In preparing students for 21st century technology skills, many teachers have incorporated social networking sites, blogs, and/or wikispaces among other web 2.0 tools into their lessons. I would enjoy hearing about how you have used one or more of these tools effectively for instructional purposes.
I have used wikis in my classroom and the students didn't really like them; however, we never really got in depth with them. We have Moodle here and I use the blog/discussion forum there to post discussions throughout the year. It is amazing that some discussions just keep going even after a new topic is introduced. Technology is amazing. Unfortunately, most of the social networking sites our blocked at our school.
Since many of the social networking sites are blocked in your school, I am glad you have found a way to use Moodle so students still get an opportunity to use technology to share their thoughts and opinions. I was in a school where many web 2.0 tools were blocked. Sometimes I could convince the IT Department to grant access to just my students for a particular website. We also had a workspace on our school intranet which could be used for teacher-to-student and student-to-student communication. It did not work quite like blogging or wikispaces, but it still gave teachers and students a chance to communicate via technology.
I've used wikispaces in my high school science classes - specifically Environmental Science. Each week, a pair of students in the class post a link to an article on the web of interest to them (only parameter - had to be something that affects the environment, or be about a species). The students then started a discussion thread about the article, where they posted their thoughts on the topic, and why they thought the article was important. Other students in the class then had a week to post a response to at least one of the articles. Once the students got used to using the wiki, they seemed to enjoy posting articles and responses. I would occasionally post an article of interest, if discussion seemed slow tha week.
This is a great idea especially because it is cross-curricular. Teachers in various disciplines could adapt this model to use with their students to generate discussions on different articles. It also has possibilities such as an English teacher using a current events article that ties in with a literary topic. Thanks for sharing a way to use wikispaces in the classroom.
I began a "pilot" using Kidblog.org with 5th Graders. They began as reports for mini-research projects, but the blogs have become a journal for all sorts of writing. Students post everything from book reviews and field trips, to class projects. Other students, teachers, and others from outside the school are even responding to their blogs. Kidblog.org is free, easy to set up, and kid-safe. Just the mention of a blog motivated the students, and they are blogging outside of class, even over spring break! I am loving it, and hope to have classroom teachers blogging with their classes next year. We also hope to have some collaboration set up with other classes around the country who can visit and share on our blogs, and vice-versa.
This sounds wonderful! Can you tell us a bit more? Can anyone see students' blogs or is access restricted to your school? Can anyone comment on a blog post? Does this make your job harder/more time-consuming or easier? Are you seeing improvements in students' writing (it sounds like it definitely generated enthusiasm!)
Maybe, in a nutshell: what have you found to be the pros and cons of student blogging so far?
Since I have only been using it for a short time, I do not have any solid data to indicate whether or not it is directly improving students' writing. I was focusing on the 21st Century tool and wanted a demo to show teachers how useful and simple it can be to use. It is a lot of work to monitor the blogs, which is why I started with only 2 classes. I wouldn't recommend anyone trying to keep up with multiple classes! You can set the blogs to be private, restricted, or totally public. My students' blogs are public for all, and anyone can comment. However, everything goes through my control panel, so nothing gets posted until I OK it.
When students finish a post, they "submit for review." Those posts pop up on my control panel as pending review. If the post is good, I publish it. For writing, I would review students' posts, then highlight in red anything they needed to edit. If it needs work, I mark it as a draft and notify the student to fix.
It is a lot of work at first to monitor, but I set a time each day to review the posts, and if I do it regularly, it doesn't pile up and become unmanageable.
It is so motivating, I've never had such a quite computer lab! They were even blogging over spring break!
I think that's an excellent idea. I checked out some of your students' blog posts; loved all the different approaches they were taking. I love any tool that gets kids enthusiastic about writing!
Update: visit the group Blogging with Elementary Students
For the past 2 years (going on three) a teacher from another state and I have grouped our students to do literature circles through a wiki using the same novel for both classes. It has gone very well but we have had some learning experiences! This year we are adding a 3rd classroom from another state. I also have my own classroom wiki that my students use to complete assignments/projects. I don't use it as a "teacher page" like a lot of teachers do. I also have students blog almost daily. Last year I paired each of my students with a teacher education student from a local college in order to encourage my students to improve their writing on the blogs. It also helped the college students to experience how 5th graders really write! Those are just a few of the ways that I use 2.0 in the classroom/curriculum.
This is the first time I have heard of using wikis to connect students in classrooms from different states. What a neat idea! I also really like your idea of having students paired with teacher education students from a local college. That's a great way for college students to mentor and also see the reality of 5th grade student writing. Your idea is adaptable on so many levels. Thanks again for sharing wonderful uses of Web 2.0 tools that make education more exciting for students and future teachers.
One fantastic Web 2.0 site is Scratch, a programming platform designed specifically for K-12, inner-city students by the MIT Media Lab and Kindergarten for Life. Students can program simple "projects"—art, games, birthday cards, more!—using little blocks that snap together in a really simple framework. Then they can share their projects online!
Scratch comes with a robust Internet community, so students can actually engage with projects that other students from around the world have made. All projects are "open source," which means that students can download them with the code, remix them, and reshare them online.
I couldn't be more enthusiastic. After five weeks of this, my 1-6 graders still aren't bored with the thing and think its the coolest program in the world. And, through the programming I've reinforced the notions of random numbers, the coordinate plane, variables, operators, input and output, sensing, and recursive structures! Pretty amazing! Way to go, MIT!
Love Scratch! My kids are also very excited about it. I had 4th and 5th Graders design conversations between characters like explorers, trappers/traders, etc. 3rd Graders designed illustrations of math problems that they had Kindergarteners solve. It's great, and you're right. They never get tired of it. I would recommend anyone at least give it a try.
I use many Web 2.0 tools in my classroom. I will list them with a brief description after each one. If you have further questions please just ask.
First, I work in a high poverty -- no budget -- limited resources distric ina middle school for grades 5-8. I have to be the Queen of Free.The items below are all free. Beware that sometimes freebies become a fee service especially if the item is free during beta and they go live with it. So try to keep up with the site and any news about tha if you are using it extensively. I have not had a problem yet but . . ! I use all the items below and would be happy to discuss any of them more indepth via the message center or this discussion thread.
1) I use Xtranormal at www.xtranormal.com
There are two versions. We use the online not downloaded one in school. Many students have also gone home and downloaded the State Beta.
This site allows students to create a background and avatars complete with gestures, expressions and camera angles. They can then write a script that will be rendered into dialogue that the avatars speak. Highly motivating for learning to write dialogue, writing in general, phonemic awareness and creating a corrected finished project. One hint: I have the students write the script pieces in Word or another software that had a spell and grammar checker, then copy and paste the text into Xtranormal. Also, students will need an account which does require an email address.
2) I use wikispaces. I use them to provide a place for teachers to communicate following professional development and I use them with students. I teach in a computer lab as my classroom but also run a writing center in the same space. I currently use my wikis for the peer writing tutors to have a space to introduce themselves, I have another Wiki where students can exchange and discuss books and book reviews, and also have just started a Wiki writing space at the request of students who wanted a place to share their writing and get feedback from peers. You can see these wikis at www.wikispaces.com\WMSCaughtReading and www.wikispaces.com\WMSCaughtWriting They are protected sites. You may read the postings but would have to request to join the wiki prior to being able to post. The reading one is popular and has been used for over a year. The writing one is brand new and I don't expect much traffic until school begins again. I have alerts sent to me via email so I know when there is a new posting. I monitor for appropriate content but do not require approval prior to posting. Ihave also found that soliciting the help of my poorer readers to monitor for innappropriate content is a great way to get them to practice their reading skills.
3) I use www.mycalendar.com for scheduling of my computer lab when there are no classes, as well as other labs and programs in the building. It is free. Students can use this for club schedules, sports schedules etc.
4) My students use Scratch. This is a program designed by MIT Graduate Students. It allows students to do basic programming utilizing programming blocks that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Most of my students work on this both at home and in school and use a flashdrive to transport the work. (Keep in mind I do not assign homework, they do this because they want to do this.) Simple programs havelillustrated jokes and riddles, more complicated programs have varied. One example is the creation of a Pac-man style game that included the icon that eats the dots with an automatic scoring function and an end to the session if the icon crashes into a wall. Scratch can be found at http://scratch.mit.edu There are also alot of chat spaces and blogs for discussion of programs. exchange of ideas and help. The help menus within the program are very user friendly.
5) http://marvel.com/create_your_own_superhero and http://www.ugo.com/games/superhero-generator-heromachine-2-5 are both places that students can create their own super heroes. I use these as an accompaniment for story writing.
6) www.wallwisher.com is a board that allows short postings in response to a question, comment, storystarter, a posted image etc. It does not require an email to sign up. (though if you do need emails for students you can use EPals or GoogleMail) With this webware I DO use the setting requiring approvals prior to posting.
7) Wordle at www.wordle.net allows you to take a piece of writing and have it made into a visual poster that shows the word use in a cloud formposter with a visual emphasis pattern that shows how often the words are used. You have to play with it, but it is helpful for identifying main ideas, etc. It is also a great graphic. this is especailly helpful for students who need to identify words that are overused and find alternatives.
8) I also use Audacity. This is found at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ This webware allows you to record music, mix it and edit it. It is great for creating radio shows, short music mixes, sound effects, etc. We use it to record soundtrack/narrations to go with presentations (like PowerPoint). We also use it for radio commercials when students create their own product and then set up a marketing campaign for them.
9) www.prezi.com allows you to create video presentations. The results are incredible and the learning opportunities are endless.
10) Ipadio at www.ipadio.com allows you to broadcast onto the internet live by using any telephone including a cell phone.
I'll stop here but perhaps this will help you with some ideas.
Just a quick comment: a great site to stay in touch with recent advances in this area is EduTecher.com. I've learned of a bunch of cool sites from them!
I've also used WordPress to set up a website. It's a blog platform, but I use it to contain links to the best websites, have a "chat room" (just a page with moderated comments) and weekly postings. Works pretty well.
Check it out here: afterschooltechteam.wordpress.com.
I would encourage everyone in this thread to join the Online Tools for Educators Group. I would be great to see this conversation continue there. You all have some great ideas!
Thanks for sharing!
Verizon Thinkfinity Communtiy Host
Has anyone used the site Posterous Spaces for students to share class projects, group discussions, personal blogs, vacation photos, and team assignments? It appears to be very easy to use and "kid" friendly. There are controls for making the spaces public or private. The site does require students to register for free using an email account.
What do you think of this site for students to engage in social networking?
I actually started a blog this year with my students in social studies. Here is my blog site if you want to check it out! http://mrsneuharth.blogspot.com/
It's very time consuming...but such a GREAT informal assessment tool!!!!
I am considering using it for math next year.....but I have NO idea how to integrate it into math and still meet ALL the standards I need to teach????!!! Any ideas?
Here are some of the social networking tools I use in my classroom:
I am taking a wonderful course online from Thinkfinity and am wondernig if I might have the students in grade 8 sign up for an account. I think there's a lot of potential with this site.
Thanks for sharing some of your favorite web 2.0 tools. In response to your question about having your eighth grade students use the Verizon Thinkfinity Community, that is certainly acceptable as long as the students are at least age 13. The Community Conduct Guidelines under the section "Be Professional at All Times" specifies the age requirement. I suggest that you contact the students' parents to make certain they give permission for your grade 8 students to create online accounts.
I'm glad you are enjoying the online course from Thinkfinity.
I love the web 2.0 tools, however some of them are blocked by school filters. I have used wikis and blogs for students to post assignments as an end to a research project. Edublogs is a great site to use for students to discuss projects. I have had students use podcasting to do digital storytelling. It engages all of the students even the younger ones. Web 2.0 tools help connect the school with parents and familiy members living a distance away.
I just read an article that provides 20+ apps to support digital storytelling.
Check out the article and let us know if you find any of these apps useful with your students--
"20+ Apps to Support the Digital Storytelling Process" published in Tech & Learning (December 2012)