Thursday, July 22, 2010

Posterous in the Classroom

I am pretty excited about using Posterous in the classroom. I plan on using it as a Concept/Question board (a component of Open Court language arts). With parent permission, I will collect students' email addresses and add them as contributors. The site is password protected for student privacy, so only students and parents that are given the password will be able to access the site. Each student will be required to contribute at least one post and two comments on others' posts during the unit.

The current Concept/Question board is a boring bulletin board in the classroom. Students are not jumping to contribute to it. Using Posterous will motivate them to share many more things with the convenience of simply sending an email to

Posterous would be an excellent tool for a telecollaborative project. Managing teachers could set up a group page and add the students in the group as contributors. As contributors, the students could post their work progression/components of the project as documents, photos, helpful links, movie files, etc.

This site contains examples, guides for teachers and students, and tips and ideas. You may need to click on "Posterous" on the left hand side. They also offer this brief 3 page guide on how to use Posterous in the classroom. It was extremely helpful in setting up my Posterous. Remember, you will need a password to view the site. It is "sprinkles". Also, Richard Byrne's blog for teachers offers the idea of using Posterous for students to create online portfolios, with each entry dated.


Posterous is a free, shared group blog. According to, it has been around since May 2009. I discovered it while researching Web 2.0 technologies to blog about. This one did take me a little while to understand and figure out to use. Don't let that discourage you, though. It's worth learning how to use!

You do not need to create an account to post something. All you need is an email address. From there, you can email audio files, movies, documents, pictures, links, comments, etc. to Posterous will email you back with the address to see your post. This is the only address you need to remember to post to your blog! You can even post things from your cell phone. However, since I will be using this with my students and text messaging rates are something I don't want to get involved in, I didn't explore this option. If you were using Posterous for personal use, this would be extremely convenient. There is even an i Phone app!

If you confirm your email address, you can customize your 1GB of space. You can make your blog site password protected, control comments, and add contributors, if you wish. You can control notifications for yourself and your contributors.
Their FAQ site is very informative and helpful.

Delicious in the Classroom

Teachers can subscribe to other teacher's bookmarks that teach the same content. This would provide teachers with links to resources or websites for students. Also, when students get used to accessing the teacher's Delicious list, they may want to join and begin their own collection of bookmarks that are helpful for projects throughout the year. Through Delicious, the sites can easily be accessed at home or school, or shared with group members by providing them with the Delicious website and your user name. Delicious can be used in telecollaborative projects in this way. If students in several different classrooms were in a group, they could use Delicious to bookmark the sites that would be useful for all group members to use.

I am going to use Delicious with my students in social studies at the beginning of this school year. Our first unit is Exploration. Near the end of the unit, I split the class into groups and they research and present to the class explorers from an assigned country. Then, the class compares and contrasts the motives for exploration of the French, Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish. Some research is done using the social studies text book, but most is done using the Internet. By using Delicious, I can already have a list of places for groups to start. As groups research on their own, I can add sites they find to the list and tag them according to which country that group is doing. Click here to see my Delicious site with the bookmarks for this assignment. Notice that I have added a brief note to let the students know what each web site contains. Also, students can use the tags to see which websites would be useful to them. The bookmark about Samuel Champlain, a French explorer, would be of interest to the group studying French explores. However, when the other groups see the "French explorers" tag, they will know not to waste their time.

This is a very clear video that can be used to help teachers and/or students understand what Delicious is and how it works. This Delicious Guide is from 2004, but offers teachers reasons why they should use Delicious and possible educational uses.


Delicious is a free social bookmarking site, affiliated with Yahoo. It's sort of like a favorites folder in your internet browser, but it is stored online. That means that you can access it from anywhere. You can also share your bookmarks with people. When you bookmark a site, you should enter a couple key words to tag it. As your sites grow in number, they will organize themselves according to your tags.

If you have a Yahoo account, you can use that to sign in and create a Delicious account. This Web 2.0 technology is easy to use. In less than three minutes, I had already created an account and bookmarked a couple sites. All you have to do is click on "save a new bookmark." Then copy and paste the address from the website into the box. Click "Next." Most of the time, Delicious will fill in the title for you. But you can change it to make it useful to you or your students. There is a box for you to enter notes/description of what the web page contains. "Tags" is where you enter the key words. The "For" box allows you to choose which email addresses or Delicious users to send this to.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Google Docs in the Classroom

So, Google has a site just for educators. If you are considering using Google Docs in your classroom, check it out. It offers this handy tidbit: "Through the revisions history, you can see clearly who contributed to what assignment and when; if a student says he or she worked on a given project over the last two weeks, it will be documented (no more "dog ate my homework" excuses)." This is valuable for monitoring student progress and offering feedback to what they have so far.

Due to its collaborative nature, it could be perfect for telecollaborative projects. Students participating can collaborate on a document, spreadsheet, or presentation in real-time. The possibilities are endless. I really like the idea of using it for peer revision in writing. My fifth grade classroom could partner with another fifth grade classroom in my county. For example, we could both be working on the adventure narrative that is part of the writing curriculum. After rough drafts are constructed in Google Docs, they would be exchanged with a (pre-arranged-by-the-teacher) partner in the other participating class. Students would then proofread each other's work, first revising and then editing for grammar, usage, and mechanics. Students can view and adjust (if necessary) their peer's revisions. If this peer editing was implemented repeatedly, students could get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses. I am not suggesting this take the place of teacher conferencing during the writing process. This should be done in addition to that.

However, I have come across the statement in other blogs that you must be 13 years old to use Google Docs. I have just perused the Google Docs terms of use and have not found that stated explicitly. However, the terms of service do state that "You may not use the Services and may not accept the Terms if (a) you are not of legal age to form a binding contract with Google." According to cnet news, Google users are supposed to be at least thirteen years old, but they do not verify age. So, do I create a group with my students and use it anyway (with parent permission), or just leave it to the high school teachers to benefit from?

Google Docs

Google Docs is a place to put your Word documents (or a document created by you within Google Docs) on the Web and access them from anywhere. However, there is much more that you can do with Google Docs. In addition, you can also work with spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and forms. It's free, unless you exceed the storage limits. It has similar features of Microsoft Word and is pretty easy to use. If you have difficulty, there are help articles provided. You need to register for a Google account. One thing that's pretty cool is that you can allow people to not only view your document, but also to be able to edit it, if you like. This makes it a valuable collaboration tool.

Although it has been available to users since 2007 (according to, Google Docs is fairly new to me. I began using it for another project in my ET630 class. I created a critical information literacy project for my fifth graders and made it available on the Web (I will post the address in a comment soon). To evaluate my students' products, I created a rubric in Microsoft Word and uploaded it to Google Docs. There is a link to the rubric for students to view on the project page. Viewers can not edit the rubric, for obvious reasons.

Blabberize in the Classroom

In 5th grade, my students write a simulated journal entry each year as part of our "Going West" unit in language arts. They imagine that they are Merriwether Lewis, William Clark, or Sacagawea and write about their trip west. Blabberize is a way for my students to make this project come alive. I am going to use this in the upcoming school year. My students will still go through the writing process as usual and construct a final draft. After that, they will upload a drawing or clip art of their character and Blabberize it, reading their final draft as the script. This will also make presenting the journals more engaging for the students. I will post their Blabs on our class web site for parents to view.

Blabberize could also be used in telecollaborative projects. My Blabberized simulated journals could be expanded to include several historical figures, and shared with other classes. Students could Blab about books they've read, research topics, themselves, and more!

Here is a YouTube video that offers a quick tutorial for teachers or students on how to make a Blabber. This site provides teachers with skills needed, safety/security concerns, and possible uses of Blabberize in the classroom.