Sunday, May 20, 2012


I liked trying out VoiceThread.  It was amazingly easy to use and seems like it has good possibilities for classroom use, particulary if you taught an art class or were trying to bring art in to any class.  I could imagine using it in Children's Lit too: if we were studying the art of illustration in a unit we could use it as a way for students to comment on the work of a famous illustrator.  I like how it offers you several options for responding and provides another way for all students to have a chance to share their thoughts without the pressure of needing to speak in front of the class on the spot. I wonder if you could do the same thing with text - for example, could you post a poem as the image and use VoiceThread to create a conversation about the poem?

Beyond the school use, I could imagine using VoiceThread in the blog my husband maintains for his family in the Netherlands. It could be fun to post a picture sometimes and add our comments (and our children's comments) around it. I will have to explore the possibilties further!

Friday, May 18, 2012


This feels somewhat like cheating, as I experimented with Prezi last summer, but I'm going to post about it anyway!

I decided to try using Prezi last summer when I was creating a presentation for our KU training.  We were to make a PowerPoint and use it to train those in our group in a specific Content Enhancement Routine.  I was halfway through the PowerPoint and became sidetracked one night watching a Ted Talk, and ended up on the Prezi website. I decided I would try it out, and was quickly won over.  I found it to be very easy and intuitive to create a basic Prezi, and I now prefer it to PowerPoint.  To me it is more dynamic and easier to manipulate.  I like being able to see the whole presentation as if it is laid out on the table and feel it appeals to my natural inclination to pile things rather than file things.

I have since talked with students about it as an alternative to PPT, and one student has experimented as well.  I think it is a great tool and a good option for students who are looking for something more dynamic to create presentations with. 

Friday, March 23, 2012


I have been experimenting with Evernote all year but do not yet use it in any routine fashion.  I still tend to take notes on paper for the most part, though I recognize this is not the most efficient way of doing things, particularly as I am not the most organized person out there and am not always able to locate my notes later on.  That in and of itself is a good reason for me to discipline myself to using something like Evernote with more regularity.  Part of my hesitation is that I like the physical act of writing - putting pen to paper. I also find that when typing I'm not always a good note taker as I can't resist the urge to revise as I write and can fall behind, even more so because I am not terribly adept at typing on my iPad and tend to make lots of typos.  I do like how the notepads on Evernote appear visually on the iPad, which appeals to my tendency to be a piler rather than a filer.  I was incredibly impressed with the video about students using Evernote and can see from their testimonies how useful it can be to them.  So, I will try this spring to be more consistent in my own usage of the technology and see what happens!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Social Bookmarking

I have been slow to warm to the idea of Social Bookmarking. When I looked at Sara's list I was quickly overwhelmed and felt that using Diigo would make me feel even more so. Why would I need a place to keep track of websites I like to visit? The tabs that pop up when I open up Explorer at home seemed just fine to me, and I already had Google Reader to keep me informed about some websites I liked that had regularly updated content.

Then, I was continuing to research ideas on teaching Macbeth for the upcoming mod. I found I was refusing to shut down Explorer when closing up my computer for the day/night, because I didn't want to lose the website I'd found that had such amazing ideas and information about the play. And then I found another website that would allow me, and my students, to access an online version of the play broken down by scene, an excellent complement to the graphic novel which would be our main text. Should I email myself the link to the site and make sure not to delete the email?

No! I should figure out how to use Diigo (something which had been eluding me up to this point) and make it easy to access those websites, and others, quickly whenever and wherever I needed them! I did, and have now added those websites and a few others, and have sent in requests to join the Forman group Sara created, as well as the Diigo group for the English Companion Ning (as a side note, I have been a member of Ning for awhile and never saw the need to join their Diigo group as well, until now) and am eagerly awaiting replies. 

I admit to remaining slightly overwhelmed/awestruck when I think of the 1800 websites/800 tags Sara has saved on her Diigo, but I am okay with that because I can clearly see why Diigo can help me organize and access sites that will help me in my teaching, and that is exciting!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I could see using a wiki as a great way to have students research and share background info about a book we are reading. During the most recent A mod we read Rita Hayworth & the Shawshank Redemption in Crime Fiction. On the first day of class, students posted questions regarding the aspects of prison life or the prison system they were curious about on the Whipple Hill message board. I asked them to choose one of their questions, search for an answer and share their findings the next day. They were all genuinely curious and came up with some interesting information which they did share in class, and which added to everyone's understanding as we read the book. It went well, and I found myself referring as often as I could to the info people had found throughout the unit, but I think a wiki would have fit nicely here. I could have had them post their questions on the wiki instead of Message board and summarize their findings on the wiki as well. This would have given them the opportunity to add links as needed, comment on each other's findings, and even add to each other's answers. Using a wiki would have enabled us to turn this into a unit-long inquiry that everybody had the chance to contribute to. It would have enabled us to capitalize on the genuine interest the students had about the subject and been more actively involved in the unit. We could have added a page for students to post their favorite lines from the text as well...

I am teaching the book again, but with the relatively few classes left in the mod I can't see trying this out now. I could see trying it in the next A mod when Children's Lit engages in a unit on Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak though.

Monday, January 16, 2012

RSS Feeds

I subscribed to Google Reader last year but quickly forgot I had done so and never checked it! I logged back in and added several feeds to my list (with more to come) and admit to feeling somewhat overwhelmed.  I feel my news intake is already fairly shallow - I do lots of headline skimming and not as much actual article reading as I would like - and I have trouble focusing with so many options available. I am resolved to check it every day for the next week and see if it makes life easier.

Monday, January 9, 2012

12 Year Old App Designer


A remarkably articulate 12 year old boy discusses how he develops apps. 
Technology offers students new ways to create and become teachers themselves.