Friday, August 3, 2012

Ah the Wonderful World of Teaching

Recently, I was introduced to the wonderful world of edubloggers. Edubloggers is a community of teachers who blog about teaching, classrooms tools (especially technology), and teacher resources. And wow, there are a lot of resources.

The first edublogger I looked at was Dana Huff over at Her blog is amazing. In addition to having videos like this:

(The Doctor performs a sonnet by Shakespeare. When things like this happen, when worlds of geekdom collide, I get really excited)

She also talks about and suggests several (and this is an understatement) great resources for teachers. Her most recent blog post talked about twitter and its uses as an educational resource and forum for teachers. I've recently looked into twitter, but since reading Dana's blog I now realize that there is a hashtag I can use to navigate tweets called #engchat. Thanks Dana, you made something difficult (like searching twitter for useful information) a little easier.

She also mentions an ipad app based on the movie The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Apparently, this is an interactive text that accompanies the movie and allows you to "help Morris get lost in a book, spell with alphabet cereal, make books talk, and so many other cool events drawn from the film. As you read, a narrator reads the story to you, the text of which runs along the bottom of each page."

How cool is that? Ever since J.K. Rowling released Pottermore, an interactive book experience with the Harry Potter series, I have been fascinated with the idea of making literary texts (texts you usually read in English classes) more interactive with websites and programs like this:

The students are still required to read of course (it would be blasphemy if they didn't), but after or before they read they could perform activities that help them delve deeper into the text. You could require them to complete games and work with interactive teaching tools that deal with vocabulary, characters, setting, and themes that run throughout the text. It makes me so excited just thinking about it. I'm seriously considering applying for some kind of grant so I can develop web based reading programs to help facilitate reading on the secondary level.

Another edublogger (or rather edubloggers since the blog is a collaboration between around 30 teachers) I really enjoyed was From the Mixed-Up Files . . .  One thing I found particularly marvelous was the use of graphic novels as a way to introduce middle school students to higher-level reading. They don't want to replace regular books, rather graphic novels serve as a stepping stone to move the students into chapter books and more advanced texts. There seems to be a fair amount of research on graphic novels and literacy. "According to a 1993 study published in The Journal of Child Language, comic books or graphic novels 'introduce children to nearly twice as many new words as the average children’s book and more than five times as many as the average child-adult conversation.' That’s a lot of vocabulary words."

Some of the other benefits listed on the blog:

"Comic books allow children to develop the same skills as reading a more traditional book:
 - connecting narratives to children’s own experiences
 - predicting what will happen next
 - inferring what happens between individual panels
 - tracking left to right and top to bottom
 - interpreting symbols
 - following the sequence of events in a story."

So inspiring! I love innovative teaching. Now, I just have to figure out how to incorporate Usagi Yojimbo into my classroom.


  1. Hi - First, my long overdue compliment about the Meg/Tesseract blogger/title connection!

    I like your Pottermore-inspired idea. I'm working with a team of authors, one of whom is doing a short book for kids about what makes for compelling game design ... it sounds right up your alley! It should be in draft form by September if you want to read it. In discussing the book topic, many of us had one of those sinking realizations: that most of the "game projects" we made in school were just plain not fun. Your generation of teachers can raise the bar!

    Secondly, I have the Morris Lessmore app -- remind me next time I see you and you can give it a spin.

    There's also an Oscar-winning short animated film of it (there are bootleg copies online my membership in the American Library Association precludes me from posting a link here, but it's worth it!).

  2. Hi Kristin,

    Yes, I would like to read it. And I would love to see the Morris Lessmore app. The more I read posts by other teachers, the more I realize the ipad offers so many apps that could be useful for teaching. I'm very much considering buying one with my Fall aid.

    I've heard of the movie but haven't seen it. It sounds right up my alley. I'll take a look and see if I can find it.

    Thanks Kristin!

  3. I feel as though a huge percentage of my posts involve something about my experience in Japan. Seeing that post actually pertains to Japan I feel I just have to comment. Usagi Yojimbo, or Rabbit Bodyguard, looks adorable. In Japan children and adults read manga at an enormous rate. Even schools have forms of manga that are based on historical events. These are almost universally used for studying and seem to be very popular. Perhaps reading manga that has more substance would be even more effective in school.

  4. I also enjoyed Dana Huff's material.These days there are so many resources for teachers to teach with technology. Resouces such as google and youtube can be useful for instance. My wife is translating an kids book from English into Chinese and it will be published on the iPhone as an app. This way the kids can read two different languages about the same story on there parents' iPhone, and can better learn Chinese or English. This makes learning much easier and more fun for them, and is only possible through technology.