Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Two Digital Firsts

Today, the second day of term 4 and my first year of teaching, saw me implementing two new digital tools into my classroom arsenal.

The first was EtherPad which is a collaborative writing site. I had six groups at tables, each with a laptop. I was signed in as the teacher and projected the site onto our whiteboard. We were exploring the features of explanation writing through shared writing with a focus on the Key Competency; Relating To Others. The whole class was fully engaged and I was very proud of the sharing and teamwork that happened throughout the class. This was truly 21st century learning taking place. It was great to be able to assign each group a colour while they chose a group name, while having it on the whiteboard allowed a sense of control and management for the few tempted to be too expressive. I did have to teach each group to avoid deleting each others work by finding a new blank line at the bottom of the writing to begin their next written line. Next time I would like to try this same exercise with individuals at seperate laptops writing a collaborative piece.

The second digital first was our use of VoiceThread in maths. VoiceThread is a collaborative multimedia slideshow on which you can upload images, videos and documents. The great part is that students can navigates pages and leave comments in five different ways; recording voice (microphone or telephone), text, audio file or video. Plus they can doodle all over the screen while they comment. Multiple identities can be created for your class and the Voice Thread can even be embedded into blogs or wikis, like below. My students loved it and had very little difficulty picking up the basics. It is a great collaborative tool as well as for diagnostic, formative and summative assessment, the applications are limitless across the curriculum. I would love to even try it to get parent engagement.

I admit I have known about this site for a long time but have always been a bit scared to take the plunge. I eventually got my confidence by viewing and copying what another teacher had done, here. I was initially feeling worried about this, but I think teachers also need modeling and scaffolding to learn and pass that onto their students, especially with all these web 2.0 tools. I am not sure who the teacher is, but a huge thank you for helping get my feet wet with VoiceThread. I encourage all teacher to give this tool a go, you will not regret it.