I have been too busy lately and neglecting my blog. What I have been up to includes my first conference presentation at MACUL titled “Stressless Paperless.” My slides are mostly pictures that are meaningless out of context, but I created a wiki with lots of resources to share: stresslesspaperless.wikispaces.com
Note to self: next time I would create a dummy page on the wiki that I would let participants into to “play” and a Google Doc that I would share with participants also to “play” in. My back channel was not that useful for me during the presentation, but did help me get some feedback afterwords.
I also am doing some basic training with teachers in my building and here are two Google Presentations that I have created to help teachers use Google Docs and wikispaces on their own.
Feel free to share or use any of these resources if you find them helpful.
We are working as a school on setting up teacher sites. We ended up going with two platforms. Those that felt comfortable created blogger sites. Many had already made them. The teachers new having their own site are making wikispaces. The unifying feature is that each teacher is embedding Google Calendar on a separate page to share their lessons and homework.
It is exciting that many teachers are willing to take on this task by themselves. Also my principal and teachers who have 1st hour prep are subbing for teachers at the begining of the day when we show Channel 1 News to the students and have silent reading. I then can meet with five teachers for a half hour and help them get set up. Many of these teachers are anxious, but have left me set up and feeling confident and understanding the usefulness of the websites.
One of the most important concerns for me is that teachers see the websites as useful, productive, and not as a worthless adminstrative task that they are being forced to perform. So I am very excited by the great attitudes of the staff in my building (they are great to work with).
I hope to get some time to teach the staff how to use Google Docs to store their assignments and post them on their sites so that parents can see and/or print the work at home. Next year I would like to push everyone to have the same kind of blog.
At a staff meeting this week we talked about our “Homework Hotline.” This is a phone feature where teachers record their homework daily for parents to check on in the evening. Among its inconvenient features is that parents have to call back to access different teachers. We quickly agreed this technology was past its prime, and I volunteered to help set up teacher websites that could all be linked to the district site.
So…one week from tomorrow I have one half of an hour to train over 30 teachers to set up and use their own blog (Don’t worry no one expects to complete this in that limited time. It will be an introduction). Maybe half of the teachers have been exposed to or set up some kind of on-line site before. The other half are likely to be a bit intimidated by this and are looking for simple and easy. I created a Google Doc survey to try to determine what the teachers want to do on their site. Most teachers do not check their e-mail on weekends, let alone a holiday so I hope to get most responses on Tuesday.
My thoughts are to show them my blog, class blog, and class wiki along with a few other teacher/school blogs so they can see some possibilities. In particular, I want to show them how I am using Google Calendar as my lesson plan book and embedding it in our class wiki to share with parents and students. I am leaning against a website because it might be too complex. I am also thinking against blogs because I feel like they are more difficult to customize. I think teachers do not really want posts as much as pages divided by their classes.
Therefore I am leaning toward teaching them to use a wiki, in particular Wikispaces. It is simple yet allows them to add almost anything. It is also easy to maintain different pages. The biggest disadvantage that I see is that “the look” of them is simple and not very attractive. But the biggest thing is that they are easy for teachers. Later I can introduce something more complex for those who are interested.
Teachers will be able to choose whatever platform or site that they want, but most will use whatever I show them. So readers what platform would you recommend? Blog, website, or wiki? What site would you use? Remember we are looking for simple use.