A while back I was looking for new podcasts to listen too, and I stumbled across a real gem. The SMARTBoard Lessons Podcast by Ben Hazzard & Joan Badger(two Canadian teachers!) has a myriad of helpful podcasts on a wide range of toipics centering on the integration of SMARTBoards in the classroom. What makes this even better, is that there is an accompanying website (www.pdtogo.com) with lesson plans, downloadable “notebook” files, and web links to other resources.
For many people, especially parents and educators, the internet is a very scary place. Sexual predators feigning a benign identity, online (cyber) bullying, Google searches turning up all sorts of inappropriate content, social network sites like MySpace and Nexopia…well, the list of dangers just seems to go on and on.
As a parent myself, when something dangerous confronts my children I try to do what every other loving parent would do…eliminate the threat. Often this reactionary response is knee-jerk and out of proportion to the threat itself, but that is my prerogative as a parent, and typically, once I’ve had a chance to think about things, I modify my response to something more balanced. I’ve come to understand that I can’t shelter my kids from “the world”, because (hard as it may be for me to accept) one day they will leave my care and enter that world on their own — as adults. If I try to shelter them from the world and hope for the best now, how will they learn to deal with the realities of the world on their own later?
This is not to say that I allow my kids unfettered access to all things on the internet; rather, I have decided to try to teach my kids how to deal with things on the web and to give them the tools they will need as they live and grow in the 21st century. Together we talk about what things to post about themselves on the net and what not to post; how to find the author of a website to see who is behind the content; what moral and ethical considerations there are for us when we use the web, and so on. This means getting involved, having discussions, and taking the time to look at things together on the web. While there are many scary things “out there”, I believe that my kids will be better equiped to deal with them on their own if we talk about them together ahead of time. In addition, this interaction bridges the distance between me and my kids, and they see me as a participant in their lives. When a situation arises that we haven’t talked about or they are unsure of, they are much more likely to ask me to help them navigate their way through it than if I had left them on their own from the start.
As educators, it behooves us to “take the lead” in our classrooms as well; we need to teach kids how to deal with life, not just to hide from it when it gets too risky. If we respond to “threats” by running away and hiding, how do we expect our students to react?
Wesley Fryer, educator and Web 2.0 guru, puts it this way:
Generally adults help young people learn to drive safely before giving them car keys and turning them loose on the streets of the world. Young people also need guidance and adult assistance to learn how to safely navigate the virtual environments of the 21st Century. Schools must be proactive, rather than merely defensive, in helping students acquire the skills of digital citizenship needed today and in the future. Simply banning read/write web tools on school networks is an inadequate response: Educators must strive to learn alongside students and parents how these technologies can be safely and powerfully used to communicate and collaborate.
As educators, we need to overcome our fears and become leaders in this work. We need to have open, honest discussions with other educational stakeholders about the implications of teaching students to “hide” from the big bad web rather than becoming (as Fryer says) responsible digital citizens. If we don’t start teaching our kids how to deal with the “dangers” of web 2.0, who will?
For anyone who has ever coached or managed a sports team, you know that there is more to it than simply knowing and loving a sport…coaching involves paperwork! Well, no more! TeamSnap is a web-based team management application that can take the pain out of running a team. Creating team rosters, keeping track of practice/game attendance, remembering which player have/have not paid their fees, recording performance statistics, and even making up practice/game schedules are just some of the features available to coaches/team managers using TeamSnap. While it is anticipated that TeamSnap will eventually be a 3-tier pay service, it is currently in Beta and free. Managing a team may never be the same again!
Apple has just released a new game for the iPod called iQuiz (iTunes link). You can choose from four different trivia games, and — this is the cool part! — it also allows users to create and share new trivia packs with other players (students?). There are a number of resources already developed and ready to share at the Apple Learning Interchange, for example a sample Biology quiz, Single Digit Multiplication practice, and Geography Fun Facts. Aspyr has a free iQuiz Maker program that you can download, use to create your own T/F and multiple choice questions and then publish/share with others. Can you say “hand-held review?”
According to the authors of this website:
“QuickMuse is a cutting contest, a linguistic jam session, a series of on-the-fly compositions in which some great poets riff away on a randomly picked subject. It’s an experiment, QuickMuse, to see if first thoughts are indeed the best ones. We’re not entirely sure about this, but we suspect QuickMuse will bring readers closer to the moment of composition than they have ever been before. Best part: our “playback” feature lets you watch the poems unfold, second by second. Or as Thlyias Moss says, it’s “the chance for a poem to find its/audience fast,” in which words don’t “have as much/time to stale, pale/lose the relevance of the moment” to which they belong”.
Watch poets create, compose, revise, and publish a poem on a predetermined topic all within a 15 minute time-frame.
Unsure of how to provide ELL students with extra practice in English? Does your school lack the audio resources for students trying to learn the language? Give one of the iTunes free educational podcasts a try! Just download iTunes to your Mac or PC, connect to the iTunes Store, browse through the many free educational podcasts and select one that suits your (or your student’s) needs. If you find one you like, you can even subscribe to its feed and receive automatic updates whenever a new podcast episode is created. Best of all, students with a computer/internet access can use this resource at home for extra help/practice.
Looking for a way to share that slideshow presentation with others via the internet? Give Slideshare a try. This free web-based program allows users to upload powerpoint presentations or to create slideshows using digital pictures, all of which can be made available to anyone with an internet browser.