Saturday, February 4, 2012

Web 2.0 Tools: Skype in Education

Teachers should embrace Skype's capabilities within the classroom and beyond the classroom. First thing that comes to mind is the Indiana's elimination of parent-teacher conference times during and after regular school hours. The elimination of these conferences came as a shock to parents. Many parents look forward to meeting with their child's teacher at least once, but why not allow parents the opportunity to Skype with teachers. Doing so, will provide a more interactive meeting with the parents. From this meeting, it would be easier to put a name with a face. I have had parents become perturbed by me not remembering who their child was. It is easy to forget that teachers see hundreds of parents and students each day.  Being the only male in the building makes it easy to recognize me. I remember seeing a parent around the school frequently, and I spoke with her over the phone several times. However, I never had a formal face to face meeting with her. It was teacher appreciation week and she approached me like we were old friends. When I asked, "Who is your child again?" The conversation dynamic completely changed. Happy "Teacher Appreciation Week!"

Start your own profile today and connect with teachers.  My profile is provided above.  If you ever want to video chat between buildings and classrooms, let me know.   If you want to increase the geographic distance, then watch the following videos to start your profile.

How to create a profile and find a teacher from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

The following is a list of additional implications for Skype:
  1. Use the program to explain an assignment or project
  2. Have students meet professionals or subject matter experts on a current instructional unit
  3. Have students meet pen pals that live great distance from the school
  4. Skype other classrooms 
  5. Interview student family members that have experienced certain historical events (WWII or September 11th)
  6. Have a guest reader (anyone) read a favorite book to the class
  7. Skype an Author 
  8. Have students share published writing with a more meaningful audience
  9. Provide at home tutoring
  10. Provide students that are absent from school with instruction
  11. Provide parents with examples of student expectations on unfamiliar projects
  12. Have students present a research project or science fair project
Check out these blogs for additional information on utilizing Skype effectively.  The first blog-type site provides 50 Ways to Skype in School.  The next blog provides a video demonstration for how to Skype around the world.  
    Of course, there are many more uses for Skype in the classroom. Please provide any additional ideas through the comment section below.

    Teachers: How can Skype be used to enhance learning for K-12 students? What projects could you create with others?  If you decide on a project, you can always post a project request.  Here is a short video about creating a project on Skype.

    How to create a project on Skype in the classroom from Skype in the classroom on Vimeo.

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Web 2.0 Tools: Animoto

    Creative! Motivating! Authentic!

    Animoto is basically a dynamic slideshow tool.  Animoto takes images, text, video clips, and music from your chosen file folder and creates a dynamic presentation.  In addition, the user can also provide voice recordings instead of just music.  For Mac users, Garage Band, could provide excellent voice recording and music mixing results.  Basically, teachers and students could use these features to tell digital stories.  

    But wait there is more, presentations (student-centered or teacher-centered) can be creative and content doesn't have to be as stagnant as a swamp.   Content can be presented in a dynamic and entertaining slideshow.  Students could be provided the opportunity to use Animoto for a project. Encourage students to use Animoto create classroom projects.

    These features are motivating for today's students.  Teachers and students can create videos within seconds.  The production process is setup in a 3-step process.  The first step to getting started is signing up for a free educator account.  We, teachers, get the full features of a Plus Animoto account for free.  Check out this educator special on Animoto's site

    Watch the following 60 second video that provides you with a brief overview of Animoto.  It also provides you with an example of what is possible with this creation tool.

    Wasn't that entertaining? Motivate students creativity with the use of Animoto for their presentations, digital stories, and other content area projects.

    What other suggestions do you have for the use of Animoto in the classroom?  Also, if you are reading this last line and haven't clicked any of the above Animoto links,  why not?  I demand you click at least one!

    Web 2.0 Tools: Wordle


    With the Wordle website, students can create a word graphic and submit it online for the gallery. Each word's size usually correlates to how frequently it occurs in a text.  There are two main ways to create a Wordle.  First, a text can be copied and pasted into text box, or a URL can be pasted into the Wordle text box.  Check out the following video tutorials on using Wordle:

    Here are some teaching ideas on how to utilize this website:
    1. One use for this site could include finding necessary vocabulary on certain subject.  They could be required to locate information in a content area from several sources of information.  Then, the text could be placed into the Wordle text box.  
    2. I thought it would be interesting to revise writing. After pasting their writing into the text box, Students could see what words are being overused. Then, if warranted, students can remove or replace overused words with synonyms. 
    3. Lastly, I thought about using this tool for locating main ideas and supporting details within a writing.   
    4. Have students practice words they misspell often.
    5. Teachers or students could develop Wordles to introduce a topic they are presenting. 
    Here is an expample of the pasting the Declaration of Independence into Wordle. This could be a great introduction graphic for students to analyze.
    Wordle: Dec of Inde.
    What other possibilities are there for learning with Wordle?