Sunday, April 27, 2008

23 Things Part 11

Wikis, wikis, wikis. This thing is when we get to set up our own wikis. Here's one that I've established. The first page is about promethean boards. However, the real theme behind the wiki could very easily be professional development. The difference between a wiki and a blog is that the wiki allows for collaboration. Others could add to the page. Teachers who know how to use the promethean board could add their own tips and tricks. This could allow for teachers to take ownership of the page. That could increase the usage and usefulness of the page.

23 Things Part 10

This "thing" starts our exploration of wikis. I'll admit that I've known about wikis for quite a while but hadn't really thought about how they could be used educationally. Not very smart on my part. After taking a look at some of the wikis that are available, I can easily see how they could be used. Using them in a classroom would be one thing. I'll also explore using them for professional development. Using them as professional development may allow me to do some differentiation. Wikis could allow for teachers to be able to follow different paths depending upon their expertise with a particular subject. Wikis allows for some awesome collaboration on a variety of projects.

23 Things listed these reasons for using Wikis:
Wikis have great potential as an educational tool for both teachers and
students because they encourage collaborative learning and resource
sharing. Among the things they can be used for are:
- Collaborative writing
- Brainstorming
- Creation and organization of content and study guides
- Lesson summaries
- Group notetaking
- Dissemination of classroom information
- Literature circles
- Collaborative textbooks
- Resource collections
- Vocabulary study

23 Things Part 9

Part 9 deals with image editing online. Wow are there a lot of options at Image Generator. Select from a variety of "tricks" (such as fake magazine covers, your face on a different body, scrapebook creator, comic creator, photocards and more- much more). Upload an image from your computer and see the results. You can then save the picture and use it however you wish. Definitely one way to increase the attractiveness of any productions. I'll need to think even more about how to use to increase student learning.

23 Things Part 8

Part 8 continues us on our Flickr journey. This time we get to explore a variety of tools that work with Flickr. These tools can be fun, are easy to use and give us some different ways to think about learning. Here's a few tools that we considered:
  • Spell with Flickr- this is a really cool tool. I can easily see this being used (and overused) by teachers and students. Essentially, it works by you typing in a word and then clicking "spell". The site returns each letter in your word in the form of a picture. The picture may be from a photograph of the letter, or some digital representation. You can click on individual letters to get another choice. Really cool.
  • Flickr Color Pickr - you click on a color and it finds pictures that match that color. This one didn't do too much for me personally. Art teachers may really like it though.
  • Retrievr - The idea here is that you upload a picture from your computer (or a link to a picture on the web) and it finds similar pictures. My mileage definitely varied on this one. I tried a couple of pictures (one of the clock and one of a school). The clock didn't return anything that I would've expected. The school did return some buildings, but it also returned some pictures of people. I couldn't figure out the exact logic behind some of the choices. I would consider this a fun tool. It was quick. However, if you're a linear thinking person, and expecting similar pictures to one that you have, don't have high expectations. If you're an abstract thinker looking for serendipity, this one's for you.
  • Picture Sudoku - This is a fascinating idea. I could see lots of uses for this, except, you can't directly upload pictures to the puzzle. Since you can search by tags, or users, you could control the pictures that way. However, you'll need to plan ahead. Pictures that I uploaded weren't included. The may be related to a delay for my account showing up through Flickr (Flickr explains that there may be a 24-48 hour delay). Anyway, this could be a way for students to practice distinguishing between similar things. The could be useful in science or for ELL students.
  • Flickr montager - This is a tool that uses a bunch of smaller pictures to recreate a larger picture. I guess I didn't see an educational use so quickly, but it is pretty cool.
  • Flickr Memry - A simple to use and create "concentration" game. You can pick the number of "cards" that are in play (either 3x3 or 6x6). You click on each card to turn it over to reveal the image. Once you select the image and it's pair, those cards stay turned over. The cards are chosen by tags, so again, in order to control the pictures, you'll need original tags.
  • Jigsaw - Turn your picture into a virtual jigsaw (you can also order one if you really like it and want one for real). Interesting images are created that could add to the visual appeal of things.
All in all, I've enjoyed learning about Flickr. Some of these tools can really add visual pop to your documents, web sites, etc. Some can help students learn stuff in different ways. All of them will certainly increase the interest for students.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

23 Things Part 7

Part 7 continues on with Flickr. This time we get to share some pictures of our own. I've posted some pictures that are public on Flickr. You can check them out here:

At first, I wasn't sure how to use Flickr educationally. After just a little bit of thought, anything that could be communicated visually would be a fit for Flickr. This would include social studies (where maps could be uploaded, vintage pictures, etc), science (images of a variety of science topics), art, physical education (pictures of proper techniques, games, etc) and more.

23 Things Part 6

Part 6 is all about Flickr. Flickr has long been a wonderful resource for dealing with pictures. A quick search for "middle school" produced some interesting results. I was hoping for a variety of pictures about, well, middle schools. However, the results were much more serendipitous than I expected. Here is a picture that I found that I greatly enjoy. I like the multiple meanings (love of books, the wedding ring forming a heart, etc.)

Friday, April 25, 2008

23 Things Part 5

Like a few other of my cohort, I jumped the gun for Part 5. I
subscribed to many sites in Part 4 when that is supposed to be part of
part 5. Anyway, I largely revisited some of my most heavily "traveled"
RSS sites from NetNewsWire. (If you're interested, check them out at:
) . RSS can allow you to gather a lot of information together. I think
that it needs to be targeted though. I sometimes return to visiting web
sites for a couple of reasons.

  1. Going to a web site gives me more context.
  2. Going to a web site "slows" me down. This allows me to process better.
  3. I can automatically "rank" the sites that I want to see. Yes, I
    know that I can do something similar with the RSS reader, but somehow
    it's still different.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

23 Things Part 4

Part 4 is all about RSS. RSS is a way to quickly and easily bring updates on the web to you instead of you going out to a variety of sites to check them out. This can save a ton of time as you don't have to check sites that haven't been updated. My personal favorite way to do this is using NetNewsWire. However, there are other ways to do this as well. Google Reader is another way to do this easily.

The advantage to NetNewsWire is that it is laid out very nicely. It is also self-contained. One of the advantages of Bloglines is the public nature of the linking. You can easily share the links that you like.

I still can get overwhelmed by the number of sites that I "keep up" with. Here is an interesting blog post on that very subject. It didn't work for me, but your mileage may vary. RSS certainly can help you take control over the shear number of web information inputs that you want to follow.

Educationally, RSS would allow you to easily pull in the updates from students who were blogging (think of it as an easy way to "collect" papers).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

23 Things Part 3

Blogs can be mighty useful. As a middle school principal, I have my teachers "turn in" their weekly team meeting logs in a blog. This saves some trees, saves me carrying notebooks home over the weekend, prevents "lost" notebooks, and makes it so that teachers can update their logs at any time. It also provides the teachers opportunities to quickly search their logs. Plus, several teachers can view the logs at once from different places.
Obviously, I have very strict constraints on who can see the blogs.

Some of my teachers use blogs for the kids. The teachers tell me that its faster to input the homework in the blog than to check a bunch of planners. This also allows for parents to know exactly what the homework is.

Blogs can also be used for Professional Development.

Good stuff.

23 Things

Welcome to the reinvigoration of the blog! This will become the home of a new project that I'm participating in to help teachers understand Web 2.0. The idea behind 23 Things is as follows:

Wayne RESA’s 23 Things is based on The Learning 2.0 program originally designed by Helene Blowers, Technology Director, Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, and has been modified for use by Wayne RESA. The original program is loosely based upon Stephen Abram’s article, 43 Things I (or You) might want to do this year (Information Outlook - Feb 2006) and the website 43Things.

This online program was built using freely available Web 2.0 technologies that include:
Blogger, Flickr, YouTube, Wikispaces, and Bloglines.

So why am I participating in 23 Things? Easy, I want to understand how I can best help my students learn. I feel pretty comfortable with technology (I run a weekly podcast with an award winning RESA educator (Shawn McGirr) with an accompanying web site: I think I posted my first web site in 1998. However, I still feel as though I have much to learn. I want to be part of the conversation. Part of Thing 1 was Pay Attention.

This is a presentation that has been somewhat controversial. Some educators have taken it as an assault on their teaching and what they are doing. I found that an unexpected reaction. I think the video is a great opportunity for discussion. Facts are great but they are only a beginning. Context is important. The question becomes, what is the context for lots of the facts brought forward?
How do we frame the conversation about how students are different (or not)? We also have to be careful of the "good ole days syndrome".