Educreations Interactive Whiteboard

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Take a look at this tutorial video for a wonderful whiteboard/screencasting app called Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. You can acquire a free account at Educreations.com, and any videos you create on the iPad will upload directly to the cloud for later reference. This is a great app. I hope you explore the possible uses.

 

 

 

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!

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!

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

SMART, Web 2.0, and iPads, Oh My!

Below is the description of my teaching experience today. I taught a lesson with Marguerite Kane at Nimitz Middle School.

We continued today with a lesson about animal adaptations, and our focus was the Tasmanian Devil. We presented some video and pictures of the Tasmanian Devil via SMART Notebook, and we handed each student an iPad, and asked them to visit Today’s Meet at the following address: Today’s Meet

Hint: you’ll have to type tasmaniandevil in the blue box and press enter to see the room we created.

Today’s Meet is a site that allows the user to create a room for discussion and invite others to collaborate with them. You can follow the link above to see what our discussion looked like. The students absolutely loved being able to type in a response, and see it appear on the screen.

Then we had each student bring up the iPad and take a picture of a Tasmanian Devil that was projected on the screen. Once they had the picture, they were asked to open it in a free app called Educreations Interactive Whiteboard, and write about it. If we hadn’t run out of time, we would have asked the students to record their thoughts in Educreations, as it is also a screen and voice recorder. Maybe next time.

Overall, the students were extremely engaged, and the teachers were excited to see their reactions.

Great day!

Seven Things

I thought I would take some time to look back over the last couple of weeks, and write down some things I’ve learned recently that might help with instruction. Here they are:

  1. I have learned that kindergarten students can take a challenge. I worked with a kinder teacher a couple of weeks ago at Colonial Hills and we asked a group of students to try their hand at using Microsoft Paint. The teacher selected a book on Tumblebooks, and set it to read aloud. We paused at critical points in the story, and asked some questions regarding the plot, and it seemed like the students enjoyed themselves. We then discussed the main features of Paint, and asked the students to use the program to paint pictures of the story’s main points. We were amazed at the ability displayed! An extension of this assignment (which we hope to accomplish soon) would be to import the students’ pictures into PowerPoint, and ask the students to discuss their pictures while the teacher types on their particular slide. We will end up with a nice summary of the story.
  2. I have learned that Weebly offers an incredibly easy way to make a free web site. Easy and free! Pretty cool. I helped a few teachers introduce this site to their students, and I helped another intern at Jackson open an education account and create accounts for his classes with the click of a button. Add painless to the list under easy and free! It is a snap to create a fully functioning web site in under 10 minutes. You can even make sites private with a teacher account. I have never known it to be so easy to make a web site.
  3. I have learned that Museum Box is a neat tool for presenting information like images, text, links, and sounds. A teacher at Castle Hills has embraced the software, and is using it to help her students chronicle their learning on the topic of weathering and erosion. What I really like about the site is that a free teacher account allows the students the ability to submit their work to the teacher rather than letting it go immediately live on the internet. The teacher gets to peruse the work prior to putting it on the web. They are able to review the work, edit it, make suggestions and send messages to the students, or submit it to the site for live viewing. This is a great resource.
  1. I have learned that a blinking cursor is a fabulous thing. I refer to the lovely relationship between the blinking cursor and alphasmarts and neos. Did you know that you could have your whole class typing information (notes about a nature walk, an essay, a solution to a math problem, etc.), each student having their own alpha smart or neo, and then, with the connection of one little cable and a blinking cursor on the screen, each student may send work quickly into your computer. All you need is a blinking cursor. Pretty awesome. Think about all the programs that have a blinking cursor…Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Paint, Inspiration, Kidspiration. I have named six programs that are each loaded on district computers. I haven’t even mentioned interactive web sites. The opportunities are really amazing. Let me know if you are interested in learning more.
  2. I have learned that iPods and iPads are more than just sleek gadgets. There are some very helpful basic things that iDevices can do for you in the classroom. If you happen to have iTouches or iPads on your campus, you might want to think about checking them out for use with instruction. We are in the process of updating them with the new operating system, and with that update, we are placing on each device, an email account that allows the user to send (but not receive) email. The benefits of this function are great. Imagine your students using something like a whiteboard app and being able to send their work right to you when they are finished. Or maybe you would like to spend some time in class allowing your students to collaborate. There are many apps that would accomodate this.
  3. I have learned that SMART Notebook software is extremely versatile. If you have not spent much time scrolling through the resources available to you in SMART software, I encourage you to do so. There are keyword-searchable lessons waiting for you, interactive dice, clocks, timers, and stories, and so much more. I have seen how a SMART board or a slate can get students engaged. I hope you will give SMART a try.
  4. I have learned that there is still much to learn. I cannot emphasize how flooded my brain is right now with new concepts! I am finding it easier and easier to just accept that I cannot know it all, because today I know more than I did yesterday or last week. I appreciate all who have been so patient with me as I find my bearings in this new position. I hope that I can serve you as you serve your students, and I hope that you will take the challenge to make your classroom more interactive. Your students will thank you.