LibGuides & the new tools guide

Joyce Valenza's New Tools LibGuide

I have always been a fan of Joyce Valenza’s new tool workshop wiki.  She does a great job of organizing resources in one place that I often send students to her site to find sites for “copy friendly” images and audio or spend some time browsing through her eBook pathfinder.

Today on Twitter, I saw an announcement that she is moving all of the information on her new tool workshop wiki to LibGuides  http://sdst.libguides.com/newtools. The new tool LibGuide looks great – my only suggestion is to have the tabs in alphabetical order – or group by theme somehow.

I have been previewing LibGuides this past month and trying to determine what additional values I would receive if I went with this site compared to the cost of the yearly service.  Our school currently does not have an effective repository of information literacy and technology resources for students or staff – except our old Library website – which I have been asked to either remove or integrate with our new school website.

My tech director and I have discussed several times about creating a school tech resources guide either through Moodle or Google Sites.  So, my dilemma now is to rely on others who do a wonderful job of cataloging resources on the web or do I create my own pathfinder.

For now I am happy to use the resources of a lot of smart people like Joyce or Richard Byrne … but I’m kinda itching to do my own … stay tuned!

Tech integration curriculum ideas

Curriculum ideas for Technology Integration

based on National Technology Standards for Students

Creativity and Innovation:Demonstrate creative thinking and problem solving skills to develop innovative products and processes using digital technology
  • Recording personal memoirs w/ images in iMovie or Photostory
  • Create a website using Wix or Google Site to compare World Religions & embed information, videos, images into a Google maps
  • Use primary source images from Library of Congress to create digital timeline
  • Design a radio program, practice reading poetry or language conversations using VoiceThread, Garageband or Audacity
  • Use Prezi as an alternative to PowerPoint
  • Create a collaborative art presentation and share images through Flickr
Communication and Collaboration: Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, across the global community, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  • Have a collaborative writing project using a shared Google document or use it for shared note taking w/ Evernote
  • Use Survey Monkey or a Google form to collect authentic data and then graph the result in Excel
  • Skype with an expert instead of bringing in a speaker
  • Collaborate with another school using a blog to discuss a topic like current events, environmental issues or service learning
  • Participate in a global asynchronous debate where each team records their arguments and then posts them online
  • Set up accts with iGoogle or social bookmarking sites (Delicious or Diigo) for students to share websites and online post-it-notes with each other
  • Brainstorm science concepts or pre-writing activities with Wallwisher or Inspiration
  • Set up microblogging with just your students using Edmodo
  • Set up groups with student’s email for document sharing, project directions and to foster communication
Research and Information Fluency: Select and apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, validate, and use information.
  • Follow inquiry method for authentic research and avoid “bird units”
  • Compare and contrast results from database searches or look for websites that show bias
  • Use specialty search features like wonder wheel, timeline or creative commons search
  • Set up accts with iGoogle or social bookmarking sites (Delicious or Diigo) for students to share websites and online post-it-notes with each other
  • Subscribe to current event or science blogs with RSS for research
  • Set up a collaborative research project with another LaSallian school and collect and share data
  • Have students create a screencast on how to solve an equation with screen capture software or use real photos/movies to determine math equations
Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.
  • Collect data about an authentic issue (ie, solar panels & alternative energy) & use data to influence decision making with blog, debate or PSA
  • Use models and simulations to modify data for best results
  • Write formal business letter to Congress or Representatives
  • Use a wiki or shared document to manage group projects, write collaborative science labs or present together
  • Look at discussion forum of Wikipedia to see debate of content
  • Use Google Maps or Earth to discuss and analyze how geography affects migration, population, border issues, etc.
  • Use games or online simulations for role playing, decision making
Digital Citizenship: Understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to digital technology and practice legal, ethical, and responsible behavior.
  • Model digital citizenship skills with a Moodle discussion forum or blog
  • Debate cyberbullying issues or write editorials
  • Create lessons for younger students about online safety and publish as a website, blog or movie
Technology Operations and Concepts: Utilize technology concepts and tools to learn. Select, use, and troubleshoot tools efficiently; Transfer current knowledge to learning of new technologies. Teach specific computer skills:

  • Word: MLA format, brochure, using Outline view, track changes, letter format
  • PowerPoint:  basic formatting, use speaker notes, action buttons, improving visual design, embedding sound & video, packaging for publishing
  • Excel:  setting up data, writing formula, graphing results
  • Google Apps: setting up accts, document sharing, shared folders, collaboration techniques

Top Ten Tools – My Update

I’ve participated in Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008 (http://janeknight.typepad.com/pick/2008/11/top-100-tools-for-learning-2008.html) but somehow missed the fall 2008 update.

Top 100 Tools for Learning 2008

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: tools learning)


Tools come and go but a few stand the test of time.  Here is my updated list from Fall of 2008.

  1. Google Apps for Education – New tool rises to the top:  I started using Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sites and custom Start Page) with my computer students this school year and it has made ALL the difference with collaboration and communication in my classroom.
  2. Gmail. I love this web based email system and the fact that I can access it from any computer. Not only do you get tons of storage but I like the way it keeps the threaded conversations together. Gmail chat is awesome and the new Video Chat is very cool.
  3. Google Docs. Google docs are great for collaborating and sharing information with others. You must invite friends to participate in your documents but it’s so easy to edit ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!.
  4. New to the list this year is Google Reader.  I used to use Bloglines but when it was bought out and then stopped updating some of my feeds, I switched to Google Reader.  I also love reading blog posts on my new G1 phone.
  5. iGoogle Ok, ok, so I love of all the of the Google products – but I do use them and find them easy to use. iGoogle is a personalized page (which I make as my own homepage) that you can customize with all kinds of widgets like: weather, calendar, CNN news, Google Reader (RSS), Gmail notifier, jokes, etc…
  6. Twitter – Another new tool this year is Twitter.  I have come to depend on it for sharing collaborative projects and keeping the pulse on what’s happening in the Blogosphere.
  7. del.icio.us. I can’t believe how much I depend on this social bookmarking tool to remember sites I have visited but also for sharing cool sites with my friends. Now I don’t need to be that annoying friend who always sends emails recommending websites (I can’t help myself) – if I find a site and know my friend’s del.icio.us name I can tag the site as: for:ccassinelli and then when that user goes to their del.icio.us account they can add my favorite to theirs. This is very helpful for group projects!
  8. flickr. This web-based photo sharing site is awesome for uploading photos to share with friends. I like how you can create different albums and tag photos for easy sorting. I also love snooping through my friend’s albums too!
  9. Google Sites – lets you create simple, secure group websites. Share information with a few people, a whole organization, or the entire world.
  10. Audacity. This easy to use FREE audio editing software is easy to use for podcasting and editing audio files. You will need the LAME Mp3 encoder if you want to export your audio files at MP3 instead of WAV – but it’s easy to download and install.

Off the list this year:  Bloglines

Still like:

  • Voicethread – A great tool for encouraging collaboration in your classroom. Upload photos and add text, audio or voice comments with a web cam. My new personal favorite way to get students to share comments with each other.
  • Wikispaces. I’ve already mentioned my love of wikis i for collaboration and easy editing – wikis are the way to go. – but with the addition of Sites to the Google suite – I don’t use Wikispaces as much as I used to.  I also love the fact that Wikispaces gives FREE wikis to teachers. Thanks for the support!
  • Moodle. I started using Moodle this last year with a few of my computer classes but will use this open-source course management system with all my classes this year. It’s easy to use, has built in blogging and modules (quizzes, journals, docs) that make it easy to keep all class documents in one area.

Focus on learning & use tools effectively

Jen at @injenuity shared her concerns in a post entitled, “Web 2.0 is Not the Future of Education”. She states that early tech adopters are focusing on integrating new tools in their teaching instead of focusing on LEARNING. She writes:

“Learning is the future of education. Students need to develop an awareness of how they learn. By student, I mean every human being with whom we come in contact… All people deserve the right to understand how learning happens and the power they have to control their own lifelong learning journey.

Why are we hording these technology tools like some kind of magic trick that can only be performed for those worthy enough to earn our approval? We must embrace a more holistic approach to teaching and learning…

I really just want people to start to build their foundational values as educators, without ‘Web 2.0? as part of those values. The tools can enable engagement, transfer of learning and collaboration and can open the world to the student. Please see the student before the tools and give them the power they need in order to be successful with them.”

As a technology teacher who has transformed her computer classes from skill-based to LEARNING based – I whole heartedly agree with Jen. Its easy to get caught up in the lastest gadget or software tool. I feel my goal is to teach students how to learn.

I think part of this excitement depends on your basic personality. I am a learner. I love learning new things. It excites me and motivates me.

Other people are more cautious. They question the need for change. Change makes them uncomfortable and are slow to adopt.

Is there anything wrong with either one of these approaches? No. They each have their advantages and disadvantages.

But in the classroom our focus MUST be on engaging students as learners. Technology does provide opportunities for students to connect and be creative in ways that are unique and tranformative. But it takes a passionate and educated teacher to know the best way to do that.

I admit that I am guilty of rushing to incorporate a new tool into my classroom and found the experience to be lackluster. Usually it is because I haven’t taken the time to determine how using this piece of software will best meet my instructional goals and demonstrate student understanding.

When I first heard about VoiceThread I immediately saw it’s potential to engage students and give them a voice. But without careful planning, my student’s first attempts were more like narrated powerpoints with a few audio comments that said “Good Job”.

I didn’t give up, though. My frustration with the results made me dig deeper and ask myself what is the unique power of this tool that I can’t recreate in person.

My students love to discuss and debate – but it seems that the only ones who speak up are those with outgoing personalities.

VoiceThread gives each student an opportunity to plan and share their idea or point of view in the medium they are most comfortable in – text, audio or video. The collaborative nature of VoiceThread also allows students to respond back in a way that is appropriate and safe. Eric Brunsell commented, “VoiceThread, just like PowerPoint, is pointless if students are not crafting an argument, creating art (visual, aural or written), somehow communicating authentic thinking.”

Whenever I assign a project, I like to give my students a choice on how they will present the information (video, blog, PowerPoint, VoiceThread, etc..). Students can now choose a tool that fits their personality and learning style and the focus is on the message and not the tool.

Last year I blogged about this concept of focusing on student learning:

Student-centered learning means that the focus is on the learner – not the teacher and how the material is presented. The emphasis is on how the student is learning, the choices they have for expressing their learning, and how the teacher comes to understand that the student is learning.

But at the same time, I also teach these students HOW to use the tools effectively so the project doesn’t become about the flashiness of PowerPoint or the coolness of video.

We need to do both.

Michele Martin’s comment on Jen’s entry summed it up, “It’s about using technology along with the right thinking and collaborative processes.”

Top Ten Tools 2008

Colette’s (updated) Top 10 Tools

  1. tool.jpgGmail. I love this web based email system and the fact that I can access it from any computer. Not only do you get tons of storage but I like the way it keeps the threaded conversations together. Gmail chat is also nifty.
  2. Google Docs. Google docs are great for collaborating and sharing information with others. You must invite friends to participate in your documents but it’s so easy to edit ALL AT THE SAME TIME!!!.
  3. iGoogle Ok, ok, so I love of all the of the Google products – but I do use them and find them easy to use. iGoogle is a personalized page (which I make as my own homepage) that you can customize with all kinds of widgets like: weather, calendar, CNN news, Google Reader (RSS), Gmail notifier, jokes, etc…
  4. del.icio.us. I can’t believe how much I depend on this social bookmarking tool to remember sites I have visited but also for sharing cool sites with my friends. Now I don’t need to be that annoying friend who always sends emails recommending websites (I can’t help myself) – if I find a site and know my friend’s del.icio.us name I can tag the site as: for:ccassinelli and then when that user goes to their del.icio.us account they can add my favorite to theirs. This is very helpful for group projects!
  5. flickr. This web-based photo sharing site is awesome for uploading photos to share with friends. I like how you can create different albums and tag photos for easy sorting. I also love snooping through my friend’s albums too!
  6. My first RSS aggregator was Bloglinesand I still use it today. I like how I can create folders for all of the ed tech blogs I read. Here are my folders: personal, ed tech bloggers, under consideration and last chance. When I stumble across a blog I might be interested in I add the feed in the under consideration folder. When I find that I enjoy the blog and read it often it moved up in rank to the ed tech bloggers folder while some of those are demoted to last chance before I decide to do away with the feed.
  7. Audacity. This easy to use FREE audio editing software is easy to use for podcasting and editing audio files. You will need the LAME Mp3 encoder if you want to export your audio files at MP3 instead of WAV – but it’s easy to download and install.
  8. Wikispaces. I’ve already mentioned my love of wikis in my blog but for collaboration and easy editing – wikis are the way to go. I also love the fact that Wikispaces gives FREE wikis to teachers. Thanks for the support!
  9. Voicethread – A great tool for encouraging collaboration in your classroom. Upload photos and add text, audio or voice comments with a web cam. My new personal favorite way to get students to share comments with each other.
  10. Moodle. I started using Moodle this last year with a few of my computer classes but will use this open-source course management system with all my classes this year. It’s easy to use, has built in blogging and modules (quizzes, journals, docs) that make it easy to keep all class documents in one area.

TOP 100 TOOLS FOR LEARNING – SPRING 2008
as collected by Jane Hart

 

2007 Top Ten Tools: http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/colettecassinelli.html (my current list is pretty similar to the 2007 list. Hey – I like what I like!)

Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/cayusa/2221656599/