Thursday, 18 December 2008
Web applications are cropping up that enable people to use their cell phones to vote online or through text messaging. One such service is provided by Poll Everywhere. It is certainly worth checking out. You can create a free account which allows you to use the service with 30 people. Unfortunately for me, sms is not available in El Salvador yet, and web browsing on cell phones is still quite expensive here.
I started this blog just prior to attending NECC for the first time, just last year, the main purpose being to have a place to record ideas, finds and anything else I didn't want to lose in the increasingly large collection of favourite and inspiring items I have placed in delicio.us and various other cyber places. So you'll forgive me for the moan below if you happen to stumble across it per chance.
I have been perplexed recently about how to continue shifting educators into a world of new literacies and learning, when things are moving so very slowly. Is it really enough to change one teacher at a time? Do people really understand the untapped potential that web 2.0 offers(I suspect students might!)? The very lack of curiosity and enthusiasm for embracing new literacies concerns me. Maybe we are going about it the wrong way and need to rethink our strategies for getting the ideas across. Perhaps we need to stop focusing on the teachers so much and begin focusing on the students...students will learn despite their teachers and ours will learn through their own social networks which hopefully will begin to include those teachers (yes there are some who are on-board) who are keen and able to support their learning in that way.
At a time when many are frustrated by the need to move forward while simultaneously being dragged in the opposite direction through the confines of traditional educational systems, I find the follow post most comforting.
Check it out in Will Richardsons Blog
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Florida Virtual School and more importantly its virtual library have given me a tiny shove further in the right direction. There are people lining up(virtually I might add) to enroll in this school-that's teachers and students both! Those already enrolled are apparently high achievers and have the test results to back this up, if you value such things. Perhaps more importantly is how these same students must be functioning at a highly independent level. Are these kids are exceptional, if so why? Could it be that 2.0 learning is everything we are told it is? I would wager that it is and that our kids have already primed themselves for this type of learning. If only we as educators could buy into it and allow the power over learning that we hold, to shift across the balance.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
A few weeks later I was contacted by the Economics/Business Studies teacher who expressed a great interest in using ToonDoo along with the work he was doing with storyboards. We took it on and ToonDoo took off! Soon after, Spanish and French jumped on the ToonDoo train and even Art is interested in its capacity to display pieces along brief comments. What draws people to ToonDoo is the fun they can have with telling their stories, without having to deal with too much on the technical side of things. We have recently learned how to alter the body stances and facial expressions of characters as well as create ToonBooks. The only thing I think could improve further is the number of frames offered for each Doo, which forces users to create parts 1, 2, 3 etc..
The excitement is far from over, as we have now discovered GoAnimate, a web app that goes a few steps further, allowing users to create short animated films on line. While many of the features are similar to ToonDoo, such as galleries of backgrounds, characters and props, GoAnimate stands apart allowing characters mobility, voices, background music as well as special effects my favourite of which is falling snow. It is also very 2.0ish in that users add their own graphics to the galleries, thereby generating a user created gallery shared by all!
Check out my first try below!
Monday, 17 November 2008
The technicians I've comtacted are stumped. Is there anyone out there who can help us figure this one out?
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
This fun jigsaw was created with dumpr.net
Yes dumpr is now one of my favourite new toys as well as clustrmaps(It should be visible on the main page as well).
Our September stars are the Humanities and Spanish departments, who have embarked on an array of blog and wiki journeys in learning. figuring highly in the collaborative work area is the geogon wiki on El Salvador, belonging to thte 7th and 8th grade History and Geography classes. This wiki started off as a 7th grade class project which then blossomed into a huge collaborative piece of work spanning two grades, two subjects and shared by many members of the department.
Blogs have featured a great deal in Humanities as well. One teacher has created 2 different blogs for her classes and is having the students reflect on readings, in Spanish and write about slavery as part of her History class. Also on the blogging front, the Spanish and French Departments have been meeting each week to learn how to work on blogs through hands on sessions. One of the Spanish classes now has a blog set up and will begin using it next week to reflect upon their readings in the subject. I will get the links up once they have begun working on it.
Backing up to Humanities once again, in the subject of Economics two 9th grade classes, working on storyboards on economic themes, have begun transferring their ideas over to toondoo. I look forward to posting more about these toondoos later on this week.
We have created a new google site wiki page for the French department and although going is slow (we are still very new to spaces) it looks to be a promising way of sharing the French department with the world. The new LRC website has now been launched using PBWiki and featuring a great Glog as the front page. We hope to work avidily on further updates and modifications throughout the year.
These are our collaborative LRC/subject projects, however there is an amazing amount of additional work being carried out each day at the LRC across the subjects.
The LRC is also playing host to student meetings including student council and project smile. Visiting universities are booked in to speak to students on a weekly basis. Our CIS visitors are due to arrive in the upcoming weeks and some extra- curricular clubs have also begun to run on a regular basis out of the LRC.
El Salvador month has come to an end and with it we hosed a typical handicrafts exhibition and sale on the 29th and 30th, an art display of works by a local Salvadoran artist, as well as 3 drama productions by local groups as part of theatre week.
All in all this month has been aflutter with activity.
The LRC Committee meets for the first time next week to go over the action plan and the Book Week Committee meets this Friday to begin organising this annual whole school event.
It has been an amazing start to the year. Attitudes are positive, the energy level is high and you can feel the sparks flying throughout the day as students and teachers make connections and publish themselves.
Friday, 5 September 2008
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
Mygazines.com provides free uploaded mags online we can all enjoy. Are there copyright issues here?
Flowgram.com is a great app. that allows you to upload and/ create unique presentations while adding audio, notes and other content to them. It is something similar to Voice thread only BETTER for presentation purposes, not as good however for collaborative work and feedback, which is really the beauty of Voicethread!
Go Animate is a web app. that brings animations to life with themed characters, audio, backgrounds, sound effects. I just recently go very excited about toondoo , using it to generate cartoon strips. Go Animate however, breathes life into your toons as you organise your stories along a time line.
Finally there is PicLIts.
"PicLits.com is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture."
Update: For a wonderful collection of web 2.0 tools (one of the best I've come across) go to Cooltools.
Monday, 1 September 2008
Monday, 25 August 2008
The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has put together a nice little package for libraries.
This is certainly worth checking out. Upon execution of a brief scroll down my heart was warmed to see many of our tried and trues on the list, offering confirmation that we are on track and not alone in the digital learning universe.
This may prove to be a powerful tool for teaching web fluency units on evaluating web content as well as those of us whose work focuses on worldwide current events. What perfect timing for those in search of innovative tools for curriculum support during sy08/09.
Why Use NewsCred?
1) Read all the world's breaking news from quality newspapers and blogs.
2) Personalize your newspaper by selecting your favorite sources for each category.
3) Vote and learn which articles, journalists and news sources are credible and which ones aren't.
Take our 90-second Tour!
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Christmas has come early this year, and brought with it a new MacBook Pro which arrived today. Yes I must admit it, I feel like a kid in a candy shop. Thanks George and Fernando! And yes, I know everyone else has had one for ages, but it will impact my work on many levels that I intend on savouring every minute of it!
The MacBook will play a vital role in my new job by providing the flexibility and power needed to run with our intended project work, as well as serve as a portal to my expanding virtual office. I have only just begun to play with this silver wonder, but as the song goes- Love is in the Air. iMovie and Garage Band are first on the agenda which will help us get started on joint video projects this year in Secondary.
Upon reflection, it is interesting how google docs and web.2.0 apps have changed the way I work. As it stands I don't feel at all phazed about not having the Windows or Mac office suites installed at present. I can manage quite well without them, whereas in the past I would have considered any computer without one or the other fairly useless. I have to wonder if this sublime shift has occured for our students in the same way. With our upcoming push towards igoogle and google apps, Google is about to become a very important part of their lives, if it is not already.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
Finally, an easy way to tell your story. Just drag and drop your favorite stuff into Freepath's playlist — no need to convert files, upload videos or embed links. Just like that, your digital life became bigger and better! Best of all, it's FREE.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
There are many excellent sites out there which attempt to teach people cyber safety. One of the best I have found in my recent trawls through the web is netsmartz.org. This site contains a comprehensive listing of information fluency videos each with supporting resources. If you are looking for ways to engage and keep students focussed on internet safety, this is a good place to start!
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Now however as the new school year approaches I find myself easing back into things as I spend an increasing amount of time considering my plans and new initiatives.
One of these initiatives is Lunch on the Lawn at the LRC which I am very tempted to label as LOL (laugh out loud, Lots of love/luck ). Yes it may be intentionally funny if I get any student comedians and yes it may also provoke a few unsolicited laughs at times, plus we will probably require all the luck we can get to make this work, but the clincher is that LOL is an acronym from a language all students write on a daily basis.
Anyway All Acronyms Aside(this is where the alliteration ends) I am hoping to begin live streaming of the LOL in January, which will serve two very important purposes both related to accessibility. Students can tune in from anywhere around campus and footage can be recorded and accessed at other times, both of which will become crucial as the the rainy season hits again in April and the Lawn becomes a large puddle.
I envision using USTREAM for this very purpose. In July I created a show called Live at the LRC which I have done nothing with since but can anticipate becoming an important part of our weekly broadcast.
Thursday, 3 July 2008
|All of these programs are FREE (open source) to use and redistribute.|
|ClamWin||Free Anti-Virus with automatic updates||http://www.clamwin.com|
|Firefox||Better, safer browser than IE||http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/|
|FreeMind||Idea mapping tool||http://freemind.sourceforge.net|
|GIMP||GNU Image Manipulation Program - Like PhotoShop||http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/stable.html|
|Inkscape||Vector Drawing and SVG Graphics program||http://inkscape.org/|
|OpenClipArt||SVG graphics, use with Inkscape||http://openclipart.org|
You should also install the LAME MP3 plugin and others on the downloads page.
|NVU||WYSIWYG Web Editor||http://www.nvu.com|
Install MS DOT.net framework first.
|PDFCreator||Print any document as a PDF file||http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator|
You'll also need GNU Ghostscript to use Scribus.
|DesktopPublishing program - like Pagemaker||http://www.scribus.net|
|SpyBot Search & Destroy||SpyWare Blocker|
Very good program
|Stellarium||Night sky viewing program - very good||http://www.stellarium.org/|
|TightVNC||Allows virtual viewing and control of laptop||http://www.tightvnc.com/|
|TuxPaint||Simple paint program for younger children||http://www.tuxpaint.org|
Download the extra stamps too!
|TuxType||Simple typing game||http://tuxtype.sourceforge.net|
|These programs are FREE to install and use. Downloads are available through distributor's web sites.|
|Google Earth||3D Earth mapping with satellite imaging. Very cool...||http://earth.google.com|
|Adobe Flash, Acrobat, Shockwave||Browser plugins from Adobe. You'll need to download and install these AFTER you install Firefox.||http://www.adobe.com/downloads/|
|iTunes||Supplies Qucktime and software to subscribe to podcasts||http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/|
|MS dot net framework||Required for various programs||http://www.microsoft.com/net|
|Real Player||Player for real media audio and video||http://www.realnetworks.com/products/free_trial.html|
|RealProducer Basic||Create your own real media from audio and video clips||http://www.realnetworks.com/products/free_trial.html|
|Burniso||Simple iso cdrom burner||Download link|
|Skype||Free Internet phone software||http://skype.com|
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Wrongly or rightly, I have included some screen shots of various resources below, from the website to pique people's interest in it.
From historic footage to the latest events, NBC News and HotChalk will help you bring the real world into your classroom in a safe, secure online environment built with you and your students in mind.
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Peter Jaszi out of American University has been working to put together new guidelines for this gray area that will hopefully help educators sort it all out. Until then there are some good websites out there that try to aid us when wrestling with this situation.
Tony Jongejan of Western Washington University gave an interesting presentation on the topic at NECC.
Some of his resources are below.
'Access Denied: The Limits of Fair Use' by Elliot Zaret
Copyright Website: http://www.benedict.com
Copyright Website: Multimedia Copyright Guidelines for Students
Kathy Schrock's Guide for Educators: Ready Reference & Copyright
The UT System Crash Course in Copyright
Copyright in the Electronic Environment
'Right to Copy?' by Stephanie Gold
- enhances instructional programs
- increases writing and communication skills
- allows kids to practice decision making
- exposes students to various professions related to broadcast journalism
- helps students to better understand ethical cultural and societal issues
- Provides experience with operating technology tools
- Increases productivity
- improves research skills
- improves problem-solving and decision making.
- meets NETs Standards on all levels.
Some things it was suggested we consider over the course of this next year, as we build our broadcasting program are: lights ?
- a modulator for close circuit? What about Ustreaming and parking it on the web?
- rolling tripods?
- shower curtain props!!
- video and audio mixers?
Eventually if this takes off as I hope it will the next question I hope we will be asking is: Will our recording room suffice as we move along or could a larger room be made available?
Monday, 30 June 2008
"Digital Information Fluency (DIF) is the ability to find, evaluate and use digital information effectively, efficiently and ethically. DIF involves Internet search skills that start with understanding how digital information is different from print information, knowing how to use specialized tools for finding digital information and strengthening the dispositions needed in the digital information environment. As teachers and librarians develop these skills and teach them to students, students will become better equipped to achieve their information needs." http://21cif.imsa.edu/
This site offers the following and more, most of it for free.
Tutorials, Micro-models, challenges, resources, lessons, wizard tools and so much more to check out
Web Fluency Moodle Course
Sunday, 29 June 2008
When the project began I had grand notions of collaborating online with the school something which I realised very quickly was rather naive, I had wrongly assumed that our partner school had access to the latest technology, so work on wikis and blogs were out of the question. Instead we collaborated the old fashioned way, email between teachers and snail mail between students. I am glad we did this as it gave my students insight into a communication method they were quite unfamiliar with. Most of the children I teach have had limited experience with mail systems and it was great for them to go through the process of sending and receiving photos, letters and stories in that way.
Our school has received several requests to partner up with other schools in the UK and USA, and I am hoping to broaden our collaborative work in the near future hopefully to include shared wikis and blogs. community.
iEARN is a similar network to global gateway and describes itself as"is the world's largest non-profit global network that enables teachers and youth to use the Internet and other technologies to collaborate on projects that enhance learning and make a difference in the world."
Once the myths had been published the 4th grade students at the Academia Britanica Cuscatleca then had the chance to listen to the presentations, discuss them in small groups and plan paired responses to them. They were asked to prepare positive comments that were focussed on the storyline, the pictures chosen to depict the different events in the stories and also to include a short comment on how the presentation might have been improved upon. This took place after a great deal of work in Literacy lessons on media and stories so the students had a fairly good idea of what to focus on. It is also important to remember that these are 9-10 year olds commenting on the work of high school students. How often does that happen. The students were particularly thrilled with being encouraged to do this in their native language-Spanish which was a real rarity for an activity in Literacy lessons, normally conducted exclusively in English. The 4th graders, soon to be 5th graders are hooked and we are hoping to run a follow up to this project at one point in the upcoming school year possibly with the same group of students. During sy07/08 the ABC secondary school will begin its initial work on voicethread projects.
I have decided to get on board with Twitter after fighting it for so long. So I now have a home page with a picture and have sorted out some more people to follow. My first event doesn't begin until 2:00 this afternoon so I won't be able to really see it in action until then, even with my measly 6 contacts. I hope to add more to the list later on today.
San Antonio is hot and humid, very much like El Salvador so I am feeling quite at home temperature-wise. I have tried both public transport and the conference shuttle service and they are both very easy to use and run like clockwork. The river walk is beautiful although it was packed yesterday when I was down there. I found the Alamo after a bit of wandering around and took a stroll through the compound just before closing, learning a bit more about Texas history as I did. It is funny I used to drive through San Antonio several times a year, so I can say I've been here many times, but I never stopped to visit on those trips and I am quickly coming to appreciate what a great place it really is.
Did I mention, I have learned how to fix my wordle code problems? Thanks George and Fernando!
Tuesday, 24 June 2008
All of this is wonderful, but perhaps the greatest intitial hook for many staff members and students is that not only can they publish written work with ease, but they can embed a great range of presentations into their blog posts. The cool factor is what snags them immediately! This year we have experimented with mind maps using bubble.us, slide shows with picture trail, slide, picassa, We have begun to experiment with Time Line Creator, as well as other apps. While this list appears short there are a huge number of other web applications out there and we have a long trial list ahead of us. I have to keep reminding myself that as exciting as this is there is a need to take it slowly in order to determine which are the best tools for our school to adopt for our students. This in itself can be challenging.
I must admit that while I am a huge proponent of web applications with embeddable code, the versatility of which has spoiled me in many ways. Being spoiled can sometimes lead to disappointment when things don't go as expected. I came across wordle over a week ago and fell in love with it immediately. As soon as I had my playtime I took the next logical step, trying to paste my word cloud into a blog. Initially I thought my frustration might have been the result of a goof-up on my part, but no, it appears that while you can link from this application you cannot embed your work. On further investigation, I found out that I wasn't alone in that particular boat, others, many others had bemoaned the same tragedy. I can't figure out why someone would go to the trouble to create such a great application and then allow it to fall short by not supplying embeddable code. That said I am an optimist and expect that there is a good reason for it. Maybe it is in the works still. I certainly hope so as I can see such educational potential in wordle.
This is my cloud. I print screened it then cropped it and saved as a pic. The long way around but here it is-my del.icio.us tag cloud. Not very original, in the sense that I am probably the millionth person to wordle their tag cloud, but very informative...just look at the large words and you can tell immediately where my interests lie.