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!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Well, I tried to embed a You Tube video into a different website that I had created using the HTML code that You Tube gave me, but had no luck playing the video at work. I assume it did not work since the code it gave me to embed it really just linked back to You Tube and Howard County blocked it. Oh well, I guess I will just have to settle for other video streaming sites such as United Streaming. Maybe someday in the future, Howard County will open up You Tube for teachers to use.


I have now entered in all of my student pages on my Wiki and it is ready to be implemented in my classroom! Unfortunately, I found out today from the technology teacher at my school (after I had already created my own!!) that there is actually a procedure you have to follow when creating a Wiki to use with students in Howard County. You have to apply for your own HCPSS sponsored Wikispace. I have begun the process and hope to be able to implement my Wiki soon! Here are the instructions I found on CLC.

Here’s how to begin the process for the setup of a Wikispace account:
Step 1:
Option 1 – I have had experience using Wikispaces and would like an account. Go to Step 2.
Option 2 – Meet with your Technology Teacher (if applicable) or Resource Teacher for training on how to utilize Wikispaces (if meeting with an OMET representative one-to-one, she can create the Wikispace for you while meeting for the training.)

Step 2:
Go to the [[ http://doc.hcpss.org:8080/docushare/dsweb/View/Collection-21132 ]http://doc.hcpss.org:8080/docushare/dsweb/View/Collection-21132]Wikispaces Folder in the DR (Media and Educational Technology > Educational Technologies > Wikispaces) and download the followingforms (as needed):

1. Application Form for Instructional Wikispaces Everyone needs to fill this out.
2. If using with Students – Wikispace Student Account Request Database
3. If using with Staff – Wikispace Staff Account Request Database

Step 3:
Attach the completed forms in an email that is addressed to: "WikispacesAccount Request" (type this exact name in the "To:" box).

A Wikispaces FAQ has been established in the CLC. Post your questions to the conference. (The conference is located inside Technology Systems.)

Contact your Instructional Technology Representative for any questions.
Contacts: Julie Wray, Nancy Ennis, Robert Cole, Krissie Wisniewski

If you are intersted in creating a Wiki to use with Howard County students, I recommend following these directions so you have it set up with maximum security for you and your students. Hopefully mine will be up and running soon so I can let you all know how it is going!