Web site filters in schools have had tremendous success in keeping one group of people from freely searching online. Unfortunately, that group is teachers.
Via Justin Reich, Washington Post
I love that, because of technology, I was able to start this conversation with my students in the midst of summer vacation:
A message to all members of Cougar Pride:
I know that most of you are not checking this site over the summer, but I can’t stop being your teacher just because school is out. So here goes:
If you get a minute, stop by this site: Dear CNN: Please Check Twitter for News about Iran. The call for change in Iran is being led students not much older than you guys, and they are sharing their struggle using a lot of the technology we have experimented with in class. Just a reminder that you really do have the power to change the world in which you live.
For more information on Twitter and the upheaval in Iran, try the following:
- What the Iran Protests Suggest from the Teach Paperless blog
- Social Networking Changes Everything from the School Library Journal
- How Iran’s Hackers Killed Big Brother from the Daily Beast
- State Department to Twitter… from AC 360 blog
- Twitter on the Barricades… from the New York Times
- How Cellphones, Twitter, & Facebook Can Make History from Clay Shirky’s TED Talk
Need to prepare your students for final exams? Try using StudyStack, the site that allows users to not only create flashcards … but also crossword puzzles, word scrambles, matching exercises, fill-in-the-blank activities, and more from your data. I quickly entered the 45 key vocabulary words we use in geography, then several activities I can use in class. The whole process took less than 20 minutes.
After the data has been entered, students can either study online, print flashcards to carry with them, or export it to their iPods or cell phones. I exported this set to my iTouch using the Touchcards app ($1.99). It worked beautifully and now all 45 of my cards are with me all of the time. Brilliant!
While StudyStack is missing some of the features of other online flashcard sites … you can’t add images, video, or tags (I would love to see this feature added) to your cards, I am still impressed by what it can do. For what it’s worth, my students will be trying it tomorrow.
For more information about creating online flashcards, try the following resources:
I have spent most of this Sunday afternoon catching up on the huge number of entries in my Google Reader. In doing so, I ran across this. It’s excellent post by Silvia Tilisano in her Langwitches blog about Wallwisher, a website that essentially allows users to create an interactive bulletin board using sticky notes with text, photos, or video.
So I started thinking. What would I want to have a virtual conversation about? I settled on a topic that I have giving a lot of thought lately…The Schools We Need. So I went to the Wallwisher website, registered, and started a wall. Super easy. Even grabbing the video that started me down this road was simple as copying and pasting the url into my sticky note.
And now I want to invite you into the conversation. Go to my wall and add your own thoughts.
For more information about Wallwisher, try the following resources:
- Larry Ferlazzo’s Wallwisher is a Winner-Big Time! post
A word of warning. I am using this space to recreate a conversation that happened elsewhere. I do, however, think that it is worth sharing.
The original discussion started with a blog post I read about using backchanneling in a middle school social studies classroom. Essentially, students were told to use Today’s Meet, a private chat room, to capture their thoughts and questions while they watched a video in class. At the end of the 50 minute period, the teacher was able to print the transcript of the chat in order to assess student learning and, more importantly, in order to really understand what students were thinking during the video.
I thought that this was an interesting and innovative use of technology that has real potential. So I shared the link with my Twitter network…
…And within a few minutes, a discussion had started…
This discussion continued, in more detail, on the I Teach Social Studies Ning where we decided on the following set of guidelines:
2) Write 3-4 open-ended questions for students to explore while watching the video. These should serve as guides, not limits, to the conversation.
3) Whenever possible, utilize the collaboration tools available on the various websites. Polls, links, etc. can enhance what students take away from the experience.
4) Have students do some sort of follow-up activity. Maybe work in small groups to summarize the answers to the questions. Summaries can be shared with the whole class and tweaked accordingly. Use this as an opportunity to teach not only content, but also skills.
For information about classroom backchanneling, try the following resources:
- Art Titzel’s Backchannel Engagement post on his experiences
As I begin this journey, I think that it is important for me to seek out words of wisdom…so I read, I watch, and I listen. Sometimes I find ideas that really sum up all I am trying to do. This is one of those times. When I lose my way…when I forget where I’m going, I hope to come back to this video. I think it should be required viewing for all those in the position to make decisions about our schools and their future.