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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thing 23- The End?

I can't believe how quickly these 23 Things came and went!  It seems like just yesterday I was setting up my blog.  I have explored/experimented/goofed up/learned so much from this project.  I think the biggest impact on me was blogging.  I can see so many different uses for blogging in and out of the classroom now and my mindset towards blogging in general has changed dramatically.  It is a great personal and educational tool!

There were so many different tools presented during this project that I want/hope to incorporate into my classroom in one way or another:  blogging (of course), wikis, voicethread, screencasting, podcasting- just to name a few.  And there are so many others that I will or have already used in my personal/professional life.   

This program was a definite challenge to me, forcing me to make the time to try out the different Things.  Many of the Things presented had similar features but on closer inspection they also all had unique uses as well.   This was just one of the challenges I faced and learned from.  Quite often great ideas are passed along to me, but I don't always have or make the time to try them and therefore I don't realize their true potential.  This project helped give me a reason to try them- and that has made all the difference.  I wonder- is there a way to do 23 Things for tablets?  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thing 21- twitter

I have two confessions to make:
1.  I was one of the people who thought Twitter was ridiculous and only for those people who either had  
nothing better to do, or thought the whole world cared about what they did every minute of the day.

2.  I am addicted to Twitter. (nixon1972)

I don't tweet very much, but I check it multiple times throughout the day to see who else has tweeted.  I love that I can choose who I follow, and who follows me.  I love that the tweets have to be succinct, which is great for me, as I can easily get distracted or off topic.  Twitter forces me to focus and get to the point.  This is a great exercise for my students.  I think I will try this in class, limiting them to use a certain number of words, when they have to write a summary. 

What really surprised me was the variety and sheer number of options to follow.  I had no idea that I could follow news organizations and educational groups, I thought it was just people.  I also like that I can see how current the post is and go back and look at the posts I missed before I joined. 

I have found twitter to be useful as a professional when others tweet snippets about conferences and other educational or tech facts.  This is a quick way to spread the word about some items, like word of mouth, only an entire group gets the information at once.  I can see similarities to IM and email, but again, having to be succinct sometimes makes all the difference.  I admit I sometimes skim through an email to find the point, I don't have to do that with Twitter.  I am definitely a convert!

"Sad birds twittered sleeplessly,

Calling, calling lost companions." 

- Unyielding By Rabindranath Tagore

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Thing 22- Where did the time go?

The program I used for this Thing is Preceden, an online time line.  As a social studies teacher, I am constantly trying to show my students how civilizations developed throughout history, and this seemed like an interesting tool to try.  I had a lot of fun with this program.  It is easy to use and has countless uses:  simplified curriculum mapping, lesson planning/organizing, project planning/organizing, personal planner, development of civilizations- just to name a few.  You can change the view of the time line from years to months, days, etc to suit your needs.  Plus, you can keep your time line private or make them public for all to see.  I have embedded my timeline into this blog(see below).

The only downside to the timeline (for me) is that it always shows the earliest date on the line.  I had added a layer of Presidents and my timeline of course started with Washington but the rest of my entries were from 2009-2010.  I could scroll across the screen and move the timeline, but I couldn't get it to start with the current date.  I contacted Preceden to ask how to change this, if possible.  Otherwise, the whole program was pretty user friendly. 

This is a great "web 2.0" tool.  It is easy to use, free and online.  You don't have to download anything to use it and the site has other timelines to browse and use.  I hope to use it in my class, perhaps at the end of the year as a wrap up to help my students see how the curriculum tied together.

Another great tool is one that was shared with me by my tech coach. It is a program that converts online media, such as YouTube music videos, into mp3. I used it with my students for a PhotoStory project. It is incredibly easy to use. Just go to and follow the directions.  I could then have my students edit parts of the song using Audacity before adding it to their PhotoStory. (I lost count of how many free programs were involved in that process!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thing 15- spotlight on screen cast

I have never used screen cast before and to be honest, it was not looking very promising  due to some technical problems with Java.  It took me weeks and multiple occasions of forcing a computer shut down before I could record anything, but now that I have used it I see that it is incredibly easy!  I know of some teachers who have used screen casting to record lessons for a long distance student, and I can see how it would help.  However, for language arts and social studies, I am not sure how I would be able to use it in the classroom other than to show directions for different programs I use in projects.  (See my screen cast)

 Screen casting could help with teaching how to cite resources, especially when looking for information on websites.  As this is a topic that needs to be reinforced all year, I could see myself posting screen casts of citation techniques and tips throughout the year, especially in conjunction with projects and research.  This would also be useful for the students to use when writing a "how to" paper.  They could use the screen cast to help them write or double check their work, making sure they covered all the steps clearly for others to repeat the process and be successful.  I think I am starting to see screen casting in a whole new light.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thing 20- slideshare

I found slideshare to be interesting.  I found a couple of interesting presentations that I could use to supplement units I teach.  It is nice to have another source of information, other than my own powerpoints and the textbook to introduce information. 

The whole process seemed pretty easy.  However, it can be fairly time consuming searching for the right information, especially since I would have to preview every slideshow to make sure the content was accurate and appropriate.  I will probably use it as an additional teaching tool.  I have already downloaded a couple slideshows to use this year.  I'll have to see what the students think about it, to see if it is effective and worthwhile...

I liked the general idea behind the presentation I embeded.  I think much of it ties in nicely to our Goals, and it is a reminder of some easy ways to live the Goals on a daily (or 37 day) basis.  

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thing 19- podcasts

Podcasts make me think of the "olden times" when families would gather to listen to a radio show.  Some podcasts even use similar effects to enhance the broadcast, i.e. sound effects, music, etc.  I like to use podcasts in my classroom.  Each spring I have students create podcasts in which they explain commonly misunderstood grammar concepts, such as who/whom.  I prefer podcasts for this because they really have to understand the concept to be able to explain it clearly to others without the use of visual aids.  They also have to pay close attention to what they are saying and how they say it.  Plus, the podcasts are so easy to create and it gives students who are shy in front of an audience a chance to really shine, since they record in private.

One of my favorite podcasts is Grammar Girl.  I reference her year round to my class.  Here is her website that has all of her podcasts along with a written version of each podcast, for the visual learners,  A podcast I found for social studies is World News for Children.  It broadcasts current world news for kids.  I love it for current events, especially since so few kids read the paper or watch the news.  I have now linked it through my school web page for the students to access,   

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thing 18- more wiki

Working with wikis is pretty easy.  At least it was for me since I chose the "easy" option.  Adding to the favorites lists was literally as simple as clicking a button, typing and then saving, although I had some issues with the bullet points.  I hope all wikis are that easy.  If they are, then I would absolutely use them in my classroom for a project or two!

I considered chosing the hard option of editing wikipedia but it seemed a little intimidating when I considered how many people use that site every day (and many of whom assume it is all true).  I don't want to accidentally mislead anyone(I prefer to that deliberately).  I don't know how wikis compare to Moodle.  I use Moodle as a way of presenting lessons and generating conversations within forums.  I think there is a way to use wiki on Moodle but I could be mistaken about that... 

I like that with wiki, I made my contribution and now it is out there for all to see.  I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that others can edit it, but this would require a lot of trust for students.  I would have to have several discussions as to ethics and integrity when using a wiki for a group project.  This could be a good thing, and now that I think about it, using a wiki to create a fictional scenario might be a great way to generate a discussion on integrity...