Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homeroom Reform Essays Blog Jog

Homeroom Reform Essays
Last week, my students wrote essays to submit to KNSD’s Homeroom Reform Essay Contest. The main prompt asked the students to explain what they would do to improve their education with a $5,000 grant. Instead answering the prompt following a full writing process, the students collaboratively wrote and revised with partners and minimal adult interventions. Reading over their completed papers, I find it rather interesting that many of their requests ask for support of their basic needs instead of developing innovative reforms.

If you have time, please comment on at least one of the blog posts. I also welcome comments to this post.

Monday, November 15, 2010

"Yo, Teach!"

Stupid QuestionsI'm looking for a few words to describe the role of teachers in the future.  Ideas?

Help Students Embed Link Rolls of Classmates’ Blogs

I want all of my students to keep links to all of their classmates’ blogs on their blog. But, it’s been a challenge; manually adding thirty students to a link list sidebar is very time consuming, and it’s annoying to have everyone stop to add new students’ URLs to their lists. Well, I finally fixed the problem today.

In Delicious, I created an embed code for each class. I distributed the embed code to my students. Then, each student created a new page on their blog and entered the code. Now, whenever I add a new student’s blog to my Delicious account, it will automatically appear in each student’s list.

How To:

1. Create a class list in Delicious. (I use my students’ graduation year to tag each group of kids. For example, my freshmen are tagged “2014” and my sophomores are tagged “2013.”)

2. In Delicious, create a link roll: Delicious>Settings>Link Rolls.

3. On the Link Rolls page, title the list, add the desired tag, and adjust other options.

4. From the top of the page, copy the embed code.

5. Using email or an embedded text section from Google Docs, distribute the embed code to students.

6. In Blogger, have students create a new page and paste the code into the page.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Virtual Reality: SketchUp, PhotoSynth, Google Earth, & Google Lit Trips

When I was little, I loved watching movies with special effects that took me into worlds I could never really visit, such as a man’s blood vessel in Innerspace or a bowl of Cheerios in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  Now, I can explore infinite locations through virtual reality while just playing around on my laptop. 
In a classroom, virtual reality enables students to virtually visit and explore locations from the past, present, and future; examine all parts of large and small items; understand processes; and participate in imaginary worlds.  Though it may seem simple to just explore Quick Time’s virtual reality cubes, there are many more virtual reality resources available outside of “the cube.”  By using free virtual reality resources and tools in classrooms, the challenge of economic access are decreased.   Additionally, students are able to create, share, and view projects using common technology tools, free downloads, and user-friendly interfaces.        
Free Virtual Reality Web 2.0 Tools
English Classroom Use
by Google
A 3D modeling program which allows users to easily create and share models. 

Construct a model of a setting to express a particular mood.
by Microsoft

A photo program which allows users to create 3D models and modelpoint clouds from digital photographs.

Write a detailed description of a location, person, animal, or item.
Google Earth
by Google
A 3D globe which allows users to zoom in to specific locations and create customized trips.
Take a “lit trip” to visit real places locations referenced in literature.

In my classroom, I have used virtual reality in Google Earth to create Google Lit Trips.  I learned to create these trips through a training facilitated by Google Certified Teacher Jerome Burg a few years ago.  While creating a Google Lit Trip, the teacher identifies a series of locations relevant to a piece of literature, such as cities a character traveled through.  Then, the teacher adds relevant details to each location: descriptions, photos, videos, and links.  After saving the Lit Trip, the teacher can take students on a virtual exploratory journey which flies through a predetermined path in Google Earth.  Constructing the trips is time-consuming, but a collection of teacher-made trips is available at Jerome Burg’s Google Lit Trips website ( 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Use JogtheWeb to Jog Through Student Blogs

SPA Theme Songs Jog
I just figured out an easy way to distribute a set of my students' blog posts!  In JogtheWeb I created a "jog," or web tour, by labeling and pasting URLs into a list. Now, a viewer can flip through my students blogs by just opening one page.  I distributed the web tour by emailing a link to the "jog" to campus adults, many of whom are novice technology users.