Saturday, February 23, 2008

A great resource book that helped inspire us to use web 2.0 tools in our classrooms.

Thank you for coming to our session today. We really enjoyed presenting and we hope that you found the presentation useful. We had a couple of teachers ask about the resource book titled Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson.

Here is a review from Mike Muir, the director of Maine Center for Meanigful Engaged Learning: "We need a solid book explaining and illustrating and letting teachers know about these powerful tools. This book meets the need in an awesome way!"

We look forward to hearing from you and assisting you in any way we can.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Create Free Online Assessments

One tool that I use to help students review for tests is I have found that sixth graders don't know how to study for tests. So, I use classmarker as a study guide for students. Before classmarker, I would tell the students to review their notes before a tests. It was as if I had asked them to build a rocketship and fly it to Mars. I would ask my students the next morning, "Did you review your notes last night?" They would always say yes. Then, I would get test grades that were awful. Then came classmarker and its successor, , to the rescue. My students love taking the online quizes and getting their results right away (not a month later). is the upgraded, pay version of classmarker. Quia allows you to create games, tests, and quizzes. My students really like the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" spinoff game. I even had a student sign up for a free 30-day teacher account (now he thinks he is a teacher) and create several review games for our class. The best part about classmarker and quia is that I can see who studied last night and who did not by checking my account (no more lying to the teacher in my classroom!). Now, I just have to figure out the disappearing homework thing.

I have created three screencasts that guide you through the processes of using classmarker in your classroom. The first video shows you how to sign up for a free account.

The second video shows you how to create a class and how to assign students to your class.

The third video shows you how to create and manage a test.

Why should teachers use web 2.0 tools?

Michael Welsch, a Kansas State University cultural anthropology professor, teaches classes on exploring and expanding the use of digital media in the classroom. He has a very intersting blog. You can visit his blog at students that Professor Welsch teaches have created several thought provoking videos on how students are changing.

A Vision of Students (Yes, our students have changed.)

What is web 2.0?

Friday, February 15, 2008


What is Screencasting:

A screencast is a digital movie in which the setting is partly or wholly a computer screen, and in which audio narration describes the on-screen action.

Screencasting Tools:

If you're a Windows user then the free Windows Media Encoder is very easy to use. You can download Media Encoder by going to the following link:

For more ambitious efforts that require editing and allow you to do much more than simply "capture your screen," you can use Camtasia Studio. You can learn more about this by going to their website: Camtasia Studio.

Free Screencasting Services:

There are several web tools that offer free screencasting services. One that I have found very user friendly is Utipu.

TechSmith, the company that makes Camtasia software, offers a free program at the
Jing Project. I have not used this program, but I have been very pleased with TechSmith's Camtasia line of software.

How to Make a Screencast:

No matter which tool you use, here are some basic guidelines for effective screencasting.

1. Prepare the Stage

Have a plan and practice navigating through your presentation. Also, plan and prepare your narration as you navigate through the presentation. Making these preparations will limit the number of mistakes you experience during the actual recording.

2.Tell the Story in Scenes

When you've got a short story to tell, it may consist of only a single scene. You can do a lot in 90 seconds of narrated video. You might need a couple of takes, but you can probably create something that's directly usable without requiring post-production. As you attempt longer and more complex screencasts, though, you will likely have to do some editing.
If you do have a video editor, which Camtasia Studio offers, editing becomes much easier.

3. Narrating the Action

Composing the audio narration and synchronizing can be difficult. If you have prior experience with voice recording that will help. But even so, you're likely to find that syncing your voice with the action onscreen is a real challenge. For short unedited scenes, you can do multiple takes until you get it right, or as close as possible.

4. Check Your Work

It's exciting to make a screencast, and you'll want to share it with the world right away. But first watch it carefully, from beginning to end, more than once. A variety of problems can creep in during the editing process. There's also a real danger of exposing confidential data.

So What does a screecast look like?

Karla Faulk, a 6th grade math teacher has created screencasts as a way to review new math concepts with her students. In this video Karla has use a graphics tablet.

Screencasting with Graphics Tablet

Another example of using technology to review concepts with your students is to create "Math Review Videos." It is really quite easy using the plug-and-play Flip camera. Simply record yourself working through a problem, upload the video to your computer, and post the video in teachertube or youtube. Give the video link to your students and they'll love seeing you on the internet. If you need help with this process do not hestitate to contact us. In this example Tad, a 6th grade math teacher, has created a math video on decimals and place value.

Monday, February 4, 2008

What's a Wiki?

What Is It?

A collaborative web site comprises the perpetual collective work of many authors. Similar to a blog in structure and logic, a wiki allows anyone to edit, delete or modify content that has been placed on it, including the work of previous authors. In contrast, a blog, typically authored by an individual, does not allow visitors to change the original posted material, only add comments to the original content.

Why Is It So Important?

Why should teachers care about wikis? Because learning is social — people learn through working with one another. Wikis encourage collaboration, and collaboration is the secret sauce of innovation and effectiveness. Wikis are a new tool for teachers and they pull people to learn when they feel the need. The information on a wiki is largely created by the users themselves.

Nevertheless, wikis have now become attractive. They are still weird the first few times you’re exposed to them, but it’s not really the wiki that is weird; it’s that we are unaccustomed to collaborative work.

Everyone is encouraged to add to the wiki, correct mistakes and document discoveries.
Perhaps that is the most important reason for teachers to understand wikis. Learning is inherently collaborative. Wikis are a great way to learn to collaborate.

A Real-Life Classroom Wiki!

I was introduced to Wiki's by one of my teaching buddies and I must admit, at first I was little concerned that I couldn't keep up with it. I decided I would give it a try and I quickly realized that there was actually nothing to "Keep Up With." I teach 6th grade math and science and our wiki has become a "warehouse" of our learning throughout the course of the year. I always enjoy going to our wiki and seeing what types of things my students are adding. Take a look at our classroom wiki:

Can You Create Your Own Wiki?

YES! It really is easy, I promise. I have posted step-by-step directions below. Watch each section and create your wiki as you go. Good luck and please contact me, if you have any questions.

After you have your wiki up please come back and let us know what the experience was like. Was it difficult? Was there anything that was confusing? How have your students responded?

Video #1: This video will explain Wiki's a little more and will introduce you to the home page of pb wiki. It will also explain how to create an account.

Video #2: This video will explain the front page of your Wiki. The front page is the first thing people will see when they visit your Wiki. It's important to be familar with, and know how to navigate through your front page.

Video #3: This video will show how to add a new page to your Wiki. Adding new pages allows you to organize the content that will be found on your Wiki.

Video #4: This video will walk you through the process of editing a page on your Wiki.