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!

CintaNotes – a Free Quick and Easy Text Grabber !

CintaNotes – a Free Quick and Easy Text Grabber !.

This looks like a great option for those doing research papers/projects.  CintaNotes allows you to gather and collect snips of information and URL links from the web in one place.  I could see students loading this on a USB stick and running it from that.

Just thought I would share that quick tidbit today.

yWriter

typingI have had a lot of time on my hands lately so I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. My preference is fiction and fantasy novels in particularly of late. Terry Brooks is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I know he’s a bit soft for the die hard sci-fi/fantasy readers but I like his style. I have always been a sucker for a good story and that’s what Mr. Brooks does: tell GOOD stories. Most of his books take place in the Four Lands, an post-apocolyptic planet Earth that is now inhabited by all sorts of creatures. His books are clean and, yes, they do have magic but as with the Lord of the Rings series, good conquers evil although it is sometimes at great cost. I just started reading The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara trilogy. For those who might care, I am reading his books according to his suggested reading order (which I think is the order he wrote them in) for first time readers of his works. He has a great website and seems to stay in touch with his fans.

I like to think of myself as having a creative mind. I’ve been playing around with the idea of writing my own novel for years. I’ve just had so many ideas and never enough time to sit down and commit them to paper (or computer). I don’t really know if I have what it takes to write a novel or even the necessary commitment to see it through. When I ran into this free novel-writing software a few months back, it sparked my interest in writing again. Over the last few days I dug back through my Diigo bookmarks and found the link. The software is called yWriter and it’s a free download (donations are accepted and encouraged, of course). It’s a light program and I’m running it on Vista with no problems (except I can’t seem to get the dictionary installed yet but will hopefully have an answer to that one soon).

What yWriter does is help you organize thoughts: characters, locations, items, scenes, etc. and provides a word processor to type it up in. Files are exportable to any other type of word processing program if you really want more tools to work with (like Word for example). There is a word counter and a storyboard so you can keep up with multiple character viewpoints.

So far, I have been pretty pleased with the program. Sure, I could type up something in Word but yWriter keeps up with which characters are in which scenes, allows me to easily drag and drop scenes into different chapters, and keeps a daily log of my work.

I’ve never taught writing but I think English and language arts teachers should give it a look. It’s a great tool for beginning writers as well.