Fur.ly

Another Website that I learned about from the MSET Conference from my good friend Laura Hook was Fur.ly Fur.ly allows the user to shorted multiple Websites into one URL for students to navigate through.  This is perfect when you have multiple Websites you want students to visit in a particular sequence.  Or for those days when you have free time and you want to limit the Websites that students are allowed to visit.  I would recommend this website be used with students in 3rd grade and up.  For younger students you can try SimplyBox which is a much more visual way for students to view multiple Websites.  I’ll have to post something on SimplyBox later.

Here is an example of Fur.ly in Action.  Students in my fifth grade are currently working on making a video about protecting the Chesapeake Bay.  I wanted to share with them some links that they could use for the research component of their script.  Usually I use my social bookmarking site Del.icio.us, however today I used Fur.ly.

First, I started by copying and pasting my URL’s for students to visit to the Fur.ly website.

fur.ly | shorten multiple urls into one

Next, I grabbed my shortened URL and added it to my Handout Folder for students to access.

fur.ly | shorten multiple urls into one-1

Finally, students can navigate through the different Websites using the toolbar at the top of their browser.  This I find to be the best advantage to Fur.ly over other bookmarking sites.  Especially with students who are just learning to navigate multiple sites to do research.  The toolbar allows them to navigate through the different Websites quickly without having to hit any back buttons.  Below is a shot of the Fur.ly page and then the toolbar.

Arc

Picture 1

The fifth graders really enjoyed using the Fur.ly link and it seemed to work quite well.  The only thing that I have found about Fur.ly that makes me nervous is that it currently being auctioned off.  Who knows what will happen to it after it is sold.  It may no longer be free or as functional for student use.  For now, I find it to be a great bookmarking resource for use with students.

WordSift

This post comes from the MSET conference last Friday.  I attended a Discovery Education Session where they talked about this great Web 2.0 tool WordSift.com.  It was used in conjunction with Audio files.  This tool is similar to Wordle.net in that it makes word clouds but with one cool twist.  For each word entered if you click on the word, it will display images found online that go with that word.  It provides children with a way to visualize text.  Not only does it allow you to see visual images but it also has a visual thesaurus.

Word Sift Website Homepage

WordSift - Visualize Text

Word cloud created by text that was entered.

WordSift - Visualize Text-1

Images and Visual Thesaurus suggested based on the text.

WordSift - Visualize Text-2

Some things to consider:  I found as I played around that the images can be sporatic.  You also need to make sure you are mindful of those inappropriate images that may or may not pop up in your WordSift.  While this tool appears cool and can be very useful, it should be approached with caution and is one of those “You must preview first everything you are doing!”

Kidblog – An easier alternative to blogging with elementary students?

So I have always thought blogging in the classroom was a natural fit.  I used to blog a lot two years ago.  Since that time I haven’t done much blogging with my students.  This is due to many different things, but the biggest reason is that Edublogs added advertisements and required a supporter membership to turn it off.  I’ve thought from time to time about paying the money but I haven’t been regular about blogging so I figured I would save myself some money.

I recently came across a post in a blog this morning that had a link to Kidblog.  I was intrigued by how easy it seemed to be even before I set up my account.  This seems like it may be a good alternative to those who want to 1. Blog with Elementary Students , 2.  Want to avoid paying fees for Ad-Free spaces, and 3. Want a simple blogging experience without all the bells and whistles.

Here is how it works!

1.  Set up your free account – Go to Kidblog.org and set up your account.  All you need is a Username, Password, and Email.  Check out what makes Kidblog different!

Kidblog.org - Blogs for Teachers and Students

2.  Customize as you please – One of the great things about KidBlog is that there is only 5 tabs to choose from when making Customization.  It’s quite limited, but for the beginning blogger it’s less intimidating.  In the Dashboard Tab you get a quick view of your blog, Write New Post allows you to begin a new post for your readers, Review Posts allows you to quickly see all of your posts, make edits, etc.  This is where you would go if you created a post and saved it as a draft to come back to later.  Comments allows you to view comments that have been made by users.  Users is where you go to set up your classes and students, and finally the Settings tab allows you to modify the settings of the blog as a whole.  This is where you can also change any permissions and backgrounds.

Dashboard-1

3.  Add students to your class (if you choose) – First click on the Users Tab.  Then click on Add New users to this Class.

Users ‹ Trudden Technology

Next, add your users.  I chose to give my students the same User name and Password as they use in technology class.  You can also make it generic like student1, student2, etc. Make sure you select “student” as their Role.  You can enter your usernames and passwords manually of you can upload using a CSV worksheet.

Add New User ‹ Trudden Technology

Next check your list of users to make sure that you have everyone entered.

Users ‹ Trudden Technology-1You’re all done!

4.  Start Blogging – Blogs are a great way to introduce students to the world of digital media.  Students can use it as a collaborative forum for sharing, ideas, and writing.  Try using it as a class journal, writing portfolio, or many other ways.  The possibilities are endless!

Example in Action!

Check out a quick post I did on my Kidblog I created this morning.  Use student as the login and pass as the password.

Trudden Technology Kidblog

To see more examples of Blogging in Action, check out Will Richardson’s Blog, Webblog: Learning with the Read/Write Web.  He also has a link to a wiki with Links to School Bloggers which has some great samples in action!

Happy Blogging!

Back in Action – Wild and Fancy Free

Hello World!  So I really enjoyed making this blog as part of my Telecommunications class for my masters.  At the end of the course I had intentions of continuing its use by adding Web 2.0 tools as I found them and used them for odd and end projects within my technology classroom.  Sadly, I haven’t touched this blog in almost 2 years!  Well, I finished my Masters and will be graduating on May 15th and have a summer of relaxation ahead of me before the arrival of my first child.  I have already started several draft posts of some of my new and favorite Web 2.0 tools.  So keep checking back.  I hope to continue to blog away and share new technologies through the summer and into next school year.  Enjoy and Comment Away!

Google Maps & The Olympics

I came across this great Olympic feature with Google maps as I was catching up on my Blog Reading.  Google Maps has made a special map with Medal Counts, Events, and Stadiums.  The Stadium tab is by far my favorite!  You can click on a Stadium name and be taken there!  Most stadiums have videos, photos, and additional information about the venue!

Google Maps – Summer Olympics 2008

It truely is amazing how much technology has changed over the last decade.  It has allowed so many viewers to experience the Olympic spirit from their own living rooms.  Check it out!

What else the web is good for

As I was catching up on my Google Reader feeds today I came across Will Richardson’s most recent post.  It’s very timely in that it addresses just what else the web and it’s plethora of social networks are good for.  It raises some questions about why the education of children in our school must evolve.

Check it out!

WOW! Wonderful Web 2.0!

So right now I’m writing from the Discovery Educator Network Mid Atlantic Conference in New Jersey.  I just attended a session about incorporating Web 2.0 into the Discovery Education Builders.  In the session we saw some great Web 2.0 technologies included such as polling with PollDaddy, chatting with MeeboRooms and embedding videos with Moonk (More on these technologies later). These would have helped me when I was searching for cool Web 2.0 technologies over the last few weeks but it certainly gives me a great starting place for future posts.  Enjoy!

Jennifer Dorman’s Web 2.0 List

Go2Web2.0.net

Furl vs. Del.icio.us

Two of the most popular Social Bookmarking sites are Furl and Del.icio.us.  While they both allow a user to bookmark or tag a website they function very differently.  The key difference is that Del.icio.us focuses mostly on Links to a website, while Furl focuses on the content of the site itself.

Furl

I just made a Furl account tonight to help me demonstrate for this blog post.  I went to a few websites that I frequent and used the Furl It button that I added to my toolbar.  I pressed Save and Voila!  The webpages at that moment in time are then cached and saved to my Furl Account. I found that Furl does have some useful features, such as:

  • Archives can be private or public
  • Others to subscribe to your account
  • Webpages are saved permanently to your account
  • Archives are available even after a site is taken down
  • Ability to make groups so students can make comments about an archive
  • Great for leading a professional development session for staff members

One of the obvious downfalls to Furl is that it has advertisements. In an education setting advertisements that you can’t control could be potential hazards.

Del.icio.us

I have used Del.icio.us during the last few months.  It has simplified my ability to add bookmarks for students.  My Del.icio.us page is fairly simple as are all Del.icio.us’ pages.  To use this site you start by downloading the Del.icio.us toolbar.  Then when you visit a page you want to bookmark you click on the post to del.icio.us link in your toolbar.  Now here is where it gets customizable.  When I am bookmarking, I make sure to tag each site in an organized manner so that my students can best access it.  Therefore I make many tags for each link.  Typically as a rule of thumb I always tag my bookmarks with a grade level and a subject.  Del.icio.us also provides a RSS component so that students and parents can subscribe to your account.  What makes this site better than Furl is that when a site is bookmarked you get the most current view of the site and it is advertisement free.  A downfall is that  you will have to be conscious and check your bookmarks before using them with students.

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