In Grade 1, students have been completing a unit on poetry, and learning about parts of speech. Let’s face it: parts of speech are not the most engaging and exciting topic of study for kids, so finding a way to make it enjoyable was high on our list of priorities.
We found the perfect vehicle for spicing it up – Wordle!
The Grade 1 teachers talked about -ing words in class (verbs), so students came to the lab with a sound understanding of the topic. We decided to make -ing poems so the students could demonstrate their understanding of -ing verbs, and present their understanding in a visually appealing way.
We initially used Microsoft Word to type the poems up, because it meant we had a back-up plan in case we needed to change the spelling or formatting of our Wordles. I asked the students to type the title -ing poem three times (to make it larger on the final wordle), and their name three times as well (so we could easily identify the finished Wordles). Following that, the students typed in as many different -ing words as they could.
We thought a minimum of 15 words would make a reasonably good-looking Wordle, but challenged the students to come up with as many as possible. This provided teachers a lot of useful information, including:
Who understood the task;
Identifying any misconceptions students held
The level of vocabulary students were typing;
Students’ spelling abilities;
Which students have sound keyboard knowledge, and which students don’t;
We then moved on to introduce/reinforce some important technological operations and concepts in the process of making our Wordles, including:
Ctrl + A = highlight all
Ctrl + C = copy
Ctrl + V = paste
Capitalisation methods – Shift + letter, or Caps Lock on and Caps Lock Off
Awareness of the spell check function in Microsoft Word
We used Jing to capture the finished Wordles, and they are now being displayed in the class.
Jing is a screen capture software which allows you to capture video or image files. You can save, embed or share the files you create. Very handy for use with kids when your only other options are either print or sign up. As always, academic honesty is encouraged, and students are expected to acknowledge the source of their screen captures. My grade 2-4 students are managing to use it very successfully for things like making screencasts of the places they have lived via Google Earth, capturing avatars, or saving their wordles.
I know it really is a tool that makes things look funkier than I would be capable of myself, but I think it has potential for deeper use than solely decoration. We used it in the obvious way in the classroom – each student made a wordle of their interests, beliefs and values, which linked to a unit on ‘Who we Are‘. I have also considered its use as a statistical tool – if you had a list of options for a survey question, it would be a neat way of presenting the responses. I believe people have used it to analyse polital speeches for word frequency, famous sayings and the like as well.
My delicious account is one of my most treasured sites. Being able to go through all my bookmarks, explore my network’s bookmarks and search for various tags has been invaluable. This is one of the first places I suggest teachers new to web 2.0 start, as everyone has favourite bookmarks and being able to piggy-back off other people’s helps create a fantastic collection of resources.
I feel that Kwout really does live up to it’s tagline – it IS a brilliant way to quote! Especially for people using blogs, as the ability to take a screen capture, embed it AND provide a link saves a great deal of time. The students are especially receptive to the visual aspect of it, and it certainly pretties up a blog which would ordinarily be filled with stock-standard links.
I can’t think what I would have done if it weren’t for edublogs. Ok, I probably would be happy enough using blogger, but the fact that edublogs is specifically designed for education makes it so much more easy to use. I have set up kids’ blogs, and we are about to embark on that particular avenue soon. The kids are over the moon, and so am I, what with administrative rights and comment moderation!
Google reader is my daily professional development. Best of all, it’s free! I love learning from the wonderful and inspiring edubloggers out there such as Jeff Utecht, Kim Cofino, Vicki Davis, Dean Shareski, Suzie Vesper, Ewan McIntosh, David Warlick, to name a few. I have learned so much from these people, none of whom I have ever met. They challenge my beliefs and ideas, and push me towards new learning. I love it!
Anyway, my list of favourites is hardly exhaustive, but damnit, it’s a pretty good start.