I am finishing my 14th year as an English-Language Arts teacher of students. I have grown more as an educator in this one academic year than in the lasGet Shortlinkt five years combined. I should really be more specific; I was on paternity leave for six weeks in November and December, so the new growth really didn’t begin until the New Year began.
Through the assistance, encouragement, and on-going support of my colleague, Jessica (@jbrogley for Twitter followers), I have expanded my professional horizons to the vast frontier of technology. I can’t say enough about her confidence building personality, her willingness to help, and her wide range of Web 2.0 knowledge.
It began with Twitter. I began following news agencies, professional athletes, and a few friends. It wasn’t long before I discovered the educators on Twitter willing to share and learn together. I have already outlined this in a previous post, Professional Development Beyond the Teacher’s Lounge. I have since dabbled in Facebook and SecondLife. I took to Facebook a little better than SecondLife, nonetheless I am still learning how to effectively use these two tools.
Writing is a passion of mine and I was searching for an efficient way of sharing my writing with more people. Through Jess’s help, I began blogging right here on WordPress. By the way, you are reading blog post #52 from this amateur blogger 🙂
Jessica sent me a link, maybe even through Twitter, to a Wiki that listed a plethora of Web 2.0 tools to for students (I consider myself a student too) to use, CoolToolsforSchools. It would be an understatement to admit that I was overwhelmed by this list of tools, especially given I had never heard of 98% of them before. I almost entirely dismissed the idea. Wow…what a mistake that would have been. I remember asking Jess how to provide these tools and assistance in using them to the students attending my classes. Her response was very simple, ‘Give them the list and let them choose.’ Thus, the journey through the complex map of Web 2.0 began.
As of today, my students and I have either used or have been exposed to in some way, shape, or form to over 35 different Web 2.0 tools. I just created that list this morning and I was amazed at the number of different tools I used or the students used in class in the last 18 weeks. I have decided to list my Top Ten 2.0 Tools. The criteria for making this top 10 included how user friendly the tool is and how well it presented itself to the class. Next to most of these tools and there descriptions is an example of how students in my classes applied them for projects and presentations. Please check out those links…students shining like the sun!
These Web 2.0 tools are in no particular order:
Presentation tool…easy to use. Check out a student example using VuVox for a story collage for The House on Mango Street.
Check out this Prezi created by students for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Another presentation tool with capacity to add cool effects. Check out this slide show of a scrapbook created by students for To Kill a Mockingbird.
When using own images along with their own voices, students can make a completely personalized presentation. Check out this cool VoiceThread created by students for The House on Mango Street.
A little tricky at first, but provides great opportunity for complex presentations. I haven’t figured out yet how to share these publicly…sorry :=(
Not quite as dynamic as Prezi, but much better option than PowerPoint. Students used Empressr to present themes for The House on Mango Street.
What you are reading…excellent, easy to use EVERYTHING!
Ning is a great social network to use with students. However, in June, Ning will no longer be free for the public. Ning has collaborated with a sponsor to offer the most basic version free for educators.
Cool presentation tool with loads of options. Students used this tool to create story collage of The House on Mango Street.
A fun way to create slide shows. PhotoPeach has built in instrumental music features as well. A slide show of our grit taste testing for To Kill a Mockingbird.
Here are the rest of the tools, the tools that didn’t make the top 10 list, that were used in my classroom in the past 18 weeks:
Animoto, 280Slides, Scrapblog, Glogster, Wix, Google.docs, SpringNote, WallWisher, WikiSpaces, WetPaint, DabbleBoard, SmileBox, FlipBook, YouTube, TeacherTube, Bomomo, GoAnimate, Gliffy, Webs.com, Mind42, Delicious, ShapeCollage, FamilyEcho, Wordle, Create.ly, and PhotoVisi
The journey through this new frontier has been amazing. The students and I learned together through some challenging projects. I look forward to the opportunity to start sharing and learning with new students again in the Fall. If you haven’t tested these waters yet, I strongly recommend that you give it a try. If you have dabbled in the vast expanse of technology and are willing to share tools that you have used that are not found on this page, please leave a comment to share your experience. In collaboration we all learn. I look forward to hearing your ideas.