Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Awesome Stories









Awesome Stories is a great site that has beneficial primary sources that students can use in English and Social Studies classrooms.  Find a topic that matches something you want to read and scan through the story.  Internal links allow you to get more information as well.  It also automatically creates a citation for you if students were to use it as part of a research assignment.

Topics include disasters, Biographies, Historic Events, Famous Trials, Religion, Inspiration, Movies, and Sports.  It covers such a broad spectrum that schools with a 1:1 program could utilize this site for readings within their schools as well as for homework.  You can sign up for the website which offers you added features.  Fairly easy reading and because their are hyperlinks within the stories your low end students can click on them to receive further information.  The site also includes slideshows, images, videos, and audio clips as well.  A very interactive way of reading a book.

Twitter Tuesday #3 - A Reflection of Sorts

My previous post about Twitter gained quite a following.  Especially my post about Using Twitter as an Educator.  I also had a post about schools using Twitter as well, and most likely in the near future our school will be looking at going the route of creating a Facebook page as well.  I have come to realize that using Twitter is like opening a treasure chest of educational technology gold.  An endless stream of educators and administrators just aching to share their views and opinions with little ole me..I guess big ole me (6'5" - 240).

What's great is that finding all these people was fairly easy.  Many of these same people are members of Classroom 2.0 and The Educators PLN, which I joined months before Twitter.  I then found people via their blogs, and then via their Tweets.  The easiest way to find people to follow in your PLN is to see who they are following and follow them as well.  That is how I have came across a lot of great blogs and people on Twitter.

I have come to realize though that what I like best about Twitter is not neccesarily the resources being shared, but it is the opinions, articles, and videos that people share that catches my attention.  I find myself clicking and saving these to Instapaper on my IPhone all the time so that I can look at them later on my computer.  Every weekend you can count on me sharing these in my Weekend Extra postings.

Now the question becomes, how can I use it in the classroom.  I am sure some of these are posted on other websites, but I am actually just listing the ideas that came to my mind while typing this post.  It is important to note that Twitter does not allow deletions of messages from others that appear on your page.  It does allow you to block them which does delete their Tweets, but you cannot delete individual Tweets from others.  So I suggest you have people follow you, but not necessarily that you follow them.  More about giving then receiving.  Remember, Twitter and Texting is this generation's method of passing notes to one another.  Now to the ideas:
  • An interactive discussion about a project or idea.
  • Links to arcticles relating to current events or research being conducted
  • 140 Characters discussion over books, movies, events, people, topics, etc.
  • Picture Share
  • Display during class and as you lecture or show a video allow students to ask questions for clarification or discussion when finished....most kids are scared to ask you to repeat something as well...this would give them that opportunity.
  • Create a hashtag or an account for your classroom and allow communication between you and your students easily.
  • Have students turn in their assignments by linking them in Twitter for students to see.
  • Peer Review via Twitter.
  • Extra Credit
  • Classroom Reminders - (Test dates, Due Dates, Clasrrom Projects or interruptions)
Looking for others?  Here are some articles I found. 
- How One Teacher Uses Twitter (More Like Professor)
- 50 Ways to use Twitter in the College Classroom (Could adapt for High School)
- 25 Ways to Teach With Twitter
- 29 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom (Google Docs Presentation)

I conclude this post with an idea.  Someone with some computer programming experience will probably be able to create such a program, make millions and I will be left thinking...."should have taken computer programming in college:"
Create a microblogging site with education in mind that can provide more options for educators, such as the ability to create classes, add students, embed video, etc.  Also provide a way for us to chat with other schools and classrooms from around the world.  Provide a way to text in post via cell phones.  Maintain the open source feature so that it continually feeds like Twitter.  It would be a great way to have a discussion in the classroom using technology.  Because in my experience, using the technology generally creates more engagement even when you are finished using it.

Have you used Twitter in your classroom?  Success or Failure?  Please Share!
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