Web 2.0

I’m headed back to Dominica this summer to teach a two week course about integrating technology into the classroom.  I can’t wait!  It is my third trip down to the tiny island nation (not the Dominican Republic – look it up!) Everyone cross your fingers for no hurricanes. The Caribbean in July can be a bit touch and go! I’m also looking forward to hiking in the rain forest some more. It’s me way down in the pink in the photo!
The IT for Dominica project aims to provide professional development to teachers in the area of technology in education.  Our plan for this summer roughly looks like this so far:
Day 1

  • Getting to know each other
  • “Begin at the end” – Course aims and goals
  • Getting to know the lab
  • Setting up e-mail accounts
  • Introduction to Blogs

–      Existing blogs

–      How might teachers use blogs

–      How blogs fit in the classroom

–      Create your own blog: edublogs.org

–      Copy/paste into a blog from Word

–      View each other’s blog

Day 2

  • Tool of the Day: wallwisher.com
    • Web Use, Searching, and Safety

–      Typing programs (Bruce’s Typing Tutor and Dance Mat Typing)

–      Web Searching (Kid safe searching, image searching, ethical use)

–      Image Searching – Creative Commons and Ethical Use

  • Social Networking (Twitter, Facebook)

–      Internet Safety and Social Networks

  • Review Blogs

–      Add Photos

–      Add Links

Day 3

  • Tool of the Day: wordle.net
  • Social Bookmarking – Delicious
  • Exploring to find web sites for participants specific curricula: add five to personal blog
  • RSS Google Reader and building a network to find resources
  • Creation of a Dominica Ning to connect teachers
  • Blog Entry – Favourite web site that meets their classroom needs and discussion of student safety

Day 4

  • Tool of the Day: puzzle websites
  • Introduction to Wikis: wikispaces.com

–      existing wikis

–      describe how teachers may use a wiki

–      how wikis fit in the classroom

  • Curricular ties
  • Classroom wiki use examples

–          start Dominica Wiki

–          create your own wiki using Wikispaces

–          copy/paste into a wiki from Word

–          Pages, History, Discussion Settings on a Wiki

–          Inserting video into wikis from youtube and teachertube

–          view each other’s wikis

  • Blog Entry: Describe the difference between a wiki and a blog.

Day 5

  • Tool of the Day: Google Earth
  • Introduction to Podcasting
  • Audacity, Myna
  • Soungle.com – sound searching
  • Blog Entry: How can I use sound in my classroom

Day 6

  • Tool of the Day: wordle.net
  • Introduction to Glogs: glogster.com/edu

–      existing glogs

–      registering a class

–      create a glog

  • Blog Entry: Educational uses for Glogster

Day 7

  • Tool of the Day: Animoto.com
  • Video in the classroom
  • Jaycut, Masher, Goanimate, Xtranormal, MeMoov
  • Blog Entry: How can video enhance teaching?

Day 8

  • Tool of the Day: Woopid.com, Google Docs, Open Office
  • Productivity Tools
  • Marking and Storing Grades Excel, Engrade
  • Blog Entry: Web 2.0 vs. Productivity Tools – where should our efforts focus?

Day 9

  • Tool of the Day: picnik.com, taggalaxy, flickr
  • How to make the best use of limited resources
  • What can I do with one computer
  • What other tools do I have to use in my classroom
  • Cell phones in the classroom

Day 10

  • Tool of the Day: Prezi, Ahead – Presentation Tools
  • Discussion: How to bring about change, sharing, and collaborating
  • Show and share day
  • Course Evaluation

For the second time I attended and presented at the Teacher 2 Teacher Conference in Bow Island, Alberta.  I had a fantastic time meeting and connecting with some of my favourite tweeters and bloggers.  I met @dougpete @jameshollis @langwitches @rmbyrne @techchick94 among others!

I found some great new resources and was reintroduced into some I had forgotten about.  Check out these useful sites:

ToonDoo: http://www.toondoo.com/ – a comic creator

Scribblemaps: http://scribblemaps.com/ – Draw all over google maps

Many Eyes: http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/ – Data Visualization, graphs, word clouds, very useful!

Magnetic Poetry: http://www.magneticpoetry.com/play.html – create poetry one word at a time

Flavors.me: http://flavors.me/ – Create visual CV from content all over the internet – Use it with older students to show them the impact and lasting affects on their choices.

Blabberize: http://blabberize.com/ – like Crazy Talk – bring your photos to life, add audio and they will talk!

Screentoaster: http://www.screentoaster.com/ – Screen recording – very easy!

Zimmer Twins: http://zimmertwins.ca/ – story starters (and endings) in the form of a movie.  Students plan, write and create the end of a story.  Very neat!

Boolify: http://www.boolify.org/ – teach kids Boolean logic and search techniques

Coverit Live – http://www.coveritlive.com/ – a live backchannel, sharing chat you can embed in another site and archive for future use

Bomomo: http://bomomo.com/ – a memorizing graphic creation site

The Big Picture: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/ – a great source for lesson starter photos to create discussion and interest

Anagram Generator: http://wordsmith.org/anagram/ – make anagrams to practice vocabulary or put into smart lessons

Awesome Highlighter: http://www.awesomehighlighter.com/ – add highlighting and sticky notes to a webpage, it create a new URL that directs to the website with your “additions”  This could be used with Jog the Web to highlight information you want students to focus on in a webquest

Vorbeo: http://vorbeo.com/ – add a poll to your website, your students will love it!

Lovely Charts: http://my.lovelycharts.com/ – an online diagramming application, mindmapping, very nice visuals, and very smooth

Lino It: http://en.linoit.com/ – a lot like wallwisher, but you can add photos to add comments around!

Sharetabs: http://sharetabs.com/ – create one page with thumbnails of other websites to click on and visit.  Great to compile a list of sites for students to use for research a particular topic

I’m always looking for ways to engage my students. We have been learning about the Canadian Shield in Social Studies. My student teacher has taken over the unit, but I had to suggest an activity to get the kids motivated and thinking.  We backchanneled with our grade five class while they watched Survivorman.

Survivorman is a program where Les Stroud is dropped into a wilderness situation and has to survive for 7 days.  I use it to teach geography is many contexts.  It shows the land, Les is a fantastic wilderness photographer, and what resources are available.   His arctic episode is great for my unit on the north, the swamp episode perfect for wetlands, and the Costa Rica episode is wonderful for Rainforests.  He even has one where he is lost at sea that would tie into teaching about oceans.  The list could go on…

The idea of backchanneling is one I’ve seen blogged about before, and I was very intrigued with how it might look with elementary aged students.  The moment I showed them Today’s Meet they couldn’t wait to get started.  I chose to use Today’s Meet as my backchannel tool because it is very simple, clean, and not distracting.  The students focus on the message and the information being presented, not ads or flashing banners.  It allows the students to enter a simple name and they are in the chat instantly.  It also displays their name so I can easily track who posted what comment.  Perfect!

My student teacher and I posted discussion starters such as this to get the kids focused in their comments:
The students were fantastic.  They shared ideas, asked questions to each other, and had some very insightful thoughts:
This comment tied the Social Studies lesson back to the novel study we had just completed in Language Arts – yeah!!
This comment showed the point we were trying to make about Northern Canada – trees!!  It’s great when the students can point out the main idea and reach the important conclusions!
The students started to put themselves in the situation:
Another great question!  (Remembering I’m in rural Canada and using animals for food is very much a part of normal life for my farm children)
This was one of my favourites!  A student threw out a fantastic question that led to all sorts of discussion!
Even the basics get taken care of on the backchannel!

For the past two summers I have spent two weeks instructing teachers on the island of Dominica (not the Dominican Republic – look it up!) .

I’m going back (pending funding, masters program timing, and other “details”) this July for a third session.

Each year as I go I love what I do, but I see an opportunity to make a larger impact and really transform the way technology is approached in Dominica.  Just trying to change the world, no big deal!

My IT Masters course this semester has been all about Professional Development.  I took on the IT for Dominica project to dissect and improve as part of my studies of Instructional Technology Leadership.

I wrote two papers all about the project.

The first is a critique of my last two years in Dominica.  It was hard to reflect on my own choices and mistakes, but a process necessary to move forward.

Critique IT for Dominica Project

The second is a plan for the July 2010 IT for Dominica summer institute.  These are my thoughts and are most likely subject to change after consultation with my yet to be named teaching partner, the head of the project, Dr. Maurice Hollingsworth, and the Ministry of Education in Dominica.

IT for Dominica Professional Growth and Development Proposal

The program focuses on Web 2.0 and building a collaborative teaching and learning network in the Commonwealth of Dominica.  It’s an interesting read if you interested in Web 2.0 or if you are interested in IT in the developing world.

I would love feedback and suggestions.  At this point the assignment is officially submitted, but the institute is months away.  There is a lot of time to make it the best it can possibly be.

There has also been quite a bit of day dreaming about hiking in the rainforest instead of hiding from the snowy Canadian winter and -35 temperatures…

I have developed a fantastic network of upper elementary educators.  We VC with our classes, share ideas, and of course work on projects together.

Our latest project is the idea of Zoe Branigan-Pipe, from Hamilton, Ontario.  We work together all the time.  I met Nathan Toft and Jane Smith in Brazil.  After the trip they met Zoe in person in Toronto and commented how much we were alike.  It’s funny how people are drawn to working together.

We built a collaborative Animoto project with three other classes based around the Ben Harper song, “With My Own Two Hands”


Each class listened to the song and created visual representations of what they heard.  My students loved it.  They commented that the felt like listening to the song and working with the lyrics felt like looking at a poem (and light bulb moment!!).  It was their idea to turn the lyrics into a wordle!   We tied it in with Remembrance Day.  It was a great way of starting a discussion on war, remembrance, change, and peace.

We worked with:
Mr. Turner’s Grade 5 Class from Glendale, Arizona
Mrs. Branigan-Pipe’s Grade 5/6 from Hamilton, Ontario
Mr. Poluck’s Grade 5/ from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

What have I done?

I’ve created a groups of kids that rolls their eyes if I pull out a worksheet.  Ok, so I roll my eyes when I pull out a worksheet.  Generally that worksheet is tied to a project with technology.  My two worksheets of the week were to build a timeline we later created on word, and a page of notes we made mind maps out of.

They expect to connect with the world everyday.  They blog with students all over the world and want to share everything they learn.  We Skype and Videoconference with classes from anywhere with timezones that match up with ours. They want to make a podcast instead of writing notes. I love it!

We are working on building wikis, communicating with other classes using Edmodo and Onenote liveshares, posting to forums on Moodle,  and using GPS to find ourselves and follow travel bugs all over the world. The map shows all of our global connections so far, and it`s only been a month, I will keep adding to it! Zoom out to see the whole world!

Red – Travel Bug Stops
Yellow – Wiki Collaborators (More to Come Very soon!)
Light Blue – Marvin Moodle Collaborators
Blue – Blog Partners
Pink – Video Conferences
Green – Travel Bug Sharing

I had to start a spreadsheet of all of my projects to try and keep everything straight.  I’m completely rewriting my year plans to match the new way I’m approaching teaching.  My entire teaching world is shifting.  Three years ago I taught in a traditional school.  I loved teaching there, but now that I’ve met, collaborated with, and learned from some amazing people my world is expanding.  This is expanding the world of my students.

I’m working away on a master’s program in Instructional Technology Leadership.  This program has led me to challenge the way I look at not only technology, but leadership, and where I want to go with my career.  My Personal Learning Network (PLN) on twitter have been an unending source of inspiration, ideas, collaboration opportunities, and resources.  I read blogs, listen to podcasts, and network with some of the best minds in technology education.  These influences are changing me, my classroom, and my world.

Bring on October!!

Over the last two years I’ve eased my way into blogging with my grade 5 students in the classroom.  I started with a simple blog where students left comments on a particular topic.  It was more of a forum than a blog, but it was a starting point.

I then started to open the blog to comments from more than just my students, inviting other classes and educators to leave comments.  I also had my students comment on the blogs of others.

This year I started blogs on the second day of school.  My goal is to provide a place for students to write, grow, and express themselves.  Sometimes the topics will be very prescribed, other times they topics will be of the students own choice.

I’m using edublogs as my student blogging platform.  I choose it for the safe, more protected environment that it provides.  I blog at wordpress and at edublogs and I like both.  I’ve tried blogger and google spaces, but I like the dashboard editing environment of wordpress/edublogs.

I set up all of the student accounts ahead of time.  I used the gmail + method described here to set up accounts.  I used numbers and the school acronym as usernames instead of the students’ names to provide a more closed environment.  I set up everything a head of time so we didn’t have to go through the process of choosing usernames, email confirmation, and a general headache.

The first day of blogging was learning how to log in, picking a theme, and renaming the title of the blog.  Some students are still at this point and slowly making changes.  A few are flying and have already written several posts.  I gave them a set prompt to write from on the second day, and we all had to learn how to copy and paste from the class blog to their own.

@mswecker and @fivbert were kind enough to leave comments for my students.  I can’t wait to go back on Tuesday to see the reactions of the students who see they have comments!  They are going to be very excited.

Visit their blogs here!

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