Curate the Web

As the start of the school year rapidly approaches, one thing you might want to consider is planning for how your students will access online materials.  In the past many of us have used our classroom website, blog, or wiki.  Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those methods, we now have a great deal of tools that can help teachers to curate online content.

graphic depicting the idea of selecting and sharing links

Web curation tools make sharing links with our students a snap, ensuring that our students can quickly access relevant resources. It seems that time is always of the essence, so providing students with the links they need to complete their task is a huge timesaver.  Curation tools also allow teachers to preview sites to ensure they are classroom friendly, free of unwanted ads or pop-ups, not blocked by the school server, do not require downloads or software updates, and any other condition that makes students accessing online content challenging.  Curation tools can also provide teachers with an easy way to differentiate resources for individual students.  Teachers can provide resources for the same content presented in various methods (i.e. video, audio, interactive, etc.), or at different reading levels to make it easier for students with differing skills be able to understand the message the teacher is trying to convey

Curation tools are not just for teachers!  Students today are inundated with information, so one of the most important 21st century skills will be for students to learn the art of accessing and evaluating information then use and manage that information.  Putting web curation tools in the hands of your students forces them to use critical thinking skills to determine if the online resources they have located fit the criteria for selecting relevant resources.  Curation tools also require students to consider how to manage the resources once they have located them.  Setting aside time for students to curate online resources, also helps to improve students search skills, and provides opportunities for mini lessons and individualized instruction on sorting through the over abundance of online content.

There are many excellent tools to choose from, so I have selected my top 8 web curation tools to share with you today.  Hopefully you will find many useful tools for you and your students.

 

Jen Foster is an eMINTS Instructional Specialist and authorized Google Education Trainer. 

Join Us in Celebrating Digital Learning Day on February 5th!

Can you imagine education without technology?  In order to prepare the next generation for college and for their place in the workforce, it is very important that students and teachers embrace the benefits that modern instructional tools can provide.

This is why thousands of educators answer the “call to action” and join the celebration of Digital Learning Day each February.  A national event designed to allow educators to gather virtually to share and discuss the successes and challenges that they are experiencing with integrating digital tools in their classrooms.

To help build this awareness and to promote enhanced instruction with modern technology tools, join us by participating in national Digital Learning Day which is scheduled for February 5, 2014!  The online event will feature demonstrations, interactive lessons, presentations, resource sharing, tips, and even tricks designed for classroom educators that possess a passion for incorporating powerful digital tools into their lessons.

Here are some ways you can participate…

I hope to see you participating and making a difference with digital learning on Digital Learning Day!

-Doug Caldwell, EdS, is an instructional specialist for the eMINTS National Center.

HD_Links: 4Teachers.org

ALTEC, Advanced Learning and Technologies, a project from the University of Kansas, offers instructional web-based resources to improve teaching and learning and support all learners. They have worked with many entities on their campus to create the Star Tools as part of the 4Teachers.org site and provide more than 10 innovative technology resources for teachers and students.

Last week we shared Classroom Architect as a tool for planning the arrangement of your learning space. This week we are featuring a few more of the tools that 4teachers.org offers. See which of these tools might support your students in the learning activities you have planned for them next year. Visit the 4Teacher.org site for a full list.

  • Assign a Day: teachers create calendars to schedule and manage assignments and allow students access to monitor requirements assigned to them.
  • Think Tank: help students develop a Research Organizer (a list of topics and subtopics) for reports and projects
  • NoteStar: an online tool used to assist in the preparation of research papers. Teachers and students can set up research projects with topics and sub-topics. Students may then take advantage of NoteStar’s many features to collect and organize their notes and prepare their bibliography page.
  • TrackStar: a jumping off point for your online lessons and activities. You collect Web sites, enter them into TrackStar, add descriptions or instructions for your students, then publish it. Share the link with your students and you have an interactive, online lesson called a Track. You can create your own or use one already made by other educators.
  • KidsVid: an instructional website built to help students and teachers with video production when including multimedia projects in your classroom lessons.
  • RubiStar: a free tool to help teachers create effective rubrics. Registered users can save and edit rubric. All users can search through the existing rubrics.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog. A big “thank you” goes out to Diane McCormack, a PD4ETS Graduate and Instructional Technology Facilitator with the Affton Public Schools, for sharing this great resource.

Tuesday’s Tool: Scoop.it

Scoop.it is an easy to use web tool that allows a user to quickly create a newspaper-looking webpage with links to resources that go together. Each link is displayed as if it is an article in a newspaper with a title, image, and snippet of text. The Scoop.it website says… “Be the curator of your favorite topic” but really it could be the topic of your next science unit or expert topics for your WebQuest.

First you need to create an account (free) to get started. You can include your Twitter and Facebook account information and Scoop.it will pull resources from those feeds that may fit your Scoop topics. To begin your own Scoop click the Create a Topic Button and fill in the title, description, language, and tags and you are on your way. You can add resources as you go from websites you have already found by using the Scoop It bookmarklet or you can include the suggested resources from Scoop.it. Due to the content that may be displayed on the curating page, this tool is a teacher tool. Once the Scoop is created then it can be safely shared with students by clicking “view topic” and then sharing that direct link.

Scoop.it also allows sharing through Facebook and Twitter, visitors to make resource suggestions, or viewing the tags the creator has included. Like a blog, if you like what you see you can always “follow” someone else’s Scoop and see how it evolves over time. Here is the Scoop.it that got me interested – Edu 2.0 created by Steve Dembo. He created a page with what he believes are the best Web 2.0 tools for education. And in just a few minutes I created a Scoop about Constructivism & more.

From their home page get an invite and watch their video on the front page to better understand how Scoop.it might benefit you, your instruction, and your students.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.