Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Newbie Presenter

This past weekend was my first presentation (other than at school, of course). I was a presenter at the 37th annual Pennsylvania State Librarian's Association Conference.

I'm happy with how the presentation went. There are a few things that I wish I would have done differently in hindsight. I wish I would have taken 5 minutes at the beginning of the presentation to make sure everyone in the audience was able to get to the online portion of my presentation. A few people were having trouble finding the link on the conference wiki. I also wish I would have scheduled about 5 minutes between each application I was talking about to answer a few questions. Oh well, next time I'll try to remember to do those things. Live and learn:)

I began with a short presentation embedded below:

At the end of the presentation, I linked out to a poll by Poll Everywhere. I wanted to get an idea of where everyone in the group was at in terms of using applications like glogster, wordle, audacity, etc.

Then I launched into the content of my presentation using a LiveBinder I created. I absolutely LOVE LiveBinders for presentations because your presentation then becomes a resource binder for those in the audience. My session focused on creating multi-media book projects. I talked to teacher librarians about how to make book projects 2.0-style and allow students to learn important 21st century skills - creative commons, visual literacy, communication, etc.

It is amazing how a presentation that can take hours upon hours to create and organize, is over in 1 hour and 15 minutes. I wanted more time, but the time I did have was great and the participants were wonderful!

Number 1 photo used under Creative Commons license from http://www.flickr.com/photos/49968232@N00/2115400318/.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Collaborative Writing Made Fun and Easy

Last month my fifth graders completed a unit on Internet Safety. Our culminating activity (which only took 1 1/2 periods!!) was a group essay.

To facilitate the collaborative writing process, which can be difficult, we turned to Etherpad, making the whole process fun and flow smoothly.

So, I'm disappointed to hear that Etherpad will be shut down and access to previously created pads will be lost on May 14. Google had recently purchased Etherpad, released their API, and now they are shutting Etherpad down. Luckily two "clone" sites are available, so I will be using one of them in the future:

1. I introduced Etherpad to the students, which only took about 10 minutes. Then I allowed the students to test it out and practice with it for another 10 minutes. Since it was my first time and their first time using it, we worked out all the kinks and brainstormed some ideas on how to use Etherpad effectively to create a collaborative essay. This was also a great teachable moment on discussing the difference between academic writing and text/chat writing because they were switching back and forth between both!

2. Now the students were ready to really begin. Before their next class, I created 5 pads for each class and posted the invite URLs online. All the students had to do was click on the link corresponding with their group and everyone was on the correct pad and ready to write!

3. The class was silent even though they were constantly checking in with one another and communicating about their writing process. Here's just a sampling of the conversations occurring about their writing in the chat box.

4. Once they finished their final products I showed them what the TimeSlider button did. They loved seeing a video of their entire writing process enfold before their eyes. It is the perfect end to a collaborative writing process.

TimeSlider video (I imagine this link will not work after May 14, 2010).

Finished Products

Classroom Ideas:
Write a group story
Lab reports
Group projects
Summarizing (book, lesson, presentation, video) activity

Teamwork photo used under Creative Commons license from


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Book Review Podcasts

I just finished working with an eighth grade Language Arts teacher and her students on creating book review podcasts. (I've blogged previously on podcasting - here and here.)

Podcasts are a great way to build students skills not only in technology, but in academic content as well. I was inspired by the poster Langwitches created in her "It's not about the tools . . . it's about the skills". It is such a powerful visual reminder that having students record a podcast is not all about the podcast skills. It is about the writing, speaking, communication, etc. skills taught and reinforced in the process. It is about allowing students to build these skills in a real-world, hands-on experience.

One thing that really struck me throughout the recording process was the growing self-awareness that the students developed about how they sounded while speaking. Common remarks during the first day of recording included: "Do I actually sound like that?" "I need to record that again because I was mumbling" "I can barely hear myself. I need to speak louder next time." The ability to hear what they just said and receive immediate feed back allowed the students to analyze their recording for quality speaking skills. Without much coaching, the students listened to and reflected on the quality of their recordings (speaking skills) and then took measures to correct or improve upon their recording.

We used Audacity to record our podcasts. Alternatives to audacity are GarageBand (for Mac users) and Myna.

1 Period - Write book review podcast script
1 Period - Introduce Audacity and let the students play/practice
2 Periods - Record vocal portions of podcast
1 Period - Import music and a sound effect

How To
Book Review Podcast Directions
Full screen version.

Audacity Instructions
Full screen version.

Final Product

To place all the podcasts in a place for all students to have access to them, I uploaded the podcasts to a glog - quick and easy! Each class has their own glog page with their podcasts like the picture to the left.

I wish I could share the direct link for you to listen to a few, but unfortunately I cannot.

Podcasting Skills and Literacies photo used under Creative Commons license from Langwitches.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bulletin Board Happiness

I have to send out a big thanks to Tara Ethridge for introducing me to WallWisher. She has written two blog articles about using WallWisher here and here.

WallWisher is a sort of online bulletin board. It allows users to post sticky note type messages and attach photos, videos, documents, and links.

I thought I would give it a try in an upcoming lesson to fifth graders about Internet safety. Before we delved into the topic, I asked them to share their thoughts, tips, rules for staying safe online. Normally this would be done as a class discussion with raised hands and people taking turns speaking. However, using WallWisher provided each student equal opportunity to express their knowledge. I loved the experience as much as the students did. I plan on repeating this activity at the end of our Internet Safety unit to compare their two boards and let them see how their knowledge and understanding has grown and evolved.

How To:
Creating a wall on WallWisher is so easy! Simply create an individual account and then set-up your wall(s). Students do not need to create accounts to be able to interact with a wall, you just have to allow anonymous posts when you are creating your wall. Once students click on the link to your pre-created wall, they can immediately post. They can change the default "anonymous" name to their own, but it is not necessary.

Click here if you cannot view embedded example below.

Classroom Ideas:
Class brainstorming
"Ticket out the door" activity
Before and After a lesson/unit activity to show learning
Resource gathering - students (or teacher) can add links, videos, photos, documents
Alternative to a standard poll

How would you use or have you used WallWisher with your classes?

Bulletin Board photo used under Creative Commons license from http://www.flickr.com/photos/69676244@N00/2315822008/.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Typing Time

I'm sure we've all seen it . . . the one-fingered, hunting, pecking typer. Since our school does not provide keyboarding classes, the majority of the fifth graders enter the middle school with a complete lack of typing skills. Many teachers bemoan the fact that projects requiring computers (and, therefore, typing) take longer than they should if the students had even basic typing skills. So, I found a few sites that students can use to practice their typing skills.

- thanks to ilearntechnology
- excellent resource
- ideas for encouraging kids to practice typing
- list of typing tutorials/games

Typing Web
- provides courses by key rows
- provides courses by level of proficiency
- games available
- registration is optional

Classroom Ideas
Let students practice their typing if they finish a project early
Create typing contests for your students
Have students set goals and track their progress

Typing photo used under Creative Commons license from http://www.flickr.com/photos/95492938@N00/1418402951/.