Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How to Delay a Post in Blogger

Ever write a blog post that you want to appear on a later date? If you are using Blogger, this is very easy to do. When you are ready to post the blog for a later date, click on "Post Options" at the bottom of the blog post window. On the right hand side, set the post date and time. Then save and your post will appear on the date and time that you had set it for! How convenient!

This same feature is available in Edublogs. Read this blog post for directions on completing this same task there!

So, the next time you have a lot of great blog ideas OR prior to going on vacation, create a few posts and set the dates for them to appear on your blog. Now, enjoy your vacation!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wordle: Web 2.0 Tool for Vocabulary and Word Images

Have you discovered Wordle yet? This neat Web 2.0 tool allows a user to create a word graphic, such as the one below, from words, blog posts, or other electronic writings. (Click here for a larger image with similar wording.)

Wordle is a great way for students to take a group of related words and study how they are connected. This would be an interesting way to start a unit of study with students. You could show them the Wordle graphic and ask what they already know about how these words are related. You could also use it as a way to encourage reflection of what they learned in a unit of study.

Wordle allows you to make choices as to which words are larger. Perhaps students could decide how all the words are connected and select the three words that they feel have the most importance on the topic.

Just a word of caution about clicking on the random images. There is no filtering of content. While most of the Wordle images are appropriate, there were a few that I came across that were not appropriate for elementary school and only one that I found that was not appropriate even for high school. I would suggest that students use this tool with guidance, especially for elementary age students.

One teacher uses Wordle as an assessment tool. What other ways could you see to use this neat Web 2.0 tool?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Web 2.0 Decisions

My class is getting settled into some routines and I feel like I am getting grounded back in the realities of teaching in an elementary special education classroom. I really want to integrate Web 2.0 tools into reading and writing as much as I can. I have started to work on several different ideas for using these types of tools with my students.

First, I decided that I should begin with student email use. Now, I know this is not a Web 2.o tool, but this is where I think I should begin. Reason one is that this is one of the benchmarks in the Information and Technology Literacy Curriculum as well as being one of the most commonly used communication tools...for adults. I thought I could start by having my students each send an email to a parent or other important adult explaining what they are learning in my classroom. By giving them some practice with email, I can teach them some etiquette as well as supervise the communication. Once we move on to blogs and wikis, I will again reinforce the etiquette skills we learned when using email. Another reason for choosing email first is because some of the Web 2.0 tools that I want to use with students requires an email address for account creations. By teaching and using email first, we will be ready for this.

Our school uses the free Gaggle accounts for student email. Our new library media aide has setup my students in the system and added them to my teacher account for supervision. I plan to set the accounts so that they can only email the class at this point. I need to do some lessons with them on proper email etiquette and plan to have them practice within our group for a week or two. I looked for a long time for lessons on email etiquette for elementary students. All I could find was for adults. I will adapt what I found for my students and post it on my site for others to use.

Do you know of any resources for teaching what email is and what email etiquette is? How about some project ideas? Please share if you have ideas!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Planning for the 21st Century

Often I hear educators discussing 21st Century learning, particularly now that the Partnership for 21st Century Learning has released their framework and many states are now officially adopting it as a basis for school change.

There are many great thinkers out there trying to guide schools and professionals as they change from industrial revolution teaching and learning to global learning. Ian Jukes, from the Info Savvy group, does a great job explaining to others WHY we need to change what we do in schools because even kids' brains have physically changed due to all the media that they now use. Marc Prensky's "Digital Immigrants, Digital Natives" concept is hard to disagree with. David Thornburg, from the Thornburg Center, has been speaking for 10 years about the need to change education. This list can go on and on with all the great thinkers and planners of today.

It is time for the educational field to move beyond discussing 21st Century learning to implementing change in education. I have spent the past 10 years reading, listening and studying these great thinkers and planners. Change in education boils down to a few key components that will change education so that students are engaged and teachers can achieve their goal of preparing students for the future....their futures. The key components needed to change 20th Century teaching and learning into 21st Century teaching and learning include a strong base in student-centered problem-based learning centered around real-world problems that focus on creating content for real audiences using a variety of technology and non-technology communication and collaboration methods.

What is your school doing to move teaching and learning into the 21st Century? What has really changed in the past 20 years? What are the plans for changing your school in the next 10 years?