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Monday, February 22, 2010

Thing 18


For Spanish, I embedded a widget to help students with verb conjugation. They could use it if they are working on publishing information in Spanish to a wiki or trying to blog in Spanish. If they knew the wiki website, they could use this widget while they are doing homework, too. I give them verb books already and they have plenty of notes, but if they forget to bring home their verb books, I think this widget could be very helpful because it shows charts of the various tenses of verbs.

Widgets might be a useful way to get kids interested in the subject matter, thus forming them into "intrinsic learners." For example, I found a widget where kids could play a game called "running of the bulls"- it looked fun, but I soon learned it is violent and therefore not appropriate. However, I like the idea of using games to learn. A website students go to when there's time leftover in a computer class is freerice.com. They like the challenge of seeing how much vocabulary they know and they can test it out in foreign languages, too, like Spanish and French. They compete against each other to get the highest rankings. Widgets could potentially be used in that way.

A map widget would be very useful for the wikispaces project I'm working on. I've already embedded a link to the lonelyplanet website using a map. I'll have to look into more ways of using a map. Kids love using Google Earth right now. That might get them interested in Spanish-speaking countries.

I'm not sure what's on my widget wish list. I got the weather widget to work today! Wish list: Proofreading for English, Famous poets, Games related to the literature I teach (Speak, Night, 451, Ender's Game, Romeo and Juliet), Spanish vocab quiz, and Spanish verb conjugation quiz.
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Thing 17

Wikispaces...I'm having some trouble along the way. I tried to apply a widget from The Weather Channel (I got the idea from the mcisd wiki), but I couldn't do it. It said that the text needed to be pasted in plain text, not html, but when I tried to paste it under the "other text" category and not the "html" category, it still didn't work. I'm going to try it again today and see what happens.

The project I decided to do for my wikispaces is going to be time-consuming. Every year for Spanish 1 I have the kids do a travel agency project where they have to plan a one-week vacation package to a city in a Spanish-speaking country of their choosing. I thought I'd do a wiki containing information and links to various countries and major cities. I'm hoping this will save the kids time on searching through websites in the future. I'll include MLA citation links to help them along, too. They are required to correctly site their project. Giving the students the information they need all from one source could save me time in validating websites, and allow me to spend more time helping them with the Spanish part of their project.

To me a wiki is different from a blog in that it can be a place to provide a ton of information and links in a well-organized way. In a blog, perhaps you add a link to one post, but people would have to search for that one post to find it. In a wiki, the links are neatly placed on the side of the page. A blog is written only by one person; others may comment. Multiple people can contribute to writing and creating a wiki. Blogs are world-wide conversations, while wikis are a world-wide sharing of information.

Assignments/projects where a wiki would be appropriate: research- may be taken from the wiki OR may be added to the wiki; group projects such as audio interviews; and video projects (weather forecast in Spanish for example). I know there's more ideas, but that's all I can think of right now.

Assignments/projects where a blog would be appropriate: group discussions about a novel, journal writing, a place to post online quizzes, using a blog conversation to generate thoughts on a particular topic (like reading a newspaper, but instead of getting only a journalist's perspective, students could read various other perspectives on the same topic, too.

I could envision them having trouble including widgets, uploading photos, getting the links to work, forgetting to save after every item that they add (happened to me!). So many ways it could go wrong! Like anything they do for the first time. To decrease potential problems, I think it would be necessary to walk them through each step and practice each skill. It might take a few weeks. Perhaps go to the computer lab for a day and show them on the master computer screen and have them emulate your actions. I'd focus on 2-3 easy tasks the first day such as navigating the wikispaces page. A week or two later we could go back to the computer lab and try another 2-3 skills; this time difficult ones such as adding a widget, and see how they do. By the end of class, students should complete tasks 1, 2, and 3.
After a few weeks of practice with in-class and out-of-class assigned tasks related to the wiki, hopefully students would be ready to start working on full-length wiki assignments. That's my first instinct on how to approach it, but I'm sure there are other ways...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thing 14


The Wiki I found is a junior high English class. The teacher set up the entire wiki as a "book". It appears to be a collaborative class research project. It looks like each student and/or group of students was responsible for researching a specific topic related to Elizabethan England. There are clear links to each topic on the left side of the page. There is a link to each Works Cited page within each of the topic pages. There are also links to MLA citation rules and directions/expectations for the assignments.

I could completely copy this entire idea for my 9th grade English class where students are introduced to Shakespeare for the first time and read Romeo and Juliet. I love the idea of setting up a "wiki book" a.k.a a collaborative class research paper. I think presenting research online makes it more interesting for the kids to read their peers' work rather than listen to a speech. It also creates a team atmosphere in the classroom. I know that kids almost always do better on assignments when they know their peers will be reading or reviewing them.

Something else I came across on a different wiki for English was that the kids did interview projects related to characters in a novel and shared their interviews via audio on the wiki pages. I liked this idea a lot, too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thing 13

This was fun!! I could definitely see students taking an interest in this kind of creative outlet. It's so much better than having to manually draw a magazine cover or a movie poster. I see potential with these website applications. I like bighugelabs better than dumpr in terms of potential classroom uses.

I've done multigenre papers in the past, and one of the requirements is some kind of cover to put everything together. Students could use photos in multiple ways to bring their particular subject to life. It might inspire kids to do good work on their projects. I've learned from other teachers, that while of course you need restrictions for safety purposes, sometimes it's better to let kids loose and have them choose a creative outlet that they're more comfortable with. Using photo sites could be an option.

The best part is that it gives students creative ownership of their work. They can publish it to the world, and may receive positive feedback.

I'm not sure of how photos would function in a math/science room...One idea that comes to mind is that at my school we have an Environmental Science class. In the fall and spring the teacher takes the kids outside to explore the high school's campus. The kids could take photos instead of notes and then do a report on what they've found that way, or create graphs using photos of their findings over a few weeks. The teacher could create a classroom group on flickr where the students will be required to store their photos. They could also upload photos to their personal network drives. The problem would be sharing digital cameras, but because we do have that digital photography class, it might work.


Thing 12

Flickr would be helpful for finding photos relevant to material being taught to add to Power Point notes in a foreign language classroom. There are a ton of recent travel photos I could use- perhaps more updated than those in our textbook. I could also see my Spanish students using Flickr to find photos for an upcoming assignment (they will be pretending to be travel agents selling a travel package to a specific city or group of cities in Spanish-speaking countries). They will need several photos for their presentations and brochures. Perhaps I could even limit them to using only Flickr to teach them how to cite photos. This might make things easier. A concern, of course, would be the students stumbling across inappropriate photos...especially travel photos.

I already use images as writing prompts in English class. I could start to look for images on Flickr and group them together for future use.

We have a digital photography class at Bedford, and I know the teacher has his students publish photos on Flickr. I could always ask him for more ideas about how to use Flickr and how to solve problems.

Another idea is that I could publish photos from my personal travels to share with my students. It might be easier having them all on one website and just uploading them to Flickr rather than copy/paste into Power Point.


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