Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

Since my blog post last April, I have run across a few more templates that will be useful for fake Facebook projects with students.
While I really like the web based applications, as I have discussed before, they are not always reliable, so these templates are both a little more stable and more user friendly.

Google Docs Template: This template was originally posted on Google Docs by Meghen Ehrich. The new improved version of the template has an added page for more wall posts. It also has an additional page for comments attached at the end. This page can be duplicated as many times as necessary to add posts to the wall. To do this click on the page in the cue on the left of the screen, click on “Slide” at the top of the page, and then click on “duplicate slide.” This will allow for Facebook projects that have several pages of wall posts. I have had students do this project and produce over 20 pages of wall posts! To make replies to posts, just slide over the picture box and the text box. This makes the pages look realistic when they are finished.

Revised PowerPoint Template for 2010: This link will take you to Lindsay Cesari’s blog, No Shhing Here. She has taken the PowerPoint template that has been floating around for awhile and updated it to look more realistic. However, as often as Facebook is changing their interface, this “new” template is probably already out of date. It doesn’t matter. The general look is still great, and this template will work produce nice looking pages.


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Positive words can make positive change, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. Yesterday, TED launched a new page, TED Quotes, on their website dedicated to quotes taken from some of the 1,100 plus talks they host on the site. What I like about the page is that these are the best quotes from the some of the most influential people alive today. I can display a quote for students to read, and also point them to the talk where the quote was first spoken. The words are real and tangible for students, not something someone said 150 years ago.

The page is easy to navigate giving several different means for discovering quotes. Users can simply search for a quote using key words. If a little more guidance is needed, users can search through quotes by category. The educations tab alone has 66 quotes listed. Another page has quotes listed according to popularity. There is no indication of how these are chosen, but each shows how many times the quote has been shared, so maybe that is the criteria.

Sharing is another interesting option in the page. With a simple click, users can post the quotes to a Facebook wall or Twitter feed.

After a few minutes looking at the site, I was pretty impressed. Some of this may be due to my fascination with TED. In a short time, I read several quotes that I remember being spoken as I watched the actual talk. Reading the quotes helped me to remember what I once learned. I can definitely see potential for using this in the classroom.

In the past, I have posted an inspirational quote on the board for student to read at the beginning of class. Sometimes students wrote a short response and sometimes we just had a short discussion. I always felt that this activity was successful, but it gets hard to find good relevant quotes. Problem solved!

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One of my favorite ways to spend a day outside of school is to go fly fishing. There is something deeply satisfying about tricking a fish into biting a fly that I tied myself. It’s fun and relaxing as well as a good challenge. However, as much as I like to fly fish, I also like to catch fish.  I have learned that fly fishing is not the only way to catch a fish, and at times, other means of fishing may work better. When this happens, there are those that will stick with deep rooted tradition and not put down their fly rods. They are often purists who look down their noses at anyone who does not fish the way they do. Sometimes, the purist goes home without catching any fish. Believe me. I’ve been down that road. Being a successful fisherman means changing things up once in a while.

The same goes for users of technology, maybe even more so than for fishermen. Being a purist often equals lost opportunities and knowledge. I know people who will only use a Mac or only us a PC. Both sides swear that the other is useless and hard to use. Both talk of how their computer is more easy to use and more secure than the other. Each has their own share of apps and programs that run better than the other.

Both sides are missing out.

It is totally okay to lie heavily on preferences, but to be a total purist is crazy. There are so many good technologies from both camps that it would be a shame to not explore them all as the opportunity arises.

As a teacher, administrator, or even tech professional, anyone that works in education, not having an open mind when it comes to the use of different technologies may have an affect on those they are trying to educate. With the diversity of tech ever expanding, successful students will be those that have a broad experience with technology. This means that they can easily work on a Mac platform and PC platform. This means that they know how to use word processors other than those developed by Microsoft. The more flexible and adept students are with different technology as they leave school, the more valuable they are in the work world. This will also help them to be more successful in college.

Remember, sometimes a purist misses out on all the fun!


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Tonight, I was working on some fake Facebook resources and clicked on My Fake Wall, a resource that I have used in the past. The link took me to a page that said the site was offline. There was no indication of when it would be up and running again. There is a chance that it never will be. I was glad that using this site was not in the plans for class tomorrow!

This reminded me that no matter how well prepared you think you are, when using technology, there is always a chance of failure. The batteries in the camera die. The computer crashes. A website is down at the precise time that your classroom of thirty students is trying to log on. Believe me, this has happened to me more than once.

The web is unpredictable in this way, and I imagine it always will be. Maybe I should also say that the web is predictable in this way. At some point, it is going to let you down.

Having a decent backup plan is a must.

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Been thinking of doing a video project, but not sure where to get cameras for the students to use? I’d be willing to bet that you already have a bunch of cameras in the classroom. They are in the pockets of most students that walk through the doors of the school.

More and more students come to school with a phone that is equipped with a camera that will both take pictures and record video. If they don’t have a phone on them, there is a good chance that they will have an iPod. Whether it be a phone or an iPod, both will take excellent video footage for student video projects.

Some teachers may worry about students using their own equipment in case it gets lost or stolen. Remember, the students are already bringing it to school, and don’t be fooled, they are already using it, probably in your classrom. You might as well put it to good use.

Before you have students go out and film a project on their own device, make sure that there is a means of capturing the video and transferring it to the computer for editing. This is the one drawback in using several different kinds of devices, but I think that more and more, companies are formatting the video so it can easily be downloaded to a computer. Honestly, I have had more problems trying to get video off cam-corders that students bring than I have downloading video from mobile devices.

Having students use their devices for school work definitely gets students engaged in the work. They see that that thing they carry around in their pocket all day can be used for more than social interaction. It is a tool for learning and sharing.

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Projectors are becoming the norm in classrooms. Costing anywhere from $500-$1000 apiece, they are a pricy investment in the classroom. Occasionally, a teacher will fire it up to show a movie or maybe to have students copy notes but from what I have seen, many of them sit dormant in classrooms.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know there is a group of teachers who use their projectors on a daily basis in all sorts of cool ways, but they are the minority. Generally speaking, there are a bunch of projectors hanging in classrooms that are nothing but shiny dust collectors.

Here’s the challenge: dig out the remote, wipe off the dust,  turn on the projector, and use your projector today.

If your struggling for ideas, here are a few to get you started:

  • Show pictures to enhance a lesson
  • Show a short video to engage students in a lesson
  • Display student art work
  • Display student writing for revision (delete the name first)
  • Show students how to find information using Google that relates to the lesson
  • Make a Wordle
  • Use the Online Stopwatch in bomb mode (even high school students get excited about this one!)
  • Project short reading selections instead of making copies
  • Display class learning goals and objectives
  • Project quiz questions for short assessments (possibly made on the spot!)

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Notice, the title says, “teaching with technology,” not “teaching technology.” This is an important distinction to make when planning a lesson. There are times when the teacher is going to have to teach the technology, but face it. The majority of the students in any given class probably have a better handle on the technology than the teacher. This being the case, technology becomes a very powerful learning tool in the hands of the student. Often times, they just need the permission go get started.

Don’t get caught up teaching every in and out of a computer application before letting students use it. Give them the basics, and turn them loose.

Let them learn.

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My dream classroom would include the following:

  • Class set of laptops (preferably Mac Book Pro’s)
  • Class set of iPod Touches complete with a charging station
  • A Smart Board (even if they aren’t quite as nifty as they seem)
  • Document Camera
  • Clickers (probably SMART since I have the board)
  • Surround sound speaker system (Bose would be nice!)

I guess I will stop there. I am not even going to delve into the different software and apps that I want downloaded on all the machines.

What are the chances of me having my dream classroom? Pretty slim. Okay, very slim, but I can dream. Really, it’s not about what I want because I’m not going to get it all, and even if I did, technology changes so quickly that keeping up is impossible.

The whole point here is not wishing for tools that I don’t have to use in the classroom. Dream a bit and then snap out of it. Being a good teacher is all about using what we already have. Take a minute and assess what you already have at your disposal. Talk to the principal. Talk to the school librarian. Talk to other teachers. I bet there is a much more in your school than you are aware of. One school I worked in had several sets of clickers that were still factory sealed because no one used them. I don’t even know if anyone knew they existed.

Make a list of what you can use and get after it. There’s plenty to keep you busy.


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Here is the dilemma: the students in your class work for a week creating a video, and as luck would have it, one or two students miss the entire week due to illness. Not only do these student miss out on all of the collaboration that takes place in the project, they also do not have the opportunity to film the video and put it all together. There is a lot of learning lost here. This can be a headache for both the student and the teacher, but it doesn’t have to be.

Have the student(s) do an alternative project for make up work. Obviously, having them make a video on their own is most likely not going to work. For starters, a one person video project is hard to film and act in at the same time. Here several alternatives that will allow the student a good learning experience as well as allow them to produce a quality product to show off in the end:

GoAnimate: This is a great way to make an animated video. Learning to use the app is quite easy, and the end product is always amazing.

Xtranormal: Another excellent means of making an animated video. Users type in scripts, choose actions for characters, and hit play. This one is a little more technical than GoAnimate, but really allows scripts to come to life.

A substitute for a video project doesn’t necessarily need to be a video. Have student use their script to make a comic instead using one of the following apps:

Pixton: This app is user friendly and allows student to make a visual representation of their scripts.

ToonDoo: This is another great app. I had a few students make comics with this too this week and was impressed with the results.

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I know a lot of teachers who want to use technology in their own classroom. Many of them know that it will benefit the students. They are sure that the students will have fun and learn at the same time. They even know that this is the future of education, but that is as far as it goes: thoughts.

The problem in getting teachers to use technology within the school does not lie in a lack of knowledge that this is the way students need to learn. The problem is that many teachers are afraid to take the leap. Sure, there are a myriad of excuses: We don’t have the money. Everything is blocked. I don’t know how to do it. I have to teach to the standards.

There is only one way to start using technology in the classroom, and that is to start using it. I know that some schools have limited resources, but there is technology around, even if it is just an old computer and nothing more than a whiteboard. The key is to use the resources that are available to the fullest extent.

So, if you have been thinking about it, now is the time. Stop thinking and plan to use technology today. Once you do, neither you nor your students will ever look back.


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