19 November 2008

1 What is Wordle?

What is www.wordle.net?

How can I use www.wordle.net in my classroom?
  • Word Chunks: (i.e. –an pan, man, fan, etc.)
  • All About Me or All About My Family
  • Character Traits/Analysis- Type name of a character or famous person and attributes that describe him/her.
  • Synonyms (for those over used words students use when writing)
  • Cover of a class book (Type title and then add authors’ names.)
  • Vocabulary/Terminology
  • Word Poetry
  • Reflections
  • Parts of Speech
  • Figurative Speech
  • Phonics
  • Rhyming Words
  • Characteristics of Genres
  • Mind Mapping
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Living/Nonliving
  • Forms of Energy
  • Earth Forces
  • Weather
  • Math Factors
  • Fact Families
  • US Constitution
  • Biographies (Inventors/Famous Americans)
  • American Revolution
  • Math Concepts
  • Renewable/Nonrenewable/Inexhaustible Resources
  • Facts about a certain topics (i.e. Indians, biomes, animals, habitats, Solar Systems, States, holidays, etc)
  • The sky is the limit with this application!
Visit the below sites for more examples on how to use Wordle in the classroom.
Tips on using Wordle
  • Type your words into a Word document so you can make changes if needed.
  • If you want a word(s) to appear larger, type the word once and copy/paste it several times.
  • If you want some of your words to be grouped together, use the tilde symbol (~) between the words. Example: All~About~Me
  • Once you type the words you want, copy the text and go to www.wordle.net. Click Create and then right-click in the text box and select paste. Then click Go. Once the “wordle” is created, you can click Randomize until you find the style you like. Use the toolbar at the top to customize the font, color, etc.
  • CAUTION: The gallery has some examples that are NOT appropriate for kids so you would need to monitor students closely if they use this tool. Addtionally, the creator of Wordle does not suggest using Wordle in an educational setting because the creations are not censored. Students should begin at the following address.http://www.wordle.net/create
  • Checkout some of the examples below:

I want to thank my fellow colleagues, Kim H. and Shannon McD. for their assistance in compiling the information for this post.

18 November 2008

0 Wordle - Did You Know?

  • You can join words together in Wordle by using the tilde character (~)
  • For example the words, Staff Development - type Staff~Development
  • You can also create a Custom Palette
  • Go to the Color

  • Choose the number of font colors you want to use

  • Click on each Foreground color > Select a color > OK


14 November 2008

0 Activate:The Journal of Technology Rich Learning

The Journal of Technology Rich Learning

This is a great web-based learning module site. According to the site, "These web-based resources are intended for students, parents, teachers, administrators, library media specialists, and technology coordinators.

Each new article contains the volume, number, and date for the purpose of citation. The articles were designed for use as conference sessions or professional development workshops.

Check it out!!!

11 November 2008

0 The Networked Teacher

Recently, I presented at the TCEA Areas 10/11 Technology Conference and showed this great short video called, The Networked Teacher. This video is a wonderful "visual representation of the modern teacher, showing how educators today are more “interconnected” with resources than a teacher not even ten years ago could imagine." http://magazine.edublogs.org/2008/02/02/visualizing-the-networked-teacher/

Also, consider signing up with Edublogs Magazine at http://magazine.edublogs.org/. This is an online magazine dedicated to everything and anything education technology related, with an edubloggy slant. They feature articles and posts by edubloggers from around the world and aim to provide news, views, information, ideas, help and stimulation for all those working with or studying education and technology.

Happy Blogging!

06 November 2008

0 How About Social Studies Point to Point Video Conference Ideas?

  • Where in the United States: Each classroom creates a presentation about its city or town. The other classrooms, using maps, the Internet, textbooks, and other resources, will try to 'guess' where all classrooms are located.
  • Create Travel Advertisements or brochures of a place in your community. Share these with a partner class. During the videoconference, share a virtual visit of some of the places by using photos or a video.
  • Back In Time: 5th Grade classrooms present a newscast for the other groups which describe a specific event in history. The other classes take notes and guess the event.
  • Civil War Debates: Two classes take different sides to a Civil War issue. Students research the issues and develop speeches to support their side. Students can take a figure of the time and give the debate acting and dressed up as that person.
  • When Was That?: Each classroom will put together a presentation on a given decade. The presentations will include information on: History/Politics, Religion, Science/Technology, Fine Arts, and Leisure. The other classrooms would try to guess the decade the presentation represents.
  • Where in the United States: Each classroom creates a presentation about its city or town. The other classrooms, using maps, the Internet, textbooks, and other resources, will try to 'guess' where all classrooms are located.

21 October 2008

0 Need Reading and Language Arts Point to Point Videoconference Ideas?

  • Have each class select a place of interest to the class. Students can draw pictures, make a brochure, maps, models, etc., to show their place. Have them write clues about this “Secret Site!” Share with your partner class to discover the secret place!
  • Create a multimedia presentation (a whole class one) about a topic. Exchange these with the other class. Have them view the presentation. Write questions about the presentation to ask during the videoconference. Make a handout or art project as a follow-up!
  • Have older students find a younger class with whom they could be mentors. Have older students write a play about a character trait and present it during the videoconference. OR…act out a Folk Tale. Have students write questions to ask younger students. Send a student-created worksheet, project, etc. to the teacher of the younger students ahead of time. Let those students do the activity as a follow-up!
  • Read a book and videoconference with its actual author!
  • Write persuasive articles and exchange. Write why you agree or disagree with the paper. Set up a debate with the partner class.
  • Create a poetry booklet that includes poems written by partner classes.
    Write a continuing novel which is completed by the partner class! Make it into a book to be “published!”
  • Partner with a class to write and edit papers. This will give a real audience and purpose for writing!
  • Pair students. Have them share journal writing using the same prompt in both classes. Have students respond to what they read!
  • Read a book. Have students write a sequel, opinion, solutions to problems, different outcomes, evaluations, or interpretations of the book. Share with partner class.
  • Write a short story with other classes. Have one class create the characters, plot, another the theme, the setting, the conclusion, etc. Divide students into groups to write short stories using the above creations. Share during the conference!

14 September 2008

0 Need Math and Science Point to Point Videoconference ideas?

  • Create science/math questions to exchange with another class in the areas being studied.
  • Create a jeopardy game to be played at the videoconference using CPS! Use TAKS questions if you’d like!
  • Do a science experiment. Share your experiment and results with another class. Take video pictures, either still, moving, or morphed!
  • Do a science lesson on a topic being studied. Share questions and answers with another class. Have an “expert” come to one of the schools to be interviewed during the videoconference!
  • Have students write questions to ask younger students. Send a student-created worksheet, project, etc. to the teacher of the younger students ahead of time. Let those students do the activity as a follow-up!
  • Write and share word problems. Make it a contest who can answer the most correctly in a class.
  • Measure perimeters of the main areas of the school: buildings, playground, sidewalks, etc. Write descriptions using geometric terms of how to put the various shapes together. Send measurements and descriptions to your partner school and have them use these to draw a diagram of the school. Share drawings on the day of conference and compare with actual mapped pictures or photos of the real school areas.
  • Find geometric shapes inside and outside of the school. Take photos of these. Send photos to the partner class and have students identify and classify the shapes!

23 August 2008

0 The Multimedia Project Can Be a Pleasant Experience...Really!

Grrrrrr….Uggg!…..It’s common knowledge that some may regard the multimedia projects as a dreadful, heinous experience - but through detailed preplanning and limited student choices, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This post will present ideas in an effort to provide a more pleasurable computer lab experience for all….really!

  • Create timelines, rubrics and a checklist - share prior to the beginning of the project, so students are fully aware of your expectations.
  • Assign group projects instead of individual projects - presenting 4 - 5 projects instead of 18 - 22 individual projects is far less time consuming.
  • Incorporate a critical thinking question for one of the cards, by utilizing a higher level question strategy (i.e. If you could.., In your opinion, what is the relationship between…and…, Prepare a list of criteria you would use to judge…etc).
  • Introduce/teach a lesson on citing sources and note taking.
  • Discuss plagiarism/cut and paste plagiarism.
  • Provide student examples of a well-designed project.
  • Create a template and/or use a storyboard.

Student Planning - KISS Keep It Super Simple!
  • Students need to direct their focus from the really cool things the program can do - and direct on the content of the project itself.
  • Everything should have a purpose and point to the content…Remind them that Content Rules!
  • All drawings/graphics/animations/colors should support the content not upstage it.
Storyboard or template
  • Your students are early stage users.
  • Younger students of 2nd grade or below.
  • You are working within a limited time frame


  • Require students to use a storyboard on Manila paper, divided into sections.
  • Require each group, or student, to complete a detailed storyboard prior to beginning work in the computer lab.
  • Text should be saved in a word document if there is considerable information. Have students cut/paste word document into slides.
  • All pictures should be, both, sketched and colored in detail.Include background and text color.
  • Include placement of title/font/color of button(s).
  • Students or groups with incomplete storyboards have the most trouble in the computer lab.

Limit Student Choices
  • Offer a choice of 2 to 3 fonts to choose from (i.e. Times New Roman, Arial, Verdana).
  • Use the same background for all slides.
  • In PowerPoint, limit slide transition, object effects, Word Art style/color and sound, to only 2 - 3 choices.
  • These limits will prevent the student from wasting valuable time checking out the different fonts and transitions.

Students in Lab

  • Make sure students have everything they need (storyboard(s), notes, source information, etc).
  • Request assistance from the specialist. The students and you are their number one priority—UTILIZE them!
  • Present multimedia projects via videoconferencing. Presentation provides purpose and relevance to the multimedia project.

26 July 2008

0 Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side

Shifting from Teacher Centered to Student Centered Learning

As educators, we are asked to explore new dimensions to our roles by shifting from “Sage on the Stage to the Guide on the Side”. The shift from teacher-centered to student-centered requires the educator to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge by guiding the student towards the process of discovery and inquiry.

WebQuests offer the student the opportunity to engage in their own learning by the means of critical thinking, problem solving and exploring intriguing questions.

What is a WebQuest?

Designed/originated by Professor Bernie Dodge and Tom March (San Diego State University), WebQuests are online curriculum modules which engage the student in learning about an authentic topic or problem. Supporting the learner’s thinking on levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation – the higher level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, WebQuests initiate cooperative activities, whereby, the student assume different roles relative to a realistic problem.

Students develop/create a product which demonstrates their knowledge of the problem and its potential solutions. The use of the Internet is usually the main information resource, although other more traditional resources (i.e. magazines, journals, books) are available.

Why WebQuests?

  • Engages the student in higher-level cognition skills (i.e. analyze, interpret, draw inferences).
  • Student-centered
  • Inquiry-based
  • Requires decision-making
  • Promotes communication and collaboration
  • Increases student motivation
  • Exhibits resourcefulness and creativity
  • Builds knowledge by synthesizing information
  • Fosters an interdisciplinary approach to learningRequires reflection and self-evaluation

The Six Building Blocks of WebQuests


  • Introduce a real-life dilemma, which the students must solve.
  • Orients the student and establishes a clear purpose for the WebQuest.


  • Description of what the learner will accomplish at the end of the exercise.

Process /Resources

  • The steps that learners should go through in completing the task are included in this section.


  • This section describes the evaluation criteria needed to meet performance and content standards.


  • Summarize what the learners are to accomplish or learn, upon completing the activity or lesson.
  • Provides a natural sense of closure to the activity.

Teacher’s Page

  • Provides background, standards, etc.
  • Activities for the teacher, in preparation for presenting (re: examples of products, etc).

WebQuests offers a way to enrich one’s curricula by fostering student learning through inquiry-oriented activities which incorporate elements of problem-based and project-based learning.

Visit the following sites to learn more or to view completed webquests.

13 July 2008

0 Is Online Learning for You?

People may approach this method of learning with various degrees of skepticism and uncertainty. One may ask:
  • What is online learning?
  • Is online learning for me?

The above are valid questions and unlike traditional courses in which the student and instructor meet face-to-face once or several times a week, online learning is presented through the use of the Internet.

Some course are completely online (i.e. course syllabus, content , learning activities, resources, assignments tests) while others may be partially online (i.e. communicating online through email or discussion board).

Is Online Learning for You?

Online learning is not for everyone. Even if you are an excellent student, you may find that online classes are not compatible with your learning style. Learners who are visual and self-directed tend to do well with online learning. Lifestyles also play an important role to the success of online learning. The following questions may help you decide if online learning is for you

Do you have self discipline, motivation, and good time management skills?

Most of the online learning activities and communication are asynchronous, meaning that class members participate and complete their assignments at different times throughout the day and week. This makes it possible for one to do their class work when it's most convenient. However, with this increased freedom and flexibility comes responsibility. Without the structure of regular class meetings, it will be necessary to pace and keep up with assignments.

Are you able to commit time each day or week to your online course(s)?

Online courses often require at least as much, if not more time and commitment than traditional courses. Completing course assignments and other learning activities may take from five to fifteen hours or more per week. One may even find it necessary to log on almost every day. If you are interested in enrolling, be sure to set aside enough time to keep up with daily or weekly assignments.

Do you have good communication skills and enjoy expressing your ideas in writing?

With online courses, writing is the primary means of communication, so it is important that you feel comfortable expressing yourself in writing.

Do you feel comfortable discussing problems with your instructors?

If you are having problems with the technology or the course content, it will be necessary to inform your instructor as soon as possible. Without this feedback, your instructor will never know what is wrong. Remember that many of the nonverbal cues that one use in the classroom to show frustration, boredom, or confusion (such as a yawn or a look of bewilderment) are not possible in an online class.

Will you miss the experience of sitting in a classroom?

While the level of interaction can be very high in online courses, it is not the same face-to-face interaction. Some online students miss having the opportunity to see/listen to their instructor and classmates. If you feel that a traditional classroom is essential for learning, online classes may not be suitable for you.

Are you comfortable using computers?

The personal computer is the primary learning and communication tool in most online courses. You don't need to be a computer guru to succeed, but you do need to have some basic technology skills, such as word processing and using a Web browser. You will also need regular access to a computer with an Internet connection.

While there are many points to consider when making a decision about online learning, ultimately you are in the best position to know whether it fits your personal learning style and life style. If you have the right qualities to be a successful online student, you will probably find it to be a very convenient and rewarding alternative to traditional classroom learning.

I am a strong proponent of online education. I received my M.Ed. in Educational Technology online through the UT TeleCampus. Check it out! http://telecampus.utsystem.edu/catalog/programs/programinfo/med-edtech.aspx://

Check out the follow self-assessments sites:

Is Online for me? – Self Assessment

Are you a procrastinator? Self help for procrastinator

Index of Learning Styles-Self Assessment

10 July 2008

2 Rubrics...The Creation - Part 4 of 4

Rubrics may be created in a variety of forms and levels of complexity; however, they all contain mutual common features which include the following:

  • Focus on measuring a stated “objective” (performance, behavior, or quality).
  • Use a “range” to rate performance.
  • Include specific performance characteristics, arranged in levels indicating the “degree” to which a particular standard has been met.

There are specific guidelines to utilize when creating a rubric. The following guidelines were adapted from the following Web site: As of today, 10July08...Link is now dead.....http://edweb.sdsu.edu/triton/july/rubics/Rubric_Guidelines.html.

Steps to Rubric Development

  • Determine learning outcomes.
  • Brevity (Include 4 - 15 items, use brief statements or phrases).
  • Each rubric item should focus on a different skill.
  • Center on how the student develops/expresses their learning.
  • Evaluate only measurable criteria.
  • Ideally, the entire rubric should fit on one sheet of paper.
  • Reevaluate the rubric (i.e. Did it work? Was it sufficiently detailed?).

Terms to Use in Measuring Range/Scoring Levels

  • Needs Improvement...Satisfactory...Good…Exemplary.
  • Beginning...Developing...Accomplished...Exemplary.
  • Needs work...Good...Excellent.
  • Novice...Apprentice...Proficient...Distinguished.
  • Numeric scale ranging from 1 to 5.

Concept Words that Convey Various Degrees of Performance

  • Depth...Breadth...Quality...Scope...Extent...Complexity... Degrees...Accuracy.
  • Presence to absence.
  • Complete to incomplete.
  • Many to some to none.
  • Major to minor.
  • Consistent to inconsistent.
  • Frequency: always to generally to sometimes to rarely.

A great deal of preparation is involved when creating a rubric; however, there are a plethora of assessment rubrics which may be found via Internet. Below are several very useful sites:

The above site has a listing of some great rubric internet links.

01 July 2008

0 Rubrics….What and Why? Part 3 of 4

As rubrics become increasingly popular among the education sector, some educators may ask:

  • What are rubrics?
  • Why use rubrics? What is the educational/significant value of utilizing a rubric?
  • How do you create/design a rubric?

The above are valid questions as, by educational standards, the rubric has become a choice of authentic performance-based assessments.

What are Rubrics?

Interestingly enough, the original meaning of “rubric” is derived from the Latin word "rubrica" which, in the mid-15th century, meant the red earth (used by carpenters to mark a line on wood surfaces in order to make accurate cut).

Additionally, “the Oxford English Dictionary states that in the mid-15th century, rubric referred to headings of different sections of a book. This stemmed from the work of Christian monks who painstakingly reproduced sacred literature, invariably initiating each major section of a copied book with a large red letter. Because the Latin word for red is “ruber”, “rubric” came to signify the headings for major divisions of a book.”

In today's terms, rubric takes on a whole new meaning. A rubric is a scoring guide that evaluates a student's performance based on the sum of a full range of criteria, rather than a single numerical score.

Additionally, rubrics are commonly presented in a table format (with specific criteria) which differentiates between various levels of performance, beginning with the highest level - progressing to the lowest. These levels are used to evaluate the set of detailed tasks associates to the final product.

Why Use Rubrics?
According to Heidi Goodrich Andrade, a name synonymous with rubrics/authentic assessment, rubrics are powerful tools for both teaching and assessments, and should be utilized for the following reasons:

  • Explicit /concise guidelines regarding teacher expectations.
  • Provides informative feedback of a student’s overall strengths/weaknesses.
  • Improves the student end product - therefore increases learning.
  • Supports the development of cognitive recognition.Provides the scaffolding necessary to improve the quality of a student’s work, while increasing their knowledge.

Rubrics serve to both inform and improve instruction as well as provide quality, precise feedback to the learner. If designed with clear, concise criteria, rubrics may serve a vital role in creating assessments that are both student-centered and standards driven.

The next posting will discuss both how to create and the resources available for designing rubrics.

18 June 2008

0 A Closer Look at Assessments: Alternative Assessments (Part 2 of 4)

There are three types of commonly used terms for assessments:

  • Alternative
  • Authentic
  • Performance Based

Alternative assessments are assessments which requires the student to produce a cognitive response rather than select from predetermined choices (i.e. multiple choice questions, fill in the blank, true/false, etc). Alternative assessments may range from:

  • Having a student explain the reasoning of a math problem.
  • Concept mapping.
  • Constructing brochures
  • Portfolios
  • Projects
  • Journals
  • Open ended responses
  • Interviews
  • Video/audio tapes
  • Exhibitions
  • Experiments
  • Demonstrations that provide evidence of knowledge and skills.

Authentic assessments focus on the student’s analytical skills and their abilities to demonstrate their knowledge/competency of a skill. It also allows the student to apply these skills in “real-world” contexts. Authentic assessments may range from the student:

  • Participating in a debate.
  • Reading/interpretation of literature.
  • Solving math problems which have real-world applications.

Performance based assessments are “student-centered”, as they require the student to (both) apply and demonstrate their knowledge/skill. Students create products, exhibitions, or performances to demonstrate evidence of their understanding of essential ideas, knowledge, processes, and skills. Specific examples may include:

  • Dramatizing a favorite story
  • Drawing and writing about a story
  • Reading aloud a personally meaningful section of a stor
  • Conducting experiments
  • Writing extended essays
  • Performing mathematical computations
  • WebQuests
  • Debates

Is There a Difference Between the Three?
If authentic assessments are performance assessments using real-world or authentic tasks, is it possible for these terms to be treated synonymously?

In various educational circles, these terms may be treated synonymously, as they assess both the process and end result - often including real-life tasks which promote higher-order thinking skills. They require individuals to apply knowledge and skill in context—not simply completing a task on cue.

Essentially, performance based assessments are authentic in nature, yet they often are an alternative to traditional assessments.

A means to evaluate/ measure both process and product is to utilize a rubric. A rubric measures a stated objective using a range to rate the student’s performance. Characteristics are arranged in levels, indicating the degree to which a standard has been met. Rubrics will be the topic of discussion in next month’s issue.

Stay tuned for part 3 of 4 on Authentic Assessments

02 June 2008

0 Kids in Charge of their Own Learning? Part 1 of 4

Have you ever graded your student’s work only to find the assessment criteria vague and the performance behavior subjective?

Would you be able to justify the grade if you had to defend it? (“Why did I get a B instead of an A?”)

How do you determine if a student’s work meets the standards of exceptional, compared to good?

The above are valid questions…questions which have become an issue, by educational standards, in determining authentic assessments.

Why Authentic Assessment? Authentic assessments presents the student with 'real-world' challenges which requires them to apply their relevant skills and knowledge. Authentic Assessments accomplish the following goals:

  • Requires the student to develop responses rather than make selections from predetermined options.
  • Elicits higher order thinking in addition to basic skills.
  • Allows the student to work on holistic projects which allows them to create a context for their learning, and to see the relationship among different pieces of information. For instance, playing the role of a historical figure requires the student to think about what each fact learned means to the figure.
  • Synthesizes the classroom instruction.
  • Stems from clear criteria made known to the student.
  • Allows for the possibility of multiple judgments.
  • Involved the student in evaluating their own work, which prompts them to think about their learning (metacognition) and develops metacognitive skill strategies.

To summarize….authentic assessments do not encourage neither rote learning nor passive test-taking. Instead it focuses on the student’s:

  • Analytical skills
  • Ability to integrate what they learn
  • Creativity
  • Ability to work collaboratively
It emphasizes the learning aspects much as the finished product.

22 May 2008

0 You and the Cube: A Partnership

Many educators have a common misconception of “what is” technology integration. Often educators are expected to integrate technology without having a definitive concept of the working definition. According to EdTech Connect, (1999):

“Technology integration is the process of teaching technology (technology education) and another curricular area simultaneously. In addition, it is the process of using technology to enhance teaching for learning (educational technology). Technology integration is not about purchasing/selecting the "right" piece of hardware and software; but rather using technology to enhance student learning.”

Integration is not the placing of computers in the classroom with educators whom lack training; or the creating of learning modules that are not content–curricula specific. Furthermore, integration should not be seen as a “filler” or a split from the learning objectives – although it should allow the curriculum to drive technology usage, in lieu of having technology drive the curriculum (Dockstader, 1999).

Technology integration involves purpose, collaboration, and enhances the student learning which both supports and extends the curriculum objectives. It allows the student to advance beyond knowledge and comprehensive learning, to one of application/analysis of information.

Kids in Charge of their own learning? Find out HOW in Techie-Bytes next posting!

17 May 2008

0 Why Technology?

It’s Everywhere and It’s Here to Stay

The 21st century is upon us and the need to change the role of the educator, in order to meet the demands of the technological future, are imperative. With accelerated demands from the educational system, educators will find it necessary to observe the individual student (and their needs) while modifying their past teaching format, of simply dispensing knowledge, to that of facilitating the learner.

The utilization of technology fosters collaboration among students promoting an engaged-learning environment, which may enhance critical/higher level thinking skills. Additionally, technology provides a hands-on cognitive experience which may:

  • Increase student fluency
  • Improve motivation.
  • Strengthen basic skills.
  • Provide relevance to a student’s life.
  • Present interactive feedback from peers/instructors.
In my experience as a classroom teacher, I have witnessed the positive impact technology has had on my students. Knowing this, and that the educational industry is (and has been) moving towards incorporating technology into a classroom setting, I believe the necessity to educate the student population and fellow educators is essential. Technology offers a vast array of learning opportunities to both the educator and student.

Technology has opened the door to a wealth of information that has the capabilities to enhance the educational structure we offer to our students. While it will eventually replace a teacher’s basic format, it will never replace the humanity, compassion and human interactions essential to a child’s well-being.

In order to develop the whole child, it is equally important to create a well-informed, well-educated staff…as well as promoting parental involvement.