I wanted to know if anyone out there has some computer/web tools they like to use during the beginning of the school year. Also, I am wondering who amongst you uses their blogs, wikispace, websites as the primary tool for their classroom. How do you introduce it to students, staff, etc. Thanks for all of your input!

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I have had special ed students in my classes (as collaborative classes) and they too respond to the technology use favorably. Particualarly the blogs and accessing my podcasts for extra help. Many of the students more more computer literate than I imagined..
Hi DJ! Are you thinking of a tool to connect parents and teachers in a classroom? If so, you can use our site as well.

www.parentella.com

Un: Mr. Pencil
pw: demo

Check it out. :)
DJ,

These are wonderful questions. It's right where I am now in considering what I want to do with my students.

I guess the place I'm going to start is with something more basic...I'm also teaching 6th graders just to give you my context. I worry that they don't have enough effective search strategies or know how to evaluate websites. So I'm going to teach them how to save to delicious. I wondered about the difference between delicious and pageflakes....but I can't figure it out. So I'm going with delicious and hope that I can find some help on pageflakes later.

Anyway....for the 4 days leading up to any new unit I'm going to do something called Building Backgroudn Knowledge. in that mini-unit they will have to find a book, an article and a website on a topic within the upcoming unit. The article and website they'll save to the class delcious account. By the time they finish reading their book, I will have them look over all the resources about their topic in the delicious account....then using a evaluation checklist we'll develop as a class, they rank order each resource for its ability to cover the topic and provide authoritative information. Then I'll have them write the essential questions they think they could answer by reading through all these sources (including their book). Of course I'll have my own essnetial questions, but I will add theirs.

this way I think I can teach them how to work collaboratively, use digital tools, think critically and learn something useful as background knowledge. While I've done something liek this before, I believe this will help them be better readers when we start reading the textbook given all this prior knowledge they'll create.

What do you think of this idea? Anyone know if I should be using pageflakes or delicious?
I use blogs at the beginning of the school year, and I introduce my class to my webpage or what'll become they're webpage for the class. I teach 6th grade and I post discussion questions on the blog for students to respond to and receive extra points. tThis year I plan to implement cellular technology somehow. :)
A cool, free tool for teachers to introduce to their kids for next year is Quizimodo.net. Created by students for students, Quizimodo helps facilitate efficient studying through online student collaboration, offering students a suite of tools from virtual flashcards, to a note taking interface, to a feature that allows kids to share PDF's, songs and other digital content.
Check it out at www.Quizimodo.net/
Any feedback is also greatly appreciated!
-Robert
I use my class website, www.physicsmedic.org, as an area for static information: my schedule, class rules and policies, downloadable files, etc. I then use blogs as a fluid way of communicating with my students and as a lesson guide. You can check them out here if you want. This is the start page. Each classes blog is listed on the right menu. http://mrandradesclasses.blogspot.com/.

The first day of class, I show them the sites and explain what will be on the sites and how they should use them. I also make sure that they know to subscribe to their class's blog via email to get notifications. They love it.

I also have a blog on educational technology, http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/, that I share with colleagues. I have tips and resources on there for teachers to use.

Good luck.

Dave
Hi DJ!
I'm loving these suggestions! The best resource I've found for starting off the school year is the Adina's Deck detective DVD series. They are essentially a club of 8th graders that use technology to solve "mysteries." Last year I used the cyber bullying episode and this year I'm also adding in their new Plagiarism episode. I also emailed them and got a discount :) so if you're looking for one... Anyways, I love telling people about it because it's relatively new. I'd love to hear about the other resources you've found!

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