Monday, October 25, 2010

Wikis are Wonderful

Recently I have rediscovered how great Wikispaces can be.   For the past couple of Fridays my 6th grade students have been busy creating a wiki to educate others on the Nine Elements of digital citizenship.  Students were placed in to groups of three.  Each group was then given an element to research.  Their findings will then be placed on a wiki page.  Students are encouraged to include text, pictures, links, and videos.  Some students are even creating their own pics and videos! 
Any wiki platform would work for this project, but I chose Wikispaces.  This site offers the option of applying for an education wiki that is ad free.  In addition, I feel that Wikispaces is very user friendly, and has a small learning curve for the students.  To my surprise, some students have even offered to be my "assistants" in helping other groups place items on their wiki page.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Using Forms in Google Docs

Every year I begin the school year by by having the students read a novel as a class.  Periodically I quiz them on the important events throughout it to ensure that they keep up with the reading.  In years past I have always typed the quiz up and passed it out on a sheet of half paper. But, using Google Docs is much more efficient, and saves paper.  To access, go to Google Docs (if you don't have a Google account, create one!) and log in.  After you have logged in select "Create new" and "Form".  There are several types of questions you can create.  Once all question are entered Google offers many background templates that can be applied.  Your set of questions can then be shared via link, email, or embedded.  I use the embedding option in conjunction with Edmodo.  Click here to see an example of a quiz.  As the students take the quiz, all responses are sent to a spreadsheet within your Google Docs account.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Post It with Wallwisher

Recently I was contemplating how to get my students to creatively respond to their novels.  Wallwisher was the answer.  Wallwisher is a program which allows its users to place "sticky notes" on a virtual bulletin board.  Within each sticky note the students are able to write 160 characters and paste a link, an image, video, or audio file.  How effective is it?  Within the last two weeks, my sixth grade class has posted forty notes on our board! Those who teach tweens know how difficult it can be to squeeze participation out of them.  Here is a great site that provides Twenty Nine Ways to Use Wallwisher in the Classroom

Monday, October 11, 2010

Edmodo Rules!

Edmodo is a micro-blogging platform designed specifically for education.  A video describing what it can provide for you is located on the home page.
In my classroom Edmodo has given me a management tool that can be applied to almost everything that I do.
With Edmodo it is possible to post comments, links, embed code, and give and grade assignments online.  At first glance you may notice that it has a slight resemblance to other social networking websites.  This provides an easy transition for students who have experience with such sites.  But, for those of us who teach younger students, Edmodo provides an alternative to management systems such as Moodle.  Even for students in grades 2 or 3 Edmodo is user friendly enough that they would be able to use its most basic functions.
One great feature is that it allows for communication in real-time between you and your students.  It has become a lifeline at times for students at home that may be struggling with homework.  Being available outside of the classroom is a perk that the students really appreciate.  In addition, I have been able to scan and share the day's homework with students who are home sick.

Embedding and Linking Made Easy!

Two of my favorite tools for embedding and linking files are Embedit and Scribd.  Embedit is the probably the easiest tool I have ever used.  With a couple of clicks, Embedit provides you with the code to either embed it directly, or embed a link.  Scribd provides a few options that Embedit does not.  Scribd has easy access buttons to share your file on your favorite social network or bookmarking site.  Both have done wonders for my class blog, Seyfert's Sixth Graders.

Five Favorites

Here are some tools that I have used, along with project ideas.

Glogster is a platform in which you can create an inteactive poster that can include text, links, videos, pictures, etc.  Project ideas might include a book critique, biography report, class webpage, history report, test/quiz study guide, etc.
Voki is a free service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars and use them on your blog, profile, and in email messages.  Uses for the classroom could include: add a voki to your class blog or webpage, give the homework using a voki avatar, students can share their favorite excerpt from a novel, and audio newsletter to parents, etc.
Wikispaces is a platform for simple webpages in which friends, colleagues, or families can edit together.  Classroom use includes: have students edit a paragraph, students can write a story one sentence/paragraph at a time, creat a virtual word wall, complete a author study and post findings, create a wiki to share resources with students/parent/colleagues, etc.
Blogger is a free publishing tool from Google to share your thoughts, pictures, and video with the world.  It can be effective in the classroom if used for: posting of homework, links to curriculum related activities, a weekly newsletter, book reviews, video clips, student resources, etc.
Twitter help keep up to date with what is going on in the world (especially education!).  Despite what most educators think, Twitter can be useful in the classroom.  See: