A question was asked on twitter today regarding what sites should teachers be directed to……limit 3.
I started thinking through all the sites I recommend and quickly thought of my top 3. But then I pushed back at myself a bit to demand an explanation of WHY I would recommend those sites and not just pass on links without reason.
So, here are my 3 sites (with 2 more on overflow at the bottom) but more importantly, here are my 3 sites with reasons WHY teachers (elementary teachers) should have these bookmarked for use.
#1 — Without a doubt — VOICETHREAD.
I still have the free account and am perfectly happy. You, will have to decide which plan you pick. But I can tell you that THIS software will open opportunities for you in a variety of ways.
VoiceThread is 1 2 3 simple. You title your voice thread, you upload your pictures, you invite comments. That’s pretty much it.
But then — OH, the places you can take it.
By opening commenting, you expand every single voice thread into a conversation. You can keep this conversation within your own class or invite in the world.
By uploading pictures, you expand creativity and collaboration. Retell stories, take state projects to a new level, invite sentence creation by putting spelling words on each slide and having people who comment leave a sentence.
Other ways to use voice thread:
Book clubs, Science Fair steps, Vocabulary Lists, Math Problems, What I wish To Be, State Projects, Animal/Habitat projects, Guess the Location, Flat Stanley, What Happens Next, Friday Wrap Up, KWL charts, FYI of your classroom, Star of the Week, Grandparents/Special Friend Day, Online Projects, Experiments, Invite Parents into the Classroom, Class Pets, Monthly Themes, Site Reviews, App Reviews, Introduction to ………, What is Missing, and the list goes on.
Please check out voice thread today.
#2 — Delicious (or Diigo or Linkables or …..
insert any name of bookmarking site here)
All of us have created lists of bookmarks or favorites that we feel are important enough to save so that we can easily come back to them.
Delicious — etc — now takes what you feel is important enough for you to save and sharing that with others.
You could have each student bookmark sites through Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari — but that limits their bookmark list to that specific computer. So if they need that link at home (perhaps to show a parent) it is not there.
THAT is why you need to create an online bookmark site and start saving to it. All the bookmark sites allow you to categorize your bookmarks into an easy organized list.
I like delicious — it works for me with its simplicity. You can find my delicious link here: http://www.delicious.com/jlwagner
I also save my bookmarks at Linkables:
These bookmarks are now accessible to me WHEREVER I might be WHENEVER I need them. And, I can share them easily with others.
#3 — Skype for Teachers
Whether or not skype is blocked in your district — you, as a teacher, need to have skype on your personal computer.
If skype is not blocked on your campus, make sure it is installed ASAP.
To simplify it down — skype is free phone on your computer. It allows you to call (1 person or a group) and have verbal and video conversations. It also allows chat.
The chat option is one opportunity I see teachers overlooking. They think they cannot use skype with other schools in different time zones BUT by using the chat option, you can use skype whenever.
Type a question to the classroom you are collaborating with and when they turn on skype, they can type their answer. And you respond at your next convenience. Whether it is one classroom or many — this easily makes time zone issues not a big problem.
Skype in the classroom invites you to post your skype name and skype wishes and then you can team up with other classrooms.
Skype is a very easy way to invite conversations into your classroom…..and if skype is blocked on your campus — you can have the conversations at home — and then share the conversation with your classroom the next day.
Why do you need skype? Because you need your students to see others (besides yourself) as experts and they need the opportunity to be seen as experts to others as well. With so many people using skype now — you can invite authors, community leaders, scientists, doctors, missionaries, zoologists, and more — to share with your students….and if you open the skype conversation to others, you can share with students all over the world.
My bonus 2 sites.
I like Projects By Jen — grins — yes, I do. (http://www.projectsbyjen.com)
The opportunity to meet up with other elementary teachers by being involved in a simplistic but powerful project is important in a variety of ways.
Whether we stack cookies, count pumpkin seeds, exchange cards, graph lucky charms, create artwork, etc etc etc…..it is a safe, encouraging, welcome opportunity for the new teacher or the seasoned teacher to bring creative ideas into their classroom.
I like Edmodo and think more people really need to be looking into this option.
It allows you to create an atmosphere of online sharing for your students in a protected area.
It offers an easy solution to schools that are wishing to go paperless and also allows teacher/students to have conversations without the “facebook” stigma that many might be wary of.
If I were in the classroom, I would use the uploading of documents as an opportunity for my students to turn in rough drafts that can be corrected and reviewed and then resubmitted as a final copy.
The fact that this online opportunity if offered freely to educators BY educators should not be ignored. The fact that Edmodo listens to its users needs to be admired.