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Archive for March, 2010

I have read about Scvngr a few times, but yesterday finally decided to give it a try in class. We are studying Shakespeare right now which is not a favorite topic of study for most students. I hoped that by using something like Scvngr might engage them in the subject. Boy howdy, did it do the job! The students loved it.

Basically, I used Scvngr to set up a scavenger hunt within a copy of text that we read in class today. Before yesterday, I had never used the program. However, I found that it was quite simple to use. I am guessing that I had a good activity planned in under two hours. This is pretty good considering the time it takes to get used to a new app.

The activity we did consisted of 6 questions. I gave the students the text to read first, and then set them on the hunt. It was almost unbelievable to see how hard they were pouring over the text to find the answers. Along with each of the questions was a challenge. I am still not sure how these work, but I made due today by giving the students the “text passcode” for the next clue. The challenges were the funnest because the students were a little apprehensive at first. One of the challenges that they had to do read “Stand up as a group and, with your right arm in the air, repeat the Shakespeare’s motto in latin. It was a kick to watch them do this. Honestly I was surprised that not a single student refused to do the challenges. Usually one or two students fight activities like this.

I will definitely be looking for ways to use this in my classroom in the future. Actually, I think the students will be begging for me to do use the app again soon.

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I just ran across an excellent blog  Stretch Your Digital Dollar written by Katy Scott, the education tech specialist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. It is, by far, one of the best blogs I have read regarding educational technology. Probably one of the best aspects of the blog is its depth of information. Katy doesn’t just tell you what is working, but shows how to use it and even goes in to details by grade level with certain apps.

Here are the top five posts at Stretch Your Digital Dollar:

The $55 interactive whiteboard

Use what their mama’s give ’em: Students’ cell phones in education

One laptop for every student finally an affordable option

Screencasts turn students into digital teachers

From trash to treasure: Three easy steps to convert corporate garbage into free classroom PC’s

Take a few minutes to look through Katy’s blog. You won’t be disappointed.

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Wiffiti is quickly becoming one of my favorite apps for using cell phones in the classroom. It has a clean interface and the time for text to screen takes only seconds. What this gives teachers is a platform for instant feedback that can also be seen by the entire class. I did a little searching this morning to see how others are using Wiffiti. Actually, I was surprised that more people haven’t written about using the tool in their classrooms. Information was sparse, but here’s a few good ideas that I came across:

1. The Traveling with Technology Blog shows using Wiffiti in a Spanish class to learn the subjunctive by having students write their examples on the Wiffiti board.

2. Liz Kolb, one of the pioneers on using cell phones in the classroom, has a great blog post showing how to use Wiffiti as a brainstorming tool.

3. The Teacher Tech Blog mentions that Wiffiti could be used for backchannel chat during a lecture or lesson.

4. Mrs. Montgomery at Technically Speaking gives a great idea. She suggests using Wiffiti as a point for collecting answers to a question that students may be doing research on. The cool thing about this is that students can be using either computers or their phones, and if the Wiffiti screen is projected on the wall, all students in the classroom can see what has been posted.

5. The History Tech Blog suggests that teachers could use Wiffiti as a collection point for answers to homework questions. This is interesting because students could text in their answers when they think of them, instead of trying to get to a computer. This one really makes sense to me.

I would appreciate any other suggestions or ideas on how to use Wiffiti as a tool for teaching.

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This week I used Wiffiti to do a review of terms that we have been working on in class over the last several weeks. Actually, we had a rocky start. I had the whole activity planned, and when I went to log into Wiffiti just before class, a window came up saying that the site was down for repairs. This is usually cause for some quick replanning at the last minute. However, I was able to do the same activity on Text the Mob with similar results. The app is just not as flashy as Wiffiti. Luckily, Wiffiti was up back up by 4th hour.

This is how the activity went. I split the class into teams of two or three, making sure that every group had a phone that would work with Wiffiti. Then I would read the definition of the a word, and the first team to post the word on the Wiffiti wall would get a point. To mix it up and add more depth, I also had them text in examples from the text and other various answers. I know it sounds simple, but it was a hit. The students were totally engaged. It was an excellent way to get all of the students involved in the review.

For a look at my Wiffiti board, click here.

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Ever read a book and your head starts spinning so fast that you don’t even know where you’re at any more. I was reading a chapter out of Curriculum 21 today, and this is exactly how I felt. I had to stop a few times and just try to soak in what was being said.

The chapter I read today was written by Stephen Wilmarth and is titled “Five socio technology trends.” Here are just a few of the highlights of the chapter:

“Digital social networks may be the biggest game changer in learning and what it means to be educated.”

“Indeed, a semantic Web will be unlike anything we have experienced before. It will be  comparable to the difference between our experience before the emergence of the Web and e-mail and cell phones with text-messaging capabilities…”

He also writes of the new model for teaching and learning that we need to think about: “The model may not be that which conjures up a cathedral, carefully crafted by wizards and experts working in quiet isolation, but that of a great babbling bazaar…”

This last image really made me think. This is what education in the future is going to look like. For some it is going to look like a complete mess. Most bazaar’s or flea markets do, especially from a distance. I love to go to the Mile High  flea market in Denver, but I have talked to several people who instantly turn up their noses when I mention going there. All I can say is “they don’t know what they are missing.”

Flea markets are awesome. It’s not just junk. Now, a person has to know what they are looking at, and there is bunch of junk. But, if you look hard enough, there are some good finds as well.

I definitely see the ties to the bazaar now that Wilmarth is making. The internet is the same way. It all depends on how a person looks at it. It might be just for entertainment. It might be just for shopping. It might be for communication. For many, it is seen only as a frivolous waste of time. However, with a trained eye, it is a treasure trove of knowledge at the fingertips. It is a powerful (maybe the powerful) tool for learning.

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This one pretty much speaks for itself. Enjoy.

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It certainly seems to be the question right now. However, whether or not anyone has a solid definition may be the better question. The only truth we have is that the camps are divided and this question tends to bring out the feisty side of even the gentlest educators.

Despite this, it is a question that has to be asked, and now you can  give your answer to an audience at the Whitehouse. On the Whitehouse.gov blog, there has been a call to answer this question: What does a 21st century education mean to you? Responses can be left via Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. The promise is that intersting answers will be posted on future blog posts.

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