Using Blogs and Wikis in the Classroom – Ideas Needed!

I’m in a workshop about using blogs and wikis in the classroom at the moment and just heard a great way to use a blog in the classroom.  One of our 6th grade science teachers set up a blog where a zoologist (his fiancée) posted short articles about various animals or topics relating to zoology and his students would read the posts and comment.  He talked about how excited the students were to see if the zoologist had responded to their comments.  Some students even read, commented and corrected each others’ comments.  What a great idea to connect with someone in the field!

My 7th and 8th grade students are getting ready to start emailing penpals in France with ePals.  The teacher and I have been trying to think of a common project the students can do.  Perhaps we will start a blog or a wiki to collaborate with each other.  If anyone out there has done this type of a project with email penpals, I would love to hear about it.

I ran across this link on my resources page and there are some great ideas there!  Enjoy!

Pinterest – Get inspired!

I am just loving Pinterest for getting French teaching ideas at the moment too.  If you are an educator and haven’t started using Pinterest – PLEASE do yourself a favor and join Pinterest!  Start searching for the subject you teach and start following some people who have ideas that line up with yours.  You will be amazed at what will happen.  It takes Personal Learning Community to a whole new level.  It’s also very addicting.  You have to be invited to join Pinterest so if you need someone to give you an invite, feel free to contact me and I will beglad to do so.  Surfing on Pinterest tonight, I found the video below and Go Animate! and some other cute ideas like this printable Eiffel Tower.

Word Clouds

I have been playing around with word cloud generators this week. My students have made a list of 10 things they are thankful for and then found the French equivalents. They made their own word art today in class. Tomorrow we’re going to the computer lab to generate some art on the computer that can be published to our class web page.

I have found that word art generators are hard to come by. I ran into Wordle and Tagxedo along the way.  Wordle seems to be very popular but I find the options to be a bit limited.  Tagxedo has a lot more options and allows you to create some really great looking shapes with words.  For private users, you could even create some of this art and buy it on t-shirts etc.

Here is what I am thankful for:


Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software

Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software.

I found Dabbleboard today after posting that last article about interactive whiteboards.  Just thought I would share.  This looks like it might be easier to use than the software installed on my teacher computer and it’s web-based and has a free sign-up.  It also has the advantage of being collaborative so the possibility to use this in a computer lab or when your students each have a computer in front of them is there.  Your students could then add to the drawing.

In Love With FLOCK!

Ok, I’ve seen Flock mentioned here and there in my Google Reader so I decided to give it a try. I am blown away! Flock brings some of the best Web 2.0 tools to your fingertips in one browser. Download, install, and then log in to the Web 2.0 apps which are friends with Flock, click on the “Remember Account” button and BINGO! With one click I’m in my Gmail account, another click I have my blog editor open so I can post something new, one more click and I’m posting to my account. What kept me from hopping over to Flock all this time????

Flock is based on Mozilla’s Firefox and has its own add-ons but some Firefox add-ons are also compatible. I was thrilled to find out that Fireshot works as well as my favorite little status bar calculator.

The browser integrates with Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, Gmail, and just to name a few apps. Digg and Facebook are also popular offerings. Since I’ve been delving into Diigo, I added its toolbar and away we go.

The “My World” tab reminds me of iGoogle. It has widgets and helps you organize your feeds, keep up with your friends’ activity, and post media etc. to your blog. I have to play with this one some more.  (Update:  I did play with it some more after posting last night and it isn’t nearly as versatile as iGoogle but still a neat feature.)

I see so many possibilities here and I’ve only played with it a little tonight. Can you tell I’m already in love?

Update:  Ok, some things that I would love to see added to Flock:

  1. Integrate My Space and Diigo into the Flock toolbar.  Can’t we all just get along?
  2. Make the “My World” page like iGoogle.  That would be too cool.
  3. More add-ons specifically for Flock.  We are warned on the extensions page that while some Firefox add-ons will work with Flock, they may slow the browser down.  So it would be nice to have add-ons that are definitely compatible.

Ok, those are just a few thoughts but I really love Flock as it is. 

Blogged with the Flock Browser

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Micro Interactions: Life in the Web 2.0 World

(To view the slide show on Slideshare so you can see it full screen [the words are hard to read at such a small size and the Slideshare icon was not working for me in Firefox], click here.)

I like to subscribe to blogs that are outside the education world, especially if they present ideas that are fresh. This slideshow comes from David Armano at the Logic + Emotion blog. I not only enjoy his outlook but the graphics are a breath of fresh air as well.

After viewing the slideshow, I have to wonder why schools haven’t hopped on the Web 2.0 wave with their websites like the business world is beginning to do. While David’s slideshow targets the business community, his insights can certainly be applied to this generation of students as well.

I look at our own school’s website and it is pretty static. I introduced a school blog but it is separate from the school’s site. I really have a vision of our school’s website doing so much more. In my vision, I will refer to students, parents, and teachers (basically the entire community who would use the site as “stakeholders.” My vision:

  • It is a blog so stakeholders can comment on anything and everything on the site.
  • It has useful widgets that the stakeholders can choose and customize like an iGoogle page.
  • It has surveys and survey results right on the page.
  • Content is driven not only by the school but also by its stakeholders.
  • Students and teachers could have their own pages like Facebook or Myspace. (Of course, they would have to be some safety measures built in there too.)

Ok, maybe that’s not so revolutionary but I think it’s a start. We need to adapt to the changing world we’re in. I too often hear that students don’t really use our school’s website and I just have to think that perhaps it’s because it is so static. The information is mostly unidirectional: SCHOOL ===> STAKEHOLDERS. I would rather it be multi directional. I’m going to be thinking about this…