Friday, November 29, 2013

Prezi and Digital Citizenship

Prezi is an online alternative to PowerPoint. It allows users to create presentations using a virtual canvas. Presentations can be created using an existing template or the user can create a new and unique one. One benefit of Prezi is that when creating a group presentation, group members using multiple computers may create a Prezi together and edit the information and format at the same time.

The Prezi below discusses one element of Digital Citizenship- your digital footprint. A digital footprint is the “trail” you leave when you interact with anything online such as Facebook, online shopping, blogs, etc. Teacher must educate students on how to be a good digital citizen. Please use the Prezi below to learn more about your digital footprint and why this concept is important to educators.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Professional Development Websites

Teachers have the task of knowing what educational technologies exist and how they can be used in the classroom. As technology changes rapidly, teachers must seek out new information to stay current. One way teachers can find new resources and ideas is the use of educational blogs. There are many educational blogs, some better than others. I selected my “Top Ten” list of educational blogs, focusing on technology in the classroom. Some of the blogs are useful for K-12 teachers and a few are specific to K-6 grades. Blogs and websites provide an up to date means to enhance classroom teaching. Please visit the website to browse my “Top Ten” list.

Click HERE to visit the "Top Ten" list of educational blogs and websites.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Digital Poster

A digital poster allows the user to combine multimedia elements, such as video, audio, images and graphics, into a digital poster available to view on the web. Glogster is a website in which students and teachers can create these digital posters. Glogster allows users to customize an existing template or to start from a blank template. Digital posters can be used as a tool in the classroom as a type of authentic assessment of learning. Instead of writing a paper or taking a test, students can combine all of their learned knowledge from a unit, or even from a semester, into a digital poster. It could also be something that is a work in progress so students can add to it as they cover that material.

I created a digital poster about Arbor Day. I will use this on the last Friday of April in my classroom during my Social Studies or Science time. I will bring it up and allow students to direct their learning by choosing which links to look at and at which time. This digital poster is a fun and interactive way to discuss a holiday that may not fit into the scheduled content. Please view the digital poster below, or click on the link to open in a new window.

Click HERE to open in a new window.

Internet Search Tools

The Internet provides a vast amount of information on any given topic. However, for kids, it is important to search the Internet with appropriate and useful search engines. There are a variety of search tools out there, each with its own pros and cons. I’ve listed below my “Five Favorite Search Engines for Kids” and given a short description about each.

This search engine teaches students the process of Internet searching. It guides students in language usage to find a certain topic. Students are given options such as “Exact Word or Phrase,” “Site,” and “Synonym” and then they provide the specific information for their search. This website would be especially useful in upper elementary middle school as students begin to understand how to refine a search.

This search engine includes a search box and also a list of content areas and subtopics. When searching, the searched word(s) appears red in the results. This helps students, especially ELL students, identify the term they are hoping to learn more about. The search engine also includes a Clip art search area that students could use if looking for pictures for a project.

Google Scholar refines the search results to scholarly literature only. It is a great tool to use with high school students when discussing appropriate sources for research. It also provides APA, MLA, and Chicago citation. However, many of the articles are not available directly to read and must be purchased or accessed through a different database. Google Scholar does not include any ads, so the content is limited to just the scholarly works. This search engine would not be appropriate for elementary or most middle school students as the results are too challenging.

KidRex is a Google-owned search engine for kids that is powered by Google SafeSearch and Google Custom Search technology. The interface is colorful and features a dinosaur and font similar to the writing of a crayon. The site does a good job of filtering inappropriate content, but it still may be more appropriate for upper elementary students. It also is a good instruction to Google, as it operates the same way.

This search engine includes a fun “cloud” feature. Students type in the word or phrase, which they want to search. The engine brings up kid-friendly websites but also brings up other searchable words in the “cloud.” On the interface, the “cloud” is actually a fun, bright, illustrated cloud. This helps guide students to other searchable words related to their topic.