Monthly Archives: May 2012

Coetail- Final Project with Google Earth – Year 7 Humanities

Diigo Groups application for the classroom.

Our final unit in year 8 Humanities focus on concept of Systems.  Looking at Rainforest, students inquire into the reasons that Rainforest are such an important part of our environment, yet they are constantly under threat by different people and for different reasons.

In order for the students to see the different perspective on Rainforest Deforestation, they pick a lens trough which they look at the unit. These steakkholders as we call them are roles like WWF, furniture makers, loggers, indiginous communities, CEO’s.

Rain Forest Stakeholder Roles

When the kids chose their role from this list, they spend time looking for articles and information that they can use in the final activity whereby they present their perspectives on Rainforest deforestation. In order to keep track and share resources the kids use Diigo to bookmark their websites into groups. Since two or  more kids can share a role, they will also be able to easily share links!

The hope is that the students discover the benefits of this tool and use it on a regular basis, when discovering cool stuff online!

So a year later..where am I?

After working on this course for the past year, I felt it was crucial to take a look at what programs and web 2.0 tools are an important part of my teaching and learning. Over the past year I have read many blogs, followed lots of tweets and thought about how technology impacts my teaching. I have broken down my ideas into daily, weekly, and monthly.

On a daily basis I am using:

Diigio to keep track of the cool websites and articles I come across. I also receive weekly updates from different diigo groups I follow. (Classroom 2.0, Project Based Learning, Global Education Conference, Coetail, Online Tools, Interactive WhiteBoards in the Classroom. and many more) My students also used diigo to keep track of their bookmarks, and in an upcoming unit we are explicating using this for the kids to look at a unit through the lens of different stakeholders (a detailed post on this to come)

Dropbox- Always using it to save files, and share folders with my co workers

Email updates from Larry Ferlazzo - He sends out the best websites of the day. Very useful stuff from this guy!

Year Level blogs at our school. Year 8 and Year 7 

Aslo each student has a personal blog, which I follow using netvibes.

Utube: Always searching for cool videos, and uploading my students work to our school account. Teacher Tube is also a great addition.

Vimeo- Another great source for video footage

Onenote program to share and plan notes with my students

Veracross- to communicate homework and assessments to students online.

Weekly I am using:

Reading my RSS feed from Blogs like Langwitches,Teaching Sagitarian , 21 Century Presentation.These blogs are really the main ones that I read on a weekly basis, but do scan others from our suggested RSS feeds.

Portal Page- Our school keeps curriculum and units accessible to students on a portal page. Each course has its own portal page. Weekly I updating these pages

Dyknow- To send my students work and receive work, also at time to screen share.

Weekly updates from my Diigo Groups, TedTalks, TedED


Podcasts from Live Web 2.0, passed Coetail course discussions.

Occasion Tweets @jhortop

GoogleDocs, video editing, In Plain English, glogster, voice thread, flickr, compfight, powerpoints, many website links, prezi, google maps, google earth, screenr, sound cloud, Radio Lab, creative commons search tools, brain pop videos, linkendin, flocabulary.

For me this is not an overload of resources, and I find it quite manageable. I also am always on the look out for new ideas and new tools that will enhance student learning!

Technology Terminal

Yes, well we all love technology! Yes we love learning about new ways to integrate  technology in our classroom, follow RSS feeds,  tweet out new ideas, develop our PLN. For the past year I have been totally emerged in these new ideas. I have discovered lots, implemented lots and reflected on the process. However, over Songkran I stopped. I travelled to my long lost home in a village,  in Kimundo Tanzania. This home has little hot water, let alone a solid internet connection. Peace Matunda  For the second year in a row, I travelled with a fellow co-worker to this small rural village, with 18 student.

Typical Classroom at Peace Matunda School - Techo Free


It was so nice to totally disconnect from technology. No RSS feeds to follow, no tweets to be sent, and only reflection through writing occurred. However, the expectation from  parents was that emails be sent on a daily basis to update them on our daily activities and most importantly ensure the safety of their children. B

Before leaving for the trip, I asked all students to leave their technology at home! Embrace the laptop free environment, and enjoy the fresh air! Despite having lots of assignments to complete over their holidays, the kids agreed, and were happy to have some time away from the demands placed on them, and thus the importance of having a computer at their fingertips.

Days were spent working in classrooms, classrooms very different then mine. Blackboards, no electricity, a few books, and teacher directed learning. There was no computers, smart boards, front row, speakers, air con, lights. The computers that have been donated to the school were sitting collecting dust in a cement room. As I pointed out, without electricity, there is no use for computers. Nonetheless, there was learning, and engaged students. 

It was a great experience for our students to see how kids are interested in learning without even the possibility of using technology. It was also great for me as a teacher to watch kids and teachers share ideas using the traditional methods of several years ago. It made me realize that I am living in a technology tunnel, where my life revolves around technology, and using technology. It was a pleasant reminder that life without technology is something that, in my opinion, we need to shut off and take a breath of fresh air.