Friday, March 5, 2010

Finds of the Week: March 1-5, 2010

Last week was a busy week with PETE&C going on in Hershey. With that in mind, I did not have the time to add a "Finds of the Week" post, though there were many posts provided during the conference. This week, it's back to some great finds!

1. TED - TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design" and is a conference that brings together great minds from these areas to share the innovations that they have pioneered. It is a bit of an exclusive conference, but the most interesting talks are provided for free online throughout the year. On the main site, you can search by different themes, speakers, when talks were given, or even with foreign language subtitles. All videos can be viewed on the site, or you can subscribe through iTunes. Options for subscription are audio only, standard definition video, or HD.

The TED Talks could be a great way to include what people are doing in the real world with concepts you are covering in your classrooms. In a Social Studies classroom, you could use Paul Collier's talk on rebuilding countries to discuss what leads to conflicts and how external politics affect the outcome. In a music classroom, you could use Benjamin Zander's talk on music and passion and how it can open up opportunities in various areas. There are so many talks available, you can find one for every class. Most talks are between 15 and 20 minutes in length. Be aware that not all talks have language that you would use in your classrooms.

2. Prezi - Prezi is a tool that has been created as a web-based presentation tool, but it also works great as a mindmap. When creating and presenting, it can be much more powerful for showing relationships between ideas. A tool that is great for both teacher and student, this is a way to allow for students to create and see connections that they may not have seen before.

Check out Prezi's homepage for a brief overview of what Prezi can do. Sign up for an educator account and experiment with the tool. Below is a sample Prezi from the creators, talking about some of the tips and tricks.

3. edmodo - Edmodo is a private social network for education. It is a great way to bring social networking into the classroom while keeping it in a controlled environment. Among the features of edmodo are privacy, classroom polling, the ability to post assignments, sharing a group calendar, posting and grading assignments, and mobile access.

Using edmodo could be a great way ensure that all students have a voice within your classroom. When discussing a certain topic, such as types of rock, you could have your students discuss the differences between the types while comparing and contrasting rocks that they find around their house. Using edmodo in the classroom can also help to teach proper etiquette for social networking while keeping students in a safe environment. This way, when they go home and log in to facebook or twitter, they might be able to make better decisions for how they conduct themselves online.

You can also post files, embed widgets, or post links. And in the future, there are plans for a tool that works just like Etherpad, which is great with the plan for phasing out Etherpad since its acquisition by Google. If you would like to see a sample edmodo class, feel free to make an appointment to meet with me during periods 1, 4, 6, 7, or 9.

Of course, for every tool and suggestion given on this blog, there are many more possibilities for integrating technology into your classroom. Remember, these are only tools and should be used as such. When looking at integrating any tool into your instruction, remember to only do so if it enhances the content. If you use technology only for the sake of using technology, it will not be successful.

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