Edmodo!

Edmodo is a fantastic tool for the classroom teacher! It brings social learning, collaboration, creativity, and efficiency closer togetheredmodo  for you and for your students. It’s not a new tool for me, but I’ve recently become more interested in it.

Here are a few things you can do with Edmodo:

  • Create classes for your students to join
  • Send notes and alerts, give assignments, quizzes, and polls
  • Create a “library” of resources that may be freely shared with any of your connections
  • Gather ideas from other teachers around the world
  • Link to your Google account so you can have access to your documents

Watch this Getting Started video to find out how you can use Edmodo in the classroom:

 

Edmodo is a wonderful learning management system that I believe you and your students will enjoy using. If you are interested in learning more, let me know. I’ll be glad to help!

Biome Project

The following videos highlight a biome project some students at Nimitz Middle School are doing. We will use Google Drive, Sketchpad 3, and Videolicious to accomplish the task of creating presentations that display student learning of various biomes and food chains.

All work will be completed with iPads.

This series of videos will introduce the project, and show where the links to biome pictures may be accessed through Moodle. Details on how to get those pictures onto an iPad are also addressed.

In short, students will access a Google Drive folder or a Weebly site, where the biome pics are stored. They will take a screen shot of the pics they want (or tap and hold to save the image), so that they are stored on the iPad in the camera roll. Then, they will open the app called Sketchpad 3 and bring in their photos and arrange them in a food chain order. They can add arrows between the pictures to indicate energy flow, and then export their finished chain to the camera roll. Finally…students will bring all their pics/videos together in the Videolicious app to make a video presentation of their learning. Did I say “in short”?

How to use Sketch Pad 3 and Videolicious are topics picked up in the videos that follow.

 

This video will show you how to use the Sketch Pad app to build your food chain.

This video will show you how to take all your creations and put them into Videolicious for the final product.

 

Video of the final product

 

Using Voice Thread in the Classroom

Check out this embedded Voice Thread! I had fun making this example, and I hope you’ll give it a try with your students. If you’d like me to come to your classroom to show how to use this tool, let me know.

Note:

Voice Thread requires you to set up a free account in order to use their service. You may click on the picture while it’s playing in order to zoom in.

Feel free to leave a comment!

Video Conference Victory

2012-10-25 13.28.39

 

 

I recently had the pleasure of learning about the Polycom units that are available for conducting video conferences in our district. Travis Kersten, a teacher at Jackson Middle School, asked me to assist him in the endeavor of participating in a Region 7 videoconference related to Texas History.

Our three participants (shown above) did a super job of explaining the learning acquired during research projects and field trips related to El Camino Real, a name given to the travel route taken by explorers from Mexico to East Texas. The amazing thing about the conference is that approximately 1,200 students across the state participated that day. What a way to collaborate and share information!

This new experience opened my eyes to the various opportunities afforded to the classroom teacher of the future. Making the world smaller is a viable option these days. Classrooms from their respective corners of the world can now be connected with the technology at our fingertips.

I look forward to the educational adventures that could spring from this activity!

 

Polycom Video Conference Unit

Integrating Science Instruction and Technology

There are many tools available to teachers who are interested in infusing technology into their instruction. Below are a few ideas that may help the science instructor.

Google Earth

This tool continues to grow in importance. At the most basic level, Google Earth allows teachers to guide their students through the exploration of the Earth. For science instructors, the potential is huge. Analyzing the theory of plate tectonics, surveying landforms, and studying weather patterns are only a few of the activities that Google Earth will put at your students’ fingertips. Add to this that you can create a custom tour and save it as a file, and you’ll find that Google Earth is one of those indispensable tools in the science classroom.

Edmodo

In these days in which Facebook is a household name, sites like Edmodo gain prominence. Using Edmodo as a learning management system is not far from your reach. The setup is minimal, because all you do is create a course (First Period, for example) and a code is generated. Give the code to your students, and they now may sign up on their own and join your group.

With Edmodo, teachers can send messages, alerts, links, assignments, quizzes, and polls to their students. Another great feature is the Library within Edmodo. This aspect may be used as a shared drive to upload to and share with students.

Don’t underestimate the value of Edmodo in the classroom.

Discovery Streaming

Many are familiar with this great tool, but not many of us use it to its full capacity. Besides the streaming videos that are available to you, there are also lesson plans, interactives, quiz builders, assignment builders, and the teacher resource center for instruction needs and also for professional development, only to name a portion of the resources at DS. Please see your campus librarian if you do not have your credentials to login.

Response Systems

Make raising your hand a lot more fun! Use one of the many response systems that are on the market. Some exist on campus (Turning Point Clickers available for check out in the library) and others are free online.

Some online possibilities are as follows:

Each of the above tools have varied learning curves and features offered. Make it your goal to use a couple of these in the classroom this school year.
 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2011/02/02/something-just-clicks-in-large-lectures/ 
 

 Google Docs

Google describes their product rather well…

What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a suite of products that lets you create different kinds of online documents, work on them in real time with other people, and store your documents and your other files — all online, and all for free. With an Internet connection, you can access your documents and files from any computer, anywhere in the world. (There’s even some work you can do without an Internet connection!) This guide will give you a quick overview of the many things that you can do in Google Docs.

 
http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=49008
 

If you are interested in learning more about using Google Docs in the classroom, let me know, and I’ll give you credentials for you and your students to start using this robust technology tool.

 

Web 2.0

You’ve probably heard the term, but what does it mean, really? Web 2.0 is a term used to describe the next generation of the web. “Back in the day” we used to access the internet strictly for information. Now we can do that plus a whole lot more. We can interact with sites and leave with a product. That’s Web 2.0. That’s empowering students and teachers.

Below is a list of some various Web 2.0 tools you may find helpful or intriguing:

  •  Fodey – generate your own newspaper clipping
  • Lino It – online sticky note message board
  • Educreations – create your own screencast videos with a white board as a backdrop
  • Diigo – collect bookmarks, make annotations and highlights, and organize them in your own library
  • How Big Really – compare the size of events or places in our world and in space with our local zip code.

 

Don’t Forget About SMART!

Remember that you can visit the SMART Exchange and set up a free account. While there, be sure to search for ready-made SMART lessons that can be used with a SMART board, with a slate, or simply with a laptop or desktop. There are many excellent lessons already designed that may be downloaded, saved, and changed to fit your TEKS. Visit the SMART Exchange today!

 

 

Using Audacity

Here is a screencast that will show you how to use Audacity to produce an mp3 file that could be burned to a CD or shared in Windows Media Player directly from your computer.

You could also use that MP3 file to import into presentations in Moviemaker, PowerPoint, or even into a Web 2.0 site like Animoto.

I used Jing to make the screencast.

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Why I Think Wikis are Way Cool

I recently made the observation that my children gravitate toward digital games like Oregon Trail and others that allow users to build their own “worlds.” I asked them what they like most about these games, and their replies were as such:

I like that you can build things.

I like that you can move around and do things.

I like that you can move everywhere.

It seems the essence of what they enjoy about these games can be distilled to two big ideas: FREEDOM and WORK.

How can those two words be in the same sentence, you say? I scratch my head on this one as well, but it seems to clarify some things for me. I personally enjoy the same things my children enjoy. I like the freedom to work as I think I ought to work. Don’t get me wrong. I am not espousing that all employers should blow the lid off of any company regulation. Neither am I encouraging teachers to allow a free-for-all environment in their classrooms. That can only end in disaster.

What I am suggesting is that students want their own “world” in which they can “move around” and “build things.” Children, just like adults, respond to the freedom to express themselves. They also respond well to teachers who trust them until there is reason not to trust.

Risky, huh? It is. But I know from my own experience that when I fostered this type of environment, the students appreciated it, and I was exhausted, but thrilled at the end of the day. This setting revitalized me as a teacher.

So what am I trying to say? A few things…

1) The technology we have at our fingertips today (infused into our teaching practice) affords us with some amazing opportunities to enrich the lives of our students, and to rejuvenate ourselves in the process.

2) Since children like to “build things,” and respond to the teacher who allows them the freedom to build, I suggest that wikis and blogs should be used regularly in the classroom.

3) I understand that embracing this shift away from traditional teaching is something that mandates plenty of up-front time investment, but that there is a rewarding pay-off in the end. If you make this jump, your students will thank you, and you will be encouraged.

I spent 18 years as a classroom teacher, and I had many varied experiences in this capacity. I grew as a teacher alongside technology as it grew to become what it is today. I left the classroom at the beginning of this school year to become an instructional technology specialist. Had I stayed in the classroom, I would have jumped right into the extensive use of wikis and blogs in education. I dreamed of maintaining a class wiki in which a growing body of knowledge would enrich the lives of my students for many years. The idea of community intrigued me. I hope you are intrigued as well.

Some resources:

The Definition of a Wiki

Free Wikispaces for Educators

PB Works for Educators

Zoho

Mediawiki – for the true geek in you

Ideas:

mrcloudsclass.com – my former web site

https://podcast1.neisd.net/users/dcloud1/ – my former, former blog

Ideas for Using Wikis in Education

Wikis in the Classroom

Using Wikis in the Classroom – YouTube Video