Web 2.0 Tools-Thing 14

I really enjoyed experimenting with several of these tools and thinking about how I could use them in my class. I was particularly interested in two of the tools. The first one, Polldaddy, allows you to create polls and surveys and embed them in a website or blog. This past year I came up with the idea of having students take a poll about their individual religious beliefs, but I could not think of a way to have them, easily, compare their beliefs to others in their class. Polldaddy would make this possible. It would also be helpful for me, as their teacher, to gain a better understanding of the religious oberservances/beliefs of my students.

The second tool that interested me was Timetoast, a tool that allows you to create timelines. I actually used to have my students create a Biblical timeline using PowerPoint, but this tool seems like it might be a much more effective way for students to collect and present the same information. It allows you to include pictures and information about a specific event, and then places all your events on an interactive timeline. Very cool!

All of these tools are really creative ways to help students learn, organize, and share information. The interactive tools are particularly appealing becasue they provide students the opportunity to teach and also critique eachother’s work.  They can also be very effective for teaching students how to organize information, focus on what’s important, and use visuals, sound, etc. to emphasize one’s message.

My Life on the USS Enterprise-Thing 12

This was fun, but VERY time consuming. I can see how it would be a great tool to use in the classroom however. It has a lot of the same “fun” effects that a video has, but it is much simpler to create.

1. StarTrek.sg vs. StarWars.sg by inju –http://www.flickr.com/photos/inju/2738867068/

2. Boldly go where no man has gone before by San Diego Shooter –http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathaninsandiego/2650022174/

3. an illegal alien? by massdistraction-http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharynmorrow/181951738/

4. Picard Snow Meter Dec 2008 by Melkir- http://www.flickr.com/photos/melkir/3118571142/

5. Planet Topovdiruff of the two suns by Creativity+Timothy K. Hamilton http://www.flickr.com/photos/bestrated1/28824135/

6. Milky Way, Jupiter and Scorpio by Alireza Teimouryhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/teimoury/2420738443/

7. Bryan Adams High School Hallway by Dean Terry – http://www.flickr.com/photos/therefore/18636595/

8. UFP by ronallan- http://www.flickr.com/photos/91673513@N00/8525492/

Flickr-Thing 11

Learning about flickr, and then seeing how some teachers have incorporated flickr into their lessons, was interesting and certainly sparked some creative thinking on my part. I teach Judaics, and in the past I have started the year by asking students what they think about religion. I have played the XTC song “Dear God” to spark discussion. (The song bascially blames God for a lot of the problems in the world, or at least blames God for not intervening to help.) In the future I could certainly create a sideshow with flickr images that depict both the incredible culture, art, architecture, etc. religion has encouraged, as well as the violence. I could then use the slideshow for a starting point of discussion, and have students create their own slideshows about their personal feelings/relationship to religion.

Photo by jordi.martorell

Photo by tyler durden1

When I taught English, an introductory assignment I used to give the students was to pick a song that they felt revealed something about them, and then write a paragraph explaining their choice. Using flickr they could also “illustrate” the song, and thereby add a visual literacy component to the project.

Finally, I have had students present research papers using MovieMaker. (Not my idea, but something I heard about from Dr. Jim Cope at a young adult lit. conference.) Flicker would be a great resource for the students to find photos for the project.

Creative Commons-Thing 10

This was interesting information. I visited the OER Commons site and found a number of interesting resources. I have to admit, although I have considered the copyright implications of using photos and music from the web, I never thought about whether I could legally use other teacher’s work-webquests, etc. I also didn’t realize that anything I put on the web was automtically copyrighted. The OER site had a lot of resources, and it’s easy to sort through them to narrow down the results to a fairly manageable amount.

Regarding the question of who owns my teaching materials, when I first signed the contract at my latest job there was a clause stating that the school owned any intellectual property I produced while on the job. That seemed a little unfair to me. Three years later, and with a new administration, I could no longer find that clause in the latest contract. I’m not sure if that was an intentional change or an oversight on someone’s part.

At any rate the creative commons is a great innovation that will help enforce the ideas of copyright material and what is and isn’t legally available. I’m assuming that most schools would not block these sites. When my students were working on a movie-maker project last year and needed musical clips, our school librarian gave me a list of several sites that had musical clips that could be legally used. Unfortunately all the sties were blocked by the school, or required a download that the school would not permit. The creative commons sites will hopefully bypass these issues.

Reading the Blogs-Thing 7A

I read a couple of entries from Vicky Davis’ blog and found several things that interested me.

First, on one blog from May 28 she includes a video of her classroom which explains some of the ways she has integrated technology into her class. I didn’t realize she taught in a small, rural Georgia school, and yet she connects her students with technology, and other students around the world, in ways that rival anything we are doing in our school.

I also read a blog she wrote about school daze, or how she spends her summer vacation. This blog let me see another aspect of blogging I hadn’t really considered-the personal connection. Perhaps connection is the wrong word, but in this blog Vicki shared information about her family, how they use their summer time, how she needs to use the time; it was interesting to “get to know” this side of her. It’s like when you read a book and you really want to know something about the author, but all you get is the blurb on the inside flap. It humanizes the author, so the experience of reading her blogs is more personal, or relatable to, than reading, say, Harry Wong’s The First Days of School.

Wikis-Thing 8

I used a wiki this year for my classes that resembled, in content, the wiki Jennifer Barnett created for her high school students. I included a weekly calendar of assignments, explaining briefly what we covered in class and what the homework was. I also included links to class hand-outs and sites where students could go for helpful, relevant information. There was a section on the wiki where students had to post answers to “Thought Questions” (questions that related to the topics or big ideas we were discussing in class.) Finally there was also a section where students posted collaborative projects, that other students and classes could use as a resource for an on-going project that was due at the end of the year. I loved how the wiki enabled students to discuss issues that related to what we were covering in class, but that we didn’t have time to really get into. Students not only answered my questions, but responded to each other’s comments. It was also great having a place students could go to, to get homework assignments and extra copies of the hand-outs they lost.

One challenge I found was the privacy issue. At first I asked students to not use their actual names, but simply sign posts with their initials and class period. But of course some students didn’t listen, read the directions, and used their own names. Or, they would refer to another classmate’s ideas, using that classmate’s name. A couple of parents were not comfortable having their children’s names on a site that was open to the public, so I password protected the site. Of course those same students who couldn’t “remember” to not use their own names, had trouble remembering a site password. I guess that experience just proved nothing is foolproof, and in teaching, as in all professions, there are always a handful of fools.

I also looked at the Holcaust Writing Project wiki. That is a different type of wiki. The teacher is using the space to post projects, and allow students a space to collaborate and view eachother’s work. An interesting idea that I will have to think about more to consider how I might use in my class. I’m not sure how this differs from having students post projects to the school server, although with a wiki I guess students can access them anywhere, and not just at school.

One thing I think makes wikis so interesting is the potential to collaborate across school, state, and even national boundaries, as they do in the  Flat Classsroom Project. This is something I could have used when I was teaching modern Israeli history. I would have loved to try to set up some sort of collaborative wiki with Israeli and Palestinian students. It’s sort of like the pen pal idea, only with more people, and you don’t have to wait weeks for the letter.

A Sampling of Blogs-Thing 5

I really enjoyed reading about Lucie deLaBruere’s visit to an an elementary school in Arizona in her Friday Five blog.  When describing the students’ work habits,  she used the phrase “take charge of their learning.” She then proceeds to describe several of the computer programs and activities-most technology linked- the students were participating in. One thing I have learned in my teaching experience is that it takes a lot of training to get students to the point where they can individually or in groups “take charge of their learning.” I have managed this more successfully when the entire school philosophy is built around the idea that students should be active participants rather than passive recipients. I would love to hear more from other teachers who have managed to successfully create this kind of environment in their classroom.