Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dipity-More than a Timeline (or how social networks work)

This summer I found out about a great online interactive timeline named Dipity. My original thought was that Dipity would be a cool tool to have students work collaboratively on timelines. Pretty cool stuff. Well, a few weeks ago I read a tweet from Vicki Davis, of the Coolcatteacher Blog, about a post entitled Dipity Do Da--An Interactive Collaborative Timeline To Track Wiki Contributions from Beth Kanter's Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media. What I found out was that Dipity was a whole lot more than just an interactive collaborative timeline. It also had the capability to track your personal contributions on wikis, blogs, Flickr, Twitter, and other web 2.0 sites.

I then created a timeline of my Tweets from Twitter (I know for you non Twitterers out there that sounds utterly ridiculous) and my American Cultures 2.0 blog posts. It provides me with another way to view my online posting habits. Take a look:

Of course, I love Dipity for the potential it creates in collaborating on class material. Here's a timeline I just began creating for topics we will be studying this year. The timeline is very incomplete because my plan is to have the students fill it in as we progress throughout the school year.

Finally, besides sharing the possibilities of Dipity, my intention is also to show those who are unfamiliar with the learning potential of social networks how they can be used for good, and not evil. I monitor Twitter most days. Usually it takes no longer than a minute or two, but on some days I find nuggets of great information that take me to other places on the web. This happens because I choose to follow people on Twitter that share interesting resources and information. For example, I know that Vicki Davis is a minefield of great resources so, of course, I follow her. On August 9th she simply shared an interesting post she read about Dipity and linked to the post. Since Vicki's tweet interested me I clicked on the link and found Beth Kanter's blog post about using Dipity to track wiki contributions. The rest is history, and now you are learning about Dipity, Twitter, Vicki Davis, and Beth Kanter. Talk about virtual networking!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

We're talking about SKILLS here

"...like nunchucku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills...Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills." --Napoleon Dynamite

Even Napoleon Dynamite recognized the need for skills. As a history teacher I teach the content of American history, but just as important are the skills that I teach to prepare thoughful and engaged citizens of the 21st century. Finally, there is a curriculum map that helps to determine what skills should be taught in a social studies classroom of the 21st century. This map goes beyond reading, writing, and communication skills (although it includes all of those) to include creativity, information literacy and adaptability skills. With technology and information changing at warp speed students need these new skills to be prepared for the reality of the world we live in today. Many people have seen the video "Did You Know? 2.0", but if you haven't take a few minutes to watch this thought provoking video that demostrates how today's world is far different than it was just 10 years ago and the impact it has on all of us.

(Created by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and XPLANE)

So, in July, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills and the National Council for the Social Studies unveiled the very first 21st Century skills curriculum map. The document includes student outcomes and outcome examples for grades 4, 8, and 12. There are twelve specific skills contained in the map, they include:

  • creativity and innovation;
  • critical thinking and problem solving;
  • communication;
  • collaboration;
  • information literacy;
  • media literacy;
  • information and communication technologies;
  • flexibility and adaptability;
  • initiative and self direction;
  • social and cross-cultural skills;
  • productivity and accountability;
  • and leadership and responsibility.

I am generally not a fan of curriculum documents (one only needs to look at the Pennsylvania History Standards and the minutiae it contains to understand my way of thinking), but this document seems to meld the NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) national standards to the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards. This melding is what makes this curriculum map so intriguing and potentially valuable for social studies teachers.

21st Century Skills Curriculum Map

What are your thoughts?