Monday, November 21, 2011

Five education practices that should be replicated nationally

eSchool News recently polled their readers on what education practice they believed should be replicated nationwide. The top five practices were (Late Night style):

5. Monitoring networks to gauge application usage
Not exactly in the style of Big Brother, but more so to see what applications teachers and students are using most to make future purchasing decisions.

4. An extra day for teachers to plan and collaborate
Students would be on a four day schedule and teachers on a five day, with the fifth day dedicated to planning and collaborating with colleagues. I think there is a district in NJ that has something similar in place. It might be a half day once or twice a month for professional development. I'm wondering out loud if a four day week would be viable. Assuming an 180 day school year, a four day week for students would extend the school year through the summer (10 additional weeks to make up for the one day a week for collaboration). There were be less learning loss due to summer vacation, and the time to get back into learning mode/classroom systems would be decreased as well. Maybe a half day every week would accomplish the same.

3. SEED Math Program (Special Elementary Education for the Disadvantaged)

2. Reading as a high school graduation requirement
I would add effective communication skills to the graduation requirement

and the number one education practice that should be replicated nationwide...

1. Tablet computers and electronic interactive textbooks for students
Technology would certainly help districts go green, and would absolutely engage the students, but would it save money in the long run as proposed in the article? Obsolescence is always an issue when dealing with technology, whether it is purchased or leased. Cost of maintenance another. Would students bring their own technology? Would bringing their own create a digital divide? Can the district's infrastructure handle the number of users that result? Hmmm...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MindMeister & Fifth Grade Communication Skills

MindMeister is a free web 2.0 tool that allows users to create beautiful concept maps with text, icons, links, and images. It has historical playback, which records all the changes made to the map (infinite undos!) and collaboration capabilities. You can also access Mindmeister from anywhere- who doesn't love that?! A free account entitles you to create three mind maps. Sorry Web2.0BP classmates, I do not like Mind42. I created my concept map of fifth grade communication skills using MindMeister, which by the way, I love! I mapped our fifth grade writing projects, the type of writing, and the Web 2.0 tool used to complete the project.

Saturday, November 12, 2011 is a free web 2.0 tool that allows users to create a zooming, panning, interactive timeline of any event. With a free account, you can create up to 5 timelines, but the best bargain is a lifetime membership for just $75! Unlimited timelines, create groups, collaborate- might be very worth the investment. It would certainly beat setting up and maintaining 30 student accounts.
It was pretty easy to create a timeline. I made one on the cheer competitions that we have between my daughters' teams. I could see using this tool with elementary students for their biography, the colonization of America, Civil War, family tree, mapping a story's plot, and maybe even planning a project.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Dvolver- Don't like it

Okay, that's a bit harsh, but Dvolver is unfortunately not a tool that I'll be using with elementary students any time soon. Dvolver is a free movie maker where users get to choose their setting, characters, background music and dialog. Sounds great, but the setting descriptions are a little PG-13, the characters are racy (I would even think twice about using it with high schoolers), and dialog is limited to 3 lines of text per character, 100 characters per line. I think it would be useful for quick videos to demonstrate a point, because you'll definitely keep the kids' attention, but having elementary school students use it would raise many questions.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Wallwisher is a free Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create a wall and then post "stickies" to it. The stickies can consist of text, images, links, and even video. At first glance, its simplicity does not reveal its potential (I guess I couldn't relate to the wall subject). A Google search of Wallwisher brings you to Sean Banville's 105 classroom ideas for Wallwisher (did he come up with these all by himself?). Just a quick glance at his explanatory wall opens up all kinds of possibility in the elementary classroom!

Here are some of my ideas for elementary students: (I did not read Sean's 105 ideas, just a peek at his wall)

* Star Student creates a wall for their Star of the Week poster and during the week, classmates post stickies and comments to it
* Students do preliminary research for a project and post links and commentary to websites they find valuable
* Brainstorming
* Class Word Wall
* Compliment Wall