Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Tweets

I wanted to show you that I am still alive and tweeting.  I think the problem is that I do not have a phone with internet capabilities (I mean, yes it can surf the internet, but I'm too poor to use the data plan feature).  Without a phone or mobile device, twitter loses some appeal.  Especially now that facebook has moved into the "what are you doing right now" territory.  On that note, it's funny how the competition amongst technology powerhouses like twitter, facebook, google, etc have motivated them to continue to evolve.  In this fast-paced culture it seems that you either evolve or you get left behind (R.I.P. myspace).  It's weird to think that somewhere out there is a small start-up company that will one day topple google.  It doesn't seem possible but that's what we said about yahoo...

Anyway, here's what I have been tweeting:


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm going to call on...

So, this next discovery is a little random, but really quite useful.  Now, this isn't exactly web 2.0 technology but I had to share anyway.  Do you ever have the feeling, as a teacher, that you always call on the same students?  Looking for a fun way to get everyone involved in the discussion?  Check out and their random name/ word picker.  You can type in the name of your students or upload from another document.

Add the names of the students from your class

Next, you can choose the template you want to use: typewriter or fruit machine.  Then, it will scroll through the list... 

Scrolling through your students

 and then randomly choose one of your students.

Viola!  You have your next student "voluntold" to read the next passage, answer a question, clean up the lab, or wash your car during their recess.  Again, this is not really a web 2.0 tool but it is a fun discovery nonetheless.  Hope you like it!

Writing without Boundaries

Below is a sample of something I made using write board:

Click to enlarge

I have also used google docs in the past, especially when it has come to grad school.  It is a marvelous tool that has changed the way I do group projects.  I think before there was always a hesitancy to work in a group to complete a project simply based on logistics and time.  Now, you can work with others without leaving your home.  Google docs and other word processing tools are changing the way we collaborate.

A past project created with Kirstin, Leslie, Patrick, and myself

As stated above, this changes everything in the world of education.  No more will students fear working together.  No more will one student get stuck typing up the final draft while the other group members encourage on the sidelines.  And what about tellecollaboration?  Students can work together who are miles and even countries apart.  They can create a document, edit, and share with the world around them all while learnning about team work and other cultures.  What a fantastic web 2.0 technology!

Google Doc Art!

This video is too cool!  Apparently three artists wanted to show the capabilities of google docs and thus created this video using only google docs.  Pretty fun- thought I'd share.  Let me know what you think!  Ahh technology...

Google Docs and Writeboard

Are you familiar with google docs?  It's an amazing tool that makes collaboration a snap!  Google users (and non-google users) can create a document and then share it with others giving all invited members the authority to add, delete, and edit the document with all changes being able to be tracked.  This document lives in cyber space and not on any one person's hard drive.  How could this be helpful?  Remember being in school and the pain of having to find a time all of your group members could get together to work on a particular project?  Well, with google docs that is no longer a problem.  Simply invite all members of the group into a google doc project and they can edit and tweak the paper to their hearts content. 

Writeboard is similar to googledocs in that many users can create and edit a document together.  The big diference is that unlike googledocs that constantly saves and changes your original document, writeboard continues to make new pages so that users can see the changes made to the original document and go back to earlier version if necessary.  Students do not need a google account in order to use this which is another advantage.  Only those invited by the creator can view the document.

Some helpful links and other fun resources on online word processors:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Middle School Moodle Mayham

Now try saying that five times fast....After telling you all about Moodle, I wanted to show you how you can use it in your class.  One of the best ways I have utilized it in my middle school English class is by having interactive message boards with the students.  The students love it and enjoy interacting with one another while getting to discuss literature from class.  Once the students have signed in to the Moodle, I had them read guidelines for Moodle use (midddle school kids can be mean when they think they can hide behind the Internet)

Click to enlarge
Next, the students need to select the appropriate board topic:

Click to enlarge

Once they've chosen the correct topic they will see the prompt question:

Click to enlarge

Now that students understand the topic or posting directions they can begin posting answers and even responding to one another.  You can organize your students by period or even let them discuss amongst your classes.  Other teachers at my school who teach across grade level created a telecollaborative  Moodle by allowing older kids to help younger students with homework questions.  It's pretty neat!  And best yet: the entire site is safe and monitored by you so that the kids have a safe place to interact, blog, respond to message boards, and more.

Sample student work (without names of course):

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Also with the Moodle, teachers can:
  • Make quizzes/tests (that are self-graded)
  • Create posts where students can upload documents
  • Design a calendar of upcoming events
  • Have students upload projects/presentations
  • Create web pages and wikis students can access from the main moodle site
  • Establish a database of student info
Moodle would be  agreat way to create a telecollaborative project between schools as well.  It would require some planning on the part of both teachers but a project similar to the flat classroom project could be housed on the moodle while providing a unique opportunity for student growth and development.

Moodle Resources...

For those of you interested in Moodle, here's a great introduction video that tells you all about Moodle and its capabilities:

Other useful websites include:
  • Moodle Rooms- A helpful site for educators interested in the opportunities offered by Moodle
  • Moodle Help- Offers message boards and a help-community for those using Moodle

Moodle Mania

     The term moodle refers to interactive web-based platforms that allow users the ability to create and edit content much like a wiki-space.  Moodle stands for Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.  The aim is to enable users to be able to create online learning environments.  They have become increasingly popular over the years as web users have enjoyed the freedom they offer and that they are user-friendly for individuals of all ages.  As of By January 9th, 2010, Moodle had:

~46,624 registered sites
~32,464,992 users in 3,161,291 courses

It was also present in:
~209 countries
~More than 75 languages

Many schools in Howard County have begun to explore Moodles as a way to enrich the students while also being useful for educators and administrators.  So, how can educators use this technology in their classrooms?  More to come...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Would Shakespeare Tweet? Twitter in the Classroom

Now that I have told you all about twitter and walked you through the process of setting up an account, it's time to ask the big question- who cares?  In all honesty, twitter can be a fun way to express yourself but if it can't impact the world and have a true purpose than it may just be an entertaining waste of time.  More specifically, can twitter have an impact on classrooms?  Can education find a use for social micro-blogging?  Whenever you bring up the idea of using technology with students many teachers and administrators become increasingly nervous.  What if the students use the technology in an inappropriate manner?  What if they hurt the computers?  What if their parents feel uncomfortable with their child using the Internet in such a public manner?  There will always be fears with unknown technology, but the best way to change education is to think outside the box.  For good and bad, here are some possible ways to incorporate micro-blogging into the classroom:

-    Teachers can use twitter to remind students of upcoming projects- With email, teacher websites, and teacherease, twitter seems an unlikely way to keep students updated but it is one possible idea.
-    Students assume twitter identities- Have students create limited twitter accounts where they assume the identity of a famous author or literary figure and they tweet as if them.  Caution would need to be taken to ensure student safety but this could be a fun way for kids to use technology and be creative.

But maybe they can use twitter without really using twitter?  Since it is such a cultural phenomenon that everyone is aware of, students could use the concept of twitter while not exposing themselves to the risks of the internet (especially for younger children).  A project could ask kids to tweet as a literary character with typed tweets in a word document or prezi presentation.  For example, what would Odysseus tweet while on his famous epic journey.  Or, what would star-crossed lovers Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet have to say as their impending deaths drew nearer?  Would their tweets have been able to save them from the mistaken communication that resulted in their deaths? 

Creating Your Twitter Account

     Alright, cyber friends- interested in creating your own twitter account?  Here is a great link from e-how that will help you get started.  Once you have created an account you can begin sharing your thoughts, feelings, questions, and life concerns with the masses.
     I actually took this time to make my very own account as well.  It could have not been any easier and truly only took a few minutes to complete.  Take a look at my what I created:

My first tweet!

     Now, before you go off and create your own twitter account and tweet up a storm, there is something to keep in mind.  Each tweet that you create cannot be larger than 140 characters in length.  This keeps to the true intent of twitter- a short message meant to inform or update.  It means that you have to be creative and find a way to condense your thoughts.
     As you begin to create your account here are a few other helpful resources I found on the web:
  • Search Twitter- This is a great site to be able to use key words to examine the plethora of converasations/tweets actively found on twitter.
  • Attracting Attention- For those more business-minded, this website points out how twitter can be a wonderful advertising campaign