New Page: Embedding Web 2.0 Tools

I’ve just started a new page with a list of some Web 2.0 tools you could use on student or class blogs.


new page

When I first started blogging with my class, I simply used text and images. As I got the hang of it, I started using different forms of media to make the blog posts more rich and interesting. I think it is best to use a variety of text, video, audio and various Web 2.0 tools if you want to make your blog most appealing to readers.

Leave a comment if you know any other free Web 2.0 tools that are great to use on student or class blogs.

Tech Tools for Teachers – Newsletter #1

As I have previously blogged about, I am collaborating with a fellow teacher Simon Collier on a weekly email newsletter for teachers called Tech Tools for Teachers. I aim to post these newsletters on this blog and have created a page where you will find PDF versions of these newsletters and find out more about Tech Tools for Teachers!

Last week we had technical difficulties trying to send out a bulk email to over 1000 subscribers but we’re hoping this problem will be fixed soon! Here is the newsletter...

WALLWISHER

Wallwisher (http://www.wallwisher.com)

Wallwisher is an online noticeboard maker for collaboration and communication.

Basically, you are presented with a blank wall where different people can create and post virtual sticky notes that may contain text, images, audio and videos links.

We like this site because it:

  • is free
  • is suitable for all year levels from Prep to Year 12
  • is really easy to use
  • doesn’t require students to have their own login
  • has so many applications in the classroom in all curriculum areas.


HOW TO…


To get started with Wallwisher

  1. Go to http://www.wallwisher.com/
  2. Click on login/register” (top right hand corner) and sign up for a Wallwisher account. You can also sign in with your Google account or your OpenID identity if you have one. You don’t have to sign up for a Wallwisher account if you would prefer not to, but you will have to provide your email address to access the wall you create if you want to visit it again.
  3. Click on build a new walll. Here you will be prompted to write your title and subtitle. You can also choose your colour scheme and select your privacy options (who can post sticky notes on your wall, whether you want to approve notes before they’re published and who can see your wall). These privacy options are great as you can cater for the different Internet guidelines that different schools use.
  4. Now you have your wall you just double click anywhere on the wall to create a sticky note (you can write up to 160 characters). At the bottom of your sticky note you can add a link to audio, images or videos by putting in the web address.
  5. When your wall is complete you can click on “do more” up the top on the right to chose to embed the wall on your website or blog, email it, save it to your favourites or post it to bookmarking sites.

USES IN THE CLASSROOM

Kathleen used Wallwisher with her Grade Two students to reflect on what the students had learned after a unit of work on dinosaurs. While you don’t need an account to post a sticky note, the students in Kathleen’s grade just posted their sticky notes under Kathleen’s login on the IWB. They included links to videos and websites that had been previously used in class.

Simon has used Wallwisher as a communication tool for his class during the holidays.  Over the holiday break students shared their experiences and activities with each other, helping to further their communication skills and provide an opportunity to build positive relationships within the class.  Next week, Simon plans to use Wallwisher with his year 7 science class to make a collaborative list of safety issues within a science lab.

Wallwisher could also be used as…

  • a method for gathering students’ prior knowledge before commencing a unit of work
  • an application for students to post questions they have about a unit of work
  • a method for students to post images they find on the Internet of something that is being studied (eg circles, Australian animals or natural disasters)
  • a place for students to voice their opinion on a topic being studied or debated
  • a way for students to create short book reviews
  • a method for individual students or groups to plan projects including web links they will use.

*Have a go at using it with your class!  Let us know how you went using this tool in your classroom by leaving a comment*

More about blogging!

I am currently in the process of introducing my new Grade Two students to blogging. As this is a new concept for many students and parents I have prepared two handouts to send home to families.

They are an Introduction to Blogging note and Guide to Getting the Most out of 2KM’s blog note.

Feel free to check out the PDF versions of these files by clicking on the links.

blog note

Sue Waters has just written an excellent post about blogging in the classroom. She talks about the progression you would generally follow with blogging from

  1. having students simply comment on your class blog posts
  2. having students write  posts on the class blog
  3. having students set up their own blog

Sue notes that with each of these steps comes an increase in student engagement. From my experience I believe this to be very true.

I like to follow the above steps however, as my students are only in Grade Two, I have only had one student so far who I have helped set up his own blog. This was due to his enormous competence and enthusiasm for blogging.

In my class, the second step of “posting on the class blog” can mean helping me to write a post on the IWB or independently writing up a post on using the classroom computers. In my experience, not all of my Grade 2 students would be able to do the latter but I do like to provide this opportunity to my more capable students as they become more competent with blogging.

*Leave a comment if you have any other ideas about blogging in your classroom*

Rules and Guidelines for my Class Blog

As I previously blogged about, I am about the embark on setting up a class blog for the third time.

Before you set up your class blog, it’s really important to think about what rules and guidelines you will put into place and make sure the students and parents are clear about these. Blogging provides an authentic opportunity to teach children about appropriate online behaviour and this aspect of blogging cannot be overlooked.

I have a page at the top of my class blog where my blogging rules and guidelines are listed. This ensures the information remains static and easily accessible all year.

2km blog guidelines

These are the blogging rules and I guidelines I will establish in 2010…

blogging-guidelines 2KM 2010

*Note: do not directly copy other people’s work including blogging guidelines. That is a breach of copyright, etiquette and a form of plagiarism.

I discuss these rules and guidelines regularly with the students and include them on the blogging information/permssion note that I send home to parents.

Two rules I am changing this year concern photos and search engines. Previously, I didn’t publish photos of students’ faces. This made enhancing posts with pictures quite difficult. I have decided that this year with parent permission, I will post photos of students. I believe this is very safe as long as surnames are not published.

Previously I elected not to have the 2KM Blog included in search engines such as Google. Over the past two years, I have found one of the most powerful aspects of blogging to be the global audience and connections we make with others. I believe having our blog included in search engines can only enhance these connections and provide more benefits to the students.

*Leave a comment if you have any thoughts about blogging rules and guidelines *

Explanation videos

Two sites which I often use for “how to” or “explanation” videos for my Grade Two students are the How Stuff Works video centre and Howcast site.

How Stuff Works is provides “credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world actually works”. I often use short videos from this site to assist with the explanation of a concept to my students. While probably more suited for middle primary to upper high school students, I have found some good content to use with my Grade Two students.

Howcast provides the answer to any how-to question” and encourages people to submit their own how-to videos on the site. My students have loved some of the procedural videos in the “kids” category on this site such as the origami, social skills, cooking, craft and science videos.

Both of these sites need to be monitored by the teacher for inappropriate content (particularly Howcast, from my experience). I prefer to chose the videos I want my students to watch and show them on the IWB, iPod Touch or classroom computer.

Here is an example of a Howcast video that I showed as a introduction to a lesson on length. My students had to make a paper plane and measure and record how far they could fly their plane.

 

Put a poll on your blog

Polls are great way to make your blog or website interactive and more interesting. A poll could be part of a post or as a sidebar widget.

Poll Daddy and Vorbeo are two very easy to use applications that allow you to create a poll to embed on your blog or website. After you click through the options on the site to choose how you want your poll to appear you’re given a html code which you simple paste into the html version of your blog post or into a text box widget on your sidebar.

Poll Daddy allows you to create a poll or survey with more design choices and options. You need to register for a free account to use Poll Daddy. You don’t need to register to use Vorbeo however the design choices and other options are more simple.

Another difference is that when you vote on a Vorbeo poll it takes you to the Vorbeo website to display results. Poll Daddy displays the results in the poll on the blog.

Try out these polls I made on Vorbeo and Poll Daddy!

What age students do you teach?

5-7
8-10
11-13
14-16
17+

 

Read Write Think

Read Write Think is a site from the UK that offers a collection of online Student Materials to support literacy learning in the P-12 classroom.

While this site includes lesson plans and web resources, I have found the most useful aspect of the site to be the Student Materials. There are over 50 interactive resources that would be great to use on the IWB in any literacy classroom.

There are many “thinking tool” type resources that could be used as an after reading task such as a plot diagram, book cover creator, character trading cards, story map and timeline. Here is a Venn diagram a group of my Grade Two students made this week after we read a book in Guided Reading.

Grandmas Venn Diagram

There are also some great “learning centre” type games for younger students such as Word Wizard, ABC Match, Word Family Sort and  What’s in the Bag? My Grade Two students particularly enjoy Construct-a-word.

construct a word

The site also includes some useful “writing” resources such as Acrostic Poems, Animal Inquiry, Postcard Creator, Flip Book and Letter Generator.

There are some limitations to this site such as the fact that some work can’t be saved although it can be printed and there is always the option to screen capture your work. Overall, Read Write Think has some great resources for all year levels.

Word Magnets

Word magnets is a fantastic website for the Interactive Whiteboard or classroom computers that I read about Nik’s Learning Technology Blog.

Word magnets is a tool that allows you to paste in some text and then change the text into word tiles like fridge magnets that you can drag and rearrange. Word magnets would be great for younger students who could put a sentence back together or point out errors in sentences.

 There are background proformas you can use to arrange the magnets, like Venn diagrams, tables, A-Z, numeric lists etc. They would be great for all sorts of categorising and thinking skills activities. Here is an activity my Grade Two students did today where they brainstormed uses for the sea and then sorted these ideas into “fun” and “work”.

sea word magnets

This site is very easy to use and it is much easier to use this tool than make your own activity for the Interactive Whiteboard. If you have any ideas about using Word Magnets, leave a comment!

Fun Spelling Games

GamesGames.com is a site with lots of fun and free games. Some of these games are simply “for fun” but there are some educational games which are very worthwhile for use in the classroom. My Grade Two students are enjoying the Spelling Games. There are 18 spelling games where students have to build and find words in a very appealing format.  These would probably be best suited for Grades 2 to 5. The site also has some good puzzle and logic games that could be used in the classroom.

spelling games games