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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Podcasts in Practice Part 1

For this week I plan to share a different example of how teachers are using podcasts in k-12 classrooms for each day. The first example I want to share is Radio Willow Web from Willowdale Elementary in Omaha, Nebraska. This is by far one of the best examples of how podcasts can be used to teach students reading, writing, social studies, science, technology and much more. They call their podcasts Willow Casts and when you listen to a few you might feel a bit overwhelmed because they are so polished and professional sounding but I think a lot of that is possible because they start kids so early with this so that by the time they are in 4th and 5th grade they are true pros at podcasting...I mean Willow casting. Each of the Willow Casts follows a similar structure and form with a narrator and various segments recorded by individuals or small groups of students. When you listen to these you need to remember that these weren't created in a day and depending on the grade level there was probably a certain amount of adult involvement in the editing process. More importantly, as you listen think about what the students had to know and understand in order to create their individual segments. Students had to be able to write a coherent script, which no doubt required some research and a firm grasp of the content about which they were writing. They also would get practice in reading during their research and as they recorded their script. Of course, they also learn from listening to podcasts created by their fellow classmates. Check out a few Willow Casts and see what you think.

Donors Choose is a clever way to connect teachers and schools with sources of funding. The site has a straightforward project proposal for you to fill out, which then gets posted on the site. Potential donors can then search the site for the proposals they want to fund. It's a bit like ebay that connects shoppers with sellers except that is connecting teachers and schools that need funding with donors that want to fund worthwhile projects. Some of the projects are very modest and only ask for a few hundred dollars. Some of the projects are much larger but either way it seems like a great place to start when looking for funding.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blogs in Practice Part 5

The final blog I want to highlight is by Konrad Glogowski, an eighth grade language arts teacher. His blog is undergoing some redesign at this point but he has used blogs with his students for the past few years and is even working on his PhD and has been studying the use of blogs for his dissertation work. I think his approach to blogging goes beyond the usual idea we have for teacher blogs and I'm curious to see how he uses them with students this year. In reading his post on "Learning to be Myself" he makes a convincing argument for letting his true self come through in his postings and online interactions with his students. I think this can work particularly well with middle school and high school age students. This blog will be worth checking out periodically to get ideas about innovative ways to help students develop their voice within an online community.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blogs in Practice Part 4

The blog I would like to introduce next is Free Resources from the Net, which has a huge list of free resources for teachers. Looking through this blog becomes almost overwhelming when you see all the things that are out there and free to use. The resources are categorized by subject or content area and the list of categories is quite extensive. I have added this to my Ed Tech Tidbits pageflake so I can monitor newly added resources.


This is a cool online slideshow creation tool that allows you to upload your own photos from your computer or many of the photo sharing sites, select music and automatically create a free 30 second video that is completely animated with effects and transitions. Currently you can e-mail your video or embed it in a blog or webpage but they are indicating that you will soon be able to download your video to your computer or iPod. The video I have posted took less than 5 minutes to create and most of that time was spent selecting the photos and listening to the different music options in their library of tunes. You can make longer videos for $3 per video and they even have a yearly subscription you can pay to make "unlimited" full length videos.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blogs in Practice Part 3

The Science is Fun blog is a great example of how you can use blogging to teach science. The teacher who created this blog uses it to pose questions to students and review labs that they conduct in class. He also uses the blog to share files such as notes, worksheets and Power Point presentations with his students. There are also several postings where the teacher shares a web-based resource such as a website or virtual simulation to demonstrate a scientific concept to students.

ePals is Free!

The e-mail and blogging tool ePals that formally required a paid subscription is now free! ePals allows you to create and manage e-mail accounts for your entire class. You can monitor the accounts to maintain safety for your students and keep track of who is trying to communicate with them. They also allow you to create a School Blog that you can monitor and control access to with classroom only, parents only and public sections. This is a great resource and I strongly encourage you to check it out if you are interested in your students having their own blogs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blogs in Practice Part 2

The Room 613 Student Blog is a good example of how to facilitate student blogs in conjunction with a teacher blog. It's still early in the school year so this blog isn't in full swing yet but judging by the postings from the previous year I think it would be interesting to watch this develop. I think the teachers also have made good use of creating pages to feature different topics. They even have a page for "Rules for Blogging", which is a great idea to remind students about how to be safe and what is expected of them when they participate in the class blog.

Blogs in Practice

For this week each day I'm going to highlight a different blog that is being used in k-12 education as a way to show how this technology could be beneficial in the classroom. Today, I'd like to introduce you to The Blurb , which is a blog maintained by a teacher along with a group of students. The Blurb is a newscast type of blog that focuses on different current issues and often invites readers to weigh in with their opinions on the different news stories. It's not updated daily but I like the thought provoking nature of the posts and how the different stories that are covered are giving the authors a chance to explore a broad range of topics. In addition, they get a chance to facilitate a higher level of discussion with a large audience while providing their readers with information and perspective on the range of issues discussed. Check it out!