Friday, December 28, 2012

5 Ways You Can Use Wikis With Students

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

Today I had the privilege to participate in Discovery's Beyond the Textbook forum. One of my take-aways from the day's conversation is that most of the technologies that we want to use to make textbooks interactive and meaningful for students already exist, we just need to organize and utilize them in a way that makes sense for teachers and students. I've combined that take-away with a recent request from a reader to delineate some ways that teachers can use Wikispaces to create this list of ideas for using wikis in classrooms. Please feel free to add your suggestions, with links if possible, in the comments below (please note, I'll be on planes for the next 18 hours so there will be a delay between your comment submission and its appearance on the blog).

1. As a digital portfolio of student-created videos.

2. As a place for students to share notes on each unit of study in your courses.

3. As an alternative to textbooks. Work with colleagues in your school or department to create a multimedia reference site for your students. Include YouTube videos that use the "choose your own adventure" model to allow students to pursue areas of interest.

4. As an alternative to textbooks. Have students create reference pages for units of study in your course. When you do this students become responsible to each other for creating accurate and meaningful content that they can refer to when it comes time for assessment. For example, when I get to the 1920's in my US History curriculum I have each student create a page on a wiki about a theme from that decade. Some of the themes that the students cover are fashion, entertainment, and sports. I mentioned this briefly on a podcast that will be published soon by Steve Dembo and Dean Shareski.

5. As a place to track, document, and manage on-going community projects. In my district every student is required to complete a community service project before graduation. As a homeroom or "common block" advisor teachers are supposed to help their students take the necessary steps to document that work. By creating a homeroom wiki you create a place where students can make weekly updates about what they have done to complete their projects.

How are you using wikis in your classroom? Please leave a comment below. 

If you're not quite sure what a wiki is or what makes it different from a traditional website or blog, watch Wikis in Plain English from Common Craft.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An Interactive Journey Through U.S. History

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

Mission U.S. offers two interactive journeys through two important eras in U.S. History. The journeys are designed as role-playing games or missions. Both games can be played entirely online or downloaded for play on your PC or Mac (you do need an Internet connection to save a game in progress).

The first mission in Mission U.S. is set in Boston in 1770. Students play the role of 14 year old Nat Wheeler who, after the Boston Massacre, must choose to side with the Loyalists or the Patriots. A video introduction is embedded below.


The second mission in Mission U.S. is set in Kentucky and Ohio in 1850. Students take on the role of a fourteen year old slave named Lucy. In the mission students escape slavery in Kentucky and navigate to Ohio. A video trailer is embedded below.


Applications for Education
Playing Mission U.S. could be a good way for elementary school and middle school students to learn about two important eras in U.S. History. The Mission U.S. website offers an educators section that includes printable lists of vocabulary terms, writing prompts, and post-game discussion prompts.

A similar resource from PBS that you might be interested in exploring is Chronicles of the American Revolution.

Web Safety Tutorials from Google

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012. 

Revealed today through their Public Policy Blog ThinkB4U is a new series of web safety videos and tutorials from Google and its partners. Using the "choose your own adventure" aspect of YouTube video editing, ThinkB4U offers interactive videos to educate viewers about things like protecting online reputations, avoiding scams, research and critical thinking, and responsible text messaging.

ThinkB4U is divided into three basic sections; students, parents, and educators. Each section addresses nine different topics related to safe and responsible use of the Internet and cell phones. The sections include short videos about the topics, a short written lesson, and some interactive games on the topics of responsible use of the Internet and of cell phones.

Applications for Education
The Educators' section of ThinkB4U offers lesson plans from Common Sense Media and the National Consumer League. There are lesson plans designed for elementary school, middle school, and high school use.

30 Great Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

Earlier today I presented a short webinar about some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools for teachers. The webinar was on behalf of Ed Tech Teacher for whom I facilitate in-person workshops from time to time. This summer I'll be working with them quite a bit. You can see the list of their summer workshops here. A recording of today's webinar will be available here shortly. If you just want to know what tools I shared in the webinar, you can view the slides below.

30 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers
View more presentations from Richard Byrne

If you're interested in having me work with your staff on the use of these tools, please visit my work with me page

Gooru - A Great Source of Math, Science, and Social Studies Materials

This week I'm taking a few days off to ski, play with my dogs, visit with friends and family, and generally recharge my batteries. If you're on vacation this week too, I hope that you're having a great vacation. While I'm away I'm rerunning the most popular posts of the year. The selections are based on pageviews during 2012.

Gooru is a service that aims to provide teachers and students with an extensive collection of videos, interactive displays, documents, diagrams, and quizzes for learning about topics in math, social studies, and science.

As a Gooru member you have access to hundreds of resources according to subject areas such as chemistry, biology, ecology, algebra, calculus, and more. Within each subject area you can look for resources according to media type such as video, interactive display, slides, text, and lesson plans. When you find resources that you want to use, drag them to the resources folder within your account. Gooru also offers you the option to add resources to your folders even if you did not find them within Gooru.

Applications for Education
Gooru could be a great place for math and science teachers to locate lesson plans and other materials to use in their classrooms. Students can create Gooru accounts to find useful review materials and take practice tests on the subjects they're studying.

Since Gooru launched in February they have added an iPad app too. You can learn about that app here