MeeGenius! – Read kids books online

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MeeGenius! is a site that has a range of kids books online. You can read them online of have them read to you. You can personalize them and share them with others.

This could be a great resource for teaching reading – especially at a distance.

Some of the titles include:

The Princess and the Pea
The Tale of Tom Kitten
The Three Little Pigs
The Ugly Duckling

If you’re a teacher of reading – check it out.

Google Series – Part 4: Google Docs

Well I was thinking of heading to Google Docs for this post, and I will, but I’m not going to post much as a good blog post was recently made. It outlines new sharing and editing options in it.

So next time I’ll start to go into detail about Google Docs, but for now – have a look at this post from Free Technology for Teachers to see if you want to explore it further.

I will say this now – Google Docs has great potential for education, collaboration etc.

Monday Mentions

I thought I’d try something new today. I notice a lot of bloggers have a regular feature on some days of the week, so today I’m starting “Monday Mentions” which is where I will mention and link to a few blog posts (and other posts) that I think are particularly useful or interesting in the world of education.

So here goes…

1. Tools for the 21st Century Teacher – This is a post by Michael Zimmer on his blog The Pursuit of Technology. It includes a link to Zimmer’s free eBook, Tools for the 21st Century Teacher. This is a great resource with a number of web 2.0 tools for teachers to use in their education and professional development.

2. Sooooo …?? – A Youtube clip and a few simple questions to ask yourself at the end. What does social media mean for you in education? Check it out. From Greg’s Blog – principal (le?) learning.

3. Beware when you blog A reminder to us about blogging and blogging in our classrooms. We need to monitor what is going on and be professional. From *** ICT U Can!

 

That will do it for this week. Now the trick is to remember to do it again next week!

Google Series – Part 2: Timeline

Following on from the Wonder wheel tool, Google have also released a search function called Timeline. This again, can be found in the left sidebar of the basic Google search.timeline

Timeline is a great research function for a basic search. By clicking on Timeline after you’ve started your search you will see a timeline appear at the top of the search page, and everything will be in order of year/date.

timeline2

What you will discover as you have a go with Google’s Timeline, is that it is not only finding websites that have information that you may be after, but it is searching digitised newspaper or journal articles from a huge number of dates. The search I have done above on ‘great war nz’, has given me a number of digitised newspaper articles.

If you click on a section on the blue timeline at the top, you can go into more detail for a specific period of time. Currently it shows every 20 years from 1840 to around 2000. If I click on the 1900 section I get this more specific dates.

timeline3

And you can get more specific again by clicking on a year section.

timeline4

I can see Timeline being used in various curriculum areas for research purposes. It could be great for finding primary and secondary sources. It may also be good for finding information from the time that has been twisted or misinterpreted over the years since the event.

The best way to learn timeline is to get in there and have a play!

Google Series – Part 1: Wonder wheel

I’m going to start my series on Google looking at one of their new search features. This new feature is called Wonder wheel.

If you do a general search using Google for the topic “Birds” you will get a list of websites (as you would expect). But perhaps you want to be a bit more specific in your search. To do this you could use an advanced search, or you could use Wonder wheel.

wonder_wheel

The Wonder wheel option can be found in the new left sidebar. Click on this and a ‘mind map’ style picture will come up with options that are related to your search topic.wonder_wheel_2

Your search option will be found in the centre of the wonder wheel with links around it that you can click to refine your search. By clicking on one of the links it will expand the wonder wheel.

wonder_wheel_3

On the right hand side of the page, the websites found for the search will change according to the links you choose in the wonder wheel.

wonder_wheel_4 

Wonder wheel could be a great tool for helping students in their research. It would be great for helping them to refine topics/questions before they begin their research. Try it out – it is very easy to use!

iEtherpad

I was just invited to observe/join in with a colleague using iEtherpad with an online class. Here are a few thoughts about it’s use.

iEtherpad is the latest take on Etherpad. Actually, only in the internet address is the ‘i’ used – I’m not sure why. Etherpad is a great free collaborative tool for working on a document. It is similar to Google docs, however the synchronous interface seems to work much better in Etherpad.

This was the first time my colleague had used in collaboratively with a class (and the first time I had seen it used properly). I would say the first important thing to remember if you want to use it with a class is to make sure you have already set up some key questions for students to answer on the page. This way they can work in groups and put together a document.

It could be used as a sort of ‘chat’ or question/answer area, but it does have it’s own chat function off to the side (which works well).

iEtherpad assigns colours to each person that is online, however it only has a few colours to choose from and these can easily be used up in which case doubleing-up of colours occurs. When in the main document the text is highlighted by the colour of the person typing it. This is fine unless there are 2 or more people with the same colour. It does not show the name of the person typing it in the document. One clever student actually suggested including their name with what they were writing.

Another issue with Etherpad is that as the number of users increases, the number of people dropping off also increases. Hopefully this issue will be able to be resolved.

The timeline function in Etherpad allows you to see everything that has happened on the document over time. You can go back to a certain point and work on it from there or just see the changes that have been made.

The document can currently be exported as txt or html, however this is not always great. It loses the colours of who has had what input. One way around this is to go into the timeline function and print to PDF. Of course not everyone is able to do this.

Overall iEtherpad is a great tool for collobarative work – and very good for students. It is well worth a look and a play.

ePortfolio’s

On Sunday I had the opportunity to go to a session on ePortfolio’s run by Desire 2 Learn. It was a very useful, informative session and was not a “promoting our product” time at all. In face their product was not mentioned unless specific questions were asked. Well done D2L!

So here are a few notes from the session:

 

What is it?

Portfolio – collection of evidence gathered together –> shows a person’s learning journey over time (Butler, 2006).

ePortfolio – can have:

– supporting files
– evaluations, reflections and recommendations
– evidence of educational competencies
– writing samples (inlcuding drafts)
– projects
– evidence of creativity and performance
– evidence of extracurricular activities including leadership examples.

Why use an ePortfolio?

There are many advantages to an ePortfolio over a standard, paper-based portfolio:

– hyperlinked navigation / multimedia / ease of sharing
– easy access – anywhere, anytime
– one ePortfolio can have many uses (as you can create different views for different people to see)
– efficient organisation and management

Dedicated ePortfolio’s can give controlled access; they can be integrated with other systems (such as an LMS); can be used for assessment purposes; and can incorporate other web-based products.

 

ePortfolio’s & Learning

ePortfolio’s can expand learning opportunities. They are active, personal, reflective and social.

ePortfolio’s can be used by students for reflective learning. They can be used for recording information/reflections for example about work placements/practicums. They can capture the research, teaching and learning processes happening during research projects.

Recognition of prior learning can be shown in an ePortfolio. Assessment can be recorded (as well as comments, improvements etc).

They are a fantastic resource for showcasing student work.

 

ePortfolio’s for Teachers

ePortfolio’s can be used by teaching staff in much the same way as for students. They can be used to record/document/produce:

– Professional development
– Performance review
– Resumes and job applications
– Professional portfolio’s
– Peer review/assessment
– Showcase professional and personal achievement.

 

Summary

An ePortfolio is a powerful tool for both students and teachers. It allows learning to be documented in a structured way. It allows security of documents with the user choosing who can see what documents/blogs/etc.

Possibly the most useful part for teaching and learning is that, if used correctly it can capture collaboration that is going on between students, with the teacher, and with the community.

It is a journal of their learning.

Welcome to Twenty-Ten

Well here we are in 2010! Happy New Year everyone!

Already in the cloud there have been discussions on whether we are in ‘Two thousand and ten’ or ‘twenty-ten’. I’m personally going for the latter as it just feels tidier and easier to say. Just think about when we get to 2123 (not sure how many of us will make it that far!!!) do you want to say ‘two thousand one hundred and twenty-three’ or just ‘twenty-one twenty-three’? I know what I’d prefer.

Anyway, I’m in for a busy year this year. We are preparing for 2011 in writing new teaching and learning resources as a results of the new Achievement Standards for NCEA Level 1. Hopefully this will include a large online/eLearning component. I’m off to the Learning @ School conference in Rotorua hosted by the Ministry of Education and Core Education at the end of February which I am really looking forward to. Should be a fantastic time.

Also happening this year is I am part of a trial of a Virtual World for education of distance learners. I’m really interested to see how this goes and how it works. Looks like it’s ‘Second Life’ style, but at this stage I know very little about it.

Along with this I am starting post-graduate study in eLearning, continuing my Biology and Science teaching and helping to raise my fantastic kids (the fifth of which was born just before Christmas – so I’m a proud Dad once again!). Hopefully in amongst all this I can find and trial some good technology/tools to help in teaching and learning and share on this blog. Let’s see how I go.

Unfortunately I can’t give you an update on the Cheap Computer Project as I have moved house and currently have no room to set it up. I still believe this might be and option for some of our students so I look forward to exploring properly at a later stage. Google Wave has also been a slow project for me. I have as yet found little application for it, but do still believe it could be a great tool for educators.

Anyway – I trust you all have a fantastic year this year! Keep up the fantastic efforts in teaching the next generations!

One-stop shop for Web2.0 and other learning tools

I came across this site at a course I went to earlier this year by Dr Ross J Todd and it is great! 3000+ tools that people have found for learning.

Centre for learning and performance technologies

It separates them into various categories and lists them as free/not free. If you have a need in a particular area, then you’ll probably find a solution here.

Happy browsing through the many tools – they each have descriptions also!