"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow." --John Dewey

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Is Collaborize Really a Word?

Your spell-checker may tell you that collaborize is a no-no, but when it's used in conjunction with classroom, it's a very big YES!

Collaborize Classroom is a feature-rich collaborative platform that can be used for class discussions, polls, quizzes and so much more.  Teachers can create and customize a site that can then be accessed by a unique URL and password.  Students can then easily create individual accounts, even without an email address, and be able to participate in online discussions, polls, projects or tests.  Teachers can post topics chosen from the Topic Library provided by the site, or of their own design.  Pictures, videos, and even documents can be attached to each topic for immediate reference.  Your teacher dashboard allows you to easily manage students, groups, topics and a plethora of reports.

Collaborize Classroom is easy to set up and easy to use.  There are plenty of free resources to help you get started, as well as topics and suggestions for keeping your students actively engaged.  This site is one that can be useful for any grade-level or subject area, and all of this versatility is absolutely FREE!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold, and Dabble a Lesson

In Illinois, November winds bring cold weather, and cold weather brings, . . . well, colds, and generally plenty of empty seats in our classrooms.  Luckily, technology offers several ways to reach students who are not able to come to class, one of which is an easy to use website called Dabbleboard.

Dabbleboard is an online whiteboard that will allow you and your MIA students to share a screen, and collaborate in real-time.  Start by going to http://www.dabbleboard.com and start a drawing.  (No account is needed, unless you want to save your work online.)  Customize a URL for your page (or you can use the one that's generated for you), and post it, or email it to your students.  When they log on, they will be able to see what you do on the board, and can participate in the written chat, or even via voice/video chat.  Your sniffling students can demonstrate their problem-solving skills, for example, without ever leaving the comfort of their homes, and you have the satisfaction of knowing that you won't have to play an extended game of "catch-up" when your students are well enough to return.  You can insert documents and images, and use the freehand drawing tools to create create diagrams and mind-maps.

Give Dabbleboard a try below, and then try it out with your class.  Yes, it may take a little planning to make sure your students are logged in to the right place at the right time, but I really think you'll find this worth the effort.

Oh, and now that the cold weather is on my mind, I have to share a fun weather website: YoWindow.com. If you start your school day by looking at and/or discussing the weather, or if perhaps you have your students graph weather data, you will definitely want to check out this site. Not only will you get the usual temperature and humidity information, but it will be displayed on an animated background. Take the time to customize, and add the widget to your website or wiki, and be sure to view it full screen. Studying another country, or communicating with pen pals? Create a widget to show their weather too!

Forecast by NWS

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Global Greetings

It's in the air.  You can feel it, right?  It's the middle of November, and if you've shopped lately you know that the holiday season appears to already be in full swing, and our schools are not very far behind the retailers.  The Music teachers among us are, no doubt, already busy preparing our students for the annual holiday concert.  Art teachers are stocking up on green and red construction paper, and soon even the most dedicated and determined educators will put the Math manual on the shelf for a couple of days to be sure the finishing touches are added to the macaroni picture frames that will be going home to Mom and Dad. Yes, the feeling of holiday magic is most definitely in the air.

Share a little of the excitement for your holiday celebrations by participating in the Global Greetings Project.  This collaborative online project (a Google Docs slideshow--no construction paper needed) will allow each of us to post a holiday greeting card for other project participants to view and/or download. Go to the project website and use the template to share information about how you celebrate the holiday season.  Add your contact information, and maybe you'll be able to establish a partnership for future collaborative projects as well.
Hmm . . . global goodwill.  Now that would be holiday magic!

BTW:  I know that time is a precious commodity and that instruction time, in particular, should be used to address subject standards.  You may be happy to know that this project does, in fact, address the National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS•S).  Specifically, it meets Standard 2a. "Students will interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts or others employing a variety of digital environments and media," and Standard 2c. "Students develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Making History on 11.11.11

Seems like it should be a pretty magical day, doesn't it? Well, it certainly looks like it's shaping up to be just that. People from all over the globe (including me) have committed to participating in a documentary project called One Day On Earth.  We'll be photographing events of the day and contributing to a worldwide documentary film.  If you would like to know more about the project, or if you'd love to contribute footage of what happens in your school and/or neighborhood on that day, go to http://www.onedayonearth.org/.  The site provides instructions, ideas and resources as well as access to user groups for making connections with other participants.  The completed documentary is due to be ready for viewing in early February.  Hmmm . . . global collaboration.  That truly is magical.