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. 

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