Saturday, August 13, 2011

Web 2.0 Tools

This past week, I spent my first two days in the Year 1 Cohort B 21st Century Learning Institute at Grant Wood AEA.  I am excited to find I am exactly where I need to be to help myself integrate technology skills and tools into what I am teaching this year. 

These first two days, we learned about image tools:  Picasa, Wallwisher, the AEA Online resources, and Photo Peach.  We also talked about how we will create our own ePortfolio in Google Sites to archive the work we will do with our students and fellow staff.  I am really glad I applied and was accepted to this cohort group because I really need reasons to get myself to take more risks and incorporate more technology tools into both my math and English curricula.  I find that if I am not "required" to do something new, I am really nervous and sometimes downright scared to try and use what is new.

I plan to use Wallwisher with my "bell ringer" activities in math class.  I also wonder if a person can't use it with the Daily Oral Language sentences in English 10.  Kids could type their corrected sentences into the sticky note and then post it to the wall.  I wonder if most sentences fall within the 160 character limit?

I can see using Picasa and Photo Peach with video storytelling lessons.  Kids are able to upload 30 photos in Photo Peach and can put captions on each photo.  Specifically, Photo Peach limits a user (in the free version) to 30 slides.  One can insert black slides for words between photos, too.  Picasa is a little more difficult to use, I think.  One has to download it to your computer.  It doesn't exist totally in the clouds like Photo Peach does.  That is one reason I may not use it as much with my students.  I wonder if there is enough space on a jump drive to hold Picasa plus photos. 

I definitely will have students make use of the AEA Online resources a lot more than I have in the past.  I think back now on how little I've used these resources and I feel ashamed.  I know that the images and clip art will really be useful in kids' presentations.  In addition, I am excited to see how we can use the research tools in English 10.

I plan to use our school's Google Apps for Education a lot more with all my classes.  Last year, I had only my English 10 students use the Google Docs feature.  This year, students will create and maintain their own ePortfolio, will use Google Reader to mine the Internet for articles related to their favorite topics, and will use Blogger to write about what they are reading through Google Reader.  I notice right now that Google Reader and Blogger are not available through my school account.  I will contact our technology people and get at least Reader and Blogger added as options for kids.  I am really excited to use these resources.

With the donated laptops I acquired for the district over the summer, we will not be able to save much on the hard drives.  I'm trying to treat these computers like Chrome books, where the computer is run strictly to use tools (like Google Docs) that have remote storage for student (and teacher) work.