Tuesday, July 31, 2007
I found the following blog to be very interesting. A first year teacher was up late one night lesson planning when the thought crossed his mind that there were other teachers doing the exact same thing. He created a wikispace to post lesson plans, reproducibles, links and presentations. He hopes that other teachers will create a wikispace so that there will be a virtual library of resources available to educators.
A few examples of blogs are...
Blogs have many educational benefits. A teacher can create a blog and use it as a web page for his/her classroom. Students and teachers can post to the blog and comment on the postings from other classmates. A teacher can use the blog to post assignments and valuable web resources for students to access from home or school.
Wikipedia also has an in depth definition and even includes a picture of what a Google Doc page would look like to the user.
Google has several blogs that discuss Google Docs including a new feature called Presentations where you can create slide shows. This is a great tool to use in the classroom for lessons and even for Back to School Night presentations for parents.
Another Google Docs & Spreadsheets blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/10/better-together-docs-spreadsheets.html.
Most newspapers have RSS feeds so that you can view articles relating to the your topic of interest. I subscribe to the New York Times Education RSS Feed.
In the short time that I have navigated this site, I found useful links to resources for the K-12 classroom teachers. For example, http://www.kn.att.com/wired/fil/pages/listweb20s.html, is a site that links to several Internet resources that offer information on how to incorporate various Web 2.0 products into the classroom.
On of my favorites, is a site created by a man named Brian Benzinger who has compiled and grouped Web 2.0 products that teachers and students can use. Most of the products that he describes are free. On his site you will find Web 2.0 organizers for students (calendars, schedules, grade trackers, etc.) In addition, there are grade books for teachers, note taking products, resume builders, group organizers (clubs, etc.), mathematics teaching tools, learning and research products, media sharing (examples include: Google Video and YouTube) and much more. I find this to be an exceptional resource, especially since I have the desire to continue to use many of these technologies in my classroom.
I have an account with both MySpace and Facebook and, in my opinion, Facebook is far more valuable. I feel that MySpace is too open and although you can set your profile to private, there are still facts that are viewable to the public such as your name, age and location. Although MySpace works with law enforcement to identify predators, I still feel a little uneasy with the service and I occasionally get the strange person wanting to be my friend. I do not see any educational purposes for MySpace. The only thing that a student may want to use MySpace for is to locate other students at the same school or to join a group that they are particularly passionate about such as "College Democrats".Facebook has a lot of applications including: a Visual Bookshelf where you can add your favorite books for your friends to see and borrow, you can grow a virtual garden and have virtual pets, have your horoscope displayed on your page, share recipes, share photos, play games, join networks and much more. I also find this to have more educational aspects than MySpace. For example, you can publish notes from class discussions as well as homework assignments. In order to do this, you must make a Facebook profile that is accessible to all of your students. If your students do not have a Facebook account they will not be able to view your profile. In addition, you can use your classroom Facebook profile as a center for discussion. Students and teachers can post questions or topics for further discussion on the Wall application.
Both of these social networking sites have their downfalls. Privacy is obviously a big concern. If you are a member of these sites, it is imperative that you post appropriate material so that it does not come back and hurt you later. I found an article from USA Today that discussed evasive issues pertaining to these sites. There was one case where a student was denied admission to a school based on the content of his blog. In today's world, it is not safe to assume that the only people viewing your profile are your friends.
Monday, July 30, 2007
A user can use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to create new files or upload existing files from a word processor or spreadsheet file. It is extremely easy to navigate, it's as if you are using your old trusty word processor. I love that I can choose who can access my files. This will be a wonderful feature when collaborating with teammates at work. We can upload our existing files that may include lesson plans and reproducibles. This will allow each of us to edit these documents. An even better feature is that we can all do this at the same time! I would also use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to share my sub plans with my teammates.
My students can use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to submit papers to me. It would be an easy way for me to edit a draft and provide input to my students so that they can make changes from home. I can even upload papers from previous classes to use as examples in the future.
Another great feature about Google Docs & Spreadsheets is that it allows you to organize information in folders and save the documents in your own files on your computer. A user can publish their work as a web page (and control who views the page) and use Google Apps (there is actually an Education Edition!) to publish only within a group. I can use this feature to create a web page accessible only to my students and their parents. I can also publish newsletters this way to save time on copying and distributing.
For more information on the Education Edition of Google Apps you can visit the following web site: http://www.google.com/a/edu/.
I used Google Docs to upload a newsletter that I used in my third grade classroom. I plan to keep this newsletter on Google Docs & Spreadsheets so that I can modify it to meet my needs in Howard County. This newsletter can be found under the Web 2.0 Examples section of my blog.