Cool Tools I want to know better

Just taking a break from my binge cleaning spree of the whole house to share with a you a few tools I want to get to know better:

  • VoiceThread – This is a tool that is on my hotlist to implement in our elementary school. I also want to use it more. (The one day I was testing it, they were plagued with server problems.)
  • Google Notebook – I'm going to experiment with student notetaking and sharing in here — we've done it in chatzy and Google Docs (I have several students who routinely group notetake in Google Docs, it is a great thing.)
  • StumbleUpon – I've been refamiliarizing myself with this old favorite lately. They've done a few things to make it more usable. I find it a great way to find new “stuff.”
  • Google Reader – I'm going to work with pulling my bloglist out of google reader instead of bloglines and share the Google Shared Clips. This reader is so very useful that I've fallen in love with RSS again. (I still use netvibes and iGoogle, however, for my “power reading” I love Google Reader.)
  • Kerpoof – I've got to play with this tool. There are a lot of educators singing Kerpoof's praises right now!
  • I've got a lot of work to do on the upcoming Horizon Project and a digital citizenship class that Julie Lindsay and friends and I are working on.

Oh, and I'm excited about being on EdTechConnect this upcoming Wednesday night — it is a free seminar that you may register for now. I've got some exciting material to share about the steps to “flatten your classroom” and some other things as well. I'm recruiting a few “backchannel moderators” so comment or twitter me if you're interested!

Back to cleaning! (I bought an 18 hour book — I'm literally 14 hours into it — cleaning cleaning cleaning! Long overdue!)

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Robert February 18, 2008 - 4:24 am

I’m definitely a Google fanatic. Google Docs is a godsend for me, as is Reader. I’ve used Notebook, but when they combined it with Google’s Bookmarking feature, I’ve run into some confusion.
A question about the “group notetaking” in Docs: Are your students all assigned email addresses to register Google accounts? Just curious. Enjoy your EarBook!

Emma February 18, 2008 - 10:37 am

I’ve made the move from Bloglines to Google Reader! It’s now on my iGoogle home page.

There were (and still are) a few things that I preferred about Bloglines, in particular the fact I could point a Grazr widget at the OPML file, and as soon as I added a new feed into Bloglines, there it was on Grazr. The drawback was that the Grazr really slowed down my blog page, so I stopped using it – which lessened my need to use Bloglines.

The other drawback I’ve only recently discovered with Google reader is that if you make someone your friend, then you get all the feeds from the sites they’ve shared. It doesn’t seem to distinguish between them, and there’s no way (that I’ve found) of stopping particular blogs of theirs.
So, if you aren’t into something they are, you can get a bit inundated with things.

loonyhiker February 18, 2008 - 11:24 am

I plan on trying voice thread too because I like what I’ve seen from others. I have tried StumbleUpon and it is on my toolbar but I’m not sure how it would be useful in the classroom. Now I LOVE my Google Reader. I like seeing what has been updated so I don’t miss any good stuff. I also learned some keyboard shortcuts which makes it much easier for me too. I’ve never seen Kerpoof so now I’m going to check it out!

MMolishus February 18, 2008 - 3:30 pm

Used my day off to explore Voicethread. There is an education version, but it looks like you have to pay $10 to get verified an as educator to use this version–not too bad. This is a private site that would only be viewed/used by your classroom unless you invite others in. Or, you can have others view student work without being able to comment. Still looking into it. Since I’m at home, I don’t know if it is blocked (yet) at school!!

Also a Google fan. I use Google Docs with parents to have them sign up for routine volunteer opportunities. I post via a spreadsheet the dates and times that I need help, and they sign up when they are available. Then I can check to see who is coming and plan accordingly. It beats phone calls, notes, and emails!

Did someone mention cleaning…

Emma February 18, 2008 - 3:34 pm

Hi Vicki
I guess I didn’t explain; what I’d like is to get a subset of x’s feeds. Some are useful. Some I’m just not interested it.
It seems to be all or nothing…
(I couldn’t work out why I was getting a whole of of feeds from sites I’d never subscribed to)

Vicki A. Davis February 18, 2008 - 3:07 pm

Robert & Emma- You can tell google reader not to send you feeds from a certain person — just on the left with shared bookmarks, click on their name and then tell it to not show you their information.

Robert — I require all of my students to sign up with a google account. We use it too much not too. This is 9th grade and up that have to have one. And after they have it, they love it.

Emma –
the OPML and “power tools” out of bloglines are definitely more robust. I agree.

Stumbleupon isn’t as useful in the classroom as it is for me. It helps me find cool websites faster with education since I like to stay “up” on things. I also like the ratings feature. I’ve been back and forth between digg and stumble and believe I like stumble better.

sbrandt February 18, 2008 - 4:05 pm

@Robert – We have been using Google Docs, Reader, and Notebook as well. On rare occasions, a student will not have an email account (and their parents want it to stay that way). To gain access to services that require an email address, we have those students use It is a temporary online email service used to avoid SPAM. Students register their Google account with any username. Google sends the varification link to Mailinator. The student checks his/her username at Mailinator… clicks the varification link… presto, their Google account is ready to use. No email required! :)

Lauren February 20, 2008 - 10:28 am

I really like Voice Thread too. The other tool I’m looking into is vyew. We saw a demo of it during a recent Classroom 2.0 gathering in San Francisco, and we were all pretty impressed. It’s a collaborative docs tool that lets you mark up stuff as well.

Vicki – it was awesome seeing you and your students join us via Skype video chat that morning!

Vicki A. Davis February 22, 2008 - 1:25 am

@mmolishus – Actually, the pro account is free for educators — do you have to pay for verification? That is the first I’ve heard of that. I love the way you’re using google Docs w/ parents! Wow!

@emma — Oh, I see. You’re right, it is either all or nothing.

@sbrandt – Cool — you’ve taught me something new — I’ll pass along the Mailenator link. I would guess that the only problem would be when someone forgets their password — they often turn to me to “reset” their password and I have to remind them it is in their own domain.

@lauren – Yes vyew is cool — the elluminate 3 room tools is wonderful and yugma has a brand new version coming out — they are three similar products. Thanks for sharing!

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