Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Collaborative Writing Across Multiple Grade Levels

Last Thursday after my presentation at The Literacy Promise conference I sat in on Brad Wilcox's presentation about inspiring students to write. One of the things that he mentioned was having high school students edit the writing of elementary school students. As Brad said during his presentation, "high school students don't care about comma placement in their own work, but they care about it when it is an elementary school student's work because they don't want to give bad directions." He went on to suggest having elementary school students put their writings in an envelope and addressing it to students in their district's high school.

Google Documents is designed for exactly what Brad Wilcox described in his presentation at The Literacy Promise conference. If your school district is using Google Apps for Education, sharing the documents is very easy to do. Have the elementary school students share their documents with a high school student, that student's teacher, and yourself. When the document is shared between all four of you, you and the other teacher can make sure that the suggestions made by the high school student are correct. Introduce all of the students to using the commenting feature in Google Docs to write comments and corrections in the margins of documents. By using the commenting feature, the actual changes to the document have to be carried out by the elementary school student.

If you want to learn how to use Google Documents, including the commenting feature, please read my free ebook Google Documents for Teachers.

How Animals See the World

How Animals See the World is a nice infographic published by Mezzmer (a retailer of eyewear). The infographic offers some simple explanations of how sharks, insects, lobsters, horses, mice, and common household pets see the world. I dropped the infographic into Zoom.it so that it you can zoom-in on it below.

Applications for Education
This infographic is clearly part of a marketing campaign for Mezzmer. That said, it's not a bad visual aid to add to a class wiki or website about animals. You could also try to print out the infographic and post it in your classroom.

H/T to Cool Infographics.

Turn Your Old Netbook Into a Chromebook

A couple of months ago I shared some news about Kevin Jarrett's Project Chromebook blog on which he's sharing his experiences with Chromebooks in his elementary school. In Kevin's school they leased Chromebooks for a sixty day trial. Over the weekend I realized that there is another way that you can try the Chrome OS, install it on an old netbook. So that is exactly what I'm going to do.

I'm installing the Chrome OS on an Acer Netbook that I bought in 2009. I haven't used that netbook much over the last year so it's the perfect candidate for an OS facelift. To install the Chrome OS I'm following the directions that I found on Lifehacker.

Applications for Education
If your school is considering acquiring Chromebooks and you have some older netbooks kicking around, install the Chrome OS on them as a trial. Give them out to the tech savvy and the not so tech savvy people in your school and get some feedback. Bear in mind that depending upon the netbooks you have, the Chrome OS may not function exactly as designed, but it should give you a good sense of the experience.

Another way to test out the Chrome OS is to run it in a virtual machine. Chris Pirillo has a video about this. The video is embedded below.

Learn more about this on Chris.Pirillo.com