Author: Harvey Phillips (Page 2 of 2)

Those Formerly Known as the Audience

(This post is a response, a build on, and my thoughts in response to reading this excellent piece of writing by Dean Shareski – I hope you have read what he has to say on this topic.)

In the five years I have been blogging in my classroom, I have seen a vast change in the students that I teach and in their experiences with technology, audience, and global communication.

When I first started, few of them had little experience even speaking with people from different parts of the world. When we first started blogging as a class and someone received a comment from a distant place on the globe, it was an event that was discussed and people often herded around the map to see where these places were. Even as our blogs became more popular thanks to some of the publicity we received, students were still very interested in the fact that people from other parts of the world were interested in what they had to say.

global communication

Now, through IM, Xbox Live, Facebook and a whole host of other things, most of the students I teach have at least some experience dealing with geography and timezones. It is no longer as novel to have spent time with people from different parts of the globe. The idea of global audience is no longer as motivating for many of them

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I see it happening in my classroom. In the past, simply having an audience, knowing that people from somewhere else was reading their published material was enough to motivate students to do an excellent job. I’ve seen students revise and edit blog posts repeatedly in order for their work to be the best it possibly can before sharing it with their audience. Now, as students are becoming more used to user generated content being on the web, it doesn’t seem to have the same effect for all students. Many students still are motivated and interested in being global communicators and globally linked. Many students still are driven to do well with the knowledge that they have an audience. But this is changing. Now, as many students already have an account at a place like Facebook or YouTube before they come to my classroom, the idea of posting content of your own online is not as novel as it used to be. The idea of having an audience is not as appealing.

So why should we continue to do so? Why should we continue to drive students online to post their own content?

While the motivating factor of audience may be dropping off for some students, there are still many reasons to have students publish their work online. First of all, it gives students experience becoming multimedia creators. I believe that online communication skills in all of their forms are vital. I think that just as my teachers expected me to know how to craft a well written business letter, I need to teach my students how to communicate a message using the tools of this time. This means through written texts such as blogs, videos, and audio files. It is essential that students learn to use them all. I also think it is vital that students learn how to use these tools for learning and working in collaborative global groups. As many people have found in their classrooms, there is a vast difference between the technology skills that students have mastered at home, and those required to deeply investigate and learn about a topic. Third, I think that students must have holes pushed through their classroom walls in order for them to broaden their perspective on many issues. Most of us live insular lives, and having access to technology can open us up to global ideas and perspectives. The opinions from real people around the world posted online can push our thinking into new places and new directions like is possible no where else.

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Privacy? I Give Up

While we’ve all known for years that pretty much everything we do on the internet is public and watched by someone, the Snowden revelations a few years ago offended me. I was offended that we had sunk that deeply. I was also offended that so few people seemed to care. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, why should you care?” I read over and over again. In my mind, this misses the point.

So I worked hard to try to do something about it. I wanted to maintain some modicum of privacy. I went so far as to transfer my domain, blogs, and email to Iceland, a country that I found after some research has some of the strongest privacy laws in the world.


But now? Today, I’m declaring that I think the task of maintaining some privacy online, for average people, is impossible.

While I’m not a coding or programming ninja or guru, I do OK in the tech skills department. I have no trouble maintaining websites, customizing them to do the things I need, and running and designing scripts and programs. I’ve fought hard to learn some of these skills. But in the end I think this is largely fruitless. If I want to use the “modern” web, which interacts between my desktop and online environments and if I want my phone to simply talk to my calendar, you need to give up your privacy. Data leaks between all of our environments and applications. If we aren’t prepared for each of them to be an isolated silo, the task of privacy is a dream.

I’ve been an advocate for privacy, for making informed decisions with kids for years. I’m a large fan of open source software as well. None of this changes. I still am a believer in privacy, but I simply don’t think it is possible right now with the hardware and the software that we have. I hope that some day it is. Until then, I need to make friends with the web as it is.

That starts with moving over here. I’m going to be leaving this webspace behind and move over there. If you’ve got this place bookmarked, it will need to be updated. Thanks.

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A Short Story About DRM

My wife was an early adopter of ebooks. Long before she had an ereader, she would purchase and download books to her laptop and read from there.

Ended up she had 130 books purchased and downloaded from the company

The problem is that was sold. First to Fiction wise and then on to Barnes and Noble. So when she bought a new Macbook Air last week she was very surprised to find that due to upgrading software, changing companies and passwords moving from server to server, she could no longer access these books.

Macbook Air

130 books she had legitimately bought and paid for that cannot be unlocked without an original password from a company who no longer exists from several computers ago.

As the years go by, stories like these are going to be more and more common.

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Stalking in English Class

We’ve been stalking people in english class.

Wanting to teach the kids in my class about concepts of digital footprint and online safety, I used three people well known from the edusphere as examples: Will Richardson, Jabiz Raisdana and Jeff Utecht. I introduced these three friends to the students in my class by giving them only a photo and a name. I simply told the kids in my class: find out all you can about these three guys.

The students made a list of places to search. They started with simply Google and then soon expanded to other places such as flickr, youtube, twitter, wordpress, linkedin, delicious and facebook. They expanded into a Yahoo domain search and searching other sites such as Soon their lists of information began to grow. These are some of the things my students learned:

Will Richardson

Jeff Utecht

Jabiz Raisdana

In two periods (about 90 total minutes of research time) my students managed to find quite a lot of details about these three gentlemen.

When we turned from discussing digital footprint to instead looking at online safety, my students were at first shocked and quite horrified at all the information that Jeff, Jabiz and Will had chosen to share online. Then they looked a little deeper. We discussed safety and what safety meant. In the end, my students were amazed at the amount of information shared but felt that overall these guys were being safe. They were concerned about them being able to find a phone number for Jeff online and they were also concerned about Will’s kids and the amount disclosed about them; but they also had to admit that they were not able to find any contact information, school name, etc.

This turned into a great experience for all of us involved. I gained some deeper insight into how my students search online and what kinds of information they can find. We brought many skills together that we had been working on for the last month. We got to talk about safety and digital footprint; two vital concepts for for kids of this age to understand.

Now we can concentrate more on making connections with people around the globe.

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Blogging Rubric

With a nod to the ever-brilliant-and-willing-to-share Kim Cofino, here is the rubric I’ve lately begun to use in my classroom for grading student blog posts.

This is an experiment in action and depending on how this tool works, it is very likely that it will come under some revision. If anyone has any comments and suggestions, I would be happy to hear them. If you have posted a rubric of your own, please leave a link behind so that we can learn from each other.

Here’s a link to the same file on google docs so you can copy it out and make any changes that fit your place.

21 thoughts on “Blogging Rubric”

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  2. Sara K. says:
    February 16, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Wondering if you consider how kids use the medium to link or write connectively. Is that important?

  3. Clarence Fisher says:
    February 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Of course it is important…. But I’m not sure how that would be evaluated…. By trying to incorporate multimedia, links and tags I am thinking of connective work of a lower level. This is not the same as writing connectively, a type of post where we think about what others have written about, but it may be similar. I have seen few students able to truly write a connective post at this level but I think it is something worth aiming for.

  4. February 17, 2010 at 7:20 am

    For comparison sake…here’s the Blogging Rubric that Kim and I use with Grad students here at our school.

  5. dgende says:
    February 17, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    My students are doing Physics reflections and physics projects via their blogs. Here are my Blogging Rubrics:
    Reflection rubric:
    Content rubric:
    Application rubric:

  6. Clarence Fisher says:
    February 18, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Thanks Jeff and Delores for leaving links to your rubrics behind. One thing I have worked to capture in the one that I am using is the unique nature of text in an online environment. I believe it is different and that needs to be assessed. I am glad to see you moving in that direction as well.

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  8. Kim Cofino says:
    February 24, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Thanks for sharing this Clarence! It’s a much more student friendly rubric for middle school than the one I created a while back. I can see myself using them both in combination over time as students build their understanding about blogging.

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  10. March 23, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Great stuff!
    I’d love to see kids use links to examples to show evidence… maybe use a diigo/delicious tag for kids to share what they consider to be quality examples.
    Thank you for sharing!

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  13. March 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    A very useful rubric thank you! I have also made a blogging rubric but for a different purpose. Many schools are getting students to do ‘learning logs’ into a blog to talk to the learning they have done over the day. Here is a rubric I designed for that type of blog post.

  14. April 4, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing this rubric Clarence. It was recommended to me by one of my twitter PLN. I will introduce it next term as I’m really trying to get my students to add more substance to their posts, and take care with their writing.

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  16. May 21, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    Very Interesting , Nice Work

  17. Pingback: What You Wanted To KNOW About Student Blogging | The Edublogger
  18. Pingback: Blogging Rubric | Integrating Technology in the Primary Classroom
  19. July 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing and allowing for visitors to print it as well. TIC

  20. ali0482 says:
    August 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    One thing I have worked to capture in the one that I am using is the unique nature of text in an online environment. I believe it is different and that needs to be assessed. I am glad to see you moving in that direction as well.

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Voices We Can’t Hear Without Technology

The technology that we use in classrooms, at it’s best, should empower students to share their voices with the world. It should allow people to be both creative and critical thinkers. It should allow us to hear from people and places around the world that we wouldn’t usually hear from. We should hear voices emrging from nations that are largely ignored by “normal” media outlets. It should help us to hear from “regular” people, allowing us the privilege of taking a look into the lives of others.


Three examples of resources you could use in your classroom.

The first is the Instagram account of Global Post. Added to by people around the world, this account gives us an everyday look at many places around the world.

The Seoul Commute

The second place is Al Jazeera’s Viewfinder. A constantly updated set of documentary films made by filmmakers around the world, Viewfinder shows us the lives of regular people around the world. The example below goes one step further as it delves into the world of 16 year old girl in India who is a journalist on her own, sharing her view of her place with people around her.

The final place, and one that I use in my classroom each year is Global Voices. This site compiles the blogs of people from around the world and allows you to search them by subject (photography, environment, human rights, etc) or by country. Global Voices has been invaluable for me and for the students in my classroom.

This is what I want from technology for my students. I want them gain a wider perspective on the world. I want them to look more deeply and critically at emerging issues and I’d like for them to know about the lives of people around the globe.

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