Hi everyone! First time posting in this Community. I’m a Special Education teacher K-12 in Colorado and I’m taking a class about online collaboration and connected learning. I’m struggling with organization and time. How do you find time to explore / learn on your own about all the available tools?? And how do you keep your learning organized? Thanks!
checked out Wiggio.com looks very interesting. Are the groups private? I am wondering whether it would be appropriate to use with upper elementary school students.
Yes, Wiggio groups are entirely private and non-searchable. You would be able to invite your students to a private group that you set up. You only need the email address of your students to communicate with them using Wiggio.
Elementary school students have used Wiggio with success in the past. Wiggio is designed to be simple enough for anyone to use - no matter how tech-savvy they are.
Let me know if you need any more info!
Here are my suggestions:
1) Bookmarking is important but so is tagging. If you develop a tagging system and use it consistently, you'll be able to search for materials and resources more easily. Diigo is nice because you can set it up so the everyone in the class can make contributions. You can also highlight and make notes for yourself as you read. I used to copy and cite what I thought might be key quotes into a word doc so they were easier to find later. I also did the bibliography (see #5 below) as I researched and then removed any materials I didn't use when I added the bib to a paper before submitting.
2) As for a way to set up groups for school kids, try Edmodo. Student registration is not required. Be aware of the COPPA laws (if you're in the US) and Privacy of Information Act (if in Canada) when using any online software that requires students to register.
3) I'd also advise setting up a Gmail account and using that to register for any online programs you want to use. That way all the updates.etc. will come to a separate account that you can look at when you have time.
4) Re: any blogs you decide to read on a regular basis, try an RSS feed and use a virtual desktop like IGoogle so you can scan them once a week.
5) Get a good bibliography tool. I used Easybib (mostly free unless you need APA style, then under $15 per year). It alphabetizes. Keep it miminised on your desktop and make the entries as you go along. You can annotate yourself reminders and take them out before you add the reference list to an assignment. Know the requirements of whatever Biblio. and essay formatting styles are required where you're studying. Some profs will dock you for any citation, formatting, and spelling errors. Don't rely on your spell checker. Sometimes its guesses are not correct. I you aren't a great proofreader of your own stuff, use a text to speech program (many available online) and have the paragraphs read back to you so you'll hear the errors.
6) If you know you have to use a specific tool for an assignment, test it as soon as you find out about the assignment. You will need to know that your production path works -- all equipment (mikes, cameras, downloading, uploading, making the software work) and so forth. Well before you even think about a topic, make sure you can get all the technical aspects to work so you aren't left battling the technology and trying to complete an assignment close to the deadline. This will also help you conceptualise how the tool will lend itself to your topic. If you're a visual person, get a good mindmapping tool (possibly Inspiration) which can create a linear outline from a mind map.
7) Locating tools -- there are loads of great tools lists (here's mine) and bloggers (eg. Larry Ferlazzo). Kathy Schrock's lists are also a good place to start. I'd also advise getting a good mike and headset and start attending a couple of online webinars (Classroom 2.0 Live on Sat. am is a great one -- plus they have a wonderful archive that is a great place to explore for ideas and how to use different tools). Edmodo is a good place to communicate with other teachers and ask for tools ideas. Try the professional development community. For special ed, do internet searches for what's available under headings such as UDL and adaptive technology.
8) Finally -- have fun and try some of your new skills with your students.