This past year I have been giving lots of PD both at whole school meeting and for individual staff members and it has been gratifying to see staff using Google Apps, wikis and other e-tools with more confidence and regularity. However I noticed that the majority wasted too much time, trying to find the correct website, email or wiki. I decided to create a Start Page for our school staff to make their lives a bit easier.
I firstly considered iGoogle which I use, and also tried Netvibes for a few weeks, in the end after testing, I came to realise they provided their own challenges with all the widgets and was not centrally controlled. So as a good Google App man, I created a Google Sites page with a shared school calendar, an announcement box, links to all school websites and wikis, plus links to some of the more common websites teachers use daily like eTap, e-asTTle, ARBS, TKI etc. So far this has been well received by all staff who are finding the challenge of navigation slightly easier and quicker. What do you do at your school?.
My students have also started the EduBlogs student challenge this week, it provides an exciting a real context for students to learn and practice their blogging and commenting skills, as well as connecting to classes and students around the world.
Interestingly, a small group asked to move from KidBlogs to their own Blogger for the challenge because it allows them more control over the blog and to able to add widgets.
The blog challenge provides opportunities to teach digital citizenship, literacy and key competencies, all while the students are engaged and excited about 'real' blogging with a 'real' audience.