Tuesday, January 4, 2011


The Wiki activity I did today with my students was a reflection of their Winter Breaks. They could choose to either write about their winter break in general or one of their favorite gifts. I told them that this would be their first graded assignment. On my home page, I put the rubric that I will use to grade their papers. Here are the screen shots of my home page and two of the student pages:

The rubric is very simple and it is in the same format that we use for typical writing assignments in Third Grade. Before the students wrote, I explained the rubric and how they would be graded. I wanted to make sure that everything was clear before they began their first graded assignment. All of the students did not finish, so we will be going back to the lab on Thursday to finish up. The students who have already finished will be given a partner. Each pair will read each other's writing and help them edit anything that needs to be fixed and add more details. That way, the assignment is more like a full writing project with a rough draft, editing and revising phase, and a final copy, which will just be going back and fixing what their partner told them to fix.

This is the beginnings of me trying to have my students collaborate together on a Wiki assignment. My goal for the future is to have students creating entire assigments together. I have also continued to be in contact with our Media Specialist to create cross-curricular assignments that they can work on both with me and in Media. I think that would be a great way to integrate our classes and show the students that their teachers work together just like we ask them to work together!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I took my kids to the lab again today to do another Wiki activity. This activity was the kids making an Acrostic Poem. They were using the word SNOWMAN for their poem. Here is a screenshot of my homepage with the directions on it and a few of the kids' pages:

The kids really liked this activity. Some of the kids found it difficult to think of sentences about a snowman specifically so I let them use sentences about winter and snow in general. I thought the kids did a very nice job of creating their Acrostic Poems!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I used my Wiki again with my kids today. The new activity they did was to write about their weekends. I put a new set of directions up on the Home page for them to see when they first logged in. The directions led them to click on their page and begin writing about their weekend. Here is a screen shot of my Home page and a few of the kids' pages.

I am very pleased with my student's motivation to write while using the Wiki. I have also had a lot of my students log in from home and continue to work on their Wiki page. That is one of the best features. It is so nice that they can continue working from home and that I don't need to give extra time in school if they don't finish. I do have a few kids that do not have internet access so I let them have extra time in school to work on the one computer I have to access to during the day, but for the most part, they can finish at home!

I definitely plan to continue using this all year. I have even begun to discuss with our Media Specialist how we can collaborate with each other using the Wiki. We are going to create assignments together that the students can work on with me and in Media. I also want to start having the kids work together to create collaborative projects with each other. I haven't worked out all of the details for that yet, but for now, they love just using the Wiki independently to create things. I love my Wiki!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

VoIP - Skype

I wanted to show you what it looks like to use one of these VoIP programs. Since I already have an account with Skype, I took a few screen shots of me in a few Skype calls. Here are the screen shots:

I set up the screen so you could see the program on the left and the conversation happening on the right. In the program window, you can see all of the people that I have on my Skype list. One nice thing about it, is you can see a green check next to the people on the list who are online. It will also tell you with an "x" who is offline.

The interface is very easy to use. To make a call, you click on the person's name and select the button to call them. You will hear ringing until the person either answers or the computer tells you they are not available. When you are in a call with someone, the options for what you can do are at the top of the box. The two buttons you would probable use the most during a call are the video button and the hang up button. If you click on the video button, it will turn on and off your video. If you want to chat with someone without video, you can turn off your video with that button. You can also see your picture on the bottom left hand corner of the video screen. If you are in a call and you do not see your face in the corner, then you need to click the video button to turn your video option on. If you do not see the other person's face, that means that they have their video option off and they need to click the video button. You can also select to make a conference call with Skype with three or more of your contacts. Unfortunately, you can only make voice conference calls with Skype.

I could definitely see teachers using this in their classrooms. One way to use it could be with students who are sick at home. If they are sick, you could have your Skype turned on and the child could listen in from home. They could do anything from take notes on a lecture or listen in on a read aloud.

Another way you could use this with your class would be for a telecollaborative project. You could get your class set up with another class that you share with through Skype. You could have students partner up with other students or it could be an entire class Skype situation. The activity could be as simple as sharing what they did over the weekend or it could be that one of your students is reading a book to the other class through Skype. You could do writing projects where the students have to actually colaborate through Skype. Any opportunity for the students to talk to other students, let alone other students across the state, country, or world, will most likely get them motivated to do whatever activity you wanted them to complete.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

VoIP Programs

VoIP programs, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, have become a very large part of communication today. These programs make many types of communication through the internet very simple and cheap, or in come cases, FREE! This technology gives you the opportunity to use your internet connection to make regular voice calls, conference calls, video calls, or have an instant messaging conversation. For many people, it has become second nature to sit in front of the computer and talk to friends and relatives as if you were sitting right in front of them or talking on the phone with them. VoIP programs make it simple to connect for free, or for a reasonable price, as opposed to making expensive long-distance phone calls.

There are many examples of VoIP programs out there. One very well-known one is Skype. A few of Skype's features are traditional voice calls, instant messaging, video chatting, and voice only conference calls. Having used Skype myself, I would have to say that setting it up and using it is very simple. You will have to find out if anyone you know is already on Skype in order to get their username to be able call them. If you are interested in downloading Skype and trying it, here is the website: http://skype.software.en.softonic.com/download?gclid=CNfGgdTf26UCFWp75QodWHhSzg. It is completely free to sign-up and you can begin making calls right away! Skype does have a few features that cost money, but I have found in my use, that the basic features suit my personal needs.

Here is a list of a few more VoIP programs and websites you can visit to find out more information:


So unfortunately, my Wiki is completely private to keep the student's information protected and secure. Instead of you being able to go to the actual site to see what I am doing with my class, I will post screen shots of different pages within the Wiki. Today, the students answered a few survey questions on their Wiki pages. Here is the Home Page with directions for the first activity and two examples of what the students did on their pages:

I will continue to update this blog with new screen shots of my Wiki as my class continues to use it!

Monday, December 6, 2010


Okay all, I now have an official Howard County Wikispace! The new address is http://lesstanton.hcpss.wikispaces.net/. I have re-created all of my pages on this new wiki so please disregard my previous Wiki address. I have a message on the old Wiki for anyone who goes there looking for my new Wiki though just in case someone goes there by mistake.

I will be taking my students to the computer lab this week to begin using the Wiki. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I know my students are very slow typers so I will have to give them a lot of time to complete the assignment on their pages. I do plan on giving the students the Wiki address so they can use this at home too. I will write back and let you know how it goes!