Sunday, May 15, 2016

Module 3, Communication Task: Feedly RSS Experience

For this week's module, I subscribed to Feedly (image below), added five blogs on the topic of education, and began commenting on blog posts with other educators.

My RSS feed on Feedly with links to five blogs on the left (Cult of Pedagogy, Edutopia, NPR Education, TED Education, and Using Comics in the Classroom).
1) Cult of Pedagogy 
Cult of Pedagogy is a blog I've been reading for a while because of the sage wisdom and practical tips of  the blog's creator, Jennifer Gonzalez.  For Module 3, I read and commented on Jennifer's post on "Speed Up Grading with Rubric Codes" (here):

  • I am so, so happy that a colleague sent me your post on rubric codes! Although your post sat in an open tab in my browser for a month (I never got around to it), I’m kicking myself that I didn’t watch your 4-minute video the day that I received it!
  • I’m a secondary ELA teacher who is halfway through grading a stack of capstone research papers, and while I have a system of detailed feedback that I like, I do not have the best time management skills with paper grading. I have always thought that being a good teacher meant giving detailed feedback on everything a student turns in for assessment–and it’s true! Student’s learn best from regular, detailed feedback–but it’s just not realistic. The system above allows me to give the same feedback without writing long, complete sentences. I also like that you put rubric codes where a student did well in green and rubric codes where a student needs work in red. Great, easy idea.
  • I will definitely be trying this with my next rubric. Thank you so much!

2) NPR: Education
National Public Radio's (NPR's) Education section is such a great resource for what is happening not just in PBE classrooms, but also with larger issues that educators face.  For this post, I selected a detailed description of "Through the Looking Glass: How Children's Literature Has Grown Up" (here).  Here is my comment:

  • I really enjoyed this look at children's literature as a genre and how it has continued to evolve since John Locke's eighteenth-century primers.  I am currently teaching Alice to my students (high school, AP), and they're surprised by a couple of things: 1) the idea that an "emotional" childhood like the one described above is primarily a Victorian invention and 2) that education could not find a place for imaginative books like Alice until the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.  
  • What I hadn't considered was the way Alice compares to today's children's literature and adolescent literature like The Hunger Games.  As a treat, my freshmen are reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight as a follow-up to Bram Stoker's Dracula, and I plan on asking them what they think the major differences are between the emotional experiences of the young women face in Stoker's book (published in 1897) versus those faced by women in Meyere's book (published in 2005).  Great overview of children's literature.

3) Edutopia
Edutopia's mission statement is: "We share evidence- and practioner-based learning strategies that empower you to improve K-12 education."  I frequently read Edutopia for its "best practice" ideas about ELA instruction.  I didn't reply to any particular posts this week, but I did think this article, "The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk about" especially interesting.

4) TED Education
Most people don't know that "TED" stands for "Technology, Education, and Design," a wonderful confluence of three important disciplines that continue to inform each other.  I use TED in my classroom almost every week, showing videos and Lessons other educators have made for their students.  While I haven't used the TED software to make my own "TED-ED Lessons," I did find this article on how to create digital homework using the TED-Ed website very helpful!

5) Using Comics in the Classroom
I discovered Using Comics in the Classroom while participating in a Live Twitter chat for #whatisschool.  The author, Tim, is a high school social studies teacher who uses comic books to teach history.  I am always thinking about ways to differentiate my instruction and give students new opportunities for engagement.  This blog is the best!!! (Yes, that did warrant three exclamation marks).

I replied to Tim's post on "History Superheroes" (here) where he tells readers how to instruct students on creating their own superheroes based on real historical figures.  While I actually posted on more than one blog post, Tim's lesson plan on "History Superheroes" was so exciting that I will actually be giving my high school ELA students a similar project this week: Literary Superheroes! Here is my comment:

  • Thank you for the bevy of information you posted here about implementing history superhero in your classroom! It’s the end of the year, my students are ready for graduation, and I think my seniors, especially, would enjoy nothing more than creating their own superheroes! We’re currently finishing Watchmen by Alan Moore, and I think this lesson plan would tie in nicely with Moore’s work.
  • I’m going to download your activity sheets and instructions, make a few tweaks, and hand these out to my seniors this week. We have a ton of creative types in the classroom, so I’ll let you know how it goes!
  • Thank you again for posting all of these wonderful resources. I wish I could have been a student in your classroom!

I thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to read, comment, and learn from other teachers through blogging this week.  I have a blogging background and in the "old days" (around 2008-2012), it was so much easier for me to find the time to read blogs and become part of an online blogging community.  At the time, I had a service that Google no longer offers called "Google Reader" where I'd scroll through dozens of RSS feeds over my first cup of coffee each morning.  Feedly now provides me with that same service, but with a slightly different interface: I can search for blogs instead of just tagging ones I know exist (as far as I remember, Google Reader never allowed for you to search for blogs to add; you always had to do this manually).

What I liked about my experience with Feedly:

  • It's much easier to see larger conversations that are going on in education when you're scrolling through RSS feeds.  Just today, I saw at least six articles on transgender students and how transgender rights are effecting education.  Before, I'd have to glean this information from reading lots of websites and blogs at once.  Now, it's all in one place.
  • I like the Feedly interface.  The left-side toolbar and "collections" feature makes organizing content so easy.  In the future, I think I'll add other blog collections like I used to do with Google Reader.
  • One of the things that Feedly does that Google Reader didn't was list by date.  I like that articles are divided by each day of the week rather than by each blog.  Very accessible!

Some questions I had about Feely:
  • I wasn't sure if Feedly listed all blogs on the Internet like a Google search engine, or if they had to be added by users.  Does anyone know the way Feedly curates its content?
  • Is there a way to mark all articles as "read" when you create an account? Logging in an seeing "98 unread articles" after adding a few blogs and already read ten or fifteen is a bit overwhelming!
Overall, this week's module was one of my favorites.  I love reading and writing about education, and it was great to see how easy it is to bring blogging back into one place.

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