Sunday, December 28, 2008
Zoho Show is basically an on-line application of Powerpoint. It is simple and can not do animations.
I posted a powerpoint that I already had created on a year I spent teaching English in China. I made it in Slideshare. It took two tries. The first time took almost an hour before the website told me there was a problem. The second time worked well. This site is good for posting existing presentations, but you can not create any on it. It does have a nice feature that you can add music to your show.
My favorite was Slide. I created this display of a concrete fire pit top that I made. This site took a couple of minutes to upload the pictures. Then it had many fun effects to choose from and skins can be added.
Adding these shows to my blog was super easy and they have links to add them to about any on-line application you can think of. I could use these to have students make slideshows of their projects. I could add video of a balsa tower breaking or the launching of a pop bottle rocket. Students could also make their own slideshows on a topic.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Trailfire lets you compile a list of websites in a trail that you mark and can leave notes on. I can see this tool being used to create a guided scavenger hunt where I direct students to the site and put the question in the notes like a webquest. I could see using this to introduce/guide students in research on a new topic. You also can see trails created by others and learn from their journeys.
Bubbl.us is a simple tool for making graphic organizers. What I liked about it was that it was easy to use and could be used by students or teachers. It also can be printed or e-mailed.
Knowtes is an on-line flashcard maker. I give this site mixed reviews. When browsing the catelogues I did not find many useful cards already created. Many of them were just titles with no cards in them at all. So you would need to create your own cards. I did not try that feature as I did not like the site that much. Also you self-report if you answered the card correctly. I can see students just fast-clipping on the right and lying to say they got them all right if they did not feel like trying.
I do think this should blow Microsoft Office away, but so many people take along time to change unless they are forced to and they will continue to use Microsoft Office. I think open source is the way of the future.
I can see posting my direction sheets for all assignments in Google Docs so students and parents could view them from home.
Also you can sign up for an RSS feed to your own blog's comments in Google Reader. That way you can monitor if your blog has received a comment without actually going there.
I have created my first wiki: Cool Crete. It is a place that lists links of interesting websites about concrete. I am not totally obsessed with concrete, but it was the easiest thing I could think of to quickly build a wiki.
Wetpaint was easy to use and get started. Since I do not really want to maintain this site I did not use all of its features. But it has a really nice setup for evaluating your wiki as far as helping you get traffic on it. You can e-mail all of your friends and it helps with setting up titles, tags, and headings for search engines.
I did not mess with the picture part of it too much because they had to be formatted smaller than my images I have conveniently on hand. I would like to be able to add my own background to the template to make it more interesting.
The basic posting of starting a thread was very easy and I think students would be able to use a wiki well. The future use that I am thinking about using wikis for would be a site dedicated to my WebPals project. It could be a place to invite classes to participate, explain how to participate, and discuss problems/solutions.
Overall, my feeling right now is that I like blogs better than wikis. Maybe because I want to control content. It seems like anything in a wiki could also be in a blog with a discussion in the comments, but perhaps the discussion nature of wikis encourages people to be involved with them.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
My favorite source for finding these blogs are that the people in these blogs list their own favorite blogs. I find myself jumping from one to another. To me this is like getting a reccommendation for a contractor from a friend instead of the Yellow Pages. The best bloggers have already found each other and are linked. Inferior blogs are weeded out, something search engines don't do. So if many blogs have the same blogs on their subscription list then they are worth checking out. I think the list of Edublog winners is a great place to start.
From Blog Pulse I found a great blog for an elementary school where I live [unfortunately it is not the school my children attend :( ]. I plan to use it to show my principal the possibilities. What I did not like about this tool was that when I searched the district that I teach in, it came up with many links to sites that I think were just disguised links to porn.
I am now in control of my professional development. I feel so empowered. I will never again feel like there is a lot of cool stuff out there, but I don't know how to get started. These blogs are so much better than any college class I have ever taken. I will be recommending 23 things to everyone in my building!
One of the first blogs I read was an article on Sue Waters' Edublog about tips for Skype users Quick start tips for new Skype users.
I asked about connecting with others and she created a part of her blog just for this: Skype other classrooms
She even tags me in this article! I can't believe how fast my question turned into a resource on one of the leading education blogs! I am also so excited to see the WebPals idea about to become a reality for my students!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
which gives advice on how to pick your feeds and lists her own personal feeds. The negative of her wiki is that her navigation tools by subject area did not work or were just empty???
Another wiki I like is etoolbox It is full of resources and links. The navigation tools to subjects on this page work! It explains many Web 2.0 applications and gives video demos, example sites, and more. It also shows how to use specific software like Garage Band and Pixie.The wiki that I am most familiar with of course is Wikipedia. I love to use Wikipedia personally and have not discouraged students from using it either. It is a great source of information especially about current events or pop culture. I have not come across inaccuracies in it though I know that they exist. I think people overemphasis that it is not 100% accurate. Encyclopedias and textbooks are not always accurate either but they have been used for years. I think the multitude of users helps Wikipediato self-monitor "its facts." In my experience most students just google what they are looking for and assume they have the "truth" no matter what website they land on. Rather than discourage its use I think a better method is to teach students to be critical readers and thinkers no matter the source. I would like to hear other's opinions on Wikipedia and student's use of it.
My first thought on wikis is that maybe I can use them to blog and have students blog and get around the district's annoying filter!
My class is very project based so I also might have students create a wiki of resources on topics such as pop bottle rockets, balsa towers, and hot air balloons. I could start each class with a KWL on the topic and then have them research what they want to know and create a wiki with the results and links.
For the landscaping class that I will team teach with the art teacher, students could create a wiki of design ideas and resources.
I have already mentioned Skype in a previous blog, but I was very excited to find that others are using it. Two new sites that I found today that I could spend all day on are David Warlick's Landmark Project and Cool Cat Teacher. These are examples of great sites for collaboration with other excellent teachers and cutting edge applications of Web 2.0. My only problem right now is feeling overwhelmed with new thoughts and ideas!
I think that the two main ways that blogs enhance existing websites are by the links in them and by letting people share their personal ideas, experiences, and opinions. They are kind of like call-in talk radio. I think it is obvious that blogs are very simple for anyone to self-publish anything with incredible access for the world.
Monday, December 22, 2008
I will definitely use this daily to keep track of news, sports, and tech stuff (assuming it isn't blocked by my district's server!). There are some on-line tech journals that I would also like to subscribe too. This tool will help me to do my own informal professional development by keeping me visiting the journals with the latest news and ideas for my classroom. The easier it is to access these sites the more likely I am to actually use it and read the journals.
This also helps me to see how the Utopian school in David Warlick's article could happen. I am addicted to reading (or at least opening and skimming) every e-mail sent to me at school and I think many other people are too. With RSS it could easily and quickly become a habit to read each other's blog posts and collaborate.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am trying to avoid expensive videoconferencing software and equipment by using simple webcams, microphones, and Skype. Skype is a free software that allows free video phone calls to other Skype users anywhere in the world. The biggest problem I have had is locating another classroom in another part of the world to communicate with. I have tried to make contacts through Epals but never receive responses. I am also guessing that many of my target countries are not yet technologically ready.
I did find a useful blog from a teacher using Skype Quick start tips for new Skype users and shared my ideas and she is going to set up a blog looking to connect classrooms. That was probably the most exciting and practical thing I have learned from this class so far.
As mentioned in Thing 2, I tend to try to do many things at once and this project is one that I really want to use in my class but gets lost in the shuffle of my busy life.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I have questions about school use though. I do not want to put pictures of students out there and many sites had names on them which I also want to avoid. So I have not quite figuired out how I would use this in the class room yet. We could show examples of student work.
I also have questions about copyright usage. If I sent students to research a topic in Flickr and use the images, can they use others' work without permission as long as they are not publishing it? Can they make their own album of other people's work as long as they give credit and link it???
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The one that I feel is hardest is number 5. Creating my own toolbox is difficult for me because of time and money. I enjoy learning very much but tend to become fragmented in my interests and responsibilities between work, family, and interests. This class should help me structure my technology interests and actually do them. I guess I could list off many skills and activities I would like to learn and do but can not get to all of them.