Wikis, Blogs, and Videos at Westwood This Week

This has been an exciting week. We are almost getting through the learning curve for wikis (9th grade), video editing and movie making (10th), and setting up on blogs (Accounting.)

Teaching Beginners!

When you are teaching a beginner, the simplest things need defining! When you get ready to do any New Internet service, make sure you clearly define:

  • Username – The name you use to log into a service.
  • Password – The password you use to log into a service.
  • Display Name (Screen Name) – The name shown to others (should be a pseudonym)
  • Verification (or Authentication) – Most services, require you to go into your e-mail and confirm that you set up the service.

You wouldn't believe how many students try to set up on blogger and quit because they cannot figure out the username issue. (I've seen it with at least 10 students in the past two weeks.)

Here is what we've done this week:

Accounting (Elective for 11th & 12th graders)

  • We've got our Future Profit Blog up and running.

    I took a grade today for everyone who had signed up on the blog to post. We've literally worked at this for a week. MOST of these students have worked in the classblogmeister and wiki environment, but not all. Those who haven't are considerably behind those who have. It is amazing the difference and the importance of understanding these tools.

  • I've modeled our work here after Darren Kuropatwa's Scribe concept.

    Each day, I have an assigned scribe to take notes for the day. It is their job to share the basic concepts we've learned. Those who've already posted have had me before and blogged within moments of class ending. Those who haven't, we'll I'm having to take extra time with them. Soon, I hope to have everyone comfortable in this environment and that the remainder of this week's posts will be online. It just takes time!

Computer Science

We've managed to introduce Computer Science and have an extensive discussion of computer privacy and security during the past few weeks. This past week we've learned how to shoot and edit basic video using Logitech Web Cams and Pinnacle Studio 10. It took a while for us to learn the program but it is very easy now.

Google Video!
We uploaded the video to Google Video . It is probably the somewhat cleanest of the choices and it is easy to upload. Just make sure if your files are over 100MB that you download the desktop uploader. I have to approve all videos before they go up. I did report a few inappropriate videos to Google that I happened to see and the videos were removed that day, even some very popular ones. I was impressed. Don't just complain about what you see, take time to report it!

Creative Commons
We also spent some time looking into licensing and discussing Creative Commons. We used the find feature ( to check the licenses on music. It is really a great feature!

The hilarious Pop Up Blocker video uses a Tom Jones song that is licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike license. What a great discussion we had about that. (Don't look at the video if you hate the three stooges, it is a slapstick video that is for sure! They used a plastic bat and a computer box from our new computer lab!)

Here's a summary of our week:

Robomower (See is beginning to sell more rapidly in the United States.
The goal of the owners is to capture 10% of the lawnmower market in the United States. Read about the Robo mower and answer the following questions in complete sentences. You should have three paragraphs as follows:

1) Is the Robomower a computer? Why or why not?
2) If it is a computer, what classification should it be in? Why?
3) What will be their biggest obstacles to overcome for people to consider buying these robomowers? (At least 3 sentences)

Last week's question has some good answers as well. I've often learned that the ability to ask a meaningful question takes more ability than that of just answering a simple yes, no question. (Some of you asked me to post my critical questions post, here it is):

Sometimes knowing the right questions requires more knowledge than just stating your opinion. In this post, I am asking for you to create five questions as your answer.

In the article, Movie Download Service Sued for Spyware many interesting issues come to light.

After you read the article, you are to post five questions on your blog that could be used to discuss your article:

1) LITERAL QUESTION – The first question should be answered literally from the article.
2) DRAWING CONCLUSION QUESTION – Write a question that forces a person to draw a conclusion.
3) INFERENCE QUESTION – Write a question that requires a person to make an inference.
4) PREDICTION QUESTION – Write a question that asks someone to make a prediction.
5) POSITION ON THE ISSUE QUESTION – Write a question that asks someone to take a position on the question.

Computer Fundamentals

  • We've completed our first lesson of Microsoft Word and now are applying our intuitive learning method to writely. (See my Intuitive Learning post for more.) Using this model, we look at:

    1) menus
    2) toolbars,
    3) drop downboxes,
    5) panes, and
    6) dialog boxes.

    We talk through this process and it is amazing what we learn about the program within 5 minutes. Using this method, we talk through almost every feature of a new software program in 5-10 minutes time. Even though I somewhat “invented it” it is a expeditious way to teach it. (We use the mneumonic device “Momma told Daddy, ‘Happy Pappy Day'” to remember the order to explore.

  • We've completed a question of the week about Intuitive learning , and next week will be comparing and contrasting writely and Microsoft Word.
  • We've almost completed posting our first wikis on our Microsoft Word lessons.

The process I teach them to approach a wiki is a multistep process:

1) What basic information should be included — add the headings.
2) Post basic text.
3) What procedures are going to be included. Add the procedures.
4) What graphics are needed. (We like to use screenshots.)
5) What hyperlinks are needed. (I hate dead documents.) As you read, ask yourself “What information needs more?”

If I have two classes of the same subject, we ALWAYS collaborate between classes. That is part of Internet teamwork! Learning not to delete all of it because you “don't like it” is an important thing to learn.

I particularly like the Exercise 5 wiki.


We're over half way through the keyboard. We started using Mavis Beacon server edition and I'm going to love its progress tracking and reporting features. Keyboarding, however, is still very much a teacher-involved process because technique is so important. If a teacher isn't involved the students rest their palms on the tables and set themselves up for trouble. They'll be blogging in another month and wikiing a month after that. We'll start timed writings on Tuesday.

Fifteen minutes before school was out, a circuit blew and 2/3rds of my computers were without power so I'll have fun fixing that one! Oh well, it is part of it all.

I've made a few enhancements to the blogs for my student's educational benefit:

1) I set up statcounters

Using stat counter, I added counter boxes to show the number of visitors. I also have made the stats viewable which will allow students to see where visitors are coming from! This will enable great discussions of the dynamics of the blogosphere.

2) I added a countdown clock (thanks Mrs. C ) to show how many days until Graduation from I think they are going to like it!

Fishbowl to Ocean

As I talk to my students about blogs and wikis and how we interact with the world, I use this metaphor.

Could you take a salt water fish out of a salt water fishbowl and pour it into the ocean and expect it to live?

“Of course not,” they say.

I tell them that I have them in an environment more like a part of the ocean with a sharknet. We're part of the Internet but I'm the lifeguard watching. They also must watch because they are part of the ocean too. As they know, shark nets are pretty good but it is possible for a shark to get through so it is all of our jobs to keep watch and communicate with the life guards.

We've never had any trouble, but I always want to educate them and make them aware of how this Internet works. I use the word “effective Internet citizen” and “effective Internet privacy skills” and “effective Internet teamwork skills” a lot! I am up front about what I want them to learn!

The excitement of teaching with questions

What I love is that as I discuss, I usually have several study hall kids in my room working. They often sit back and raise their hands to participate in the discussion. Guess what — I let them! They want to share what they know and learn. Since I teach by asking questions, I often have 4-6 questions per minute! As I was teaching Socratically today as we taught writely, beta and alpha versions of software, and about usernames, Internet collaboration, etc. I just had to think to myself! I love my job! I love to teach! I love my students!

The Best Adrenaline Rush

The best adrenaline rush in the world is teaching something meaningful that gets students excited! They love it! They are learning! They are excited! They are in there every second. The only drawback is that literally every period I am teaching as they ask questions and want to work on projects, edit movies, post to wikis, and blog.

I Web 2.0, do you?

Web 2.0 has made my classroom the hub of activity and excitement. My students get so much done in a week! They learn so much in a week! I have inter-class synergy that I cannot explain nor have I ever seen, but I LOVE!

Now that the learning curve hump is being approached, I'm getting to the point of learning from students and being amazed!

If you're not using Web 2.0 in the classroom, what is stopping you?

Start somewhere! Don't over analyze. Don't wait for new computers (I didn't.) Don't make excuses about filters. Find something that you can use and that you are allowed to use and start! Engagement is around the corner!

Get moving!

Remember that teaching is a noble profession to which many aspire but few truly attain. Teaching indeed is a noble calling! Act like it! Remember it! Be more! Be better! Be a teacher!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Diane P September 2, 2006 - 2:52 am

Wow, much applauding. I am amazed at all that you have accomplished this week.
We start school on Tues and I am going to start with a classroom blog, but I have plans……

DrumsNWhistles September 2, 2006 - 4:10 am

You should give seminars to teachers on how to teach technologies effectively. I spent most of th third trimester of my daughter’s school year last year banging my head on a wall.

Her “technology class” was a 3-month exercise in looking up definitions on the Internet and handwriting them in a notebook. This for a girl who has her own blog, excellent digital camera, Flickr account and manages three groups on Flickr quite nicely.

mscofino September 2, 2006 - 11:05 am

Another inspiring post!

“Start somewhere! Don’t over analyze. Don’t wait for new computers (I didn’t.) Don’t make excuses about filters. Find something that you can use and that you are allowed to use and start! Engagement is around the corner!”

I’ll be quoting you as I support technology integration with my sixth grade teachers. Teachers can always find something about technology to grip about (and so can I), but you’ve hit the nail on the head. Give it a try and see the difference with the kids!

Thanks for all the detailed tech help that I have been relying on so much in the past few weeks. As an international school teacher, I’m often the only one in my department and it can be difficult to get any advice or hints on how to implement new technologies. Your blog always holds something new for me to learn.

Neil Winton September 2, 2006 - 11:17 am

As ever, a really useful post! I’ve got to ‘sell’ blogging to some of my colleagues at my school. Your advice about preparation before setting up a blog is as valid for them as it is for pupils!

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