Where To Start

Less than a week ago, I read a blog post by George Couros, a principal in Alberta, about what Web 2.0 tools he’ll be focusing on using at school next year. I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog post lately. I also think that there are so many amazing tools out there, that it’s hard to use them all and use them all well. Since this year is almost over and I’m already starting to think about next year, here’s my list of essential Web 2.0 tools that I plan on using first with my students:

1) Blogs — Blogging is a great way to get students writing in a meaningful way. This year, I started with having a Grade 1 Blog (for all four Grade 1 classes), then a class blog, and then individual blogs. This allowed my students to communicate with an audience from early on while also giving them time to develop their writing skills.

2) Twitter — This year, my students loved to use Twitter for interactive writing, and they definitely benefitted from writing to an audience. As shown in their tweets, my students quickly learned about the importance of conventions and developing good ideas. I hope that next year’s group is equally as excited about using this tool to communicate with teachers and students from around the world!

3) GoogleDocs — While I do have regular access to the Grade 1 pod with eight working computers in it, these computers are all Sunset Image Computers, and you can’t save on them or print from them. This makes a word processor, such as Word, very difficult to use well. GoogleDocs is fantastic though! Students can save everything online, and even collaborate with each other on the same document. I have all of my students use a single GoogleDocs account that I set-up for them, and due to their age, this is the easiest thing to do. Folders make this system quite manageable.

4) VoiceThread — Some students find writing difficult, and oral language is definitely the backbone for all writing. This is why I like VoiceThread. Students can make written comments, audio comments, or audio and video comments. Differentiation is built right into the program, and it’s easy enough for all students to use too. I used VoiceThread a lot this year for self-assessment (a real Board push), and I plan on using it again next year too.

5) Glogster — I didn’t start using Glogster until later on this year, but I think that it’s a program with tremendous potential. It is great for creating media works, and since Media Literacy is becoming a big focus for next year, I think Glogster is the perfect tool to use. I also like how students can use Glogster collaboratively up on the SMART Board, which makes it perfect for literacy and math centres too.

I love so many Web 2.0 tools, and I know that I will use far more than just these ones, but these are what I plan as my “starting point tools.” What do you think? Is there anything that you would add or change? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!


13 thoughts on “Where To Start

  1. Aviva,
    Thanks for sharing this list of tools and how you actually used them or plan to use them! I haven’t used Storybird in class myself, but have seen some cool things with classes using it to work on storytelling. I also created some cartoons in Toondoo to use comic characters to present a common classroom “conflict” and let the students give me the dialogue to solve the issues. I think Toondoo has both a free tool that might not be “safe” enough but also a private space toondoospaces that charges a small fee but is private. Thanks so much for another great post!

    • Thanks for your comment and for suggesting some other tools too! I love Storybird as well (and it almost made it to this list too), but since I do teach Grade 1, I find Storybird better to use later on in the year when my students are stronger writers. I haven’t heard of Toondoo before, but I’ll definitely check it out. It sounds very similar to Bitstrips For Schools, which I used a lot this year, and do plan on using next year too. I tried to keep myself to a list of five tools, but the truth is that I’m sure to use many more than that.:)


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  3. I LOVE this post (how couldn’t I!) and think that you have some really amazing ideas. I think your addition of Voice Thread and Glogster are so great because they give students who do not write as well the medium of speech of art to share their message! I am thinking on adding these to my “tools” on my main website.

    Question: Do students need “emails” to Glogster and Voicethread to use them or is there a way we can avoid this and just have them doing it? Age restrictions?

    Thanks so much for the mention!

    • So glad that you enjoyed the post! I loved your ideas, and since reading your blog post, I’ve been thinking about which tools I would include on my list. As for VoiceThread and Glogster, both have Education Accounts that do not require you to have an e-mail address. There are not age restrictions either.

      VoiceThread Ed Account — http://ed.voicethread.com/

      Glogster Ed Account — http://edu.glogster.com/ (The best thing about Glogster is that it’s a free account too. VoiceThread has a small fee, but is well worth it!)

      Hope this helps!

  4. All awesome tools! I feel so behind. I am going to really focus on Google and Blogs (a little glogster, too) this coming year. Students need that authentic writing piece. Blogs give them that chance. Do you have any examples of the tweets or blogs from your students that you would share? I would like to see the structure and expectations that were set up for the them. Thanks for the great post!

    • So glad that you enjoyed the post and liked the tools mentioned too! You can definitely check out my student blogs at http://kidblog.org/missdunsigersclass and http://grade1.litcircuits.com. The second of these blogs posts live, so these tend to be shorter blog posts, and I don’t have the opportunity to get students to go back and add more details. For the Kidblog blogs, I have to approve the posts, so I often have students go back and make corrections before I do so. Hopefully these will give you some ideas.

      As for the tweets, I use my Grade 1 Twitter account, so the tweets are mixed in with all of mine. They’re a little harder to find. They are usually something like, “We are doing _______ today. We learned _________.” Hope this helps! Sorry that I can’t be of more help with this one!

      Thanks again for your comment!

  5. Wow…So quick to respond and with JUST the information I need! Thanks so much again Aviva; really good idea to focus on successful integration, not just widespread integration. Ensures that we are improving the learning in many areas with students, not just technology. Great list!

    • So glad that this is what you’re looking for! I really do like both of these tools, and they are great to use for all of the different curriculum areas. I’m all for using technology in the classroom, and definitely see the benefit of using it too, but curriculum expectations will always guide my instruction. Being able to use these tools to meet curriculum expectations and allow for lots of hands on learning and differentiation too, are definitely priorities for me.

      Thanks for the comments!

  6. Thanks for the post! Last school year I sort of dipped my toes in the water, and used just a few web 2.0 tools. I’m familiar with most of the tools in your post, but I plan to use them much more extensively in my classroom next year. However, I have not used GoogleDocs, so I will spend some time looking into uses for GoogleDocs this summer.I have my own Twitter account, but plan to have a separate Twitter for my class. I look forward to providing my kids with multiple ways to present authentic writing.

    • Thanks for your comment! I love being able to provide my students with authentic writing opportunities too, and I think that they work harder to produce better quality writing when they know that they’re writing for an audience. Hope you have the same success with these tools when you use them next year!


  7. Hi Aviva,
    I began using Google Docs and Blogs this year in school. I thought that these were two amazing resources which my students truly enjoyed using. I have tried a variety of other web 2.0 tools this year which my students have enjoyed. Based on your blog here and your Classroom 2.0 webinar the other day, I have already compiled a list of sites to check out this summer in order to incorporate them next year. Thank you for your support in the last few months.

    • Thanks for such a nice comment! Glad you’ve had success with blogs and GoogleDocs, and I can’t wait to hear about what you try out next.

      Have a great summer!

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