Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TodaysMeet: Perfect Tool for On-the-Spot, Total Student Engagement

Looking for a way for students to write comments during class for all to see and interact. TodaysMeet is the answer. It is a safe environment for students to post comments, a bit like Twitter, but all comments are just seen by those who are given the URL to join the discussion. It is easy for a teacher to moderate the comments, and the students are not off on the Internet using an open, public site like Twitter. TodaysMeet is excellent for backchanneling, having a place for students to write comments and pose questions while a class is in session. Check out at the site's About TodaysMeet, and then grab some friends, set up a room at the main TodaysMeet page by entering a URL, and then sending the URL to those you want to join in. TodaysMeet is definitely a powerful teaching tool. Here is also a video to learn more about TodaysMeet. Additionally, check this blog post one educator wrote about using the tool: Backchanneling with Elementary School Students. If you have checked out TodaysMeet, let us know your thoughts. If you have used it, tell us about your experiences. What are your suggestions for using the tool with students?

Web 2.0 Tools by Category

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At the 2011 International Society for Technology in Education Conference, David Clough, an elementary school technology education coordinator, shared a helpful grid, 3X3 Links that offers links to Web 2.0 tools by such categories as Sound, Collaboration, and Avatars. Click on any one of the boxes in the grid to get a listing of tools that fall into each category, and then access each tool online for more information. You will likely discover new tools and familiar ones. Which are new? Which would you like to try? Which have you used that you would recommend? At the conference, we tried most of the tools, and then we shared what we created in a site called Stixy.

Ideas for Using VoiceThread, A Powerful Learning Tool!

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What is a VoiceThread?  Check this introduction video.

Looking for samples of ways VoiceThread has been used in a variety of classrooms, K-12? This wiki, VoiceThread4Education is your excellent source. Samples are sorted by grade level.

VoiceThread is an excellent tool to promote the 4 C’s: Communication, Commenting, Creativity, and Collaboration. I am including a link to access from a wiki a Slide Show (use arrow keys to advance through the show) that outlines these four features as well as links to specific VoiceThreads that illustrate each concept.

Once you access the wiki, VoiceThread4Education, note the side links to access VoiceThreads by grade level and to meet other needs.

Here is a list and links to some of the model VoiceThreads you will find through the wiki. In addition, the links will take you to the teacher tips about the VoiceThread, and then as you scroll down the page, you will find the VoiceThread itself. Use the arrow keys to advance through the VoiceThread. Be sure to have sound on and to click on the comments and soundbites alongside the displays as you go through the VoiceThreads. The listed VoiceThreads are categorized by the feature they exemplify: commenting, collaboration, commenting, or creativity, though all VoiceThreads are likely to integrate all four features in some way. Check the wiki, VoiceThread4Education, often for additions, and if you create with your students a model VoiceThread, be sure to add it to the wiki.




Other Examples shared

Thank you to Colette Cassinelli for sharing this excellent information at the June 2011 International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) Conference.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do You Meet Teacher Standards for Technololgy?

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) publishes the national standards for technology competency for teachers, students, and administrators. Provided below are links to the standards for both teachers and students. Review these standards, and comment upon where you fit and where you believe the students you see in local schools fit. How well  are schools in your local area meeting these standards? How well do you meet the standards as a professional in the field of teaching? There are five standards for teachers, each with sub parts. Do you meet all of these standards?
Teacher Standards
Student Standards
Do you think teachers should be required to demonstrate how they comply with student standards when authoring teaching materials, such as lesson plans, unit plans, compliance reports, etc.? Should students in Schools of Education incorporate the student standards in lesson and curricular plans that they author?
Do you see a need for any updates in the teacher or student standards? If so, what is missing or needs changing? How well overall do you believe schools and teachers meet these general standards?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Web 2 Tools that Will Instantly Impact Your Classroom

This blog post, Web 2.0 Tools that Will Instantly Impact Your Classroom is an excellent resource for any teacher looking to expand his or her toolbox. Some on the list you will recognize, but have not tried, and maybe the descriptions will entice you to do so now. Others you might not have heard of, but the descriptions will help you decide if they are worth investigating for your teaching or professional needs.  The site is worth bookmarking, assuming you use a bookmarking site like Diigo, one of the tools actually mentioned in the blog. Explore the link, and get back to this blog to let us know your findings and what you plan to research and what you would recommend to others. The blog, Fishing for Technology looks like a good one to remember and bookmark for other blog postings as well.

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Where's Education Heading Today?

Watch these two videos back to back. The second one you have probably seen, but seeing the two in juxtaposition should trigger insights worth sharing about where education, learning, students, and teachers are heading today or need to be. Share your thoughts.

Visions of Students Today (from Michael Wesch)

Social Media Revolution 2011, by Erik Qualman -

12-Year-Old Autistic Boy Surpasses Einstein's Theory of Relativity

Last night, I caught in Autism News an amazing story that is worth passing along in case you have not heard of this genius boy: Autistic Boy, 12 with Higher IQ than Einstein Develops His Own Theory of Relativity.  Already a college student, ready to take on doctoral research in astrophysics, he has created his own theory of relativity, adding to Einstein's work. Jacob Barnett, the boy, taught himself algebra, geometry, calculus, and trigonometry--all within a week, and he is now tutoring college students in these subjects. Check the story in Autism News, and let us know if you have heard about this wonder boy already. If not, do you find the story credible?

Watch Jacob teach Calculus 2:

I'm having trouble thinking of tags (labels) for this blog, so let me know your suggestions. Where do you think I originally heard about this story? Where else, but through a Twitter tweet from a colleague who provided the link to the Autism News story. I am finding the story so incredulous, I don't know if I yet believe it or not. What about you?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Have You Tumbled Upon Tumblr?

Tumblr is an easy-to-use blogging site that is fast becoming popular among teens and pre-teens who are blogging on their own time. Check Tumblr's About page. Also, review the page, Why Everyone Loves Tumblr. Listen to David Karp, Tumblr's founder, talk about Tumblr:

Blogger is just as popular, if not more so, but it's the ease of use and many visual effects on Tumblr that make the site appealing to new bloggers.
If you are not blogging with one of these sites, what site do you use? If you are not blogging at all, what are you waiting for?
Here's a blog post by one educator,Kim Cofino, who sees blogging as way for students to showcase their accomplishments: Blogs as Showcase Portfolios. She includes in her post links to parts of her students' showcase portfolios. Do you agree with Kim that blogging is a way for students to showcase their self-reflection, accomplishment of goals, and progress? Would you consider using blogging with students,  or do you already? If so, do you recommend it to others?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Time to Remind You About Edmodo

What is Edmodo? Watch this video to find out how this microblogging site with a wide variety of features works:

Here's a YouTube that gives an overview of Edmodo and how it works:

Now that you have watched these two videos, what sense do you get of the potential of Edmodo in the school setting? Not sure, maybe this Glogster poster will give you some ideas. Tools for Edmodo glog shows what can be embedded into Edmodo.

And for those of you looking for more ideas, here is a Prezi supporting the integration of Edmodo in the school setting:

If you want to peek into how a teacher is using Edmodo, take a look at this clip of it from Mrs. Munzo's 3rd peirod class.

Well, this here is quite a bit to introduce you to Edmodo. What have you learned about this tool's place in the schools? Would you encourage school administrators to look into it? Will you consider playing around with it yourself to get a feel for its capabilities?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Twitter Finds a Place in Schools

In this powerful CNN video, an East Los Angeles teacher, Enrique Legaspi, recaps how Twitter changed the dynamics of his social studies 8th grade class. Watch the video at this link, Twitter Finds a Place in the Classroom, and read the accompanying article. Let us know your response.

Not sure of how Twitter will work at the school system level. For instance, followers need not even have a Twitter account to get the tweets. Check this blog post, and note that there is also a Listen button on it to hear the blog read aloud: cool idea. Twitter in Schools: Getting Started. Do you think it is only the techies who are promoting Twitter? Do you realize that most universities and colleges already have a Twitter account and use it regularly to inform the public? Are you following your school's account? Are you following the one of your undergraduate institution? Do you know of school systems with Twitter accounts? If so, how are they using it?

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's SummerTime: Spring into Action

Next week begins the summer solstice. What does that mean for teachers? Time to kick back and relax, and time to extend your professional learning network. The Educators' PLN, The Personal Learning Network for Educators, is a wonderful community to join in the summer. With over 8,000 members, where else can you find so many educators willing to share? There are 89 special interest groups, daily blogging, forums to join, videos to catch, and more. The Educatiors' PLN,is open to all educators. Sign up today, and avail yourself of the many resources. Remember it is free to join. As an educator, you have nothing to lose, and tons to gain.

Not to Be Missed: The Power of VoiceThread

Image from tgbarrett 
Biology teacher Stacy Baker created a PowerPoint of tips to help her students with blogging. She uploaded this tutorial to Voicethread and added voice, comment boxes, and more. On Voicethread, viewers looking at the PowerPoint or other uploaded media can also add comments. Definitely view on Voicethread Stacy's: Blogging Tutorial. While viewing and listening to the PowerPoint on Voicethread, you'll glean ideas for helping students with blogging as well as learn about how Voicethread works and what its capabilities are. Would you consider uploading one of your PowerPoints to Voicethread and making use of some of the features you see in Stacy's work? What functions of Voicethread impress you? What helpful hints did you take away from the tutorial about helping students with blogging?

Here is a link to a Voicethread on poetry created using third graders'. Picture Writing. In this Voicethread, you will see children's pictures and poetry. Use the arrow key to advance through the presentation. On each slide, you can wait to hear the voices individually or you can click on the sidebars' images to jump around to hear or see others' comments.

You might consider uploading to Voicethread a PowerPoint you created or images you have and then using Voicethread's features to embellish your work.  Think about how you can use Voicethread in your teaching. What ideas do you have now that you have viewed two Voicethreads?

The Browse feature on the Voicethread homepage will allow you to select other samples to check out. If you find ones you like, let us know and copy and paste the URL to share your findings with others.

Image URL on Flickr:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Textbooks Versus Laptops: A Parody

Check this parody created by 7th graders in Erin Klein's class. Feel free to leave a comment after watching the video. Do you think the students did a good job of getting their point across? Was a video a good medium for conveying their message? Did watching this video give you ideas for videos you might have students in one of your classes create?

Also, feel free to leave a comment on Twitter for the teacher, Erin Klein, and consider following her on Twitter at 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

PowerPoint Posted on SlideShare: Blogging, Forums, and Wikis with Some Tips for Success

Found this PowerPoint on SlideShare tonight, and thought I would share it for several reasons: to illustrate SlideShare as a site for sharing educational resources, to see the power of PowerPoint to create a helpful tip sheet in a graphically appealing way, and to gain some tips about how to introduce students to collaborative tools like blogs and forums. Post a comment after you view the PowerPoint. Have you checked SlideShare recently for PowerPoints you might adapt for your teaching? Is this PowerPoint helpful to you?
Use the right arrow to advance through the show, or click on the full screen option and advance as you would with any PowerPoint show.

Book a Day Almanac

If you teach elementary school or language arts at any grade level, or are just curious about the stories behind famous books, you will enjoy the Book-a-Day Almanac. Today, the feature was the story-behind the popular children's book, Curious George. Tomorrow, the site will post information about the Diary of Ann Frank. The site is maintained and updated daily by Anita Slivey, an editor at Horn Book, a well-known publishing house in the  field of children's literature. You can subscribe to Book-a- Day-Almanac through Twitter, Facebook, or through a subscription feed. Check out the site, and let us know what you think.

Both images from

Why Make Movies in the Classroom?

 I have blogged about Animoto before, in a post Pronto Videos, but thought I would check in again to attract new users. Unlike PowerPoint, PhotoStory 3, MovieMaker, or iMovie, a quick movie can be made with Animoto within a few seconds. Simply gather some photos or use a bunch of any images you have saved, upload them to Animoto, select music from the site or add music you have on hand, and Animoto does the rest. You don’t have much control over editing the final project, but the product is achieved quickly and nearly effortlessly. What are some ways the site could be used in the classroom to stimulate student creativity, critical thinking, engagement, collaboration, and so forth? Have you used it with students? Would you use it with students?

Animoto in its basic version is free, but there is also available an Animoto free package for educators with upgrades that allow teachers and their students to use the site's more advanced features. They're samples of videos teachers and students created. Scroll down on the educators’ pages to find these. Check the Civil Rights video set to the song “Amazing Grace,” for example. I just found this beautiful photo exhibit on the site: Art 2011, created by Mary Anne Reilly, of artist Mark Isham's work. The video has been viewed 124 times, though it was just uploaded a few hours ago. Take a look!

Go! Animate is another site I blogged about in the past. This site is different from Animoto. Instead of uploading photos or images, users work within the site to create characters, text boxes, and sounds, a bit like creating an animated movie. The site involves a bit more work than using Animoto, but some would argue it allows for more creativity and engagement and is excellent for telling a story or broadcasting information. This site would be good for creating stories collaboratively, with each student role playing a character in the script and writing the text boxes. There are some samples to view on the site. Check a couple to see how the site is different from Animoto.

Consider how you might use Go Animate! in your teaching. Do you think students would like the site? Would the site in your opinion support learning? How might it be used?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The 35 Best Web 2.0 Tools Chosen by You

The 35 Best Web 2.0 Tools Chosen by You is a list generated by teachers. It's a must-see list. Review it for what you are using and what you might be using. You'll likely find at least one new tool to enhance your teaching and professional development. These are all tools that teachers are presently using to enhance their teaching and enrich the lives of their students as learners. You'll get a good feel of what is out there for your taking.

Okay, enough preaching, but take the time to review the list, and post a comment. What on the list is one of your favorites and why? After checking out some new ones to you, let us know what you might consider implementing in the future.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why Are We Wasting Money on Interactive Whiteboards?

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Numerous educators have questioned the value of interactive whiteboards. One outspoken educator is Bill Ferriter, a 6th grade language arts teacher, who has been named a Teacher of the Year in North Carolina. He has posted several articles speaking against these whiteboards. Recently in May, he posted this one: Why Are We Still Wasting Money on Whiteboards? In this post, he mentions a school principal who invested $18,000 on 6 interactive whiteboards. Ferriter offers several suggestions of how this money could have been better spent to put technology directly into the hands of students. Review his list, and determine if you agree with his priorities. If you were a school principal, how would you spend $18,000 for technology? Do you think we are wasting money on interactive whiteboards? If you use them in your teaching, what positive effects have you seen on student learning that make them worth the investment? On the other hand, have you found that they sit idle or are used as simple chalk boards? What on Ferriter’s list of technologies would you opt for, if at all, over the purchase of interactive whiteboards?

There are plenty of comments following Ferriter’s blog. Take some time to read what others have also had to say about interactive whiteboards. Do you agree with the commentaries? Which ones speak to you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If I Die Young....

For an assignment in an English class in a high school where YouTube is not banned, students need to find a song they like, play the YouTube in class, and then analyze the song as poetry. For instance, they have to find examples of alliteration, metaphors, similes, personification, and so forth. What value do you see in an assignment like this one? Does it suggest YouTube should be banned in schools? This is a song, "If I Die Young," with the YouTube, that one student chose, and she will be doing her oral presentation analysis in class tomorrow. Do you think it is a waste of time for students to analyze song lyrics and play a YouTube of it in class? Would you have enjoyed this assignment when you were a high school student?

Let Students Teach the Class

Adapted from Alan November (pp.188-193), Curriculum 21 (ASCD, 2010) by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.

In one class, a teacher, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, did just that by having her students create math tutorials. The concept that one learns by doing was directly applied. Check out her teacher's blog, "Is It Worth It? Student Created Tutorials?" Here she explains how she used this approach, and includes her student-produced videos.

Would you consider creating such video tutorials in your own classroom? If so, for what concepts would you want students to do so? How would you organize the project? How would you assess student work? If you would not have students create video tutorials, why not? What was your response to the tutorials that the 4th graders in Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano's class produced?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blogging with Students

There's plenty of resources available about how and why to integrate blogging into the classroom. Several blog posts in this Computers in the Classroom blog address the topic. Thus, in addition to resources listed in this specific blog, check out the index to find more resources on blogging in the classroom. Here I offer resources for using blogging with students in a variety of settings.

In this video, 4th graders talk about blogging and what they blog about and what writing for a blog is like for them. It is worth watching to hear about the benefits of blogging from their perspective.

Here is a very short video with just words and captions on why let our students blog:

For those of you who teach elementary school and are interested in using KidBlog, here's a very short video about how to use this blog.

For those of you interested in using Blogger, here is a short video about how to use blogger to set up classroom blogging.

This video discusses the why and how of blogging. Although focused on higher education, it points out numerous ways blogging supports student learning.

Here are links to two blog posts and articles to help you think further about blogging with students:
"14 Steps to Meaningful Blogging with Students"
"Blogging with Elementary School Students"

Also, I just found this web quest that a teacher created to introduce her students to blogging. Check out the web quest for ideas about how you might introduce blogging to your students, even if you have been using blogging and are looking for new ideas:

Web quest: "Blogging: It's Elementary"

Please add comments about which of the above resources were useful to you and why.  Also, let us know about additional resources available online about the power of blogging with students. If you blog with your students, tell  us how the experience has been going and how you might make changes in  the future. Let us know what blogging platform you are using and why.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Atlantic Launches Twitter-Based Book Club

Still not convinced Twitter is right for you. Do you believe in the power of book clubs even if you are not a member of one? Well, The Atlantic Monthly, has launched an online book club, and the first selection, based on online voting, is Margaret Atwood's Blind Assassin. The club launches today, June 1, with online discussion beginning on Twitter a#1book140. Atwood herself on Twitter (@MargaretAtwood) indicates she won't join in, but she does have close to 2 million followers on Twitter.

Read about this powerful combination of book clubs and Twitter in the articles "The Atlantic Launches Twitter-Based Book Club and "Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin Chosen As Inaugural Title for Twitter Book Club."  To find out more about The Atlantic Monthly-Twitter, check: "Everything You Need to Know to Participate in Our Book Club."

And if you are still a Twitter doubter, think about how it brings people together, whether it is through book clubs and reading, or hundreds of other means. If you have heard of ways in which Twitter has contributed to literacy, social justice, helping others, and so on, let us know what you know about how Twitter is bringing people together for the good of humanity. For those of you looking for additional insights into the power of Twitter, check this post: "Is Twitter a Waste of Time." As you scroll through, you will find examples of how Twitter has helped humanity as well as some tips about how to use Twitter successfully.

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