Archive for category project based learning

Wordle, Stripgenerator, and NECC Week

Your first thought might be, how are these all connected?  They’re not.  I was just playing with them last night so decided to put them all together.  I know, not my greatest show of deduction.

Wordle is one of those sites where you can enter in text and it gets turned into a word cloud.  You can copy your url, a blog post feed, your delicious account or just simply paste some text. I came across it here, and after reading Karen’s post wanted to try out my own blog to see if my ideas were being backed up by my words.   Glad to see they are.

Wordle - Create
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I’m always looking for little quirky Web 2.0 programs that I can introduce to my students so really enjoyed coming across Stripgenerator in one of Larry Ferlazzo’s many posts about about web tools.  I see it as a tool kids can use for making introductions to unit projects or spicing up presentations.

Classroom Funnies

At NECC Week, I had been playing with a Flip Cam that my work bought for students taking my Web 2.0 class next semester.  I needed to learn how to use it in case kids had questions :), so brought it along and recorded a few short clips.  I was more interested in playing with the camera rather than making a video, but decided to put together a pretty disjointed compilation of what I was able to record.  It has a few highlights though, some scenes from EBC including, Ewan Macintosh’s request for Pearson Learning to turn off their cameras (he was intimidating so I did too after that).  It also has a bit from David Warlick’s session, from Steve Hargadon’s Social Networking in Education session,  and a few other snippets if you’re interested.

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In Their Words Video

I created this video from over 2 hours of student interviews and dozens of still images.

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Google Earth within Google Maps

One of the big projects in my Introduction to Travel class is to create a Google Map about Vancouver. I’ve received a handful of pretty decent maps but when I was grading the last one today I saw the little ‘View in Google Earth’ link for the very first time. Decided what the heck, and followed the steps to load the Google Map into G.Earth. Once it loaded, hit play on the left hand side and let Earth do the rest. Wow. It really brings a Google Map to life, takes you right into the heart of the location students are studying.

View Larger Map

Think all my Geography/Travel students need to have G. Earth on their computers for next year. I only recommended it this year because its a huge program and a lot of our student’s don’t have good computers so heavy downloads can get cumbersome, but this is a must.

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Student Voice + Google 20%

Konrad Glogowski presented at EduCon2.0 about using blogs with students. At the beginning of his presentation I was thinking, “well, I already use blogs with my students so not sure if this is going to be useful.” I kept my ears open and pretty soon heard something that I’ve thought about everyday since. One of his main themes was losing your teacher voice and giving the students one. He described how important it was to let students establish the confidence to write online knowing that it could be read by other students. The way he made this happen was by allowing students to write about nonacademic topics for a little while. He would then have a conversation with them through comments. He threw away that teacher tone for the rest of the year. No more looking at writing through the eyes of someone grading it on grammar and punctuation. Talk to your kids about what they are writing, listen to their voice.

Google allows its employees to spend 20% of their time (one day/wk) working on a project outside their job requirements. I’ve thought a lot about how to apply this to my courses and it wasn’t until this week that a light bulb went on and I settled on something. Why not combine Konrad’s idea of student voice with Google 20%? Here is what I came up with.

I will encourage students to earn 20% of their points for the week just writing in their blog. For example (a rough estimate), if they have a 100 point project due that week, 20 points will come from their blog and can be applied as extra credit or as a substitute for some of the project requirements. (logistics will fall into place a little later). There will have to be a couple caveats though:
1. Early on in the process they can write about anything on their mind.
2. The students must only write things they are willing to share with other students.
3. As the semester progresses, the blogs will start to incorporate more and more ideas from our content.

Any suggestions? Arguments?


Motivating Student Creativity Article

I’ve written an article that will be posted in the Techlearning E-Zine in the spring. It’s a short piece with 2 central themes. The first theme is the idea of options. It’s important that teachers provide students with options for completing assignments. Of course this isn’t practical for all assignments since we are often trying to teach them something with the method of assessment. However, most assignments in secondary education are essays and traditional objective based assessments. Communication and information in the beloved ‘real world’ isn’t based on those methods anymore. Essays certainly play a role but not the central role in communicating ideas in the Web 2.0 world that our kids occupy. Which is my segue to the 2nd theme, using Web 2.0 tools in my courses. In other words, allowing students to use project based tools that are valid to the world they live in will promote creativity, motivation, and 21st century literacy.

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