Welcome to 101 English Blogs project!

The aim of this project is to encourage 101 English teachers from around the world to start blogging (or share existing blogs) about their English classrooms. This blog will list each of the 101 blogs and will be a place for sharing and highlighting what is going on in over 100 English classrooms.

Keen to join? Email me at am@eggs.school.nz

101 English Blogs - Latest posts!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Using TED in the English classroom - two of my recent favourites!

Just wanted to share this! I think Sarah Kay's talk is a fabulous resource for students and teachers alike! A mixture of poetry performance and poetry writing seminar - it makes me want to run out and form a Spoken Word poetry club at my school. The second clip is Suheir Hammad's TED talk. I think the ways you could use these clips with students is pretty limitless. What are your TED talk favs??

Info from the TED website:

About this talk

"If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she's gonna call me Point B ... " began spoken word poet Sarah Kay, in a talk that inspired two standing ovations at TED2011. She tells the story of her metamorphosis -- from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York's Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. -- and gives two breathtaking performances of "B" and "Hiroshima."

About Sarah Kay

A performing poet since she was 14 years old, Sarah Kay is the founder of Project V.O.I.C.E, teaching poetry and self-expression at schools across the United States. Full bio and more links

Info from the TED website:

About this talk

Poet Suheir Hammad performs two spine-tingling spoken-word pieces: "What I Will" and "break (clustered)" -- meditations on war and peace, on women and power. Wait for the astonishing line: "Do not fear what has blown up. If you must, fear the unexploded."

About Suheir Hammad

In her poems and plays, Suheir Hammad blends the stories and sounds of her Palestinian-American heritage with the vibrant language of Brooklyn to create a passionately modern voice. Full bio and more links

Friday, March 11, 2011

Keeping the focus on learning, not the technology

The title of today's post come's from the blog Adventures in online teaching and the post It's about the learning, not the technology. I couldn't agree more. The post raises many questions about how we navigate our way through a veritable sea of technology, how we choose the right tools and how we keep the focus on the learning. Check out the excerpt below, and ensure you look at the full post.

With each potential tool, I have to ask myself, “what are the logistics?” How much time do I have to set aside for this new whiz-bang tool? Because I don’t have 25 students. I’m a secondary teacher, and we often have 150 or even 200 students. And each new tool has a learning curve – whoever thinks all kids know how to use technology without assistance has never spent time in a school computer lab. It’s not obvious to all of them.

When I first really got into using online discussion, I tried out a blog, where I posted a question, and students discussed it via comments. We all enjoyed it and the benefits of the discussion were immediately clear. But the logistics just about killed me. That’s why I decided to use Moodle, because it reduces the logistics – never eliminates them, but makes them manageable.

Last week I had an EDtalk published that in a sense dealt with the same issue, in this talk I (attempt) to explain how I am leading our school through a Teaching as Inquiry project to create an eLearning action plan - the aim being that teachers keep their focus on the student and their learning needs and outcomes and not just focusing on the ICT tools! It can be a tricky process, because sometimes you do need to play and experiement with the tools to discover their value. What comes first - the chicken or the egg? The tool or the learning?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blogging, writing portfolios and sharing our knowledge with the students

Two blogs are have caught my eye this morning:

At A Thicket and Bramble Wilderness there is a great post about Some Thoughts on Student Blogs:

I have had my students working in various forms of digital media for a few years now and one activity I have found really valuable is student blogging. This year’s group is blogging in a collaborative format. Students are on teams and manage a team blog (You can see a sample here). Each student is required to post twice each semester. In addition, students need to read and comment upon two other blog posts each week. They may respond to other class blogs or to one from a list I have compiled for them.

I particularly like the notion of a 'team blog'! Something else I would love to trial.

Click here to read the full post.

At Walk the Walk, there is an interesting post looking at writing portfolios and issues around grades and feedback. This is particularly interesting for the kiwi teachers, as this is something we are shifting towards on a national scale, as our internal assessment standards (NCEA) now come with Conditions of Assessment that encourage, both this sort of feedback and the shift from individual essays to a development of portfolios.

So, I've been reading and asking. The feedback and research I've been handed back has truly been informative and from a wide variety of sources across the country: middle school and high school teachers, college professors, retired teachers, and everything in between. I've read the thoughts of these colleagues as well as those from the writers and scholars they turned me on to: Pat Schneider, Peter Elbow, Linda Christensen (Director of the Oregon Writing Project), to articles from the National Writing Project, and the Pennsylvania Writing Project.

Maybe more importantly I pulled my chair to the front of the class and shared the research I had been reading. I shared the feedback I have received from colleagues across the country, and then I asked my students for their written feedback--what would be the (most challenging, interesting, helpful, positive, worrisome,______) aspect of our moving to an assessed a portfolio of your work (the positive and negative) as opposed to continuing with single grades on individual essays? How are you handling all of this?

Click here to read the full post.

Another thing I like here, is the dialogue between teacher and student about the research. I have always been an advocate for sharing "the knowledge" we are discovering with our students. Here in NZ we have annually published National Moderator's Reports (for internal assessments) and Assessment Reports (for external assessments) that can be accessed (here) which can be incredibly empowering for students. I often get students to unpack research and reports intended for the educators and get them to "translate" them in to "student speak".

I mean, why would we not share this knowledge with them??