Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Create Portfolios In Glogster

Glogster EDU has just released a new feature for its premium subscribers. Our current high school and Middle School have a premium license.  Here is the press release from Glogster Edu:

"With two new functionalities, Presentations and Portfolios, you will be able to group any Glogs on Glogster EDU and present your Digital Book made with many Glogs as “pages” with a chosen school topic or a subject or your students` work throughout the school year. This is a unique step from one Glog to real digital literacy that can be shared and used on Class, School, District and international education level. The digital education has never made more sense!"

Look for the Presentation and Portfolio Tab on your dashboard. You can group and save student Glogs together. The Glogs will remain available to you even after you delete a student account. This is a great way to save samples for future years or to build a portfolio of student work. You may also want to develop a presentation to show parents.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Authentic Writing Resource For Students - Opposing Views

Providing students an opportunity to write for an audience using a medium that they are familiar with, will increase not only the level of engagement of our students, but we also can expect a higher quality of work. The I offers many opportunities for students to publish their thoughts, opinions and comments. The read/write web provides a gateway for students to share their thoughts with others and receive immediate feedback. This type of collaboration and real-time interaction has proven to be quite effective with regards to the teaching of not only writing, but can has been a proven instructional strategy for all subject areas.

The website Opposing Views offers the opportunity for students to publish their writing. The site specializes in publishing viewpoints, opinions and facts on topics that include politics, sports, current events, society, health, religion, entertainment, and technology.

Here is a blurb from their facts page: (a full page of facts about the site is available here)

How does an Opposing Views debate work?

Each debate starts with Opposing Views picking a central question on people’s minds. We then invite interested experts, opinion leaders and advocates to pick a side and weigh in. Experts can present as many arguments as they choose. After that, experts are able to counter each opposing argument one time. The author of the original argument can then respond to each counter. Thus, our debates last three rounds: Argument, Objection, and Response. That’s it.
Students may post a new discussion or comment on an existing one. Many of the current articles can be used in class as conversation starters. Because opposing sites is on the web students may have the opportunity to collaborate with a global audience. It is a great place to hear and share views and opinions from around the world. For a student to be successful in the 21st century they must be comfortable writing and publishing in an online environment. They also must have the skills to communicate and collaborate with a global audience utilizing technology. A 21st century student must be information literate. They must be able to interpret and analyze a wide variety of information sources and draw their own conclusions from them. Opposing views provides this experience.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Why every class must include online collaboration

Have you explored the opportunity to incorporate technology into your classroom that will allow students to collaborate online? Have you thought about how this can be used as a tool to extend your classroom beyond the four walls that currently confine student learning? Would you like to provide an opportunity for students to communicate with classmates using a medium that they are familiar with? Do you see value in the ability to provide students with anytime access to not only the resources you share in class, but additional resources that aide in differentiation? Can an online extension of your classroom support the requirements of Universal Design for Learning? Can it contain a library of materials that students can access when they need it?

By providing an opportunity for students to take part in online discussions and collaborate with their peers we are allowing student learning to develop beyond a 45 minute block of time. We provide students with a medium in which they can take time to formulate a response, participate, and learn from their peers. For what it's worth, we can save a lot of time making copies and catching up students who are absent too!

I ask, do we have choice? Is it our professional responsibility to instruct students on how to participate in an online community? Do our students need to know how to communicate in an online environment? Do they need to know how to collaborate with individuals using digital tools? The answer is Yes.

We can no longer create classroom environments that are not only teacher centered, but confine student interactions to a 45 minute block of time.  This system of education may have worked in the past. The global economy has forced a paradigm shift in education. Global competition has forced us to reconsider how we teach students.  We are no longer competing for jobs within our state and country.  Technology and training have introduced a global workforce.  In order to remain competitive our students must learn to think critically and make connections among content.  We must develop student creativity, communication skills, and high order thinking. It is a reality that our students will be forced to communicate and collaborate with individuals in online environments when they enter the workforce.  The days of the traveling business person have transitioned to web conferencing. Outsourcing agreements have forced individuals to communicate and collaborate using technology on a daily basis.   All of our students who enter college will have courses that maintain an online presence.

What are we doing to prepare our students?

Have you considered using Moodle as an online extension of your classroom? Our district Moodle site has a professional development page. There you will find a short course on how to use Moodle. You can also request a personalized training session with me. I encourage everyone to explore the opportunities available with this tool. The results of this shift in instruction holds many benefits for students and faculty.