A Literacy Memoir in 140-Character Chapters

I gave my graduate students an assignment to write a memoir of their own literacy. For the first time since I started assigning this project a couple of years ago, I gave students the option of creating work in any genre they wanted. Most still produced a traditional narrative in print, but a few chose a different genre. One created a Twitter feed, @literacymemoir, to document his growth as a reader and writer. Check it out!

Finally! A Comprehensible Explanation of Copyright Issues in the Classroom

Check out “Fair Use & the Thirty-Second Rule,” NCTE President Sandy Hayes’s easy-to-understand explanation of copyright law for educators in this month’s Council Chronicle. This is a great resource for teachers and students using images and other online material for classroom use.

Am I Becoming a Digital Writer?

After our last book study discussion, I decided to start my own blog. I know that Will Richardson recommends starting with baby steps and commenting on other people’s blogs first, but I needed to take the plunge and just start my own thing. Plus, now that I am not teaching full-time this year, I really felt like I would miss having a captive audience to listen to me talk about all of my favorite things. So I started a blog. I made my first post exactly one week ago. And I’ve spent every day since then thinking about what my next post would be.

A couple of days ago I went back to my former school to clean out my classroom. After ten years of teaching, nine of them at that school and seven of them in the same classroom, there was a lot of stuff. I threw most of it away. Here’s what I kept, by the way:

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As I was sorting through the file folders, the student work, the books, and all the minutiae of a decade of teaching text, I found myself consciously putting things into the “save” pile that would provide fodder for my blog. When I found a shared journal my colleagues and I kept for writing about the incredible experiences we were having as teachers, I knew that was a keeper. When I discovered a thick manila envelope I had labeled “Notes from Staff and Students,” I knew I needed to bring that home. And when I found photographs (actually printed out!) of my students performing scenes from Shakespeare on our school’s roof in 2005, I knew I’d want to write about our work on that project. And not just for reflective purposes either. I’m actually thinking about my audience (all four of you out there!), and what my readers might find illuminating, funny, inspiring, or provocative.

Does every new blogger feel this way? Do our students?

Cheap (free) Wifi via the Connect2Compete and EveryoneOn Program

On Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg held a press conference to announce the Connect2Compete / EveryoneOn program.  The program offers 1GB of free monthly wifi access and 10GB priced at $9.99 a month to qualifying zip codes (the 14,000 lowest income zip codes in the nation).  They also offer discounted new and refurbished desktops, laptops and tablets to qualifying zip codes.

I did some exploring on the Connect2Compete website and found that my students qualify for the free 1GB or 10GB/$9.99 deal.  Their families would have to pay $49 + shipping for the wireless router.  BUT, the $49 is refundable if and when they return their router.  Kids in my school’s zip code also qualify for a desktop or tablet for $150 or a laptop for $199.  Unfortunately, it is my understanding that once you have used your free 1GB for the month then your service is discontinued until the following month (unless you buy more gigabytes).  So, you can only watch videos like this or this so many times before you’ve maxed out your usage.  And my students love watching videos like this one many, many times a day!

What does the DLC think about this program?  Do you think it will help that “digital divide” as far as access goes?  Do you see your students’ families buying into this program?  Other thoughts?

Click here for the insideschools.org article on Bloomberg’s announcement.