Saturday, November 23, 2013

EDU 720 Week 12 - Evaluating Online Material For Accuracy

Dear Journal,

I just finished teaching my unit on scatter plots and trend lines.  Believe it or not, I actually incorporated online reading into my unit!  Boy were my students surprised when we started to discussed comprehension, validity of resources and using citations.  “This is math class!”  My students shouted.  “Why do we need to do literacy?”  Of course after calmly explaining to them the need to conduct online research in all content areas, they began to warm up to the lesson.  Thank goodness my students are so understanding at times!

While reading the assignment this week, I was struck by the quote at the very end of Chapter 38a that read, “Truth is designed by counts of mouse clicks rather than by textbooks or encyclopedia authors.” (Harrrison, 1290)  One of the main focuses during my online reading unit for my class was making sure my students were able to determine the validity and accuracy of the information they were finding online.  As I reading through the case studies, I noticed that other teachers such as Julie and Leigh had similar concerns for their students.  

In the case study, I really liked the way the Julie taught her students to be “intelligent consumers” when using the Internet.  Similar to this thought, I discussed with my students how it is important to analyze the information that they receive and make a determination as to whether or not the information is reliable.  Some of my students were not quite sure how to check the validity of information online.  Therefore, prior to conducting research I spent one class period discussing with my students the importance of finding reputable resources online.  The following checklist was used by my students to help determine if the source they were using was creditable.  Evaluating Online Resources Checklist (C.A.R.S.)   The checklist was created by Robert Harris and can be duplicated for non-profit and educational use.

After the unit was complete many of my students commented on how they actually slowed down when they were conducting the research.  They said the checklist made them look at the websites closer than they have ever looked before to determine if what they were finding was accurate.  In addition, they mentioned how much more information they received when they were paying more attention to the overall content of the websites and not just scrolling to find their answers and moving on after they got what they were looking for from a site.

In my opinion, the checklists helped with the overall online comprehension of my students.  Not only did they learn skills that would help them find valid information, they also took the time to really analyze the information on the sites.  A few other teachers in my school will be having the students conduct online research and they plan on using a similar if not the same checklist because of the positive results I saw in my class.

The second focus of our unit was to have my students find multiple sources to validate their findings.  It was mentioned in Chapter 38 that the teacher named Leigh also required students to find multiple sources to backup their findings. (Karchmer, 1265)  This technique not only allowed my students to validate their findings, but it also provided more detailed responses to questions.  I found that as they visited more websites, they were able to gather more information about the topic and include that in their answers.  This was an excellent way for my students to have more examples, details, and descriptions that made their responses richer with a deeper sense of meaning.  
In Chapter 38a the author stated, “A valuing of multiple perspectives leads us to a closer approximation to what is to be regarded as “true.”  (Harrison, 1292)  After the unit was complete, my students discussed similar ideas to this quote.  They mentioned how they would find a piece of information on one site and then read it again on two or three more sites.  Once they used the checklist to make sure the site was reliable, they would tally how many times they found a certain piece of information.  A few students even stated that they would not include certain answers in their responses if they could not find more than four sites that had the same information.  Since my students have a tendency to rush through many of their assignments in the past, I felt as if they truly learned the meaning of patience with their education when completing this unit.  Hopefully they will carry these skills with them throughout their future education.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

EDU 720 Discussion Director Reflection

This past week I had the opportunity to serve as the discussion director for course EDU 720.  The topic for the discussion was social media and the participants were asked to read and watch the following articles and video:
Chapter 36 - Handbook of Research of New Literacy
Social Privacy in Networked Publics:Teens' Attitudes, Practices and Strategies
Christine Greenhow

Initially, I was nervous about serving as discussion director.  Everyone who served in the role before me did such a wonderful job, I was afraid that my assignment would not be educational or interesting enough to receive positive participation.  What I did not expect though was for the assignment to greater further my understanding of the topic.

For the assignment I asked everyone to provide their takeaways on two of the three readings and to connect their takeaways to song titles.  The song title idea came from a part of the Chapter 36 reading where one of the study participants mentioned how him and his friend had an entire IM conversation using song titles.  I thought it would be interesting to see what songs people would pick to summarize the resources that they were assigned to read/watch.

In addition, I wanted to utilize a new website that I found that could be used in a classroom to encourage online conversations between students.  I asked the participants to put their response in  Twiducate under a class that I created.  The site allowed all of the users to view each other's responses and provided them an opportunity to comment on other's entries as well.

I admit that each time I received an email saying there was a new posting, I was so excited to see what song titles people selected and what their takeaways were from the readings and video.  Not only were the posts interesting, but they also allowed me to continually think about the topic of social media and how it could be used within classrooms and with youths today.

As I reflected on the posts and this week's discussion, I took the song titles that everyone shared and put them together in groups based on each resource.  When I did this I realized that everyone truly took this assignment to heart and attempted to find the most perfect song title to make the connection that they were looking for in their responses.   It was a creative way for each person to not only share their opinions differently, but also a way to summarize the resources with using only a few words.  I found it interesting that so many of the songs were similar to each other and even one person even commented that someone else took the song they were thinking of using.

Below is a list of the song titles chosen for each resource:

Chapter 36 of the Handbook:
     -  Who Are You?
     -  Rumour Has It
     -  Come As You Are
     -  Decode

Christine Greenhow Video:
     -  Imagine
     -  Power to the People
     -  Don't Stop
     -  Changes
     -  Daft Punk
     -  For What It's Worth
     -  With a Little Help From My Friends

Social Privacy in Networked Publics:
     -  Parents Just Don't Understand
     -  None of Your Business
      -  Eye In the Sky
      -  Private Eyes
      -  Every Breath You Take

Songs used to describe all of the resources:
    -  A Social Network for Two: A Modern Love Song
     -  Where Do Children Play?

Overall I felt the discussion went very well.  When completing the grading rubrics for each person, I felt as if I had so much to write about what they had to say.  I was extremely pleased with the responses by everyone and could not have asked for a better group of participants!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Reflection - Open Mic 3 Twitteracy EDUC 7718

Working with my group members on the Open Mic #3, I realized how fortunate I am to have found such wonderful individuals to collaborate with on an academic level.  Our group worked very well together.  In my opinion we all carried the responsibilities equally.

In my opinion Sally was definitely the creative one of the group.  She came up with the idea of the Twitteracy and helped us come together as group to create the prompts and foundation of the Open Mic.  It is a digital literacy tool that many of students are utilizing on a daily basis.

I was responsible for completing rubrics for half of the individuals who responded to the prompts.  I truly felt that my responsibility led to a greater understanding of the topic.  Completing the rubrics made me reflect more deeply on the responses provided by the other students.  This allowed me to ask more questions to the respondents as well as internally reflect on my personal opinion on the topic.

After the assignment I began researching a variety of online tools that could be use similar to Twitter.  As the discussion director this week for EDU 720, I am using the free website  This site is similar to Twitter, but is designed for individual classroom use.  I felt it would be a great way to reiterate the topic of Twitteracy through another course.