Tweet to Learn History

TwHistory is a great way to engage students in history using today’s social media.  This site allows teachers to conduct reenactments using social media like twitter. The great thing though about this website is that it allows you to use this type of media with out going onto Twitter. Everything is hosted on TwHistory so it is safe and accessible through school district servers that often block Twitter. This is a great tool that could be quite effective in teaching history to students. For more information on this website see the following article in Mind/Shift or check out Larry Ferlazzo‘s website and his “The Best Tools For Creating Fake “Stuff” For Learning” list

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Fantasy Football Lessons for Education

2007 homecoming game at Northeastern State Uni...
Image via Wikipedia

So this past Sunday I sat down with a few friends to watch a football game.  As we screamed at each other and the TV I was struck by two interesting educational practices.  The first was was how the teams we were interested in watching were teams that until this year we would never have sat down to watch.  Being a teacher natural this intrigued me, why are we all so excited to see this game.  The answer was simple we were invested in this game.  We all had a stake in it because of Fantasy Football.  I immediately got to thinking about my class and how I could create this same type of atmosphere.  If I could get kids invested in a topic even a small portion of that topic I can keep them engaged and actively participating.  While it seems so simple it often is quite difficult for teachers and students to find that topic or subject that will captivate individual students.

As I continued to sit on the couch and tease and cajole  the others in the group another revelation hit me that made perfect sense.  Allow them to play.  So often we stifle kids creativity and do not allow them to play games and with each other in class.  If teachers are able to create an atmosphere of play and interaction among the students students would be engaged and actively participating in their education.  We live now in an ever increasing social world with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other social websites.  Students need to feel connected. They are connected 24/7 to friends and family but at school often feel isolated and alone because they loose that connection.  If teachers can simply providing that connection in class they can help to create a learning environment better suited to the students of today.

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8 Great ways to Present Information to Your Students

Found a great link today on my PLN via twitter.  This site shows you 8 different presentation technologies.  I have used most of these and found the explanations and examples very good on this website.  This would be a great resource to show those teachers that are a little apprehensive to add technology to their classroom.

Take a look at this website. http://livebinders.com/play/play?id=8503#

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Want Gauge Your Students Quickly? Try Urtak

Often times we as teachers are want to receive input from students to assess their learning.  There are many different ways to accomplish this task, tests, quizzes, projects and presentations to name just a few.  However, sometimes I just want to know the opinion of my students on a particular topic or just to a quick comprehension check and do not want to have to create a test or quiz to gauge the classes progress.  There are many quiz makers and assessment tools that can be found on the web but one that I found to be simple to use in many different applications was “Urtak“.  This site allows you to create quickly and easily simple yes or no questions.  It then provides you some simple code that you can cut and paste on any website.  I have found that these can be very helpful in assessing student progress and engagement.  It can also provide teachers with some simple data to make future decisions for their classes.  Since the quizzes are only yes or no questions students are not as intimidated to answer them.  These types of questions allows for a good assessment of how the students felt about a topic or lesson at that particular moment.  You can find this resource at  http://urtak.com

Click the link below to see an example poll.

Would you use this?

Here are a couple of other links to great polling and survey websites and services.

  1. PollDaddy http://polldaddy.com/
  2. Survey Monkey http://www.surveymonkey.com/
  3. Zoomerang http://www.zoomerang.com/
  4. Survey Gizmo http://www.surveygizmo.com/
  5. Survey Pro http://www.esurveyspro.com/
  6. Mr. Poll http://www.misterpoll.com/
  7. Poll Code  http://pollcode.com/
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Piloting 30 cell phones in the classroom: Test One “Twitter”

This past week I introduced my students to the 30 HTC Touch Pro2 I am going to test for the remainder of the year.  Each student was assigned their own phone.  After allowing the students a day to familiarize themselves with the phones I decided to try them out.

My first use with the phones, as a resource, in the classroom was to test out Twitter with my Jr. High Students.  As I presented information to them on Washington State history specifically the fur trade and missionaries.  They were allowed to participate in a back channel on twitter. If you are not familiar with back channeling is when people in the audience converse online about the topic being presented to them live.  To do this they use a designated hash tag in Twitter to see and respond to people in the class.  I was surprised by the by the results of my little experiment. Students were very engaged with the topic and obviously the technology.  I was also very surprised to see that they stayed on topic.   Not only were they on topic but they answered each others questions and posed other questions to each other.

On the second day, I decided to post questions to them on the topic and have them respond to those as well.  This really seemed to keep them engaged on the topic being presented.  I even had a student at home who logged on to Twitter and was participating in class from home. I did find that conducting a class and monitoring and posting to Twitter was quite difficult.  Although by the second day, I did see how it could be done.

While I was encouraged and saw the potential of this type of technology use in the classroom I am not sure if this would be a great fit for Jr. High students.  Some of the students a hard time using the phones and got frustrated with the technology.  As a result this pulled them off task as they tried to fix their phone or interrupting class to vent about their phone.  I felt that there is some true potential to using this type of social networking in class.  Will be revamping my use from what I have learned over the past week and giving it another try. Will post the results when I do.

One of the issues that I had was the Twitter client that I used.  I was using a Twitter client called MoTweets.  Does anyone know another mobile application for a windows mobile phone that that works better?  I felt that this client was not very reliable and often very slow to post to Twitter.  If you know of one please leave me a comment.

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90-9-1

According to Jakob Nielson Participation Inequity: Encouraging More Users to Contribute there is a 90-9-1 rule for online participation: 90% are lurkers, 9% are intermittent contributors, and 1% are heavy contributors. On the flip side 90% of posts came from 1% of users, 10% of posts came from 9%, and 90% never post. He then goes on to show in charity on Facebook less than 1% give donations. He gives some suggestions for overcoming this disparity but I think his first statement is most true: you can’t.

I think this is true is any organization and on-line is no different. There will always be lots of people who just “show up” compared to the few who do the lion’s share of the work. So relating this back to education, I do not know any research into this but I would be willing to guess that around 1% of educators are involved in on-line communities such blogs, Twitter, Plurk, Nings, etc. There is often talk on-line about how to get more teachers involved in the learning and sharing that takes place in these kind of spaces.

Based on this article I wonder if we are fighting a losing battle to get a large number of educators to be involved in on-line learning. It would be great if we could get 90% of teachers to even lurk in on-line communities, but even that seems unlikely.

I am not saying that we should stop trying to encourage people to get involved in these kinds of spaces, but I do wonder if we at some point accept it as fact that many teachers will never choose to participate in on-line learning activities and instead focus on having a “go to” person per building who is active on-line and can be a resource to other teachers. I know this could be looked at as enabling the lazy, but I think it is utopian to think that someday all teachers will be involved in on-line communities and sharing.

So what do you think? Do you have a plan to get all teachers active in on-line learning or should we consider alternate methods to share our learning such as “building experts”?

This post is part of EdTech Blog Swap and was written by guest blogger Michael Kaechele (concretekax on Twitter) who blogs at the Concrete Classroom.

Keep track of Friends Over Multiple Services with Ease

With the growth of social media most users have multiple accounts and services they monitor with friends in each of these services.  Often it is hard to keep track of what friends are saying across multiple services and sharing with friends across these services can be just as difficult.  Well nsyght might be a way for you to aggregate these services and easily share and post to multiple services at one time.   This site will allow to search what your friends are saying, allow you to discuss topics with them on their network and post to other services all in one location.

This is a great resource for educators creating Professional Learning Networks (PLN).  You can monitor multiple networks and follow or discuss different topics and themes over a variety of social media websites.

Take a look at this resource at the following address: http://nsyght.com/

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