Archive for October, 2011
Our principal, Mr. Conrad, has generously purchased four e-readers for student use.
I chose the Barnes and Noble NOOK Simple Touch Reader for a number of reasons:
1. Institutional accounts are not one-to-one for our small amount of devices, the way that the Kindle is. Meaning, the 20 e-books that I purchased are accessible on all four devices, because they are all registered to our single account. My B & N rep did warn me, however, that that may change in the future.
2. The Simple Touch does not have a browser and students are not able to purchase content since they cannot get on our school protected wireless network without a password, which is guarded like the crown jewels around here.
3. B & N e-books are in ePub format, which is less proprietary and incompatible the way that Kindle’s .azw format is. I’m hoping that is a signal that B & N has an inkling to work with schools and libraries, since the devices that students learn on in school will likely form habits for future purchasing decisions…
We purchased 20 titles from varying genres and currently have them available for use in the library. As we get our feet wet with this and get the word out to students, we will probably expand the program into a checkout option. We will likely do so with parent permission and agreement of responsibility.
So far, students have expressed quite a bit of interest and I hear a lot of “These are cool!” statements as they play with them.
When the course was approved last year, I had grand visions of being able to manage and administer a library program without assistance, manage textbook distribution for the whole school, create and teach Info & Society from scratch, and still manage to blog following each lesson reporting on lesson plans and what worked.
So, though I’ve been remiss in reporting on our classroom activities so far, I am going to do so in one fell swoop in this post.
1. We started the year making a master list of all sources of information that students could come up with. Students ranked them in terms of reliability/authority.
2. In continuing with the evaluating information theme, students were divided into four groups for their first “ON THE FLIP SIDE” topic, which was global warming. The idea was that students would research the same types of information with the same guidelines, and would present to the class using that information to persuade that: Global warming is a human-made phenomenon OR Global warming is simply part of a natural temperature cycle. Students then voted on which group made the best/most persuasive use of their researched information.
This helped students to see that information and statistics can be selected, used, and manipulated toward a particular agenda. A couple of mistakes I made this round: I did not have students take notes while their classmates presented. It would have worked much better if they had jotted down what it was about each group’s presentation and info that was persuasive so that the discussion afterward would have been more effective.
3. Students set up accounts on iGoogle, Delicious, and set up hosted blogs with WordPress. Students selected “Personal Interest Topics” and gathered RSS feeds on their topic in iGoogle, bookmarked and tagged links in Delicious, and wrote inquiry posts on their topic on WordPress. These items are ongoing, and will hopefully set up the foundation for students taking the initiative to set up and use personal learning networks even after they leave this class.
4. We began a two-week long discussion unit on various topics. All involved subject introduction, article reading and annotation, and discussion either in online format or face to face, Socratic Seminar style.
First topic: Freedom of Information/Access