Kelsi's Insight on Education

Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0

“Using technology tools with high school students is always a good idea. Okay, maybe that statement is a bit bold, but let’s face the truth. High school students are more connected to online forums, Facebook accounts, and cell phones than ever before. Meeting students “where they are” requires meeting them online.” – Free Technology for Teachers, Using Technology to Find Students

This week, I have been learning all about collaborative Web 2.0 Tools. A few examples were given and we were then assigned a group assignment to work hands-on with these tools. Our group set ship and sailed away with Pirate Pad. It is a quick and easy way to communicate, collaborate, create and contribute. You don’t have to be online at the same time, in order to contribute to the topic at hand. This is a great tool that I can see myself using with a variety of different people:  group of colleagues, friends and my students!

It is quick and easy to create a new pad. Just go to the Pirate Pad website, click on the link provided, and then type in a name. After that, click on “Share this Pad” and a link is provided for you to share with others you want to join in the conversation. Pirate Pad has a ‘pad’ feature and a ‘chat’ feature. Both are saved and available to be viewed by anyone that goes to the web address. You also never need to refresh the page, as it automatically updates and there is no sign-up/sign-ins required. Another great feature is that the pad can be exported as a text file.

Pirate Pad is a great tool to meet students half-way with. Students are always looking for something new and it would be easy to modify a lesson and incorporate this technology tool into it. Students would especially get a kick out of the chat feature as it is similar to an AIM or Facebook chat session. One way to use this in the classroom is for students to create a KWL (what you know, what you want to know and what you’ve learned). Another idea would be for students to use this to research a certain topic and share websites they’ve found and notes related to the topic. Basically, anytime you split the class into groups and ask them to collaborate and share together with pen and paper, could easily be turned into a technology lesson, using PiratePad. Feel free to share other ways you’ve tried or would like to try with PiratePad in the comments section below!

This week, my group was assigned to create an Internet Scavenger Hunt. We used PiratePad to idea generate on a topic for the assignment and even used it to figure out a time when we were available to ‘meet-up’ to work on the project together. We also used it to compile our scavenger hunt questions, answers and websites for the project. Here is a screen shot of my group’s pad, as an example of an -in progress- view, of this collaborative tool.

View of In-Progress Pirate Pad

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During this past school year, I wanted to try a little bit of everything. I dabbled into creating a wiki and worked on projects with Google Calendar, Sites, and Docs, etc. I immersed myself into technology and stretched myself in way too many different directions. I knew just little tidbits about many things. (Wikis, Wordle, Moodle, Google Tools, Twitter, etc.) Because of being stretched, I started a lot of projects, that I wasn’t able to find the time to finish. I also didn’t have time, as a first year teacher, to move into the Evaluation stage, let alone Perspective or Balance. This class (or perhaps, summertime, in general) has helped move me from the PLN Adoption- Immersion stage into the PLN Adoption-Evaluation stage. (Stages of PLN Adoption, The Thinking Stick) I have had a chance to sit back and explore some great websites listed through the Website of the Week assignment. A few of my favorites, so far, are listed below:

I also have had time to organize the above, along with many other websites, by using my Delicious account. So now, even if I don’t know it all right this second, I at least have it ‘socially bookmarked’ and/or socially organized to come back to it, at a later date.  This class has also given me direction, by giving me so many helpful links to really delve into the Web 2.0 Tools, that I previously only heard about or knew a couple things about. I am also learning how to evaluate websites and what educators to follow on Twitter (and to continue following), etc. I am hoping to continue this year to work on finding a balance.

Learning about the Wikis, this past week, made me think about revisiting the one I signed up for at the beginning of the school year. The last ‘update’ prior to today’s, was in October 2009. Linked below is my -work in progress- Wiki for my English 7 classroom.

Ms. Wilcox’s Wiki

Isn’t it funny that when Twitter first came out and for a long time after it defined itself as something less complex and actually, quite shallow compared to what it really could be and in many cases, it really was. When arriving at the homepage of Twitter it used to state a question, “What is Twitter?” The website then explained Twitter as, “…a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Well, that is ONE way to use Twitter and that’s the way that some of its users chose to use it. But, that statement doesn’t explain the service in its complete and complex form. … Though maybe it’s not ‘funny’… It’s more than likely, just like all things that we, as educators do- analyze, evaluate, create and share new and innovative ways to teach our students. Similar to the saying, that English teacher’s think/analyze books three times more than the authors do themselves. That’s all that we are doing with Twitter… reinventing the wheel that was given to us.

More recently… Twitter has changed their homepage to state, “Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”… it explains Twitter as a rich source of instant information. “Stay updated. Keep others updated. It’s a whole thing”. It also links to Twitter 101, which is a guide for those that are using Twitter for business purposes. Twitter has updated their original mission statement and is keeping up with the movement and trend that it probably didn’t realize it would be, when the website first started out.

Another article explains Twitter as a big noisy teacher’s lounge. Everyone is talking (texting) at once. Then someone might share a conversation with one or two teachers in the lounge, and catch fragments of other conversations around them (Teaching Village). I liked this analogy…. Though I wanted to expand upon it. Sometimes, during lunch conversation in the teacher’s lounge, a topic comes up where most or all participants are part of. There may be laughter or short, jabbing comments, maybe even insightful pieces of information and advice shared. That is when collaboration and true collectivism happens. This reminds me of when people tweet a link, with a few words of explanation… where then others following click on the link and bookmark it for later, retweet it and share with others, or use or make a comment on the article/blog that is posted. This is when the conversation comes alive and in real time, too.  Again, just ANOTHER way to utilize Twitter.

One of the highlights of this week’s class, for me, was when I was reading the NEA Article – Can Tweeting Help Your Teaching? and came across a quote from Chris O’Neal. “Twitter is a great way to keep your students thinking after class,” says Chris O’Neal, an instructional technology coordinator in Charlottesville, VA. “You can tweet a quick provocative question about a social studies lesson, for example, that will keep their brains active.” Chris is actually one of the first educator’s that I began to follow on Twitter. I heard him speak at the 2010 Education Leadership Conference, hosted by the RIU6 this past May.

So keep up the great work educators, as I don’t believe we will stop analyzing, evaluating and creating more ways to utilize Twitter and other Web 2.0 tools, anytime soon. Nor, do I feel that we should stop!


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