Cool tools in my cool classroom

Just some notes for you. (I've been spending so much time in the K12 conference that I'll be posting more about that later.)

I've been using this conference as an opportunity for me to introduce Web 2.0 in depth to my 10th grade class and basic RSS to 9th. Here are the tools I've used:

Vyew – Desktop sharing and chatting. We've used this in 10th grade along with skype to test conferencing. It is pretty stable. I discussed the opportunities such programs have in light of our World is Flat discussions that we've been having. It creates a great discussion for how customer service can be around the world but help a person on their own computer.

Netvibes – I used to teach bloglines, however this summer, I began to use NetVibes. It is just easier for beginners to understand. When they really “get” RSS, they thank me. I had over half the class come in and tell me thank you.

Airset – This is my indispensible calendar tool. I showed my students how to create calendars and to subscribe using NetVibes. One student really got it and created a test calendar and shared it with her friends. They all imported into net vibes. That is so useful!

Gliffy – Drawing and editing. They love this and just so happen to have a Spanish project where they have to draw a floor plan of their home. Gliffy is just perfect for this!

Firefox 2.0 – The new firefox was released Monday. I taught my 9th grade how to search for the download on Google, find it, download, AND install it. (Yes, we did it all, I know I can do it myself, however, they would miss a great learning experience.) We made bookmarks, live bookmarks, discussed and used add ins, added search engines. I also had then subscribe to my classblogmeister blog using a live bookmark. Finally, for my 10th grade, I found a hack that let's one start Firefox from your memory key with all of your settings coming from there. We are going to try that tomorrow. The new Firefox also introduces a great discussion of phishing with all of the anti-phishing features it has. If you use a lot of plug ins- don't go out and upgrade, they don't guarantee that all of them work yet!

Of course, we wiki everything! These are just some of the things that we've done yesterday and today. In Accounting it is our two weeks of SAT prep. We are making review videos and have divided up the material. They are actually excited! We'll see how that goes and if I have some to share with you.

I also enjoyed a great evening at Tapped In. Jennifer Wagner, the Technospud, taught me what to do. I wandered around and finally, a kind “receptionist” helped me find the right chat. Jennifer has some great new projects coming up including a holiday card project, a Charlotte's web project with a real online web component (but hey it teaches adjectives!), and an e-mail project! They are filling up so quickly now and she is limiting the size, so make note of the sign up dates.

Have a great night and remember that pioneers have to blaze trails that are very uncomfortable and difficult. If too many people think “it” is a good idea, you're too late. You're right on time.

Keep the faith!

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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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Rowland October 25, 2006 - 8:43 am

Hi Vicki

Have you tried using Portable Firefox from John Haller? At the moment he has the final beta ( but that will soon change.

I use it with my students and they run everything off a USB key so that they can their computing environment around with them. Combining this the WIZZRSS reader gives them access to blog feeds as well.

I have just upgraded to 2.0 and all the facilities seem to work

Michael Manning October 25, 2006 - 6:38 pm

Great to be organized fopr a fresh start! I enjoyed reading this and have Blogrolled you!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere