Using Screencast in schools

In my school district we have started to use an online grading system to collect grades, attendance and other information about our students. This is a common practice with many schools in my area and with others around the country. One of the problems that can occur with a district wide initiative, like this, is some teachers only use the online grade book when it is time to upload the grades. The problem with this is  the “tech people” in the school get to re-educate all the forgetful teachers on how to upload the grades every term.

Well we have found a solution to this; it is called JING by TechSMITH. Jing is a simple download able program that allows the user to create screen-casts (short videos) to demonstrate different processes on the computer. For instance, you can create a screen-cast about Google searches so the students and teachers can quickly and effectively find pages they need for research. Once the screen cast is completed the user can share it instantly, save it to the computer or upload it to a free server, like screen-cast.com, to be saved for later use. Another use for JING is the screen capture tool. This allows you to quickly capture you screen as a PNG file (Portable Network Graphics) and add annotation to the picture to draw attention to a specific area or point of interest.

We have found this program to be extremely useful in our school and I would love to hear how you could use it in your classroom or in your school. As always, please drop a note and give your two cents. thanks

Wordle

Last month, while looking for a way to introduce a new math chapter, I stumbled upon a site called Wordle.  It allows anyone to create a word cloud (a clustering of different words on a topic) by typing in important words or using the cut and paste feature on the computer.  I chose to cut and paste the entire chapter I was about to start, just to see what would happen.  To my surprise, I had created (actually the program created) a cloud of words that not only gave a preview of the chapter that I was about to start but it also gave a visual dimension to the chapter’s words.  The bigger the words on the page, the more often it was used and the more likely it was to be an important topic.  Although this is not the best method, it gives the me several ideas of how this can be used in the classroom.

1.  First, it would make an excellent tool for predicting what a chapter, passage, or topic is going to include.

2.  It gives the students an additional means for presenting information that they must research.  For instance, if  a student is doing a report on Anne Frank they could use a “Wordle” like the one show here to help present there information.

3. Lastly, teachers could use this tool to help students put together a piece of writing based on a cloud of words that goes with a story they read or a passage they have been working on.

Although there are many varied uses for this site, the ones listed here are a few that I have used or my collegues have used.

I would love to hear what you think of the site and how it could be used in your classroom. Please drop me a line to share your thoughts and ideas.

The Big Picture

I thought is would be good to show those of you that might not know the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” blog.  Here you can find news stories shown through very powerful pictures taken by various photographers.  For instance, today was able to take an in depth look at the Asian Beach Games through the 20 some odd photos that were posted. The nice thing about this photo blogs is that the images that are shown come out extraordinary beautiful on a smart board or other projection surface and ,as with all blogs, you can leave feedback about the photos.  Check out this site and see how you could use the pix in your classroom.

Google Doc and Online Quizzes

As many of you already know Google has a wide variety of applications that suit many needs of the educator.  Today I would like to draw your attention to Google Docs.  When using Google docs you can store, share, and collaborate with almost any document that you can create.  Below you can see a very nice video by Lee LeFever of the Common Craft Show.  If you are unfamiliar with Google docs I would suggest viewing this before moving on.  For those of us that are acquainted with this application i wanted to share with you a way of creating online self-graded quizzes.  Here is a screen cast made by Jesse Spevak using a site called

It is a wonderful way of assessing your students quickly to see if you need to “reteach” any topic in class.  If you are using Moodle, like I am, it works as well or not better that the one that is embedded in the Moodle program.  Watch the screen cast and try it out for yourself. The video for Google Docs introduction can be found in the VodPod video widget in the sidebar.

Diigo Educators Console

Diigo has recently added an educators console to the Diigo.com website.  This is the perfect way for teachers and students to share resources on the net. With a Diigo educators account the teachers can create student accounts for all the students in their class.  The students don’t even need an email address to have the teacher create the account, it is optional.  Once the teacher creates the accounts he/she can create groups for each class and the students of the same class will automatically be able to share group bookmarks, annotations and group forums.  In addition to the group features provided the folks at Diigo also looked at the privacy of students.  Only the teacher or approved students in a group can communicate with the students and review profile information. If there are still more questions that have not been answered by this entry, visit the Diigo.com FAQ list to get more information about the student accounts.  I have been using this site with my students for a short time now and have found it to be a nice way for students collaborate and sharing information.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

Giving students a voice with VoiceThread.com

VoiceThread is a fantastic tool that allow teachers and students to interact on a single program and leave feedback for one another.  Below is an example of one such project that was done with my sixth grade mathematics students and the fourth graders in my school.
If you would like more information, here is a video taken from the voicethread.com website that explains the whole process. If you have time to visit and watch others, i would encourage you to do so. There are many that are well done and you can find them by clicking the browse button on the home page of the site. Go luck! Let me know if you are in need of some assistance.

Social Bookmarking in Education

Ever been at home and wanted to use the bookmarks that you had at school.  Ever been at school and wished you could use the bookmarks you had at home.  With social bookmarking tools like Diigo you can do just that.  Although there are many different kinds of bookmarking site (Del.icio.us Digg.com, and  Furl.net just to name a few) we will be looking at Diigo.


The Diigo bookmarking tool allow the users to not only bookmark the sites that they would use the most but they also allow the users to create groups, highlight important information, and leave messages for those that are part of their group.  Below is a video from youtube that explains Diigo.  In addition to the Bookmarking tool, I also suggest using the toolbar that is available.  It allows you to control Diigo from your browser instead of using the actual website.  So check it out, play around and discover the Internet in a whole new way.

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In using this application in the classroom I have found it to be useful in many ways.  It can show a group of students resources for a project.  It allows them to share not only the resources, but also allows them to leave a note to one another about what they found helpful.  It can give the students direction when searching for information on a homework assignment.  It could also give teachers the ability to share sites that are not only age appropriate but are “pre-approved” for finding specific information on an assignment.  Give it a shot and please let me know your thoughts.

Lastly here is another video that explains social bookmarking extremely well and “in plain English”.  It use the Del.icio.us social bookmarking site but it does a very good job explaining it in general.

Welcome

Welcome to my Blog!

It is designed to help teachers integrate web 2.0 materials into the classroom.  Although most of the examples in these posts will look to help teachers in k-8 grades many items can be adapted to fit the secondary school level very easily.

Please feel free to leave comments and advice at any time.