Sunday, July 19, 2009

Today's Interesting Links

  • Teacher Training Videos created by Russell Stannard
    Click on this simple intro to find out how to use the videos. These videos were created for teachers to help them to incorporate technology into their teaching. Just click and a video will open and take you through how to use that technology. To start now, just click on any of the links on the left. My own background is in teaching English, so if you scroll down you will see a special section of ELT videos which are grouped separately.
  • Information Literacy: Building Blocks of Research: Overview
    What is Information Literacy? Information Literacy is a transformational process in which the learner needs to find, understand, evaluate, and use information in various forms to create for personal, social or global purposes. Information Literacy shares a fundamental set of core thinking- and problem-solving meta-skills with other disciplines. Authentic cross-disciplinary problems which include observation and inference, analysis of symbols and models, comparison of perspectives, and assessment of the rhetorical context, engage students in developing mastery information literacy over time.
  • Technology and Education - Box of Tricks
    Latest update July 16th 2009 These are some of the best free internet resources for education. This page is constantly updated; every time I come across a new piece of software or an exciting website, I list it here. You might also want to take a look at my Diigo or Delicious accounts for more links. This list is not exhaustive in any way. In fact, if you think there is a tool or application for use in education that should be added to this list, please don't hesitate to get in touch and suggest it!
  • Beyond Social Networking: Building Toward Learning Communities -- THE Journal
    Web 2.0 tools have critically elevated the social networking activity and skills of individuals. Not only are young people highly active in social networks, but older individuals are also showing a huge increase in their use of these tools. The attraction of older age groups is, of course, social connection and community building among professional and casual peers and friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Online Learning

I'm almost finished with my 4th week of this summer's PB Works Summer Camp for Teachers where I've been able to connect with other educators who are interested in finding ways to use collaborative technologies in their classrooms. Not only has it been great to revise and refine my wiki, but it has been incredibly helpful to learn and connect with other teachers interested in opening up their classrooms using wikis. And the number of teachers participating in this year's online camp is astonishing - over 1,000 elementary, secondary, and higher-education teachers! I've connected with teachers not just through the PB Works page but also through the PB Works Educator Forum and through Twitter using the #pbwcamp hashtag.

In addition to the PB Works course, I also just started a five week summer course with TiGed. The course is part of the Pennsylvania Classrooms for the Future (CFF) Summer Virtual Camps and is open to all CFF coaches and teachers. This will be a bit of a different experience for me. Unlike the PB Works online summer camp, I know next to nothing about TiGed. I've had my PB wiki for over a year so this year's camp was a bit of a review. TiGed is all new to me. But having used multiple different avenues to connect my students who those elsewhere in the world (Facebook, wikis, web pages, Nings, PTPi), I'm looking forward to finding one service that might help me to streamline some of those connections and collaborations. My goal is to find more ways to engage my English students in producing written works and products for authentic audiences. I see wikis and TiGed as ways to encourage those authentic opportunities.

As part of the first class, our TiGed instructor shared Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch's updated "Did You Know." So now, I'm sharing it with you!

Today's Interesting Links

  • What Else? / Wiki Etiquette For Students
    Wiki Etiquette for Students 1. Be safe: If you are a student you must use your code name. Follow and remember our netiquette (this page). Reveal no personally identifying information. 2. Be kind: Be overly friendly and positive; you must refrain from any profane, sarcastic, or unkind responses. 3. Be respectful: Since our writing work is schoolwork, school rules and expectations apply when making any references on or to this site. 4. Be productive: Make sure you communicate clearly and intelligently (no text message wording please) on a relevant topic. Remember your purpose and audience. 5. If the above criteria are met, your posts may be published; if the above criteria are not met, your posts may not be published.
  • eduportal-resources-wikietiquette
    Best Practices: Workspace Etiquette for Students What workspace advice do you have? Add your thoughts here. Keep safe. Never post your personal information or information about someone else. DO NOT put things like ages, addresses, phone numbers, names of towns, on the Internet. Remember that information on the internet, especially embarrassing information, may still be around after you've deleted it. So don't ever put up anything personal or inappropriate! Check out for more information.
  • Screen Capture Tools: 40+ Free Tools and Techniques | Tools
    Screen capture, or print screen is perhaps the most efficient way to share whatever appears on your desktop. They help tech users like us to share and communicate better with friends and peers. Major operating systems today comes with basic screen capture and print screen function, but if these can't fulfill what you need from a screen capture then you are probably looking for a screen capturing tool. Screen capturing tools do what the basic tool don't. What these tools could do varies, including the ability to include sketches and text, instantly upload image online, audio capturing, dimension-specific capturing and more. Make your screen capture and sharing experience more interesting, here's a showcase of 40+ Free Screen Capturing Tools and Related Techniques. Full list after jump.
  • YouTube - Detailed Tutorial on Glogster EDU

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today's Interesting Links

Links for Nings and More!

  • Remote Access: Ning Leaders
    One thing that has been interesting to watch in the first few days of our classroom work with ning is the emergence of a few online leaders.
  • Remote Access: Starting (and Ending) with Ning
    Reflections on using a Ning with students.
  • WNY Education Associates » Summer Projects: Getting Started With Ning
    A number of teachers that I know plan to spend at least a part of this summer getting themselves acquainted with Ning in an effort to extend their own learning opportunities or those of their students. I belong to several networks myself, and although my participation in them tends to wax and wane depending on my schedule, there are several that top my personal favorites list, including the English Companion Ning and Working Together to Make a Difference.
  • Skype an Author Into Your Library or Classroom - Skype An Author Network
    Wouldn't it be great to invite authors into your classroom or library to video chat with students before, during, and/or after you've read their books? We are growing a list of authors who want to make that connection with you. See the alphabetical list in the scrolling author box on the left. Read on to find out just how easy it is!
  • Common Core
    I for one have heard quite enough about the 21st century skills that are sweeping the nation. Now, for the first time, children will be taught to think critically (never heard a word about that in the 20th century, did you?), to work in groups (I remember getting a grade on that very skill when I was in third grade a century ago), to solve problems (a brand new idea in education), and so on.Let me suggest that it is time to be done with this unnecessary conflict about 21st century skills. Let us agree that we need all those forenamed skills, plus lots others, in addition to a deep understanding of history, literature, the arts, geography, civics, the sciences, and foreign languages.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Writing for the World

Notebooks and backpacks are already on the racks in seasonal store displays. Summer is speeding toward the start of a new school year. With summer quickly coming to a close, literature and writing teachers around the country are busy putting together lesson plans for the coming school year. Then, as quickly as the semester begins, it will close, and as teachers we hope that we have prepared our students well for the task ahead – writing well for their next new teacher. However, our ultimate goal as language and literature teachers is not merely showing our students how to ace an essay test or how to quickly complete a research assignment; it’s not even to prepare them for the work force or college. Instead, as writer and teacher Lesley Roessing suggests, when we teach literature and writing, we are helping our students find connections to the larger world. As Roessing so eloquently states, it is through their writing that students discover “there is seldom them; it is more commonly us.” Therefore, the teaching of writing and reading should call us to put our greatest energies into the endeavor of helping our students understand themselves and their relation to the world around them through writing. This is especially critical in a World Literatures classroom like the one in which I teach. The language arts classroom is one in which students discover and shape who they are. This process begins with appreciating literature and extends to writing it.

As teachers we do not enter the practice of teaching writing as the formality of handing down some sort of “expert” knowledge to our young students. After all, there is no one correct way of learning to read or to write as evidenced by the hundreds of books written on the theory of writing, each one either contradicting or adding to the last. Instead, we must help our students see themselves as writers from the beginning and provide for them a safe place in which to bring their personal understandings and expressions into the classroom. As Pamela Gay suggests in her text Developing Writers: A Dialogic Approach, as teachers we must create opportunities for our students to be writers at work instead of victims of their prior writing instruction and backgrounds. She goes on to suggest that as teachers we must encourage our students to “play an active role in their own development by first locating themselves historically as writers.” We need to help our students think about their personal writing histories in order for them to continue to grow and learn from their writing experiences. We must enable our students to first think of themselves as writers.

In the coming weeks, this is a theme that I would like to explore more in depth and welcome your thoughts and feedback. How do we create authentic writing experiences for our students? How do we encourage students to explore and find their voice in writing? How do we encourage students to think of themselves as writers?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bringing the World into Your Classroom with Skype

It can sometimes be quite costly to bring a speaker into the classroom. Depending upon the presenter, teachers sometimes need to cover the cost of transportation, lodging, as well as an honorarium for the speaker. Field trips can be a logistical nightmare. From organizing the venue, collecting permissions slips and ticket money, to arranging for transportation, getting a classroom full of students organized for an outing can leave a teacher at wits end. Which is too bad since these authentic learning experiences are often times the ones that stick with students. An alternative? Bring the speaker or field trip to you using Skype.

Skype is a free application that allows users to make free audio and video calls through their internet connection. Skype is a type of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) application, which uses your dial-up or broadband connection to make free calls over the internet. You can use Skype to connect with one person or a group. It features a chat function, file sharing, audio and video connections, and so much more. Teachers are using Skype to connect their students with classrooms on the other side of the world, to collaborate on projects, and to share materials.

  • Check out this wonderful post by Silvia Tolisano, an edublogger who writes at Langwitches. In it, she outlines not only how she has used Skype but why Skype is such a great resource for teachers.
  • Not convinced? Watch this. Brian Crosby's fourth grade class connects to a classmate via Skype.
Below you will find examples of how teachers have used Skype with their students. Their reflections offer insights on the benefits as well as the complications encountered when they opened up their classroom doors.

Connect your class to virtual pen pals

Help students hear native speakers when learning a foreign language

Collaborate with another class on a joint research project

Bring authors into your classroom via a Skype

Learn about another culture by connecting students to a classroom from that culture

Learn about geography from students living in an area you are studying

Bring professionals from your content area to "speak" in your classroom

Conduct interviews

Create pod- and screencasts with students from other parts of the world

Study the same book with another class and hold web book talks

Have students in your class create virtual presentations for students in other schools

Attend a webinar with your students

  • The Skype in Schools page offers a good list of Skype add-ons.
  • Skype has a cool list of applications made with teachers in mind. Download them today!
  • Recorder for Skype - Collaborating with another school on a project and want to record your Skype call so you can replay the audio later? Use the Skype Call Recorder to create podcasts of your calls.
Use these links to find other teachers and classroom projects to connect to
  • Sue Waters at The Edublogger has put together this list of teachers interested in using Skype in their classroom. It is organized by country and subject area.
  • This is an excellent directory of teachers organized by state. Add you information if you are interested in connecting with other classrooms.
  • Also, check out the resources that I've collected through my Delicious account.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For Shame!

I've been neglectful. It has been awhile, okay many months, since I've written a real blog post. Instead, I've been content to let my Delicious links clutter my blog, masquerding as an entry. You and I both know I'm not fooling anyone. I've been neglecting my writing.

I started this blog a little over two years ago as a way to reflect on my classroom practices, share my insights and my pitfalls with other teachers. It has been a wonderful tool not only for honing my reflection and writing practices but also for connecting with other teachers around the world. Unfortunately, I've let life's daily distractions pull me away from my writing. Which truly is a shame since reflecting and writing about teaching, education, and technology energizes me. When I get into a daily practice of writing, I have more time. Because writing gives me a focus, I feel more productive in other areas of my life. I get more done. I have more time during the day. So you think this would be a no-brainer - I need to write more. However, once I've fallen off the writing wagon, it is so hard to climb back on. I think this is true of many things - exercise, meditation, eating well - those lifestyle changes that we know we should make, but find it so much easier to indulge in the distractions.

So this is me publicly recommitting myself to writing, to posting actual entries and not merely links. I'm climbing back on the writing wagon. Now if only I could climb back on a few of those other wagons - especially that wagon hauling the treadmill. He's been circling for a while now.

Today's Interesting Links

Links for Teachers

  • A Teacher’s Guide to Twitter « Once a Teacher….
    Most people start off in a rocky relationship with Twitter. It doesn't seem to be as easy or as useful as everyone has said, it takes awhile before you find your niche, and there is an overwhelming amount of information to deal with. But, just hang on – it'll be worth it!!! This is a guide to help teachers, or anyone for that matter, have a smoother and more enjoyable experience. It is, by no means, the most comprehensive list of tips but hopefully it'll be helpful.
  • Ditch the Backpack: 100 Essential Web Tools for Virtual Students | eLearning Gurus
    While learning at home offers great opportunities for working on your own time and schedule, it can also offer drawbacks when it comes to working with others or getting immediate help on a problem. Whether you need help, collaboration, or just want a little extra knowledge when completing your assignments, these web tools will help you find what you need. From note taking to researching to staying organized, the following resources will have you making top grades in your classes.
  • Creating a Personal Learning Network with Web 2.0 Tools ‎(Building a PLN)‎
    How do educators keep current with the ever changing world of technology? How can Web 2.0 tools be used to communicate and collaborate with peers across the hall and around the world? This session will focus on some of the newest tools teachers are using to support their own professional learning goals. Find links to each of us in the sidebar to the left and look below for more suggested PLN resources and interesting links. We look forward to learning with you!
  • NECC 2009 Attendees | ISTE/NECC Communities | Blogging NECC
    Follow NECC through your Colleagues' Blogs Join the chatter by adding your information to the list of your fellow colleagues who are blogging about NECC. Last year we had nearly 80 bloggers submit their info to us! It's a great way to get familiar with NECC activities and events pre-NECC, stay connected during the conference, and to share experiences when you go back home.
  • Comics in the Classroom: 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources for Teachers | Teaching
    Gone are the days of children sneaking comics past diligent parents and teachers watching out for sub-par literature. The comics of today not only have plenty to offer, they are gaining well-deserved recognition and awards. Take advantage of the natural affinity children have for comics and use them as a powerful teaching tool in your classroom. The following tips, tools, and resources will get you started.
  • 100 Terrific Cheat Sheets for K-12 Teachers | Teaching
    Cheat sheets have a bad rap as a way for students to succeed on tests without actually knowing the information, but now it's time for them to have a more positive place in education. Cheat sheets can offer a succinct way for students to study their lessons and provide an excellent boost to what you are already teaching them in class. Cheat sheets can provide helpful information for teachers too. Browse through this selection to find cheat sheets for a variety of subjects.
  • National Educational Technology Plan » NECC Brainstorming
    The National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) is the largest educational technology conference in the world, convening 13,000 education technology professionals from around the United States and the world. On June 28, 2009, over 300 leading administrators, teachers, technology coordinators, policymakers, and researchers gathered at the ISTE Leadership Symposium to give input into the development of the National Educational Technology Plan. Small teams provided advice regarding opportunities and critical barriers regarding the use of technology to address 5 key focus areas. The teams generated the five statements on this web site in 90-minute breakout groups. The statements are the first step in an ongoing effort to gather ideas and opinions from the education community
  • tbyresources / FrontPage
    This wiki contains resources to assist educators in creating wikis and other web materials. The wiki is an on-going task - all input regarding organization and content is welcome.

Related Posts: