Archive for November, 2010

Teaching With and About Technology is a great page I just stumbled upon that has a fantastic amount of links to sites that will help you better understand how to teach using technology.It features lesson plans, student opinion questions, as well as a plethora of articles and resources that I’m sure you will find useful.

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Web 2.0 Workshop

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

If you’re looking for an amazing resource on using the internet in your classroom, take a look at the Web 2.0 Workshop.

The link features a ton of website and information on various web 2.0 tools, as well as some examples of how to use them. I’ve been perusing this site for a few days now and still haven’t been able to get through even 50% of it.

Happy reading!

Google Docs is one of the many resources that I intend to use starting in January. I’ve been collecting a series of resources to help me along, and I’ve decided to share all of those resources with you. Should you be looking to use Googledocs in your classroom, here’s the place to start.

1. First off we have a video specifically for teachers which serves as an introduction to GoogleDocs. If you’ve never used GoogleDocs before, this is a great place to start.

2. This page from Google provides an overview for educators, tutorials, and a video showing how to use GoogleDocs.

3. Next, here’s a video from Google that details some ways that GoogleDocs can be useful to teachers. It moves quickly and doesn’t really tell you how to do all these things, but it’s a good way to get some ideas.

4. A presentation on 31 interesting ways to use GoogleDocs in the classroom.

I hope these resources are useful to you, GoogleDocs is an amazing program that has limitless potential in the classroom.

The technology: Dropbox

My impression:

Dropbox is a website that I wish I had known about before my computer crashed. The service isn’t specific to teachers, but it has been hugely helpful to me at home and at work over the past few weeks I have been using it.

It is extremely simple to use. Simply install dropbox on any computer that you want to sync files from, and place any files that you want to be able to access in your dropbox folder, and it will automatically back up those files online….and now you can access them from any computer that has dropbox installed. Yay!

There are so many great things about this service. It has mobile apps for iPhone and Android (neither of which I’ve used, so I can’t speak to how great they are), and is compatible with Windows, Mac, or Linux, so you can sync from one to another. You can also allow public access to some of your files if you’re seeking an easy way to be able to share files online.

You can purchase a membership, or you can use the free 2GB to try it out on a limited number of files. Saves you from carrying around a USB stick or emailing files to yourself!

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

When my computer went on the fritz, I was unable to access a variety of documents that I needed for work. Since then I have used Dropbox specifically for my work documents. Now I’m able to access anything I’m working on at home on my computer in the classroom (without any hassle), and I don’t have to worry about any of my files getting lost if my computer dies again.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

http://www.dropbox.com

Rating: 5 stars

I stumbled upon this article today, and I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Far be it from me to argue with an entire nation of teachers, but I think I’d like to respectfully disagree with the finding that “pupils’ work is suffering because of an obsession with social networking”.

If you have been regularly reading my blog you know that I have challenged myself to integrate more technology into my lessons starting in 2011. Obviously, 2011 hasn’t arrived yet, but I do have a small amount of experience using technology in my lessons (which is where the reviews have come from up to this point). So, with that disclaimer in place….

I’m pretty sure that students wouldn’t be “rushing their homework and doing it badly so they could chat online” if their homework required them to be online in the first place. If kids are spending all their time online, why aren’t we meeting them in the middle? They should still be demonstrating critical thinking, and knowledge of the curriculum, but why can’t they do so online? There are thousands of tools available to teachers to do this: from wikis, to blogs, to more specialized websites such as edmodo (which creates a social networking environment for educational purposes). If students are “obsessed” with social networking- let’s use that to our advantage!

As for the statement about handwriting, all I’ll say is this: how’s your doctor’s handwriting?

Finally, does anyone else find it ironic that the poll that found these results was conducted online?

Most teachers with regular access to a LCD projector have played powerpoint Jeopardy with their class. I do it all the time, infact it’s something that I’m well-known for amongst the students at my school. Jeopardy is fantastic. Unfortunately, with powerpoint it’s finicky to put together, and I often found that I made mistakes when putting the slides together. Fortunately, there’s a website that now allows you to create Jeopardy templates quickly and easily.

The technology: JeopardyLabs

My impression:

JeopardyLabs is a very easy website to use, I’m pretty sure my grandmother could figure it out if she was so inclined. Aside from that there’s also a nice feature that allows you to search other templates for one that you might find useful. Knowledge of HTML is useful, but not required, and you can access or edit your templates from anywhere you can access the internet (as long as you have the link).

You don’t need to create an account to use this website. If you do become a member you can keep your templates private, have access to a list of your templates, and you’re also able to delete your templates. All of this doesn’t happen if you don’t have a membership. If you choose to become a member you choose how much you think that’s worth (I always admire it when website creators do this).

The downsides to this website is that you must have access to the internet to access your template. In a situation like mine (no wifi, yet) this presents a difficulty. Luckily for the rest of you, though, I think a lack of wifi access is pretty rare these days.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

Jeopardy is a great classroom game for students of all ages (I’ve used it with students ranging in age from 7-18), and I’ve found that after a while it’s a lesson that practically runs itself. I use Jeopardy for review before tests, but this website is so user-friendly that it could be used by students for presentations as well.

Pictures:

Where can I learn more?

www.jeopardylabs.com

Rating: 4 stars

This is an interesting blog post about the use of cell phones in the classroom.

The post, though long, is definitely worth a read. It struck a chord with me, as cellphones are currently banned at my school, and I struggle with this a great deal.

I don’t believe that the best way to deal with the challenges presented by technology is to take that technology away. Due to the rules at my school, I don’t use a cellphone in my classroom, nor do I allow my students to do so. Since this is something that I’ve never experienced, I’m sure I don’t know what I’m missing. I also don’t know how I would deal with concerns over cheating or other inappropriate use of mobile technology.

As part of my challenge to myself beginning in the new year, I may decide to do a lesson involving a cell phone, but I will have to think long and hard about how to implement it.

Watch this space 🙂

Read about the best web 2.0 applications here

Review of TeacherTube

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Websites
Tags: , , ,

The technology: TeacherTube

My impression: TeacherTube is the teacher’s version of YouTube. It has many advantages, namely the fact that it isn’t blocked by some schools or districts (like YouTube unfortunately is), and that the content is safe for viewing in schools.

All that being said, I find the majority of the videos on TeacherTube to be fairly contrived. Yes, they are educational, and you can find a video for most subjects and concepts, but they lack a certain authenticity that I think is very valuable on YouTube. I personally prefer YouTube videos for this reason, but that’s not to say that TeacherTube isn’t a valuable resource for the classroom.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

TeacherTube has a variety of videos, documents, audio, and photos that are valuable for teachers of all subject areas. The possibilities are endless and extend much further than just showing videos to your students. One of my favourite assignments to students is to have them create a video for TeacherTube on a certain topic. Students can also search the site for information rather than relying on text-only documents.

Pictures:

Where can I learn more?

www.teachertube.com

Rating: 3 stars

I like to watch the “trending” videos on youtube, there’s always something interesting, and a million people can’t be wrong, right?

Alright, I admit it- this video doesn’t relate directly to education… but you have to admit- it is cool. In an indirect kind of way, it made me think about my students.

The main thing that kept popping into my mind was how quickly the world has changed. Facebook was launched in 2004, and it is now a virtual space that is not only fully capable of chronicling someone’s life, but also changes people’s lives every day. For me, the most striking thing about this video is how realistic it is. I know people who have met their spouse on facebook. I have read articles and heard stories about divorces that have happened because of pictures on facebook. It has become a huge force in peoples’ lives. Nothing that I saw in this video was unremarkable at all.

How does facebook (and websites like it) affect my students? It makes them more aware of what is going on in the lives of their peers. This can be both a postive and a negative: it means that students are able to help each other and get to know each other on a deeper level, but it can (and does) lead to things like cyber-bullying.

If you are a teacher who doesn’t use facebook, I would highly recommend checking it out just to create an awareness of the way it functions and how it can affect the dynamic between your students and their peers. I’m not saying that you should add students to your facebook account (though many teachers get around this by creating an account specifically for their students or adding them on a limited profile), but you should know how it functions and what it is capable of.