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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

When you desperately need a match, but all you’ve got is a pencil


For some unknown reason, I was mysteriously booked into two seminars that were on at the same time. As I couldn’t remember who was taking what, I plumped for ‘Leadership – managing the change in transition’ which was being taken by Alan November. Nothing against Alan, but as he led the only other session I managed to attend today, I had hoped to be hearing another voice.

Alan, as ever, always has words of wisdom.

Here are a select few from the session:

We haven’t taught students the syntax of the web – this equates to saying ‘Go and play this game’ without explaining the rules.

Do we know about ‘www.turnitin.com’? This web tool will scan a pupils’ response to an assignment and identify which websites they have plagiarised from – don’t use this tool to catch out though, use it as a teaching moment. How about asking students to do this prior to submitting their assignment?

Use ‘www.ask.com’ or ‘www.answers.com’ as the search engine.
For young kids ‘www.vivisimo.com’ or ‘www.tekmom.com

Explain about filtering – they need to know that filtering has been set in school, but is different when they are at home – ie Google used in school with the highest level of filtering is ‘safe’, but they may not have any filtering set at home – kids think that the search engine is ‘safe’ to use always.

Do we know about www.archive.org? This site has a ‘wayback’ machine – helps you chart how websites have changed!

We need to give focused assignments - ask students to examine how a website is different over time – ie what has changed in its presentation between its inception in 1999 and how it looks/information it presents now in 2006

Typing the word ‘link:’ in a search engine will find all the sites that link to the website

Narrow down your results by adding ‘host:ac.uk’ and it will only give you what academic organisations in the UK say about the site

2 things for leaders -

1. Design more rigorous, demanding, focused assignments.
2. Build community – give our kids a global voice.

Every teacher should have a ‘www.bloglines.com’ account, and a ‘del.icio.us’ account.

Have a look at ‘www.visitmyclass.com’ – this is a great example of how students continue to review their work even after the class has finished.

We need to study what our kids are doing on ‘myspace.com’ – if we can tap into that creative energy and building of community in education, then we really will have managed something.

I still have one burning question though – how do we tackle the issue of staff that are fearful about facing change? How do we make them realise that technology can change they way they teach for the better?

How do I speak to all the teachers that I need to hear this, when I know those very same individuals don’t go near websites, let alone blogs?

It’s hard, when all you’ve got is a pencil, but you desperately need a match.

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