Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tech Fluency

Greetings and hello.

While many of you have been using Windows machines quite successfully, I have been on the Mac platform for something like 6-7 years.  That changed today when (thank you Matt Brittenham) a Windows machine was connected to our SMARTBoard.  With only a little time to adjust, I found my brain working in ways that I didn't quite expect for the remainder of the day.  It was challenging but invigorating as well.  It made me think of our students who are being asked to be literate in many different areas throughout the day: language, different classrooms, different learning environments, and of course, different technologies.  It's a lot to ask!

One thing that the new desktop has forced me to think about is how to convert to cloud computing or shared resources.  If I work at home but need files transferred to the desktop, I am going to have to start using a variety of new platforms to insure that there is a seamless transition of materials, plans, websites, etc.

Two platforms that I plan to start using in earnest are Diigo and Dropbox.  Both of these web-based applications will allow me to work remotely but share materials between machines.  Check them out.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Google Groups

Several teachers recently tried using Google Groups to facilitate online discussions.  Over the past few years, I have worked with a 6th grade language arts teacher to move literature circle discussions online.  We tried blogs and VoiceThread, but it felt like we were trying to force the technology to do something it wasn't meant to do.  This fall I suggested we try Google Groups.  Google Groups after all is designed to manage online discussions.  While it isn't as flashy as a blog or as "multimedia" as VoiceThread, we found it does just what we need it to do.  Students were engaging in conversations in the cloud about books and instead of the teacher only hearing bits and pieces of conversations, she can be a part of all of the conversations.

Since that 6th grade class paved the way, two other teachers have implemented Google Groups into their classroom.  In both instances students are discussing a novel being read in class and making connections between the novel and the course content.  Google Groups allows the discussion to continue outside of class as well as allow students in all classes to read the thoughts and opinions of those not in their class.  Google Groups is a great tool to use to help students practice communicating online.