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

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Writing on the Wall

Not long ago I was asked by one of our school administrators to send out an email to the parents of our junior high students to let them know volunteers were needed for the junior high holiday dance.  After receiving several quick responses, I was again asked to send a message to these same parents to let them know our updated needs.  "Hmm . . . " thought I, "there must be a better way."  And, of course, there is.

Sharing information in real-time is easy, and a lot less cumbersome if you use the right tool.  A collaborative site like Wallwisher.com will allow users to post virtual sticky notes, complete with a link to  an image, audio or video file.  When building the wall, you can specify whether or not you want to approve each post before it goes live, so it's perfect to use for student projects.  You could, for example, ask your students to predict what's going to happen next in the novel you're reading, or brainstorm ideas for a class bulletin board, or . . . collect information from parents about who will be volunteering at the dance.  This might also be a good way to have your fellow attendees indicate what they'll be bringing to the neighborhood potluck dinner, so you don't end up with five variations of sloppy joe's for dinner.

Now, being the creature of habit that I am, and having used Wallwisher for some time now, that's become my default "sticky note site".  There are, of course, many other options.  Stixy.com, for instance, is certainly worth checking out.  While similar to Wallwisher in many ways, it offers the additional options of being able to upload entire documents, add To Do list items, and invite specific contributors.

You may also want to check out AnswerGarden.ch for a simple way of sharing information.  Scroll to the bottom of this blog to find an example of an embedded Answer Garden, and share a favorite web resource, and don't forget to add a little something to the wall below.  Happy collaborating, everyone!

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