Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mrs. Claus Pattern Problem

Jaylen 2Emma 1Alyssa 1Teegan 1JaylenEllie 1
Seth 1Maysen 1Emma 2Emma 3Maddy 1Micaela 1
Alyssa 2Teegan 2Ellie 2Teegan 3Maysen 2
Kassy 1Connor 1Connor 2Jerry 1Maysen 3
Mrs. Claus Pattern Problem 1, a set on Flickr. If you are working on patterning and problem solving, this is a great problem to try with your students.

This blog will now be used as a way to share my students math thinking and that of my own. I hope you enjoy the new format. I would love to keep a discussion going about student work. Please feel free to try the problem with your students. I would love to hear what yours did.
Here are some photos of how my students (Grade 2's) solved the Mrs. Claus problem.

Mrs. Claus is decorating cookies for the Elves Christmas Dinner.

She lined up the first 20 cookies and put icing on every second one.
She put a cherry on every third one.
How many cookies will have nothing on them? Show how you know.

Do some cookies have icing and a cherry? How many?
Do you see any patterns?

You write a similar problem......
The students were allowed to use any materials they wanted, paper, white boards, manipulatives, combination of any of these. The first part of the problem took us a class block. I had numbered the photos 1, 2, 3 to show you the order they were taken in as well as the progression of their thinking.

As you can see from many of the photos they were stuck on the idea of thirds. They grouped the cookies into three's giving the middle cookie the place of second each time and the last cookie the third placement with the cherry going on top.

After looking through the pictures and evaluating our discussion today, they did the problem this way to over compensate for not understanding that a cookie could have icing and a cherry on top. Many of them wanted to have a space after the cookie with the cherry on top.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Further Flickr Findings

I would like to return to the tool of Flickr and discuss some of the things I have learned in the past couple of weeks about this social photo-sharing website. Flickr has the ability to impact education in many ways but I feel it has fallen short in others.

I had heard about Flickr from people on Twitter and family members who have sent me invitations to view photos of my nieces and nephews. I hadn't really given it much thought for education until this project. I had remembered our professors saying the images from Google were not always the best to be using for research, Flickr was a better site for being able to reference and give credit where it was due. Upon further investigation into Flickr I because interested in it's popularity among educators and how they use it in the classroom. I also wanted to know more about the tagging and RSS feeds. How did they work and why are tagging and RSS feeds important.

What do I really like about Flickr?
1. Flickr allows you to share photos with Blogger, Twitter, Tumblr, and Wordpress right from the actual Flickr site. I tried this feature this week and I quite enjoyed the ability to quickly upload and write about my photos at that moment without having to do extra steps.

2. When you subscribe to a groups photostream RSS feed, it is sent to your aggregator of choice, mine happens to be Google Reader. This is a feature I really like. Having the photos comes to you is much easier and helps to keep you updated. You could then share them to Twitter or make comments on your friends images or tag the picture with a note.

3. Flick has thousands of photos uploaded each day, which makes the possibilities endless for finding a photo. There are so many to choose form. The 'explore galleries' tab was really amazing. There are some amazing amateur and professional photographers around, it a great time waster during crunch time for sure.

4. Discovering the Flickr Uploader on iPhoto makes adding photos so much easier than how I was doing it before. It will be much easier to now upload photos to my photostream, Blogger, Twitter, and my groups using this feature in iPhoto. You can read my blog post about the Uploader feature here.

5. Flickr offers a widget photo stream for your blog. I added one to my classroom blog and one to this site. It shows the most recent photos added to Flickr. If I or my students need to quickly access a photo I can click on it and it sends you to the most recent set I uploaded. I use it a lot in math to discuss student work in the classroom. You could also add images from Flickr and have each student click on an image of choice and then write about about what they see, it would depend on the task and what you wanted them to think about and reflect upon.

What I was bothered by in Flickr
1. If you click on one of the photos from my photostream on this blog,  I thought people could make a comment on the photo. I was incorrect, only contacts can make comments and you must be signed in to do so. For example, I was going to have students explain their thinking about the pattern they saw in their own work. When they clicked on the photo, it opens up to the site and it appears you can comment but it takes you to the sign in screen. This is a definite con especially if I am wanting others to make comments. I will need to create a class Flickr account, share the log in name and password with students and have them sign in. This video provided some excellent ideas on how to use further use Flickr in the classroom.

2. Flickr does not offer an educational feature like Diigo does. Perhaps having a safe place where teachers could upload photos and students could search this data base of images is something Flickr will think of for the future.  But for now, Standen says, the group feature is a way to go around possible problems with the search feature and kids coming across unnecessary photos.
much of what's not kid friendly about Flickr can be eliminated by skipping (or greatly limiting) use of the Search button. One way to do that is with Flickr's Group tool. Flickr's groups are small pools of users who pull photos from across the site and organize them into categories accessible by group members
This would mean, creating a group and posting the link on a wiki or blog where students had access to it.

3. Due to the huge number of uploads each day, Flickr has the potential to be an unsafe site for students. Who is controlling all of those uploads? This photo shows how many photos are uploaded in a minute.
This is an amazing number in one minute. In 2008, Educause reported over two billion images to be on Flickr,  the amount of images present three years later is astronomical. The report goes onto state: 
Flickr largely depends on the community to police itself for copyright violations, and opportunities for libel or invasions of privacy around.
This can be a frightening thought for a teacher who does not want to take the risk of students finding an inappropriate photo.

4. Searching for photos can become daunting. I found searching to be quite difficult. It could be that I am not using the correct words or tags but I often feel I cannot find what I am looking for. If I find it difficult, kids could potentially experience the same problems. A teacher may need to search photos ahead of time and upload them to a group site, students could then search through the site. It seems like a lot of work. It would depend on how many photos one was looking for and the tags and subject of the photo being used.

5. I couldn't find a group that I really wanted to join, so I created my own. You can take a look here. I am hoping to have conversations about student work in math. If I keep adding to the group and posting updates to Twitter I am hoping to engage in some great discussions about student thinking. I think these group discussions will be a way to collaborate with others using authentic photos and actual student work. This is something I feel is missing in math instruction. In order to really reflect, we need something to reflect on. Sullivan (2000) stated it nicely when she said this:
I still have ideas that I think are uniquely my own, at least in part. But I know that a lot of other people are thinking about the same thing as I am, just perhaps in a slightly different way, through a different lens.
What a better opportunity to invite other educators into the conversation around mathematical thinking than reflecting and sharing their ideas on their students work.

Overall, I think Flickr is a useful tool to use in a classroom and for personal use. It took some time to learn about all of the many features and I still do not feel completely confident in knowing all of the ins and outs of Flickr. However, I would recommend exploring and using this Web 2.0 tool in your classrooms. I look forward to keeping you posted on how my Flickr group is going.


Educause. (2008). 7 Things you should know about flickr. [PDF]. Retrieved from
Johnson, C. (2010). What does it mean to “reflect on my learning?” Critical Thinking at Forest Green School/CFL. [Blog post].Retrieved from
Jutecht. (Producer). (2006). Flickr. [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from
Standen, A. (2007). My friend flickr: a great photo opportunity. Edutopia.
Sullivan, K (2000). What does reflection mean to us? From Now On The Educational Technology Journal. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Power of Tagging

I am so excited!!! I know this doesn't have anything to do with reflecting on my actual blog but I was pretty pumped about what I saw. I wanted to show the power of tagging. I showed it to my students this week and never got around to doing anything more with it. Tonight, when I looked on our classroom blog I had a student who was trying out the idea. You can see that she has tagged her post quite accordingly. We're also working on adding voice to our writing and you can see she is well on her way to getting it. Sometimes you just need to put the idea out there and see what they come up with. If you wanted to comment on the blogs, just click on the picture.

Hope you enjoy this little tidbit of information

Monday, November 28, 2011

More Than I Thought to Screencasting

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How to create a Kidblog account
(I can't get my screencast to play in the blog) This is a problem to be solved in the future.

Screencasting and using the program Jing is the last of the Web 2.0 tools I'll be reflecting on for this inquiry project. I saved this particular tool for the very end because I needed time to think about how I was going to put the screencast together and because it was one of the tools I knew the least about.

History and First Experiences
I discovered screencasting over the summer when I was exploring blogging and adding to my Google Reader. It seemed like I'd taken up a collection of blogs like I've taken up a collection of children's books. I just couldn't get enough of them. My very first experience with what I now know to be called screencasting was found through iTunes. I'd been looking for help on quick tips to help improve my knowledge on my Mac. I came across several screencasts, watched them and didn't think much of them other than how helpful they were.

Over the summer, I had been following Ladybug Teacher Files and she did a summer series on how to create a blog on Blogger. My interest had been peeked. At first, I thought it was a program you bought but I didn't know how to go about getting it. In my head, I knew this was the next tool I needed to conquer but didn't have time or the know how to learn about this tool. I saw the name, Jing, on our syllabus list and Googled it and wouldn't you know, the pieces started falling into place. Screencasting is the actual procedure but one of the many tools available is called Jing.

According to Wikipedia
A screencast is a digital recording of computer screen output, also known as a video screen capture, often containing audio narration. The term screencast compares with the related term screenshot; whereas screenshot is a picture of a computer screen, a screencast is essentially a movie of the changes over time that a user sees on a computer screen, enhanced with audio narration.
Web 2.0 tools need to have a purpose in our lives. In order to give this particular tool purpose, I chose to create my own screencast on how to set up and create your own class on I distributed it to my colleagues so they an see how easy it was to create.

Since doing this, I've experimented with the tool a lot more. I showed my students a screencast I had created for a student who was travelling to Australia for the month (I know lucky right!). Her homework is to take pictures and blog about her experience in Australia. I didn't think she would remember how to load pictures so I created a screencast to help. After showing it to my students today, one student asked at the end of the class, "Can you do that thing again so I can learn how to do what we did in comptuers?" Translation --> Can you create a screencast so I can remember how to go to Tagxedo and enter in words like we did in computer class? Wow!!!!! The power of a Web 2.0 tool.  Steve McGovern (2010) says it nicely when he writes about how screencasting can enhance the learning process:
Firstly the clarity of teaching is evident; students can be shown exactly how to perform a given task or be educated on a given subject matter. Moreover, the easy access to repetition of this teaching through repeated plays of the content can help establish understanding.
Obviously, this tells you the impact screencasting can have and how it can best be used in an educational setting. Students in the primary years are very capable of watching a screencast over again to learn how to use another Web 2.0 tool. Mental note Ms. Brown, do more of this in the future.

Teachingsagittarian also writes about the potential benefits of screencasting. She writes:
Screencasts are so good for those learners that just need a visual as well as an aural explanation as well as the opportunity to watch something again, in their own time, and without having to feel like they’re not smart just because they benefit from hearing/seeing something many times.

McGovern (2010) goes on to write about how screencasts can be used to:
exchange ideas, comment on student progress, showcase approaches to teaching and generally do the things that would normally require us to be present in a given location and a given time.
What an excellent way to collaborate on student progress through distance education, in graduate classes with professors who live great distances apart (wink, wink) or with parents. Parents would love the opportunity to see more about what their child is doing in school. Jing offers a link to send to anyone for future viewing. Quickly recording a screencast about what their child is doing on their blog would be an excellent way to collaborate and share with parents. Comment on their writing or their use of specifics like Ideas, Voice, or good words they are trying to use to enhance their writing. The possibilities are endless.

Ease of Use - Pros
Jing was especially easy to use. I didn't find it difficult at all. The short tutorials are all that are needed.
This feature page was very helpful along with this video.
Features of Jing
VideoTutorial Jing

Andreas Zeitler's article Most Common Mistakes in Screencasting was very helpful. His tip about keeping your hand off your mouse so that viewers do not follow it and get distracted. As well, if you need to edit your screencast you don't see your mouse moving around in awkward spots were two pieces of advice I tried to adhere to. Another tip that was very useful, was creating a story board or script before shooting helped to keep my content and video to a minimum. I didn't want to go above my 5 free minutes of time for various reasons; nobody wants to listen to me ramble and uploading would take much longer. My audience was going to be teachers and young children so I needed to keep it short and sweet, for the low attention span of both audience members.

Even though I enjoyed using and learning about this particular tool, I did find some drawbacks to it.
  1. The time commitment to creating a screencast. Sometimes, you might have to go through several tries to get it right. It can sometimes take you time to getting it right. Patience is a virtue. The first time doesn't always turn out the best. 
  2. Addicting - you could potentially turn yourself into a screencasting monster because of the potential uses in the classroom. Don't worry, you won't be seeing a huge amount of screencasts from me.
  3. Usage for primary children - I am not sure I would use this tool with primary students to have them show what they learned. Instead, I would use it more for How To videos or for leaving specific feedback on some student work. Another way to use the tool would be to leave a How To for a sub on operating your Smart Board or any other electronics in your room. 
  4. Tagging - It is possible to tag the screencasts but Jing calls it "keywords". Once you upload the screencast to your blog, you also have the possibility of tagging it here. It is also possible to add  screencasts to your RSS aggregator but you can only get access to screencasts that are in a public only folder. Watch the video tutorial from
As you can see my cons list is small. I feel screencasting is a valuable Web 2.0 tool and I look forward to using it more in my classroom.


Berger, P., & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
McGovern, S. (2010). Screencasts and education. The Screening Room. Retrieved from
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Screencasting (2011, Oct. 4) In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved Nov. 27th, from  
Teachingsagittarian. (2009). Screencasting in the classroom. Retrieved from
Zeitler, A. (2010). Most common mistakes in screencasting. Smashing Magazine. Retrieved from

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Learning About Blogs FOR Your Students Part 2 Final Current Event

Kite for sandbuggy power
Photo courtesy of Flickr (cc)
Hello Everyone,

This is our last current event for this course. I was going to post about the Dare to Care presentation put on by Lisa Dixon-Wells about bullying and Cyberbullying. It's fabulous!! If your school is dealing with bullying or cyberbulling I would highly recommend having them come to your schools.

Langwitches posted her second blog post in her series on blogging, Learning About Blogs FOR Your Students Part 2. If felt it was relevant this week considering our discussion about the progression we've gone through as bloggers. You must watch the video by Derek Sivers. He puts everything into perspective about why we should share what we know. I feel the Langwitch blog is an great example of complex or at least real blogging. I hope you enjoy reading her blog as much as I do.

Less Is So Much More With Podcasting

I just finished a lengthy post on my learning and understanding of podcasting and how I would use it in my primary classroom or other classrooms. What I didn't tell you was, that there is a much easier way of going about doing publishing podcasts. Here's what I learned:

My students blog on Great site if you've never used it, I would highly recommend it for getting your students to write, reflect and comment on what others write. You can then share their writing on Twitter and others will comment on it. That's just a shameless plug for for those teachers who are interested. I'll be creating a screencast to show you how to create a class account.
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Other way you can create a podcast is by using AudioBoo. This is the easiest way for young students to create and collaborate using podcasts. After all of the searching for a host server for my podcast, I remembered that AudioBoo could do it.

 The box on the left allows you to record right to your microphone on your computer and the right box allows you to easily upload an mp3 file. So after all of the work I put into learning how to find a URL to then embed it into a host server was good because during the process I realized I could do it with this Web 2.0 tool.

Here is the AudioBoo from uploading the mp3 file from my computer:
What we did on Nov. 24th (mp3)

I continued my journey to find out how truly frustrated I could get. Why do you ask?
  • If I didn't go through the hard parts, I wouldn't have come to understand that there was a much easier way of uploading an mp3 file by using AudioBoo.
  • I learned how to convert an audio file from Audacity, which I wasn't too crazy about doing in the first place, into an mp3 file. I went back to the tool I'd originally wanted to use and persevered to get through the challenges. Yeah for me!!!
  • I learned that AudioBoo is a much easier audio sharing tool to create, share and publish with than a Voice Recorder or Audacity. It has many of the features I was looking for. 
  • Of course there are drawbacks, AudioBoo does not have the ability to edit or resolve background noise or insert music, but for right now I'm not looking to add those features to the podcasts my students will be creating. 
  • During my frustration, I had to take a step back and really think about how difficult this was. If creating a podcast was this difficult for me, then it was going to be doubly challenging for the average teacher who is already afraid of technology. 
  • I also like the look of having the podcast in a blog post, rather than off to the side like I had to do with the widget. I could have embedded the widget code into the blog post buy I wanted to see what it looked like off to the side. It looks much better as a blog post. 
I know there are others out there who really like Audacity, but it is not a great Web 2.0 tool for your young children to be able to use in a collaborative way. Young students are able to press record and talk into a microphone but Audacity doesn't allow them the flexibility to have it posted to a site on-line so they can go back and access it or even embed it onto a blog if they so choose. The social media tool I will use more frequently is AudioBoo.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Adventures with Creating Podcasts

Podcasting has been an interesting Web 2.0 tool to figure out. I'd like to start by explaining my history with this tool, then talk about what it was like to create a podcast highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly, to finish off I'd like to talk about how it can be used for educational purposes. 

I hadn't really embraced the idea of podcasting as a tool I would use personally or professionally. As our mother's have told us on numerous occasions, we must eat our broccoli it makes us strong and healthy, so I thought why not give this social media tool a try, it will teach me something about the tool and about how to use it best in my grade two classroom.  I was interested in exploring it because of the possibility of capturing and engaging those students who have a difficult time with written work and for the possibility of having students explain their thinking in an audio format rather than in the written word.

I knew it was going to be a huge learning curve and I was right. I chose to create two podcasts, one in which I would use my little Sony Voice Recorder that converts the audio to mp3 format and loads it onto my iTunes account. The other I would use Audacity. You can read about my initial experience with Audacity here. I had never created any type of social media in the past, other than experimenting with AudioBoo about a month ago. I found this particular social media site to be very easy and self explanatory. I knew podcasts could be located on the Internet and I'd subscribed to several some years ago but found I wasn't listening to them so I stopped subscribing. Due to my inquisitive nature, I decided to start exploring and subscribing to the CBC Q podcasts with Jian Ghomeshi. I do not always get a chance to listen as often as I would like. Jiam's voice is captivating, so when I want some Jian and April time alone, I listen. 

My Learning
What I found most interesting in my research came from Berger & Trexler's (2010) chapter on Media Sharing. They write about how Thomas Ludwig (As cited by Berger & Trexler) traced the history of media in the classroom as being lectures with chalkboards and demonstrations with slides, filmstrips, overhead projectors, transparencies and videotapes. They go on to write about how students were passive receivers of this media distribution by teachers, up until Web 2.0 tools changed this (p. 125). After reflecting on these ideas, I would agree. As a student, I was a passive receiver and so have my students been up until this year.  Now students have the opportunities to be actively engaged and often times the creators of the social media. Students have shifted from being passive to actively involved.

Berger & Trexler also suggested tutorials from the Internet, one being, I discovered Brian Bertucci's (2011) article Planning Your Podcast. It brings to light 4 important considerations for creating a podcast:
1. Consider your audience
2. What subject areas or content will you be discussing?
3. How often will you have new podcasts? 
4. Will you be using music? This opens up a huge legal issue if you are not careful.

When creating my two podcasts, I knew who my audience was: parents and students, plain and simple. I also knew I had wanted to investigate the tool and to do so, I needed a reason. I would give a brief description of what we did in our day so students and parents could be aware if their child had missed a day or two of school. Podcasting, at this point, was not going to be a regular occurrence. It would be done for the purpose of this inquiry project and to be done when students missed school. I will continue to report about our day when a student misses school because I think the students will enjoy hearing what we did in class. I would not be investigating adding music or background sounds, etc because of the legal issues and complexity it would involve. Learning how to convert it to mp3 and get a URL address would be enough of a learning process and music would take away from what the purpose of the podcast was going to be used for.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Oh my goodness, was I in for an adventure with this tool. I began by simply jumping in with two feet and seeing where I landed. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes, well, it isn't. In this case, it all worked out in the end. I knew I had enough knowledge of how embed codes worked, how my voice recorder worked, how Audacity worked, so that I could spend time learning how to save to mp3 format, and find a hosting site so it could be embedded into a blog. There was a lot of watching You Tube video's and frustration at not getting the URL's to work properly. 

The Good
Using and speaking into the Voice Recorder was easy. I had tried to just wing it but that didn't prove to work out my favor, so I wrote out a brief outline and reminder of what we did on Wednesday, Nov 23 and Thursday, Nov 24th in the classroom. I was able to plug the recorder into my computer and it was instantly converted into mp3 format. I easily named the file and added an image. Talking into Audacity was easy as well. The sound was good and all of the buttons for recording, playback and stopping were easy to understand. Sounds simple, right...

The Bad
I thought iTunes created a URL for me but I was wrong. This Apple help page was telling me to create RSS feeds and something about Metabata. WHAT!!! I knew I was entering into uncharted and scarey territory so I ditched this idea and began searching again. I knew once I got a URL I was in business. It become frustrating and in my searching, this video proved to help, simple, straight forward and to the point. 

I found this video to be the most helpful out of all that I watched. I knew how Dropbox worked, which made me confident in the end result. After uploading the widget, problems occurred with getting it to play. After reading comments after comments, it occurred to me, the URL that Dropbox gave me was too long,  I eventually got the widget to work buy shortening the name of my podcast, recopying the code and posting the widget again.

What I didn't like about the Voice Recorder was the scratchiness in the sound at the very beginning and end. The sound is me moving my hand along the device, which you wouldn't think would make that much noise but it does. Can you image the scratchiness you would hear from kids holding it? I don't think this is the best tool to use for a podcast. I feel the buttons are small and cumbersome for young hands, the excess noises of touching it along with classroom noise would distract the listener, and the complexity in uploading it to the widget each time are just some of the reasons why I wouldn't use a voice recorder for podcasting. It's too much work for teachers and students, they are busy and need to be able to podcast with few steps, ease, and efficiency.

Audacity co-operated with me and actually prompted me to install LAME, which I did. I wanted to really get a feel for what this process was like. I knew it was going to be difficult because of watching video's and seeing all of the steps I needed to go through in order to get this podcast up and working on my blog.  There are way too many steps for young children to try to do themselves. Recording is simple and easy but I don't know if the process of saving it as an mp3 file would be easy for them to do. I could see students reading into Audacity and then listening to it after words to help with their fluency.

The Ugly
The amount of steps it took to come to a final product were and would be daunting for the average teacher. This process needs to be easier. There are so many hosting sites for podcasts and knowing which one to use can be discouraging. I used Podbean on Berger and Trexler's recommendation. Once the account was created and I'd gotten my password through email, I signed in and this image page appeared.
If you've ever used Edublogs, this page looks very much the same as this blogger site. I'm thinking they are one in the same company. I uploaded my podcast because it had been saved as an mp3 file, thanks to LAME. After some monkeying around, and yes this is the best way I can describe it, I created a post called "Here's what we did while you were away" because it seemed to be prompting me to do so. It's called 'publish a podcast' and I've since discovered Podbean is a Pod blogging site. I knew I needed a widget and I found this site by clicking on the 'embeddable player' link under my post on the home blog page, I copied the link and embedded it into bloggers 'edit HTML' section, that way it appears as a post and not as a widget. 

Here is the final product:

 Here are a few suggestions to get you started in a primary classroom?
1. Have students read into Audacity from a book or their own story so they get the opportunity to hear their own voice. They can hear the fluency of their writing or the fluency of their reading.
2. How I used the tool, by creating a simple breakdown of your classroom day and what the students did and what they learned.
3. Have students explain their thinking to a math problem, then post it on their blog to keep for their eportfolio.
4. As a teacher, you could record your sub plans on a podcast, embed it into your classroom blog and have your substitute go to the link.
5. Have them do #3 post it to the blog and have students respond to what the child said through comments.
6. Have students record their favourite daily 5 or subject and tell why. See what my students said.

I could continue with a multiple ideas but I think my point is clear. Podcasting allows for multiple uses in education and the classroom environment. The choice becomes the teachers, do you always require paper and pencil work? Or would accept a verbal responses from students in the form of podcasts? The choice becomes yours and your students. I believe primary children would benefit from using social media but I do not believe the tools I chose were the best for them to use.
• See my next post on how this process can be done in less steps. 

Adamdacutie. (Producer). (2010). How to embed your own mp3(s) to your website.  [YouTube video].  Retrieved from

Berger, P., & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Burtucci, B. (2011). Podcasting. Retrieved from
Gigifide. (Producer). (2008). How to create a podcast. [You Tube video]. Retrieved from

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

What you missed Nov. 24th

Here is the podcast, finally embedded into the blog post. This took much longer and it was harder than I thought it was going to be.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wiki's and What Have I Learned

Photo courtesy of CC
This course is beginning to come to an end, but that does not mean my learning of Web 2.0 tools will. Rather, I feel like I have just gotten started with each of the tools and each of the possibilities and how the tools can be used for education. 

Wiki's were a tool that I felt were not going to be of interest to me. I had joined several wiki's but hadn't returned to them or contributed to any. I know the very first wiki I contributed to was the math cohort for my master's course. I was the first to say hello and introduce myself. I think I did this because I knew I had to get use to the tool and learn it. The other wiki I'd joined was the Twitter Daily5chat. Again, I joined and never did very much. I didn't return to it even though I knew members of my PLN were posting information which I might find useful. Basically, all I had done on a wiki was join, never contributed, just looked around a bit and used it as a place to find information. To be honest, I've never used Wikipedia either. I'd often heard how a lot of the information can be changed and sometimes it can be unreliable. I stayed away out of fear. I still haven't embraced Wikipedia but it's not off the table of perhaps taking a look at in the future. 

All of that changed when I decided to investigate and learn how to use a wiki. I created my own, a place where I share some information on presentations I do, math work I've done and some games I've created for a program I use in spelling called Words Their Way. The other investigation I took on was to contribute to the Daily5 wiki. I had to start someplace and this was as good of a place to start since it was with people whom I felt comfortable with and trusted. Here is a list of what I've learned about wikis and how they can be used in education. 

What have I learned about wiki's?
1. You shouldn't be afraid of them. They don't bite! I have a lot of experience with blogs and blogging, I'm not an expert but I'm willing to learn. Contributing to the Daily5 wiki was easy. You can see my post here for what that was like. Due to my willingness to learn and experience with other Web 2.0 tools such as blogging; it wasn't that difficult to figure out how to add content, files, text (edit text, etc) to the wiki.

2. Wikis are a collaborative tool where authors have the opportunity to write thoughtfully, clearly and critically. Authors of a wiki have the opportunity to create a piece of writing in collaboration with each other. Wiki's allow the authors an opportunity to create quality pieces of writing. What I didn't realize and understand about the purpose of wiki's, that Berger & Trexler taught me, was that a wiki is about "authoring content, rather than just downloading existing content on the Web" (p. 96).
Guth (2007) also writes about this same understanding,
When contributing to a wiki project, students are not just writing for the teacher, as is the case in traditional classroom environments, but for and with their peers. As such, they
promote collective authoring which inherently entails peer review.
Authoring others work is an area I still feel uncomfortable doing because if others have taken the time to write in a thoughtful and critical way, who am I to change, modify or edit anything they have written.

3. Wikis are a tool for collaboration, they can be engaging and exciting and if used for this purpose, they can provide an opportunity to hone your writing skills to be critical and reflective about what you write on other wikis. I do not necessarily agree that they have to be used for this purpose, or at least not when you first develop a wiki. I am using mine for sharing of resources and not necessarily ideas or opinions. Do I want others to add there perspectives or other games, of course I do? But for right now, I am good with it being a site to share and post information for others to collect. It is after all  a beginning process, I am hoping to evolve the wiki into something more reflective where others can add their critical writing and thoughts.

4. A wiki has RSS feeds built in, so you can stay up to date with any changes members might make. I'm learning to really like RSS feeds and find them to be very handy. It saves you time when checking for any changes to the wiki or wikis you subscribe to and other sites as well. 

5. I believe my students could learn to use a wiki to write creatively and thoughtfully. Very similar to the Manyvoices project (p. 83) in William Kist's book The Socially Networked Classroom. Except it would be done on a wiki. Students would make critical decisions as to what should stay, be added or edited from the story.  Practice would be needed in how to edit and think critically and thoughtfully about what they wanted to add to the piece of writing but I believe it could be possible. My class will be discovering this next week or the first week of December. 

6. I don't believe you always need to use a Web 2.0 tool for the original purpose it was intended for. I find that's the wonderful thing about Web 2.0 tools, there are endless possibilities on how you can use a Web 2.0 tool.

This is not a complete list of all that I have learned about wiki's but I do believe they are some of the more important aspects of this Web 2.0 tool that I did not expect to like. I am glad I chose this tool because it allowed me to open my mind about sharing resources, now I just need to be brave and add my thoughts to someone else's wiki. Wish me luck.


Berger, P., & Trexler, S. (2010). Choosing web 2.0 tools for learning and teaching in a digital world. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Guth, S. (2007). Wikis in education: is public better?. WikiSym ’07. doi: 10.1145/1296951.1296958

Kist, W., (2010), The socially networked classroom teaching in the new media age. Thousand Oaks. CA: Corwin.