Welcome to my Tech Tool Box

As an educator I have discovered the wonderful potential Web 2.0 Tools have to empower student learning. This blog is a place to discuss and share strategies and discoveries that assist educators in their goal of educating each learner to their fullest potential while creating a curriculum which is rich, diverse, and engaging for students. Join me in my quest to get and keep students excited about a lifetime of learning.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Promoting Literacy in a 21st Century World

Promoting literacy in the 21st Century world through technology allows educators to teach good literacy skills that enable the students to decipher and evaluate, written works but also visual images, graphics, and video. Literacy is no longer confined to written words only.

Educators will face the challenge of creating lessons which develop inquiry based learning, critical thinking and good analysis and comprehension of information obtained while integrating technology into their curriculum. Teachers will need to engage in their own inquiry based learning to learn and use the vast array of tools available on the Internet while taking risk with, what for some educators will be unfamiliar domain.

Educators will have to re-think how they teach literacy for it now encompasses digital media as well.  They must encourage collaboration in learning by engaging their students in the read, write and collaborative aspects of the web.  Students will develop a curiosity about all that is available on the web and become risk takers as they come to be empowered by the knowledge that they have obtained.

Producing learners who are proficient in 21st Century skills requires a change in the way in which students learn. Educators must engage learners in higher order thinking skills and inventive thinking. Creative people developed the tools available on the web and these great tools encourage creativity, communication, and collaboration by all who use them.

Educators must re-think how they teach as they embrace the social aspects of web 2.0 and it myriad of applications. The way people learn is changing dramatically we as educators must embrace this change and teach our students how to navigate through these new waters and realize that learning is and always has been a social thing. If you think back to early learning it was knowledge told by storytellers and elders of a tribe or community, it wasn’t as isolated as it has become.  Think of the web, as a social network of caring teachers who want to pass on what they have learned to the world, be not afraid of it, and embrace it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Web 2.0 Tools

Wow, there are so many great Web 2.0 Tools out there, Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Google Docs, Zoho, to name a few and some new ones. Check out some of these fun sites.

Wordle, great sight to create catchy Word Clouds, the word that is used most frequently is the largest. I use this to introduce new lessons, artists and ideas about art.
Top  10 Wordle Uses Site

Voice Thread has great possibilities for discussions and oral histories of images, video, etc. It is another great collaboration tool. I must say students really like collaborating, so I am excited about so many great new Web 2.0 Tools which encourage collaboration.

Toondoo a great site for students to create cartoons, be they humorous, political, or about events in history, current events or bullying prevention.

Podcasting is something that has been around, however, it has never been this easy for students to use. Now that we have Macs with Garageband it is very easy for students to use it. Podcasting stands out to me because I can see it a great way for students to collaborate and engage in Art History, which sometimes can be a bit unappealing to them. I plan to assign student groups to research an artist and an artwork of the artists and create a slideshow with a Podcast describing the life of the artist and a few of his/her most famous works. I plan to showcase the Podcasts at our annual art show. I also plan to have students create Podcasts describing the exhibits in our galleries which the students created, in this way it will be much like a recorded docent tour at an art museum.

Podbean is a great place to host your podcast.

This lesson incorporates the following NETS Standards for Students:

            Creativity and Innovation

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. 
a. apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes.
b. create original works as a means of personal or group expression. 

Communication and Collaboration

Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others. Students: 
a.interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media.
 b. communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats.

Taken from the NETS Standards


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Power of Podcasting

I really enjoyed seeing all of the available resources and apps for podcasting. There are so many available that it makes it easier than it was a few years back when I first tried to make one and it seemed overwhelming to me. Since I have a Mac I created my podcast in Garageband which was effortless and really quick. I have used audacity before and feel it has a greater learning curve. Garageband makes it easy to add images in from i-photo as well.

Podcasts in the classroom can be used as a teaching tool to engage the students at the beginning of a lesson and motivate them to learn more. They can also be a great way for students to collaborate and make their own podcasts showing the knowledge they have gained, what a great assessment tool for auditory learners. I feel students would jump at the chance to create a podcast book report or presentation over a written on any day of the week. Creating  and teaching with podcasts incorporate the following NETS standards:

My Podcast about the artist Chagall     

Listen to this episode

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Teaching Visual Literacy using Online Photo Sharing

Well I love the opportunities that online photo sharing sites create for the classroom. Being an art educator visual literacy plays a huge role in interpreting and finding meaning in works of art. Visual images are how people process the world around them, the good, the bad and the awestruck moments of life. As learners, students need to be able to understand the images they see by learning how to interpret, evaluate, and find meaning in them. Educators need to encourage learners to look for clues, communications, feelings, and meaning in the images they encounter and create. I found creating and using a Flickr account was a breeze, especially if you set up your Blogger, Google, and Flickr account all through your Google account it works  seamlessly together and there are less passwords to remember.

I would use Online Photo-Sharing Sites in many ways in my art classroom. One as an Art History and Art Criticism tool. I would teach a unit on Architecture, teaching the traditional "Elements of Architecture" i.e. columns, symmetry, facades, etc. and then have the students find or use photos I put in a Gallery which represented these elements. It would be a worldwide scavenger hunt from ancient Rome, to modern contemporary homes who still use those basic elements worldwide. I would add to the fun and have them map point their photos and annotations in Flickr. This lesson incorporates the following NETS standards.

  • Communication and Collaboration a.interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media b.communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats  c. develop cultural understanding and global awareness by engaging with learners of other cultures.
  • Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making b.plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project c.collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions.
    (Taken from the ISTE NETS and Performance Indicators for Students  NETS

    Flickr Tour
    Flickr Resources
    Big Huge Lab Photo Editing

    Flickr Slide Share Ideas and Tutorial


Texting! by theshizniz
Texting!, a photo by theshizniz on Flickr.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Social Bookmarking, a great Web 2.0 Tool

Social Bookmarking, wow what a great research and collaborative tool. As an educator I'm always sending colleagues links that I find are great or relevant, however, it's been a one-way street, I don't get too many back in return. After exploring delicious.com I was hooked, I found a community of learners who bookmark and tag sites that are relevant to my own interest and research. The big misconception is that most people think, "Oh I know how to bookmark," well this app is an eyeopener, and full of potential so don't pass it over. Using delicious.com is wonderfully simple and Diigo.com another bookmarking site has wonderful features that let you categorize your lists of bookmarks, allowing you to refine and categorize your searches and information even more. I will be setting up a group or two with my teaching colleagues in the near future as a educational resource, enabling collaboration and sharing of information.

So how do you use social bookmarking in the classroom? You could probably Google that and create a bookmark and tags to start collecting ideas, making it easy on yourself, why do the work if it's already been done. Being an art educator I would use this as a classroom research tool. What a fabulous way to introduce a period of painting. Set up a social bookmarking site, create a buddy group or limit who can view the bookmarks and tags to protect your students, then let them loose. They can all explore the web for relevant sites, bookmark and tag them. By creating a research tool for the period of art; such as Impressionism, Fauvism, or Contemporary Art, students will easily gather information for a project, wiki, blog, or presentation regarding the information collected. Students will be using their Research and Information Fluency skills a NETS standard by evaluating, locating, and organizing sources and information using digital tools and technology in the classroom.
I hope you enjoy and discover the potential this super Web 2.0 Tool has to offer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Web 2.0 RSS and Other Feed Readers in Education

So what are the benefits of using RSS or Feed Readers in education you might ask like I did. Well being the curious person that I am I went out searching for what I can do with this Web 2.0 tool and found some great ideas and resources. Adding the RSS Feeds to my blogs was a few clicks and they were up just add it under gadget on your design template.
Feeds are great for gathering research, especially if you set up an interesting activity or research topic that once subscribed to feeds will gather information until you are ready to implement it into your curriculum. Feeds give you the information you are searching for as opposed to you having to sift through information being pushed out to you. Feeds are also a fantastic way to monitor student blogs or your favorite education or technology news feeds or blogs. Using feeds in the classroom integrates NETS-S Standard of using "Creativity and Innovation."  Feeds encourage learners to use existing knowledge and apply it to a new process while identifying trends regarding the topic they are exploring. NETS-S Standard of "Research and Information Fluency" is also integrated when the learners strategically guide their inquiry by collecting information and acquiring knowledge through the use of feeds.
So use this great Web 2.0 tool to its full potential and FEED those hungry minds in your classroom.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Exploring and Creating Wikis

Exploring the vast amount of wikis and wiki resources on the web gives one an endless supply of ideas and classroom applications. Wikis offer the best  Web 2.0 tool for collaboration. Collaboration of research, ideas, resources, and ideas or interests by many individuals, groups, or classes is easily achieved by creating  a wiki. Home room teachers can create a classroom news Wiki to encourage students to collaborate on what they are learning or working on in class. The first Wiki I created was based on a famous artist, the idea being to put up some information myself and have the students get involved in adding additional information to create and in depth look at the artist life, art and body of work. The next Wiki I created is a "Learn to Draw" wiki. I always have students finishing art projects at various times and I want them to continue learning independently while I help the rest of the class finish. I have a center in my room for them to use learn to draw books independently. So I though what a great idea for a Wiki. They can use the resources and also post new ideas, resources, and videos to use as a self-guided practice if they finish a lesson prior to their peers. The Wiki I created incorporates the NETS standard of having students use technology effectively and productively as well as encouraging students to communicate and collaborate using a great Web 2.0 tool.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Exploration of Blogs

I loved creating my blog using Blogger it was very easy and fun to create. I enjoyed the options to be artistic with the design of the blog it’s colors, theme, and gadgets allowed me to express my personality through my blog which I feel is important.  I have several ideas for how I will use blogs with my students. For the display and discussion of student artworks. Art extension activities and to meet NAEA (National Art Education Association) standards of Art Criticism, Art History, and Aesthetics. In art education one of our standards is Art Criticism; which is teaching students how to look at art and respond to the artwork regarding what they see, how it makes them feel and what artistic elements and principals of design were used to create the artwork. I will use blogging to create an art criticism activity that will show examples of works of art, artists, and videos of their work to engage the students in a meaningful reflection of their response to that particular artwork of body of work of a particular artist. This type of blogging experience would incorporate the NETS Students standards 2.Communication and Collaboration, a, b, and c  and 6.Technology Operations and Concepts, a, c, and d.   I also would like to create a blog that has activities, which allow for the differentiation of learning styles through interactive blogging activities. I feel the greatest challenge teachers and districts face is availability of resources for technology and also having enough bandwidth to support students blogging and watching videos of art like I desire. I have this problem currently where YouTube just spools and the students can’t watch the video about the artist I have chosen.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tips For Teaching Students Blogging Etiquette

Students need instruction on how to safely and respectfully create a thoughtful blog response. I find one way of getting students to create a thoughtful response is to give them an example or a requirement such as 2-5 complete sentences are required for a response which addresses the topic or question.

These are resources I find helpful for Blogging Etiquette, in addition I created a poster which hangs above my computer area in my classroom.

Blog Rules for the Classroom

How Blogging Can Enrich Learning

Blogging can enrich learning by putting the learners in a more constructivist type of learning environment. Students can discover knowledge and opinions about the information they are seeking to acquire. Blogging creates a two way street for the taking and imparting of knowledge. I fell students value the opinions of others especially their peers and like reading what others have said regarding a common subject.

The following is a list of links with ideas of how to incorporate blogging into your curriculum.

Blogging 101

Blogs in Education

Web 2.0 in the Classroom

Educational Value of Blogs in Classrooms

Discovery Education

Blogging in the Classroom