I am so overwhelmed with the amount of technology out there that I do not know where to start...blogs, wikis, video, making movies, etc. I want to know what you would vote as the most effective use of technology, whether it be an actual piece of equipment, online, or anything classroom 2.0 that you have used in the classroom. I have the type of personality in which I want to try EVERYTHING, but time is a huge factor, so the purpose of this discussion is to help me narrow my focus down to something more manageable. So I am asking you the experts, what you have found to be the best of the best. By the way I would like to try to limit this to the elementary level but I am open to any suggestions.

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True. True. :)
I fell upon the use of a wiki quite by accident this year. I was thinking that a social networking tool like MySpace would be a good way to use something the kids love to do... put up pictures of their frioends and write comments about them. Since we were learning about the use of adjectives, that seemed a good way to do it. But we couldn't access MySpace through the school. I had not yet found Ning, and my son told me that his teacher used wikispaces.com. So I went there and started one. I really didn't know much about it, but my kids caught on really quickly and they taught me and we learned together. I didn't wait till we learned all about it, though that mght work better for you.

We still don't use it really as a collaborative tool that often (only sometimes for projects), but more as an organizational tool where we can put up blogs, photos, music, movies, email, podcasts, vokis, talking squirrels, and other fun ways to use language.

We even have a hidden page where we can put our login info to our online book.

Some of the other teachers at our campus are using it to write and peer edit articles for the newspaper amd yearbook. I also use one for a place to post what we are doing in our leadership club. You can look at it here and see if there are any ways you can use our ideas.
You've been given some great advice so far.

I think there are really two areas to tackle. The first is personal knowledge. I would suggest spending time both here at CR 2.0 and with Twitter or a feed reader (with a SMALL number of feeds to start). I personally use Google Reader with Google Gears so I can read offline. This will allow you to get a better handle on what is out there and how people are actually using it effectively.

The second area concerns students themselves. I think your choice depends on the learning objectives you are trying to meet and the time you have available. As you've already figured out, you can get over your head VERY easily. I started with only two computers in a 3rd grade class a few years ago. I wanted students to present their animal research projects in a way that would require writing skills, speaking skills, and collaboration. I bought a headphone/microphone set and downloaded Photostory3 (free digital storytelling software from Microsoft). I was able to work out the software fairly easily. After collaboratively researching, writing, and rehearsing their reports, students recorded their parts and matched them to appropriate photos. I preselected and downloaded photos to save time and keep them focused. The results was a cool project that the kids, parents, and colleagues really enjoyed and learned from. Takeaways - keep it simple to start and keep your learning objectives as the first priority.
very neat wiki. I can not decide for my 5th graders between a wiki or a blog. I know you teach middle school,but what would you create for younger students?
My 7 yr old uses a wordpress blog for her writing. It's easy to maintain, easy to police, and gives her a place for her stories.

And you still haven't answer the question "What are you going to use it for?"

The question has evolved from who's gonna use it to what are you trying to accomplish?

I can sell ya a nice free bridge to Brooklyn but if you don't need to get to Brooklyn, it's not gonna help much.
I'm sorry am I am just trying to take in all of this information. I would like my 5th graders to use web 2.0 as a means of communication about many, if not all, different subject areas in school. I would like a place to display their projects, discussions, and creative processes. I would like to start out privately as a class and eventually I would like my students to converse with other students all over the world. Now whether or not this means a blog or a wiki I am just not sure. I have now learned about voice thread and like to incorporate that. I would like to continue my social networking as a way to form relationships with others so that I can empower myself and my students in the area of technology. I hope I have expresses myself clearly enough. I jam ust overwhelmed at all the different avenues I can take to accomplish this.
"I jam ust overwhelmed at all the different avenues"

THAT's why we keep asking what you want to do. McLuhan is right and form DOES follow function. Knowing what you want to accomplish is the first step to figuring out how to accomplish it.

For "gallery-like" purposes, I'm a fan of blogs, but a wiki will work.

Blogs are good for showing evolution of thinking and progress of thought.

Wiki's are good for things you can carve up and work on in parallel.

So it kinda depends on how you want to approach that.

Talk to Clarence or Vicki about "Thin Walls" ... they're breaking the path on international collaboration .. but there's lots of others.
I think I am leaning towards setting up a blog and I have read about all the different kinds out there blogmeister, edublog, etc. and I am still indecisive about which one. Any suggestions? I would like it to be fairly simple to use for my 5th graders. I will also do some research on "Thin Walls." Thanks!
I just set up blogs for 4 5th grade classes using www.21classes.com. Early days, but I'm happy with what it's offered me so far.
Jennifer,

Before you blog with your students - try some blogging yourself. It'll help you get a sense for some of the possibilities. Then, take the idea to your students and explore together. Edublogs is easy enough for you to use to get started.
Given what you've said, and with true sympathy for the complexity of all this, I'd start with blogging. You'll ultimately find limits with using blogging as your only platform, and when you do, you can move on--but that's in the future. Right now blogging will help you just to start getting the projects and discussions up!

If you do feel brave, a wiki service like Wikispaces will give you a lot more flexibility--but there's a bit more of a learning curve for wikis.

I think we need to do a CR 2.0 Live Conversation on "How to start for the real beginner!"
Well done, Steve, I could not agree more with your comments. Blogging is a good, reasonably easy to use platform to start with, and I think a "how to start for the real beginner" would be wonderful as a live conversation. I would have loved to have had that when I first started.

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