Friday, April 16, 2010

My First Prezi

I have played around with Prezi for a couple of months, but finally used it in class today.  In my middle school Social Studies class, I teach a Holocaust unit coinciding with my students' reading of The Diary of Anne Frank in Language Arts.  My topic today was Ravensbruck, a women's concentration camp in Germany where I visited in 2008.  My Prezi, Support and Comfort in Ravensbruck, supplemented our conversation and set up a following analysis of art by Ravensbruck survivors. The Prezi took me about 15 minutes to create (but again, I've done some experimenting previously). Mine is very simple, but there are lots of more complicated visual effects that you can build in.

I love Prezi's intuitiveness on both the creation side and viewing side.  Its strength is that it's not locked into a linear structure, but you can still use the "Path" function to create a narrative. I like that you can choose from several color/font schemes, ranging from somber to splashy, so it can be appropriate for almost any content. A Prezi can be used to supplement an in-person lecture or presentation, or it can be designed to BE a self-contained, complete presentation online. Prezi has free educational licenses for teachers and students.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Edmodo and Student Collaboration

Each year, the 7th graders at my school do Travel Fair.  Each group takes on the role of a travel agency and pitch a visit to an assigned country to the Fair's visitors (other students, teachers, and parents).  We take over the entire gym.  It's noisy and colorful and chaotic (280 kids this year), and just completely low-tech. And this year, I'm the coordinator. 

I am slowly attempting to drag Travel Fair into the 21st century.  Last year,  I emphasized online research-- very web 1.0. This year, I tried to focus a bit more on online collaboration.  In the past, Travel Fair groups met at each other's homes.  Now our kids are spread out over a large county, and asking parents to cart them all over the place isn't practical.

I set up an account at Edmodo, a private social networking platform for education.  It's completely private and it's one of the few social networking sites that isn't blocked by our district. Within Edmodo, I set up one "group" for my entire class, another for each period, and finally one for each country group. In Edmodo, my students can share files, links, and comments with one another.

Here's a screenshot from my 3rd period Jamaica group:

The format is very comfortable for Facebook users, they enjoy being able to social network at school, and it really is handy for group collaboration.

Next goal-- using Edmodo for student assignments.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Alfie Kohn vs. Dwight Shrute

A great illustration of intristic vs. extrinisic motivation and the idiocy of token-based economies in education.  Dwight's apparently a B.F. Skinner fan.

Note to Legislators...

Via Indexed.