Professor V's Teaching Cafe

Teachers and Students Collaborating Worldwide

Dear Students:


My thanks for your participation in the webinar and your many thoughtful comments about my presentation. Other than reply to each of you individually, I've collected some of the main themes here and will reply in this new discussion thread. I do agree that the webinar was a little off base, as the technology was not quite keeping up with us. That said, it seems as though most of you found the information useful and your questions are very thoughtful.


In regard to Hackasaurus, it is a plug-in for the Firefox web browser and it would be a tool that you would use to have students “hack” their own webpage that they can see, but it would not be posted for the rest of the world unless they took a screenshot like I did. It is interesting though to think about website credibility, authorship, and how we cannot always believe what we see, especially on the Internet. I think that using the site contact us or us to talk about culture jamming and is an opportunity for social commentary and critique can be really productive, as well as offer you the chance to talk about critical reading skills with your students. Here is a useful article by Dr. Julie Coiro about that topic.


Elementary digital writing --  There were a few questions that asked when and how to use digital writing with elementary school students. I think that you could find a number of examples of students using the wikis, podcasts, Google docs, and digital storytelling as early as kindergarten. As with everything in education, I think that a healthy balance needs to be struck. For great example of how one teacher blended traditional as well as digital literacies in his classroom, I would encourage you to watch this video about Robert Rivera-Amezola's fourth grade service learn....


Teaching online/webinar -- Given the increasing interest with online education, and the fact that many of you will very likely in your teaching career both take and teach a fully online class, this is a great question. My main mantra is that good teaching is good teaching, whether face-to-face or online; the corollary of this is, of course, that teaching is bad teaching whether face-to-face or online. Plus, as you think about how you will want to use online resources both inside your face-to-face classroom as well as to supplement instruction, you will face questions about the types of tools you want to use and how best to use them. I hope by participating in this Ning as well as the webinar you are beginning to develop some answers. Another great resource for you is the K12 Online Conference


My son's comments/cell phones --  I think that is interesting to consider the ways in which our children perceive their use of technology. One of you wrote about how even in the best equipped classroom, students could be driven to distraction and another mention the fact that using cell phones would be interesting, yet making the case that this would be done effectively would be difficult. All I can say about the state of how and why our children learn the way that they do at this point, and noting that I am not a cognitive psychologist or brain researcher, is that there are clearly new ways in which they are finding, evaluating, and creating new information. Sometimes this is good, and sometimes it is not so good. No matter what, you as the adult teacher in their lives will have something to say about the way in which they use technology for school purposes. And while we can continue to lock down, filter out, or otherwise ban certain websites or digital tools, I think that is antithetical to the types of digital citizenship we want our students to develop. If we want them to be digital citizens, we need to engage them as digital citizens, and that will mean that they make some mistakes. But, isn't that what growing up is all about? And, isn't that what teachers are there for, to guide them?


And, finally, as for 3-D TV, I have no clue! I read an article recently that said 3-D TV is really just a gimmick to get the people who would normally be buying new TVs after two or three years to come and get one because the televisions that we have now (plasma, LCD, LED) are lasting longer than the ones that we had in the past. So, good luck in trying to predict that one! :-)


Again, thanks for the opportunity to work with you this week and I wish you the best of Lock as you near the end of your semester.


Troy Hicks

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Dr. Hicks,


Many thanks for your insight and answers to our questions.  SCF students look forward to sitting in on your video communications in the future. Happy holidays to you and the family and I may add a very prosperous New Year.

I found this very interesting, as I have always been interested in the cutting edge technology coming out every time I turn around! I will most assuredly be incorporating technology in my teaching! Thank you for the posts, unfortunately I missed the actual webinar, do you record them to post on your blog later? If not that would be a great thing to start :) I'll look out for more from you in the future!

Dr. Hicks, we read an article on a Teacher test law criticized in Minnesota. It is about a law that was passed last year that teachers and school administrators are disagreeing with. The law states that teachers must pass the Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam before they can get their teaching license, they cannot teach until they get their license. The article talks about the fact that schools are scared they will lose recruits, as well as, current teachers and particularly teachers of color.

The schools are worried that they will lose out on these teachers because they have yet to pass the exam. One teacher spent $2,000 of his own money to pay for classes and re-takes because he failed the writing exam multiple times. The schools are losing good teachers because they can't pass a test. Parents are arguing that they don't want their children being taught by someone who can't pass a basic skills test.

What is your take on all of this?

-Sara, Jen, and Stephanie

Hello Dr. Hicks,


I was really impressed with the elementary digital writing blog you posted. I can see how middle and upper level teachers can use that in their curriculum programs, in addition to elementary school aged children. The digital age has come so far and still has much further to travel, but that was an exciting video to watch. I think my favorite comment was the boy who wanted to lower gas prices, especially since he didn't drive. One interesting suggestion was the possibility of translating the language to something other than English, since the service learning project was a useful model for educators worldwide to view. Self-made documentaries certainly have come a long way in school.


I also enjoyed surfing through the K12 Online Conference link. Although online instruction is not suitable for everyone, I think students can work independently at their own pace with an appropriate learning style. Much of the content left the readers with the obligation to further expand their own knowledge and I really enjoyed reading these discussions. Online teaching opens doors for many different learning styles that can accommodate student’s needs allowing them to work at their own rate.


Thanks for all the positive and useful information.


Michelle Anolfo

Dr. Hicks,

I really enjoyed your thoughts on teaching online webinars. You had some great insights on the pros and cons of the ways of learning. You also did a good job supporting this with the link you provided k-12 online conference. I, myself, believe the same face-to-face teaching. I feel you, the teacher, being there physically will help the students more.

I have taken both an online and face-to-face teaching. I have felt that the face-to-face seems to be more effective for the student.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about those ideas above!

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