Have you ever made plans to do a group learning activity and the students just didn't get along? Group work has been around for a while now so you would think students would be better at it, but they're not! Suzy doesn't want to be with Bobby; he's bossy, and Johnny doesn't want Billy because he never does any of the work. When you look at the job market of today, much less in the future, a collaborative work environment tends to dominate most jobs. How are these students going to be prepared for the real world? Click here to access a website I recently came across that was a treasure trove of resources for purposefully developing collaborative skills in students. There are links for information about cooperative learning, various roles students can play in a cooperative group, as well as a variety of teaching strategies to use for designing active learning in the classroom. I particularly enjoyed the information about interactive lectures. Isn't that an oxymoron? Maybe not. I am still going through all of the resources here, but check it out. If you dread cooperative learning as much as the students do, you will definitely want to peruse the pages of this website! Then, pass it on! I would love to hear some comments about your experiences, good or bad, with collaborative learning opportunities.
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I know I am making up a new word here, but Scribble Maps is so cool. They have some great tutorial videos hosted on YouTube that detail how to create these maps as well as what you can do with them once you are done. Social Studies teachers...your answer to custom maps has arrived! This site is powered by Google so you know it's got to be great. Once you create a map, it generates an embed code so you can use them in your class blogs or wikis. They have announced on their blog that their widgets have been flash-based but with the rise in prominence of the iPad, they have created a widget that can be used on the iPad! So if you are using an older embed code, you may want to switch. Here is one more site switching over to accommodate the iPad. The Scribble Maps Blog is very helpful for detailing different tools and components to the site. Check it out and scribble up some maps.
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Edublogs hosts this 30 day challenge every year. Isn't it 21 days and it becomes a habit? Well, if you have been thinking about starting a blog, maybe a classroom blog, or a personal blog, but you just don't know how to get started...this may be the challenge for you. Each day you will have a particular task. As you progress through the challenge, you will begin to develop the blogging skills and habits necessary to be the blogger you have always dreamed of being. There are several different tools you can use such as Blogger, Edublogs, Blogmeister, and Wordpress

The challenge began yesterday, so you will have to play a little catch up, but it's not too much, so take up the challenge and go forth and blog...I have embedded a great video that details exactly what a blog is...enjoy.

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Yea! Prezi has developed an app for the iPad available at the iTunes store! This app is free. Hello Prezi by JnK Studio offers Prezi plus a Prezi Remote for .99¢ in a limited time offer so, if you are interested, you might try to snag it now. You will still need to go to the Prezi website to sign up for your account if you do not already have one. I do want to clarify, you still cannot create a Prezi on the iPad, it is strictly for viewing...but hey, we're headed in the right direction!

Prezi is a great presentation tool that requires a paradigm shift in thinking about visual presentations. This tool produces some outstanding products with very little effort. There is a small learning curve with Prezi. It's not that the program is difficult to understand, the tools just require some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you can really amaze yourself. The hardest part about Prezi is simply getting started. My suggestion has always been to browse through their Explore tab to look over what has already been created. This should provide you with some inspiration, because staring at that blank artboard can be a bit intimidating at first. Prezi also provides some great tutorials. I have created a wiki to help in getting started with Prezi; Click here to check it out. If you are not blocked from YouTube, I have embedded a video about Prezi for the iPad. Enjoy...then go an Prezi-up your presentations!
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If you are looking for an alternative to Wallwisher...say you are using cellphones and none of the touch screens can use it, try Wiffiti; it is so cool. You can design a personalized screen background, embed this into a webpage, and allow your students to post messages to it. They have a great tutorial video to watch: WIFFITI HOW-TO VIDEO. There are a variety of options for sending messages. This site was really developed for businesses to use, but it is easily adapted for the classroom. It would make a great option for a back channel. Check it out; I think you will find numerous uses for this great tool. It really isn't new so if any of you have used Wiffiti, post a comment on how you have used it in your classroom.
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I just found out about a new Web 2.0 tool, Spaaze, that is too cool! Described as an infinite virtual corkboard, it has a similar look to Wallwisher, but has a little more functionality. You can add hot spots, collect and organize information, and I see lots of potential here for students, maybe as they begin their research projects or maybe to house information to present from their research. There is a blog that can answer a lot of questions you may have. There is also an introductory video on the homepage made by the developer that shows how he uses Spaaze, pronounced, Space.  Check this out, you might like it! I have embedded Spaaze creator, Stefan's video below, but it is hosted by YouTube to be able to view it, so you will need an override if you are blocked. Oh, and it offers a free version with more limited usage. It is still in the Beta version so you may notice some changes. Enjoy.


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Check out Edmodo if you are looking for a learning management system that is easy to use. It has the look of Facebook, so it is easy to navigate through. It is a perfect answer for classroom social networking. They provide Webinars listed on the Edmodo Blog to help educators maximize the use. They even have an Edmodo app for the iPhone that makes it easy to manage your classroom's online presence.

We visited Wylie East High School and got to see first hand how teachers were using this tool. This provides students with 24/7 access to your classroom, allows for assignments to be posted and turned in, and creates an environment that promotes learning beyond the classroom. Below is a Prezi that has been created to further explain the power behind Edmodo. It is time to empower your students with learning beyond the walls of your classroom!


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If you got an iPad for Christmas and you're looking for ways to maximize its use, check out the list of notetaking apps provided in the current issue of TCEA's Technotes. I have used several of these apps and they are excellent choices. Being able to project various apps is limited, but Whiteboard has come out with a version, Whiteboard HD that is able to project, making it great for presentations. Check them out and see which ones you like, then spread the word. Making the iPad/Smartphones more productive for students will translate into a more satisfied teacher AND a more satisfied student...

Note Taking...Web 2.0 Style:
My Stickies - allows you to add sticky notes to any website.
My Note It - a few adds, but otherwise fabulous for class notes.
Notefish - Save information from the web into a single online Notefish page, then organize and share!
Short Text - great way to take quick, short notes. Not sign up required.

For powerful shared note taking, try Whiteboard, Google Docs, Zoho Writer, Corkboard, or Your Draft.

Try Evoca to record your notes via voice. This is a great alternative for creating a study guide to help in preparing for a test.
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I have been preparing a presentation for mobile computing and have been researching educational apps for the iPhone and iPad. I came across an app called Habit Factor. This is a great app that helps you in creating goals and developing habits, but takes it a step further. It has a tracking component that helps you in managing those goals and habits. This would be a great app to use personally or with your students in setting some goals for the school year. If you spend anytime with teaching study habits, this would be a valuable tool to integrate into that. Check this app out and make it a productive year!
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