Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 7, 2010

Day 15 of Project 365 … SweetSearch

If you are looking for a safe, reliable search engine look no further.  This search engine searches only the 35,000 Web sites that a staff of research experts and librarians and teachers have evaluated and approved when creating the content on findingDulcinea (whose mission it is to only bring the best information for any topic from credible sites that have been selected by educators, librarians and tech savvy people).  What this means for you and your students is the sites are previewed and recommended, therefore they provide rigorous, safe information without all the ads, and irrelevant search results.

There are several options to search with:

I will definitely be back revisiting this search engine and the links it takes you to.  It is truly one of my favorite finds thus far!  As an educator always looking for sites to help with research, I almost just uttered Google who!

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Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 6, 2010

Day 14 . . . Google Forms

Google Docs have many qualities we will get around to discussing.  First, as we get ready for the start of a new school year (yes, I know it is only July 6th)  but I know you are planning for next year and I want to help make the year more productive, so I am starting with Google Forms.

click here or on the photo above to go to the example form.

Google forms are easy to create if you have a gMail account.  You can add text, paragraph text, multiple choice, check box, select from a list, scale and grid type questions. There is a variety of themes to select from to personalize your survey.  The data from the form is collected in a Google spreadsheet for easy viewing and analyzing and it can be downloaded into Excel.  Once you are done creating the form you can email it, embed it or link to the webpage it is on (which is what I did above).  So what data do you as a classroom teacher or administrator need to collect?  Let’s make a list:

  • Emergency contact list of phone numbers, email addresses, addresses, emergency contact person etc.
  • Sign ups for volunteers, or Sign ins for an event
  • Permission forms or photo release forms
  • Students can design a form and gather data to study a real world problem and design solutions
  • Use the data for a math lesson on graphing and decision making
  • Create a ‘take home’ quiz or assessment
  • Create you own ‘walk through’ forms and or teacher feedback/reflection on a lesson
  • Sign ups for volunteers with your club
  • Student book summaries

Well, I know this list is just the beginning, and with time and experience you will find your own creative and innovative ideas.  Please remember to stop back and let us know how you are using Google Forms in Education.

If you want to share your ideas in a google form click here.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 5, 2010

Day 13 . . . Google Calendar

I know you like having your desk calendar and your day planner, and the calendar on the refrigerator for each of your kids schedules and then there is your spouse’s secretary who has the keys to his/her calendar…. RIGHT?  If this scattered approach is working for you, you are dismissed,  the rest of you keep reading!   🙂

What can a Google Calendar do for you?  Well, here are a few reasons to use this tool..

  • SHARE – share your calendar with those you choose,  share your work events with your secretary or boss, share your kids schedules with your spouse or babysitter, share your vacation calendar with … well you pick.
  • REMEMBER – do you ever forget events you have in your calendar?  Google calendar will help remind you before you miss that appointment.  You can set reminders to notify you minutes, hours, days or weeks ahead of time so you will never forget that special day!
  • Get your calendar from any Internet ready device, that means computer or cell phone, so all you need is to have your phone notify you of events or your computer.  You can enter events on any device and it will be there for you.
  • FREE,  did I mention it is FREE?  Well, it is FREE.
  • Embed your calendar into your wiki or webpage, as a teacher you can put all of your course assignments, due dates and test and quiz dates for your students to access any time.

Think of the time you will save if you can have all of your calendars at your finger tips and share calendars with those you want.  If you have a cell phone with data capabilities you will always have your schedule with you.

Google Calendar is one of those productivity tools that are a necessity in this busy digital age.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 4, 2010

Day 12 LiveBinders

This web 2.0 tool provides you with a 3 ring binder of all your Web-based resource. You can organize your resources, share them and present them in a nice fashion. The other positive about this web 2.0 tool is the ability to view and use the resources by others.  You can search the binders of other educators and get an idea for the power of this tool.  Share the binders with your colleagues or your students.

Here is an example of a LiveBinder on Differentiated Instruction.

You can create one for your students so they don’t have to search the Internet aimlessly for information for a project, you select the educational sites for your students to visit.  Or you can  have your students create one for your class or to help them keep their research organized.

The one theme you will find in may of the tools here are resources from other educators who are willing to share their work and ideas.  Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to and why not create a LiveBinder and share with the world!

Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 3, 2010

11 Slideshare

Slideshare is the place to go if you need to post your PowerPoint, Keynote, Word or PDF file on the Internet.  You can link to them, or embed them in your Wiki or website for easy viewing. Not only can you host your personal presentations here, but the site is host to presentations of others.

Here is an example of an embedded slideshare about Web 2.0 for teachers I found on the site.

Embedding a slideshare is much more professional that uploading a PowerPoint file to your wiki.  The slideshare allows the viewer to see the slides and flip through them without downloading anything .  You can also have your students evaluate a presentation posted by someone else for its content and thoroughness.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 2, 2010

10 Taggalaxy

If you are a visual person or if you are looking for great photos to inspire you, look no further, this Flickr photo search engine is for you!  Start with a simple keyword such as Garden, then select Flowers, and watch in amazement while a globe is filled with thumbnail photos of flowers!

This Photo says it all. W O W!  You can spin the globe, by clicking on it while moving your mouse, to look at all of the 235 photos on the globe, or hit the next page arrow at the top center of the page and look at the next 235 photos.  This combination of keywords (Garden +Flower) found 623,468 photos!  If you want you can continue to narrow down your keywords by clicking on the planets until you narrow down your topic more.  The combinations are infinite!

If you are working on a project with your students and need to find visuals, this IS your search engine.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | July 1, 2010

Skype in Education (9)

How often do you wish you could have a guest speaker talk to your class, but because they are busy or they live outside of your home town, it is impossible for them to get to your class?  Well, with Skype, you don’t have to worry about that. Skype allow you to call, video conference, instant message chat and share files.  All you need is a free software application that you can download to your computer.  Each participant will need the application and then free video chatting can begin.

Educational applications for this tool are just beginning to come to light.  Not only can you conference with a field expert, but you can collaborate with students around the world.  Imagine working on a collaborative project about communities and having your students who live in the country collaborate with students in an inner city across the country.  If you are a first year French or Spanish class, think how inspiring it would be to talk with native French or Spanish speaking students!  Your students can make presentations or participate in a mock interview across Skype.

Skype mobile is a download for certain phones, so you don’t even have to be at your computer with internet access, you can skype from your Internet ready phone!

There is a Skype in the Classroom WordPress that you can join if  interested in joining the community or you can join the TWICE collaboration to find classrooms who want to share ideas and participate in a project.  The TWICE projects has been in existence for quite some time and has a comprehensive list of projects as well as the ability to sign up and ask for classrooms to share in a project idea.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | June 30, 2010

Wikispaces for Educators

A Wiki is a website that anyone can create if you can use a word processor!  It is as easy as 1, 2, 3.  If you want to post information to your school district website, there are probably many channels you must go through first, and chances are you have to get that information to the webmaster well ahead of time.  If you have a Wiki, you can post information to it anytime.  One of the biggest advantages of a Wiki, is that more than one person can contribute to the webpage.  As a matter of fact you can have your students contribute to the Wiki.  My favorite Wiki website is WIKISPACES for educators.

So what can you do with a Wiki in your classroom that goes beyond the productive dissemination of information such as using it to provide students with all their classroom materials, post classroom documents, homework assignments and calendars?  You can have:

  • discussions and or debates with your students
  • students write about a book or current event they read about
  • students can peer edit and comment on the writings of classmates
  • collaborate with students around the world
  • brainstorm ideas
  • students create a collaborative page about an assigned content
  • students create a page all about themselves, their hopes and dreams etc.

These are simply generic ideas, think about your content area and about your topics, concerns and standards you want your students to meet.  You will benefit from the increased communication with students and parents, and will find your students are contributing outside of class, thus extending their learning beyond the classroom walls.

What are the risks?  You as the administrator of the Wiki have control over the entire wiki.  Every change to a wiki page is tracked by username, so if a student posts something inappropriate, you have documentation of when it occurred and you can delete the information.

SO WHAT… if you are asking yourself, so what, this is just another tool.  How will it benefit my students, why should I use it?

If you are looking to reach many levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, Wikis will help.  I believe you can not only address any of Bloom’s levels depending on how you use the tool.  You can help students remember and understand information by posting the critical information.  You can reach the levels of applying and analyzing by asking students to contribute to a discussion board or asking an essential question they must answer.  Finally, you can reach the evaluating and creating levels by having students evaluate information others post or create their own pages of knowledge.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | June 29, 2010

Digital Storytelling . . . Voicethread (D7)

Storytelling has been a tradition that has been around since the start of mankind.  The oral tradition of passing down stories from one generation to another has kept historical and cultural traditions alive.  In some cultures the tradition of passing on stories included images and symbol on cave walls, we have certainly come a long way.  The Center for Digital Storytelling assists people with the keeping stories alive through the creation of digital stories.   Collaborative, multimedia presentation/slideshow that can contain photos, voice and documents.

With the digital technologies available today and the wonder free tools accessible, digital stories can move beyond the single voice behind a story, to a collaborative multidimensional perspective that can include not only images but music and voice from many contributors around the world.  You don’t have to be in the same group, class, school, state or even country to work together, share ideas and make a contribution to a project, and even make a difference in the world!

Voicethread is just that and so much more!  Voicethread is a free online tool that educators are using in innovative ways. For example you can:

  • create a class story
  • relate personal experiences
  • have a discussion or debate
  • present poetry
  • creative writing
  • summarize you learning
  • compare and contrast a controversial topic
  • practice reading fluency and have students listen back
  • collaborate with other cultures
  • have post learning reflections
  • getting to know you ice breaker

These are just a few ideas.  I recommend you spend some time, explore the site, see how other educators are using the tool and try something new in your classroom.

SO WHAT… if you are asking yourself, so what, this is just another tool.  How will it benefit my students, why should I use it?

If you have ever had the chance to read the Revised Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy by Andrew Churches, you will understand, if you have never seen or heard of this check it out.  If you want  your students to  reach the creating level in Bloom’s Taxonomy,  this is the tool for you!  Your students will be creating, remixing and publishing their work on the web.

Posted by: Paula Lenox | June 28, 2010

Apple iPad

Photo from: Apple announces iPad - CSMonitor.com

I know, I know.  The iPad is NOT at web 2.0 tool, BUT (that’s a really big butt) there are many applications for this in education and I could dedicate an entire blog just about it.  As a matter of fact there is a blog by a group of Arts Educators dedicated to the use of the iPad and the Arts called ArtsEdTech, it is a wonderful resource, take some time and see what they are saying about the technology.

iPads in education are a big buzz topic these days, everywhere you turn, blogs and articles are being written expousing the pros and cons, the advantages and potential pitfalls of this new portable, affordable technology.

While the educational jury is still out debating the potential, I will explore the possibilities, I am a glass is half full kind of girl, I like to look for the advantages while finding work arounds for the disadvnatages.  I am wondering about the usefulness of the iPad as an eReader for use in school libraries and classroms.  You can add a Kindle and a Nook App as well as use the eBooks in iTunes and use google book reader.  Maybe it has a place in classrooms for those features.  Just think, a classroom with students who have iPads with all their text books and reading books, all their files and data on the web….  hmmm I will need to get a few books on my iPad. I will keep you posted on my analysis and research.

In the mean time, take a look at The iPAD Academy so you can decide for yourself:

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