Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You Oughta Be In Pictures

Here are my attempts at linking to photos on Flickr, imbedding a photo, using two image generators and creating a character trading card related to Sun Signs. What a process! Now that I have my assignment posted to this blog, I am anxious to browse other blogs to see the creations made by my fellow classmates.

My dog Abby is posing with Sun Signs. She sat on my lap at the computer desk while I did this assignment.

For the flickr photos I took pictures of the Snow nominees in crazy places in my house.
My Flickr Page

I made the horoscope in the newspaper using Image Generator I made the comic about Mr. Selenski in Comic Generator.

For the image to represent the book, I made the trading card for B. A. Stargazer from Sun Signs by Shelley Hrdlitschka in flickr toys.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Logistics of a blog or wiki for class use

Now that I have a goal in mind my brain is whirling around some of the practical, logistical aspects of setting up online chatting for a class. I plan to collaborate with a grade nine teacher, have each student in that class read a Snow Willow nominee, and respond to the book through guided questions on either a blog or a wiki. Once again, I am appealing to your collective wisdom to learn how best to set this up for easy teacher and student use.

If I make a wiki, there could be a section for each book and a page for each question. Students would edit the page and add their response. Everyone's response would be threaded along in order on the same page. They would each be able to read all other responses. They would have to sign their posting in order for me to know whose comment was whose to grade them. They would each have to join the wiki. I would have to visit several pages looking for a student's postings in order to grade his/her work. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this format for the type interaction I am hoping for?

If I made a blog, students could comment on my blog. They would have to get an account first. Or they could each make their own blog. If they make their own blog, they don't see other people's responses unless they visit other blogs. It would be easier grading for me if they had their own blog but not great for other students visiting to read about the Willows or to link to my library website. Would I need a blog for each book? If I had just my own blog, how could I set up the 10 books and individual questions in a practical way?

As you can see, I am struggling with how to organize this type of assignment for students and have more questions than answers!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Out of Focus by Margaret Buffie

  1. Beginning writers are always told to write about what they know. Look at Margaret Buffie’s biography on her website. What information there tells you she writes about what she knows in the book Out of Focus?
  2. Do you have any experiences you would like to share about a friend or family member with an addiction problem? Please do not use real names.
  3. On page 113, John tries to give Bernice a warning about Tony. What advice would you give Bernice about Tony?
  4. Celia’s alcoholism affects each of her children in different ways. How is Jojo affected by her mother’s alcoholism? Give examples from the novel.
  5. Celia’s alcoholism affects each of her children in different ways. How is Ally affected by his mother’s alcoholism? Give examples from the novel.
  6. Celia’s alcoholism affects each of her children in different ways. How is Bernice affected by her mother’s alcoholism? Give examples from the novel.
  7. How does Bernice use photography to connect with her life? How does she use it to escape or avoid her world? Give examples from the novel.
  8. Discuss how the author uses the idea of photography to link the characters and the story in Out of Focus.
  9. Which character in the story are you most interested in and why?
  10. Check out the Alateen website. Answer the 20 questions found at Is Alateen for you? as if you are Bernice. Do you think Bernice would be helped by attending Alateen meetings? In what ways?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Encouraging student participation in blogs and wikis

(I had originally posted this question on the discussion on the Introduction page and then thought it might be easier to discuss here.)

Hi everyone,
I have just spent a pleasant hour browsing everyone's introductions and looking at members' blogs and wikis. "Chapeau" to all your efforts!

Last year was my first year in a high school library after 3 years as an elementary TL and teaching experience K to 8. I looked into both blogs and wikis last spring and started a wiki on graphic novels for my extra curricular group that met to discuss manga and graphic novels. Students were finding it hard to get together because of demands on their time. We thought a wiki might work as people could "chat" as they found time. The wiki never really took off and students didn't contribute although they said they would like to.

Last year I also had a reading challenge based on the Survivor theme. Students read from the twenty books I featured and book talked in all English classes. As they participated their names were entered in prize draws. We voted books "out of the contest" until we were left with winners. Students were happy to read the books but were not interested in meeting to discuss them. They talked extensively to me when they returned them. I wondered if they might contribute their comments to a blog or wiki if I had a similiar reading challenge with a different theme this year.

I am appealing to your collective wisdom. Do students participate voluntarily on their own time to blogs and wikis you establish? Does this need to be linked to class assignments and class time provided in order to get participation? Any tricks or suggestions for me? I have worked with classes during class time using Blackboard (which facilitated discussions like wikis and blogs do) and been very satisfied with the level of participation and comments.


Posted Yesterday 7:00 pm

Sun Signs by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Here are some of my ideas to get students commenting on Sun Signs:

1. Read a copy of your horoscope for yesterday in the newspaper or online. In what ways was this prediction true or false according to the day you actually had yesterday?

2. What are the characteristics associated with your astrological sign? (Check a book or Internet site for these traits. Is this an accurate description of your personality and character? Why or why not?

3. Tell about an experience you had with a Science Fair project or using the Scientific Method for an experiment.

4. Kleigh, the protagonist in this novel, takes classes online because she is undergoing cancer treatments. What other reasons might someone take classes online rather than in person? What do you think the advantages and disadvantages might be of studying online?

5. Pg. 48 Read Mr. Selenski's message again. Do you believe babies are born a "blank slate" or that humans have some fixed personality traits and characteristics at birth? Explain.

6. Pg. 54 What came first the chicken or the egg? Do horoscopes come true because "we subconsciously look for incidents that would fit the prediction" or do "horoscopes appear to come true because we read and act on them"?

7. Do you think a positive attitude can help to cure a person with a serious illness? Why or why not? Is there anyway this could this be studied scientifically? Peek ahead to pg. 136. I wonder if this is a real study or invented by the author.

8. Can you really know someone you only meet online? Who do you agree with and why?
  • Kaleigh pg. 78-9 you can get to know someone without the physical getting in the way
  • Mr. Selenski pg. 76 you need the visual clues that meeting in person offer you
  • Blondie pg. 88 "If you take the physical appearance quotient out of a new relationship, people tend to be more comfortable with themselves."

9. Kaleigh feels that astrology can be a positive influence in lives. How has this book changed the way you feel about astrology?

10. Do you think the English language is being positively or negatively affected by instant messaging? A quick Google search shows over two million hits for "instant messaging shorthand". What are some short cuts you enjoy using?

11. How do you feel when you have been lied to? Is lying ever justified?

12. "Make believe", "charade", "made up", "lies", "role-playing" and "fantasies" were all words the distance learner buddies used to talk about the dishonesty that happened in their online interactions. Have you any experiences you can talk about involving you and/or others posing as someone they are not online? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of behaviour?

13. Do you have any personal experiences with cancer or people who have cancer that you want to mention? Check this website for information about the kind of cancer Kaleigh had.

Inital foray

After browsing many of the hyperlinked sites in the course materials last night, setting up a blog this morning, emailing Carlene for confirmation of the assignment today and reading Hrdlitschka's book this afternoon, I still don't feel ready to make my first post! Where is my confidence? I guess I just need to do it! I can't visualize an end product in my mind, but this is about process, right?

I would like to interest one of the grade nine English teachers at my school in collaborating with me on a Snow Willow project. I would like students to read the nominees and comment on them on a blog. I read Sun Signs today and jotted down some stimuli to get the students started.

Do you realize that Shelley's name starts with four consonants in a row, only has two vowels and in the middle has five consonants in a row!?