In a recent session our cohort talked about teaching students information literacy skills. The group spent a lot of time dialoguing about how to help student organize and use the information they find online. Most everyone agreed that no matter what age they work with students lack the ability to paraphrase or summarize information, gather information in one assessable place (not left at home on their desk), and properly cite sources.
Teaching skills on how to summarize and paraphrase, is a strategy that can be used on a daily basis. Teaching these skills can be embedded into many types of lessons whether studying changes in the Earth’s surface or Spanish explorers.
The web offers quite a few online tools designed to aide in the research process for both recording research information and the location where that resource came from. Some of these tools also allow for sharing and/or collaboration between students and teachers.
Who knows why, but I somehow forgot to share my very favorite tool of all for this purpose…..Evernote. Evernote allows a user to take notes anywhere and sync them with all their devices when they have a web connection. A user can include text notes, web clips, audio notes, and image notes using the webcam on their computer. Notes can be tagged so that searching notes is a simple task and notes can be share with others and multiple users can collaborate on projects. Unfortunately there is no built-in citation builder but those are easy enough to create using sites like Son of Citation or the Citation Maker in Recipes4Success and then can be easily copied and pasted into Evernote.
With Evernote, a user creates a free account and then has access to their Evernote notebooks whenever and where ever through a web browser or downloadable application for Windows or Mac. Evernote is even available on many mobile devices.
What are tools you might suggest students use to support them in researching on their quest to complete authentic projects?
In an era of more paper, it’s easy for important notes and records to get lost in the shuffle. Evernote makes it possible to say goodbye to all that paper. Keep notes, resources, and other documents in one, easy to access place with this fantastic Web 2.0 tool.
There is a website, desktop version, as well as an app for handheld devices that can make files on Evernote available anywhere. Information gathered in one place can be easily accessed and revised in another. Backups are easily created so that nothing is lost. Collect data on your phone to work on your desktop at home and finish back at school the next day. The multiple access points make Evernote invaluable to the teacher on the move.
What kind of information could one keep on Evernote? Documents, photos, websites, and, of course, notes can all be kept neatly and organized. Keep business cards from parents, vendors, or administrators. Take notes on a student’s progress and pictures of her work. Write lesson plans with attachments to resources at home and finish them at school. The question should be: What information can’t one keep on Evernote?
As with most Web 2.0 tools, Evernote is free. Access the website from any computer and store your information there. You can also download the desktop version that will sync with your web account. If you have a smart phone or other online handheld device, download the app and take Evernote everywhere.
In what ways have you used Evernote in the classroom? Are there uses for it you can see that are not mentioned here?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and he plans to use Evernote this school year in order to keep track of his classroom visits and training sessions.
For this week’s tip, we’re bringing you a list of top-10 ways you can use social media in your classroom.
10. Social bookmarks like Delicious (still around), EverNote, and Diigo are great ways for groups of students researching a topic to gather and organize their resources. You can set up an account for an entire class, a small group, or one for individuals who share and follow their peers’ research.
9. As mentioned earlier this week, there are many new uses for YouTube (and other social video sharing sites like Vimeo). Channels can be created. Response videos and creative annotation and tagging can add another interactive level to the video sharing process.
8. Google Reader (H/T Brooke Higgins) can be a great way for teachers and students to follow particular resources as well as share in a community. A teacher can create a bundle of important resources to which he wants his students to subscribe. There is also the share feature where students and teachers could share interesting articles or blog posts they find in their own readings. The comment and search functions can also come in handy with Google Reader.
7. The new Groups on Facebook make it even easier to communicate with students and parents without having to give up privacy via friending. There are many more privacy safeguards for the new Groups, but there are also several new features that make Groups more community-friendly. Now, when comments are made on the new Groups’ walls, that same content shows up on every member’s feed and sends a notification. This insures that every member sees all the wall posts. Also, there is a group chat that allows more than one participant at a time, great for online class discussion. Documents, pictures, videos, links, and events can all be managed in one place.
6. Teachers and schools often complain about the cost of out-dated textbooks that don’t match student needs as closely as they should or are limiting in their scope. A great way to combat this is to write our own textbooks using wikis. Not only could a wiki be used to display a teacher’s notes, but there are multimedia capabilities as well as commenting options. Even better, students can be involved in writing their own textbooks. A wiki-created text could be revised and edited from year to year without the cost of a new textbook series eating up valuable space in a school’s budget since wikis are often free or very cheap for premium, ad-free packages. Oh, and there’s a wiki out there with directions for writing a textbook.
3.-5. Google Docs provide several great options for collaborative classroom work. Here are three:
Google Docs has its own presentation feature, much like PowerPoint. In fact PPT files can be uploaded to Google Docs and converted to an online presentation. Students working from different computers or locations can easily contribute to the same presentation. When presented to the class, students can chat during the presentation and the discussion shows up on a side panel.
Collaborative writing has never been easier than with Google Docs. Using the word processing feature, students can contribute to the same document, insert comments, chat about the direction of the document, and access older drafts. Plus, the document can easily be converted to a PDF or website.
Data collection and online tests quizzes are easier now with the addition of Google Forms to the Docs suite. A form can be set up to gather any data (surveys, quizzes, blog submissions 😉 ) and it’s all gathered in a tidy spreadsheet that can be easily converted to charts and graphs. Plus, multiple users can gain access to the results, as with any Google Doc.
2. Photo sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr offer great opportunities not only for sharing and commenting on one another’s images, but also several other useful features. Tagging and/or annotation images is a great way to demonstrate understanding and to encourage contributions. Both offer some editing features and allow video uploads.
1. Blogs. Well, what else would you expect from a blog? Blogs are a tremendously underused social media tool. Collaborative writing, online publishing, interactivity between readers and writers, easy to manipulate HTML code with multiple options for embedding media… The possibilities for blogs is endless. Plus, blogs can be used alongside many of the tools already mentioned above.
How do you use social media in your classroom? Feel free to comment below or link back to this post.
Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.
In the fast paced, over scheduled, busy world we live in today stress seems to be at its highest. The teaching profession continues to have more and more pushed into it and teachers are finding it hard to find the balance between teaching, planning, and all the other professional and personal things required of them. Then add eMINTS on top of that, and it could possibly be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back” unless those teachers are proficient at managing their time and commitments. To be an effective eMINTS teacher, you have to figure out how to juggle it all. Here are some strategies that may help to reduce your stress and become more productive and resourceful.
Manage Yourself: You really aren’t managing time you are managing yourself. Find out where you are wasting time and make adjustments to your practices. (ie. email, searching for files, etc.)
Goal Setting: Set goals and make rules for yourself to keep you on track. Get some routines established and set some habits. (ie. Goal – keep up with email. Rule – check email at 3 specific times a day and no more.)
Write To-Do List: Start planning your day by creating a to-do list. It can be on paper, on your phone, computer, or on the fridge but not only in your head. Prioritize the list and delegate out things that others could take care of for you. Break large tasks down into smaller, more manageable tasks or steps. Schedule the things that are most important to you and don’t let those items be skipped.
Urgent Items First: A friend once shared that she “eats her frogs first”. The frogs being those things she doesn’t want to do…she puts them at the top of her to-do list (thanks Stephanie). Put the “urgent” items at the top of your to-do list and work your way down.
Put on Your Blinders: Block out distractions when working on high priority projects; turn off your email, put your phone on silent, shut your door (turn off the lights).
Breaks Are Necessary: Take a break when you feel distracted. Stress can get you off track so when you feel it coming on think about taking a 10 minute walk, get up and stretch, or do anything that might re-energize you.
Add NO to Your Vocab: Learn to say “no”. A phrase I learned from an Oprah show years ago that was freeing for me… “I’m sorry….I wish that I could but I just can’t”.
Be Flexible: Practice being flexible and allow time for interruptions and distractions; you never know when they will arise and letting them add to your stress will be counter-productive.
Reflect: At the end of the day, take some time to look over what you have accomplished and how you managed to do all of it. Think about the strategies that worked for you and the ones that didn’t and cut yourself some slack if you didn’t get everything done – just move those things to your next to-do list and give yourself some time to prepare for the next day.
Use Technology Tools: Here are a few technology tools that may help you out (but be ready to drop them if they end up taking you more time).
Microsoft Outlook: manage your Email and Blogs (see previous post), create your to-do list with Tasks, create Notes for important things you want to remember, and use the Calendar to manage your time. many places of employment are now using the Microsoft Exchange Servers making your account available not only on your desktop machine. Check with you tech support staff if you aren’t sure. You never know, you could be checking your mail and more on your mobile device.
Microsoft OneNote: Create a virtual notebook to keep tabs on your life. You can create lists, make drawings, include pictures, insert screen clippings, insert sound and so much more.
Google: Email, Tasks (in Gmail), Calendar, Reader – Think Outlook but online; accessible from any computer connected to the Internet. Google offers tons of tools that you may find helpful – you can see them all at their products page. Sign up for a Google/Gmail Account to get started. And “There’s an App for that” 😉
Sticky Notes or Stickies – Create virtual sticky notes on your desktop (think Post Its for your computer). They can be found in the Accessories folder on a Windows machine and in the Applications folder on a Mac.
Evernote: they say “Capture Anything, Access Anywhere, Find Things Fast”. You can even download it to your Windows computer. And “There’s an App for that” 😉
Spaaze: “An infinite virtual cork board, is a new visual way to organize pieces of information.” Add bookmarks, labels, notes, YouTube Videos, images, and files. You can now publish your board and even collaborate with others. (currently in beta)
What tips, strategies, suggestions or tools do you have that others might benefit from knowing about? Feel free to share them in a comment.
Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center and writes for her own blog, Higgins Help.
Clock Image – “Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.” Flickr- monkeyc.net. Web. 9 Dec 2010. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeyc/112342184/>.
School districts are cutting back on server space and software purchasing. This makes it hard to create and maintain usable classroom websites. Luckily, the Web is loaded with plenty of free alternatives.
You say your school is unable to purchase Dreamweaver? Try Nvu. For those who like to have more control than templates offer and no funds to purchase expensive software, NVU is a good alternative to the popular Dreamweaver.
Server space for websites is being drastically cut? If you’re okay with templates, Google Sites and Weebly both offer some great hosting options. With the right know-how, one does not have to be limited to templates, but both services offer a nice variety of templates with many features that will improve the interactivity of your site. Google’s sites offer seamless integration of the many Google tools also available for free. Weebly is a slick online web editor and host that also offers many interactive components to take your site to the next level.
Sometimes districts offer a small amount of space for a “templated” web page, but there are limits to resources. Simply tap into the many web-based tools that are free to users with an email address in order to enhance your students’ experience.
As mentioned above, Google offers many tools that can be easily converted to educational purposes. Google calendars provide both a self-standing website option and an embed-able element so that you can add this feature to your own site. Google Groups can provide a password protected space for discussion and file sharing. Google Docs give you the opportunity to produce collaborative documents, spreadsheets, images, surveys and quizzes, and presentations. Many of the tools on Google Docs can easily be “hacked” to fit teacher and student needs involving sharing and privacy as well as web publication possibilities. These free tools only skim the surface of what Google has to offer and did I mention it was all free? 😉
For lists of resources, teachers can utilize any number of social bookmarking sites. There’s Delicious which uses tags and clouds to create user-friendly interfaces and organizational systems. Diigo has many great collaborative possibilities. EverNote even takes the collaboration a step further and offers a desktop version for easy syncing. All of these tools can be used to provide students their own Internet-based libraries specific for their needs.
Communication is an important component of any teacher’s responsibilities. What better online tool for communication is there than the blog? Google has Blogger. WordPress is another great blogging tool and is utilized over at Edublogs. Blogs are free to set up and provide many opportunities for interaction with your students, parents, and colleagues.
This is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to free tools that can provide an alternative to the traditional classroom website. Almost any online tool has a practical classroom application. What are some of the tools you use for your classroom website?
Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read some of his other posts over at Suppl_eMINTS.