Wednesday, December 5, 2007


I am a big fan of Google and their products. Besides the valuable features of each individual product, the greatest benefit lies in the tight integration among the products and the availability of nearly each one on a mobile phone. It is easy to exchange data between products and if you have the mobile web on your phone, you never have to be separated from your data.

These products also have the potential to be very powerful in the classroom. Creating, sharing and collaborating are all activities our students are engaged in online, outside the classroom. Bringing these tools into the classroom does open a can of worms. Perhaps we can have that discussion at another time.

Below is a list of Google products that I use on a regular basis.

Notebook I just started using Google Notebook recently and don’t know how I lived without it. With Google Notebook, you can browse, clip, and organize information from across the web in a single online location that's accessible from any computer. You won't ever have to leave your browser window. This could be a useful tool for those having a hard time navigating the many links we have on our moodlebot course. I use it mostly to keep track of my to-do lists.

Docs You can create documents and spreadsheets in your browser which are saved on Google servers so you can access them anywhere you have an Internet connection. You can also add people to collaboratively work on a document. You can find a link to a lesson plan in my post below describing how to use Docs with students during the writing process.

Reader is a feed aggregator. If you’re having trouble keeping up with all the updates to your favorite websites, you can read all the updates in one place with Reader. You can also share and publish items that you choose from your feeds. You could easily create a reading list for your students by using Reader’s publishing feature.

Blogger is a super easy to use blog (web log/online journal) and now has more features. When students know they are writing something that will be seen by someone other than their teacher, they tend put a little more effort into it.

SketchUp is a super awesome, easy and free 3D modeling software. I teach a unit using SketchUp in my 7th grade Tech classes. It is useful for teaching, measurement, scale and perspective along with skills that can transfer to more complex computer aided drafting programs.

Calendar is a great organization solution for both students and teachers. I had been looking for a calendar that I could access anywhere and this is it. You can add events from any computer sure, but you can also add events by sending a text message to the calendar from your cell phone. The calendar can also send you text messages to remind you of events. You can also publish and share your calendars.

Picasa is a photo organizing tool which also has an online component that provides 1 GB in photo storage.

iGoogle is a Google start page where you can add mini-programs or widgets. I use the calendar, word of the day, headline news, weather, driving directions and email widgets on my iGoogle and can therefore access all that information on one page.
Gmail is a terrific web mail program with a tremendous amount of storage (over 2G). Yahoo’s free email service and Gmail are duking it out for webmail supremacy in my humble opinion.

Google's Toolbar A couple of my favorite features of the toolbar include a spell check (which I used to correct my many spelling error and typos in this post) and a real time translation tool. If you place your cursor over a word in a web page, that word will be displayed in your chosen translation language. I have mine set to Spanish so our ELL and bilingual students find this feature quiet useful.

Page Creator If you just want to create quick and dirty web pages, Page Creator is about as easy as you can get.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Speaking of Web 2.0...

Holly sent me a link to Classroom 2.0 yesterday. Classroom 2.0 is a social networking site for those interested in Web 2.0 and collaborative technologies in education. If you are looking for ways to implement various Internet tools in your classroom, this would be a good first stop. There are many teachers who have written about their own experiences so there is no need to start from scratch.

Speaking of scratch... "Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web." So far I've only used Scratch as a reward activity as it is easy for students to learn on their own by following a simple tutorial. Despite it's simplicity, Scratch can teach "important mathematical and computational ideas, while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design."

For those of you teaching more "academic" subjects here are a few composition related links (I've been team teaching a composition class this year). Google for Educators created a lesson plan to Teach Collaborative Revision with Google Docs. I haven't been brave enough to sign my students up with a Google account so that they may work with Google Docs but I can still use the ideas in this plan by combining tools like Moodle, Word and email using Gaggle.

Another valuable composition resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab. I have mostly used the resume workshop during my career unit, however the site covers topics from creative writing to grammar and has a section specifically for grade 7-12 teachers and students.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Web 2.0

Although I feel I know quite a bit about the web, I had no idea what the term web 2.0 was so I looked it up. The following link proved to be very useful in helping me understand that what we are trying to do in this class and opportunity is a web 2.0 experience. I feel that the idea of collaborating with peers using the web such as this is an excellent resource that has limitless possibilities for ideas.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Welcome, moodlebots!

This blog has been created for the use of the moodlebots in the Using Moodle for Blended Instruction project at the Regional Educational Technology Assistance (RETA) program. We welcome your contribution to our moodleverse!