Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tool #6: Using Webtools to Promote Discussions

Ah, Today’s Meet…do I admit online that some classmates and I have used this to communicate to each other during a grad school class or two?  My experience with this is that it is used more in an inappropriate manner than in a professional, educational, appropriate way.  I have seen presenters use it to help communication with the audience—as they are talking and an audience member has a question about what was being said, they could post the question, and the presenter could address it, or other members in the audience would put their two cents worth in.  I guess so far I see it more as a distraction.

Poll Everywhere is a hoot!  I was demonstrating this to a group in one of my grad classes, and they were breaking into a sweat pulling out their devices so that they could participate in the poll.  They loved seeing the graph lines grow as more people participated.  Not so helpful in elementary school classrooms, but definitely livens up staff development participation.  After being in a middle school/high school summer school situation the last couple of weeks---if students are allowed to have their phones that much during the regular year, I would definitely think about how to incorporate this into some of my lessons.  This would be great to use as a set to get a class discussion going about a topic, maybe from a reading that was supposed to have been done for homework?  Since it is anonymous, there is no connection as to who has participated or who has not, and depending on the texting plans, students can borrow other classmates phones to participate. 
There is a fun little poll that you can participate with down at the bottom of this page.  In the To: section of your phone, type in the number at the beginning of the poll.  In the message section of the text, type in the number of your chosen response.  You will need to refresh your screen to see the change in the graph.

Ways to use Wallwisher:  KWL chart, Students can posts questions during a lecture, post links (can share what students are doing in class with parents-just send them the link), students can post evaluations/what they learned that day/what they enjoyed in class (an “exit ticket”), use as a suggestion box, post learning goals, get to know the class by having them post where they were born and connecting the location to Google maps, post book reviews or reading suggestions, write or report topics-students add ideas of what information needs to be included.  That should be enough to get you started.

I love Diigo.  Love, love, love.  I tag internet places for my 2nd graders—they get to learn about “tagging” and how to use it, the parents like it because when the kids come home and talk about something we did on a website, they can look at it together at home by going to the Diigo page, There were a couple of YouTube videos that I used in lessons that the students wanted to revisit over and over, so we tagged those.  In the spring, we were watching a variety of bird webcams, and they could watch them at home on the weekends—which was useful since birds don’t fledge very often between 8-3 CST!  I have learning activities tagged, and when I have small groups researching certain topics, I can tag appropriate websites for them that fit for content and reading level.  At one time we tried to use Rollyo (I think that was the name of the site), but it wasn’t user friendly at times, and not very reliable.  I found it to be difficult to work with it.  Diigo allows you to tag, so students can find the tag for “math games” and up pops the sites with math games.  This also helps when working in the computer lab and you want them to go to a site that has a long, cumbersome address.  You can also highlight certain information on a webpage, or leave sticky notes.  Diigo makes being online with younger students much less painful!

Skype in the classroom:  There are a lot of blogs and sites to help you utilize this tool.  A good online article to visit first is A Window on the World:  Using Skype in the Classroomsince it has some good etiquette tips.  Two other sites that I found helpful when getting started was 50 Awesome Ways to use Skype in the Classroom, and 10 Waysto use Skype in the Classroom.  Not only can you connect to “experts” in all subject areas, but if you have a student that has to be at home, they can continue to be a part of important lessons if they are up to participating. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tool #5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

Animoto is fun, and some students pick up on how to use this pretty quick, others get bogged down in the choices of music, picture order and the like. Here is one that I made to introduce temperature and the different kinds of thermometers that my students might be able to locate around their own house.

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

Here is a different one that I made when working on a project for a class where Dr. Bishop was my teacher. I am sorry that I was only able to have him for one of my graduate classes before he retired.  He is missed!  This was designed for a fifth grade class that might be beginning their unit of study on the Revolutionary War.  It went along with a Wiki that had different resources that teachers could use, and there were places where students could respond about their learning.  (Oh, and I made the opening smiley face guy at BigHugeLabs).

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

I was familiar with many of the sites listed...we have used BigHugeLabs for trading cards and magazine covers.  This past year we made trading cards for government leaders, and I think that helped some students get a better understanding of the different between mayor, governor, and president, which is very abstract and confusing to young minds.  Just be careful to NOT click on the back arrow to edit your work on that'll lose everything you have typed in.  One thing that was helpful in that area was to have the students type their info in a google doc, then they would copy/paste the info when they got to BHL.  Saved a lot of tears in doing it that way!  (hattip:  Amy Markham!)

I am getting to like Prezi.  If you are working on a presentation that doesn't have to be linear, this is a lot of fun.  In Library Land, where I am spending a lot of my "free" time, this is fun to set up for booktalks, or set up examples of different genres.  For a lesson in 2nd grade, you could make one with different book covers or titles, and click on each one to discuss if it is non-fiction or fiction, locate author names as well as illustrators.  Makes it a little more engaging because the student can take charge of the order of the lesson.  It is possible to "assign" the order that things are shown in a prezi.  I made a how-to prezi for a faculty staff development back in January, and I needed it to play in a certain order.  Click here to go to that prezi.

So, I wanted to find something new for this tool.  I had a great time playing with the comix site.  This is great for my 2nd graders.  They are just getting into the humor of comics, and one of the spelling menu choices every now and then is to make a comic using their spelling words.  The downside of this is that they can't save their work, they need to complete it in one sitting.  This might be handled through having them "pre-type" their speech bubbles in a document, then they can copy paste it into the comix, which will help them get through the process a little easier.  They can also create one from home, then email me the link as well.  Another downer, we can't use ipads to do these since it requires flash.  Maybe that will be fixed in the near future.
Here is the one that I made---my friends and family are going to be just as glad for me to finish grad school as I am.  I KNOW they have to be tired of hearing me complain.  I don't mean to--much.  I've never been good at finishing long term projects, and this master's degree thing is about to send me over the edge!!

Tool 4: Google Docs

Google Docs has been growing on me these past couple of years. As improvements and reliability has increased, I am liking it more and more. Most of my experience is with 2nd grade, so let me speak in a utopia sense, where students can type 40 words a minute, and don’t have to take 40 minutes to type 3 sentences… (heh)

 I like for the students to make podcasts. There is an app on the itouch called “italk lite”, and with a thumbtack microphone (seriously, it looks like a fat thumbtack!), it is very easy for students to record their stories, ideas, research---whatever. Before they can record a podcast though, they have to write a script, so that they don’t weave and talk in circles. If I have them working in groups, they can use Google Docs to write their script. They aren’t confined to only working on it in the classroom, since they can access it from home.

 This is also a good tool for Writer’s Workshop…if students are working on a document, they can then share with say, three classmates, and those classmates would be responsible for commenting. The teacher could make a standard, such as at least three comments per paper, and then give a grade from there. I think an easy way to get this started with the smaller folks is to assign them to editing groups. Once the student shares a document to some contacts, those contacts remain in their system so that they don’t have to type the entire email address each time. The teacher can assist small groups at a time to get them started, since that will take up a chunk of time, then can repeat the process by adding new addresses at another time, making the circle of contacts for each student a little larger. You folks that work with the smaller folks know that a lot of errors get made when trying to type anything!

 Another use of google docs that I have seen is where the students share their work with the teacher, then the teacher can pull it up for the class to look at together on the activboard (student’s name is withheld!!) for learning purposes.

 I liked the Google Form. This was a first time to play with that for me. I think this could be helpful when getting input from team members about a variety of issues that need to be talked about, as well as for student use. Something for me to think on some more…we do graphing in math, and ask the students to make graphs. Perhaps having them make some questions and then share them with a certain amount of classmates to gather information for a variety of graphs---then they will have collected information at one time and can use that as an ongoing database from which to make the different graphs we do throughout the year, and also for when we connect fractions with pie graphs. Student can write a question, come up with 4 or 5 possible responses to choose from, then repeat the process for a designated amount of questions. Then you save classroom time by having them collect data every time you want to make a new graph. If you teach language arts, students could develop questions related to the book they have read in a book club.  The other thing that will have to be done is teaching the students how to read the spreadsheet that goes along with it.  I don't think that will be difficult, it's just one more thing to take into consideration when planning a lesson around using this!

Here is what my first form looks like!

 Now that the amount of technology is increasing in the classroom, some of these things will be easier to implement. Back when you only had 2 or 3 computers to a classroom, this would be a nightmare with how much time it would take to even start any of these projects. Now the computers are smaller, and can travel easily between classrooms, and I am blessed to work on a team that the folks are willing to share their devices if they aren’t currently being used by their own students.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tool #3: Online videos and image resources

Two resources on the web that I like for use in the classroom come from  and 
Khan academy has a wide variety of math videos that I like to use when introducing a concept that is difficult for me to teach, or I also use it for students that need information presented in a different way than how I taught it. is another site with videos that can be used with students.  I highly recommend watching the video all the way through before deciding to use it!!  This would also be a good time to use the services that let you cut the video to where you only use the necessary part. 
In second grade we touch on Abigail Adams and Sojourner Truth who spoke up for women’s suffrage and the right to vote.  This video would be one that I think would be too overwhelming and the message would get lost if I showed the whole thing, but it would definitely engage students when talking about the meaning of having equal rights for all citizens.  Then when we talked about the Civil Rights era in the mid-1900’s, we can compare the women wanting fair and equal treatment with the African Americans.  This video is a bit more meaningful than watching the mother from Mary Poppins dancing around---which I have used in the past, showing that this movement was also taking place in England, that it wasn’t just an issue in the United States.


 Okay, history lesson over!  J  I just stress caution over content—it is so easy to find videos on the internet to use in the classroom, but just like anything else, if you use too much of a good thing, when does it stop being good?

Copyright in school will never be a black and white issue, there will always be gray areas.  Carol Simpson has done extensive research and has written about copyright laws and how it applies to schools and classrooms.  In her book, Copyright for Schools, she writes about four misconceptions about fair use.  First, schools can use any copyright protected materials they wish, because they are schools, second, using materials is OK if you don’t make a profit, third, promoting someone’s work by distributing copies is justification for free use, and fourth, materials used “for the good of kids” absolves one of copyright liability.  Educators are not given the right to fair use.  When charged with an infringement, this is a defense, but it is up to the educator to prove fair use.  There are laws in place as to how much music can be used in a powerpoint, the amount of work that one uses by one author (copies of pictures/poems), and with smartboards and activboards becoming more widely used in classrooms, the materials that teachers use to make flipcharts needs to be addressed.  If one is just pulling pictures off of the internet and not giving credit or abiding by the time constraints (some material may only be used for two years), there could be grounds for a lawsuit. 

I wish I had known about Dropbox sooner.  It would have come in very handy for an oopsie I experienced during grad school.  (Lucky for me, I had printed out my slides so I was able to recreate my presentation before class, but if I had utilized Dropbox, I wouldn’t have  been quite so frantic!).  This tool can be handy if students put their projects here in addition to their electronic portfolio.  If the server is down at a particular time, it won’t affect their ability to stay on task, (or the other thing, they “save” it in the wrong location).  I haven’t tried this out with a classroom yet, but it is definitely worth taking a look.  If you have had any experiences, please share—the good, the bad, or even the ugly.  What useful tips do you have?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tool #2

This Thing goes with “to be a friend, you must first be a friend…” Two points that were made that I thought were important: 1) Respond with a meaningful comment. Just telling the blogger that you thought that was a good post---well, why did you like it? What made it resonate with you? It’s like asking one of my students what they liked about the field trip and they respond with “It was fun”. Uh, okay. Doesn’t help too much with making the next trip better! Same thing with blogging. What did you like about the post, so that I can write other meaningful posts? (On the other hand, at the least, you know SOMEONE was looking at your blog…). 2) Edublogger Etiquette: When to respond, when do you leave it alone? At this point in my learning, it’s like leaving a comment on a blog, respond if you have something meaningful to say! If someone leaves a comment that you find especially helpful/meaningful, respond back. If the commenter has asked a question, and it is a question that can be answered (and no one else has responded) then it would seem rude to not give a reply. 

On another note---people won’t know if you are smart or stupid until you open your mouth.  Comment carefully.  Don’t just pop off with your first reaction or feeling about something until you have researched it yourself!  And similar to facebook, blogs are not the place to air your dirty laundry.  It’s always best to stay on the positive side with your comments, and not post negative things.  I like participating in online conversations that will help me learn new things, or help me to look at something differently.  There is a whole big world out there on the web, and there are bloggers out there that are helpful in helping me get smarter! 

The blog that I plan to visit in the future…Doug—Off the Record  
Has some links out there on the internet that are interesting to scope out that I wouldn’t find on my own.  For example, have you heard of a search engine called “Duck duck go”?  Doug writes about this in his blog.  Check out the “more” tab on the duck site!  There are all sorts of interesting factoids/information pieces located under that button!