20 January 2011

Four tools for learning

Over the past six months, I've been thinking quite a bit about my school district's move to 1:1. Specifically, I've been wondering what web-based "tools" my students should have available to them for their learning.

I began by asking myself what tools I need for my own personal and professional learning. Each week I find my use of my RSS reader, Twitter, Diigo, and my professional blog (on weeks when I make time to write) are the tools I use the most. So, I gave my students the student-friendly versions of those.

This school year, my fifth graders have been using:
  • Diigo -- to collect bookmarks and share to a private 5th grade group consisting of the three fifth grade classrooms in our hallway
  • Edmodo -- to share thinking, questions, and resources within a private class set up for our team
  • KidBlog -- for reflection and posting random assignments
  • PB Wiki -- for publishing their writing
A few reflections on each tool after a couple months of sporadic use (we're not 1:1 yet and available lab time has been scarce in my building the past two months):
  • Diigo has been a tool that I've used daily since it was presented to me at a conference back in October. The ability to set up public or private groups has been great for me and for my students. They are still learning how to share useful comments and once we have more regular computer access, I'm sure it's usefulness will grow.
  • Edmodo is a tool that, like Diigo, will grow in usefulness when my students have greater access. I've shown my students how I and those I follow use Twitter (after previewing my Twitter feed for kid-friendly tweets) for sharing resources, asking questions, and responding to others tweets. My students have practiced these, but they aren't natural uses yet.
  • KidBlog has been my favorite student tool so far from the teacher side. It is simple for both students and teacher alike. I can have total control over what gets posted to our class blogs by approving each post and each comment before they go public. I'm hoping that I can get my students using it more frequently for their own short reflections and writings (remember Type 1 writings?) in the coming months.
  • This is my second year of using PB Wiki for publishing student writings after I watched how the fifth grade East Dragons out in Littleton, CO used it in their 1:1 classroom. My students really enjoy posting to the wiki and commenting is quite easy. Recently, I've been reading The Power of Less and it has me asking if I can do the same with less. I've been thinking that KidBlog could easily take the place of PB Wiki. I suggested that to my students earlier today and was met with a chorus of "no, we love the wiki." For now, it's staying.
Those are my thoughts at the present. I'm interested to know how you're using these tools with your students or if you've found others that are essential for student learning.


team krasean said...

Kip - It is so interesting to read your thoughts here. I am facilitating a group of math teachers who are part of a laptop project in Minneapolis (using a Virtual Learning Community). We have looked at Diigo and KidBlog. Diigo does seem like a great tool for sharing with a group of folks. Sounds like you are doing exciting work!

Kieman Holland-Anderson said...

Sonja, I'd love to hear how your project is going. Any advice for a district that will be getting some sort of pad or tablet into the hands of every 3-12th grader in the coming years?

Jennifer Matson said...

Thank you for the great resources! I have never heard of Edmodo or Diigo. They both sound like very useful tools!

Miss DeRoo said...

I have personally not be exposed to very many different school-related technologies. Nor have I ever heard of those four resources that you wrote about. Thanks for the enlightenment and useful information!

Sarah Lidgard said...

Thanks for your interesting input on a few really neat technology resources! I have not heard of these four before and I look forward to digging deeper into them!