Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Adventures with Google Docs: The next frontier?

I've taken a bit of a plunge into (for me is) the unknown. I've introduced my grade 7/8 computers, and grade 5/6 homeroom kids to Google Docs.

The grade 5/6 kids are ENTHRALLED (or at least some are, and some more are prepared to be). When they had their 5 paragraph essays to word process (yes! I make my kids do 5 paragraph essays because of some traumatic events of my past resulting from my inability to write an essay of any kind), a few of them elected to use Google Docs because they could work from home. Today, I shared a "view only" copy of their new social studies mini-research assignment. Hopefully, this will be a back up for those pesky missing papers and will lead into some interesting sharings with their data. However, I was jolted with pangs of guilt when, after school, two students were "chatting" with other students already at home. (Well, looseleaf and pencils can be used for academic purposes OR writing nasty notes to your recent enenmies).

I've created a word processing unit which covers word processing as a process and allows students to learn 3 kinds of word processors: commercially available (ie Word), open source (ie, and online (Google Docs). I've put it together for my grade 7/3 computers class and I'm teaching it now. I'll share with anyone provided they contribute to the refining and extending of it. (It is pretty basic!)

I'd also like any kind of feedback, sharing, tips, suggestions, inspirations....from anyone using these or similar online tools.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Zoeybot - a search engine for kids

I just happened upon a link for Zoeybot

This is a search engine/ wikipedia for kids. I tried looking up an entry on a country and it was actually readable. Worth checking out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Please blog with us!

My grade 5/6 class has a class blog at

We'd love for some bodies to read us and write comments on our blog.

Friday, April 11, 2008

ArtsEd meets ELA and Voicethread with Interesting Results

My grade 5 and 6 class had truly wonderful plasticine art projects of their favourite places to be. I thought the project results were too good not to take further, so I asked Jennifer Shumanski, grade one teacher extraordinaire, if she wanted to partner up and help us with an online story project about the grade 5/6 favourite places to be.

First, I took pictures of all the art projects. Next, I had some students in 5/6 scale the images in GIMP and then upload them to Voicethread. Yesterday, armed with a story framework and their art projects, grade 5 and 6 students went to the grade one classroom, buddied up, wrote stories, practiced reading, and enjoyed Timbits. My students will word process the stories with large fonts, and have their buddies read their stories as Voicethreads. I've taken "mugshots" of the grade ones, and will upload them soon

Track our progress: Our Favourite Places to Be

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Most Basic and Effective Technology There Is...

My husband, my mom, and I participated in a "community walk" today along with 2000 or so other humans and doggies.

I had found out about the walk from FaceBook. I had joined a group called, "Friends of Station 20 West" after I'd seen a newsfeed announcing one of my FaceBook "friends" had just joined. I emailed the premier with my concerns. I signed an online petition. I also had emails from PAVED ARTS/New Media, and my yoga teacher urging people to get out and support the march. All of this happened BEFORE I read about it in the Star-Phoenix.

We gathered on a vacant lot at the intersection of Avenue M and 20th Street. There were the usual rousing speeches and outrageous songs of the "Raging Grannies". Motorists honked their support as they drove by. Police on bicycles escorted the walkers as they streamed down the sidewalks. Volunteers helped organize the parade.

We found out just how well organized everything was when my 81 year-old mother tripped and fell on a curb. An organizer with a cell phone appeared and contacted a volunteer "medic". A police officer on a bicycle came by and radioed the EMS people. Mom is OK, but had she not been, she would have had almost instant assistance to the medical help she might have needed.

There were also hundreds of cameras not only belonging to professional media services, but also ordinary people. One fellow had a "You Tube" label on his ultra small video camera. I'm sure hundreds of digital pictures and videos will be sent and uploaded during today, as well as many blogs (such as this one) written.

So what was the best of the technologies there? Human presence: people who cared about an issue and spent part of their Saturday morning showing it. They chose to get out of bed, get to one location and just BE THERE. Nothing replaces the presence of other humans en masse to broadcast the most effective message of all.

I'm glad I was there.