I am a terrible creature of habit with an insatiable need to organize, so according to trend, here are my sections for this week’s post. Scroll down to a topic of interest, but make sure you check out Edmodian of the week and give him his due attention.
Edmodian of the Week: Mr. Thomas Scheeler!
If you have been a community member for any length of time, you have probably benefited in some way from Mr. Scheeler’s contributions to our PLN. I think it is safe to say that he is more than over-due for a little recognition as he has provided resources and guidance to so many of us in our efforts to modernize our teaching. It is clear that Mr. Scheeler is a true 21st century teacher, armed with both an arsenal of Web 2.0 tools and a strong loyalty to his students. He is a model for professional collaboration and I don’t think Edmodo would be quite the same without him. Here’s what he has to say about why he does what he does:
“Through the use of Web 2.0 tools, I am able to integrate the four major skills involved in Language Arts (reading, writing, listening and speaking) on an almost a daily basis in my classroom with ease. Web 2.0 tools have allowed my students additional opportunities to communicate, collaborate, create, publish, and develop higher order thinking skills necessary in the 21st century in ways that many traditional tools can’t. In most cases, the tools are free and only need an internet connection to use them. These tools give students the ability to create and collaborate whenever and wherever, and that’s why I teach with Web 2.0.”
Thank you Mr. Scheeler for what you do for your students and inspiring us to do the same for ours.
Newbie Tip of the Week: Getting Organized
So you’ve started to get a few websites under your belt and have had some successes with some lessons that you’ve incorporated them in, but what next? Sure, glogster worked great for this assignment but how else will you use it? Or maybe you’re finding that you are so in love with one website that you are planning everything around it and now your starting to sense some burn out from the students. This is the point when good ‘ol teaching practices comes back in to play and you remember that being a modern teacher does not just mean that you have internet access. What I mean is that you start developing routines for your new technology using the same guidelines you’ve always used in the past, just in a new application. Uh-oh, I think I feel a list coming on…
1. Chart out all the sites you are using or want to use
2.Designate a task for each resource- (e.g.. Gloster for web quests, gliffy for diagrams, prezi for class discussions, etc.)
3.Open a word document for each and outline the purpose and routines for each tool- This one needs a little explaining I think. I started doing this and found a noticeable increase in the effectiveness of my implementation of usable web resources. This is just a matter of intentionality-being able to stand in front of the room with direction and purpose before giving instructions, knowing you have outlined all procedures as well as back up plans if things don’t go smoothly. Even if you never look at these documents again, just that fact that you sat down to think about them and organize them for your brain will make all the difference.
By getting organized in this way, you make sure that (A) you know what you’re doing with your technology and (B) your use of it is varied, keeping interest and engagement high. Even in the times when your students begin to learn more tricks about the resource than you do, you are still the professional who knows how to implement this tool the most effectively within a learning activity.
Tool High-Light of the Week: Prezi Meeting
At the risk of drawing attention to something that many would consider common knowledge (again), I decided to hit up prezi, specifically the meeting feature. I hear of a lot of teachers taking advantage of the presentation-making components but I rarely see mentions of the meeting capabilities being utilized. If you are not using it, you should. It is incredible (and hilarious, at times) as you can have your class connected in real time in a virtual environment where students ‘zoom’ around with you while you present your material. They can even collaborate with you and contribute responses directly into your prezi. As this is happening you will see a bunch of brightly colored little avatars bearing your students’ names, flinging themselves all around your virtual world as they follow you through your material. They can break away, though, and check out something that you are not currently presenting elsewhere in the prezi, in which case you will see a little green person rocket from end of the screen to the next indicating which direction your student has wandered toward.
While you may be mildly irked at this deviation, you can’t help but laugh as it just looks so darn funny.
As far as practical uses go, I mainly employ this for aiding class discussions. Since my students are learning English and need to practice their speaking, my classes are divided into three learning groups to make conversation come a little easier. Within each of those groups I will choose one ‘leader’ who I will grant editing privileges to. This is done while editing a prezi by clicking ‘meeting’ and choosing the ‘invite to edit option.
I send the provided link directly to these three students. The rest I send the basic link that allows for only passive observing. This way, when I add a discussion topic to the prezi, the students are forced to talk to their leader so that their answers can be added to the prezi as only this student has the ability to do that.
Now, if your going to try this out, may I suggest a few things before having a go at a real-deal lesson? First, set a aside a day for the kids get the hang of logging in and using the tools. The dials on the top left of the screen can be a bit challenging if you’ve never used the program before. This will also give them a chance to get their silliness out of their system as they will undoubtedly be struck by all the deviant possibilities that such collaboration presents. Let this happen when you don’t have a strong academic agenda you are trying to achieve-you will thank yourself for it. If this is something that worries you, I will tell you from experience that with each use, I notice less and less of this kind of behavior, especially since my procedures and expectations have been made clear from the beginning. My stance on this issue (and this is about to be a soap-box tangent, but I promise to keep it brief) is that students need to know how it feels to be trusted. It becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy when we restrict our students from using anything because there is the possibility that it could be misused. Our message then is ‘your not trustworthy’ and, let me tell you, the message is well received. They will become exactly what you expect of them.
But seriously, If you are worried that a student will take advantage of this tool inappropriately, take a screen shot, forward it to their AP, restrict their access and let them be the only one punished and not the rest of your students. There, tangent over.
As for me, I am thrilled to be using this resource, especially since it was previously blocked. But, thanks to the support of my incredible technology liaisons, our students have access to prezi and we are loving it. Try it out and see the difference it makes in your students’ participation.
In light of our conversation about prezi, I would like to hear your thoughts on student misconduct. How do you feel about restricting student use of collaborative tools?
Thanks again for stopping by. Until next time!