Friday, October 28, 2011


My goal is to achieve a single subject credential in English.  For this week’s blog, I chose an article that related to that goal.  I selected the article, Wallwisher: A Geeky Teacher’s Dream Tool by Keith Ferrell.  In the article, Ferrell discusses how he used Wallwisher in his fourth and fifth grade classrooms.  In his fourth grade class, his students were learning about deserts.  Rather than have them write a text document listing off facts about different deserts and climate conditions, he set up a Wallwisher where the students could each post a fact and collaborate as class.  Ferrell repeated this set up with his fifth grade class except with writing tips and vocabulary.

This article originally piqued my curiosity because I had found the same site while constructing my graphic organizer.  The implications for this web tool are almost limitless.  Wallwisher can be used to create collaborations between students and other classes as well.  It can be used for writing tips, vocabulary lessons, group projects, and discussions boards.  I think that this web tool is an essential tool that can be used in almost any classroom and can be easily tailored to fit any subject. 

Ferrell, K. (2011, May). Wallwisher: A Geeky Teacher's Dream Tool. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from ISTE - International Society for Technology in Education:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Web 2.0 Tools

The project book by Terry Freedman, The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book, contains great resources and web tools to use in classrooms.  Two of my favorite tools are the “Talking Book Report” and “British Literature Wiki”.

“Talking Book Report” uses an online program called Blabberize.   This is great for illustrating passages from books or providing short synopsis in a fun and entertaining way.  First, the student uploads a picture that includes the head and shoulders.  They then follow the directions to create their 3D representation.  The student then uploads up to a 90-second audio recording of the synopsis of the book.  The student should also describe why they think others should read the book as well.

The web tool, British Literature Wiki, uses Wiki to contribute to a research project throughout the year.  Students contributed discussions, multimedia, and their own research.  The wiki was also used to keep students updated on due dates and announcements.  It is up to the students to collaborative build the wiki, adding their own researched material that, in this case, has helped other students across the world with their own education.

These sites apply to the NETS-S in a variety of ways.   “Talking Book Report” using Blabberize mainly uses NETS-S standards 1 and 6.  The web tool utilizes creativity and innovation that uses a created model to share book reports and explore different ways to share the information with peers.  The tool also exhibits standard 6 through the bit of technical knowledge that is required to upload a picture and audio to the website.   The site is user friendly and doesn’t require an advance degree in IT in order to work, however, minimal knowledge of terms is required.

The second tool is already set up, but to create a wiki page requires a bit more finesse and use of almost all the NETS-S standards.   The creation of a page requires innovation and creativity (NETS-S 1) to design the site to make it appealing to the eye as well as promoting students to add their own creative content to the site.  British Literature Wiki also exemplifies communication and collaboration (NETS-S 2) because the students are adding the researched content to the site as well as participating in facilitated group discussions that have been set up.  This leads into NETS-S 3 because each student is required to do their own accurate research and contribute to the site.  Lastly, British Literature Wiki also falls under the NETS-S 5 through it being required that a high amount of digital citizenship is essential.  Honesty regarding resources and citations is important making the website a reliable information source.

Overall, the project book by Terry Freedman has a variety of useful and fun web tools that apply to any age and grade.

Freedman, T. (2010). The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from Educational Technology - ICT in Education:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Assistive Technology and Writing

Chapter 6 of “Assessing Students’ Needs for Assistive Technology” discusses the different techniques a team can use to evaluate a student’s needs in writing and improving their composition.  This chapter suggests that a team of educators involved with the students learning should be formed to come up with the best way to help a student.   A variety of options are suggested to help a struggling student, such as using voice recognition software to assist with the students spelling problems, a pocket dictionary and/or thesaurus  to help with word selection, graphic organizers (like those created with Inspiration) to assist with organizing ideas, and using word processing programs to help students with grammar and spelling.

Designing a program that fits the needs and goals of each individual student should be the ultimate goal of any assistive technology program.  One such way to assist a student is providing them with a portable electronic dictionary.  An electronic dictionary would allow the student to look up words they are unsure of or that they are confused about especially if they are homonyms.  Another way to assist students is through using programs that use pictures in place of words to form sentences.  Programs like Pix Writer, Picture It, and Writing with Symbols use pictures with labels attached.  These programs provide a valuable visual asset to students.  It allows them to associate a picture with the word, helping with learning and recognizing the word in the future.

There are many other programs and techniques that educators can use to help students than the ones listed above.  Which program or technique is used depends on the student’s needs and also the skills of the teaching professional.  These programs are for the benefit of the student and should be used to enhance the student’s learning experience, building their confidence and ability to grasp concepts and succeed at composition to the best of their ability.

Gierach, Jill. (June 2009). Chapter 6: Assistive Technology for the Composition of Written Material.  Assessing Students’ Needs for Assistive Technology (ASNAT).  Retrieved from  October 12th, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Storytelling in the Classroom

In the article, “Digital Storytelling in the Language Arts Classroom”, Glen Bull and Sara Kajder discuss the rise of digital storytelling and the seven main elements (point of view, dramatic question, emotional content, economy, pacing, the gift of your voice, and accompanying soundtrack) necessary to create an effective digital story. 

One element that struck me is what they called, “the gift of your voice”.  As part of the student’s digital story, they are required to narrate their own story.  This allows for the quieter students who may not participate in class discussions or activities to express themselves and be heard without the anxiety of their classmates staring at them while they speak.  For the meeker students, allowing them to somewhat hide behind a video that they narrated could help bring them out of their shell, especially if the digital story is well done. 

There are many uses for digital storytelling in English classes.  It would be a unique and creative way for students to learn grammar, structure, and to learn to express themselves in ways they may not have considered.  Whether the story is about their own personal life or a presentation about a book or poem that is being read in class, digital storytelling offers an innovate, pointed way to tell a story or idea.

Bull, G.  Kajder, S.  (2004, v. 32, n. 4).  Digital Storytelling in the Language Arts Classroom.  Learning and Leading with Technology, pg. 46-49.  Retrieved October 6, 2011 from

Monday, October 3, 2011

Web 2.0: Today’s Technology, Tomorrow’s Learning

Social networking, simulations, and digital games can be beneficial and distracting in a classroom depending on how they are used.  Educational games that teach problem solving, negotiating skills, and cause and effect are great tools for teachers to use in classrooms.  Games like Diplomacy (though it is a board game, it still is a great asset) and Ayiti offer both fun as well as a great learning experience.   The games also help students to visualize and experiences concepts rather than read it from a book or watch a video. 

Social networks can be used in classrooms as well for the benefit of students.  Teachers can create sites, pages, or groups design for a specific class with assignments, discussion groups, or extra resource materials.

I remember in my high school sophomore history class, we did a computer simulation in class that involved extraterrestrials coming to earth and initiating contact with humans (his last name was Roswell and I think he chose this simulation because of the “incident” at Roswell, NM).  As a class, we decided how we would respond, interact, or attempt to annihilate the visitors.  My class chose the harder road and attacked.  It did not end well for us.  It was fun and we learned more about diplomacy, negotiating, and problem solving by seeing the fruits of our decisions play out.

I hope I can incorporate a few education driven games into my lessons plans in the future. I know I’ll definitely be using some form of social networking through group creation and discussion boards to keep students updated and keep the communication and discussion going between teacher and students.      

Groff, J. and Haas, J. (Sept/Oct 2008, v. 36, i. 2).Web 2.0: Today’s Technology, Tomorrow’s Learning.  InternationalSociety for Technology in Education. October 1, 2011.