As I was preparing for my class smackdown, I ran across this interesting (and free) Web 2.0 tool that allows students and teachers to create interactive educational games, activities, and diagrams.  All creations are created with flash templates and can be embedded into web pages, blogs, and wikis.   ClassTools.net offers four different quiz creators and many different learning templates.  A few of the templates are described below.

Chronological Awareness Tools-tools that visually represent history and time (timelines)

Categorization Tools-tools that allow students to prioritize and diagram central ideas and thoughts

Prioritization Tools-tools that help students select, prioritize and categorize concepts

Source Work Skills-tools that allow students to examine and analyze words and images

Essay Skills-tools to diagram key concepts and main points of an essay

One of my favorite tools in Classtools.net is the arcade game generator.  You can very easily and quickly input questions, select the game you want to create (there are 4 different games) and produce your very own arcade game.  This tool is great to asses student's prior knowledge or review.  Some other cool tools on this site include flashcard generator, countdown timer, random name picker and many more. 

This tutorial shows you how easy it is to create an arcade style game. 
 
The Visual Thesaurus (VT) is an interactive reference tool that increases a student's ability for reading, writing and communicating.  This Web 2.0 tool is a dictionary and thesaurus that promotes reading comprehension, introduces new vocabulary words and concepts, and proper pronunciation.  The VT creates a word map with the main word in the center of the screen connected by related words and meanings.  Students will find synonyms, definitions, various word meanings, antonyms, and pronunciations.   

Some of advantages of the VT are:
  • research the Internet for word related websites and images
  • contains over 145,000 English words and 115,000 meanings
  • ability to see and explore different parts of speech
  • access the VT from any Internet-connect computer
  • visual learning
  • Create and share with other students
  • explore words in other languages
  • productive tool for ESL students
 

Vocaroo is a voice recording service that can be incorporated into any PreK-12 classroom.  This easy to use Web 2.0 tool does not require you to create an account or log in each time you use it.  Want an added bonus?  It's free and there is no limit of message length!

This a great tool teachers can use on blogs, web pages or wikis that allow students, parents, and others to record and play back their own voice.  Some educational uses include:
- oral accommodations for students with learning disabilities
-  great way to check for understanding
-  reinforce learning
-  great communication tool to share with parents
-  provide verbal feedback instead of typing (great for non-writers)

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Check out this fascinating article about the growing trend of 60 second lectures from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  For all those teachers who want to incorporate technology...here is one example!

These Lectures Are Gone in 60 Seconds

 

In January, I started taking a class titled Computers, Technology, Learning, and the Classroom.  During an online discussion, my professor posed a question about technology integration.  After much consideration, I began to think about ways I can help bring technology into my daughter's kindergarten classroom.  Since I had committed to being the mystery reader for her class, I figured out a way to incorporate VoiceThread during my visit.  A few weeks before, my daughter's class learned about predictions.  In addition, they were starting a new unit on plants.  Before I started reading, One Bean, I asked a few students to share their predictions about the book.  After I finished reading, I asked other students to tell me what they learned from the book.  When the project was complete, the VoiceThread was put on the teacher's website to share with the parents.  As a result, the parents and students were able to listen and extend the learning.   

 

Check out this short video about teachers changing the idea of teaching and learning in the 21st century classroom. 

 

The Read Write Web, affectionately known as Web 2.0, has changed my educational life in so many positive ways.  First of all, I have a variety of tools to choose from when I am working on a project.  I have many favorite tools like Diigo, TeacherTube, and Slideshare but one of my top favorites is Zoho.  From Zoho, I can create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and many other types of interactive documents.  The best part about Zoho is the ability to share my online documents with other people.  Together, we have the ability to synchronously communicate and edit the same project.  If the group cannot make a decision on something, you can use Zoho Polls.  Create a poll, vote and determine which choice is the winner. It is user-friendly, and best of all, it is free!

Another favorite Web 2.0 tool is Twitter.  I enjoy communicating with other professionals around the world.  With Twitter, I look for people who have similar interests as mine and begin to follow their posts or “tweets”.  It has proven to be a useful tool for academic purposes.  If I have a question about my web site creation or some technology project, I send out a message (tweet) and within a few minutes, I will receive an answer.  The best part about Twitter is the ability to learn and share information with IDT professionals.  I would highly recommend Twitter to anyone…especially a fellow student. 

With the creation of Web 2.0 tools, problems are going to arise.  It is very aggravating when an application is not working properly.  Weebly is one example a web-based application that I have been experiencing difficulties.  Weebly allows users to create free websites and blogs.  It is very user-friendly however the system tends to stall and not import some of my current changes.  This can be very frustrating when you spend a lot of time waiting around for Weebly to load.  One way I have found to combat this problem is to be connected to two different computers at the same time.  When one computer is loading, I will work on something else from the other computer.  Twitter is also experiencing problems.  The infamous ‘fail whale’ appears anytime Twitter is dysfunctional (scroll down and look to the right for the fail whale graphic).  

My Web 2.0 experience will have a huge impact on my coursework and teaching.  I am able to implement web applications in my course projects such as a digital video on Google Video and a slide show on SlideShare.  As a teacher, it will play a large role in the way I teach and how students learn.  In my classroom and coursework, my students and I will be able to publish, share and collaborate via the Internet.   The collaborative opportunities are never ending however, the more opportunities there are, the more problems that can occur in regard to student safety.  In order to ensure safety, I have to be conscious of the school district’s Internet policy and ensure my students know the proper rules and procedures for Internet use.  It is vital that I provide my students with a structured lesson and detailed publishing instructions.  Continual monitoring of student’s progress is vital.  

The movement from Web 1.0 (receiving or taking in web information) to Web 2.0 (taking in and giving out web information) has created an environment that is expanding learning to a larger audience.  Incorporating new technological applications in my classroom will increase student’s knowledge, refine concepts, and promote creativity.  As part of my reflection, I developed three lesson ideas for how I could integrate Web 2.0 technologies in my curriculum. 

 

Check out this video to learn more about Web 2.0.

 
 

I recently attended a Web 2.0 eLearning workshop and I was surprised to find out there are over 2,000 different online applications out in cyberspace.  If you have ever looked at Go2Web2.0, you will find so many choices that it will make your head spin!  Many of you would ask the same question I asked…Where do I start?  Based on conversations and group discussions at the workshop, the consensus seemed to be to just pick one and start using it.  That leads to a second question…Which one do I pick?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

What is it I want to do?
Can I get it for free?
Does my school block the site?
It is relatively easy to use?
How will this benefit my students?

Another suggestion is to talk to your fellow teachers or research educational sites that offer examples or ideas.  Most of all have fun and tech out!