Excellent Classroom practices from Mr. Fisher

Sometimes teachers are so impressive. Today, I've spent some time looking at Clarence Fisher's work and blog. I was first drawn into his work by a quote from amazing Anne over at Amazing Anne at her post Learning from Blogs where she quotes Clarence Fisher from Remote Access:

This is exactly one reason why I want my kids to blog; and just as importantly, to read the blogs of others. Blogs are doors to the rest of the world. This is a powerful explanation of what we try to do. We “invite other people to know our lives,” you “read others’ blogs and discover their lives in other places.” This is why I am adamant that my kids link to, read, and comment on the blogs of people who live in other parts of the globe. I want them to hear from Australiankids, from Brazilian kids. From kids who live in major urban centres, and from those who live in small towns just like they do. They need to learn about their differences, see their similarities, and understand about how, on this ever - shrinking globe, they are a generation of people who will have many problems to solve when they inherit what we are leaving behind.

Clarence is an award winning educator in Canada and has been written about extensively. So, I wanted to see exactly what Clarence was doing. Here is what I found:

  • Professional Blogging -
    Clarence blogs professionally at Remote Access.

  • He Aggregates his student blogs -
    He has created a suprglu of all of his student blogs.

    I've been wanting to do this for a while with mine and will definitely do it next year. This gives one stop reading of the classes information and I think allows for better pattern spotting in conversation. Otherwise, students read their friend's work and it becomes a little cliquish.

  • Class Blog -
    Clarence has his class blog at edublogs.

    I believe it is it is vital that you have a separate blog for your students to read and to write professionally. Some may want to use wordpress and have categories, however I think this would be confusing. I also blog this way with my students.

    On his class blog, I particularly like how he taught his students to post comments by giving them comment starters.

    I also love the three reasons to comment that he and his students came up with:

    1.) To let them know they have an audience.
    2.) To encourage people to write
    3.) To make people think more deeply about an issue.

    He then followed up with reinforcement by blogging about the students who commented effectively. You really should read his classroom blog. It reflects excellent teaching!

  • Student Blogs -
    His students blog at learner blogs
    . (www.learnerblogs.org) This is basically a group deployment Wordpress multiuser.

  • Cooperation with other classrooms -
    He hyperlinks to other classroom blogs, specifically two in Australia and another in Brazil.

  • He uses wikis -
    He has a class wiki for collaborative projects.

  • His classes use podcasts
    Interesting are the comments from his students now that their time of podcasting /vlogging is over. Amanda says:
    No more podcasts the seven weeks went by so fast. to think of it I kinda miss doing the podcast’s. I am used having to work on them. In the mornings during the week. Me and drew had ended out podcast’s with questions about our podcast from the past. Althought our podcast’s and vlogs in our class are still going to be able to be heard and seen. At www.ourmedia.org/user/64328 . Our podcast have been downloaded like 1 387 times and viewed 71 000 times that is crazy I was not expecting that many downloads and views. When our teach told us I didn’t belive it so I had to check for my self.
    His student blogs are very good looking and it seems the students have learned to post meaningfully!
I have learned several things from Mr. Fisher that I'm going to do differently next year in my class blogging. My students do love blogging but I think I can do more to promote the conversation through tools like Suprglu and perhaps using some tools similar. I do think he could mashup his suprglu onto the front of his wiki and create a one stop place for information for his students. That is probably the only think I'd add to this great formula!

In Conclusion
Have you taken the time lately to look at what other teachers are doing?

Have you delved into their classroom and seen the conversations they are having, the tools they are using, and what their students are saying?

Do you hyperlink to your classes and wikis from your professional blog? (I'm going to go back and check my links here.)

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