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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Media Literacy (Alternative vs. Summer School)

So I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a good number of my summer school students are present on the web. Bebo is by far the most popular social networking site. Even if I hadn't given them the survey I would have known that Bebo was the favorite. Today while blogging a few students used anonymous browsers to surf to their Bebo sites. This is lightyears beyond my students at the alternative program.

During the regular school year most of my students can't remember a password for more than 30 min. Here We only go to the computer lab once a week and not only do they remember their logins and passwords for Blogger, but they all remember their network logins as well.

I haven't had a single student ask if they can just do the work on paper. They all seem to enjoy doing the blogs. It seems to come naturally to them.

As for mass media literacy they all seem to be a little behind the curve. By far the most popular television show is The Wayans Bros., which has not had an original episode since 1999. I would venture to say that it did not have an original joke since the pilot. Many of the students would argue and say that the show was still in production. This leads me to believe that they still do not have an understanding of content delivery. Is a knowledge of budgets and production details necessary to be media literate? Does it make you a better reader knowing the process a book goes through in order to reach publication?

Most of them were at least familiar with the summer blockbusters even if they had not seen them. I only had a couple of students that hadn't seen a movie in over a year. Over all I have a better feeling about the state of media literacy and the shrinking of the digital divide. I don't know if "at-risk" status is a symptom of a lack of media exposure or if this illiteracy is just another by product of being at risk. If I had to venture a guess I would say that it is the latter. My students spend so much time dealing with crises in the concrete environment of "the streets" that they can't find the on ramp for the "super-highway."

English Teachers Live and Create Virtual Worlds

I have always been curious as to why there seems to be more language arts teachers involved in technology, particularly the interenet. My current theory is that as teachers of reading a writing we have been living in virtual worlds for a majority of our lives.

I use to joke that going to movies and watching tv was professional development, but I was always half serious. Both of these media are just different forms of literature. So it is only natural that Language Arts teachers should be among the first to take of residence and create content on the web.

I have to admit that I haven't searched and that all of my evidence is anecdotal, but there seems to be a lack of math content on the web. Most of the math teachers I know don't use technology for anything other than excercise drills. I know that thousands of math teachers are screaming about this statement, but I bet there are far less math teachers reading this than English teachers.

Most of the science content I have seen is just virtual representations of real world phenomenom. This is not much of a problem. Science is the study of the world around us. I would no more expect them to study the internet than I would have them study fluctuations in gravity in Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities.

As for history teachers, their presence on the web nearly equals that of language arts teachers. Of course the only difference between the to disciplines is that history is supposedly true.

It would be interesting to see some statistics on this. I could be totally biased and just think that language arts teachers are gods.

First Day of Summer Blogging

My first period class has 32 students and there are only 23 computers available in the lab. In addition I had two keyboards that malfuncioned. One of them would not type an "X" which isn't that big of a deal, but the other had a faulty "E" key which would make typing in English impossible. I managed to switch it out with another keyboard.

Almost all of the students followed directions. The few students that were not able to get on to a computer immediately were set to work writing their entries on paper so that they merely had to type when a machine became available.

I did have a couple of students who insisted that they would work on this from home. We will see if this comes to fruition.

During the first period the text ask them to pick a painting and talk about their feeling and memories associated with that image. Many of the students grew a little more excited when I showed them how to include the picture with their blog.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summer School

Tomorrow we start blogging. I am going to try to do the assignments in the 9th grade writing book. At the end of each section they give a journal idea. I will use these as the prompts for the blogs. In addition I will also assign writing about the Lit. and some reflections on the learning going on in the class