Returned from camp today. Had a great time with fantastic Year 7 students willing to give everything a go. I’m a huge supporter of Outdoor Education camps since I left on my first one two years ago. On that one, we paddled 60kms down Australia’s Murray River and camped on river beaches nightly for five days. HUGE learning curve for me – had to adapt very quickly and stay motivated even though I found it really difficult. At the end of the week I’d felt a shift in me – a sense of achievement and a bonding with a group unlike camp experiences I’d had before. Happens every time I do an Outdoor Ed camp – everyone grows in some way. Last night’s debrief session was wonderful – every student could articulate how they had learnt something and what they were going to take away from the experience – powerful stuff!
Something else that I think is pretty powerful and transformational for both teachers and their students is Google Notebook. At the moment I’ve got two Google Notebooks running. One I call blog ideas. What I do is open my notebook when I’m reading feeds from my Google Reader - it’s absolutely essential to get yourself a Google Reader (or other RSS feed service) if you want to subscribe to websites and receive updates that come directly to you rather than you having to go to the effort of finding the website every time you log on. My Google Reader has literally changed my life (and I’m not kidding!) Back to the point of the discussion – I open the Google Notebook called ‘blog ideas’ and what I can do is cut and paste things I’ve read into my notebook that I think might be a good idea for a blog post. It’s helping me to make sense of what I think is important and is also helping me to write posts on a frequent basis. If you remember, I’ve set myself the ridiculous target of attempting to write a blog post a day. Call me stupid -I’m already saying it to myself!
My other notebook is one that I’m using to collate ideas for a presentation I have to make with a colleague. Because we are going to have to work on this together, I have chosen the ‘Share this notebook’ option that is available to you when you use Google Notebook. This sends an invite to people you want to have access to the notebook so that you can both make contributions. It’s this collaborative potential that I think is transformational for staff and students. Teachers could use Google Notebook (or Google Docs) to work on developing ideas for units of work and students could use them for group projects. As individuals, teachers and students would find the Google Notebook valuable for collecting information from the Web for projects. I showed my notebooks to a researcher from a university in Melbourne and she could immediately see the potential this offered for the work she does.
If you haven’t seen it yet, get yourself a google account and check it out – I’m sure you’ll see ways to use this fantastic free resource immediately. Getting a google account is easy too – just register with an email address, user name and password. Dead simple and the benefits are huge.
I’m really comfortable with my Google Reader and aren’t fussed about opening the notebook at the same time. Download Squad have just posted about a combined feed reader and blog client in one called YeahReader. Here’s how they describe how it works;
“In addition to the usual feed reader tools that let you mark items as read or unread, you can also click a “blog this” button to copy feed items into the blog client. “
They also point out this very valid point which is why I think bloggers should proceed with caution;
“Just be careful to use this power for good and not evil. In other words, if you’re going to say, write about an article you found on Download Squad, please don’t copy the whole article and pass it off as your own work. That’s what we like to call copyright infringement.”
They’re absolutely right – their article is worth a read – I’d encourage you to follow the link.