Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

Fake Facebook

Thanks to Bianca Hewes for these two great resources received via Edmodo!

Love it or hate it, Facebook is in our students’ lives. We have seen cyberbullying and now with the introduction of mobile phones that can browse the web, it doesn’t matter anymore that Facebook is blocked at school – the kids can still access it at school now via their phones and so it is still a large part of most of their lives 24/7.

So why fight it? Here is a great site: http://www.myfakewall.com  that allows you to create a fake Facebook wall and use it for good instead of for evil!

One of my teachers is going to use it with a Year 9 class as part of a poetry unit of work – creating a facebook wall for the composer, such as Samuel Coleridge, where they have to research the composer to add the information to the facebook wall.

Another great “fake” option is the fake iPhone text site: http://www.fakeiphonetext.com which allows you to create fake texts! An opportunity to use the evil of text messaging in class for a good purpose.

Should be a fun and engaging activity, however you use it, that catches the students in their world and their interests. Would love to hear from people who have tried it with ideas about ways to utilise these resources!

March 14, 2011 Posted by | Web 2.0 tools | | Leave a comment

Interesting Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom

I stumbled upon a new site while reading through updates from Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day blog today and couldn’t resist sharing this great new resource. Tom Barrett’s blog: Edte.ch: Inspire, Connect, Engage, Create is a rich resource of educational ideas and examples. One of the pages on his blog has collated a series of posts entitled “Interesting Ways to Use…” and this is a veritable gold mine! He has collated ideas from different educators about how they utilise various technologies within the classroom, with examples often pictured. There are 23 different tools explored, including Prezi, Wallwisher, VoiceThread, Wordle, using wikis and many more. Not all of the “interesting ways” posts are technology related – there are several on other topics including: “Interesting Ways to Support Spelling in the Classroom” and “Interesting Ways to Support Writing in the Classroom”, both of which obviously caught my eye as an English teacher.

If you are looking for ideas about how to use some of these fabulous Web 2.0 tools, I highly recommend checking out the “Interesting Ways” page for some great ideas and examples.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Digital Education Revolution (DER), Laptops 4 Learning, Web 2.0 tools | , , | Leave a comment

Website of the Week

I am often faced with the dilemma of how to control the flow of technology information to my staff so that they are not swept away in a flood of new websites, tools and ideas but rather can receive enough information to stay informed, at a pace where they can absorb the information. My first step in this direction has been the implementation this term of the “website of the week”.  The idea is that I put one new website on our Moodle Virtual Staffroom every week and showcase that website at the faculty meeting.  So far this appears to be working. Teachers can access the information when they are ready and utilise it when it is appropriate, while being aware that the technology exists.

The websites that I choose are not in any kind of priority order but rather are things that are relevant to my faculty at the time. I must also add that within my faculty are teachers of English, Italian, Drama, Dance and Film so that makes a broader audience to target with the websites.

The websites of the week so far are as follows:

  • Week 1: Movieclips – over 12,000 movieclips to use.
  • Week 2: Glogster – create posters online
  • Week 3: Wallwisher – online collaborative space
  • Week 4: AudioBoo – a mobile and web platform that allows you to effortlessly record and upload audio.
  • Week 5: DERNSW Tutorials – Brad Bennet’s fabulous site of tutorials to help teachers with the DERNSW laptops
  • Week 6: Wordle – make a word cloud.
  • Week 7: Reading Rewards – a website to encourage reading and offer incentives for pages read.
  • Week 8: Lino It – create a canvas of online multimedia sticky notes (similar to Wallwisher).
  • Week 9: Prezi – a fantastic non-linear presentation tool

I am a week ahead of myself at the moment as we are only just going into Week 8, but I realised that I had not yet showcased Prezi, so put it up a week early so that I would not forget!

For the Wordle week, I gave them a ready made example, showed them how I had used it with a class and three other teachers have now used wordle within their classes.

Overall, so far this experiment is working as a way to disseminate a trickle rather than a flood, of useful information in a timely manner. My next thought is to have “play time” in some faculty meetings, where I give them four or five similar web tools and they play and explore. Then they brainstorm usages, evaluate usefulness and decide which is their preferred tool.  I’ll let you know how that goes!

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Digital Education Revolution (DER), Laptops 4 Learning, Web 2.0 tools | | 4 Comments

Free Technology for Teachers

I am often asked how I encounter new sites and great learning tools on the web. The first answer was always “on Twitter!” where my PLN feeds me daily new ideas and links. However lately that answer has expanded to include the blogs that I am reading.  One of the blogs that I read is called “Free Technology for Teachers” and is exactly that. Every day a new website or tool is showcased but more than that, a section is added called “Applications for Education” where recommendations are made for possible uses of the technology within education.

On this blog, I am constantly amazed by the incredible flow of new ideas and tools. I highly recommend that you subscribe to this blog, either through the RSS feed or via email, and receive a constant stream of new ideas yourself!

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Digital Education Revolution (DER), Laptops 4 Learning, PLN, Web 2.0 tools | , , , | Leave a comment

New tool: Prezi.Com

A success story for you.

I wanted to give my students an opportunity to use their laptops to synthesise information from a brainstorm and wanted to get them to learn a new skill for something relatively easy so that we could utilise the tool for something more difficult later. I chose Prezi as the tool that we would learn. Prezi.Com creates a presentation that is very different to the linear nature of PowerPoint and gives students the opportunity to think more about visual techniques including reading paths and hierarchies of importance.

The lesson went very well and being such a positive experience, I decided that it was a tool that was going on my list of good ideas and useful tools. Here is the process we followed:

  1. I created a Prezi (prior to the lesson) and showed it to the students so that they had a demonstration of a possible end product.
  2. On the Interactive White Board (IWB) we went to the Prezi.Com website and I showed the students the first two YouTube videos available under the Learn tab on the website.
  3. Students then signed up and created an account of their own and began creating Prezis – it took only a few minutes to sign up.
  4. Students worked on their prezis and once satisfied with the finished product, gave the link to me and it was posted on our Moodle page so that everyone could look at each other’s work.

Here are two examples of the students’ finished products:

Some tips for the new user:

  1. Students will have to sign up and create an account before they can use it. The good news is that there is no requirement to activate the account through the email address prior to being able to use Prezi, which means they create their account and can then start creating a Prezi immediately, and they don’t need to worry about using their DET email account or being able to access their email at school.
  2. The first two YouTube videos under the Learn tab on the website are very useful to show to the class. The first one you may even want to show twice, depending on the age of the class and their overall “savvy” factor.
  3. When they begin to create their first prezi, the first YouTube video begins to play and it needs to be closed (with the big red X in the top right corner of the video) before students can start creating their prezi. On the DERNSW laptops getting to that big red X can be difficult.  You will need to close two or three of the toolbars at the top – look for a little “x” on the far left of the toolbar and click on it, then when the dialogue box comes up, click on”Disable”. That may be enough for some laptops, but for others I had to autohide the toolbar at the bottom of the screen as well in order to see the X so that we could close the video and students could start working on their prezi. To autohide the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, right click on the toolbar, choose Properties and from the options tick Autohide.
  4. Getting the URL from the students for their prezi was a little tricky as they were wanting to copy and paste the URL from the top of the page. This is the WRONG one! The student should go into My Account and click on their presentation. On the bottom right hand side of the dialogue box that opens there is a URL written there with the words COPY LINK written next to it. If you click on the copy link button it acts like you have highlighted the link and clicked copy, now you can choose paste in either an email, onto a word page, etc and the link will be pasted there. I had students paste the link into Edmodo and I copied it into our Moodle page from there.

Following my experience I would also make the following recommendations:

  1. Take the time to either create a model or find one on Prezi.Com to show the students. It helps them to understand what it can do and what you want.
  2. Allow plenty of time to show the YouTube videos, have them sign up, deal with any difficulties such as the toolbars needing to be closed, etc before they actually start creating the prezi. I allowed two lessons in total (50 minutes each lesson) and there were still some students that didn’t quite finish and will be completing them for homework across this week. I have a fairly savvy class and the prezi was only simple that they were required to make, so you may need to allow more time than this.

Prezi.Com was a success with my Year 10 English class and I shall be using it again with other classes I am sure.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Digital Education Revolution (DER), Laptops 4 Learning, Web 2.0 tools | , , | Leave a comment