Monday, December 10, 2012

Gooru Update!

Last week I had a web conference with a couple of nice folks at Gooru (Thanks Xenia and Aurelia!). They were interested in how I, or other teacher might leverage their site in the classroom. It was nice to hear, and see some of the upcoming possibilities for the site.

In addition, during our conference I asked them what I could let readers know that might turn them on to Gooru and using it in their classrooms. Well, I am excited to let you know that Gooru will be pushing out an iPad app in the near future! The app will focus on the creation and use of collections within the site.

Again, if you haven't check out Gooru, click here or here. It is a must see for teachers looking to create robust collections of resources for student/classroom/faculty use.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What is Gooru?

Last school year I discovered Gooru, and was a bit confused by its site layout and use. However, they have made improvements have really cleaned things up. Those of you unfamiliar with Gooru will be pleased to learn that it is a one stop shop for knowlege (of sorts). At its core, Gooru is a search engine. However, it is made to provide different categories for its results with every search. Below is an example of the result when I searched the term "algebra".

As you can see there are several categories that appeared. So, if students are specifically looking for videos related to algebra they are available, or if a teacher like myself needs handouts I can explore the "handouts" section. Give Gooru as an option to your students during their next research project. Students will pull no punches when reviewing the site for you.
Their is an option to create a profile. This would allow the user to save content, which is useful if you choose to browse the Quizzes that are available in Gooru.
This video gives a nice overview of the site.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Kidblog...Love It!

I have now been using Kidblog for a couple of years. To get a rundown of Kidblog, and how to use it, click here. In the past I have used it for everything from reading groups, to responding to Ted Talk vids. Recently, the students wrote short reflections about their favorite novel read so far. You can read those entries by clicking here.

Kidblog has allowed us to connect with classes around the world. Just last week we shared our Halloween traditions with a 4k class in Australia!

This platform has allowed my students to reflect, connect, comment, collaborate, celebrate and enjoy being creative. In my opinion there is not a better platform for blogging at the k-6 level.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sign Up Genius

What is Sign Up Genius? It is a sight that all but eliminates notes going home for field trips, classroom celebrations, and volunteers for any school activity. This site allows the user to set up a page, list the activity, and decide exactly how many volunteers, snacks, etc. that are needed. There will be no confusion! Once all slots are filled, Sign Up Genius no longer allows additional parents to sign up. I recently used it have parents sign up to send treats/drinks in for our Writers' Workshop celebration, and Sign Up Genius worked like a charm.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Building Your Classroom Library

Over the years I have found it difficult, and frustrating at times, to keep track of  classroom library books. I have tried note cards, checkout "sheets", etc. Thankfully, last year I discovered Classroom Organizer. This allows teachers to create an online classroom library. Within the site students can search the library and checkout/return books. Teachers are able to create classroom settings that may include: checkout period, maximum number of books aloud, and email of overdue notices.

Classroom Organizer is especially handy when working in a 1:1 settings. This site creates ownership for the classroom library. After introducing the site and its functions, the responsibility falls mainly on the students. However, I periodically check to make sure that all students have their books checked out. At the end of the year I also create a due date for when books can no longer be checked out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just Google It!

This year our 5th and 6th grade students are lucky enough to have gotten laptops. But, working/learning in a 1:1 environment can be challenging. There are a few things this year that have made the transition successful.
The first was the ability of our district to provide Google Apps/Web tools teacher training in July and August. This gave the teachers who chose to attend a leg up. Second, as a building we set up a "boot camp" for the students, during which classroom teachers teamed up. Topics in the rotation included the AUP, Google Drive, School Fusion (this is what houses our district webpage), and email. This seemed to really help students once we began using these items in the classroom.
A surprise that I encountered was that I have many student "experts" that are willing to help out. The idea of student tech teams is not new. But I think at times we underestimate how advanced students can be in the field of technology. So, if you have students willing help out, let them!
The following are some resources for Google Apps and 1:1 environments.

*What's new in Google Apps?
*Google Apps Education YouTube Channel
*K12 Guide to "Going Google"
*Google Apps Training Videos
*ISTE 2011 Google Apps for Education
*63 page Guide to Google Drive and Docs

*Van Meter 1:1
*The 1:1 Classroom
*1 to 1 Schools
*1:1 Classroom Management
*21 Steps to 1:1 Success

Monday, March 26, 2012

Google Treks

While looking at the schedule for WEMTA this week I came across something called Google Treks. This site offers the use of Google Maps to create lessons in all subjects.  It was created by Dr. Alice Christie, a professor at Arizona State University. GoogleTreks allows teachers and students to place information in one easy-to-use map that places text, pictures, audio files, and video files in one place. 
Each lesson includes teacher and student pages.  The language is easy to understand and students will love browsing the place marks on the map. Lessons are organized by subject and age level. Dr. Christie has even provide a tutorial for those of us hoping to create a Trek, and a grading rubric to use with students.
This site is an inventive way to incorporate geography into any subject matter.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Google SketchUp

Recently I had a student who used Google SketchUp to complete an assignment on fault lines.  He recreated faults using the tools of the program.  The final results were fantastic! (pictured below) If you are unfamiliar with Google SketchUp, it is a 3D model drawing program. The free version is more than enough for use in the classroom.  However, they do provide a pro account, but is pricey ($495).  This might be a product that high school tech ed teachers may use for drafting blueprints and such. Additionally, Google SketchUp provides a gallery with examples from professionals and amateurs alike.
In the past I have also used Google SketchUp in math.  It integrates well with concepts like surface area, volume, measurement, and geometry.

 Divergent Fault
Horizon Elementary on a Strike-Slip Fault

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today's Meet, Smart Phones, and Ipods

This week I was searching for a way to get my students excited about brainstorming new topics.  It hit me that a live feed on the interactive whiteboard would do the trick.  That's when TodaysMeet came to mind. TodaysMeet is a site in which the user can create a "room" with a distinct URL that can then be shared.

Since about half of my class has either a smart phone or an ipod touch, this site was a perfect fit.  After explaining the site and its functions, students were directed to our "room".  (Keep in mind that your classroom needs a fairly strong wireless signal the keep the ipods moving at a rapid pace.)  The students really liked the ability to see the live feed on the interactive whiteboard as they entered their ideas.  We have also used Edmodo to brainstorm and share ideas via live feed.  You can read about that here.  However, I prefer TodaysMeet because the screen around the feed has less visual distractions.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quick Maps

Quick Maps uses Google Maps to let students create and annotate maps. The best part about Quick Maps is that the students DO NOT have to create an account.  Each map can be saved and assigned a unique URL.  Students can then bookmark/save that URL for further editing or viewing map.  However users do have the option to create an account in which all created maps would be saved. Embed codes are also given to each map for placement in blogs, wikis, etc.  Quick Maps offers a great alternative to posters, and other map making sites that aren't as user friendly for younger students.