Beyond Classroom Tech Tips…

October 21, 2007

Release the Hounds

Filed under: Professional Development,Web 2.0 — Donna DesRoches @ 5:03 pm

Yesterday in my small group chat room at this week’s Fireside Chat of the K-12 Online Conference participants enthused and complimented Chris Harbeck on his presentation, Release the Hounds. Needless to say, his session was first on my catch-up list this Sunday morning.

The participants in the chat room were right to be impressed. Chris Harbeck is a middle years math teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba and in his four mini-presentations he outlines four strategies that he uses to engage students in their learning. Scribe posts, growing posts, e-portfolios and unprojects are all very practical ways which effectively use a wide variety of technology tools to teach curriculum content.

I am working with a group of teachers, one from each school as well the teacher-librarians in our school division to look ways that we can more effectively use technology for teaching and learning. On September 25 we had our first day long meeting with a focus on the read/write web, web-based tools and their impact on education. As is natural at a meeting with such a focus teachers were awed and overwhelmed and the feedback reflected this with teachers asking, “Now what? How do I do this in my classroom? What are practical strategies for implementation?”

Chris’ presentations respond to this need in a very practical manner and because he is a math teacher his strategies for using technology in a meaningful way fit very well with our school division’s PLC focus on math.

I particularly like his approach on e-portfolios in which he asks students to teach their parents about a particular concept and in doing so demonstrate their knowledge of subject content and 2.0 applications.

I am doing a workshop on Monday, Easy Peasy Homework Pages, to demonstrate how wikis can be used to create simple homework pages. I will will use Chris’ slideshare presentation and wiki as an example of how such a simple tool can be used for powerful communication and interaction.


October 14, 2007


Filed under: Tools,Web 2.0 — Donna DesRoches @ 10:28 pm

screencasto.gifI am presently co-hosting with Carlene Walters, a teacher-librarian online course, Meet the Stars.  Recently one of the participants asked how to complete one of the assignments which required her to place the feed for her bookmarks on her blog.  I thought others might have the same question and it spurred me on to try the free online tool, Screencast-o-matic which allows one to capture what is happening on the screen and to record a narration at the same time. Wow!  Simple to use!  Within a few minutes I had a short demonstration which outlined the steps to adding the feed to a sidebar in Blogger. I think I will use this tool often in preparing short quick demos of applications for teachers and students.

October 5, 2007

Facebook Apps

Filed under: Social Networking — Donna DesRoches @ 8:00 pm

I don’t know if anyone else if getting overwhelmed with invitations to add applications to their facebook profile but I am finding it quite daunting.

However, I was pleasantly pleased to discover via the Librarian in Black a Student Help Forum blog post which identified The 10 Best Facebook Apps for Students and 3 to Avoid. Included in the list of best apps are

Easy Bibliography Generator – Have you ever been concerned with which format of bibliography and references to do? There are dozens of different styles that could be used, and are needed depending on the scenario. Thankfully, this Easy Bibliography Generator can format your references into MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian.

Hey Math – Hey Math is a library of mini movies that “visually explain hundreds of difficult maths concepts.” With the Hey Math widget you can finally start to understand some of the most difficult mathematical concepts.

Although an application called Docs was included as one of the ten best teachers may not want to direct their students to it.

Simply put, Docs is a library of uploaded schoolwork. There are over 50,000 documents available from lecture notes, to problem questions and everything in between. Even though they claim to try and deal with plagiarism, I have no doubt that there would be a significant quantity of that going on within this app.

Have a look and point your students to these useful applications which they can use in their online social environment.

October 4, 2007


Filed under: Digital Storytelling — Donna DesRoches @ 11:55 pm

I have just spent some time playing with Kerpoof, an online story creation program which came my way via a twitter post from Alec Couros. He mentioned that it was one of his four year old daughter’s favourite online activities. Students create pictures, stories and movies by selecting backgrounds, characters and images. They can add text to tell a story.

Just after reading Alec’s comment I came across a review on Chris Harris’ blog at School Library Journal, Kerpoof – All that and More!

Friendly controls provide an easy interface for creating images, books and even movies. Using a selection of characters and objects that can be placed in your selected backdrop, you can tell a story. Characters and objects can be resized, flipped (resize it into the negative space to flip), rotated and provided with speech bubbles. Characters in movies can move, say things, and perform other pre-coded animations.

He highly recommends the site and mentions the teachers’ page which includes lesson plans, ideas and ways that the program can be used within the curriculum.

This is a wonderful little storytelling tool that can be used with primary and elementary students. It is cool enough that students will think of it as a game and yet be learning and creating while having fun – imagine!

October 3, 2007

Professional Development Opportunity

Filed under: Professional Development — Donna DesRoches @ 5:31 pm
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The K-12 Online Conference is an incredible opportunity for educators to extend their knowledge and understanding of how current technology is impacting teaching and learning.


Fusion Finds describes the conference…

Breaking free of traditional conferences, the upcoming K-12 Online Conference: Playing with Boundaries (October 15-19th & October 22-26th) provides educators with an engaging, ongoing learning experience without time constraints. The K12 Online Conference is a unique professional development opportunity for teachers to engage with ideas and technologies that are having a real impact on 21st century classrooms.

The entire conference will be delivered as downloadable digital media via the Internet with over 40 sessions presented in four strands: Classroom 2.0, New Tools, Professional Learning Networks, and Obstacles to Opportunities. The conference launches with a keynote address on October 8th from respected blogger and author David Warlick and concludes with a global 24 hour live event, As Night Falls.

The conference is divided into four strands.

Strand A: Classroom 2.0
Leveraging the power of free online tools in an open, collaborative and transparent atmosphere characterises teaching and learning in the 21st century.

Strand B: New Tools
Focusing on free tools, what are the “nuts and bolts” of using specific new social media and collaborative tools for learning?

Strand A: Professional Learning Networks
Using Web 2.0 tools educators can network with others around the globe extending traditional boundaries of ongoing, learner centered professional development and support.

Strand B: Obstacles to Opportunities
Boundaries formalized by education in the “industrial age” shouldn’t hinder educators as they seek to reform and transform their classroom practice. [more…]

Keynote information and the conference schedule and sessions descriptions can be found at the conference site.

Post the flyer on your staffroom bullet board.

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