Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Game play all day!

In the last day of my computer 8 class, most projects were turned in and I allowed students to search for computer games.  I was amazed at the variety and how many of the games used critical thinking and problem solving.  Even innovation was used as some girls were designing their own wardrobes.

This made me think about games.  Should we use guided game play to learn more?  My class was quiet and the students were engaged in playing or I'll call it learning.  Would this be a better practice for teaching?  Guided play.  After a quick google search on guided play, I was amazed at how many sites included this topic.  Especially at young ages.

Would more guided play help fuse the three Rs and four Cs (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation).  Something for us teachers to think about.

Check this site out Math Interventions.  Resource to find sites with many games to learn and grow math skills.  http://livebinders.com/play/play/14058  

 Great web site about games for learning:
 Videogames are emerging as a new medium for learning. Advances in modding technologies, graphic libraries, and game editors are making the creation of educational gaming a multi-million dollar industry.

Twitter Prompted Writings

I love to look at the trending topics in twitter.  It's really interesting what people are talking about the most.  From the hashtag #idonotsupport, the world cup soccer tournament, to the recovery of the economy it gives you a sense of what is important to many people in the world today. 

In a recent computer assignment, I introduced this web tool called twitter to my students.   I love the concept of getting into the world conversation.  I love the power behind twitter's operation.  I'm still afraid to give Middle Schoolers twitter accounts, due to some of the nasty and obscene post, but I have found that the trending topics are great generators of blog posts.  Having students write about trending topics makes writing interesting, fun, and relevant.

Keep on twittering. Keep on Blogging. Engage in a world of trending twitter topic prompts.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do you own your own library. I do. It's online at http://www.diigo.com/user/zmanrdz

Diigo is a place where you store all the articles that you have read online.  Why would you want to do this?  Well lets say you have a class that you need to write a paper on.  You have tagged all the articles with words that correspond with the content like "Reading".  You click on the "Reading" tag and you have all your resources for your paper.  But that's not all!  You can know follow people that have tagged articles on "Reading" and you now have more resources than you can every use.  The power of collaboration at it's best.  Take the time out of research,  Find your research with out digging into stacks of paper  and start making your professional life a little less crazy.  Maybe even un-clutter your house a little.

Sign up for your account today at www.diigo.com

Friday, March 5, 2010

RSS Feeds. Have one yet? If not you are behind the times!

RSS = Real Simple Syndication.  Why waste time looking for information, when you can ask your computer to bring this information to you. Free yourself from going to your local news web page to read.  Love flowers find the latest and greatest in the florist industry.  Keep up to date with news from your favorite college or university.  Wikipedia defines RSS as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.

So how do you sign up?
Download a free reader at:

Or get your online Reader at:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Student Blogs. It's time that every school has a system!

Why should I write when nobody is reading?  Knowing somebody is reading my writing motivates me.  Wouldn't it be the same for students?  Authentic audiences make sense. 

Both Twitter and Blogger have become my favorite writing tools.  They have given me an authentic relative audience.  I would love to see students have their own blog page, where they can post poems, stories, or just write about the favorite baseball team.  Every school should put together a blog system.  It just makes sense that every student have a space to write,  a digital showcase of thoughts, poems, articles, stories, etc.  Showcase what students have done, let people comment, give feed back, and explore topics.  If all the poems, stories and papers I wrote been saved,  stored digitally for me to review, reuse and update I would love it. If your school has such a program I would love to hear about it.

A year ago I started a ning for my school.  If you don't know what a ning is it's like facebook but for a group of people that you invite or a topic that you decide.   It started as a computer projects that allowed students to understand the good and bad of social media in a safe environment.  What I realized is that students now have their own page where they can place pictures, videos blogs, and journals.  Soon students were posting their own poems and stories.  They were talking about the books that they read.  It's fantastic.  Students can comment on the work of others, share their stories and enhance learning through this tool.

I found two unexpected outcomes came out of the assignment.  One, students writing improved, because the knew that their stories were getting read.  Second,  the discussion and comments enhanced learning.  By "practicing" writing skills will grow. Students will become better writers and creative thinkers.   

So here's the plan:

1) Have your school make a place where students can write and post all there work.

2) Make these blogs open to student and public comment so that the end results will students will become better writers.  Student Blogs.  It's time.  Does your school have a system?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Twitter: A Little R & W (Read & Writing)

English teachers love to improve writing.   Every day they teach techniques and find best practices, finding those methods that engage the students has been their passion.  I recall my 8th grade English teacher using prompts to promote writing. "Who it your favorite teacher, write a paragraph why?"  "Write 2 paragraphs about President Reagan."  While I wrote, I hated writing.  I didn't appreciated the topics and and it made this time "hellish".  The only people that ever read my writing was my teacher, and I'm not sure she looked at all of them either.

Recently I read this tweet from @tomwhitby re-tweeting @cwebtech.

Micro Blog = Prompt.  Hmmm!  I paused and reflected. Yes, I have done more writing and commenting in the last year that ever before in my life.  Why?  I am prompted to do so by others with the same interest that I do. I even started to blog, putting my thoughts and visions into words in an electronic web log format (blog).

Do you want to get your students to write more?  Have them sign up for a twitter account.  Search keywords and have them follow people with the same passion.  Soon they will be prompted to write.  They will be doing a lot of R and W (Reading and  Writing) Then have them expand those thoughts as they create there own personal blogs in blogger or edublogs.  How about partnering with another school, maybe outside your state and country.  Students can read the partner schools blogs and have them share their thoughts?  Let the conversation begin. Let the writing expand!

Yes, twitter and blogs are powerful collaboration tools that can engage a student in learning.  It makes writing relevant and also creates an audience for students to write to.  Go on get those students writing by having them enter in the conversation.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thank You Twitter, I'm Writing Better.

I wouldn't consider myself a great writer.  Matter of fact, as a business, recreation and physical education major, writing didn't come easy.   I avoided writing at all cost.  I procrastinated on research papers in High School.  In college I choose presentations over term papers.  I hated writing a journal during my student teaching.  Fast forward 20 years.

But then it happened.  I signed up for twitter, and really didn't know what to expect.  Writing my first post, I was nervous. Will people like what I have to say? Will people follow me?  Yes, I was scared to make people my "friends."  My mind was filled with "what if" questions.  What if I am stalked?  What if people said mean things?  What if my password is breached? Cyberbullies?

Over 1600 post later, twitter has changed my life.  My PLN is fantastic as we share concepts, articles and best practices in education.  I love to find new trends and best practices as we strive to become better educators.

While I'm currently consumed in the process of writing, yes twittering,  I didn't realize condensing text down to words fitting the 140 character limited has made me a better writer.  Most likely it's the result of just writing more, but I feel better about expressing my thoughts and ideas.  Here is what I have found:

1) My concepts are clearer.  140 characters makes you think about what you really want to say.

2)  I'm using fewer words.  Not as much fluff.

3)  A thesaurus is my friend.  Online thesauruses help me explore using different words.

4)  I'm aware on verb tenses, Yes, I know I still need additional help with verbs.

5)  I'm not worrying about making a mistake or three.  It's the process that counts.

Studies are supporting my finding.  Recently techdirt.com posted an article with the title:   Even More Research: Technology Is Making Kids Better Writers, Not Worse.  In the article it states,

"Every few months or so, we read about some freaked out reporter/columnist/pundit/politician complaining about how the internet and texting are destroying kids' ability to write. Yet, pretty much every study on the subject has found the opposite to be true. Study after study after study after study after study have all found that kids today are better writers than in the past."
So, the fact that twitter has helped me to become a better writer is enough to say, "Thank you twitter for helping me."