Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ComfyPage part 2

So ComfyPage is still pretty cool. We editing the pages you can add it some free widgets. Others require an upgrade. Fortunately, all the free stuff is pretty good. When you edit the page you get a window to type away that can also let you edit the HTML. It has a few more buttons than the Blogger tool.

I could see my students getting into pages like this. Especially if they can add things like thermometers, used to show progress. Hopefully I can turn on the editing feature and turn it into my wiki.

So for fun I embedded a nice little game.

Check out my page

Todo Part 2

So at first I thought this web 2.0 tool was awesome and it would help everyone. Then I got to thinking. Haven't I seen this before. Todo lists are in email programs. At first I thought, well maybe its only in outlook and paid email. Then I could rationalize the need for this tool.

However, I opened up my old Hotmail account and sure enough in the calendar page there was a todo list. This means at least one free email service provides the same features at Todo.ly.

My personal recommendation is that if your students are willing to sign up for a Todo account (which requires an email) then they should just use their email's online todo list. I could maybe see this with younger students who still share emails with parents, but if they are young enough to still share email with their parents, shouldn't the parents also be monitoring their todo lists.

So I guess in the end, neat tool but not need for it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

ComfyPage



Well if this website isn't' easy to use then I do not know how to define easy. The website simply gives you all these possible templates to use. You can have a menu on the left, or top or even on the right. So I can make pages here without problems. I know coding by hand gives you a certain rush but this makes life easier to plan with students.

This service allows you to have certain pages password protected. For example, the link to your contact information can be protected. With my students I could see myself creating a list of passwords for say our school paid databases and password protect them.

The other awesome feature I noticed for my classroom is that I can give other people the permission to edit my page. That means I can turn this site into a wiki if I really wanted to. So I can only imagine you are reading this and getting excited about the versatility of the site as well. There is a little caution with a site like this. It tries to have you adverstise yourself with the idea that you can password protect your information. Like facebook, its unprotected until you click to enable the password.

http://www.teach-nology.com/tutorials/design_site/ is a site that helps teachers think about how to design your sites for appropiate class use.

Todo.ly



Todo is an online free task manager. It is extremely easy to set up. I am hoping that I am able to convince some students to use this web 2.0 tool. I find myself leaving myself post it notes around my classroom or I email myself reminders. The problem is that I still forget to write them down on a calendar. This task manager allows you to set due dates. It also lets you create some of your own categories which will allow your students to make a category for each subject. This will help them to hopefully stay organized. In my school we have given students agenda books but they always get lost or stolen because they double up as passes. I am hoping that an online tool like this will prevent students from losing their agendas.

http://www.thehighschoolgraduate.com/editorial/US21things.htm is a list of 21 things that will help students become successful in their first year of college. Most of this list involves organization. I feel as a high school teacher it is my moral obligation to help give my students the tools to get organized which will help them become successful after high school.

http://www.brighthub.com/education/homework-tips/articles/35089.aspx is a blog entry that also describes how organization can help any student achieve better. These are important skills for students to learn. That is why I am pushing this technology. I have learned this the hard way in life. I have missed appointments and turned in assignments late (undergrad of course). I lucked out in life and was able to bounce back. I fear that our students will not be as lucky as more and more employers can make unorganized workers into jobless workers.

Picnik part 2

Well I have had a chance to play with Picnik a little more. I am finding that its ability to edit photos is nice but there are more uses than that. By editing a photo our students can re-size them to smaller images and crop out unnecessary details. This will make some student projects smaller in size when they create there PowerPoints with too many graphics. I thought about this when I was cleaning out my hard drive of some old student projects with extremely large files built in.

If Picnik isn't for you or if its blocked you can always try LunaPic or Splashup.

Happy editing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Picnik

Picnik is another web 2.0 tool shown to me at the ISTE conference. It is a web 2.0 tool that allows the user to upload an image form their computer or from their social network and edit it. The editing tool is not as advanced as Photoshop or PhotoDraw but it is online so students can use it from home.




In my classroom, I have PhotoDraw and in the labs I have Photoshop so I would not use it during school hours with my students. This would be great software for students at home.

Advantages include that there is no download required. Another is that no login is needed. Disadvantages include that some features require the premium service. The site advertises the premium rate as $24.95 per year. That is not terrible in my opinion, however if I was a student that wanted advanced features I would use the software packages at school.

Below you can see my big bear picture from outside the conference center before and after using Picnik. (I used only the free version)





Voki Part 2

This morning I thought to myself, “I have got find a good way to use Voki’s in my math classes this year.” Here is what I came up with.

Voki’s are nice because they always repeat the same message over and over again. In my geometry class I thought this would be a neat short voki to remind students whether or not the triangle is even possible.








As a result I am pretty sure I could create with my students a gallery of voki’s that would go over various parts of Geometry. This would be more interesting than a formula sheet at times. I can even send Voki’s through email or to a cell phone. This means that students could put helpful Voki’s on their portable devices so they can do there work anywhere and not just in front of a computer. I of course would not create these voki’s but would allow all my students to create them at home. We could even collaborate with other classes about creating them and sharing the load.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Voki’s are one of the coolest web 2.0 technologies I get to play with. Simply put, you can create a digital character and have it speak for you. You can use computer generated voices or you can record your own voice. For a more detailed description go to http://www.squidoo.com/voki . I think this could have some create chances for students to be creative. Students can change a lot of features of a character such as hair color or eye color. On something like my shark you cannot change quite as much.


This web 2.0 technology is great because it can be embedded in to most blogs or web pages. Voki.com will tell students how to embed this technology in to most forms of web resources. This means that students only need to be able to find the html code to insert a voki. Since the voki pulls information from Voki.com students only have to sign in at one location to make changes. This means that you could put the same voki in 5 or 6 web blogs or discussion boards.

http://teachweb2.wikispaces.com/Voki goes over some basic strengths and weaknesses of using a voki for learning. I agree with most of these except that teachers need to be cautious that the voice does not always pronounce words correctly.

Teachers should consider using something like a voki if they want a character to talk to the class. For example, Abraham Lincoln has a premade character and you could use it to talk about the civil war. Be careful each voki can only talk for 60 seconds or so.

Using Edline Discussion Boards part 2

While in Denver, I got to see a lot of people using asynchronous discussion board examples. The biggest thing I was hearing was setting up open rules for high school students. Most teachers felt that students were not posting often when their entries were pending teacher approval. The solutions that most people presented were setting up guidelines and safe practices.

So I began thinking about my Edline discussion pages. I am beginning to think I need to run a model of how to run a safe discussion posting. Perhaps I can tie it to something not academic like football since I will be doing this in August. This way I can encourage students how to post team predictions without being malicious to another student about their opinions. This way when one student gets the guts to say something like “the Ravens suck!” we can use it as a learning moment and tool to create better posts for when we start the regular material.

The other thing that most teachers tell me is that they have easy access to constantly putting the guidelines somewhere students can easily find them. In Edline, each discussion board can have a link to a document. I believe the purpose is so you can post an article for students to read and discuss but I imagine that most teachers could post their guidelines for the first few discussion boards.

Here is a wikispace I found that had pretty good opinions on discussion boards in general.
http://twt.wikispaces.com/Tips+for+Discussion+Boards

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Using Edlines Discussion Boards

Edline is an interactive Web 2.0 tool depending on how your school sets it up. Some people only associate Edline with parents and students seeing their grades. Edline has other features I use in school with my students. For example, I have started to use with them discussion boards. The screen shot below is my class playing Jeopardy. Before you do any kind of online line discussion board with your students, you will need to go over the rules for posting. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=61808 is a link to the ABC news posting etiquette. This can be helpful because it will allow students to see what standards adults are held to in the real world.



So I had two teams set up in my class. Each class got to use a laptop to submit answers. The first major problem I ran into was that the board is designed to be asynchronous. My intention was to have students post responses and refresh the page to see who posted first. The problem was that refreshing did not fix it. I could only see the team responses when I submitted a new response. That is why you see quotes from me saying “I love this part” and “please be right.” I have emailed Edline to see if they could tell me if I screwed up or this was a technical glitch. My students think that after 20 minutes or so I would see it but I was not willing to wait 20 minutes for this to happen.

The nice thing about this discussion board is that you have the option of customizing several features. I like the fact that I can have the same discussion board in all of my Geometry classes or just one class. I also like how the visibility can be set so only students of certain groups can see the discussion board. This could be helpful if I was looking for an extra credit question or if one class gets a head of another with pacing the behind class cannot look up the answers.



Any ideas of what I could do to improve the Jeopardy game? I was afraid that originally the requiring approval would take to long during a class game.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Acceptable Use Policy at home verses school

So I found out we will have computers for students to check out of the library. We are in current debate of writing a new acceptable use policy for home use. Do you think the at home policy should include more freedom for students?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer Adventures

This summer I will be in Denver attending the 2010 ISTE conference. Last year there were so many Web 2.0 sessions you possibly could not see them all. Please post any particular Web 2.0 technologies I should check out this year.

Welcome to my blog

Welcome my fellow nerds to my blog about school technology. Read on to see some reasons I need new hobbies at school.