Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Not Ning

One of the things I'm pretty proud of is that I actually have a functioning class website this semester. Two, actually; one for my English II classes, and one for Journalism.

For next semester, I want to do a bit more planning-ahead of how I can use those sites more effectively. It's especially important for English II, where the class is large enough that I need to sign out a laptop cart if everyone is to have a computer to use. I really don't know what I'm going to do next year when I don't have daily access to the Journalism computers as well. It's sheer idiocy that the school bought laptop carts that are significantly smaller than the classes are.

I can't rely on students having internet access from home. So I need to make sure that I plan to use computers in class for the work that we do. I can, however, offer extra credit for work done outside of class time.


Pages allow students to add short examples with explanation that fit the page's topic.

* Class Log - This page keeps track of what we do in class, including notes, descriptions of assignments, due dates, etc.
* Word Sleuths - Earn extra credit by providing connections to words that are intriguing and challenging! Describe where you came across the word and include a link to its definition.
* Celebrations - What's going well? What are you thankful for? What makes you happy? This will be a single page where students add entries onto the page.
* Phenomenal Phrases - Song lyrics, poetry, or a mesmerizing sentence, sometimes a group of words fits together just right. What word combinations have you noticed lately? What made them stand out?
* News & Views - When you pay attention to the news, you understand what's happening in the world around you. Use this space to have your say about it! Include a link to an interesting news article and describe what's significant about it.
* Link List - Here's where you can list websites with helpful resources. Be sure to explain why they're useful.
* I Thought Of English - Making connections strengthens what we already know and helps us learn new ideas and information. When something outside of class reminds you of something from inside class, write about it here!


Hubs are central pages that include a list of links to pages that focus on a subsection of that topic.

* SSR Book Talks - This is a place to discuss stories you love and stories you love to hate! A central page will provide links to pages that discuss different books.
* Lights, Camera, Action! - Movies, TV series, individual episodes - film provides an incredibly diverse medium. Discuss what works and what doesn't. Central page provides links to a page for each title for discussion.
* FAQs - If you have questions about navigating or using this ning, why not post your questions here in case others are wondering the same thing? Rules & grade guidelines are listed here. Questions posted in comments; page itself will (hopefully) not be able to be edited by students. Students can submit requests for pages to discuss school policies; links will be added to hub.
* Journals - This will provide a place for students to craft more personal writing. Students will create their own pages and write their own entries, but can comment on others' pages.


(1) Weekly blog post - Students will share original writing in a semi-public space. 150-250 words. Topic and content must be school-appropriate. Main page will include links to lists of topic ideas.

(2) Weekly comments - Students will respond in an appropriate and thoughtful way to three discussions. This may be challenging to keep up with; I haven't decided how I'm going to be able to track it.

(3) Extra credit - For up to 5 points per week, students may contribute a useful new example to the Word Sleuth, Link List, or Phenomenal Phrase groups, or a new discussion to the SSR, LCA, or News&Views groups. Posts should be at least 50 words, including explanation and supporting information. For up to 2 points per week, students may respond to any current posts in a way that adds new ideas and encourages further discussion. This may be challenging to keep up with; I haven't decided how I'm going to be able to track it.


1. Work hard: It's okay to have fun in this space, but if others are having a learning conversation either add to it positively or make your comments in a new post. Anything you post here should be somehow related to the course. The connection can be direct or indirect. If you're asked to explain the relevance of what you have contributed, you should have an answer. The level of usage here is "informal standard English"--which is what is used in business, government and education for everyday work. No texting abbreviations. Use complete sentences and standard spelling. Remember, the whole world is watching.

2. Be kind: We are helpful, polite, and appropriate at all times. Remember that many students, teachers, and others will view your comments.
Anyone is welcome to comment or join a discussion as long as he or she is respectful. If I could disable the Friend feature of this ning, I would, but I can't. So, let's have no "Friend-ing" dramas. If another student requests to be your ning friend, you must accept that request before you do anything else on here.

3. Follow directions: Keep the school's internet use policy in mind. Be reserved about revealing private details on web sites. You don't need to use your full name, but use enough of it so that everyone in your class will know who you are. Though this is a password-protected site, it is digital information that anyone could copy, forward, save to hard drive etc. Anything you type into a digital forum may last forever, so respect your own and others' privacy. Arrange your personal site to your taste, but keep it school-appropriate. Please, no gross, disgusting, immoral or irreverent photographs. Avoid designs that makes your text hard to read. Communication is a primary purpose of this site, and style should enhance rather than obstruct communication.

I'm a little bit nervous, because I don't know that I'll be able to rely on having access to a lab or laptop cart every week. We only have two labs for the entire school, so it feels like I'm being a little greedy.

On the other hand, my journalism classes are smaller, so I've been able to have them on the computers in my room every day, and the amount of improvement I'm seeing in their writing is fantastic. I feel confident that part of that, at least, is because they know that others are reading what they write. We do daily writing in English II as well, but it just goes in their writer's notebooks... I wonder if I need to do more sharing from there. Dunno.

(Many thanks to Mr. Michael Umphrey, author of The Power of Community-Centered Education: Teaching as a Craft of Place, and Mr. Gary Anderson for their help with this work.)

Image thanks to


Clix said...

Ok, I don't know what the HELL is up with Picasa, but I can't get my image to load today, so I'm just killing it.


Philip said...

That sounds like an incredible amount of work. I can barely keep up with what I have. ...One thing at a time... one thing at a time. : )

Nice job!

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