Tag Archives: cloud computing

Showing 5-8th graders how to set up personal digital portfolios using Google Sites.

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The kids arrived last week. Since then, I’ve been trying to schedule time with the 5th-8th grade classes to get them started on setting up a GoogleSite as a super simple space for their digital portfolios.

Before the first day of school, the other instructional technologists and I decided to have kids set up a GoogleSite that they could presumably start in 3rd grade and add to each year until they leave in 8th grade…or when the technology changes. (I managed to last one year using iWeb until I declared it was dead to me.)

This was my plan with the kids after our talk:

1. Create a new GoogleSite and name it their server name. Anticipating they’ll use these sites for consecutive years, we decided on a naming convention that will never change during their time at The School, like their username – mine is kblumberg.

2. Rename the Home page to About Me or About Karenor whatever their name is. Then they inserted an image taken with Photobooth and a brief autobiographical description about themselves – like a mini digital profile. I reminded them they could edit this endlessly from any location. We love The Cloud!

3. Create a new page, choose the Announcements template, put it at the top level, and call it 2011-2012. Belatedly, I realized they maybe could have called it “5th grade work” or something more specific, but it’s not the end of the world. Next year’s work will be on another new page (using the same announcements template) and titled 2012-2013.

4. Posts should include the subject first, like English R+J Podcast or Art Mosaic or SS Artifact Jars. Turns out posts are listed alphabetically rather than chronologically in the Sidebar on the left of the site, so I like that they can be organized by subject this way.

5. New Posts should contain an artifact like a link, photo, video, music file, slideshow, and/or something visual. They should put that artifact in context by using some sentence starters like the following: What is the artifact? What subject is it? What does it represent? Why did they choose it? What was the process? What was the most challenging part? What did they enjoy the most?

Here’s my example: https://sites.google.com/a/theschool.columbia.edu/kblumberg/home

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Eighth graders formed small reading groups on our in-house Elgg social network to discuss *To Kill a Mockingbird*

Eve Becker, 8th Grade English, is one of the most interesting people, gifted writers, and talented teachers I’ve had the pleasure to know. She actually gets kids to love reading and she inspires them to dig into the words, text, tenor of each piece like a surgeon. Every time I enter her classroom, I learn something new.

She (and I) are reading To Kill A Mockingbird with the 8th graders. This is the 50th Anniversary of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic. TKAM ranks as one of my favorite books ever, and while the last time I read it was over 10 years ago, I’m excited to read it along with the kids and participate in their online discussions.

After briefly discussing the best platform for the students to collaborate online (wiki, Google Site, Drupal, WordPress…), Eve chose to use our in-house Elgg social network. As a school, we try to reinforce how to use technology academically, respectfully, and responsibly, and we have a variety of tools at our disposal including The Social Network, where we show students how to behave in our protected spaces and hope that they continue to make good choices online when left to their own devices.

She divided the 8th graders into small reading groups of 3-4 people, and each member of the group helped populate their group’s space on The Social Network to include:

1. A bookmark from the full-class group to their small reading group

2. An avatar/icon to represent their group

3. A Group Discussion space where the students address teacher-led discussion questions like:

Chapter Nine: Why doesn’t Scout tell anyone but Uncle Jack the real reason she beat up Francis? What does this demonstrate about Scout?

4. A Group Blog section where students post their own questions/thoughts about the book and respond to each other’s posts.

Chapter 8: Do you think it was racists for Jem and Scout to build a black snowman?

5. A Page for Vocabulary terms where students follow a follow 5-step format.

NOTE: the page itself consists of the guidelines for adding vocabulary terms (see below), while students actually contribute to the page via the Comments section. Thus there exists a timestamp with their name each time they add a word to the page. This is great for individual accountability even as they working as a group.

1. Word

2. Make an educated guess (using context clues)

3. Look it up

4. Part of Speech

5. Make up your own sentence 

please specify the page/chapter where you located the word

6. A Page for Quotations where students write a quote, why they chose it, and page number.

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Um, one of my seventh graders didn’t know how to insert a CD into her laptop. Is it me or her?

Today, a seventh grader asked me how to burn an iMovie to a DVD.

Me: Let’s export your movie to Quicktime.
Kid: I exported it already as an m4v.
Me: Okay, let’s drag that to Quicktime and save it as a mov file.
Kid: I did that already.
Me: What’s the problem then?
Kid: I don’t how to put it on a DVD to give the teacher.
Me: Well, your mov file is 268MB, and a CD holds 700MB, so we just need a blank CD and not a DVD.
— I handed her a blank disk —
Kid: Where do I put it?
Me (slowly and incredulously): In the CD slot on your MacBook.
Kid: Where’s that?

At this point, I was flummoxed. Have I done such a bad job reinforcing basic skills in my quest to do cool projects? Or is this student just so used to flash drives, cloud computing (with Google Apps and our server), streaming music/video, and/or sharing everything via social sites?

Sony is turning into the Grim Reaper of technology (and my memories of the 20th Century) what with the demise of…
The 3.5″ floppy: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/04/sony-announces-the-death-of-the-floppy-disk/
The Casette Walkman: http://technews.am/conversations/techdirt/sony_to_stop_making_cassette_walkmen_yes_it_was_still_making_them_

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