Thursday, September 06, 2007

Synapses are Firing: Technology Playground

We are fortunate to have weekly Faculty/ Curriculum meetings on Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:30. This is time dedicated to collaboration, professional development and planning. This year in planning for this time I have structure a rotation of meeting topics that is repeated monthly: Technology playground, Curriculum, Student work, Assessment.

Yesterday was the first Technology Playground meeting and it was a great start to the year. Part of the idea is that there needs to be time to try new applications and to explore their application in the classroom. We focused on two “skills” to start the year and we split the staff into two groups. Jan, our tech wizard, worked with one and I worked with the other but the staff actually taught each other as they rotated through the two stations. One task yesterday was to make sure each teacher had ( and understood how to use) an iGoogle page which included at a minimum, Google reader, Google notebook, goggle docs, Google calendar and a bookmark widget for those things that did not have an RSS feed. The staff had 5 bookmarks* to start thier Google reader and we share a school master calendar and a few documents. One of the best things was the realization that igoogle could make life easier. They also saw, first hand, how valuable RSS could be. I have talked about RSS for a year now and tried to show how to use it but the beauty of iGoogle was that it brought everything into one place .

The other task was to register for Voicethread and learn how to use it. We are really excited abut this application and it will be something all of the teachers use at some point this year. In the lower grades it will be a wonderful opportunity for the students to explain their learning and develop their oral language skills. We are also considering using it as a way to connect some classrooms around the globe. Last year we started the photo-a-day for schools which was a lot of fun but hard to administer. Now we are wondering about a weekly voicethread as a window to connect schools.

Would you be interested? We are open to grades K to 8. in California the social studies standards for second grade include understanding the differences in locations and this would be a great way to help the students truly grasp this!

Thanks to voice thread, skype and Joyce, another piece of just-in-time learning that surfaced was an interest in Avatars. Each teacher is going to create one for use on their webpage and with voicethread.

*Clarence, Jeff, Darren, David Warlick, Will Richardson

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Mrs V & P7V said...

Hi Barbara - My class took part in the 'photo a day' project last year and it was sad when it finally became came to an end.

We've recently been experimenting with Voicethread (it's not 'blocked'!) and have even managed to put some on our class blog ... so if you want us 'on-board' again, we'd be willing to give it a try!

Bach said...

Hi Barbara- Great blog! I have a question about your use of Voicethread. Do you find it is mainly used for things like Digital Storytelling (i.e. like an online Photostory 3) or more like a pod or vodcast? Is there any way that you know of to use voicethread with RSS?