment was on Moodle but I hadn't met with them to announce it. So, here we go again!

Monday, February 22, 2010


The writer of a blog called TeachPaperless is promoting a campaign to get teachers to sign up to not use paper on Earth Day. I haven't committed. But the fact is, I'm using much less paper than I did only a couple of years ago. Things I used to hand out I now put on Moodle as PDF's. With the Moodle version of Reader, students can't write on the page (we have tablets), but they can easily transfer to Word or OneNote and do so (as a freshman taught me). I also have the option of projecting things to a screen.

There are a couple of things that I have had students hand in on paper still, but most work goes through Moodle, or now, on a blog.

Tests are still on paper (though I've done some Moodle quizzes). But I am fairly close to... paperless. Well, time to go back to grading some online essays.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bloggety blog

So far, so good. Almost everyone on board, though there were a couple of glitches with labeling. A couple of students who did not do the required tag did not get credit at first. I need to be able to go to the tags to find who did what rather than relying on getting it all as I scroll and read.

Students commented on sections of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum, and I was pleased with some of the posts, their understanding of what they read (written in 1891), their thoughtful reactions and connections they made with concepts covered in class.

A few took the easy way out, finding the shortest paragraph and ignoring the direction not to repeat in essence what other classmates had said.

I'm trying to figure out how, in the future, I'll be able to encourage them to read and comment on one another's thoughts. If I require it, it might be tricky keeping track, or maybe not.

At some point maybe I'll advertise the blog more and see if I can't get some outside comments on their thoughts, which I suppose is part of the idea. One thing at a time. But if you are reading this, feel free to check out Justice and Peace Spring 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Learning to persevere

Students appear to have gotten into my Diigo group, but still do not show up as "activated." Cannot upload toolbar, message denies access. Ugh. I didn't have trouble this soon last semester. One student wanted to drop Diigo. "It's too confusing. Can't we use Google or something?" She's not even there yet and it's too confusing!

Sent a helpdesk ticket about whether we might be blocking from here. I really don't have time for this.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Diigo fiasco

Introduced the 2nd semester CT class to Diigo. Tried a different way to get them signed up, by e-mailing invitations. Many of the e-mails did not go through, because I had the wrong one, or because...? Did I miss typing some of them? Students who got the e-mail then had to sign on with an account. They could use Diigo account, but didn't know how to create one. Could use Google. Then there were students who tried to download the toolbar and got at least two error messages.

I'm going back to the way I did it 1st semester.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The document question

At our department meeting today we started to work with a 50+ page document from the U.S bishops, their curriculum framework. It didn't take long to decide that it was too clumsy for us to go through it at a meeting. We wanted a way to make the document accessible to all. But how? I tried to do some cutting and pasting of a couple of pages of the PDF in Google Docs, but the formatting was horrible, not very readable.

Diigo! I think that would have worked. The thing is online, and we could all have it in our libraries and share notations. But, as I had that brilliant idea, another thought was gaining momentum in the group: paper. Let's just pass around a paper copy, someone said. I had to acquiesce, though I have my doubts. Since we want to work on one copy, it is going to take some time for six busy teachers to get a look at it. With Diigo, it would have been accessible to everyone, all the time.

More about the blog

We're doing a practice run; everyone is supposed to post one fact about herself. I'm still waiting for a couple to get on board, though it's been a couple of days. I've invited them to comment, but no one has (except me). I'm not sure, but I think that I am the person most excited about this.

I'm looking forward to a real assignment later this week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cart before the horse?

Started first student blog. We'll do a test first, just to see if everyone can post successfully. Next week we'll take off with a real assignment. But now I'm reading some blogs about blogs, with some good guidelines/rules for students. I haven't really given my students guidelines, though I did tell them that what they write will be public, and that comments on the current posts, if they choose to add them, should be positive. I'm not too concerned about inappropriateness. But I will think about whether I should put some guidelines in writing.

Another thing: a rubric for grading posts? Might be a good idea. I have an example of one for biology that might give me some ideas.