Tag Archives: collaboration

Student Blogging Challenge

Do you have students in your class that need an anchor activity to work on when they complete their work? Do you need a way to interest reluctant learners in your class?  Maybe you want to learn with your students about how you can incorporate blogs in your classroom.  Perhaps the Student Blogging Challenge is what you need.

Edublogs is sponsoring its 8th annual Student Blogging Challenge.  Students, classes, and mentors from all over the world are invited to join the challenge — regardless of their blogging skills. That’s right, REGARDLESS of their blogging skills.  🙂 The challenges take place over 10 weeks with goals of improving blogging skills and allowing students or classes the opportunity to collaborate with students all over the world.

Information for first-time participants, including FAQs and information about the challenge can be found here.

Committed?  Ready to register?  Click here!


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How Skype can Enhance your Lesson Plans

Skype has to be one of the best free and simple web 2.0 tools available.  Skype makes it easy to collaborate, share files and messages, and work with others from anywhere in the world.  Many schools are using Skype to connect with content experts, leaders, and other classrooms and students.

Skype is software that enables the world’s conversations. Millions of individuals and businesses use Skype to make free video and voice calls, send instant messages, and share files with other people. You can use Skype on your computer, mobile phone, or a television with Skype.  Skype has a very easy tutorial for getting started for Windows  and Mac users.  Get started today!

Now, Skype has an resource just for schools called Skype in the Classroom.

Click the photo to access Skype for the Classroom

Skype in the Classroom is a free community that allows teachers to connect across the world to help their students learn. Log in with your Skype account to get connected.

Hear how teachers are connecting with each other, finding partner classes and sharing inspiration using Skype.

Click on the “Projects” tab to find a project that might coincide with your curriculum.

Listen to how teachers are using Skype with their students to collaborate with other schools around the world! Find out more about this global initiative and how you can get involved.


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The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators

Click on the photo above to check out the Super Book.

I am very excited that I will be presenting a session at the 2012 Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement March 19-21, 2012.  As I began to plan for my session – Just a Click Away:  Free Online Tools to Enhance Instruction, I have been digging into some amazing free resources out there on the web.  One of these resources is The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators.  This free downloadable publication is an incredible resource compiled by some of the most recognizable names in 21st century instruction.  Steven Anderson, Adam Bellow, Richard Byrne, Larry Ferlazzo, and Silvia Tolisano are just a few of the contributors.

Some of the best features of this online book include the overview from the administrator’s perspective; specific resources appropriate for elementary, middle, and high school; resources appropriate for ESL and EC students; and tools for educators.  The contributors have certainly made learning about new tools extremely simple for busy educators.

Check out The Super Book of Web Tools for Educators!

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A Newspaper of Tweets?

Click the icon to visit paper.li.

I follow Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher on Twitter, along with her other 29,000+ followers! Here was one of her tweets today:

The Cool Cat Teacher Daily Tweetpaper is out! http://vsb.li/wgtdwK.

So, I clicked on her link and found her daily newspaper compiled completely from her tweets!  I said to myself, “How did she do that?”  Then, I did what any 21st century educator would do, I went to my Google search bar and typed, “How do you create a Twitter newspaper?”  Within seconds (and I seriously mean seconds), I had discovered paper.li, created an account, and published my first Tweet Paper.  🙂

New to Twitter? Click the icon above to read my blog post to get you oriented with Tweeting!

Paper.li is a free service that takes links from the people you follow on Twitter and organizes those links into a virtual paper for easy reading.  Plus, it is incredibly simple to create an account.  Sign into paper.li with your Twitter account, and you are ready to publish.

After I had published my first paper, I realized that you might not be interested in some of the musicians, politicians, or athletes I follow, so my first paper really isn’t a great example of a good instructional paper.  But…that is how you learn.  I quickly discovered that I can publish a paper based only on my own tweets,  from those I follow, from specific tags, or even create my own custom paper. So, I went back to my settings and customized my sources.  The result:  my second paper is more specialized to education and instruction.

Another feature I really like about the paper is that the original tweeter’s name appears under each post, so the source is transparent.  I am going to continue to play with the settings, but I can already tell a difference between the content of my first and second editions.

Here’s it is.  What do you think?

Click the photo to visit my online tweet paper.

Then, I began to imagine the possibilities for classrooms and school districts!

What if, you tweeted a series of web pages, videos, articles, etc. on a certain topic, and then your students read your Tweet Paper for the day to get information.

Even better…what if students tweeted information they found on the web that coincided with concepts, topics, and units they were studying.  They could peer review Tweet Papers, choose favorite resources, and explore topics in a way we have not done so before.  A Tweet Paper might even be the foundational piece of assessing student understanding.  By asking, What did you learn from this video?, or Why did you tweet this article?, we can have our students articulate their reasoning through analysis and evaluation.  Excited yet?

If you are interested in subscribing to my Tweet Paper, click on the icon to visit my paper.

What about our instructional leaders, curriculum folks, and instructional technology specialists out there?

Paper.li is the perfect resource to provide teachers, principals, and other stakeholders with the latest and greatest information pertinent to their needs.  If your focus is the Common Core, go out there and tweet away.  If you are looking for literacy resources, find them and tweet them.  The great thing about your tweet paper is that you can create a new one each day, and each of your old papers is archived by date, so you can recall them at any time.  You can change hashtags, authors, or even who you follow to create a customized experience for your readers.

I can’t wait to get my morning paper!

How cool is that?  Are you ready to create your tweet paper?

Once you get started, if you are interested in more advance options, paper.li has a great FAQ and support page.

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C4LPT Announces the 2011 Top 100 Tools for Learning

The Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies recently finalized the 5th Annual Survey of Learning Tools. The rankings this year were compiled from feedback from 531 learning professionals worldwide – from education, training and workplace learning.

Each slide contains the following information:

  • Tool Name and Icon
  • Website
  • Short Explanation of Purpose or Use
  • Cost and Availability Information
  • 2011 Ranking as well as Rankings from Previous Years


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Purdue University’s “Hotseat” – Yet Another Indication that the Backchannel is Here to Stay

Purdue University has developed Hotseat, a social networking-powered mobile Web application that creates a collaborative classroom, allowing students to provide near real-time feedback during class and enables professors to adjust the course content and improve the learning experience. Students can post messages to Hotseat using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, sending text messages, or logging in to the Hotseat Web site.

Imagine the possibilities for your classroom or school district.

Learn more here:  http://www.itap.purdue.edu/studio/hotseat/

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Youth Voices: An Online Writing Community for Students

Youth Voices is a site for students to engage in authentic conversations about what matters to them.

What could be more exciting and motivating to a student to see his or her opinions posted online where other students can see them and respond?  Youth Voices is a site for conversations that invites “youth of all ages to voice their thoughts about their passions, to explain things they understand well, to wonder about things they have just begun to understand, and to share discussion posts with other young people using as many different genres and media as they can imagine!”

Youth Voices is a school-based social network, started by a group of National Writing Project teachers, who merged several earlier blogging projects. The goal is to connect students around the country through writing about their passions and reading and commenting on the work of others.  This project has provided a vehicle for the marriage of curriculum and digital literacies.

One of the best things about Youth Voices is that membership is free, and the authors invite you to join them. They welcome any teacher interested in having students publish online and participate in the give and take of a safe social network.

Click to Access the NYC Writing Project Home Page

Here is what the authors of this site have to say about Youth Voices:  “We are much more than a website or a social network. We are also a welcoming community of teachers who have been planning curriculum together for years. Many of us are active members in our local National Writing Project sites, and Youth Voices is managed by teachers in the New York City Writing Project. In addition, many of us count ourselves as members of the World Bridges community, and we meet regularly using Google+ Hangouts and Livestream on a weekly webcast/podcast, Teachers Teaching Teachers, which has been broadcast live every Wednesday evening over the EdTechTalk channel of the WorldBridges network since 2006.”

An excerpt from one student's article: My Army Past, Present, and Future

Involving students in “authentic conversations” is one of the passions that sparked the idea behind Youth Voices.  Teachers working with the project have learned that nurturing and guiding students to write and create well-crafted products is important, but it is just important to allow time for students to read other students’ posts and to write comments to them.  Developing global conversations around posts provides students an opportunity to see what is happening around the world and in the homes and lives of others.

The site offers several “channels” where students can post their reflections.  Current topics include:

Students can choose from various channels to post their work:

  • Art, Music, and Photography
  • Gaming and New Media
  • Literature and Inquiry
  • Local Knowledge/ Global Attitude

Click the photo to visit the National Writing Project website.

And…if you are looking for something specific, authors use tags to make their work easily searchable.  Youth Voices is a safe, academic social network for students to share their thoughts with the world.  Maybe it is the right platform for your students…

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Faces of Learning Puts Metacognition in the Limelight

Faces of Learning can help us understand how we learn.


Everyone has a powerful learning story… what’s yours?

The answer to this question could totally transform our classrooms and schools, and answering it is the mission of Faces of Learning.

What does this mean to you as an educator?

That’s where RBT comes in…



Faces of Learning Supports Understanding of Metacognitive Knowledge

Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a quality framework for teachers to use to ensure their content, the context in which they instruct, and assessments are aligned.  Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy is a two-dimensional model that takes into account the cognitive processes we expect students apply as well as the knowledge dimension that addresses that types of knowledge we expect students to learn – factual knowledge, conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and metacognitive knowledge.

Metacognitive knowledge includes strategic knowledge, knowledge about tasks, and self-knowledge — including what conditions are most conducive to the student’s learning needs.  And now we get back to Faces of Learning.

Faces of Learning  provides the following definition of its purpose:  “Faces of Learning is a national grassroots engagement initiative that aims to help everyone — young and old, educator and non-educator, Democrat and Republican — see more clearly what powerful learning actually looks like (and requires)…  We envision a world where all people understand their strengths and weaknesses as learners, and where everyone expects and demands high quality learning environments throughout their lives.”

FoL’s mission is to help build the capacity to support high-quality learning environments by creating virtual and physical spaces for people to reflect on four essential questions:

1. How do people learn?
2. How do I learn?
3. What does the ideal learning environment look like?
4. How can we create more of them?

Completing the Learner Sketch will take 5-10 minutes and will provide you with infomration about how you learn.


This site provides some great ideas teachers can use to help students understand themselves and their learning needs.  Plus, teachers can gauge their own learning needs as well as what they can do to support student learning.  Complete the interactive Learner Sketch to gain a clearer picture of how you learn.  Read and watch others’ stories, or share your own.  FoL provides a great place for you to learn more about yourself and your students as learners.  Check it out!

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Tweet All About It!

Warning:  STOP!  If you are completely in the dark about Twitter, don’t read this post yet.  Go directly to this website and spend a little time first.  Then, return here later.  I promise that you will be happy you did. Link to Tweeternet

Twitter, Facebook, My Space, RSS feeds…how do we keep up with it all?  Well, we have to learn to filter.  Isn’t that what we want students to do anyway?  We want them to take the information given or that they find on a given topic/subject and filter through to find what is useful and meaningful to them.  I like how Twitter can help us with filtering.  If you already tweet, you know that one can only say so much with just 144 characters!  That’s genius!  Talk about teaching students to paraphrase and summarize succinctly!  Plus, when you use Twitter, you choose who you follow.  That’s right, you don’t have to read every tweet out there, just the ones from the users you choose to follow.

Here's just a glimpse of my Twitter feed from today, December 5, 2011.

For example, I follow a lot of educational tweeters such as Education Week, Larry Ferlazzo, Dan Meyer, coolcatteacher, ASCD, usedgov, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Daniel Pink, Robert Marzano, and Frank Baker — just to name a few.  What’s great about checking my tweets is that these folks generally post great web resources or news and information that is helpful to me as a consultant.   Often I learn about resources, ideas, news, and information that I then research and pass on in some form to you folks out there.

So, how do you get started?

I love the “In Plain English” video series on the Common Craft Show.  They are fantastic for explaining new concepts in very simple terms.  Check out this video:  Twitter in Plain English.

What more do you need to know?   In his article, “All A-Twitter about Education,”  Mike Petrilli shares a little about the what and how of Twitter, but he saves the best for last.  At the end of his article, he shares both the top 25 Education Policy/Media Tweeters and the top 25 Educator Tweeters along with their handles so you can follow them right now.    What a great resource for a novice tweeter!  Access the Twitter Help Center here.  The Huffington Post has posted 23 Tips for Twitter.

Want to know more about Twitter and the classroom?  All you have to do is Google, and you will find thousands are articles, testimonials, and ideas out there at your fingertips. Find out how to Twitter-Powered Learning Network. However, if you want to provide a practice and more controlled “Tweeting” experience for your students, think about TodaysMeet.  Today’s Meet, like Twitter, provides participants 144 characters to share their observations, thoughts, links, etc.  Plus, with TodaysMeet, you can keep your conversation inside the classroom.  It is free, easy, and fun for students.

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Around the World with 80 Schools

Skype can be a powerful classroom tool for collaboration and research.

Are you using Skype in your classroom yet?

Or, are you thinking about using Skype but don’t know exactly where to start?

No matter your level of competence with Skype, Around the World with 80 Schools is an easy-to-navigate site with a great concept for using this Web 2.0 tool with your students.  The idea is simple:  Connect your students to 80 other classrooms around the world.  There is no time limit.  It may take you a few weeks or a few years, but the idea is to get globally connected!


Around the World with 80 Schools provides everything you need to know to start using Skype in your classroom today!

Silvia Tolisano, the site creator, doesn’t stop there.  She provides step by step information for setting up Skype, pre-conference call question writing guides, and many other resources to help you get started.  Her videos also provide insight into how students can use 21st century media and digital literacy skills to engage with content, each other, and the world outside the walls of their classroom.

I can’t imagine a better resource for ideas about how to use Skype effectively with students.  Whether you are a novice or an expert at using Skype, Tolisano’s resources can support your classroom instruction. From instructional videos to examples of Skype lessons, this site provides a great place to start or continue to use Skype.  Check out her grade-level, content-area, and concept groups on the Groups page.

Around the World with 80 Schools also provides a space where you can create your own class blog and collaborate with other users with similar classrooms and interests.  Everything you need is in one place, so, what are you waiting for?

Look for me on Skype:  waterlovers3  🙂  I look forward to talking with you!

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