Web 2.0 Tools In The Classroom: Friday’s Presentations

I love being in the classroom with my students, but I also love presenting to educators and getting the opportunity to learn from others while I present. Thanks to Zoe Branigan-Pipe (@zbpipe) for asking me to present with her at the Brock Tech Showcase on Friday!  Zoe is currently in Philadelphia at Educon, so we presented together through the use of Skype.  Due to some technical difficulties (largely a low Wifi signal), it took us until the final presentation of the day to get a full-length Skype call.  Thank you to everyone that attended the first two presentations for being so understanding of these technical difficulties!

Despite the few computer glitches, the presentations went well.  This was the first time that I’ve presented to such a diverse group of educators (from pre-service teachers to K-12 teachers).  Each presentation was slightly different, as the discussion changed depending on the needs and interests of the people in the room.  Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Diigo, and Skype were the five topics discussed most frequently during these presentations.  A special thank you to @mrjarbenne for sharing some amazing links and great information during the last session of the day. You can view these links in our Today’s Meet Chatroom (which will remain open for a year).

Here is the link to the Connected Classroom Prezi that Zoe and I created for Friday’s Presentations.  If you attended one of the presentations on Friday, I would love to hear your feedback on it.  Please comment here and let me know what you thought.  Feel free to post any questions you have here too.

Thanks again Zoe for providing me with such a wonderful opportunity!  I hope that I can present with you again in the future.


Wallwisher From Today’s Presentation At Brock

Today I had the amazing opportunity to present with Zoe Branigan-Pipe on Using Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom. As a starting point to our presentation, we asked for people to contribute to this Wallwisher on the top three things they want their children to learn in their education. Please feel free to add additional ideas to this wall by double-clicking on it, typing in your thoughts, and pressing OK when you’re done. Check back here later on this weekend for another post on today’s presentation.


A Global Collaboration

On Monday evening, I saw a tweet from @mrjarbenne asking for contributions to a collaborative video on Haiti.  I was away at a meeting all day on Tuesday, so I didn’t think too much about it, but when I checked my Twitter account on Tuesday night, I noticed that @mrjarbenne had tweeted me asking if my Grade 1’s would contribute to this video.

Since the disaster happened in Haiti, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how I could discuss this world issue with my students.  I didn’t want to upset them, but I did want them to become aware of this terrible tragedy and let them know that there are ways that they can help too.  I thought that this video might be a good way to start this conversation.

After gym on Wednesday morning, I told my students that we were going to contribute to a collaborative video.  I asked my students if they heard what had happened in Haiti, and I was amazed by their responses.  Almost all of the children knew about what happened.  One child said that she heard about the earthquake on the radio.  She was listening to the radio on the way to school with her mom.  Another child said that he saw what happened in Haiti when watching the news with his parents.  He spoke about the fact that some people had died and other people were hurt.  Some children said that their parents told them about what happened, and that their parents were going to give money to help out the people of Haiti.  With the use of the SMART Board, we searched Haiti and viewed maps of Haiti.  Some students saw Cuba and The Dominican Republic on the maps, and spoke about going there before.  The Internet allowed the students to make a connection to Haiti and drove them to want to do something to help out the people of Haiti.

I read my students a letter that I had e-mailed out to parents letting them know what our school was doing to help raise money for Haiti.  The students then used the information in this letter and re-worded it in “kid friendly” language.  I wrote up what they said, and then we practiced reading our ideas as a class.  We then added these ideas to this collaborative video.  Due to some technical difficulties on my part, we had to add these ideas to the video again on Thursday, but my students were more than willing to try a second attempt.  I think that they were happy to know that they were doing something to help out people that needed it.

Here is a link to @mrjarbenne‘s amazing video.  Many thanks to you and your class for creating such a great way for us to come together as a global community and try to make a difference for those that need it!


Redefining Writing

Yesterday, my students completed their Friday Journal Entry as they do every Friday.  For this Friday Journal, the students watched The Berenstain Bears Don’t Pollute.  In this short video, the Brother Bear and Sister Bear try to convince Papa Bear not to cut down a tree in the forest.  After viewing the video, my students brainstormed a list of different animals that they thought would be affected by this tree being cut down.  Their Friday Journal activity was to write a letter to Paper Bear from one of these animals in an attempt to convince Papa not to cut down the tree.  For our current TLCP (Teaching Learning Critical Pathways) goal, the students are working on letter writing and writing letters from different points of view.  This activity met both of these goals.  Students were encouraged to use the Letter Writing Rubric to assess their letter while they were writing it and after they finished writing it.

As the students got started on this activity, a number of them asked me if they could write their letter in Google Docs.  I agreed, for writing on a computer is still writing.  As my students were typing their letters, the principal walked by my classroom, and she was thrilled with what she saw.  The students were using dictionaries to help spell unfamiliar words, and they were working together to help edit their letters and make them as good as they could be.  They were not writing single sentences, but producing letters with multiple ideas that really helped convince their audience of their point of view.  They were even going over to the performance wall to assess their writing before finishing their work.  They were so engaged in this writing activity that writing actually became fun.  With what they said and what they did, I know that my students helped convince my principal of the value of writing on a computer.

Here are some samples of the letters that my Grade 1 students wrote:




It really is amazing what Grade 1 students can produce! 

On Friday, January 22nd, the school is having its District Review and Board representatives will be in the school for the day.  My students will be completing literacy centres during the time when the team of Board representatives visits my classroom, and a group of students will be using Google Docs to complete a point of view writing activity.  I know that these students are excited to redefine writing for these Board representatives too: writing does not always need to include a pencil and paper.

I would love to hear your success stories with writing on the computer.  What do your children think of word processing?  Has writing on a computer changed your child’s attitude about writing?  All comments are welcome.  I can’t wait to read what you have to say!


A Technology Success Story!

ancaster meadow wordle_1

Today was an amazing day!  At lunchtime today, my vice principal wanted to learn how to make a Wordle about our school.  I told her that I would get some students to teach her.  She sat around the computer in my classroom with three Grade 1 students, and together they made a Wordle to describe Ancaster Meadow.  Once they created the Wordle, my vice principal asked how to change the colour of the words.  I was about to reply that the only way to do so is to “randomize” the Wordle, when one of my six-year-old students showed me how to use the Color menu at the top of the screen.  She showed me how to change the layout too.  Today I was part of a “lunch and learn” directed by Grade 1 students, and what they taught me was the best part of my day!

It really is incredible what students know about technology and how motivated they are by technology too.  It’s changed the way that I teach, and it’s changed the way that my students learn.  Have you had a success story like this one?  Please comment here and share your stories.  I can’t wait to read what you have to say!