Friday, December 29, 2006

Bet you didn't know...

Jo tagged me (the first time I have ever been tagged!!! Thanks, Jo!), so here I am to tell you five things you may not know about me.

1. Day after tomorrow my husband and I will be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary! He got to pick the date and thought New Years Eve was one he would remember. * See note below.

2. Until coming to Louisiana in 2001, I had not lived more than 2 years at a time in the same place since I got married in 1971. We have lived in Illinois (several times), Wisconsin, Missouri and South Carolina in the USA. We have also lived in El Salvador, Mexico (twice), Honduras, China, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guyana.

3. Until I was 30 years old, I was so shy I couldn't talk to anyone without a great deal of agony. I am still pretty quiet and don't enjoy parties or large groups. I also hate talking on the telephone.

4. I have a totally different personality in Spanish than I do in English. I much prefer myself in Spanish.

5. I have been a Baha'i since 1971. I accepted the Faith the first time I heard about it.

I can't imagine that any of this is really of much interest to anyone, but now you know.

And now I would like to tag Angie, and Lesley. Is there anyone left who hasn't already been tagged? If so, consider yourself tagged! You're it!

* Update: Well, I guess you know you have been married a long time when you don't even remember how long it has been. Actually, this will only be our 35th anniversary.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

E-portfolios and an online presence

Graham has an interesting post over at Teaching Generation Z talking about helping some colleagues develop e-portfolios. He talks about the purpose of e-portfolios and wonders if many teachers would see a need for an e-portfolio. Then he says
Rather than worrying about whether teachers will get into e-portfolios or not, the question should be more along the lines of “How do we get teachers developing an online presence?” To me, that seems to be the genuine starting point for some many classroom teachers who need to make the mental shift from using the internet as a read-only resource to the benefits of the Read/Write web.

I have an e-portfolio of sorts that I started almost 2 years ago. I have tried to keep it up -- at least in terms of conference presentations and such. I was actually working on it yesterday. I am not really looking for another job, but I wanted to have a portfolio as a repository of documents and information for whatever purpose might come along. I am using Blogger for this because that is what I knew about at the time. But now I am thinking that there would be many better places to house this portfolio. Guess I have to start looking at some of them.

But Graham's question is what really intrigues me. How do we get teachers to develop an online presence? Obviously, there has to be a perceived need. In my institution, there are not many people who embrace technology and even fewer who embrace the Read-Write Web. Why would they want an online presence? What would they gain from it?

I really don't know that we can get teachers to develop an online presence. I have seen websites of teachers who were required to have them, and it was obvious that the teachers didn't embrace the idea at all. It was just another hoop they jumped through. What we can do, I think, is make our own online presences so much a part of our lives that people become curious. Then, when they have some level of interest, we can show them why we have an online presence, what we et out of it. Then, I guess, they either get it or they don't. If they do, we can offer to help them. If they don't, we just move on.

And I guess another question is whether or not all teachers should have an online presence. My answer to that question would be, "YES!!!" But why? I am not sure. What I get from my online presence is intangible. I can't really explain it. Would everyone get the same things I do from it? Probably not. But what would they get out of it? What do you get out of your online presence?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Student Opinions of Teaching

I got my copies of my students' opinions of my classes. Since I have such small classes, one disgruntled student can really throw off the numbers. And this semester, apparently, I had a very disgruntled student. What really bothers me about this is that he never said anything to me. He never indicated there was a problem, and I never picked up on it in class.

Once I got past my initial knee-jerk defensive reactions, though, I realized that this explained something that had been worrying me. One of my students basically did nothing at the end of the semester. Up until then, and in previous semesters, he had been an extremely conscientious student. I was really concerned by his apparent lack of concern this time around, and I was worried that there was something wrong that I didn't know about. Turned out I was right, but at least now I know. Or at least I think I know.

And yes, since I am sure you are wondering, the opinions are submitted anonymously and I only receive summaries of the numerical part and typed versions of their comments. As I said, though, I have very small classes!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Made it back

Well, I'm back. The trip was great. There were 90 students graduating with my daughter from Cal West. It was a nice ceremony. The mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, and his wife, Rona Sampson, spoke at commencement. We had a few nice days there with our daughter and son-in-law and his family.

Then the adventure began. We flew Tuesday morning to Albuquerque. We took Frontier to Denver and then a second Frontier flight to... El Paso. After we took off from Denver, we flew to Albuquerque and circled for about half an hour while they tried to decide whether or not the airport was going to be able to open. They talked of flying us back to Denver but finally opted to fly to El Paso. We stayed on the plane there for over an hour while they tried to decide what to do. Eventually they gave us 2 options -- return to Denver or take a bus to Albuquerque. We opted for the bus or we might still be in Denver!

We had a great visit with our daughter and her family in Albuquerque. It was my first trip there, and I have to admit I really liked what I saw of the city.

At any rate... I'm back. Time to catch up my reading so I can have something to write about!

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'll be away for a few days.

Not that my posts have been so frequent that a few days' absence would be shocking to anyone, but I thought I would just officially announce that I won't be around for the next week probably. We are off to San Diego to see a daughter graduate from California Western School of Law. Then it is on to Albuquerque to see the other daughter and her family. It will be a busy week, but I am looking forward to it.

See you all when I get back!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Great Learning Opportunity for Teachers

TESOL's CALL interest section is once again hosting its Electronic Village Online (EVO) in January and February. Registration runs Jan 1-14, and the sessions start Jan 15. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in technology and education to learn a lot. There is no cost, and it is open to anyone who is interested. More information about the different sessions, go to the EVO 2007 wiki.

EVO 2005 was how I got started with blogging and how I learned about Moodle. EVO 2006 helped me produce a couple pretty good WebQuests for my students. I think I'll be looking at gaming and more online publishing this time around.

Anyway, I hope to see some of you there.

Friday, December 08, 2006

To print or not to print...

Will wrote about not owning a printer, and I had to think about my own printing habits. I still own a printer, but it hasn't really worked for several months. Well, it works, but the paper won't feed from the tray and it jams up a lot when it feeds from the manual tray. Oh, I forgot to say it is an old HP 4Plus. It is a wonderful printer that has served us well for years and years. And it still works -- sort of. I have a printer at work that I don't use much anymore, either. I just don't print much at all.

I post assignments to Moodle, and my students upload them there. I almost never print their assignments out. The only time I print them is when they are giving me a draft of a long research paper.

Even my assignments for the class I took this semester weren't printed out except for my 23-page final paper. I didn't print out the journal articles I used in the writing of the paper, either.

I hadn't really thought about how little I print until I read Will's post. I'm not really sure when this change in my printing habits took place, but it has been a while, I guess.

I wonder when I'll actually get rid of the printer and free up a lot of desk space?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Learning from Technology

Will makes the comment:
We have to stop focusing on what teachers are doing with technology and start focusing on how they are learning with it.
I had to think about it for awhile, but I think I understand what he is saying: Using technology isn't enough. It isn't.

I use technology a fair amount in my classes. We use Moodle; we access the internet and do different kinds of activities; we make presentations using PowerPoint or Movie Maker. We have blogged and will again. We listen to audio online. But all that begs the question, "So what?"

As a teacher, I know that I have learned a great deal from technology. My blog and the blogs of others, as I have said before, provide me with some of the best professional development I have ever had. In using Moodle, I have had to think a lot about teaching and learning. I have struggled with deciding what should be done online and what should be done face to face in the classroom. I have reflected on my own teaching and on teaching and learning in general.

But I must also ask the question with regard to my students. What have they learned? Have they captured the spirit of the technological endeavors? Sometimes I think they have, but other times I think it is just something they go through the motions on -- like an interactive worksheet of some kind.

I took an online course this past semester, my second. This one was great; there was lots of good discussion and lots of opportunities for us to learn from each other. Do I provide that those kinds of opportunities for my students? If I provide the opportunities, do my students recognize and take advantage of them?

I still have a lot to think about and a lot to learn.