Tag Archives: Classroom

Ten Free Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom

– guest post by Karen Schweitzer

Where to Find Free Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom

Teachers who want to put web 2.0 technologies to work for them can find many different free options online. There are tools for creating online classrooms, social networks, student podcasts, web-based flashcards, elearning modules, and much more. Here are 10 free web 2.0 tools for teachers to try in the classroom this year.

Engrade – This popular online classroom community provides a free set of web-based tools for teachers who want to integrate web 2.0 into the classroom. Tools include an online assignment calendar, an online gradebook, an online attendance book, secure online messaging, and instant progress reports. Engrade is a great way for teachers to constantly stay in touch with students, parents, and administrators.

Engrade logocramberry logoelgg logo

Elgg – This social engine provides all of the tools a school or classroom needs to create their own community site or social network. Elgg is an open source program, which means it is free for everyone to use, and includes an online community where users can learn and share their experiences.

Cramberry – Cramberry is a unique site that makes it easy for students to learn and study new material through online flashcards. Students or teachers can make customized sets of cards that can be printed or studied online. When students choose to study online, Cramberry tracks learning progress, builds study schedules, and shows cards in a specific order so that students can get extra practice with the cards they have trouble with and stay current with other cards.

PodBean.com logoPodBean – More than 200,000 people have used PodBean’s free publishing tools to create and publish their own podcasts. PodBean’s tools work especially well for classrooms. There is no tech to learn–podcast episodes can be uploaded and published in a matter of minutes.

Eduslide logoEduslide – Teachers can use Eduslide to deliver elearning modules to students inside and outside the classroom. Modules can include multiple lessons with text, slides, flashcards, links to other sites, audio, and video. Teachers can also access lessons created by other Eduslide users.

Writeboard – Writeboard is a free web-based tool that allows students to easily collaborate on a single document online. Different versions of the document are automatically trackeWriteboard logod and saved so that old ideas are never lost and can be easily monitored by teachers. Created Writeboards are always kept private and can only be accessed by people with the password.

Web-Chops logoWeb-Chops – This free web tool is perfect for teachers who want to share websites with students but want to get rid of ads and other questionable material. Web-Chops allows users to “clip” any part of a web page and rearrange clips onto a custom page that can be shared with other people.

Yugma – Yugma is an excellent tool for teachers who want to share their desktops with other students in the classroom or conduct parent-teacher conferences online. The site’s free service supports up to 20 attendees at one time and includes 24/7 support through forums, tutorials, and new user guides.

Yugma logo knowitall.org logo

Knowitall.org – Designed specifically for the classroom, this network of education sites can be used to engage k-12 students in learning. Sites include videos, simulations, image collections, virtual field trips, games, and interactive learning experiences.

Arcademic Skill Builders logoArcademic Skill Builders – This site provides free, educational video games that are research-based and standards-aligned. Games can be played alone or with multiple players and provide a safe environment where students can learn and have fun at the same time. While playing a game, students cannot be contacted by anyone outside the classroom.

Guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer. Karen is the author of the About.com Guide to Business School and also writes about online degree programs for OnlineDegreePrograms.org.

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Filed under Classroom, Education, Education 3.0, Instruction, Technology, Web 2.0

Using Weebly to build your Classroom Website

Here’s a follow-up to an earlier Weebly post:

There have been increasing numbers of educators who find that a classroom website is a good way to stay organized.  Here are some basic, very useful functions:

  • Announcements
  • Class Calendar
  • Homework Assignments
  • Supply Lists
  • Pictures
  • Post Student Work
  • Parent Involvement/Volunteer Opportunities
  • Classroom Rules and Policies
  • Links
  • Your Bio and Contact Info

A website is more informative, while a blog, ning or wiki is more interactive because they allow students to contribute.  I actually suggest having both.  But because blogs, nings and wikis require constant maintenance, it’s nice to have a website that is super-easy to build and edit.

I suggest using Weebly for this.  It’s free and extremely user-friendly.

Weebly_Ed

Here are some classroom websites built on Weebly:

If you have a Weebly website, or plan to get one, please share your URL in the comments!

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Filed under Apps, Classroom, Classroom Culture, Education, Technology

Bloom’s Taxonomy 2.0

Over the few months that I’ve been blogging, my post on Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy has been the biggest hit.  And, what interests my readers interests me.  Here’s more on the subject:

Probably every classroom teacher in this country has at least come across Bloom’s Taxonomy at some point.  Most of us can recite the ‘level’s by heart, in order from lowest- to highest-order thinking:

Knowledge –> Comprehension –> Application –> Analysis –> Synthesis –> Evaluation

We’ve come to associate certain action words, activities, and types of questions with each level, and we know that the higher the level, the more challenging the approach.  It ‘s helpful to think about where your content falls on this scale.  I must admit that I referred to my laminated ‘Bloom’s Chart’ almost daily during my first year – because it was useful, but also because I couldn’t quite remember it.  Something about it didn’t seem to stick – it seemed contrived, a little archaic, and not very user-friendly.

Enter: Bloom’s revised Taxonomy, ca. 2001, by Lorin Anderson.  From Mary Forehand’s article on Bloom’s Taxonomy:

During the 1990’s, a former student of Bloom’s, Lorin Anderson, led a new assembly which met for the purpose of updating the taxonomy, hoping to add relevance for 21st century students and teachers. This time “representatives of three groups [were present]: cognitive psychologists, curriculum theorists and instructional researchers, and testing and assessment specialists”… Like the original group, they were also arduous and diligent in their pursuit of learning, spending six years to finalize their work.

Let’s look at the original and the revised versions side-by-side:

Bloom's - Original and Revised

“The graphic is a representation of the NEW verbage associated with the long familiar Bloom’s Taxonomy. Note the change from Nouns to Verbs [e.g., Application to Applying] to describe the different levels of the taxonomy. Note that the top two levels are essentially exchanged from the Old to the New version.” (Schultz, 2005)

6 years to change nouns into verbs and to flip two levels??  I guess Bloom had it almost just right.  Despite the parsimonious revision, the new taxonomy makes alot more sense to me.  It also seems to make alot of sense to Andrew Churches.  If I was still in the classroom, I would definitely toss out my old ‘Bloom’s chart’ and replace it with this:

Churches_Blooms_chart

Notice that the yellow box contains 21st-century-type/web 2.0 skills!  Churches takes the taxonomy and almost completely updates it again – providing digital verbage that you can easily apply in your classroom.  If you’re a forward-thinking instructor and you’re interested in integrating more technology into your instruction, check out ANDREW CHURCHES’ entire paper – BLOOM’S DIGITAL TAXONOMY – here.  He gives great, concrete examples of how to apply these ideas, he lists many free resources that can be used, and he has tons of rubrics for different activities that address the different levels.  Fun read!  Makes me think again about my retirement from teaching…

Do you use the old Bloom’s or the Revised Bloom’s?

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Filed under Classroom, Curriculum, Education, Education 3.0, Instruction, K-12 Curriculum, Technology, Web 2.0

Integrating Technology into the Curriculum – Web 2.0

There’s an older article on the Edutopia website called ‘Why Integrate Technology into the Curriculum?: The Reasons Are Many‘. I love this quote:

“Effective technology integration is achieved when the use of technology is routine and transparent and when technology supports curricular goals.”

The comments are much more useful than the article, itself, in terms of how to actually implement this integration. Teachers share their successes, their concerns, and ideas for technology integration that can work for any subject and any grade.

A more recent reflection on this idea also comes from Edutopia, but from the esteemed authors of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns”, Christensen and Horn.  Their article reiterates this:

“The United States has spent more than $60 billion equipping schools with computers during the last two decades, but as countless studies and any routine observation reveal, the computers have not transformed the classroom…  The key to transforming the classroom with technology is in how it is implemented.”

From this, from hearing Judy Harris speak at the Innovative Learning Convention, and from many other leaders in technology integration, the message is becoming very obvious and very loud. We need to reach a point where using technology in the classroom is as normal as using paper – no need to think about it, it’s just a given part of almost every lesson.

Try something new in your classroom today!

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Filed under Classroom, Education, Education 3.0, Instruction, Technology, Web 2.0