Helping teachers integrate technology into instruction

This week, we’re going to take a look at another way for students to present materials in class.  We’re looking at Glogster, which is an online tool that allows users to make online posters that can include pictures, videos, audio, text, and web links.  Teachers and students can comments on each other’s Glogs, much like a blog works.  (In case you’re wondering, the word glog comes from the combination of “blog” and “graphical.”)

Watch this short video that describes Glogster.

Now that we know what Glogster is, let’s look at some examples.  We’ll start with some glogs from Ms. Lindsey’s class at WMES.  This is a series of three short videos that are presented by her students, showing off their glogs!

Glogpedia is a collection of Glogster’s best educational glogs.  Here are just a couple of the interesting examples that you will find:

Pretty interesting, aren’t they?  It’s amazing what students can create!  Of course, when students present, teachers need rubrics.  Here are a couple to get you started:

And a couple of lesson plans, too!

Practice!

To get started, register for a teacher account on Glogster.  Teacher accounts are free.  Fill in the required information and create your account – very easy!  Then, click on the ‘Create New Glog’ button to get started.  Play around, see what you can do and, if you feel like it, share your new glogs with the rest of us!

What do you think about Glogster?  Is it something that you think your students would enjoy using?  Are you already using it in your classroom?  Share your thoughts/comments/questions!

Welcome to June!  You may or may not have noticed, but everything we talked about in May was related to writing and sharing – resources and ways that you can share other resources with your students, encourage them to write, and allow them to collaborate.  The same tools also allow you to share resources and collaborate professionally.  Now that we have started a new month, we are going to switch gears a little and spend time talking about presentations.  Presentations are a part of most classrooms, and we all know how most students present materials: PowerPoint, oral reports, and posters.  Just in case you (or your students) are bored with the status quo, we’re going to investigate some different ways that students can give presentations in class.

This week, we’re going to look at VoiceThread.  What is VoiceThread?  VoiceThread is a website that allows users to create digital slideshows of images and also record their voices over the images.  In addition, users can share their slides and allow others to record comments, creating a thread.  Here is a brief VoiceThread slideshow that talks about how VoiceThread works for education.

Here are some examples of VoiceThread projects:

In addition to the examples above, there is a VoiceThread for Education wiki that has lots of ideas for how to use VoiceThread – broken down by grade level!  Take some time to explore and get some ideas!

And because every student presentation needs a rubric, here are a couple that you can use or modify:

If all of this isn’t enough information on VoiceThread, there is a comprehensive guide to using VoiceThread in the classroom.  Just be aware that it contains a LOT of information!

Practice!

Because VoiceThread only allows members to leave comments, you are going to have to register for an account in order to participate in this exercise.  Their registration process is easy, though.

Go to www.voicethread.com and click on the Sign In or Register button in the top, right hand corner of the screen.

On the next screen, make sure you select the Register tab.

Fill in the required information and then click Register.

That’s it!  You’re ready!

Now, go to the VoiceThread that I created for this blog.  Once there, listen to my thread and then add your own.  If you don’t have a microphone, then type your comments!

I think VoiceThread is a really cool alternative to the presentation tools that we are used to seeing!  It allows students to work collaboratively, while at the same time allowing them the freedom of working individually from home.  What do you think?  Do you think your students would enjoy using it?  What are some ways that you think it can be used in your classroom?  Have you ever used VoiceThread before?  Share your experiences!

I hope everyone has enjoyed their few days off since school let out and that you are starting to feel somewhat rested!  Now that we are not *quite* as rushed, I want us to spend some time getting to know Google Docs.  I know that some of you already use Google Docs regularly; if you do, please feel free to chime in with your experiences and tips/tricks to help the rest of us!  Remember, we’re all here to learn together!

**Please read this next part carefully…as part of MCS, you already have a Google account; it sits behind, and can be accessed through, the portal.  By default, your Google email address is username@k12madison.net.  If you wish to use this Google account to use Google Docs, that is perfectly ok; however, please understand that the only way to access Google/Google Docs with this account is through the portal.  You may choose to create a different Google account outside of the portal or to use one that you already have.  The choice is yours!  If you have any questions about this, or need further clarification, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Before we jump in with both feet, let’s take a look at what Google Docs is.  Basically, Google Docs is a free, online system that allows people to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations online and share them with others for collaboration.  In addition to creating new documents, you can also upload your existing documents for sharing and collaboration.  This online system allows you to share your work with others, collaborate on assignments, and save documents online for access anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the internet!

Why should we consider using Google Docs?  We can use it to:

  • Work on files anytime, anywhere (as long as we have an internet connection)
  • Get feedback from multiple people – simultaneously and asynchronously
  • View the full writing process – including revisions
  • Share data sets
  • Upload/download documents in various file formats

Take a couple of minutes to watch Google Docs in Plain English before we move on.

That’s a very brief overview of Google Docs.  Now, let’s get hands’ on!  As I mentioned earlier, you have to have a Google account to use Google Docs.  If you already have a Gmail account, you can use that same login to access Google Docs, as well as all of Google’s features. You can also use your school Google account by logging into the portal.  If you don’t want to use the MCS Google account, but don’t yet have an “outside” account set up, you will need to do that now.  So, let’s get logged on!

  • Go to docs.google.com
  • Log in or click the Sign up button to create a new account

  • If you are creating a new account, you will be taken to a page that looks like this

  • If you sign up for a new account, make sure you check your email account (the email address you used to sign up for the Google account) for the confirmation email.  It will contain a link that you will have to click on to confirm your account.

Once you are signed up and logged in, you should be in your main page.  If you are not sure, look at the URL (or web address bar) in your internet browser.  It should say docs.google.com.  If you look at the screenshot of my homepage, you see that the URL also includes authentication information.  If you are still not absolutely sure, it is ok to erase what is in the address bar and manually type in docs.google.com and press Enter.  That will take you where you need to be.

Now that we’re all on the main Google Docs page, let’s start by creating a basic document.  Keep in mind that, while we are working with a basic document (the equivalent of Microsoft Word), the functionality that Google Docs provides extends to all of the document types (spreadsheets, presentations, etc.).  To create a new document, click on the red Create button and, when the box of options pops up, select Document.  This is what you will get.

The first thing you might notice is that your document is Untitled.  To give it a name, go to File and select Rename.

Now, here’s a feature about Google Docs that might take some getting used to – at least it did for me (and still does!).  It does not have a save feature!  It saves all of your changes automatically!  Test it out…start typing some random characters on your document and watch how the “All changes saved” at the top, middle of the page changes to “Saving.”  Just to be on the safe side, though, I am going to recommend that you don’t make any changes to a document and then immediately close Google Docs.  Give it a minute to save everything.  Just to be sure.

From here, you are going to work with your document just as you would a regular Word document (except for the saving part, of course!).

Let’s say that you have a document that you have already created that you want to share with others.  You can do that through Google Docs, too.  From your home page, click on the red Upload icon (next to the Create button) and select Files.  From there, navigate to the location where your document is stored to upload it to Google Docs.  Once it is in Google Docs, you can modify it and share it as you like.

The ability to share documents in Google Docs is what makes the platform so great to work with.  Multiple users can collaborate on a document at the same time and Google Docs will record their changes.  You can also look at the revision history in order to know who made which changes!  To share a document, start at your Google Docs home page.  To the left of the document you want to share is an empty box; click to put a check mark in the box.   Then, click on the icon that is the picture of a head with a plus next to it.

A Share Settings box will pop up that allows you to set who has access to your document.  If you want to leave the settings as Private, simply type in the email addresses of the people you want to share the document with and then click Done.  If you want to share your document with a fairly broad audience, click on the Change….icon next to the Private settings.  A box with additional options will pop up.  Here you can choose to make the document available to anyone and everyone who finds it, or to anyone who has the link to the document.  If you choose to go with “Anyone with the link” option, it will be up to you to provide the link to those you are sharing the document with.  Once you have made your choice, click on the Save button.

Practice!

I’ve created a Google Doc for us to practice with.  Click on the link below to access it.  Once you pull it up, enter your first name only and then a Yes or No for whether you have used Google Docs before.  Here is the link:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AnB8dTCkyMD3dHlQaXFjRG9TcGp4aXNGMnRpSlc0NUE

Google Docs is a great way for students to collaborate on projects; it is also a great way for teachers to collaborate and share information without always emailing documents back and forth!

Whew!  That’s a lot of information about Google Docs!  It only scratches the surface of what Google has to offer for us, but that’s all we’ll cover during this series.  What do you think?  Questions or comments?  Have you used Google Docs before – if so, share your experiences!

I love LiveBinders!  I especially love finding LiveBinders of interest to me that other people have already created and shared!  So, what are LiveBinders?  Here is a 1½ minute video that explains LiveBinders for Teachers.

How cool is that????  Just think about the possibilities…if you’re doing a project-based learning unit and want a central place to put online resources; or for a research project; or for all of the online resources your students will need over the semester!

Here are a few LiveBinders that you can check out.  You don’t have to look at all of them, but you should check out at least two of them to get an idea of how they can be used.

You can search on the LiveBinders website for topics that are of interest to you.  Start by entering your search term in the search box at the top right of the screen, and make sure that you are searching in All Public Binders.

Let’s Practice!

You can also register on the LiveBinders website to create your own shelf.  When you do that, you are able to not only create your own binders, but also to “share” binders that other people have already created!

To sign up, click on the Sign Up link at the top, right hand side of the screen.  Fill in the required fields and then click the Sign Up button at the bottom of the page.

Once you are logged in, you are ready to create a new binder.  On the left side of the page, you will see a link that says Start a Blank Binder – click on it.  A page will pop up that looks like this:

Fill in the name of your binder, and description of your binder, and choose whether you want to make your binder Public or Private.  For the purpose of this exercise, choose No for the option of using Google to fill the binder; however, when you have time, go back and try this out by filling a binder with a Google search term!!  It’s a great way to fill a binder if you a certain that you have solid search parameters!  When you are finished, click Create New Binder.

That’s an overview of LiveBinders!  I have found some really great ones that I refer to for Common Core, Library Media, and Instructional Technology.  Hopefully, you will find some that interest you AND maybe find ways that you can use them with your students or colleagues!  What do you think?

This week, we’re going to take a look at another way to write and share content, but this time in the form of wikis.  First, though, let’s look at what makes blogs and wikis different.  With a blog, there is generally one poster (writer) who then allows comments to the post – like we’re doing here.  No one is allowed to make changes to a comment or post made by someone else.  With a wiki, anyone with access to the wiki has permission to make changes to the content.  If you choose not to limit access to a particular group or membership, anyone in the world can make changes.  Here is a short video on Wikis in Plain English.

In MCS, both the K-4th and the 5th-8th grade math leadership teams are using wikis to share resources with each other as we transition to the new Alabama College & Career Readiness Standards for Mathematics, as well as new textbooks.  You can look explore the 5th-8th wiki here http://mcsmath5-8.wikispaces.com/.

Other interesting wikis (don’t worry if they haven’t been updated in a while, we’re looking at format and content!):

Learning Latin America (9th grade)

AP Literature & Composition

Take a look at this list of 50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative and Interactive Classroom.  Try to find at least two ways that look interesting to you that might work with your curriculum.

Let’s Practice!

Visit the Instructional Tech Tools for MCS Wiki and add your name to the list.  To do so, simply click on the big EDIT button at the top right of the page.  Make sure you click SAVE when you are finished typing!  (The instructions are also on the wiki page.)  As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me!!

That’s it for this week!  What do you think about wikis?  What are your thoughts about blogs vs. wikis?

You all did a great job setting up your blog accounts and learning how to comment on my blog posts!  That’s terrific!  I know that, for some of you, it was no big deal; but, for many of us, just trying to figure out where to go to register for an account and clicking through the steps can be frustrating.  I will always *try* to remember to post screenshots and/or directions but, if I forget, please just ask!!

Ok, so now that we’re all set up with our blog accounts, what exactly is a blog, anyway?  Here is a very short (less than 3 minutes) video that explains Blogs in Plain English.

Now that you understand what a blog is, let’s take a look at some classroom examples of blogs:

These are just three examples of how you can use blogs.  If you looked at A Year of Reading, did you noticed about mid-way down on the right-hand side of the page the authors include links to other blogs that they like?  There are over 100 links to blogs that are all related, in some way, to reading – teacher/librarian blogs, kidlit blogs, author-illustrator blogs, etc.  Wow!  If you have time, click on a few of the links that sound interesting and look around.  You never know when you will find a goldmine!

Here is a 2 minute video that shows Ten Ways to Use Your Edublog to Teach (but you can use any blog!).

So, we’ve set up our WordPress accounts and talked about what blogs are; we’ve looked at some examples, and we’ve seen ten ways that blogs can be incorporated into the classroom.  Now, let’s practice!  Using the WordPress blog that you set up when you created your account, write a sample blog post.  It might be about something you think your students would like to discuss in class, or about a book you’re reading, or about anything else that you want to write about!

To create a new post, you have two options:  one, you can go to the top left of your screen where you see the name of your blog and click on the name of the blog, then click on New, and then click on Post.  This will take you to a page where you can enter a title for your blog post and then start writing.  Make sure when you are finished, you click on the Publish button to the right of the main text box!

Your second option for creating a new post is to simply click on the button at the top right of your screen that says New Post.  Doing so will open up a pop-out window that provides the same options for enter a title and main text.  When you are finished typing, click the Publish Post button at the bottom.

That’s blogging in a nutshell!  Thoughts, questions, comments?  Can you think of ways that you might use blogs either with your students or professionally – as a teacher or as a learner?  Also, if any of you have experience blogging, please share your experiences/advice!

This is Week 1 and, since it’s the Introduction to our series, it only makes sense that we start out talking about blogging!  Your only task this week is to register for a WordPress account if you don’t already have one.  Having an account will allow you to comment on these blog posts.  You may also want to use your WordPress blog later on, either as an individual blog or as a place to share with your students.

After you’ve set up your WordPress account, comment on this blog post so that we know you’re here! Let us know:

  • what you’re hoping to get out of this series
  • if there is a particular tool you’re hoping to learn about

WordPress is a web-based blogging platform. Some others are Blogger, Edublogs, and Tumblr.

To set up an account with WordPress, you can use any username and password you want. You will be using this account to comment on these posts, so try to pick a username that will easily identify you.  You will be asked to choose a name for your blog but don’t worry too much about that part – you can always go back later and change it!  As always, if you need help with the sign-up process, let me know!

We’ll talk more about blogging next week so, if you have any questions in the meantime, be sure to post them!  See you next week!

Tag Cloud