Sunday, November 30, 2008

So far. . .

I had 4 of my classes collaborate on a wiki last year. Their guidelines were very few (because I was learning just like they were!). What I asked them to do was to summarize each section from our chapter on a wiki page that I had already set up. That's it. Afterwards, I had them evaluate 10 of their classmates' pages - what was good, needed improvement, and overall impressions.

I'm going to assign this year's wiki tomorrow... I think. It's all set up and ready to go, but for some reason I'm nervous about it. I don't know why - it can't be any worse than last year, and I was totally happy with that product! I think I just feel more pressure because I know so much more this year. I've set some guidelines for this one - they have to include color, links, images, correct mathematical notation, and some sort of "extra", which they can find on their own.

I've installed (and used a few times) Skype on my computer. It has been nice for quick questions at school when I don't want to try and track someone down. Other than that, though, I haven't used it. But, heck, if Oprah can use it, I sure can!

Last winter, at one of our tablet meetings, we were shown Twitter. Being enthusiastic about something that looked kinda neat, we all signed up. After that time, though, I didn't find much usefulness in it. Over this Thanksgiving break, Cary (our Tablet and PLP leader) posted a message on our ning with some educational uses for Twitter, so I decided to give it a second shot. I searched for new people to follow, made a few posts, and actually had some people respond back! I think now I'll give it an actual try... following the right people and getting some followers myself could really be helpful and give me some new ideas.

Over the summer I was sent a message from Cary, the leader of the T.A.B.L.E.T. project. It included a description of and an application for Powerful Learning Practices (PLP), a program led by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. The purpose is to help teachers redefine their teaching using available web 2.0 tools. We had a face-to-face meeting in October (in Chicago - what a drive!), a ning to communicate with our team and other teams from different schools, and now we're supposed to be working towards some sort of final project (of which we still don't know much about). This program will hopefully help me set up a network to give me new ideas and ways of teaching.

So I think that gets me to today. I was advised to use Tweetdeck to help organize my tweets (what a weird word!), installed it, and I agree that it is nice to see all of that information in three separate columns (instead of just one page!). We'll see where it goes from there!

How it all began

I was accepted to be part of my school's T.A.B.L.E.T. project (I don't remember what the acronym stands for... need to look it up) for the 2007 - 08 school year. As part of the project, I was given a Tablet PC and wireless projector to use for my classroom. For my part, I agreed to go to monthly meetings, participate on a moodle with weekly assignments, and present a project at the end of the year.

I've always enjoyed using computers, but that was the beginning of it all for me. As a freshman in college my friends and I discovered a computer application called Telnet. Through that, we could connect to a site called isca (Iowa Students Computer Association. . . I think) and chat with other people (mostly students) around the world. I made friends in New York, Colorado, and Canada. We thought it was pretty cool and would sit at the computer lab (because not too many people had their own computers) until the wee hours of the night chatting. After graduating from college, I bought my own desktop to use for my school work. Nothing fancy, and the only thing I used it for was word processing (worksheets and tests and such) and excel spreadsheets (for grades).

It wasn't until my third year of teaching that I had a computer (and printer) at my desk. Just to think about how far we've come in the last 8 years is amazing! At this point, most of the teachers at my school have a laptop (or tablet) that we carry around with us. There's a wireless projector in every room (which reminds me - I need to check with our tech guy about mine... I can't hardwire to it!). Using the web as a classroom tool, though, is just starting to spread. I'm going to try and use this blog to show my journey through web 2.0.