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Summer is here and it’s time to (in the words of my students) “dust off my blog” and get back to posting. I am, however, going to start slowly. I asked a couple of my students to be guest bloggers and share their opinions about the blogs we did this past year. Here is the first, who goes by her login name, clsh5a. Enjoy!

I had so much fun blogging during my time as a 5th grader!! I loved it so much, that I made my own blog on a website all by myself!!
Blogging is fun because you get to write about anything you want. The posts on your blog could be about a cool school activity, or maybe just a small little picnic you had that day. Whenever I had a bad day, I would write about it on my blog and I would feel better.
Blogs can also be for commenting on your friend’s blogs. I would always check up on my friend’s blog and comment on any new posts they wrote. It’s fun to comment because sometimes, you could check up on the comment you wrote earlier to see if your friend responded to it. Then, it could be like a little chat as you type another comment to respond to your friend’s and your friend could respond back to that comment, too.

Overall, I had a lot of fun blogging and I’m glad mching introduced blogging to me!

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My most valuable communication tool so far this year as a teacher…definitely my iPhone. Oh, I’ve had fun introducing my students to blogs; they’re slowly making their way into the blogosphere with their class blog about reading. I know this will grow over the year as their baby steps become stronger and more confident. I’ve also found a VERY helpful site called LibraryThing.com which has made organizing the classroom library and keeping track of books much simpler. Yet, as I’ve detailed in an earlier post, communication with parents is key! We’ve set up a website for parents to keep in touch with us and feel informed about what is going on in the classroom. And as that old cliche goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The iPhone, which had been previously relegated to the depths of my purse, is now out and about with me. When the students are working with their math manipulatives, or sharing a writing piece, or conferring up close with a friend, these previously unrecorded moments are captured, emailed to Flickr, and instantly posted on the website. Voila! Learning is happening, and it’s visible.

If a student were to respond typically to the question, “What did you learn today” with the inevitable grunt, all mom or dad, or grandma or grandpa, or auntie or uncle, has to do is ask about the picture clearly shown on the screen. Better yet, they can ask about the picture first! No beating around the bush, no pulling teeth.

An article in Midweek this past June summarized the results of a survey done on Wirefly.com regarding cell phone camera usage. Unsurprisingly, cell phone cameras are the “camera of choice” for young adults. To my mind, my cell phone is always available (I never leave the house without it), I can easily upload pictures to Flickr, email them to friends and family, and I don’t have to carry another gadget with me nor wait to get home to share my pictures with others. In fact, the reason I love Twinkle so much is because the picture option is so easily integrated into the text. It provides the ability to tell a story and share it instantaneously.

One of the big stories the past couple of days in Hawaii has been the arrival and subsequent vacation of Democratic nominee Barrack Obama. Now love ‘im or leave ‘im, there has definitely been buzz about town as people try to get a glimpse of him, not just for themselves, but to chronicle and share with others. What I found truly telling and a sign of the times was a cartoon in the Star Bulletin. Decidedly not the paparazzi, but a whole different breed, with a whole new tool, and a whole different purpose.

The Obama Watch

The Obama Watch


Telling stories and sharing them with others, in this case, perhaps one about a potential future president.

Don’t get me wrong. There are deeper issues in education. Ones that we address quietly, on our own, in our classrooms everyday. But perhaps that’s where the potential for change lies. We can’t address them alone. We need to take these issues outside, connect with others whose ed-views and world-views lie within the same or overlapping spheres. Let’s tell these stories…and tell them together.

I’ve been so busy with the first few days of school that I haven’t had time to blog. Animoto made it easy to capture some quick memories, yet still make it look polished. Uploading the pictures took longer than any other part of putting this video together!

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This time of year is always a little bittersweet for me. I love spending time with my two children, going to the beach, staying up late, reading books together whenever the urge strikes, unhampered by homework or papers that need correcting. The dishes can sit in the sink until the next morning because we have to play one last game of flashlight tag before bed. Yet it also brings great excitement and anticipation, the entry of twenty or so new children into the next ten months of my life. And of course 2008 is no exception.

I have spent the better part of my summer reading, but mostly writing and reflecting as I haven’t done in quite a while. That is all thanks to a two day conference and and an ability to publish my thoughts and ideas. While my entries are not many…yet…not all of my writing is online. The point is, when I found something that was meaningful enough to pursue and a tool that gave me a voice beyond myself, I could not help but immerse myself in every aspect. This mindful pursuit and thirst for more knowledge is what I hope and aspire to for each of my students this year.

One of my colleagues had the rare opportunity to participate in mindful pursuit of knowledge at The Teacher’s College this past summer. When sharing her incredible experience with us this past week, she made mention of how read alouds were done. The teacher reads and thinks aloud and no one interrupts. This struck me as odd. Isn’t reading a form of communication? Don’t we need interaction to boost comprehension? My colleague said that she felt the same way, until she realized that through “turn and talk” there was lots of interaction…just not with the teacher. Had I not heard this and been forced to look at it in that way, at that particular moment, my thinking and therefore my educational practice would remain unchanged. However, as serendipity would have it, I have been thinking all summer about real conversation, in a larger arena than a single classroom, and rereading To Understand by Ellin Oliver Keene this past week. 

I do not want my students simply regurgitating answers to a text chosen by someone else and learning vocabulary words out of context. I want them to have conversations with each other and their peers who may not necessarily be in the same physical space without it flowing through me first. I want them to think and feel deeply, to remember, and to take action for causes of their choosing. I want them to know that they can have access to teachers that are experts in every field, and that these teachers come in all shapes and sizes and ages. And perhaps most importantly, I want them to know that they, too, can be teachers.

Happy School Year 2008-2009 to all educators, who I know are thinking and wishing these exact same things for their students!

Since the inception of this blog, I have been doing lots of reading and listening, thinking and reflecting. Through it all, I feel a sense of discord and unease, but take comfort in the fact that it is a sign of new learning; my newest mentors being the words of Marc Prensky, David Warlick, Will Richardson, and Thomas Friedman, just to name a few. Of course, great teachers such as Dewey, Freire, Gardner, and Montessori are not supplanted, but rather juxtaposed, and their ideas carried forward into the 21st century. I am continually amazed by the connectedness of it all.

And so, you may ask, what does this have to do with the “bibliophile” referenced in the title of this post? Despite the lack of speed with which I post, I have created yet another blog, one specifically for the reading classes, and thus the bibliophiles, I teach, at edublogs.com. Again, an experiment in motivation, in the need for people to have conversation, good conversation, about inspiring words and ideas found within the pages of a book, be they physical or virtual. Perhaps this will allow the student who reads voraciously, to comment as much as he wishes. Perhaps the student who sits quietly, yet thoughtfully, and needs more time to formulate her opinion, will be given that time. Perhaps the relative anonymity (despite an online name that classmates will be able to identify) will create a comfort zone for a student who is afraid to share his ideas in class, face to face. If education is the great equalizer, then technology is surely his tool.

This blog is an experiment. While I may never be a digital native and may always have an “accent,” I do intend to learn as much as I can about this new age of communication and networking. This is all thanks to a very timely technology conference, Kukulu Kaiaulu, sponsored by Kamehameha Schools. If ever I attended a mind bending seminar, this was it. From the very first keynote (Will Richardson), my mind was spinning. Everything that I had previously held as truth, was now being brought to light and questioned, not only as an educator, but as a parent. “Put that cell phone away” “Use more than one resource, not just the internet” “Don’t use Wikipedia. Anyone can edit it, therefore, how can you be sure it is accurate and reliable?” “Video games are socially isolating our children” All of these (and more) were very common threads of thought for me and readily given voice in my classroom, I’m embarassed to say. So this online journal of thoughts and feelings and reactions will hopefully chronicle my journey, slow though it may be, and act as a catharsis (indeed inspired by the “art” of the online world). As a parent and educator, I owe it not only to myself, but to the many children whose lives I touch.

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