Sunday, January 9, 2011

Learning More About Prezi

While exploring Prezi I have found some interesting features that I find helpful.  The manual page offers links to help with various problems you might encounter when creating a Prezi.  The most helpful information that I found is the shortcuts page. Here you can learn all of the shortcuts that can help you quickly create a Prezi.  There they created a Prezi to model all of the shortcuts, yes a Prezi about Prezi.

There is also an offline Prezi application that you can download so you can work on a project in places that you will not have internet access.  This is convenient to have in case of internet failure, which seems to happen at my school once every other week.  If you are going to do a presentation or have your class present Prezis that they have created this would be a great back up to have.  You can also convert a Prezi that was made online to the desktop offline version. 

When I started to create my own Prezi I was having a little trouble working with my trackpad and the Prezi template and it took me a bit of time to get used to it.  I was zooming in and out all over the place!  I added some text and a few screenshots very easily by using the wheel in the corner of the screen to insert images, create the path I wanted to Prezi to follow and format the presentation.  There were a lot of great options for the format of the Prezi, they have templates like PowerPoint that you can use or you can customize your own.  I just stuck with one of the templates that I thought had a nice design.

The presentation automatically saved itself every few minutes which was nice in case Firefox decided to quit for some reason (thankfully it didn't). After a bit of time I put together a Prezi for a social studies lesson I teach on resources and production.  It is very basic but I got the hang of writing the text, adding images and creating a pathway for my presentation to follow.

Human, Natural and Capital Resources

After reading some of my classmates blogs they got me thinking even more about the many uses of Prezi.  I could post a Prezi on my wiki or webpage for students that are absent to watch and complete assignments.  I also have a group of students that go to a GT extension group a few days a week during content and this would be a great way for them to catch up on their own.  I am sure the ideas will just keep flowing!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Testing Out the Wiki

Now that my wiki is all set up I decided to put it out there for my students to use.  First I wrote a letter to the parents explaining the purposes of the wiki and how our class would use it to collaborate.  I also made it clear that this site would be secure and only members that were invited would have access.  The letter gave the wiki address, the child's login information and an explanation of how to edit the page.    The letter was approved by my vice principal and was sent home.

The letter also outline the first optional assignment for students to sign up at home for their president report ( I posted about this earlier).  After checking the next morning I was surprised to see that five students signed up that night!  I was excited to see the students diving in right away.

Today I also took my students to the computer lab to have them practice logging into the wiki and teach them how to edit a page.  That process alone is quite time consuming for second graders.  But I am happy to report after twenty minutes each student had successfully logged in and written on our test page.

Now I am hoping to make a page for each child and have them complete assignments on their pages.  Parents will be able to log onto the wiki and view the work and students will eventually be able to edit each others pages to help them with peer reviewing.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Exploring Exploratree

Earlier I had posted about my new account to the online graphic organizer tool Exploratree.  Several people posted about how this tool is similar to Kidspiration and Inspiration which are both software packages that our school system has installed on our computers for elementary grades.  Since I teach a primary grade my students often use Kidspiration which is geared towards younger students.  This software is easy to use and the students are familiar with it since they have used it in many of their classes.

Some of the benefits of using Exploratree are that students could begin an assignment in class and then finish it at home if they prefer since this program is online.  Another feature I like is that I can send links of my organizers to my blog or wiki and students can access the link from there.  I decided to do this on my wiki to give students the option of having an organizer to gather their ideas for their first report.  I added the link and a screenshot of the of organizer so students and parents could print it at home if they felt needed that extra first step for their research.

Exploratree also is a easy tool to use for collaboration.  Once you have started a project you can send it to others (co-teachers, team members) to review and comments.  They can make changes to your project and send it back.  If you are interested in learning more about Exploratree you can watch the introductory video which walks you through the steps of creating, sharing, and printing your organizers.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Wikispace Account

I am happy to announce that I have my own HCPSS approved wikispace account.  There is not much there so far but I start edited my homepage and adding a few pages right away.  It is very easy to modify and add pages by using the editing toolbar located at the top of the page.  To get a few ideas about how to use my wikispace I did explore several other teachers' pages at my school and found that most use their accounts to update students and parents with homework and classwork assignments as well as provide helpful links for home practice.

Using a wiki is a great way to develop a sense of community in the classroom.  All students will be able to add information to the wiki, making them feel like a vital piece of the class.  It will also be a nice way for parents to understand what the children are doing in school.  I would first like to introduce the students to the site and have them practice logging in and writing something since I am not sure how many have used a wiki before.  But I have created a page that I would like students to use at home to sign up for their first research report.  Students will write the name of the president they chose to research and list any helpful resources they have used.  I think this will be a relatively easy beginning post for them and that way we will be able to monitor the number of students that sign up for certain presidents ( I put a limit on the wiki).  This will be an optional assignment, but I am hoping most students will signup.  I will let you know how it works out.

Here is the web address for my wikispace

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More on Diigo

When I take my students to the computer lab they go to my teacher folder and click on different links I have saved for them since the county school system does not allow them to type in web addresses on their own.  This worked fine until my folder ran out of space.  I didn't have very many items in there and found this annoying.

Now that I have been exploring Diigo I have created a list of bookmarked pages that I use with my students or they use at home.  I am still in the exploration phase but I have found a few interesting features which I think will be helpful to my students.  This is a screenshot of a few websites that I added to my bookmarks.

Under each bookmark I can make comments and leave notes for the students.  I used this area to write things I think the students would need to know such as the interesting features of the site or for some the username and password.  For some sites I also used the capture and drawing tools to show students where to login and remind them of the username and password.  I cut some of the information off in the screenshot so that I would not publish the info here.

Another nice feature is that I can send my list of links to others on my team since many of them use the same websites, and it would save them some time.  For anyone interested in my list so far the link is below. 


During one of my classes last spring a classmate introduced me to Prezis.  Since then I have seen a few presentations and heard about how many of my classmates use them in their teaching.  I think a Prezi is a great interactive tool to make a presentation and keep the attention of the audience.  I did find that some of them move a little too fast for me and then it loses my attention.  I finally decided to create an account and think about how I will use this tool in my classroom.

If you do not know much about Prezis, they are a presentation tool that allow you to organize your ideas with videos, pictures and text.  Instead of putting information on different slides like a PowerPoint, you use one large open space to create your presentation.  You can show importance of aspects of your presentation by making them larger or smaller.  Later you organize the sequence that you would like the project to follow.  When people view your Prezi they can zoom in and out and follow the ideas around the screen.  After I created an account I watched the tutorial video which I found very helpful.

I started to think about how I would use this tool to introduce new concepts to my students or review for tests.  Since my students are young I think this would be a great way to keep them interested in the content I am teaching and incorporate videos, text, and photos in the presentation in a creative way.   Below are two Prezis that I liked and thought I could be relevant to what I am teaching my students this year.

Strategies for Adding and Subtracting Numbers

2nd Grade Science: The Life Cycle of a Butterfly

Hopefully I will start working on creating a Prezi of my own!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Social bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a wonderful way for educators to collect and organize web addresses that they find helpful.  Once the addresses have been organized they can also be shared with students and other educators.  While I have been bookmarking websites for a long time I had not given much thought to using a social bookmarking tool.  I did some research and found there are several recommended social bookmarking sites.  This site lists the Top 10 Social Bookmarking Sites for Teachers and I recognized and Squidoo as two tool that teachers have talked about before.  The webpage is very basic but gives some information.  The Squidoo homepage offers more information about the site and gives you links to get started with.

While I found those options helpful I decided to look at another option I read about in ActionLine, the MSEA magazine.  Diggio is a social bookmarking tool that provides many of the same options that the previous tools do but I found the website helpful and appealing and thought it would give it a try.  I joined Diggo and installed the toolbar which allows you to bookmark sites quickly, highlight text, write notes on the webpage, capture parts of the documents and share by emailing or posting on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter. 

I have started to play around a little and I found a few websites that my students might find helpful with their president's reports.  I thought this would be especially helpful for my second graders since trying to find accurate information in a timely manner can be difficult.  When we go to the computer lab students are not allowed to simply type in information and search they must be given the web address we would like them to use and put in a folder so they can access it without finding inappropriate material.  I hope that using this will be helpful to both my students and I.