This application can turn any photo into a fun image around hundreds of themes. Great for classroom posters, student projects and book reports. It does have Google advertising and links to other sites, so be vigilant and perhaps set a time limit with your students.
Best Biology site of the week is probably this Virtual Microscope from the Indiana University Bloomington – it has slides of cell division, and tissue from all the body systems – digestive, circulatory, excretory etc. So if you don’t have enough microscopes for every student in the class, don’t have the relevant slides, or students are having difficulty getting a clear image, this is one solution. I used it my VCE Biology class today, so students could see the difference between the thick, muscular walls of arteries and the thinner walls of veins and the thinnest walls of capillaries. They were also able to identify the five different types of white blood cell and count an approximate ratio of RBC to WBC.
My friend and colleague, Trish Dower has tagged me for this meme, started by Lee Kolbert at “A GeekyMomma’s Blog”. If you haven’t used this fun toy before, it uses any passage of text (either typed in, or copied from a blog URL or other source) to create these word clouds. Words that appear more frequently in the text appear more prominently in the cloud. I would have liked to have seen ‘students’ appear more prominently, but I think this wordle reflects my journey over the past ten months, exploring web 2.0 tools, finding what works for science teachers and learners and sharing with my readers. One of the main reasons I blog is that I find it very convenient to have one place to store my resources, tagged with a picture for easy recognition. Blogging also helps me to reflect on my daily practise and hopefully improve my teaching strategies.
1. Create a Wordle from your blog’s RSS feed.
2. Blog it and describe your reaction. Any surprises?
3. Tag others to do the same.
I am familiar with the term ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘ecological footprint’ but I hadn’t heard of a ‘digital footprint’ until recently. This article, from the PEW Internet and American Life Project, describes how internet users are becoming more aware of their ‘digital footprint’ – the number of sites that turn up when searching for their own name. The first time I curiously Googled “Britt Gow” I found obscure references to an asian card game and one or two articles that had been posted by our local council and teacher’s union. One year, over 100 blog posts, countless blog comments and several wikis and nings later, I have a digital footprint of over ten pages. The learning curve has been steep, but social networking has been a valuable tool for professional development, especially as a teacher in a small country school. I hope my students will also benefit from the opportunities provided by social networking tools – as they already do informally on Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.
This term my Year 7 and Year 9 classes have enjoyed an “On Line Science Fair” with students from Mrs Laguna’s class in Philadelphia. I think the full benefits of social networking sites take longer than ten weeks to establish, so I will begin next year with a class wiki and maintain our relationship with overseas teachers with the intention of further collaboration.
This term I am participating in a Knowledge Bank: New Generation action research program. I am investigating whether social networking can improve student outcomes in middle years maths and science classes. I am narrowing down the choice of web 2.0 tools suitable for mathematics to Voicethread, Mathtrain (videos) and Jing. This article, Jing transforms Maths classroom, is a case study of how a Year 7 Maths teacher has motivated students and improved confidence using Jing videos. Here are links to some of the Voicethreads we are collaborating on with Mrs Laguna’s Year 8 Maths class:
I was interested to recieve a comment from one of my students who was reluctant to put her ‘eye-dissection’ slideshow on her blog. Although she enjoyed the practical work, she thought viewers would be disgusted! I think all students have strong feelings of ownership of their blogs (as I do), and some have very definate ideas about it’s content and appearance. So, students who are reluctant maths and/or science learners, may prefer not to have these subjects featured on their blogs.
My action research project with the Knowledge Bank: New Generation Collaborative Learning and Research Project is about social networking and maths and science learning in the middle years. First, what is social networking? My own definition would include sites that allow participants to upload text, photos, videos, audio and other items they have created, to share with others and allow comments from other participants. From a student perspective, it gives them an authentic audience, apart from their teachers, parents or classmates. Due to this wider audience, I believe it also makes students more reflective about their work and more inclined to do their best. Some of the social networking tools useful in educational contexts include:
- Nings, Elgg (like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo)
- Scribd, skrbl (collaborative text)
- Google docs (collaborative spreadsheets)
- Flickr, Photobucket, Picassa (images)
- Teachertube, You Tube, Mathtrain (videos)
- Slideshare, Slide, Picturetrail, Animoto (moving images)
- Podcasting, Voicethread (audio)
This page has a collection of various web 2.0 sites, many of which would be considered social networking tools. http://learningweb2.wikispaces.com/Step+Two (Thanks Marg for this link).
But, are all of these tools applicable to maths and science learning? Is trying to use these tools like trying to knit with a knife and fork – they are great tools but for a different purpose, and you end up with an inferior product that is more difficult and takes longer to produce?
Part of the appeal of web 2.0 is it’s new and different, but when it is used often, will it lose this appeal and become another ‘chore’ for students? Hopefully, my research will help me to answer some of these questions – stay tuned!
This great new application can be used to collaborate on text editing, maths problems, page design…almost as limitless as your imagination!
“Can social networking tools improve student outcomes in middle years maths and science classes?”
This is the question I will be trying to answer over the next twelve weeks or so, with my year 7 and year 9 classes. I have created a Google docs survey for my students to complete prior to starting the project, and then again at the end of the project to determine if their is any impact on their learning from using social networking tools, such as blogs and wikis. Here is the survey:
Today I thought I’d share this site: Exemplary Resources for Middle School Maths and Science that I came across while looking for new ways to incorporate technology into Maths and Science classes. It’s an American blog for maths and science teachers to find best practise examples of middle school teaching and learning. It has an extensive list of topics with links to great resources for classroom use.
Another site I have been using in my Year 7 Maths class is Tessellations – What they are, several ways how to make them, a gallery with some great examples and step-by-step instructions to create your own.
I’ve past another couple of checkpoints on my web 2.0 journey this week – using an ipod recorder, creating a “Wordle”, uploading a podcast to “podOmatic” and creating my own “Ning”. “What’s a Ning?” you sing…
First I have to get my head around what blogs, wikis and nings all have in common:
1. They are all user-created websites with unique URL addresses
2. Hosts (such as Blogger, Edublogs, Wikispaces and Ning) provide the space and customizable themes that you can choose – options include colours, logos, fonts etc.
3. You use your email address and/or a username and password to access the sites, which can notify you of comments via email
4. You can select privacy options – public (accessible to everyone); by-invitation-only; or sign up as a member.
5. All allow feedback or collaboration to a certain extent (although blogs can be blocked from comments?)
6. All can have one or many authors (although one user of a wiki or ning will defeat the purpose)
How are they different?
1. Blogs and Nings (not wikis?) – you can usually add ‘widgets’ – boxes in the sidebars that accommodate gadgets such as calenders, maps, photos, time and date clocks etc.
2. Comments from visitors are invisible in Blogs until selected – in wikis and nings they are part of the discussion and collaboration.
3. Wikis can be kind of ‘messy’ – the idea of everyone collaborating on a project, anytime, means that it is constantly evolving, perhaps with different people having slightly different goals?
4. Nings are a forum for discussion and it is easier to share word documents and other files, not supported by edublogs?
5. Wikis and Nings – Any member can create groups, send messages publicly or privately and start discussions.