Melissa Giddins

Exploring technology and literacy in education.

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: 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

Moodle and Me

Towards the end of last year our school completed the installation of Moodle.  This year is the integration of Moodle into our teaching and learning.  To begin with, we are encouraged to start using it as a content management tool. The initial steps outlined for all teachers are to change the school template for your courses by uploading an appropriate image, upload your assessment tasks and add the tasks to the Moodle calendar.

In many ways, this was a clever move, as it was such a small thing to ask of people and easy to do, so that there was really no excuse to not be Moodling.  Having said that, some of my staff were still quite challenged and required extra instructions and two special faculty meetings devoted to Moodle in order to have the courses for Year 7 and Year 10 English completed by Term 1.

When those who were willing and enthusiastic then wanted to go further, they were inclined to see Moodle more as a content management tool than anything else. Therefore, their next, unguided, steps were to add a welcome message, add information to the topics in the way of topic descriptions and to upload photos and handouts for students. Those brave few that have continued further have added video and content for learning – seeming to understand e-learning as being about providing content and information digitally and furthering their use of Moodle as a content management tool.  This seems to me to be the tip of the Moodle iceberg.

Conscious of my role as leader of the faculty, I too first followed this path, and added much content to my own Moodle courses. Being an avid promoter of Web 2.0 interactive technologies for teaching and learning, this soon felt restrictive and two-dimensional.  I then started to explore how I could use Moodle to provide Web 2.0 experiences for my students.  I am by no means there yet, but have certainly begun the process.  The next step is to get my staff walking along the same path.

My challenge is to now shift the mentality of my faculty, from Moodle as a content management tool to Moodle as an interactive teaching and learning tool. First step I guess is the same as always – do it first as a model to show them the way. Inspire, invigorate, demonstrate, teach, provide, revise, repeat.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Moodle | , | 4 Comments