Add your Blog!

29 July 2013

Curation - Thing 16

Here's a new topic - at least for me - allowing students to curate content to enable them to find the most relevant information on a particular topic. Of course, as teachers we need to provide our students with open-ended questions that encourage them to research and look further. As a child, everytime I asked my parents the meaning of a word or wanted to understand something more, they told me to "go look it up" or "find the information in a book"- they said if I wanted to know the answer, I had to find it myself. At the time I thought this was harsh, but today, the same ideals remain - we cannot spoon-feed children - they have to seek and learn to find the best response and follow-up to make sure the information they find is true. As teachers and parents we have to guide students in learning how to curate the abundance of information on the web.

There are some curating sites many of us are already familiar with - Pinterest being a very popular one. This site allow you to choose and curate the information you are most interested in and pinning it to a page. I explored some new curating sites - one being Livebinders which was very interesting. It is basically a virtual notebook. Imagine no more searching for papers for an old math lesson or finding exercises to go with a particular topic. Livebinders allows you to curate all your information in one place - imagine having all the information you need to teach a complete unit and not using a single sheet of paper! You could even bypass Diigo and bookmark specific lesson ideas and websites directly to Livebinders.  I think this site would be very handy for teachers or anyone needing to organize papers. Say au revoir to all those stacks of paper. Click here for the best Livebinders of 2012.

Another site I had a chance to check out was Storify. I get it, but I am not sure I like it. Storify can be used as a digital storyteller and pulls in information from many social bookmarking sites. You drag the information you deem most relevant and pop it in to the sidebar. When finished, hit publish and you have created a digital story. One can add sentences to each social bookmarking item you choose. The reason I didn't like it as I thought Storify would put everything together as a mini video. You will need to click on each link to view each part of the story. Done this way, the story still seemed a bit choppy, but maybe I am not just seeing it correctly. I played around with Storify for a bit and created a short story on Life in Paris.

In any case, have a look at some of these Curation Tools and let me know what you think.

A New Kid on the Block - Diigo - Thing 15

Do you Diigo? This is a new social bookmarking tool that allows you to do some awesome things with articles you have read or interested in sharing. In the past I would either email myself a site or a link I was interested in or bookmark it with Safari. This lead only to the link buried in my emails or the bookmark somewhere in my bookmark link. With the Diigo tool bar button, you can bookmark directly to your Diigo account, highlight information or even add a sticky note that is pertinent and collaborate on an interesting post by sending directly to Twitter or email.

I also like the "save for later" feature as well so you can read off-line if you don't have a connection.They also have a feature to send bookmark information directly to one's blog, but I cannot seem to get this feature to work for me. I am still playing with the ins and outs of Diigo. Sometimes I cannot get it to do exactly what I want but I think that is because I am using Safari for my browser. You get more features with Goggle Chrome.

If you have not already signed up, you can do it here. Request an educator account by following this link here which will allow you to do even more things with things that interest you on the web.

Click here to follow my Diigo library. It is still a work on progress, but as you can see it is quite easy to share articles you think others might find interesting or useful.

21 July 2013

Blogs vs. Wikis - What's the difference?

What is a blog? What is a wiki? They both are great for disseminating information, but there is a bit of difference between the two. Both are excellent for communication tools whether you are in a classroom or have a joint project you are working on.

If you are new to any of these tools for sharing, read on for the best uses - here is a great little article complete with video for a simple, quick explanation. Before you know it, you will be blogging and setting up that wiki for your school or business project.

18 July 2013

Social Media in a Classroom - Thing 14

   After reading the interesting article How Should Social Media be Taught in Schools by Matt Renwick  I found what he says to be very true. If teachers model appropriate behavior when using social media in front of their students, students will realize the value of an audience with regard to posting their projects. This value allows for a purpose to their writing. The students begin to take ownership of their work when they see that others are reading and commenting on their writing. This gives them a motivation to publish their best work. After all, we are often our own worst critics.

I introduced KidBlog to my class rather late in the school year, but I was very interested in implementing it and I knew my class was ready. I read what others had done to introduce blogging to their primary students and modeled how to do write an appropriate blog post. We discussed etiquette, writing kind comments and purposeful comments to others - ask questions, show you are interested. By modeling this on a whole class blog post a couple of times a week, the class slowly understand what was expected of them.

At first, I just didn't get Twitter. I thought it was just social media for friends. However, I started to read various articles about expanding my PLN (Personal Learning Network  -which at first I had no earthly idea what these 3 letters meant!) for education purposes.  Then, in the Spring, I decided to see what all the hubbub about Twitter was - I  joined and began connecting with other teachers slowly and since, have learned amazing things about opening up my classroom, making connections with other teachers, learning about what others are doing. I also saw that classrooms actually had their own Twitter accounts. At first I wasn't sure, but after reading how other classrooms in grade one were using Twitter, I thought, why not? So, come this fall, I will set up a Twitter account for my classroom.  I will model and explain to my students why we will use Twitter and how we will use it to communicate with not only our families about what we are learning and sharing our work, but also to other classrooms around the world that may be interested in reading what we are doing and maybe even want to connect with us in some way.

Classroom 2.0 is incredible site where educators can connect with each other within specific topics of interest.  I have only just joined, but already I am excited to browse through and read about some of the topics.

Again, when we use social media appropriately, it is such a powerhouse of a tool.  I strongly encourage you to try it out, if you have not yet taken the plunge.

15 July 2013

Using Videos to Tell a Story - Thing 12

   In our Web Tools 2.0 Class, we are learning how to use video to tell a story. What a great way for children to share their knowledge and creativity.  There are many apps and sites for children to use to create their own story. Most recently, I used IStory App in my classroom with my first graders to write their informational text stories.  They they used the built in microphone to record their stories.  The smiles on the childrens' faces as they heard their voices reading the stories was priceless. Unfortunately there is no widget to upload to my blog so I can share with you what my class created.

However, in this 2.0 class,  I created this 30 second video using images I found searching Flicker's Creative Commons site and made a little blurb about mail art.

Try our slideshow creator at Animoto.

This would be a fun way for students to explain any topic they have learned in 30 seconds. I say 30 seconds, as that is the free version length.  You will need to subscribe to have additional video time. Using video to explain or tell a story reaches all learning styles and is fun and creative. Give it a try!

Here is a link to an interesting article about using video in the classroom by Richard Byrne.

12 July 2013

Flicker - Thing 12

A great new Web 2.0 Tool I have learned about in this course is Flicker. While I normally search for photos in google to use for various lessons, I never really thought about using Flicker to find the particular photo I need. Now I realize Goggle images are not always the best as often times they are small and not clear. With Flicker, you can choose to download different sizes of the image and the images are quite clear.  The original owner of the photo also tags the photo to make it easier to find exactly what you are looking for. I use Flicker to upload my personal photos to assure there is a second location to save all my near and dear photos, but have never used it to search for images for classroom lessons.

I search a lot on Goggle for artists' paintings to jump start a writing activity for my class. This is a fun activity for children to really stretch their imagination.  Normally I show them a photo, and piggybacking on the idea of Katie Meets the Impressionists story, I tell the class to imagine they jump into the photo and have an adventure within the painting.

 I encourage them to look at the people in the paintings, their faces, what they are doing, and imagine they are standing there - they can begin to write their own imaginative story.  Showing a image doesn't deter from the writing process, it jump starts the creative juices in writing an original story.  I showed this Monet Painting to my class for a writing activity.  We talked about the people, time of day, shadows in the photo. They imagined themselves in the painting and wrote some really original stories. I wish I had kept some to show an example.

Photo Credit: Monet - le déjeuner by Richard White

Now that I know how to use Flicker better, I can think of many more ways to incorporate images into lessons.  Have a look at David Jakes' link of ways to use flicker in the classroom.

07 July 2013

Thing 13 - PLD in your PJ's

   I just watched 2 great PD videos on the K12 Online Conference site. One was Creative Learning Experiences without Textbooks by Wesley Freyer. This PD outlined specific tools a school district in Alabama was using to limit its use of textbooks. What I really enjoyed hearing was that the schools gave teaches extra time during their day or before their day started for PD opportunities without adding to their day.The teachers were allotted time to discuss and bounce ideas off each other.  This is especially important when integrating tech and moving away from textbooks. The technology sounds and looks great, but if teachers are not taught how to integrate the tech in a meaningful way, all will be for nought. Just listening to what other teachers are doing is so rich in itself and can provide a whole new door opening for opportunity.

Another PD video I watched was 7 Degrees of Connectedness by Rod Lucia. I really enjoyed this presentation. Rod talked about using different tools to connect and that one needs to take risks, start small, but the relationships you create will become invaluable. He touched on a few different tools, but mentioned that voice itself, is very important. It adds a more authentic connection to the tweet, blog, podcast, whatever you do.

I recommend connecting on the K12 Online Conference site for some invaluable PD in your pj's!

Thing 8 - Wiki, Wiki, Wiki

Wikis are great for collaborative projects or when you don't want to send the same email to all individuals, or planning an event, community happenings, really for anything.  I don't know why my administration doesn't use Wiki's more to disseminate information - it would be so much easier.  It surely make more sense to have the information all in one place so you can easily go back and verify what has been written. I know with emails it's more difficult as you have to search for the email and often times it has already been deleted or way down at the bottom of your inbox.

I had a look at the Flat Classroom Project Wiki and found it stock full of information. While I am not a member of this wiki, I could take a peek into how the project works and how information is shared among group members. Lots of good sharing ideas here.

Another wiki I had a look at was the Global Read Aloud Wiki. Since I will be doing this with my class in the fall, I was very interested in reading what has been done before.  I found it very helpful and full of information. It gives a participant list to you can easily find other classes to connect with and suggestions for how to connect with others and how to post projects.

Another wiki I had a look at was Schools in the Past Wiki. The wiki itself had some good information in terms of the information the students had collected, but I found it very hard to follow as the sentences were all grouped together under different headings nor was a Table of Contents. There wasn't any summary of the information gathered nor did it have any photos. There was one link to an external site for a museum, but no direct link to a school house so one would have to search the site. Maybe this one was more bling-bling....

If Wikis are used in a useful way to enhance collaboration, there is no bling-bling about that -just teachers and students sharing what they have learned or worked on so others can hopefully benefit from their work.