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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teacher Interviews: Using New Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom

This week I interviewed two educators who are using new technologies with elementary students.  The first is a third grade teacher.  She described a new Web 2.0 site she is using called lino.  She described it as a bulletin board with Post-It notes.  She wanted to post questions to students and then have the students answer them on this site.  She first used it just to practice by asking students their lunch choice to do the day’s lunch count.  She said it worked pretty well but when she projected it on the Smart Board, the students couldn’t move items around on the board.  It is a glitch she feels she has to work out by using it some more.  She tried again by asking a simple question, “How old are you?”  They were able to answer the question but again unable to move items around on the board.

Next, I asked her if she had any obstacles with having students use the site, needing any special permissions.  She said there were no obstacles at all.  There is no content on the site that warrants special permission or is inappropriate in any way for elementary students.  Next, I asked what advice she would offer another teacher considering using this site.  She replied that she would recommend it to other teachers to use because she found it to be useful.  She advised that teachers should make sure they have time to use it themselves first, with the Smart Board, to make sure it would do what you wanted it to do. (Namely, for her, to allow items to be moved around on the Smart Board.)  She feels she needs more time to figure that out and advises others to allow themselves that same time.   I looked over this site and it was similar to one I have used called Stixy.  Looking at lino myself , I think it may offer more capabilities than Stixy does, as it embeds video, can be used with email, and can also be added as an app on some phones and other devices.  It seems  that it would be useful to keep content organized as a student or a teacher.  

Another new site she is using is called Teacher Gaming Network.  She said this was a good web site to use to review vocabulary because it was effective and fun.  You can put in your own vocabulary words.  Again, she had no obstacles about permission for this, as the content was all appropriate.  Her words of caution for this one were that it is free unless you upgrade. Once you upgrade there is a charge for it.  She also advised again, to give yourself the time needed to develop the program the way you want it, with your own particular vocabulary.  When I looked at this site, I saw that she chose to use it to practice vocabulary, but it actually allows you to make many types of games, with your desired content.  It develops different types of questions for you, when you input the content.  This would be worth trying to make quizzes or to allow practice for students in various content areas.  

The next educator I interviewed is a technology teacher who offers after school technology sessions and also goes into classrooms during the school day to teach technology classes with classroom teachers.  He is newly using IXL, Math is Fun, (math sites), and Turtle Diary (various content areas) which all offer games to its users.   When asked how he decided to use these sites with students, he said he first looked at them and evaluated them to see if they were educational.  Then he had his after school students test them to determine if they were interesting and fun.  Since they were, he decided to use them during school technology time.  He had no obstacles to overcome for any of these, as far as obtaining permission for the students to use them.  They are all educational and have no harmful or inappropriate content.  His advice for teachers who want to use them, is to have them all bookmarked or to set up shortcuts on the students’ computers, to get to the sites quickly and easily.  

I liked all of these Web 2.0 sites that were shared with me and to make it easy for my second grade students to access them, I will have them add them to the bookmarking tool we use called Symbaloo .  It has worked well for them and they love to add new sites to the Symbaloo grid.  They can add them easily and find them easily whenever they want to use them. Perhaps others who read this post will explore and enjoy these sites with their students. I appreciate the time and information shared with me from these educators.

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