Dec 24, 2010

Top Ten from 2010...What would you add to this list?

Here is a list of 2.0 tools that were awesome in our school in 2010.

1. Imagination Cubed: Draw pictures with friends (anywhere). This is a great tool for anticipatory sets and closures.

2. Tagxedo: It is similar to wordle and imagechef, where you can create a word collage but with tagxedo you can add awesome images to bring more meaning to your collage.

This tagexdo was made to introduce our staff to our school community. Here is a tagexdo of one of our teacher's.

3. Wallwisher: A collaborative way to share thoughts with virtual sticky notes.

Our school community used this wallwisher to share our thoughts on hope after reading the book "Ruby's Hope".

4. Prezi: A presentation tool that uses a map that has multiple layers and interesting ways to layout text, image and video. It is a non-linear way to present information.

This prezi was made to deepen our understanding of the 7 Habits at our school. Grade 3 students then made their own prezi on the habits.

5. Glogster EDU: This is a virtual poster. You can add images, videos and graphics to present information.

This glog was made to introduce our computer club on our school wiki.

6. Domo-Animate: You can create mini movies with domo.

This is made by a Grade One student.

7. Tag Galaxy: You can find lots of great images on tag galaxy.

8. I moved from Delicious to Diigo this past year. I love the collaboration with research, the highlighting and sticky notes.

9. Twitter is definitely a favorite. This is a place where I reflect with my PLN on Web 2.0 and 21st Century Learning.

And one that I just discovered and will begin playing with to see how I will use it in the classroom is:

10. Museum Box: You can showcase images and present information in a unique, multi-layered way.

Look at this museum box on the inner planets:

Click a box and it takes you to a cube with information that a student has added:

Whew! That is a cool tool! I can't wait to try it with my class in the New Year.

What was your favorite 2.0 tool that you used this past year?

Dec 3, 2010

How does google really work?

I heard about googlebots a while ago and began to wonder if they really do help make my searches more efficient.

I went to one of my favourite networks (youtube) to find answers to my wonderings. The video below does a fine job of explaining how the google search engine works. It discusses the "spiders" or google bots, which are sent out and go to websites to collect data. One type of data that they collect include the number of people that visit a site. When you search for something, know that the sites that appear first for you have been ranked by the bots based on how many hits (visits) it has had.

There are certain "tricks" that you can learn to refine your searches and to get more of what you want. It would be important for students to research ways to effectively search and to find tips and tricks for their research assignments. They can use simple tricks discussed below and search for "google + operators" where they will find google cheat sheets and guides to help specify searches. I typed in "google + operators" and came up with some quick, easy tips (and cheats) to refine my searches so that I get what I am searching for.

Here are 5 quick tips to begin efficient searching:

1. By adding "intext" before key words in a search, you get a search for the word in the main body of the text.

2. By adding "inurl" to a search will give you terms within just the url (uniform resource locator-the web address). If you want to see what the website you searched for looked like the last time the bot visited the page, just add the term "cache" before the url in the search.

3. By adding "info:" to the search, you will get just the information on the subject.

4. To find sites that have keywords in the title of a page add "intitle:" or "allintitle"

5. To find links to a particular webpage add "link:" before the url in your search.

Don't forget about the google advanced feature!

Students and teachers can save time and get great information when they know how to find it and understand how it found them!

Happy surfing!

Nov 29, 2010

How can you engage an audience?

Holidays are coming! Jib Jab is a great place to send e-cards or make quick movies to engage an audience. Make sure you have the person's permission before taking their picture and using it in a jib jab. Permission from the AMAZING Scout (you may know her from "Air Bud") was granted for the following jib jabs:

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

The AMAZING Scout (Air Buddy) takes some air in this rendition of the 60's Disco dance. She is a very versatile actor.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

I plan to use these jib jabs to warm up my class tomorrow before we jump into acting! Nothing like "Air Buddy" to inspire others. Thanks Air Buddy.

Nov 6, 2010

How do you move through the digital galaxy?

I recently came across a really cool 2.0 tool called tag galaxy. It is pretty incredible! Check it out:

Step 1: Put in keyword for an image search. I used the word "Alberta."

Step 2: Click search!

Step 3: All images are from flickr.

How would you use this in the classroom??

Oct 31, 2010

How can we move anticipatory sets up a notch?

I recently participated in an engaging workshop by Jim Knight (instructional coach guru). My favorite part of the two day workshop was our conversations on thinking devices which are "provocative objects that teachers can use to prompt dialogue and higher order thinking". They also need to be "complex, concise, humanizing, varied and not lame" (Jim Knight, 2010).

When using thinking devices we need to be aware of the kind of learning we want the students engaged in. Jim Knight talked about two kinds of learning when using thinking devices.

1. Mechanical Learning: Mechanical learning refers to the "learning students experience when the knowledge,skills, and big ideas to be learned in a class are unambiguous, when the outcomes are unmistakable and straight forward, and when there is a right and wrong answer that can be clearly identified" (Jim Knight, 2010).

2. Metaphoric Learning:
Metaphorical learning requires higher level thinking and "shares attributes with metaphor; it is by definition ambiguous, and functions indirectly. Metaphorical knowledge has no clear right and wrong outcome" (Jim Knight, 2010).

Jim Knight used a variety of youtube videos for his anticipatory sets and it was really neat to see how each video he showed created a positive climate in the room, which is an important aspect of the thinking device as it needs to be humanizing.

Here some videos he shared:

Playing for Change:

Mechanical Learning: Using google earth, have students identify and plot the places where they recorded the song.
Metaphorical Learning: How can we create change through music?


Metaphorical Learning: How can you persevere?

Maurice Cheeks:

Metaphorical Learning: How can we be leaders?

The Piano

Metaphorical Learning: How can we motivate people by making something more fun?

Here are a few more sites that could prompt great conversations including:

The Slide

The Elevator

The Shopping Carts

Anti Boredom Campaign

The World's Deepest Bin

Bottle Bank Arcade


Which sites have you come across that we could add to this list?

Oct 5, 2010

What is student engagement?

I recently visited a teacher's classroom and enjoyed watching students being completely engaged in their learning. I could tell they were engaged because they were on task and you could hear students talking about what they were discovering.

Students were answering the question: In what ways do natural resources and the physical geography of a region determine the establishment of communities?

During this Social Studies lesson, students created their own "community walk" through a very cool 2.0 tool. Considering this was the first time students were using this tool, you would expect that the learning would be about the tool, but it was so interesting to watch the students take off and completely engage in the various cities/towns that they were researching. Students researched the towns and cities to discover the region using google images and street view.

Here is the great 2.0 tool called "Community Walk."

Here is an example of a community walk:

CommunityWalk Map - Map 731016

Sep 5, 2010

Wow! I feel like Waldo!

I was checking out my twitter network tonight and I noticed this new background on somebody's site. There are tons of faces, even mine!

It is like "Where's Waldo?" Check me out:

After being totally pumped about this new tool, I went to twilk and made my background and it immediately filled my twitter page with my twitter PLN.

This is my twilk background. Is there any CHANCE that you see any other familiar faces?


Which blog host is the best?

Blogger, Wordpress and Edublogger are just a few places where you can create your own blog. If I am modeling blogging for my Grade 5 students and want them to experience the joy of blogging, I wonder which service to use?

Blogger is rated as the best blogging host on a number of sites including "Best Blogging Host." I can see why. You do not have to spend any money to have control over your blog and the layout is very user friendly. You have total control over all of your settings including privacy settings. It is also pretty fun to create a blog here, because of all of the templates and designs that users can use.

Wordpress is similar to blogger and is rated as the third best blogging host site. The themes and designs are very powerful and it is pretty easy to use. The downfall with Wordpress is that you have to download and install it before you can use it. (This is difficult in a school because most schools block downloads to reduce potential viruses).

I was sure that edublogs would be the best place to have my students create their own blog, but after I played around with it I was so disappointed to see that advertisements would pop up in my posts and I was unable to delete them. To me, this is a money making tactic by edublogs because I would have to spend money to upgrade inorder to get rid of the advertisements and have control over the content of my blog. You also have to spend money to have access to the cool templates and designs. Just because a 2.0 tool has "edu" in front of it, doesn't necessarily mean it will be the best for educational purposes.

So which site am I going with? Definitely blogger.

Aug 28, 2010

How can we teach 21st Century Literacy skills?

Aug 20, 2010

In what ways can we help our students build their PLNs?

As we begin a new school year and move forward into the 21st Century vision, I wonder how we build on what we did last year, and begin to help students identify their PLN?

The picture below is a great starting point and helps us to identify the necessary steps that we need to take with 2.o.

Jul 23, 2010

The Networked Teacher

How is your PLN developing?

Here is an image of the networked teacher, posted by Alec Courosa on Flickr:

Jul 18, 2010

D.I. with Web 2.0!

Here are some of my favorite 2.0 tools (made with tagxedo):

Here is a "Prezi" presentation made by Joseph Alvarado on Differentiating Instruction with Web 2.0.

Here are some more links that I found on google docs which help us think of new ways to differentiate instruction with 2.0:

"The Best of the Best by Edudemic":

What are your favorite 2.0 literacies?

Jul 11, 2010

We r connected!

“We are rising up in an understanding of our world, one that is connected” (Roche, 2010).

I bought an iphone a couple of months ago and most recently tried to update it with my computer and my iphone crashed. It completely stopped working. I use my iphone to connect with my “global community,” 24/7. When I am shopping, having coffee, or on my way to work, I have the capability to google my inquiries, check my twitter and facebook communities and text my friends. My G3 iphone connects me to my world in many ways. What was I going to do without it? It is part of me.

While I was listening to Senator Roche talk about how there is a development of a global conscience and how we need to create a culture of peace, I wondered how the internet has helped us in becoming more connected to the global community. Web 2.0 is pretty powerful. Web 2.0 is the second generation of web development, and it is what the internet is today . There are many Web 2.0 literacies that enable users to collaborate, create and engage with knowledge. The literacies include blogs, glogs, vlogs, podcasts, social bookmarking and social networking. I belong to all kinds of communities online. Is it possible that the communities online can create peace and develop global conscience?

One 2.0 tool that has made the world a little smaller is youtube. Youtube is a place where you can collaborate and share ideas through video. I learned to play the violin through my youtube network. I connected with experts, watched videos and asked lots of questions in this space. Youtube can be even more powerful than that. It can unite millions of total strangers in unique ways. I remember a few years ago, there was a massive pillow fight publicized on youtube. This global
pillow fight is an action thought up by artists Richard Maddalena and Kate Buckley and it has become an annual event (Equanimity, 2007). People from around the world including Israel, Chicago, and Buenos Aires all participate with their fluffy pillows and relive childhood moments that unite people in laughter and fluff!

Then there are social activist platforms that you can easily join to create a better world such as Earth Hour. Earth Hour started in 2007 to protest against climate change. Over 2.2 million people in Australia turned their lights off for an hour. This became a global action and in 2009 over 4000 cities in 88 countries turned off their lights for an hour. This was the largest global climate change initiative and by 2010 over 128 countries joined (Earth Hour, 2010). You can watch the amazing 2010 Earth Hour video at Earth Hour.

People around the world are able to gather around different media to collaborate, discuss and engage in things that matter to them. Even my Grade One class. My Grade One class, in rural Rocky Mountain House, collaborated with their global peers using many 2.0 literacies. They learned different ways that they belong in their world. They skyped with a Grade One classroom in Ontario, made wordles and podcasts for a class in Edmonton, connected through their wiki to create community stories with classrooms around Alberta and they blogged for the world. Every time someone visited their blog, they would use google earth and google to learn about the community. At five and six years old, these students have begun to develop an understanding of the world out there and started to create their global relationships and responsibilities in their world. I certainly agree with Senator Roche when he said that we have an "obligation and opportunity to reach out" and a responsibility (Roche, 2010). How do you reach out?

Jul 7, 2010

A real 2.0 gem!

Is this not the coolest wordle? I thought imagechef was great, until I came across this 2.0 tool last weekend. It is called tagxedo and being a 2.0 tool, it is incredibly easy to use. What I love about it, is that you can upload an image and add the words from any webpage simply by adding the URL (uniform resource locator, or website address). Why did I choose this particular image of Ghandi and a website about Ghandi for this post?

I am learning about Ghandi in a summer institute and have learned that Ghandi went to school to become a lawyer and went to South Africa to work and while he was there, he faced “blatant racism and discrimination” and began to advocate for civil rights and even became a leader of a political movement against racial discrimination (Burke, 2000). He did not believe in modernization, perhaps because society values “horse power” rather than “man power” (Dharmadhikari, 2003). Independence, autonomy, self sufficiency and self-reliance were characteristics of a society that Ghandi strived for and believed that an education reflects a society’s fundamental assumptions about itself and the individuals which compose it (Burke, 2000). Here, the education of powerful learning experiences is essential, since current experiences will shape future experiences. Dewey stated that the quality of the educational experience has an immediate effect and long term effect since they “promote having desirable future experiences” (Dewey, 1938). (Dewey, 1938).

Bringing this back to my present experiences and inquiring how online communities can impact education and learning, I began to think deeply about communities and the ones that I belong to. Therefore, in understanding our own individual stories, reflecting on them and sharing them, I believe, we can create a world of peace. Can peace be created through online communities?

Communities develop as people develop relationships and have a common vision and purpose (Vanier, 1998). My story of becoming part of communities online started with discussion forums where I would discuss books I was reading. From there I discovered messenger and IRC (internet relay chat) where I would join chat rooms to discuss books in real time. That fascinated me. Then I explored more social networks including the world renowned Facebook. I expanded my social networks and became a part of a community of learners on Twitter, Delicious, Diigo, all spaces where I get to explore, collaborate and discuss. The people that I connect with online, are all part of my personal learning network.

And back to my tagxedo of Ghandi. How did I learn about tagxedo? I found it through Diigo, which is one of my online personal learning networks. The ISTE conference was on the weekend and I was wishing that I was there. So I popped onto to twitter to see what people were saying about the conference. From the sounds of it, the coolest part of this conference is when people share some tools that they use in the classroom. I have to thank my PLN for posting the many tools and for sharing the wiki from the conference through the social bookmarking site, diigo. Here is ISTE 2010 unplugged, where you can "attend," even though it was last weekend!