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. 

Access/Share Google Docs in Edmodo & the Power of My PLN

Edmodo and Google Users…

I guess I am a bit behind in the game because I just realized you can access your Google Docs in Edmodo now. This new feature came about in March and allows you to Sync your Google Docs (Drive) with your Edmodo Library. That means you can share documents with your Edmodo groups and students can easily turn-in assignments completed via Google Docs.Find the instructions to do this at the Edomod Help site. FYI all users will need to link their Google Docs account with Edmodo before and sharing of docs with users or groups takes place.

Wondering how I heard about this new feature of Edmodo??? Maybe not but here’s the power of my PLN…

I found this blog (while I was browsing Pinterest one evening). It’s by a Digital Learning Coordinator in the Chicago Public Schools > Teaching like it’s 2999 . I first pinned her idea to my “learn” Pinterest board and then visited her blog and found that what the author, Jennie Magiera, blogged about was so connected to what I do so I added it to my Google Reader.

One day this week Google Reader showed that the author had posted something new to her blog called More Ideas to Googlize Your School. That post linked to a Google Doc that she was going to share at a presentation she was doing with teachers. As I scanned the doc I noticed a reference to “Edmodo’s Google Doc integration” so I did a Google searched for edomodo google docs and came up with the link that I shared with you all above.

Isn’t that so cool…in a nerdy sort of way :) In what ways do you “harvest” great teaching ideas from the web? And a big shout out to Jennie Magiera for sharing her ideas and more with us all.

Brooke Higgins is an instructional specialists, Cognitive CoachingSM Trainer, and sporadic blogger for the eMINTS National Center. This post was originally posted at the Higgins’ Helpful Hints Blog.

Friday 4All: Teacher’s Pet – Pinterest

For more than a year now I have been a Pinterest addict. I helped introduce it first here back in August on a guest post fromKrissy Venosdale(veteran eMINTS teacher) called “Pinspiration“. More recently you may have read about Pinterest on two different Tuesday Tool posts “Best of 2011” and “Pinterest”.

If you haven’t checked it out, now is the time. Teachers all over the world are using Pinterest to improve instruction. Whether they are pinning bulletin board ideas, images they might use in their lessons, links to technology resources, or to resources that help teach different topics, all are discovering new ideas to improve teaching and learning. Teachers are gathering teaching ideas visually and then sharing them with others.

Here are some Pinterest links to get you started or to keep you hooked…

The Basics and Goodies
What is Pinterest?
How to… with Pin button instructions
How everyday users are using Pinterest
Pin Etiquette
Pinterest Goodies – PinIt button, downloadable Pinterest logos, Pinterest “Follow Me” buttons
Copyright and Pinterest

Teachers and Pinterest
Teaching Blog Addict – “What Have You Found”-blog post about Pinterest link-up with pinboard links
Teaching” Boards Pinterest Search
“Teaching” Pins Pinterest Search
Kelly Tenkely
Krissy Venosdale
Teaching Friends
IdeasFromFutureTeacher
Nyla’s Crafty Teaching

Want to get started…all you need is an invite. Leave a comment here asking for one and I will send it your way. And if you want…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Brooke Higgins is a Pinterest addict and Instructional Specialist with the eMINTS National Center. You can read more at her blog Higgins Helpful Hints Blog.

The Pinterest logo was created by Michael Deal and Juan Carlos Pagan and can be found at http://passets-cdn.pinterest.com/images/about/logos/Pinterest_Logo.png

Tuesday’s Tool: Pinterest

When I asked readers and fellow eMINTS staff for ideas as to the best tools of 2011, Pinterest was mentioned multiple times. Here’s what eIS Carmen Marty had to say about the social media tool:

I have several favorite online tools, but I recently became a fan of Pinterest. Through the creation of “boards”, you can share and organize ideas of all types. There are many classroom ideas, organizational ideas, and ideas for personal hobbies. It is a fun brain break in the day. It is easy to use and helps me feel creative!

Pinterest, of course, has many uses as one of the hottest social tools of the year. This Mashable post details all the many uses and special features Pinterest can offer its users. I’ll apply these uses to classroom purposes below…

First, Mashable details just what Pinterest is:

Pinterest is a place to organize and share online images that you find interesting or inspiring. Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as Pins, which the user can place on customized, themed Boards. You can create Boards for any topic imaginable, from cats to classic cars to cats driving classic cars. The possibilities are endless.

For what is Pinterest used? Mashable gives several excellent ideas, but teachers have specific needs for their social media. Pinterest could be used for organizational and thematic inspiration for their classrooms. Images of maps and primary documents could be collected. A Math teacher may create collections of how their content is manifested in the real world or English teachers could provide imagery to better illustrate the context and themes of literature. The possibilities are also endless for Science teachers as images exist all over the internet featuring scientific phenomena.

To “Pin” images is a pretty simple process. Mashable lays it out:

Pinning is easy with the official Pin It Button, a simple drag-and-drop browser extension. When you come across an image you like, just click the button and select the corresponding picture. Assign the pin to a Board, add accompanying text, and you’re done. If the Pin is something you want to buy, include the price in the description and it will attach to the Pin for easy reference. If you find inspiration on the go, take a picture with your iPhone and add it to your Boards with the mobile app. (Sorry, no Android support at this time.) You can also Repin posts from other people.

Or, check out this tutorial…

Mashable focuses on the social aspects of Pinterest next, but this fits well with our efforts to build community and use cooperative learning strategies. Students can share pinned items with one another, possibly using the tool to collaborate on research projects. Another social aspect that can be useful for students is to check for trending topics that might provide the latest information on a given topic. Even sharing a Pinterest account could allow students to share images that inspire or extend their learning.

To start a Pinterest account, you can place a request but it takes a long time to be fulfilled. The best way is to ask a friend or coworker who already has a Pinterest account to invite you.

What other ways have you used Pinterest? How might Pinterest best be utilized with students? How does Pinterest compare in your mind to other social media and bookmarking sites?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger for the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tools: Best of 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I asked our readers and eMINTS staff to submit their favorite online tools of the year and here’s what they had to say:

Carmen Marty, eIS

I have several favorite online tools, but I recently became a fan of Pinterest. Through the creation of “boards”, you can share and organize ideas of all types. There are many classroom ideas, organizational ideas, and ideas for personal hobbies. It is a fun brain break in the day. It is easy to use and helps me feel creative!

Carla Chaffin, eIS

I have been trying out a new tool to access websites. Tizmos allows you to create a thumbnail of websites you access on a regular basis. You have quick access to preselected websites for research, practice, games or news. The thumbnail is a picture of the page and links directly to the site. It is free! Check it out!
http://www.tizmos.com/

Brooke Higgins, eIS

My new favorite site of the year has to be Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com . Social visual booking at it best let’s a user create “boards” to “pin” images with links back to the original site the image was found on. Users can follow other users or just a board they are interested in and can create collaborative boards others can pin to. Teachers are busy pinning pictures of things they want to try in their classrooms, links back to sites they will use during lessons, and links back to resources their students may might be interested in and so much more. Be careful…it can be very addicting.

Ruth Henslee, eIS

I am a new fan of www. sweetsearch.com
I find it helpful for myself, teachers and especially students who are learning to search effectively. Here is a description borrowed from their site:

About SweetSearch

SweetSearch is a Search Engine for Students.

It searches only the 35,000 Web sites that our staff of research experts and librarians and teachers have evaluated and approved when creating the content on findingDulcinea. We constantly evaluate our search results and “fine-tune” them, by increasing the ranking of Web sites from organizations such as the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, PBS and university Web sites.

SweetSearch helps students find outstanding information, faster. It enables them to determine the most relevant results from a list of credible resources, and makes it much easier for them to find primary sources. We exclude not only the spam sites that many students could spot, but also the marginal sites that read well and authoritatively, but lack academic or journalistic rigor. As importantly, the very best Web sites that appear on the first page of SweetSearch results are often buried on other search engines.

Cathie Loesing, eMINTS Program Coordinator

I have had so many “favorites” this year, it is difficult to choose just one. However, if I think only about the ones I use with students, my favorite would have to be Voicethread. I can use it with everyone from Kindergarteners through adults since they can post with a microphone, by typing text, or by phone call. I love the way I can post a picture, document, weblink, etc. and ask my students to post their responses to my prompt. Best of all, the teacher account allows me to use “identities” so that elementary students don’t need an account. There are a few glitches and there is a charge now for the full featured account, but it is overall it is a wonderful tool.

Debbie Perkins, eIS

I’m a big fan of Pinterest and Voicethread too, but those have already been mentioned, so I’ll go with SnackTools http://www.snacktools.com/. This very cool set of web apps will help you easily create and publish widgets for your blog or website. Want to share a pdf as a flipbook on your website? Use FlipSnackhttp://www.flipsnack.com/. Need a quick online survey or poll? Try their QuizSnack http://www.quizsnack.com/. Want to build a video playlist? Then TubeSnack may be for you http://www.tubesnack.com/. These are only three of the available SnackTools. You’ll also want to check out PhotoSnack, PodSnack, and BannerSnack!

How have you been able to use the tools above with your students this year? What online tools have we missed?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

Tuesday’s Tool: PInspiration

It’s almost August!  Ive been browsing the internet looking for some fresh inspiration to get my classrooms ready.  There are many, many things that I love.  I have fun with my camera, I love quotes, I’m always searching for new ideas to make my classroom better, and I love colorful graphics.  When I stumbled on Pinterest, I found a place where I could somehow keep track of all of them little random things that inspire me.  When I read that  Michelle’s Math in the Middle was hosting a Pinterest Linky Party, well, I knew I had to join.  I can’t wait to follow all of the great teachers sharing their Pin boards!

The good news?  You can join, too! Follow Me Pinterest Badge displayed on your teacher blog!  Then, write a post on your teaching blog about the Linky Party and link the post HERE

Happy Pinning!

Pinspiration!

Learn more about how you might use Pinterest in the classroom from Kelly at the iLearn blog in her post Pinterest: My New Obsession. If you leave a comments, she might even share an invite with you.

Post by guest contributor Krissy Venosdale of TeachFactory.com. Veteran eMINTS teacher, gifted education teacher, Tweeter, photographer….. and that’s just her day job. Original posted July 23, 2011 at TeachFactory.com.