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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Diigo Groups for Student Content

I think everyone would agree that Diigo is great for research, social bookmarking and networking. This week I have found another great use for Diigo. I have started having students bookmark their Prezi Presentations in their class research groups, thereby bringing it all together in one place. This allows members of the group to view each other's work and better yet, allows me to open each presentation up directly from Diigo, as each group gets up to present, without the hassle of logging in and out of different accounts. It also gives me a one stop method for assessing their work without having to deal with emailed links.

The more I use Diigo the more I love it!

Now if I could only find enough time to dig through the other Diigo groups I belong to.

Monday, 30 November 2009

TweetCloud- What are You Tweeting?

This just came in over twitter from someone you need to follow if you aren't already doing so, Joyce Valenza.

TweetCloud is a  useful little Twitter tool  that allows you to create word clouds from your tweets, very much in the same way that Wordle creates tag clouds from text. I had a play with it and the results are below.

It would appear that my tweets for a month are a bit video-centric, not exactly what I had expected. The one below is from a year of tweets...Useful Tools and Ideas are the trend, must be all the SimplyBox-ing.

I am now working out ways I can use this tool with my students when they use Twitter  for collaborative research. They each have individual accounts through which they could generate their own clouds and display the main topics they are researching. If you have a class Twitter account it would be an interesting way of visualising the content of your Twitter stream with the students who have contributed to its growth. If you can think of any other ways to make this a part of teaching and learning, do let me know.

For now, have a play with TweetCloud. All you need is an active Twitter account.

Screen shot 2009-11-30 at 1.01.38 PM

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Wikis as Websites for Libraries-It's not just about the code, is it?

This morning we held our second Wikis as Websites session of the year for members of the Salvadoran library community and members of ABES, the Salvadoran Librarians association.

Widget Fever

It was great to see everyone again, and they were certainly revved to get back into their wikis. After a brief refresher it became all about the widgets and code. The looks of surprise and then joy on people's faces when they saw not only the variety of useful widgets and ways to embed codes from various online services, took me back about 6 months, when I too caught the widget bug. Of course fantastic websites are not just about the code, but what a hook! Code in the form of widgets is like opening a little door or window to another source or collection of ideas, in an highly engaging manner.

The sheer enormity of of widgets/gadgets/flakes and embedding code out there, for free I might add, is enough to give anyone widget fever.

Today we looked at embedding slideshows, glogs, Librarything and Shelfari book shelves, blogs and rss feeds using widgetbox, youtube videos and Twitter feeds. In the end we could have used at least one more exploratory session, but hopefully participants will maintain their momentum over the next few months.

But there is more!

During the last part of the session our Library Assistant fed back from her Guatemalan Digital Literacy conference experience using Prezi. It was her first time presenting and her first time using Prezi.

What's Prezi?

If you haven't tried Prezi yet...you are missing out on a great interactive presentation tool. Yes it's a web app and yes you can also download your work! Try teaching it to kids, what a fantastic way to get away from the ppt and enforce presentation reform guidelines!

Back to the Conference

Our conference wasjoined by others who had attended in Guatemala.  Some joined us in person and others  did so virutally using Elluminate. It was the first time I was able to use my Learn Central V-Room with anything larger than a group of friends. It was fantastic and the participants in El Salvador got to listen to and learn from  speakers in other areas of the continent as well as those physically present. This was the first such experience for most of the participants and they were thrilled by it.

I am going to break out the V-Room again this school year with our Spanish classes, enabling students and teachers to  link up and participate to student presentations in real time.

Is anyone else out there using Elluminate with their kids?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Scratch in KS3

Screen shot 2009-11-24 at 6.01.09 PM

Photo Courtesy of the Scratch Algebra Learning Network

The 7th and 8th grade are working with Scratch Programing language this school year.
Scratch, was developed by the MIT Media Lab to enable kids 8 years of age and older to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, presentations and art while learning "important mathematical and computational ideas."
When working on Scratch projects, students must use reasoning and problem solving skills while thinking creatively.
The projects can then be uploaded to the Scratch Website to be shared and remixed by others.

The students have taken to it completely. They were taught two new skills at the beginning of each lesson, after first  being introduced to the basic  needed to get started. At the same time we gave them the freedom to begin developing a project of their choice, and pursue their own interests. At some point in the 2nd lesson they had made their decisions. They began diverging from the basic skills work, choosing their own directions and constructing programs using the blocks in Scratch that they found most interesting. Some of the students are currently creating interactive games while others are working on various types of presentations. The 7th grade will be finished in another week and we look forward to sharing some of this work on the ABCICT Website.

The great thing about Scratch is that it enables kids to learn by trial and error, and analyse their work while studying problems from different angles. It requires them to break down problems by breaking down the program blocks, and enables them to utilse the work of others as models in trying to solve their own programming problems. The Scratch website is full of videos, tutorials, activity cards and projects to use as teaching resources.

My students and I are very pleased to be working with Scratch in ICT. Hats off to the great team at the  MIT Media Lab!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Sketchfu

The kids are really enjoying Sketchfu. It is an online app that allows them to draw a picture and then playback the process, thereby creating an online animation. These animations can be downloaded as pictures or embedded and played back. Be aware however that there are some issues regarding embedding the player in wikispaces and wordpress. You may want to opt for embedding a linked picture instead.

If you have younger kids or teach primary aged students, this may prove to be a powerful storytelling tool. An account is required however.

I am including an example below which my son did the other night.

View puppy at Sketchfu


Make your own drawings at SketchfuMore from this artist at SketchfuShare this drawing from Sketchfu
Learn how to draw cartoons, comics, and anime at Sketchfu!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Getting Hacked-Resolution

My Twitter account was hacked last week, unknown to me until I finally logged into my email and Tweetdeck. I had taken the week off for half term holidays and was unaware of the problem until 2 days ago. Since then I have changed my password twice and it is hopefully all better now, but I hate the thought of all that spam coming out of my account.

Resolution: I will not allow just any application to use my Twitter password, only the tried and trusted from now on.

My deepest apologies to anyone who was affected by this.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Day the Internet Went Down!

Yesterday upon arriving to school, staff members encountered a school without an internet connection. For some it was  a moment to rejoice, no more email hammering through the system to deal with and no more computer based admin work to be done. Some of us saw it differently, asking ourselves the question, "How on Earth could we function without it?" Now I am not referring to emails and admin, but digital teaching and learning. I teach ICT and let's face most of my lessons are web based, as well as parked on a wiki or Google Doc. It wasn't so much the lack of access to the lessons, but the resources I very carefully park online to use in my teaching, as well as the web applications I am teaching students to use.  Let's face it the Twitter research lesson was going to have to be scrapped!

In the end I opted for having the 8th grade create a story map of sorts, an outline for their upcoming work with Prezi. They actually cheered when I told them the internet was down-go figure. Anyway we pulled some books off the shelves, handed out the paper and they got to it. It was worth it. Each group engaged in a lot of discussion and planning and now has a plan for organising their presentation.

It is not the end of the world when the internet goes down, there are other ways to cope, and other activities which can be done, but my Twitter lesson will still have to take place, even if its a week later, causing a domino effect for all the followup activities-again not the end of the world.

That doesn' t mean I didn't cheer out loud and practically jump out of my chair when Tweetdeck all of a sudden pushed an update through onto my screen.  (You know what? I wasn't the only one!)

UN Week-Millennium Goal Videos

The ABC celebrated UN Week during the last week of October.

For the LRC that meant aiding kids with their Millennium Goal videos and setting up a great display of articles from around the world.

The Videos

As component of their Life Skills work, students across the grades were asked to produce a group video based on one of the UN Millennium goals,. They needed to research the goal, and find a way to get the message out to others, utilising a range of media which may have included:video clips, music, narration and photos.

Some groups opted to do interviews, others found powerful photographs for slide shows, while certain groups chose to record themselves acting out given roles and other decided a screen cast was the way to proceed. Many students chose to search Creative Commons sites for images, others used Google Advanced Search to access information and images. They brought in music to mix into their projects, on their iphones and ipods, brought in videos and photos they prepared at home and made good use of the LRC flip cameras,tripods iMacs when filming live footage and remixing their work.

It was fascinating to observe the students as they chose the digital tools that best suited their vision for the project, incorporating the web fluency and media skills they had learned over the last year or so,  while researching and resourcing their initiatives. These students each have a well developed digital toolkit to draw on, one which will increase as the school year progresses.

Research the Web 2.0 Way

Research plays an important role in the education of students. The development of  a research skills program is one of the LRC’s many important objectives for SY 09/20.

This year we have taken advantage of the wide range of Web 2.0 tools available to support and enhance research work with students. Students are learning more about how to search the web efficiently and effectively, while at the same time evaluating the sources they encounter. Web searching and evaluation are now taught utilising the 21st Century web fluency tutorials and hands on challenges, in combination with the pertinent videos from Brainpop.

One of the most exciting developments in research this year is the introduction of Diigo, a powerful social bookmarking application. Diigo enables students to form learning groups and networks, bookmark, tag and annotate web pages online, share their findings and annotations with their research groups, as well as search the bookmarks and annotations of others interested in the same topics.

In the 8th grade Twitter is being used along with the hashtag #abcict to record nuggets of information in 140 characters or less, forcing students to be succinct in their note taking. They are also using Twipic to upload photographs to their Twitter stream. The entire grade can then access the research as part of the #abcict stream. 7th grade used Google Chat to accomplish a similar feat in small groups, and later on this year, some classes will be using Today’s Meet to do the same.

An updated version of Noodlebib is being used to create notecard from these collaborative streams of information, as well as create outlines and citations. The 8th grade presentations based on all this research, will then be constructed and delivered using Prezi, a very exciting web application for delivering dynamic presentations both on and offline.

It’s a fact that the number of powerful web applications that can be harnessed for educational purposes is rising quickly. Educators from around the world are quick to identify those which are relevant to their work and together with students incorporate them as a part of authentic 21st century learning experiences, which are dynamic, meaningful, and often collaborative.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Sharing My Online Comic Creator and Resource Collection

For a while now I have been compiling a collection of online comic creators. We use ToonDoo heavily in our school and have just recently introduced the kids to Pixton too. They love both apps. and use them a great deal across subjects where storyboarding and storytelling are common activities.

There is more to it however than just creating comics. Tonight I came across a fabulous collection of resources and suggestions on how to use comics in the classroom which I am trying to share as many ways as possible with my PLN and anyone else who is interested.  I have included the presentation created by S. Hendy, for you to peruse.

I went through the presentation and added a lot of resources from it to my SimplyBox collection of online comic generators and curriculum based comics. It is a fairly complete collection which I hope will be of use to anyone interested in using comics in the classroom. Please feel free to go through it and use whatever interests you as well as add any comments that would help others to better use the resources.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

When It All Comes Together

It was touching! 7th grade was in the LRC this morning to begin work on their Millenium Goal videos. As I walked around talking to them about it and looking at how they were approaching the task, my heart leaped with joy.  All the work we have done over the last year or so has really begun to pay off. The kids have built up their digital tool kits and skills to the point where they are able to make good decisions about the applications, equipment and approaches they can take when tackling new tasks.

I found myself thinking, "This is how learning should be, student directed with a high level of engagement."

Today in the LRC, some of the kids were prepping their video in iMovie. some were opening Jing in preparation for a screencast, some were collecting flip cameras and tripods in order to film each other and perform interviews,  while others were doing advanced searches in Google for information. The work was collaborative and focussed, yet the approaches all varied.

If you've ever wondered if it will all pay off, if the kids can bring together all that learning and apply it in a meaningful manner, the answer is most definitely yes.

I look forward to sharing some of these mini-projects once they are done.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Backing Up Twitter

I have decided to jump in with both feet and begin using Twitter for collaborative research in lessons next week. This of course brings with it some new problems which need addressing. I noticed a while ago that Tweets aren't eternal, this didn't bother me too much until I decided I wanted access to older tweets. Now it is a real issue, because I want kids to have access to our class tweets utilising a given hashtag, weeks after the fact. I gather from the different posts I read,  that 9-15 days is pretty much the average time they are kept and this itself is relative to the number of tweets etc...

I have done a lot of reading on this today, and I still haven't found a concrete solution to my problem. I tried to sign up with Tweetbackup but had log in issues and later came across the interesting TweetKarma in my travels through the Tweetiverse. I did however place an RSS feed on a query for our hashtag, in my PageFlakes account in the hopes that it will all accumulate there. Naive? Maybe, time will certainly tell. Being the untrusting sort, I am also going to back it up the old fashioned way, copying it all into shared Google doc. That way if in a week's time, when our class meets up again to use  the collaborative research we compiled, the older tweets cannot be accessed, I will have a full copy to provide them with.

If anyone out there has a proven solution for this I would be very interested in hearing from you.

RSS

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Sharing the Links:Art Apps

We are very much into using cartoon and animation apps at our school for work across the curriculum, but are we using a variety of apps for other areas of art and design? I think in most cases we tend overlook these areas, especially when working with the older kids outside of Art lessons.

This afternoon I came across a tweet by @aFaizaK  of Word Ahead, which lead me to a great post by Mrs Smoke containing a listing of 45 websites for students to use in creating original art online. Some of these apps, I've  come across before and use a great deal, most I haven't. I can't wait to try some of these out with the kids!  A big thanks to Mrs. Smoke for taking the time to compile the list and sharing it with the world!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Finder Fox Widget

smarter fox

Now you can make your webpage/blog more interactive for readers. Just  place the finder fox widget on your web page and any reader who highlights a word or string of words will be given the choice to tweet them, look them up in Wikipedia, or search them out on Google and Twitter. What a great idea!  You can trial it right now as I have added it to this blog.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Reflections on PageFlakes

pageflakes

Our school is definitely a Google school. We have switched over to Apps and love teaching and learning using all the  Google Web Apps that come with our school accounts, as well as with a regular GMail account. Although we have a preference for and utilise everything Google,(within reason) as it applies to educational practice, we recently made the decision to switch from teaching  iGoogle this year to PageFlakes . Several things were considered when making the decision, but three areas in particular really swayed the balance:

  1. The Anything Flake allows you to put just about anything on your page, including important links, pictures, text and gadgets and widgets from other sites.

  2. PageFlakes provides a greater level of freedom in designing pages, not only can students choose from different predetermined themes and page designs, and alter colour schemes,  they can also easily create their own themes and page designs by using their own imagery.

  3. RSS Feeds can be added to any  page, so they can be organised by topics, or placed on a page of their own.


We have taught the kids how to search out feeds and place them on their pages. They are able to add flakes as well as widgets and gadets from other sites, using the Anything Flake, and have created pages for their main subject areas as well as hobbies and interests. They love being able to customise their pages-this is a real hook! The next step will be teaching them how to share their pages and create page casts. The real power here is in the creating of a set of pages from which they can readily access all their accounts, links, and tools.

Our next big PageFlakes project will be to use pages as pathfinders for projects that not only include  links and feeds, but also photo galleries, text, audio and more.

Wouldn't it be great to also have the kids collaborate on group pages on given subjects, compiling banks of related resources that they have come come across or created in the course of their work?

It's the mark of a great application, when not only is it extremely useful, but also very difficult t0 get the kids away from it at the end of a lesson!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Live Binders

This evening Live Binders started following me on Twitter, so I checked them out. Binders are social bookmarking tools that work in a similar way to SimplyBox, but using a binder metaphor and can house pdfs, images, and more as well as links.

binders

One very exciting feature of Live Binders is that they can be embedded on websites etc. Nowyou can have binders of info tucked away as cute little icons on your site. Plenty of potential here.

Main site
http://www.livebinders.com/

digital story telling tools binder
http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=2721

Making Connections via Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Whos.amung.us

I came across a great blog post by Jeff Utecht this morning on Twitter entitled A Blog Post, a Tweet a Connection. I found it very inspiring and  is definitely worth a read.

In this post Jeff describes how easy it is to connect up educators and students from all over by simply  using teacher social network connections. The experience he describes is very powerful. Most of us are connected to other educators, via Twitter, blogs, FaceBook, Nings, and more, its just finding ways to make them work for us.
Jeff summarised the content of his post as follows:

"I believe this story shows the power of:1. What can happen when we allow students to be “out there”.
2. What happens when our teachers become networked and can bring that network to their students.
3. That through connections educational possibilities are endless.

Picture 1

On a different note, most of us are pretty fond of our ClusterMaps. It's nice to know whose reading and amazing to see where in the world the readers are located. Well after reading Jeff's post I glanced over at the sidebar and found a whos. amung.us map. It's great! Not only does it show the locations of visitors to the blog, but also displays in real time the locations from where it is being read.

While I was reading the post described above, the  El Salvador dot was flashing as wall as another in the states. Two of us in different parts of the world were reading the post at the same time. Upon clicking on the map, more details were available such as how many people were viewing which posts at the time as well as a graph of the last 24 hours of traffic the blog received. Definitely worth following up on!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Prezi

Picture 6Are you on the lookout for a presentation application that is just a bit different? If so you may want to check out Prezi.


Prezi allows users to create interactive presentations which can include media and links(although you can't place links on media yet), as well as share/collaborate on the presentations with others. A really great feature is the download option,  which allows you to run presentations from the computer and avoid any potenial internet glitches, links not withstanding. Media, text, basically anything in the presentation can be designated as a stop on a predetermined path, and each stopping point zooms in as one arrives at it. This is a great little app. especially for those of use who prefer not to think in a linear fashion straight off, allowing one to plunk down ideas, links and media, later grouping them appropriately, as the ideas develop. Consider  the possibilities for brainstorming presentations in small groups! I am definitely going to trial this in one of my teaching groups this year, who have got to be in PowerPoint overload by now!



Note: Three main areas that the Prezi  people could develop further  are the ability to embed and/or upload presentations, as well as allowing users to link off of objects rather than pasting urls into presentations.

Here is a link to the my first Prezi, which I created as a follow-up for to BLC.

A Comparison of Social Networks

I came across this comparison by the Centre for Performance Technologies this evening and it is worth looking at. It is a comparison of Facebook, Ning and Elg, which might make you rethink your Ning useage a bit. I still love my ICT Ning and have plenty of plans for its growth in this, its second year of life. I also enjoy the the fact that my Ning accounts all link up with one another. Looking at Elgg however, there appear to be quite a few advantages to it in comparison with Ning. One thing in particular that makes it a attractive  is the lack of a 13 or over rule. Certainly for educational institutions this shouldn't be necessary anyway.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Personas-How Does the Internet See YOU?

Picture 5

Pulled this off of Twitter this morning-Have you ever wondered how you are seen by the internet. Well now you can find out.

'Personas is a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group from the MIT Media Lab. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one's aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you." Source: http://personas.media.mit.edu/

I gave this a shot and watched as Persona dealt with the online data, much of what I know had little to do with me personally, except for my name, the last of which wasn't even mine until I married. Added to the fact that most of my online presence comes under mrsjgarcia, I doubted the information obtained would be very accurate. In other words, I was a bit skeptical. However, the data portrait it generated is actually quite close to what I would have created if I had been asked to do it on my own, knowing what I do about myself.   Interesting!persona2

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Super Teacher Tools

I just came across this in the New Tools Workshop Wiki and thought it would be worth sharing with everyone.

http://www.superteachertools.com/index.php#tools

Basically the site allows you to copy your class lists into the system, which creates seating charts that can be rearranged by dragging on screen or randomized for mixing them up and printed out each time. A link is sent to you that you can use each time to modify your class. It can also generate groups of various sizes randomly so that you are saved that task, the other thing the system does is pick names from a virtual hat, which is a great way to vary the students to whom you ask questions in each class. There are plenty more goodies on the site to investigate, but I thought that these tools in particular might be very useful to some of you since it is the beginning of the year. By the way it is free and no registration is required.

enjoy

Thursday, 20 August 2009

More on Speaking and 3D Avatars

We are now using Voki in full force on our LRC and ICT websites to send reminders, updates and homework assignments to kids. Just today one of my colleagues, Carmen is a History teacher. Today she  assigned her students the homework of creating a Voki whose job is to answers the question: What is History? Fantastic, what a way to motivate kids to do homework! I really enjoyed viewing these interactive assignments! Take a look!

Here is an example


Get a Voki now!

Just this evening when finishing our latest Voki for the LRC site(which I must say bears a strong resemblance to our Librarian), I clicked the play button and came across Trek Yourself and Svedka Bot Builder..Great fun. I have included some examples below. These two are very easy to use and no account is needed. They can be embedded, sent by email, downloaded, uploaded to facebook etc..Bot Builder doesn't appear to talk, but provides for movement, while Trek Yourself allows you to upload, or text in your message.

My Trek Self


Create Your Own


My Bot


Build Your Own


My Voki



Get a Voki now!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Collecta for Real Time Searching.

Picture 1

Collecta is great for  current events including rapidly developing issues. It provides plenty of returns, many of the hits being Tweets, blog posts and news updates.

Yet another tool for the digital toolbox!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Prezi

A colleague of mine just demonstrated Prezi to me(thanks Marc).  It is a presentation map construction application, which allows you to define paths, zoom in at given points, add text, links and media. It is great for those of us who don't always work in a linear manner. Get your ideas down, organise them at will, add rich content, define a path, save then present. It's that easy.  I not sure about embedding code for the app yet but if it doesn't already exist it may soon.

Picture 2

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Hoote Suite, Tweet Deck and Today's Meet

Picture 4picture-21Picture 3

I am now using both Hoote Suite and Tweet Deck to manage my Twitter accounts. Hoote Suite is a great way to manage all accounts in one place, it was recently updated and is very user friendly. Tweet Deck is great on many levels as well. In addition to ease of tweet and tiny url's, its column layout allows for at a glance access to followers, hashtags,  tweets, direct messages, scoops, groups and more. It even has Facebook integration.  It has taken me a long time to recognise the power of Twitter and become a regular user. I am now completely sold and my Twitter experience at BLC '09 has only helped to solidify my belief that this little tool can go along way in education. I am now using it as one of the most active areas of my PLN, checking it more often than I do my reader. I use it for broadcasting on webpages and will begin using it as a back channel with some of my classes.

ps: Today’s Meet is a great little back channel app. It works free of charge and is as easy as naming a room and sending out the invites on Twitter or via email. You also have the option to save the room for different time periods ranging from 2 hours to 1 year.

Friday, 31 July 2009

A Great Quote

Clarence Fisher: Teaching is not rocket science. It's way more complex than that.

BLC'09

Thursday, 30 July 2009

My First Voki

My new talking avatar. I am definitely going to make this a part of how I communicate with my classes! I could even have a different voki for assigning homework, one for announcements, one for cool ideas.... and the kids would eventually know which one to go to for each thing.





Get a Voki now!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Great Places for Class Trips in Second Life

These were suggested by Bob Sprankle. I have been to Paris 1900 and the Globe Theatre before. Tudor England is good as well as Macbeth. I'll post more on Second Life tomorrow after the workshop.

krstrallnachthUS Holocaust Museum
Land of Lincoln NOAA Weather
Sistine Chapel.
Paris 1900
Museum of Philosophy
Stomach Museum
Sive World
Smithsonian Latino Museum
The Globe Theatre
Renaissance Island

Fiery Ideas Freebies



This is a  collection of great tools for teachers. Registration and login are required.

Check out the timers!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Scratch

I just had my first play with Scratch at MIT today.

This is what I've come up with so far. I was trying to make an interactive map for students looking at the local community, thinking that older kids could then create their own interactive game to support their work with virtual tours of El Salvador.
Learn more about this project

A fantastic second session. While collaborating on games my partner and I chose to each make our own version our chosen concept, by following the same basic structure. This is powerful. Students can create video casts, animations, games and more using critical thinking skills to present their understanding of concepts across the subjects. There's a lot of potential for integrating scratch instead of just teaching it in ICT lessons.

My First Game

Friday, 24 July 2009

Pixton Comic Strip Creator



We use ToonDoo heavily at our school for storyboarding and cartoon strip creation. As I've said in previous posts it is one of the best I've come across and has been embraced whole heartedly by both staff and students across the grades and subjects. This evening I was reading through the various posts on Classroom 2.0 and came across Pixton in one of the forums. This is a free service and an account is required. It looks very promising and I hope to introduce it to staff and students this coming school year.

A big thanks to Julie Baird for posting it.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Jing Screencasts

While playing around in cyber space this evening I came across a great screencasting application called Jing. I found it in an online survey I was answering for another eductor and just had to try it out. Earlier in the year I gave screencasting a try, but found that the app I was using wasn't really cut out for it. Jing is hassle free and the quality of the screencasts is good. It is offered as a free download and brings with it the capability to download screencasts or upload them to screencast.com. Videos download to your computer as shockwave flash files and those uploaded to screencast can later be embedded or linked. Another option is to set it up to upload directly to youtube. The website has easy to follow tutorials and the application is user friendly. So now producing tutorials for staff and students will be a breeze,  as well as getting kids to create their own screencasts in lessons. Try it out!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Guestbook Map Maker

Platial allows you to create embeddable guest maps for your collaborative projects. Once embedded, users simply type in their location and, add a photo,comment and email address and they are on the map. They even provide embeddable Kids Guide maps to what is of interest for children. Just type in the location and Platial will provide the map.I am using this as my starting off activity in August. I have placed a forum on the ABCICT Ning asking kids to place themselves (avatars and nicknames) on the map to share their holiday destinations with the group.



Search Tools

Teaching kids (and adults) how to search the web efficiently is a difficult task. Most people go directly to Google and perform a basic search, without realising that a wide variety of alternative resources are being overlooked, including blogs, wikis, Twitter tweets, as well as a huge repository of invisible web resources.  A big thanks to Joyce Valenza for her New Invisible Web post which covers search tools for wikis, blogs, tweets  as well as specific Google Searches. Here is a link to our LRC Webpage listing of search tools, many of which Joyce has also recommended in her post.

Poll Daddy on Twitter



Alright, here we go again with Twitter. I just found out how to create Poll Daddy surveys on Twitter. No account is needed and you can create the polls in a variety of languages, with both multiple choice or user defined answers. These same polls, or mini surveys are easily embedded in wikis, blogs etc. I am brewing up ideas for a Twitter training session which I now believe needs to happen early on in the school year, along with a session on Elluminate and Learn Central, which are also definate musts!

Friday, 10 July 2009

HOOT Suite



So I've done it, I now have 3 different Twitter accounts for 3 different reasons. The first one is now very much of my personal learning network, so much in fact that I now look to Twitter a lot more than I do my Google Reader. The second twitter account is for the LRC, which at present is being used simply for broadcast updates about the library, however as of August I hope to take it further. The third account is for the ABCICT wiki, and is meant for updates and interactions with the students in 6th through 8th grade. This last account will hopefully become a big part of our ICT lessons during sy2009/10.

Now, while all of this is great, it has been posing a big problem recently, as I have been forced to log in and out of the different accounts depending on what I am doing- slow going. Not anymore!  I have just come across Hoot Suite, which allows you to update multiple Twitter accounts by simply clicking the profile images from dashboard. Tweeting has just become a lot simpler.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Yolink



This is certainly something you'll want to add to your digital toolbox.

Yolink allows you to use keywords to search through numerous links on web pages, as well as specify which links you want it to search through by entering your keywords into the search bar (an add on) and highlighting. Searching through pages of online books is also possible using Yolink which facilitates easy saving and sharing of search results. This last option does require a user and password.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Twitter Widgets

The latest of my obsessions is Twitter Widgets. I discovered them (in a tweet) about a week ago and had to have one, and then more, one for each of my sites. There is so much discussion out there on how to use Twitter effectively for teaching and learning and I am just beginning to get it. I have placed a widget in the different sites for library and class announcements, which I realise is not very collaborative at all, but valuable all the same. Ways in which I can see myself using Twitter as a teaching tool is for class dicussions, brain storming and  data collection. I am toying with the idea of signing my kids up next August. My biggest concern is that most of my students have so many accounts for online applications already.  Dare I suggest they sign up for yet another one? I will of course, and our head of Ict has promised to look into a solution that would allow them to log in simoultaniously to all their accounts, but this may be a while coming.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Mahara Views Using Mind 42



Mind42 is a powerful mind mapping application which allows you to add hyperlinks and attachments to your maps. These can then be exported, and shared with others. Collaboration is central to this app, which makes it a great choice for group work. You can invite collaborators to work with you on your maps, which if used carefully will also aid in building a resource bank directly on the map. As a bit of  a bonus, Google chat and Google talk can also be enabled, so that group members can discuss their work in real time.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Simplybox Again!



I am definately going to use Simplybox more than ever now, to box and share my online finds. I no longer have to box and bookmark on Delicious separately. I can now Simplybox items and the bookmark is saved on my Delicious account and get this-it is also automatically posted on Twitter too,  (Keeping up with tweets is one of my goals this year). Great stuff!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Big Huge Labs



Create movie posters, magazine covers, maps, jigsaws and more using Big Huge Labs (the home of Flickr toys) . Just sign up for free and begin creating. You can save your masterpieces to the computer or order prints online.  I had a play with this and created a poster and a magazine cover. I didn't like my poster much, but kept the mag cover as it turned out alright. What a great way to generate display material and highlight you pictures. You can even save your work to flickr

Here's my first attempt.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Second Life Educational Videos

Here are a couple of related sites which house Second Life videos for educators. I think this is a great idea. I hope that as the idea catches on, and teachers become more familiar with Second Life,  the variety of vids available will increase.

Second Life Education Wiki


Second Life Education Ning

Thursday, 28 May 2009

New LiveStream!



An email came through earlier which I didn't pay much attnetion to until the same topic came up again in a Twitter post. Mogulus is now LiveStream and it is fantastic. I tried it a while ago when it was still Mogulus and left it on the back burner, as UStream gave me more of what I wanted, but not any more. I am seriously thinking of switching LOL over from Ustream to Livestream for a test drive. The channel is ready to go and I hope to try it out June 5th for the final LOL of the school year.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

SimplyBox,Cohere and Zotero-Putting Ideas Together!



A colleague of mine put me on to this a few weeks back. SimplyBox is an application that allows you to organise snapshots from websites into boxes and containers by simply selecting an area of a website and dragging it to the appropriate box in your toolbar. This is called boxing and saving. You can then share your box with others and all boxed items link back to the original website. Clever!

There is potential here for student tool kits. Certainly a group of kids working on a collaborative project could easily create, share and collaborate on their collection of resources in a simple, visual yet powerful manner.

Here is the Sharing Video









I am making it my job to also investigate Cohere " a visual tool to create, connect and share Ideas." This app. would appear to go a bit further by allowing people to create collections of ideas linked to websites, connect these to other ideas and collaborate on these collections with others.

Here is the Introductory Video







Finally I came across Zotero today, another powerful bookmarking, organisational tool with an iTunes like interface, which grabs full text when you bookmark an item. These can all be annotated and all notes become part of the searchable database. Drag and drop features make organisation easy, and plugins exist to create citations and bibliographies from all citations within a project. The library can be accessed on different machines through synching.

Here's the Introductory Video





Monday, 18 May 2009

Relevant Information



Every wondered what day of the week you were born on, what time the sun rises in different parts of the world, what the possible closed forms of PI are, or any other piece of info related to something else?

Try a Wolframalpha search.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

More on the Twitter Front!

Just come across a few new Twitter tools while tracking Twitter Posts.

SnapTwitter allows you to easily share Flickr pictures on Twitter.

TwitPic lets you share pictures on Twitter using your Twitter credentials.

I am beginning to think I need a whole Twitter page.

I'd be interested in hearing about the different ways Twitter is used with students.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Getting the Tweet of Things



I have been forcing myself to be more consistent with Twitter lately. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have been a most unwilling participant up until now. I just  didn't understand the WOW of it. That is slowly changing.  I have now committed myself to opening it each day and refreshing the page occassionally, which has lead me to stumble across some really great stuff. Tiny url's, little blog snippets, these are two of the most valuable facets of Twitter I have found so far. Yes it is nice to keep in touch and post personal updates on what we are doing, so our friends to read about it, but to be able to share interesting ideas and links with our social networks, without writing or having to read blog posts to get to the meat of things...well, is there a need to elaborate further?

Friday, 24 April 2009

Earth Week

During the week of April 20th, 209, the ABC celebrated the Earth, Claudia Lars and Salvador SalarruĂ© as a part of both Earth Week, and National Reading week initiatives. Through a series of Earth friendly workshops, students were ablet to participate in making recycled paper, using recycled materials as covers, building recycled bottle walls, finding carbon footprints and planting a tree.  Students and teachers who participated had a great time and learned a great deal about taking better care of the Earth. These activities ran simoultaneously to El Salvador's National Reading week which spotlighted the lives and works of two famous Salvadoran writers, Claudia Lars and Salvador SalarruĂ©. To read more about the weeks activities and view photos and videos, please visit the LRC Website.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Graphic Apps to Add to Your Toolkit!

I was wandering throught Twitter again today, after being informed I had a new follower-yes! Anyway this lead me to this newly resurrected blog on teaching with comics which of course got my attention immediately after all the work we have done with ToonDoo this year. Well I couldn't help myself I scanned the posts quickly and immediately came up with 3 new tools I just had to have!(Plus I left a comment about ToonDoo). The first of the tools is called Xtranormal and it allows one to create 3-d videos with a range of simple tools. It is a freebie and very user friendly which of course makes it even more special for those of us who teach. Another great tool is Block Posters, (once again it is free) which allows users to upload and slice images which are then dowloaded in PDF form for printing out as pieces of a larger poster. Finally, I have downloaded ComicLife for Mac from Plasq.com which is initailly free and allows users to create comics with photographs from their computers.

I have included a couple of examples below.

Xtranormal Link (having trouble with the embedding code)



ComicLife

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Control With Bots

It always amazes me how much I learn from my children. This Easter holiday my boys of 9 and 10 introduced me to their latest craze-Incredibots! This website allows users to sign up free, save and embed their creations. With a bit of guidance from my 9 year old I was able to explore a bit and found that kids creating their bots can use a variety of shapes, joints and movement commands to build and manipulate these robots. There is a lot of trial and error and critical thinking involved in this. I think this free applications (which does accept monitary support for those wishing to help out)  may have a lot of potential for learning.

Below I have embedded one my son did(The instructions on screen and robot start position to the left). It is a bit of a game really. I have also embedded my first try-very basic. Click play and use the a and v and arrow keys to see what it does. I still need to work on it as one of the components tends to tip over when in operation!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

TwitScoop etc.

One of my favourite web 2.0 tools is wordle which allows you to generate tag clouds by copying and pasting text into a box, or by enterring the url of any blog, feed, delicious account, web page ....

Recently in my wanderings, I came across a podcast on k12onlineo8 that mentioned Twitscoop which is a part of Twitter. Now you can use twitscoop to monitor an ever chaning tag cloud of the hottest topics of the moment. This cloud is continually morphing and if you click on a tag it shows you who tweeted it with the tag in context, as it takes you to those tweets.

Just come across Doug Belshaws TwitterFlock which he generated on TwitterSheep, did my own, of course nothing in comparison-really a sad little flock! I keep telling myself I need to get into Twitter more! Anyway I have also just discovered Twitterfall, which allows you to use a tagged search to generate a cascade of tweets which are constantly updated! Neat!

Has it convinced me to use Twitter more often? Hmmm, not yet. While I see the value of it as a discussion tool during conferences etc...I lack the actual network that would make this really valuable. Who's fault is that? Why mine of course, I need to get it together and begin building!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Us e for Media Literacy Education

This recently released code is an important read for teachers working with digital projects.  "Fair use is the right to use copyrighted material without permission or payment under some circumstances—especially when the cultural or social benefits of the use are predominant."

The code outlines 5 principles, representing the media literacy community's views on fair use and copyright best practice in K-12 education as well as higher eduction and non profit enterprises.

Scholastic-Fantastic!

One of my favourites from the past has returned. The LRC is proud to introduce the Scholastic book Club to our community. Scholastic is a popular book club that allows students from around the world to purchase quality literature, at a moderate price. Our first order is due to arrive just after the Easter holidays. We hope to continue submitting orders on a regular basis. You can have a look at what Scholastic has to offer at:   Scholastic Teachers

Saturday, 14 March 2009

LRC Extreme Readers

On of our goals for this year was to start up a Book Club. While most of our initial goals have been achieved, this particular one has not. For a while I though of using Librarything or Shelfari, but today while wandering through my GoogleReader for the first time in weeks, I came across BookSprouts. This site lets you form a club, join other clubs, keep clubs private or open, hold discussions, vote on the next book and is basically a web presence for you book club. I am really looking forward to launching this at school, hopefully prior to
Easter and arranging for the necessary books in multiple copies to get it going.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Virtual Worlds-Whyville



Virtual Worlds are becoming very popular in education. The offer a means of providing opportunities for students and teachers to move outside the of  the classroom and pursue learning experiences that would be difficult or even impossible to manage in the traditional classroom. Virtual worlds allow students to take virtual field trips, meet up with students from other schools from around the world, and participate in virtual classrooms. Whyville is a virtual world, which is based on educational ideas, and is safe for our younger students to get around in.

The activities in Whyville are again educationally founded and include such things as recycling, sorting, construction and design. In order to chat with others in Whyville, students must first take an internet safety test.  Students can earn clams(Whyville currency) by working or participating in games and activities and teachers are able to work with their classes in the virtual world.

Nings at School

Nings are online platforms that allow people to create social networks. Members of groups with common interests  or objectives are formed, whose members  are then able chat, share resources, collaborate on forums and reflect through blog posts. Students are drawn to Nings due to the wealth of options offered by them. In many ways the features of this social networking tool closely resemble Facebook, an application that students use regularly out of school to stay in contact with friends. As in Facebook students who join a Ning are able to customise their own pages, add applications and form groups of friends to collaborate and share with.

The potential for Nings in education is enormous as teachers and students are able to bring files, multimedia, groups and discussions together in one place. At present our students are learning how to use them in ICT lessons as part of a unit on Social Networks. Both the reflective and collaborative aspects of the Ning have been a focus in ICT as well as other subjects.

GMail and Google Docs for Project Work

Every student in KS3 now has a Gmail account. These accounts are superior in many ways to our traditional email service, and include such exciting options as video, audio and text chat. One of the many applications that comes with a Gmail account is Google Docs. Using Google Docs students can upload documents, as well as create them online. Document types include presentations, text  and spreadsheets and can be published as web pages and/or shared with others wishing to view or collaborate on them.

Just imagine the potential! A group of students must  produce a project. They are not allowed to get together outside of school in order to work on it, but can get together virtually, writing to the same document at each student's convenience, not only when it is convenient for the group. They can also chat about their work in real time with either text, audio or video chat and practice presentations in front of their groups as they run them in Google Docs and view the presenters through video chat. This is one powerful learning tool!

PS... (This is a bit Big Brotherish which is why teachers will love it) It is really easy to check and see who has done what on a project...just click on the page history and it is all there!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Teaching PowerPoint Reform

We have just completed an activity in conjunction with the PE dept. that involved investigating eating disorders and food pyramids and creating a presentation based on the findings. Talk about teachable moments, what a perfect time to introduce social bookmarking with Delicious as well as citations and note taking with Noodlebib.  We spend a lesson on each area with a week in between for further investigation and then moved on to PowerPoint reform. By the way this is the last time I use the term PowerPoint in this post.

The following presentation is a fantastic vehicle through which to grab student attention and simultanesouly model good practice in presentation construction.
THIRST
View more presentations from Jeff Brenman. (tags: design crisis)

The next step was to delve a little further into presentation do's and don'ts using the following video done by Joyce's kids.




Finally, what better way to have the kids collaborate on the projects from home than to upload them to their Google Docs accounts and share the presentations with those in their groups. Using GMail's video chat option they were able to practice presenting in front of one another and collaborate on building that aspect of the presentation.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Free Books!

Alright so they are not physical books they are ebooks online at project Gutenberg, Chidren's Books Online, and Big Universe.  These are musts for any school library website or language portals.

A friend of mine introduced me to a great little mind mapping web app. earlier today and I am not one to turn down cool tools, especially when they are so easy to use and yes...free to boot!

Check out mindmeister.com