Ed Tech Ideas

Tech Integration for Busy Teachers

Daily Archives: January 29, 2010

A Mirage of Facts and a Virtual Vocab Wall

Wallwisher is my best friend. I realize this sounds terribly sad and geeky, but it’s not every day that a website comes along that is easy to use, innovative, collaborative, educational, and free. Beyond all that, Wallwisher is easy to moderate, and there are no ads. (I feel like I need to give one of those, “I am in no way connected to, or affiliated with” disclaimers).  If you have never seen Wallwisher, it can be described as an online bulletin board where students are able to place virtual post-its with textual information, photos, video, and audio. I can think of a zillion ways to use Wallwisher in the classroom, and below are a few projects I recently did with fourth and fifth grade classrooms that show the benefits of Web 2.0 collaboration.

A Mirage of Facts

Recently, the students in one of my fourth grade classes were learning about hot and cold deserts and  I wanted them to begin researching and collecting facts about different types of desert environments. The initial plan was to gather research facts and write them out in a Word document. However, instead of having them do this, I decided to create a desert fact wall that they could all collaborate on.  As students located interesting facts, they would post their fact along with a picture. The motivation of seeing their facts and pictures on a collaborative website was amazing. I had students asking if they could add more. And more!  As the research continued and students added additional facts to the wall, they began to find more obscure and unique facts to add, all of this without me giving them any direction or push.

Virtual Vocab Wall and Writing Tips

Students in one of my fifth grade classes are very much into building their vocabularies. I found that a lot of students were looking up the same words as their classmates and saving them in their own personal lists. There was no collaboration or working together to learn more. We now have a vocab word wall, which allows students to post new words and definitions as they come across them from wherever they are.

Yet another class decided to create a wall with a collection of their tips for becoming a good writer. The wall has several great tips from students, for students, and they have excitedly shared this with other classes in the spirit of collaboration and learning from one another.

Teacher Tip

When I first set up a wall, I leave it open to anyone and have my entire class add to it at the same time. After the session is over, I either close it entirely, or moderate it so that any new additions to the wall have to be approved by me before they go “live.”

Simply put, with Wallwisher, educators have a powerful friend to help students seamlessly collaborate and keep their information organized and accessible in a fun, motivating place.  Students continue to add to the walls long after they are created, and others can benefit from the information displayed in a single, user-friendly place.

Resources

Interesting ways to use Wallwisher in the Classroom

Desert Fact Wall

Vocabulary Wall

What Makes a Good Writer Wall

Similar Wallwisher Sites

Top 3 Paragons of the Week – Episode 2

Attribution: "underneath+a+star" http://www.flickr.com/photos/31874781@N00/3133924813Paragons of the Week is a reoccurring post highlighting resources that I find to be worth mentioning. I come across 100s of useful tools for educators each week. Below are the top 3 “paragons” that I found this week that I feel teachers might dig. To view previous Paragons, click here.

1. BlogJet – Learned about this from Scott McLeod. BlogJet is a WYSIWYG desktop editor that works for WordPress, TypePad, Blogger, Drupal, etc. blogs. Blogjet makes it easier to edit your blog and features tools like YouTube and Flickr support, file attachments, word counter, blog statistics, and more.

2. CoSketch – Another find by Richard Byrne is a collaborative drawing site which requires no joining, logging in or registration. Perfect for elementary classes. It’s a no frills tool, so there are not a lot of extras, but for simple drawing and text, it works great. Users just go to the site, click on create a sketch, and begin drawing. To add more people, you just send them the url. There’s also a nice chat feature. I could see using this to collaboratively solve math problems, play hangman using vocab words, exploring maps (there is a built-in Google Maps support), and a variety of other applications. Finished drawings can be embedded into blogs or websites.

3. Interactive Simulations – From the University of Colorado at Bolder comes some fantastic java-based interactive simulations. From Glaciers, to Natural Selection, to Circuit Construction; these simulations really show students how things work.

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