Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best of the 2008 Inbox Blog

Effective writing assignments and strategies for teaching nonfiction along with the summer series of blogs on 21st century tools for the classroom were Traci Gardner's most read Inbox blogs this year.

Just in case you missed them, here they are again:

What Makes an Effective Assignment?

Strategies for Teaching with Nonfiction

Mind Mapping Graphic Organizers

Google Lit Trips: Literary Maps Meet 21st Century Literacy Skills

Wiki: Collaborative Authorship Made Easy

Twitter: 140-Character Professional Development and Writing Tool

Until next year...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Do We Change Assessment?

In her recent perspective piece, "Winds of Change in the Assessment World?," Kathleen Blake Yancey states, "I think most of us, if asked about assessment and testing, would say pretty much the same thing: we have more tests and bad tests than ever before."

BUT WAIT, Kathi gives us hope that things may be changing as she shares two new and very different assessment programs: the Insight Resume used by Oregon State University and a portfolio assessment used by the Virginia Beach Schools, written about in her November 2008 Council Chronicle article "Assessment Models Worth Sharing."

What emerging trends in assessment are you seeing?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So What Is 21st Century Learning Anyhow?

None of us has escaped the technological and media explosion of the 21st Century but most all of us need ways of working to use the new tools of our world to help prepare our students for the now and the later.

The NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies and the just-released NCTE Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment give teachers ways “to think about their practice and how it relates to 21st century learning,” as Bill Bass notes. See Bill’s complete explanation on his blog . Franki Sibberson, Bill’s Executive Committee colleague, adds to his comments on her blog.

But a picture is worth the proverbial 1000 words. See YouTube video The Networked Student on Alec Curos’ blog . The video was inspired by CCK08, a Connectivism course offered by George Siemens and Stephen Downes during fall 2008 and depicts an actual project completed by Wendy Drexler’s high school students. The Networked Student concept map was inspired by Alec Couros’ Networked Teacher.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fair Use and Copyright for Educators

Ever find yourself asking questions like these:

  • Can I play “The Telltale Head” episode of The Simpsons in class as part of my unit on Poe?
  • Is it okay to include a clip from The News Hour with Jim Lehrer in my ReadWriteThink lesson plan?
  • I want to show a screen capture from a video game in my conference presentation. Is that okay?
  • Can a student use the chorus from Dire Straits’ "Romeo and Juliet" in a PowerPoint presentation on the play?
  • The class made a video adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book. Can we post it online?

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (HTMLPDF) provides guidance that can help answer all these questions. Released today and endorsed by NCTE, this document provides an overview of copyright and fair use practices and includes five principles that address specific situations teachers encounter when using copyrighted text in the classroom.

In addition to the code, be sure to visit the Media Education Lab website, where you’ll find key resources and curriculum materials. The site includes links to My Pop Studio, which focuses on media literacy for girls 9–14, and Assignment Media Literacy resources for elementary, middle, and high school students. You’ll find songs and video clips that you can use with students or in your professional development workshops. The Teaching about Copyright and Fair Use section of the site includes case studies and lesson plans.

In addition to understanding copyright and fair use, you should know something about Creative Commons. For a great overview, check out “The Beauty of ‘Some Rights Reserved’: Introducing Creative Commons to Librarians, Faculty, and Students” from the November issue of the Association of College and Research Libraries publication C&RL News. The Learn More section of the Creative Commons website offers movies, comics, and FAQs.

Oh, and the answers to all those questions I started out with? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Read the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (HTMLPDF) to see why. :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Use Doodle to Cast Your Vote

Trying to plan a time to meet friends at the Annual Convention in San Antonio? Want the class to choose a destination for the next field trip? Need to choose the best day for an after-school committee or club meeting?

No matter what you’re trying to decide, Doodle is a free online tool that makes it easy to gather preferences from teachers, students, families, and anyone else you want to connect to. Whether you need to schedule an event or choose among several general options, you can use Doodle to accomplish what you want simply.

So how does it work?

  1. Go to the Doodle website.
  2. Create a login (or login if you are already set up.
  3. Choose either to schedule an event or set up a poll.
  4. Name your survey and enter all the options.
  5. Click finish.
  6. Check your email for a link to the survey.
  7. Send the link out to everyone you want to respond.

That’s it. Doodle does all the tallying for you. People who respond do not need to set up an account or even have an email address. Just give them the URL. That’s all that’s needed—which makes it a nice choice for school systems where students cannot post personal information online.

When your survey is complete, you can print out the results or export them to a spreadsheet or PDF.

Wondering how you might use it? The options really are extensive. You might schedule any of these events:

  • Convention, affiliate, or assembly meetings
  • Student-teacher or parent-teacher conferences
  • After-school study sessions
  • Teacher inquiry/study group meetings
  • Committee or departmental meetings
  • Professional development workshops
  • Extra-curricular meetings or special events

The Poll tool in Doodle can be used for anything students might vote for in the classroom:

  • Literature circle texts
  • Collaborative research topics
  • Name for a class pet
  • Class rules
  • Expectations for an assignment (class-generated rubrics)
  • Field trip destination
  • Next read-aloud text
  • Favorite characters, texts, or authors
  • Movie to watch at a class party

Doodle can help with any decision you need to make. If you can state the options, you can use Doodle to gather opinions and come to a conclusion. Because the tool is Internet-based, it’s perfect for distance ed and online courses as well as for finding ways for colleagues spread across a region, the nation, or the world.

If you have Internet access, you can cast your vote with Doodle!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tell Me about Your Convention Session

NCTE 2008 Ning WordleThe 2008 NCTE Annual Convention is only 3 weeks away. Before you know it, you’ll be in San Antonio attending sessions, giving presentations, and connecting with friends and colleagues.

How can you get your presentation underway now, before those 3 weeks fly by? Simply log on to the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning and follow the instructions to post information about your session.

Once you kick off the discussion in the presentation forum, you’ll be able to

  • Build interest in your session before you even pack a suitcase! Share details about your presentation for other attendees who are looking for more than the online program tells them!

  • Post longer materials and additional resources—anything from a bibliography to a PowerPoint presentation. Don’t print out copies. Just point people to the materials online.

  • Introduce yourself with your profile page. Use your Ning Profile to tell people who you are, where you teach, your educational interests, and more.

  • Share session materials with educators who won’t be in San Antonio. We’d all love to attend the Annual Convention, but realistically we know everyone won’t make it. Use your discussion forum as a way to reach out to colleagues who are interested in your topic

  • Get reactions from friends and colleagues to the ideas and materials you’ll be sharing. Why wait? You can start the discussion now, and include related information during your session in San Antonio.

  • Point to other resources you’d like to attendees to know about. Are you a member of an NCTE affiliate or assembly? Do you do work with the National Writing Project? Want to encourage others to participate in educational events and advocacy? Just share the details in your session’s discussion forum.

  • Distribute follow-up materials and information after the session easily. Once your presentation is over, you can post any additional information or resources right in your session’s discussion forum.

  • Invite people to share their related handouts and URLs after the session. Session attendees mention similar projects or useful websites? Just point them to your discussion forum to post the details.

  • Ask for feedback and responses to your session. Want to hear what others have to say? Use your session’s discussion forum as a space for ongoing conversation about your presentation.

  • Document your participation in the session. When you’re gathering resources to share with your administration about your trip to NCTE’s Annual Convention, everything will be in one place!
Just visit the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning to share details on your presentation—and read about the many other sessions that will take place in November in San Antonio.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tips on a Good Blog Entry

You're starting out as a blogger. You have a blog set up. You know how to work the blogging software. But how do you write an entry that gets read? Here are ten tips that make a blog entry grab readers:

  1. Choose an attention-getting and accurate title.
    Like a newspaper headline, a good blog title draws readers in. It’s your chance to convince a reader to take a look at what you’ve written. But no bait-and-switch! Make sure that your title reflects the content of the entry.

  2. State your opinion clearly.
    Take a stand and make it clear. Your blog isn’t the place for meandering. If your opinion isn’t appropriate for the general public, choose a different subject. If you wouldn't stand up in front of your colleagues and share your opinion, don’t post it on your blog.

  3. Back things up with specific stories and examples.
    Once you state your opinion, explain it. Share stories or examples that show why you hold your opinion. The advice we give students applies: Show. Don’t Tell!

  4. Keep it short.
    You have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention. People rarely read all of longer posts. Focus on one specific topic, state what you have to say, and end the post.

  5. Chunk your text.
    People read webpages quickly. They scan more often than they read every word. Because of the way people read on the Web, it’s best to use short paragraphs and lists to chunk your content.

  6. Use visual clues.
    Headers, boldface, use of color—all these visual clues help people scan and read online. As you chunk your text, make the key ideas and sections obvious with visual clues. As readers scan a page, they’ll linger on these highlights.

  7. Include photos, video, and/or audio.
    Take advantage of the multimodal nature of the Internet. Use photos, videos, and audio recordings to help make your point. These multimodal additions draw readers’ attention and can emphasize your points.

  8. Link to outside sources.
    Add examples and explanations to your text by linking to outside resources. Studies have shown that links build ethos by indicating that the writer is connected to the greater blogosphere and web.

  9. Go with an informal, first-person style.
    No need to use formal, academic prose. Go ahead and use words like I, me, and mine. Be conversational and informal. You’ll draw in more readers.

  10. Proofread!
    Take the time to reread your entry before you publish it. Use a spellchecker if one is built into your blogging software. Little errors can slow readers down. And when your readers are other English teachers, they’re bound to notice any typos.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Search of Teacher Bloggers

This week’s topic comes from an email response I received to last week's blog entry from Jen Sekella of Dozier Middle School in Newport News, VA:

I would like to start a blog - but I don’t know where educators hang out and blog on the ’net.

Jen’s question isn’t about what a blog is. It’s not about technical how-to’s. It’s about community. Where can you find other teachers and like-minded folks?

There are lots of places you can start a blog. Free blog hosts include Facebook, Wordpress, LiveJournal, MySpace, Blogger, Windows Live Spaces, and Xanga. Additional sites are listed in the Wikipedia Weblog Software entry.

There are teacher bloggers on all those blogging sites, but you have to know how to find them. If you want to write short updates, Facebook could be for you. Look up some colleagues you know on Facebook, and build your network from there. Don't miss the opportunity to look at your colleague’s friends too. You’ll connect to other teachers quickly and easily that way. There are also some Facebook groups for teachers:

The easiest solution is to join the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning. Once you sign up, you can blog on the site and you will be immediately connected with other NCTE members. Everyone is welcome, whether you will attend the Convention next month or not. It’s a great way to plug into the sessions and connect with people. The process is simple:

  1. Sign Up (or sign in if you already have a login).
  2. Back on the Ning Homepage, click the My Page link.
  3. (optional) Add any details to your profile (the info on “My Page”).
  4. Click Blog Posts in the left column.
  5. Start writing your blog entry on the next page.

It really is that simple. So no excuses. You don’t even need to know HTML codes. Sign up on the NCTE Ning and get blogging!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

NCTE Blogs to Note

On NCTE blogs you’ll find great discussions of educational issues and teaching ideas ready for the classroom. Read the entries below and share your feedback in the comments.

And don't miss the blogs that have been posted on the NCTE 2008 Convention Ning and elsewhere by NCTE members!

How about you? Do you blog about your teaching? Share details on your blog in the comments below! I'm building a blogroll, and I want to include YOU!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Celebrate National Newspaper Week

National Newspaper Week Logo National Newspaper Week is October 5–11 this year. Sponsored by the Newspaper Association Managers, the 68-year-old celebration draws attention to the role that newspapers play in daily life. This year’s theme, “Public Notice—Good Government On Display,” focuses on how governmental notices in newspapers keep the public informed and involved in government.

Use the National Newspaper Week Kit to explore this issue further with students, or try any of the ReadWriteThink lessons for additional ways to explore and celebrate newspapers:

You’ll also find useful classroom and teaching resources on these websites:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TiddlyWiki: Your Own Portable Wiki

Wikis are a great way for small groups and classes to create collaborative web-based documents. They’re meant to be highly hyperlinked documents and their content history and open editing tools allow groups to compose together as the wiki grows organically.

There are times though when you need something smaller—the structure of a wiki is fine, but you need something more individual and better suited to smaller topics. TiddlyWiki is a simple, personal wiki that offers a lot of benefits for the classroom with a tight technology budget:

  • No Internet access required for the writers or readers.
  • Free, open source tool.
  • Works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • No server needed.
  • Customizable using a variety of plugins.
  • Do everything within a standard Web browser.
  • Built in support for searching and tagging.
  • Translations available for Spanish, and other languages.

The technical profile is great, but what about pedagogy? TiddlyWiki supports process-based writing—students can write, revise, and edit as needed, and basic text formatting (like bold and italics) is supported. The TiddlyWiki Timeline keeps a list of all the chunks of text (tiddlers) that have been changed, in reverse chronological order (e.g., most recent changes first).

The built-in features in TiddlyWiki make it a rather simple tool to use. All content is saved in a single HTML file. Students can save their files on jump drives, CDs, or a local or school hard drive. Files can also be emailed as attachments or uploaded to a web server.

Students would need to know a bit about how wikis work. Knowledge of simple HTML formatting would be ideal as well. After a bit of experimentation however, most media-savvy students would be able to use the tool.

That brings us to how you might use a portable, personal wiki in the classroom. TiddlyWiki is described as a microcontent tool. It’s ideal for shorter, focused kinds of writing. While a regular wiki would be useful for a class encyclopedia, TiddlyWiki is great for a single encyclopedia entries or a collection of related entries.

Students might use a TiddlyWiki for any of these projects:

  • Book reports—compose different sections of the TiddlyWiki for characters, setting, plot, themes, and so forth.

  • Literary analysis—break out different aspects of any literary element (or compare several elements).

  • Research journal —create a page with notes and bibliographic information for each primary and secondary source.

  • Reports—make the standard sections of a research, lab. technical, or business report into pages in a TiddlyWiki .

  • FAQs—publish frequently asked questions, as part of a research project or book report alternative.

  • Class Notes—take notes for each class session on a new page in a TiddlyWiki.

  • Journals and blogs—make a new page for each journal or blog entry for an electronic option that requires no Internet access.

That’s just a start. Once you try TiddlyWiki, you’re bound to think of other options—as well as ways you might use it as a teacher. You might use the tool as a paperless option for sharing class assignments and handouts for a specific unit. By customizing the basic TiddlyWiki file, you could create a template for a project that students might use to publish their work or as a prewriting organizer.

Here’s what you need to get you started with TiddlyWiki:

TiddlyWiki Site
Homepage for the tool. You’ll find the download file, examples, additional tools, and help files.

The site for TiddlyWiki plugins to change the appearance and navigation as well as to add tools.

A great resource for tips, suggestions, and tutorials for TiddlyWiki.

A customized, simpler version of TiddlyWiki.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dropbox: Your Online Filing Cabinet

Dropbox logoEver in the classroom and realize you want a computer file that’s at home? I know it’s happened to me. Dropbox provides a fast, simple solution that can help you and students.

Dropbox, which went public last Thursday, bills itself at “the easiest way to share and store your files online.” So far, they live up to that reputation for me.

What Does Dropbox Do?

  • Provides you a free 2GB Internet storage folder.
  • Works just like any file folder on your computer—you can drag, drop, copy, delete, and so on.
  • Keeps all your files up-to-date automatically on multiple computers.
  • Lets you access your files from any Internet or mobile browser (yes, from your cell phone).
  • Includes public and shared folders, so you can share files with everyone or just the people you identify.
  • Keeps other files hidden from the public.
  • Organizes photos in simple galleries for sharing.
  • Works on Mac, Windows, and Linux.

How Does Dropbox Work?
View the Dropbox Screencast for a fast video overview or walk through the webpages on Dropbox’s features for all the details.

It’s really simple:

  1. Download the Dropbox application.
  2. Create a login.
  3. Start adding files to your Dropbox folder.

Really. That’s it. If you want to access the files on another personal computer, you can download the application and simply sign in.

Or just use the Web interface. That’s right. No download is necessary once you’ve set the program up on your personal computer.

How is Dropbox Helpful to Educators?
Once you try Dropbox, you’ll have no trouble thinking of uses, but I’ll brainstorm 10 ideas to get you started:

  1. Store handouts and assignments in Dropbox at home, and you can get to the files when you’re on a computer at school. Change a file at school, upload it to Dropbox, and you’ll have the fresh file at home.

  2. How about uploading your convention presentation so you have a ready backup?

  3. Place copies of files in public or shared folders and give students the URL. No excuse for lost or missing assignments when everything is available online.

  4. Have students sign up for their own Dropbox, if your school's Acceptable Use Policy allows. They can easily move their files between home and school computers too.

  5. Need an online portfolio space? Have students create a shared portfolio folder for their work. Set it up so that only peer group members and you can access the files.

  6. Work on more than one platform? Have both a Mac and a Windows machine? No more nuisance moving files back and forth on CDs or USB jump drives. Just drag a file to the Dropbox on one machine, and you can get to it on the other machine. Platform doesn't matter.

  7. Upload a collection of photos students need for a project, and you have a ready gallery to share (without having to worry about the problem files on Flickr).

  8. Collaborate with a colleague on an article about a teaching strategy you both use. Store your files in a shared Dropbox folder and you can both access the files easily.

  9. Compare different versions of a document, as a writer yourself or with students’ drafts. Dropbox keeps an archive of changed files, so you can easily step back to an older version.

  10. Have a certain set of files or tools you like to use? Maybe specific extensions for Firefox? Save them on Dropbox and it’s easy to keep your different machines synched. You don’t have to be all scholarly about it. The Dropbox folks report that some people use their folder for mods and customizations for games like World of Warcraft.

Have another idea?
Please share. Dropbox has a lot of potential. The 2GB size is limiting, but if you are careful and only place current files on the system, it should be a nice way to keep things available, no matter what computer you’re sitting at.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Finding Safe Videos for the Classroom

Video and film play a vital role in the 21st century classroom, and online access makes them easy to find and use. This 11th grade modernization of Snow White on YouTube demonstrate readers theater and could be used before students composed their own modern readers theater versions of fairy and folk tales:

My very favorite Schoolhouse Rock short, Conjunction Junction, is available on YouTube anytime I want to do a mini-lesson on conjunctions work “hooking up words and phrases and clauses.” If I’me teaching Hamlet, a quick search on YouTube will turn up Sir Laurence Olivier’s performance of the “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy, ready to share with the class.

The problem with YouTube, as I’m sure almost everyone knows, is that there are also a lot of very inappropriate videos on the site. It’s a difficult site to turn students loose on because of the amount of guidance needed. In many districts the site is banned outright by network firewalls.

This is where sites like TeacherTube and Teachers.tv come in. Think YouTube for teachers, and you have the idea. Teachers upload student-created videos, their own instructional videos, tutorials, in-service and conference presentations, and demonstrations. TeacherTube has an American feel. Teachers.tv is the UK spin on the idea.

You’ll find resources like a book talk on the 2008 Newbery Award winner, a promotion for book clubs, and the Alphabet in American Sign Language on TeacherTube. And you’ll find a collection of videos for English and media instruction on Teacher.tv.

In addition to these two general sites, there are some specific online video collections that can be used in the classroom:

Here are some final tips to help ensure that everything goes smoothly:

  • Always, always, always preview the entire video before sharing it.
  • Be sure that you’ve obtained permission from families and your administration.
  • Watch for “related” or “popular” video links that may appear near the video you plan to use.
  • Embedding a video can avoid some problems, but remember that sites like Google and YouTube include links to “Related Videos” in the video screen as well.
  • Check the comments that accompany a video. The video may be suitable, but spammers and trolls may have filled the comments with inappropriate language or links.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Social Networking: The Ning’s the Thing

What’s a Ning? What’s a social network for that matter? And how can a teacher use them? All important questions. I’ll start with the most general and move to the most specific.

What’s a social network?
You have lots of social networks, even if you are rarely online.

  • You might have a group of friends from college you stay in touch with.
  • Maybe you participate in a local book club that gets together every month for discussions.
  • The colleagues you teach with may work with you in a teacher-study group.

All of those scenarios describe social networks. Online, social networks connect people who share common goals or interests. Facebook and MySpace are general social networks. Specific networks might connect family members, fans of a television show, or people who have the same hobby.

The Common Craft Show video on social networks, which I mentioned last month, is a must-see if you’re unfamiliar with social networks and how they work:

So how does all this connect to Ning?
Ning is an online social network platform that allows you to create your own customized social network.

You can decide on who is invited, what they can see, and what they can do. You can create a Ning site for anything. There are a number of features available, and a basic site is free.

NCTE has created a Ning site for the 2008 Annual Convention. You’ll see the NCTE logo, links to the convention website, and information from NCTE members. There are videos, photos, and podcasts.

If you join the 2008 Annual Convention Ning, you can post information about your presentation, chat about sessions you want to attend, and connect with friends before you arrive in San Antonio, during the convention, and after convention is over.

So Ning is just another social network, like Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn. What makes it different is the ability to customize the features to meet the needs of a specific group of people.

How can a teacher use a Ning social network?
Use a Ning to connect students in a private social network! What could you do for language arts, writing, and literature classes?

  • Set up discussion forums based on literature circles, peer writing groups, different class periods, and so forth.
  • Create groups based on student interests—book clubs, favorite genres, other content areas.
  • Upload alternative book reports created as podcasts, videos, or photos.
  • Ask students to write their reading logs or journals online, using their own personal blogs.
  • Post information for students and their families in a shared space.

And unlike Facebook, a Ning network can be set up so that it is private and open only to invited members. Using the network tools, you can invite only the students in your classes. You can monitor the members in the administrative tools on your Ning network. The network can also be set so that you can approve people before they join.

That’s not all. You can control many of the features, so that the social network meets the needs of your students. You can do all of the following:

  • Create all groups yourself, or leave it open to members
  • Approve groups, so that nothing off-topic shows up
  • Approve all photos and videos before they are posted
  • Delete any groups or discussions that are inappropriate
  • Ban members from the network if necessary
  • And reverse any of these decisions with a click of a checkbox!

In some scenarios, you can leave the site more open. It’s nice to know, however, that you can lock things down if you need to. Try to do that on MySpace!

Join in and Explore the Options
If you want to see more, please join us on the 2008 NCTE Annual Convention Ning. Whether you plan to go to San Antonio or not, you can sign up and join in the discussions! If you have any questions, my member name on the Ning is tengrrl. So logon and friend me!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

FeedMyInbox: Keeping Up with Feeds by Email

I’ve shared information on a number of sites and tools that can help you keep up with RSS feeds, but maybe you want something simpler to help you keep up with a blog or podcast. FeedMyInbox is a fast, efficient web-based tool that may be just what you’re looking for.

The tool is so simple that I’ll walk you through the 5 steps it takes to set up. But first, let me explain that the site does for you. You find a blog or a news site that you want to keep up with. Enter some information on the FeedMyInbox site, and that blog's entries will show up in your email inbox.

Why is that useful?

  • Perhaps you just don’t want to add another tool to the list of things you keep up with.
  • Maybe new technology like RSS feeds is making you feel a little overwhelmed and you want a “baby step.”
  • It could even be the case that you are all set up with FriendFeed and AtomKeep, but there are a few feeds you need to make sure that you see as soon as they’re published (for instance, the blog of a friend or colleague, district school closing information, university security announcements).
  • In the classroom, you might be looking for an email alternative for families and students who sometimes forget to visit the class blog where you post assignments and updates.
FeedMyInbox can take care of all these situations. You enter your information and forget about it. The feed for that blog post or newspaper will come to your inbox just like any other email message. Let me show you how simple it is. You can click on any of the images below to see a larger version of the screenshot.
  1. Identify a blog or another site with an RSS feed that you want to follow. I'm going to use this blog as my example.

  2. Go to the FeedMyInbox website and enter the address of the blog and the email address you want to receive the updates, and click the Submit button.

  3. You’ll see a message telling you to go check the email account that you entered for a confirmation message.

  4. Open up the email message and click the confirmation link, and then save this message for later. You can reply to it in the future if you need help.

  5. You’ll see a message telling you that the feed has been added.

That’s it. The next time the feed you’ve subscribed to is updated, you’ll get details in your email inbox. It’s simple. It requires no extra downloads and no additional websites to keep track of. Once you’ve set it up, you’re done. Slick, huh?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How to Streamline Your Social Updates

Last week, I talked about websites and software that can help you keep up with your colleagues all in one place. These social aggregators collect updates from a variety of social networks (like Facebook and Twitter) and present them all on one organized webpage. Set one up, and you easily keep up with what your friends, family, and colleagues are saying online.

That’s only half of the challenge of social networking though. What can you do to make sure that everyone sees what you have to say without visiting a dozen social networking sites? Social aggregators can help you here too.

Many of the tools that I mentioned last week not only allow you to read updates from all your friends in one place but also allow you to post updates to multiple sites. You write one updates, and the social aggregator pushes that update to all the networks you want. If you’re primarily interested in microblogging, for instance, a tool like Twhirl will allow you to post your 140-character update to your account at three different sites—Twitter, Jaiku, and Pownce. You’ll find other aggregators that allow you to both read from multiple sites and post the same update to those sites. The most universal tools I’ve found are Ping.fm and AtomKeep.

Ping.fm is to posting your updates what FriendFeed is to reading details from all your social networks. Once you’ve signed up for an account on Ping.fm, you can post a single update to over twenty different social networks, including Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, and Twitter. Settings in Ping.fm keep track of whether a network only posts microblog updates, status updates, or full blogs. And not only does this site streamline and organize the way you post updates to your friends and colleagues, Ping.fm allows you to send you posts by instant messages, from your cell phone, and from a Facebook application in addition to sending your posts from the Ping.fm website. It’s a great tool for simplifying the way you keep in touch with everyone. The site is still in its beta stage, so you need an invitation code. Use code “vivalaping” to get started.

Now that you’ve simplified the process of posting updates, what do you do when your homepage address needs to be updated on all those social networking sites? Who wants to visit all of them just to change that information in a profile. Here’s a secret: Set up AtomKeep and you won’t have to. You just enter your profile information on the AtomKeep site, and then you can sync your details with nearly thirty different websites. You may be worried about security, but no worries there. The site is not automatic. You tell it when to update another site, and you must enter your usersname and password each time, so your profiles should stay relatively safe. A word of caution: pay attention to the details that you enter for your profile and where you update. You may have a private website that you do not want to share on Facebook, for instance. AtomKeep has no way of knowing to exclude that website when it syncs things for you. The best rule of thumb is to only put information in AtomKeep that you would post on every site you add to your account.

So there you have it—FriendFeed from last week’s post and Ping.fm, and AtomKeep this week. Together the three sites should make it far easier to keep up with the Web 2.0 world. They’re all web-based and all free. Set them all up now, and you’ll be able to keep up with friends, family, and colleagues even when you’re busy in the classroom this fall!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How to Streamline Your Social Networks

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on social networking aggregators, tools that streamline the time you spend on social networking sites. And if you’re not sure what social networking is, the Common Craft Show has a fast video explanation that will make it all clear.

Time to get caught up on what your colleagues are doing? That means you need to check all your friends on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Ning, Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, Blogger, LiveJournal, Digg, YouTube, Flickr, Plurk, Technorati, and delicious. Just the thought of all that is overwhelming, and it’s likely to take the entire evening to get all those sites checked—and that’s if you re lucky. Some nights you only get through two or three of the sites before you run out of energy and head to bed.

A social aggregator could make this process much easier. Rather than going to all those different sites, you could go to one that included updates from all those different social networks. 8Hands is one aggregator tool, which compiles information from your friends on ten different networking sites (like Facebook and LiveJournal). You just download and set up the 8Hands application, login, and catch up on everything in one place. This demo from the 8Hands site shows the features that the site offers:

While 8Hands is a tool you download, there are plenty of social network aggregators that you visit using your web browser. Friendfeed is one of the more popular of these sites. Friendfeed gathers postings from over forty different social networking sites, including blogs, image sharing sites, social bookmarking sites, and microblogging sites. Friendfeed creates a single RSS feed from all those sites, allowing you to view everything in one place.

If you’d like more organization for your social network aggregator, you might try SecondBrain. Not only does SecondBrain aggregate twenty-five sites, but it also allows you to arrange the information in folders, or collections. SecondBrain is still in beta and is a bit clunky, but its ability to categorize your networking sites may make this site useful in the future.

For my own connections, I’m sticking to Friendfeed for now. There are numerous other sites and tools out there though. For more alternatives, check out The 19+ Social Network Aggregator List from MakeUseOf and 20 Ways To Aggregate Your Social Networking Profiles from Mashable. And come back next week, when I’ll talk about how aggregator sites can streamline the way you post information to friends and followers in your social network.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mind Mapping Graphic Organizers

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on a variety of online resources for mind mapping.

Mind maps are not new to the language arts and composition classroom. In fact, they have been in existence for centuries. You’ll see them labeled with various names—mapping, clusters, webbing—and combination terms such as mind webs or cluster map. These graphic organizers most frequently have a single label in the middle of the map with related ideas spinning out in a connected pattern. Here's an example I created using Bubbl.us:

Example Mind Map If you’re unfamiliar with this graphic organizer, be sure to check out How to make a mind map® in 8 steps for some tips. While the page refers to a specific software program, the general information in the tips can be applied to any way of making mind maps, even old fashioned pencil-and-paper techniques.

You can buy software like Kidspiration or Inspiration that is designed to make mind maps, but I want to provide some options for free and limited use tools that you can use without buying anything extra or paying a fee for a service. Each of the tools listed below includes all the basics you need to create general mind maps:

  • Bubbl.us: Free Internet tool, supports collaborative mapping
  • Ekpenso: Free Internet tool with Google Gears and Adobe Air versions
  • FreeMind: Free open source tool, once installed does not require Internet access
  • Mindmeister: Free Internet version allows 6 maps, supports collaborative mapping
  • Wisdomap: Free Internet version allows 3 maps
  • Mindomo: Free Internet version allows only 7 private maps (unlimited public maps)
Some of these tools include more sophisticated resources, but all include the most basic tools you need. If your school or district policies require that you use a tool that does not include a login, try the ReadWriteThink Webbing Tool.

For example maps you can share with students, be sure to visit TopicScape’s Directory of Mind Maps, which points to maps specfically on literature. Mappio provides a wider variety of example maps. The site allows visitors to upload and share their own maps as well. Both sites are directories. In other words, they point to maps on third-party sites. Many of the literature examples are on the Inspiration website for instance. The maps at these two example sites are often more sophisticated than the free tools will allow students to create, but they do show the range of options for mapping well.

Even if you choose not to have students do mind mapping in class, these example sites point to resources that you might use as you teach specific topics.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wordle: Word Maps for Fun and Analysis

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on a text cloud program called Wordle.

You have probably seen a tag cloud. It’s a collection of the tags for a blog that uses larger and bolder fonts for the tags that are used most frequently and smaller regular fonts for the tags that are used less frequently. Tags between the two extremes are sized based upon where they fall on the spectrum. You can see the Tag Cloud for this blog over in the right sidebar, below the names of the Editors.

Wordle applies the structure of tag clouds to any chunk of text you'd like to analyze. The site includes a gallery of examples, which you can browse through to choose some appropriate to choose with students and colleagues. Perhaps you could use The Declaration of Independence as part of your discussion of colonial America, for example. There’s also a search that will help you find examples you might share. Remember that the tool is open to the general public, so there may be inappropriate texts in the Gallery.

I’ll admit that the tool is addictive. I found myself creating map after map. First I created a map of the homepage of this blog. Because the tool can make a map of any page with an RSS feed, all I had to do was give Wordle the blog’s URL, and the tool generated a map of the 150 words I’ve used most frequently:

Using the pull-down menus included with the map on the Wordle page, I played with the font, the colors, and the layout of the map until I arrived at one I liked. Wordle uses Java to work its magic, so you may need to update your version of Java for the tool to work. The FAQs on the site include suggestions and a link to the downloads.

Why is this a useful tool for English language arts and composition teachers? It’s fun, and anything that encourages writers to play with words is a good choice for the writing classroom. There’s more to it than that though. Ask students to use Wordle’s ability to analyze a chunk of text to create clougs for texts that they are writing. To test it, I pasted in the first chapter from my book (Designing Writing Assignments), and after a little playing with colors and layouts, I had this cloud:
The top 150 words were exactly those that I would have wanted. The four largest words in the cloud (students, assignments, curriculum, and writing) are exactly on target for the focus of the chapter and the book as a whole. Students can try a similar analysis and look at the words they use more frequently to see how they represent their writing.

The tool is robust enough to handle most texts that kindergarten through college students are likely to create. The manuscript version of my first chapter is twelve pages long and contains 2850 words. That length is far more than the average for most student papers.

Naturally, I didn’t stop with my own writing. I tried some literature as well. Here’s a poem I’m sure you’ll recognize:
After reading “The Raven,” students could examine how the cloud represents the story that the poem tells. Most will recall the repetition of key words such as raven and nevermore, but will they notice that the word soul is used more frequently than tapping and rapping?

As I looked at the cloud for “The Raven,” I couldn’t help feeling that I had created a piece 21st century text in its own right. I’m not sure where I want to use that image, but I really like it and may use it elsewhere. Fortunately, Wordle’s creator, Jonathan Feinberg, gives all rights to the images to the creators and even allows them to make money with them. See the FAQ for more details.

I can’t help sharing one more that I created. Here’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
If I wasn’t sure that I had a new text when I created the cloud for “The Raven,” I was absolutely sold when I saw this one. I might use the image as an introduction to the speech, but it could just as easily be used as an intro or culminating text for a unit on the Sixties and Civil Rights. This may be my favorite image so far. I adore the size difference between the word freedom and the word jail (look for it under and to the right of the word will). I could spend exploring the ways these words flow and relate. If I could, I’d blow it up to poster size and add it to the wall in my office.

Wordle is a fairly basic site, but the results are anything but basic. Go play. You’ll catch the bug too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Podcasts: The 21st Century Version of the Radio Show

You’ve probably heard or read the word podcast. Radio and television shows urge their audiences to subscribe to their podcasts for the latest updates. Newspapers suggest readers visit their podcast pages to find digital connections to the stories they print. Podcasts do not have to be published by mass media organizations however. It’s just as likely though that you’ll find a podcast by a colleague, your public library, or students you’ve taught.

To provide some background, let me explain what a podcast is. A podcast is a series of audio broadcasts that is distributed using an RSS feed. You can think of it as the 21st century version of a radio show. In fact, many radio stations and radio production companies post their radio shows online as podcasts. Chicago Public Radio, for instance, posts episodes of This American Life as podcasts, and my local public radio station, WILL-AM, posts podcasts of all the daily agricultural reports.

I should note that people do misuse the term podcast. In technical terms, an individual audio file that is not distributed by an RSS feeds is not podcasts. It’s just a basic audio recording. Such stand-alone audio files can be useful and fun, but for this week, I’m focusing on legitimate podcasts only. True podcasts provide new, ongoing resources while single audio files are one-time publications.

You subscribe to the RSS feed of a podcast and then download and listen to each episode using an audio player like iTunes or Windows Media Player. You can find complete instructions for the process using iTunes from the Apple website.

For an even better explanation of podcasts and how they work, watch this video from The Common Craft Show:

Now that you know what a podcast is, how do you find ones that you are interested in? If you use iTunes to listen to podcasts, you can visit the Apple Store, click on the Podcasts link, and begin finding the latest podcasts that have been published. There are similar ways to find podcasts in other audio players, but I use iTunes.

There are online sites you can visit to explore directories of podcasts. You can search through and find anything you like on sites like these (listed alphabetically):

Podcast Alley: http://www.podcastalley.com/
Podcast Pickle: http://podcastpickle.com/
Podcast Ready: http://www.podcastready.com/
There are also sites that list educational podcasts, such as the Education Podcast Network (http://epnweb.org/).

You can also seek out podcasts at the sites of professional organizations that you already know as well. Organizations like the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) all have podcasts that might interest you.

Chatting about Books logoI’d be remiss if I didn’t share details on two monthly podcasts published by ReadWriteThink each month: Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers and Text Messages: Recommendations for Teen Readers. In Chatting About Books, host Emily Manning chats with kids, parents, and teachers about the best in children’s literature for ages 4 through 11. Discussions include reading tips and fun activities to do with children before, during, and after reading.

Text Messages LogoText Messages
podcasts provide book recommendations that adults can pass along to preteen and teen readers. Each episode features one in-depth recommendation plus suggestions of several other related books, audiobooks, or films that will engage and excite teen readers.

If all this discussion has gotten you thinking about how you might use podcasts with students, find some extra inspiration in the English Journal article “The Book Report, Version 2.0: Podcasting on Young Adult Novels.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Online Documentation Tools

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on online resources for building documentation citations.

Bibliographic style can be difficult to teach. There are exact formats that have to be followed precisely. Differences among citations may seem eccentric to students, and even more eccentric can be the differences among citation formats (e.g., MLA versus APA).

Most language arts textbooks include the most basic details on these citations. Websites like the Purdue OWL provide extensive lists and explanations on citations and reseearch writing. With these resources to guide students, writing bibliographical citations is just a matter of plugging details into an equation: Last name, First name. Book Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, Date of Publication. It’s simply an eccentric process of fill-in-the-blank.

That’s why online documentation tools can supplement the process in useful ways. Using online bibliographic entry generators, students still complete the process of filling in the blanks, but they can be less overwhelmed by the task. The process is really the same as it would be for someone using a language arts textbook: determine the kind of text and fill in the blanks of the citation form.

Naysayers will argue that these generators take away the responsibility to learn how to write bibliographies. I don’t think that’s the case. Students still have to determine the kind of text properly. If students can’t tell the difference between a single-authored book and a book authored by several people, they aren’t going to find the right format—whether they’re working with textbook instructions or an online generator.

Further, students still have to find all the necessary details for the texts they create citations for. No online generator is going to fill in the details students leave out. If the student skips place of publication, it’s going to be missing from the citation. That’s where editing and proofreading come in. No matter how students create their bibliographical entries, they’re still responsible for checking the entries against the standard formats and correcting any errors.

Online citation builders are just the 21st century way of filling in the blanks. For this week’s web highlights, I'm sticking to free sites. There are web-based services that ask for a fee of some kind, and there are pieces of stand-alone software, like EndNote (a sophisticated program that is probably beyond the needs of most K–College students). These tools are great too, but I’m focusing on tools that can be used in any classroom with the right computer and Internet resources.

So here are the sites that I recommend for building citations:

MLA Citation Generator
MLA Citation GeneratorThis barebones tool builds only seven kinds of entries. Its simplicity would be perfect for elementary and middle school students whose sources are fairly traditional.

Citation Builder
Citation Builder ScreenshotFrom the University of North Carolina University Libraries, this online tool can create only six kinds of entries; however, the related forms allow for more complex kinds of texts (e.g., multi-author books, online and print journal articles). Don’t let the limited number of choices on the homepage fool you. This tool can produce rather sophisticated entries and requires students to know which information is relevant on the forms for the texts they enter. It’s best suited for secondary and college students.

Oregon School Library Information System Citation Makers
OSLIS Citation Maker ScreenshotThis versatile site offers three different citation makers: MLA citations for elementary students, MLA citations for middle and secondary students, and APA citations. Like the UNC University Libraries’ tool above, the MLA citations for older students includes forms that can result in rather complex citations. The Citation Maker for Elementary Students narrows down the options a bit. The pages in this tool are rather text heavy, making it appear a bit busy. Students would benefit from teacher demonstration and modeling to help them learn how to use the large amount of data on the pages.

EasyBib Screenshot EasyBib is a complete tool that includes forms for three dozen different kinds of texts, including advertisements, email messages, interviews, and photographs. Despite this wide range of options, the forms are fairly simple and, with guidance, could be used even with middle school students. If students are to use the tool independently, it’s more appropriate for secondary and college students. The citations that the tool creates can be printed, saved as an RTF file, or viewed online (and then copied and pasted into another document).

Note that this tool does include pervasive links and encouragement to purchase the company’s MyBibPro, but the free tools convinced me to include it. The tool is very complete, allows for annotation, and includes links to Facebook and MySpace communities that are bound to capture students’ attention.

Son of Landmark Citation Machine
Landmarks Citation Machine ScreenshotCitation Machine is less slick than EasyBib, but it includes basic citation forms for not only MLA and APA, but also Chicago and Turabian—plus there are no annoying “Subscribe” links. The default links on the site include the forms for typical kinds of texts. Be sure to click the “More?” link under MLA and APA to expand the list to access a wide range of citation types, including podcasts, television shows, and government publications. With support from a teacher or librarian, the tool could be used by middle school students, but is probably best for secondary and college students.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CompPile: One-Stop Shopping for Composition Research

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I explain why writing teachers at the secondary or college level should know about CompPile.

So what is it? As CompPile is a database of 94956 records that catalog books, journal articles, and other publications in composition, rhetoric, technical writing, ESL, and discourse studies. The collection has a full range of search capabilities. Just take a look at the screen shot of the homepage below:

And because the materials in CompPile have been catalogued by composition and rhetoric teachers, they include keywords and other information that you probably won’t find if you simply use Google to search for resources. The site catalogues articles from 306 journals, review essays, books, dissertations, and articles in edited collections or anthologies.

Let’s say that you wanted to know more about using portfolios, but you need to do a bit more research before you settle on your final plans. Go to CompPile and do a Quick Search for the word portfolios. In no time, the database will return the first of 627 entries that discuss using portfolios in writing instruction. You'd probably want to narrow the search down. Go back to the CompPile homepage and you can narrow things down by date, specific journal, authors, and words in the entry’s annotation. Once you focus and find the best resources, you an export a list of resources or print entries as you find them. You will streamline your research time by finding the best resources quickly, and you’ll have a ready list for your trip to the library!

If you teach writing, you should spend some time playing with CompPile. You’ll find new resources to read and a great new tool. When you visit, be sure to check out CompFAQs, the site’s collection of answers to frequently asked questions about composition and writing instruction.

The site is a live and growing thing, always adding more information and resources for writing teachers. To see the latest additions to the collection, simply visit the site blog, and you’ll find details on recently catalogued items, information on site upkeep, and other interesting information. If you’d like to contribute the site, check out the details on how you can help on the Volunteers page.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Google Lit Trips: Literary Maps Meet 21st Century Literacy Skills

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on using Google Earth to create 21st Century Literary Maps.

Looking for ways to combine digital literacy skills, research, literary study, reading and writing for the web, and more? All you need is Google Lit Trips! This one tool can provide cross-curricular connections, literary exploration, and 21st century literacy skills. It’s simple. Literary Maps + Google Earth = a great classroom resource!

Literary maps were a highlight of NCTE’s Annual Convention last November. In case you’re unfamiliar, a literary map shows locations related to a piece of literature, the life of an author, or literary locations in a particular place (e.g., all the authors born in a state).

When NCTE first began inviting affiliates to bring literary maps to convention, the maps were typically made of poster or display board, like those shown in the 1994 English Journal article “The Making of a Literary Map.” The maps included in Google Lit Trips show what happens when literary maps are plotted out online, on the backdrop of the satellite maps that comprise Google Maps.

This image shows the locations on a Google Lit Trip for Elie Weisel’s Night, created by Technology Integration Coordinator Jerome Burg.

Burg, who teaches at Granada High School in Livermore, CA, has plotted significant locations on the map of Europe, indicated by the Stars of David. When loaded in Google Earth, the map includes pop-up windows that include additional information, links, and photos. To see how the maps work, watch my overview of several maps.

What’s it take to use these maps in the classroom? A free copy of Google Earth and a download of the map from the Google Lit Trips on the site. The Lit Trips site includes instructions and tips making the process very easy. You can use the maps that are already on the site or design maps yourself or with students. Go ahead. You’ll find it strangely addictive.

Convention Connection! Google Lit Trips creator Jerome Burg will present “GoogleLitTrips: Make a World of Difference in Your Classroom” at NCTE’s Annual Convention in San Antonio in November.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wiki: Collaborative Authorship Made Easy

This summer, I’m exploring a variety of Web sites and tools that you can use in the classroom and/or for your own professional development. Each week, I’ll talk about how it works, point out related sites, and discuss classroom connections. This week, I focus on using wikis for collaborative authorship in the classroom.

Most teachers with Internet access know at least one wiki: Wikipedia. Love it or hate it, most of us know that it’s out there. I like Wikipedia and what it brings to the classroom, but it’s not for everyone. Wikis can be however because they offer the opportunity for students to create collaborative texts in ways that pen and paper never have. Not even Microsoft Word can provide the collaborative authoring tools that a wiki can.

First, let me define wiki a bit. A wiki is a collection of extensively linked web pages, stored in a database, that is collaboratively written. Depending upon how the wiki is set up, anyone might be able to edit it, or changes may be limited to a specific group of writers. You can set up free wikis on sites like pbwiki, seedwiki, wetpaint, and wikispaces. For a more detailed explanation of wikis, see How Wikis Work from How Stuff Works or the Wikipedia definition of Wiki.

Back to the idea of collaboration. The Commoncraft Show (whose video on RSS I used a few weeks ago) explains how the collaborative authorship works in the context of a group of friends planning a camping trip in this video (a transcript is also available):

The benefits for collaborative writing should be obvious. Wikis allow multiple authors to edit a text easily. While the video doesn’t discuss it, wikis include tracking information so anyone can look at who makes changes to the texts and compare the different versions at different points in its creation. Try to do that with a collaborative paper written in Word.

Wikis give teachers an easy way to look at how drafts evolve and to determine the participation of various group members on a document. Check out Wiki: Collaborative Editing in Education for additional explanations and suggestions for scaffolding student collaboration, such as assigning roles to group members just as you would for literature circles.

Collaborative authorship is just the beginning of what you can teach with wikis. You can learn more about how other teachers are using wikis across the content areas and curriculum by tapping these sites:

Wikis and Blogs in Education

Identifying Best Practices for Student Wikipedia Projects

Wetpaint’s Wikis in Education

When Wikipedia Is the Assignment

Wiki in a K-12 classroom

One more thing...
No discussion of wikis would be complete without at least a few words on Wikipedia. The open, collaborative authorship of Wikipedia leads many educators to avoid using it. Because the details on the site do not seem to have the same validation system used by sources like the Encyclopedia Britannica. Robert French outlines the arguments typically used against integrating Wikipedia with the classroom library.

I prefer to turn those arguments on their head. Why not talk about how what we know about the world change over time, depending on a variety of factors such as our perspectives, our access to details, and our ways of thinking? The Truth According To Wikipedia by Netherlands public television provides an in-depth exploration of how an evolving Wikipedia entry demonstrates first-hand that knowledge is socially constructed. You can explore this issue in the classroom simply by looking at the history of an entry and discussing how it has changed over time.

From discussions of how information is published on Wikipedia, you shift to 21st century research skills. As I mentioned in this week’s ideas, what matter to research today isn’t that students must be given the most reliable sources. It’s that they know how to evaluate any texts they encounter so that they can choose the most reliable sources themselves. In other words, students should be allowed to learn how to evaluate entries on Wikipedia and choose for themselves.