Thursday, April 28, 2011

Google Sites Template Going Well

The one thing I really wanted to get done over Easter was to create a template in Google Sites to use as an online eportfolio for students work.  I really want the students to have the ability to easily share their work.

Previously they had created websites, but they really seemed to be more of an exercise in creating websites, than an opportunity to share their work.  In fact, most of them did not seem to share any real work at all.  Here is a quick example of 5 sites:

Earlier in the year when I got a Google Apps for Education account set up for the school I really thought Blogger itself may have been the way to go.  It had just been added, along with a number of other Google programs, to the GAfE account, and it is extremely easy to use.  Students could set up a page for each year they were in school, and blog about what they currently doing.  Unfortunatley, for some reason, if we tried to set up to many blogs at one time we ran into a problem where Blogger started needing students to validate themselves with a cellphone to prove that they were not spammers.  This meant that either I had to set up all the accounts myself, at a rate of about 6-10 a day, or the students would NEED a cellphone to get started.  While many had cellphones, there was no way I could require them in order to do an activity.  I finally did get some set up, but without strong direction from me (because I was pretty sure we weren't going to use them) or the teachers (who had no idea what to do with them) they degenerated into a mess of random youtube postings.  To be honest, I tried using weebly, which does have a student account, but I find their interface somewhat difficult to use, and I had really hoped to link everything up with their Google Apps accounts.

Here is an example of some of the sites they created with Blogger and Weebly:
So then we move to Google Sites.  Hopefully I won't have the problem with it that I encountered with Blogger, and the need to authenticate accounts with cell phones after several students. I might be able to test that out at home, but I need to set up some accounts first... Just thought of that.  Regardless, one great thing about Google Sites is that I am able to set up a basic template for the students to work with.  After the log in they can select the template and get started right away.  This will give all of the sites some basic structure, but because the themes and fonts can still be changed the students will still be able to personalize their sites to reflect themselves.  Here is the test portfolio I am working with:

It gives a location at the front for a sort of blog posting, though no comments can be left.  And there is a page for each grade level.  I currently envision it working in this way.  Students would not really start using this until Grade 4.  One of the first things they would have to learn to do is take their work from Grade 1, 2, and 3, and then post it on their site, filling it out and giving it some content.  Then for the next 3 years, 4, 5, and 6, students would just add to it as they finished work.  As I hope to incorporate Google Docs into their workflow as well that should make it easy to slide the typed work from there over to the site. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trying to post from my Ipad

Seems like this will work out alright. I was just testing out Google Sites, and I seemed to be unable to edit text in the main body of the site pages. That is the first time that it has seemed the IPad is not good enough for the work I am doing. No big deal really. I will just power on the netbook and edit the info there, but it is kind of annoying.

I am using Google Sites because I am trying to create a simple portfolio template to use for elementary students. The previous sites were very cumbersome, and were only able to be edited at school. I also thought about trying to use Blogger itself as a platform for that, but it is not really providing the setup I want for this sort of work. A little too interactive, and too multipurpose. At least with sites I can create a simple template, one that will allow some degree of customization, but has enough restrictions to keep it from imploding into a YouTube smorgasbord.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dewey Decimal Pictorgrams

A fellow teacher just shared these with me:

Dewey Decimal Pictograms

They are awesome pictograms that would assist students in finding information on the shelves.  I have to say I was pretty impressed with them, thought partly that is because the library is in a state, and needs a lot of work.  This would make things SOOOOO much easier.  Students would find it easier to find books, and, if I placed these on books as well, it might be easier to put them back.  It is an interesting thought.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Resources for Earth Day

Some Resources you may find useful for Earth Day

The Story of Stuff : Bottled Water

The Lorax on Google Video

The Lorax Questions

The Facts about Bottled Water Infographic

The Hidden Water We Use - An interactive visual showing how much water is needed to make food and fuel. Almost 7000 liters to make .5 kg of beef!!!

Mockumentry of the Majestic Plastic Bag

Why you should stop drinking bottled water inforgraphic (text heavy)

Bad things Baggies Do


I am really looking at Edmodo, a free, private, microblogging CMS for schools.  It looks like it would be a very easy way for me to create work and share it for classes.  Perhaps I will be able to test it out after Easter.  I am really hoping I can change my schedule around, and test out some things that I would like to use for all of next year, stuff such as Edmodo, and just as importantly, Google Apps.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Popplet: A mind mapping, collaboritve work tool

That is a quick one I made on the solar system.  Best part about it is that you can share the popplet with others, and it easily identitifies who created what.  I could have started wtih just the sun, shared it wtih 8-9 people (depending on your thoughts on Pluto!) and asked them to finish the solar system.  Some would have just added images for the planets, others may have added text to append to each planet, and there are others who may have added info on each plaent, and slapped the moons in there too.  Pretty great sharing/creating tool, and VERY easy to use.