Posts Tagged ‘5 stars’

The technology: Cellphones

My impression:

I’ll admit a bit of trepidation when I was considering this idea, but I’m glad that I finally decided to take the plunge. This little experiment has been, by far, the most well-received of my tech challenge. Almost all of my students have a smart phone, and those that don’t are very familiar with how to use them and were more than willing to share with a friend for the activities.

Classroom management with the phones was (and still is) a bit of an obstacle, but I’m going to stick with it because I can see the benefits and enthusiasm in the students.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

  • Students can use their cellphones to access websites like StudyBlue (you can read my review here). One activity that I tried this week was to have students create flashcards in StudyBlue for their friends on a concept that they had learned (I teach french and used this as review for grammar. Each student was responsible for one verb tense that they created flashcards for and shared with the other students). They then worked in small groups, reviewing the material together and using the flashcards to assess their knowledge.
  • I used PollEverywhere (look for the review on PollEverywhere next week when I’ve had a chance to really try it out) software during lessons to ask students a question about the material. They texted the answer and I could display the data right away, so I knew if they got it.
  • I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, but I think I might try and use voicethread next week for some digital storytelling, allowing the students to use their cellphones to comment on the material.

Where can I learn more?

Some of the ideas for this post came from this blog

Rating:

5 stars. I’ll be doing this again and integrating it slowly with my other classes.

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Review of Engrade

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Websites
Tags: , , ,

I’m always hearing about Engrade, an apparently amazing online gradebook that’s free (always a plus), so I decided to give it a shot.

I’m impressed.

Since second semester starts for us on monday, I’ll be using this site to track my grades, attendance and communicate with parents and students.

The technology: Engrade

My impression:

Wow is this website ever easy to use. Registration is easy, signing up your class is a breeze (and they don’t need an email to register), and the interface is extremely intuitive. It is (by far) the easiest grade book I’ve used.

Since it’s online, there’s the added advantage that you are able to access your grades anywhere that you have internet access (handy for inputting marks when you’re marking at home). Of course, this also carries disadvantages with it: if the website goes down for any reason your marks are lost, and if you loose internet access but need to get into your gradebook, you won’t be able to. Of course this can be overcome by exporting your data into a spreadsheet periodically.

I haven’t used the discussions, wikis, flashcards, or quizzes with students yet, but I took a good look around and they seem easy to use as well. I’ll update you next week on how those work in real-life.
Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

In my opinion, the biggest strength of engrade is how accessible it is to students and their parents. You don’t have to worry about constantly updating students on their marks, and parents can easily view their child’s attendance as well. Essentially, the site makes communication easy. I’ve also found over the years that students are often baffled by weighting and how their final grade is calculated. With Engrade they can see weighting in action and always know what their final grade is.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.engrade.com

Rating:

5 stars

From my research on Twitter, I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone on the internet has been using Wallwisher except me. After using it this week, I can see why…. it will definitely become a major part of my Web 2.0 tools.

The technology: Wallwisher

My impression:

Wallwisher is an absolutely fantastic tool, and I can’t believe that I haven’t used it before now. There are so many possibilities for the classroom, and its usefulness to teachers is made even more strong based on the fact that posts can be locked so that they are only viewable once approved. At the same time, posts can be either anonymous or not, making it easy to have students’ input on issues that would normally be too difficult. Wallwisher makes it easy to post links, pictures, or audio. The only limit is that posts have to be under 160 characters, which isn’t always a bad thing.
Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

There are so many possibilities for using Wallwisher in the classroom, but instead of me telling you, you should read this (31 ways to use Wallwisher in the classroom).

I used Wallwisher as a final wrap up for my students before their exams next week. Since this was my first time teaching the course, I asked them to post their likes and dislikes about the course, in the hopes that I could better my teaching for the next time around. I got some great suggestions, all anonymous (as per my request) that I’m not sure I would have received under another format.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.wallwisher.com

Rating:

5 stars

The technology: PlanbookEdu

My impression:

This was probably the easiest registration process I’ve undertaken in quite awhile, I think it took about 30 seconds.

Creating a plan book was easy and very customizable. You’re able to choose your start and end dates, as well as how many periods you teach daily. Once you’ve created the plan book everything is super simple and straight forward, much easier than all the headings that I usually find in online plan books.

I haven’t signed up the premium version yet (but I intend to soon), but the premium version is only $20 a year and comes with the added benefit of attaching documents to your plans, common core standards, the ability to embed your plans into your website, the ability to print directly from your browser, exporting to Word and PDF, and built in spell check. All of these features aren’t necessary, as the free version is perfectly functional, but would definitely make it easier to stay organized. You get a free 14 days of premium service when you sign up.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:This program doesn’t have direct applications in your lessons, but it’s usefulness to teachers is obvious. The fact that your lesson plans are stored online means that you will always have access to your lessons when you need them (as long as you have access to the internet). I’ve been looking for a good online planbook for awhile now (I HATE using a paper planbook), and this version does an excellent job of providing me with what I need.

Where can I learn more?

http://www.planbookedu.com/

Rating: 5 stars

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

Following my review of Scribblar I’ve decided to chime in on TitanPad, since the two compliment each other so nicely. Like Scribblar, TitanPad is a collaborative online tool, but unlike its whiteboard brother, it allows users to collaborate on word documents. It is a fantastic tool for teachers and one that I have used often.  It’s fantastic for teachers and students, and is free and requires no sign up (does it get any better?).

The technology: TitanPad

My impression: TitanPad is a simple online program that is exceptionally easy to use. Importing documents is easy (you can import from text file, HTML, Word, or RTF). If your document isn’t saved in one of those formats, you can copy and paste directly onto the website. As you go you can save your revisions, and you can go back and watch an accelerated video of your progress using timeslider.

TitanPad is awesome for teachers because it allows you to see each students contributions individually by highlighting their writing in their own color. You can also have students export their finished document as an OpenDocument so you can watch their timeslider to see their writing process.

TitanPad would benefit from built in voice chat, and it is limited to word documents only (no images can be added). However, it’s very efficient in its simplicity and I’ve enjoyed using it with my students.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

TitanPad is great for having students collaborate with other classes in different cities, or with students in different classes in the same school. My favorite application so far has been having each of my students log onto the website in the computer lab, projecting my screen, and having a class collaboration with all of us right there in the same room. We wrote a great class story this way and the students thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Pictures:


Where can I learn more?

www.titanpad.com

Rating: 5 stars

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Google Earth

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Hardware, Websites
Tags: , , ,

When I first became interested in using technology in my classroom, I turned to Google. Anyone who uses the internet at all is familiar with Google and how they have revolutionized the way we use the internet. Any search engine whose name has become a verb certainly has my attention! I started off using Google street maps and Google maps, but when I started to crave something more exciting I followed the advice of a colleague and turned to Google Earth. The program seems to be getting quite a bit of attention in the news lately, mostly concerning issues surrounding privacy.

The technology: Google Earth

My impression:

Google Earth is a very rich program which my students have loudly proclaimed as “wicked awesome”. It is essentially a virtual map that uses images from satellites and aerial photography. There are many features including:

  • A flight simulator: Allows you to fly around and explore. A favorite of my students (especially when they discovered they could fly underwater).
  • Sky mode: Allows you to view the stars and other celestial bodies with remarkable images.
  • Historical images of select cities (a very cool feature for history classes)
  • The ability to view Mars, the Moon, and under the Ocean.
  • Street view: a popular feature on Google’s website that allows you to see panoramic ground-level images.
  • The ability to create tours of different locations around the globe (fantastic for all kinds of subject areas).

The main hurdle that I have encountered with Google Earth is teaching students how to use it. It is relatively intuitive, but there are so many aspects to it that it does take some time to learn. As a teacher I don’t want to use too much of my time teaching students how to use a computer program (I have enough to cover in the curriculum as it is). This program is worth taking a little bit of time out of your day to show your students though, since once it’s been taught there are so many different ways you can apply it to lessons across the curriculum.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas: There are so many possibilities for Google Earth it’s impossible to name them all. Personally I have had history students create tours of important places in specific events in history, gone on scavenger hunts to find specific places of significance to world religions, and had math students calculate distances from one place in the world to another. There are also obvious uses in geography. Richard Byrne has developed a great resource for Google Earth across the curriculum which can be downloaded here (his blog, www.freetech4teachers.com also has a whole bunch of information on Google Earth and a range of other resources, definitely worth a look).

Pictures:

Where can I learn more?

Google Earth Download

A series of tutorials by Google

The Google Earth Blog

Google Earth for Educators

And of course, there are a variety of other resources for Google Earth on the web. Google it and see what appeals to you (see, I used google as a verb!)

Rating: 5 stars