Wiki's Up!

I did it. The wiki's up and running and I blogged about it to the class. I don't expect to see too much action there until classes resume next week. Time will tell if it makes a difference or not ....

BTW, everyone is invited to participate. ;-)

Wiki Confluence and a Brilliant Blog Concept

I've come across mention of wikis all over the place. I've looked at a free wiki service. I've started furling stuff about wikis. I just can't seem to figure out how to use them in an educational setting. I was thinking about creating a wiki math dictionary for my students to create. I also want to use "wikipower" to get my students interacting with a larger community of learners/educators. I'm uncertain of how the technology works or how to orchestrate the pedagogy. Then came a confluence of three posts:

  • » I read a post over at Bud the Teacher where Bud is working out a way to use a wiki to support his work with blogs.
  • » Will Richards has an article over at ed-Tech Insider that has a link to an 8-minute movie on deconstructing a post at Wikipedia.
  • » In that same article he has another link to a fantastic idea: a multidisciplinary wiki textbook.

That would be a difference; get the students to write the textbook! What information is important to them? Which illustrative examples are most illustrative? What concepts, manipulations or applications are most difficult to assimilate? What makes them difficult? What helps make them clear? This could be a record for them and me. They become better educated; I become a better teacher. Win win!

Hmmmmm ..... this might work .... still thinking about it ....

An unrelated brilliant use of blogs: Anne Davis pointed me to this blog. An ESL class's topical blog on bullying. This teacher is making a difference.

The Difference Between Now and When....

Internet literacy for today's educator includes RSS, social bookmarking (furl,, etc.), photo sharing (flickr) and maybe other media like podcasting (audioblogger, ipodder, etc.). And, of course, all of these technologies are integrated in that most powerful communication/reflection tool: blogs. Yeah, I've left out wikis, vimeo, videoblogging, moblogging and probably a whole lot more. It seems to me that the "basic course" on edublogging is pretty well covered in that first list.

It's overwheming!

Yet, once you jump in, you accomodate the technology and how to integrate it into your daily teaching. In my classroom blog some students have really taken to this new technology. Two students even said they'd rather not do their written homework; the additional exercises I post to the blog make up their prefered way of studying. When I read their posts (here and here) I thought: "Cool! Blogging really works!"

I've spent countless hours learning these technologies; thinking about them; thinking about their pedagogical applications; thinking about how to structure it and make it work; planning my posts and posting my posts. Now it's gratifying to see it pay off.

I decided that I would start small. Just one class. Get all my ideas on the table and modify it next time through the course. The reaction of my students, administration and other teachers in the edublogosphere has been overwhemingly encouraging and motivating. I'm at the point where I think everyone in education should have a blog; every teacher, principal, guidance councellor and superintendant. Rip! Mix! Learn! Blogs make it happen. My students, in particular, make it really exciting. They've never had a class like this before. The novelty of the medium is another motivating factor for them.

On our classroom blog I've got a couple of links that are more for educators who visit than they are for my students:

Why We Blog....

My kids really are members of Generations N & M; a new species. ;-) They spend so much time on the computer. They're spending some of that "free" time doing math! Yes! Success! Learning for the sake of learning! Ba da ba ba baaaa! I'm lovin' it!

Now I'm thinking about next year; my other classes. I have five different courses I'm teaching this semester. Four last semester. I want to have a blog for every course that I teach. BAM! .... time .... Where will I find the time? Well, given the tremendous benefits for everyone involved, maybe I just have to Seize the time!

Now I'm thinking five years into the future. In each of the 7 or 9 different classes I teach each year I have a blog. BAM! .... time .... for me .... my family .... All the other teachers at my school have integrated blogs into their classes as well. BAM! .... time .... for our students ....

The only person that I'm aware of who is in the planning stages of edublogging on a massive scale is Scott Moore. I eagerly await the results of his experiment in education.

For now I'm left wondering: Is it universally sustainable over the long term? What will be the difference between now and when all this fantastic new technology becomes commonplace? Can I sustain 7 to 9 different blog supported courses each year? Can our students keep up with 10 blog supported classes each year? Can we really make this work? I hope so.

Contact Darren Kuropatwa

The best way to reach me is by leaving a comment on any post on my blog or email me; I check fairly regularly.

    email: dkuropatwa {at} gmail {dot} com

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it's the same all across the netiverse ... except YouTube. ;-)

Why "A Difference"

I teach math. A "difference" is one of the four fundamental operations. The slope of a line is calculated using a quotient of "differences" which, when we first study calculus, evolves into the "difference quotient" (AKA the derivative). Later we study "differential equations."

This year at my school, the teachers in my department have decided to focus on using the teaching strategy Identifying Similarities and Differences. But more than all of this, the word "difference" suggests change. The breakneck evolution of technologies on the internet is changing they way we teach. It's hard to keep up. I hope to use this blog to record and reflect on my personal evolution of how to integrate these technologies into my teaching.

"A difference" also connotes the phrase: "make a difference." Something teachers do every day. A while back, while surfing the net, I found this poem by Taylor Mali. I was inspired....

A poem by: Taylor Mali

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued: "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests that it's true what they say about teachers: "Those who Those who can't ... teach."

To corroborate, he said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Susan," he said. "Be honest. What do you make?"

Susan, who had a reputation of honesty and frankness, replied, "You want to know what I make?"

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor and an A- feel like a slap in the face if the student did not do his or her very best."

"I can make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall in absolute silence."

"I can make parents tremble in fear when I call home"

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make kids wonder."

"I make them question."

"I make them criticize."

"I make them apologize and mean it."

"I make them write."

"I make them read, read, read."

"I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, and definitely beautiful over and over and over again, until they will never misspell either one of those words again."

"I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on their final drafts in English."

"I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart...and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you pay them no attention!"

"You want to know what I make?"

"I make a difference."

"And you? What do you make?"

(Listen to Taylor Mali perform the original, unedited version.)

Here is a video of Taylor performing this poem:

... and here it is as a slidecast: