• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!



Page history last edited by Bill 14 years, 1 month ago

Various Digital Tricks and Tools


This page will contain a collection of digital tricks and tools that presenter Bill Ferriter is just beginning to play with.  Needless to say, he hasn't had a chance to create a full page of materials about any of these services yet!  Keep checking back, however.  Over time, each of these services will have their own fully developed page on Digitally Speaking. 







Tool and Resource Suggestions: Blogging and Information Management



The reality of working with digital technology in public schools is that services are constantly blocked for a variety of reasons.  As a result, digitally driven teachers need to develop an awareness of a range of services centered around the same skill.  Doing so makes it easy to adapt when a system forbids students from using a service.  This handout details several blogging, feed reading, and social bookmarking services that teachers and students might find worthwhile. 



Open Letters to World Leaders:  Evidence Packet



One project that I've used over and over again in my work with children is having them draft open letters to world leaders about controversial issues---poverty, war, global warming, childhood obesity---that can be posted in blogs or on wiki pages.  Successfully completing these tasks requires that students learn to identify and then collect convincing evidence on the topic that they are studying.  The materials in this handout introduces students to the characteristics of convincing evidence and helps them to track the evidence that they are collecting while researching. 




PowerPoint Slide Rubric



As much as we'd like to see students engaged in the creation of complicated digital projects, the fact remains that PowerPoint slides are still a common medium for communicating ideas and emotions in presentations at all levels.  This rubric can be used to score PowerPoint slides that are designed to influence. 




Technology Permission Slip



Often, teachers and administrators feel uncomfortable about introducing digital tools to students because of Internet saftey risks that are widely reported in the media.  These fears are completely understandable!  In fact, moving forward with digital projects before articulating specific actions that parents, teachers and students will take to keep kids safe would be nothing short of irresponsible.  Teaching students strategies for self-protection is a basic requirement for any educator interested in using digital tools to facilitate instruction.


This document outlines both the reasons that digital tools should play a larger role in classroom instruction and the behaviors expected of parents, teachers and students in 21st Century classrooms.  It can be used as a permission slip to generate commitment to Internet safety before digital projects are started. 



Social Bookmarking and the Efficient Learning Team



Many schools and districts have reorganized their teachers into professional learning teams that are committed to identifying and amplifying instructional practices that work---and these collaborative efforts are having a direct impact on student achievement in buildings across America.  No longer working in isolation, teachers are studying data and capitalizing on their collective intelligence to improve teaching and learning. 


Early efforts at collaboration often start with the sharing of resources.  Working together, teachers create digital copies of handouts or presentations that address elements of the required curriculum and pass them along to their peers.  They also identify websites that can be used in instruction or preparation.   Articles are gathered, assessments are written, and  videos are identified. 


The challenge, then, lies in managing the flood of potential resources, right?  With limited time, how can teams sift through materials, select those that are of value, and communicate new discoveries with their peers?  The answer is simple:  Teams should embrace digital tools like Pageflakes and Delicious to make sharing between peers efficient. 


This entry---from Bill Ferriter's professional blog---will show you how one learning team is making sharing easy. 



Digital Publishing




In today’s digital age, anyone can publish anything to the Web at any time—including you!  This ability is nothing short of empowering, ensuring that your voice can be heard without cost.  As Clay Shirky wrote in his 2008 title, Here Comes Everybody:




“In a world where publishing is effortless, the decision to publish something isn’t terribly momentous.  Just as movable type raised the value of being able to read and write even as it destroyed the scribal tradition, globally free publishing is making public speech and action more valuable even as it…diminishes the specialness of professional publishing.




All that’s needed is a few good ideas and some basic word processing skills!  This document will show you how to get started.






One of the most exciting steps that the Wake County Public Schools has taken is to begin creating a customized collection of screencast tutorials on a wide range of curriculum and technology concepts.  The advantage of creating an in-house collection of tutorials is that they can be directly aligned to the instructional resources being created at the district level and to the identified strengths and weaknesses of the district's students. 


These tutorials are being housed in a Blackboard website that is accessible to all.  That way, teachers, parents and students from across the district can access them at any time.  This has allowed teachers to have access to high quality instructional materials that are aligned to the curriculum, allowed students to spend time in remediation or enrichment activities, and allowed parents to "see" what high quality work looks like in many areas. 


Here is a small version of one of the tutorials posted in the WCPSS Screencast Warehouse:



To explore this site, visit this link.  The section of the site that is the most developed are the Language Arts tutorials found under the "Class Resources" button.  Wake County has decided to begin by developing these resources first.  The technology tutorials found under the "Tutorials" button are also nicely filled out.  Over time, additional resources will be added to the other areas of this site. 


(Note:  Blackboard does not support direct linking and the location of sites frequently changes as Blackboard upgrades are made.  If you attempt to visit this library in the future and cannot find it any longer, you can visit the main Wake County Blackboard page, select the "Course Sites" tab from the top of the screen, select "Browse Course Catalog," and then use the search term "Web 2.0." to find the course again.)








Twitter is a poorly understood but terribly undervalued tool that is being used by some educators to "connect" to a network of likeminded learners all over the world.  it is essentially a public instant messaging system that allows users to attract "followers" and to "follow" others. As Sheryl Nussbaum Beach--a digital colleague from the Teacher Leaders Network--so aptly explains, Twitter is a way for people to build a "personal learning network" of colleagues and friends who can provide just-in-time help, resources and advice about almost anything.


The central element in a Twitter conversation is called a Tweet----and it is a short (140 character message) that users send through an online client that looks just like any other instant messaging application that you've ever seen before. That message immediately appears in the Twitter windows of anyone who is "following" you....and they can respond with help/advice/suggestions/ ideas/compassion/random insults/open sarcasm if they feel so inclined.


In my mind, Twitter's not designed to be the primary vehicle for an individual's communication and human connection to others.  While I value the people in my Twitter family greatly---in fact, many of them are just plain brilliant and I'm thankful that they're willing to let me "listen" to their Tweets---I don't see Twitter as the best way of getting to know them deeply or to figure out who they are as educators or as people. 


To me, Twitter's not about extended conversation and reflective thought.  Consider some of the things I've done with Twitter in recent weeks:


  • Learned about a free discussion board service.
  • Shared blog entries that I'd written.
  • Read about 10 blog entries written by other people. 
  • Seen several great articles shared by those in my Twitter family.
  • Asked and answered a few provocative questions. 
  • Had my thinking challenged once or twice. 
  • Helped out with a Skypecast being conducted in another user's class.
  • Sent out two or three resources to help others with questions about topics I know. 



Twitter is a really quick and really easy (which are two reasons Twitter's so successful) way to share resources and get ready access to a collection of people who share a common interest.  It's a way to join together and offer just-in-time support to one another.


Here's a tutorial that can help you to understand Twitter better:






And here's a great blog entry by Kevin Jarrett---a technology teacher in New Jersey---about the value that he gets from frequent Twitter exchanges:





If you decide to jump in the Twitterverse, come and find me.  I'm @plugusin.



Many Voices Darfur


Easily the most exciting project that my students have been engaged in lately has been a global collaborative project designed to raise awareness about the genocide occurring in Darfur.  As a part of this project,  we've written an open letter to the President of Sudan and created our own pledge to fight against Genocide. We created a papercraft tutorial and a music video about the issue.  We've written to the Janjaweed and wondered whether or not the US is selfish.  We're also working on a Voicethread presentation where we're studying political cartoons on Sudan.


The project culminated with a "Blog for Darfur" day on March 6th and 7th of 2008 where almost 700 comments were left by students from around the world.  Here are some of the most provocative comments that were left by The Blurb Nation.


What is most remarkable about the work done for this project is that the students of my class wrestled with powerful ideas in an authentic project that allowed them to work with students beyond the walls of our building.  We Skyped with classes in Washington DC and Florida, brainstorming thoughts on how to best push this project forward.  We created entries for our own classroom blog that we thought would be engaging to readers of all ages and grade levels.  We challenged the thinking of peers and polished our own thinking.


And perhaps most interesting is that all of this work was ungraded and done out of class time!  Because Darfur doesn't directly connect to my social studies curriculum, work on this project was optional and completed either at home or during recess. 


What lessons does this hold for middle grades educators?  Why was this project so successful and so motivating to the students of my classroom?  Clearly, grades weren't the driving force behind their decisions to get involved.  If it wasn't grades, what was the hook that generated so much meaningful participation in a school-related project that took place beyond the classroom and required a serious investment of time and energy?



Sample Screencast



This sample screencast is designed to introduce middle grades students to adverbs, one of the most complicated parts of speech to understand.  It is used by a middle grades language arts teacher to provide remediation and enrichment to struggling students.



The Characteristics of Memorable Poems



In the Spring of 2010, Bud Hunt---an Instructional Technologist in Northern Colorado---started a blog-based poetry project designed to encourage readers to craft poems from visual prompts posted on his blog.  This activity is a part of a series that is intended to get students thinking about poetry in the same way.  It introduces students to the characteristics of memorable poems by asking them to systematically explore two poems written during Hunt's 2010 poetry project.



Writing a Memorable Poem



This handout---a follow up to the The Characteristics of Memorable Poems handout----is designed to take students through the process of crafting their own memorable poems based on images.  It includes simple directions for brainstorming, drafting, and revising a final product. 



Giving Feedback on Poems



This handout is designed to help students to craft quality feedback comments that can be used when reviewing the poems written by their peers.



Poetry Scoring Rubric



This rubric can be used by teachers and/or students when scoring poetry.





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