Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Book Review

Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools For Classrooms
by Will Richardson

Wikis, Blogs, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools For Classrooms is a book written by Will Richardson that focuses on several key areas for teachers. The areas are the use of tools to increase student engagement, student motivation, student literacy, and the most important in my opinion is the transition to a 21st Century style of learning. The tools Will identifies as conduits for this are predominantly wikis, blogs, and podcasts. These tools, often referred to as Web 2.0 tools, are each unique in their application, but accomplish similar goals in that they provide students with a plethora of opportunities to increase their involvement in their learning.

Throughout the book Will gives various examples of how teachers are implementing the tools and the steps taken to ensure student safety, security, and conduct with respect to the tools. This is most prevalent in the first chapter in which he outlines a teachers steps taken prior to having her class posting to a blog. Will also makes it a point to emphasize that a teacher cannot simply assign students to a blog or any of the other tools unless and until they have in fact done these things themselves.
Another strategy that Will makes a point to emphasize in this book is that the use of the technology should not be an arduous task to implement, but rather it should augment their curriculum. Far too many teacher frown upon these tools thinking they do not have the time to learn and implement them. Will outlines strategies that teachers can relatively seamlessly implement them and encourages teachers to step beyond the norm and challenges themselves in conjunction with their students.

I would highly recommend this book for all it has to offer and the format in which the information is presented. This book should be treated as a reference book. It should be used regularly and often. Will’s book is not one that you simply read and shelve. It is one that teachers who are either currently using or desire to use the tools can use as a guide and for ideas on how they can use the tools in their curricular areas. I have used the tools mentioned in the book for at least two years to date and will continue to do so. I agree with virtually all of his findings and fully concur with the impact it has on student learning and motivation.

Classroom Blogging: A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere
by David Warlick

Another great book for teachers to have is titled Classroom Blogging: A Teacher's Guide to the Blogosphere written by David Warlick. This book is brilliantly written so the it can be understood and a useful guide for all levels of teaching and all levels of technology integration. David does a masterful job of explaining the impact blogging can have within the curriculum to both the teachers and the students. Another subtitle to this book could have been Blogging 101, build you blog from the ground up. And most certainly any teacher building that blog would have a masterpiece by the end of the book if the followed David's guidelines.

It is clear in this book that David's goal is to build literacy, not build bloggers. He uses the concept that blogs are reading and writing and reading and writing = literacy, therefore blogging = literacy. In order to revolutionize our students and build literate 21st century students teachers will need to look at the way they teach and should incorporate tools such as blogging into their curriculum.

Again this is another book that I not only highly recommend teachers read, but also treat as a reference book. The book should be looked at often for inspiration, ideas, and validation that if you are incorporating blogs into your curriculum you are doing the best for your students and yourself.

I had the privilege to meet both David and Will at the NECC 2008 and at the Edubloggercon prior to the actual conference. I find both men fascinating and inspirational on so many levels. Luckily, for me I had the chance to interview them. Therefore, coming very soon a brief podcast of my talk with David Warlick and Will Richardson. I also encourage you to check out their blogs David's blog is 2c Worth and Will's blog is Weblogg-ed

1 comment:

Life Learner said...

Hey, I added the Will's and David's blogs to my blog ... I like what you wrote about ... Another strategy that Will makes a point to emphasize in this book is that the use of the technology should not be an arduous task to implement ... I used to be one of those teachers when I was learning to teach and there was so much on my platter to fill my mind. What has helped me cross that barrier is experience on the job and taking master's courses in IT. I know what you're saying about teachers dragging their feet.

I also enjoyed reading about your 2nd book and that it's all about building literacy skills. It is. Not blogging skills. Yes. this we always need to keep in mind when planning our lessons.

Thanks for sharing, Ken. Lori