Sunday, August 22, 2010

5 Sites To Explore This School Year

In my neck of the woods schools have already started or will be starting soon. As we are going back and thinking of new tools to try or sites to explore I wanted to give you a few ideas of each that you may find have a place in your classroom this year. These are quick and easy ways to do something fun and use a little technology along the way.

Think of Wallwisher like a corkboard and push pins. Basically you go in, choose a title, background color and custom URL and you are set up. You then give users the URL and they post digital stickies on the board. The catch is they only have 140 characters (like Twitter) but they can include links to other sites, sounds and videos. I have seen these used tons of way to collect information on what kids did over the summer to a ticket out the door where kids summarize what they learned or what questions they still have. This would be great for spelling words. Instead of having kids write out sentences that no one will see have them do it on the Wallwisher and share their learning. Mark Warner, creator of the Ideas To Inspire Website has created a slideshow showing all the ways educators are using Wallwisher.

What ideas can you think of?

Google Squared
I have written about Google Squared in the past but it is still one of those search tools that has yet to catch on. Great for research, put in any type of search term that might be part of a list. Baseball Parks, Presidents, Countries in Southeast Asia. You are presented with a table of information based on what you searched for. Below you can see an image of a search for planets. You can add columns of information or take columns away. Google Squared is a great, easy and fast way to compare items from the same general list. Think of it as a starting off point for good research.

It is easy to see how you could use this in science or social studies but what about an English or math class?

This is another tool that think every educator (and student) should be using. Think of all those bookmarks or favorites that you have. They live on your machine. If you save in Diigo you can take those saves anywhere. And you can organize them with tags (keywords), highlight and make notes on webpages that you can share with other teachers and students. And you can create accounts for your kids and they don't have to have email addresses. One of my favorite things to do is explore the many groups that are there to find new and interesting sites and articles for my teachers.

Here is a video that describes a little more of what Diigo can do.

Gone are the days of collecting old magazines from doctors offices and your grandmothers Good Housekeeping. The poster has gone digital. Thing of Glogster as just that, a digital poster. Instead of cutting out pictures from those magazines kids can get images from the web, video, record their own audio, to create a truly living document. Easy to use and easy to set up Glogster is a great way to get kids excited to show what they have learned.

Accounts are free for educators but there is a premium education account that you can pay for which gives you more options. How do you think you could use Glogster this year?

Creative Commons
One of the issues that seems to be forgotten by many educators is the issue of copyright. I think it has more to do with lack of understand than anything else. I often seen kids go on to Google Images or other similar sites and just copy images or use music in their projects that they did not create and do not cite. Even when they do cite it they may not have permission to use it. That is why I tell educators to use Creative Commons. By used the search engine at CC you can search all the CC images that people have posted on several different websites. It will also search audio and video files. Many of the file types you find you can remix and build upon, all depending on the licence.

The CC site is also good to learn about licensing your (and your student's) work so that others can use it and build upon it. After all, learning is sharing!

So those are the 5 sites I am going to share with my staff as we start the year. What will you share? Leave some comments below.
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