Lesson 1: Why Use Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom?

Have you ever used HTML to create a webpage? While HTML and CSS are not terribly difficult to learn, very often you want to focus more on designing content than on programming the page that will hold the content. Web 2.0 tools allow us to do just that, by offering dynamic tools that can be accessed using only a web browser. Web 2.0 tools can be thought of as programs, much like Word and Excel, that allow users to publish content to the web without having to convert documents to the proper format. The web 2.0 site takes care of all the programming and conversion for us, so we can focus on writing good content. The best part is, that once the content is published anyone with a web browser can access that content and use it.

Web 2.0 tools allow students to create their own content, and develop sophisticated projects, without requiring any technical knowledge. Teachers can help students grow into lifelong learners through exploration of creative web 2.0 tools. Web 2.0 tools can encourage collaboration among students, and are easy to incorporate into teaching.

Wikispaces is one such tool that is easy to learn to use and is great for collaborative projects. This video, Wikis in Plain English, explains what a wiki is.

Another nice web 2.0 tool for sharing content with students is Pinterest, a visual pinboard that allows you to see thumbnails of your favorite sites all in one place. You can share your page with students, giving them a visual display of the sites you want them to visit.

Wordle is tool that generates “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the text, and you can modify the color and font of the words in the cloud. You can use this to pull out keywords and main ideas from a text.

Read

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1) Using Web 2.0 Tools

Normally, a webpage is created by writing an HTML page that contains the HTML code, the page content, and optionally the CSS style formatting code. This requires the page author to be familiar with HTML and CSS code so the page will display correctly in the user’s web browser. However, a web 2.0 tool such as Wikispaces allows the page author to enter content straight into the web browser and save the page, publishing the content publicly – without the author writing any HTML code. This makes the process not just easier but much faster, and accessible for all users – even elementary students. Anyone who has used a word processor to create a document can create a webpage using a site like Wikispaces.

2) Collaboration

Collaboration is incredibly important for students, especially at the elementary level when they are still developing basic social and communication skills. It can be hard for young students to open up their own private work and let in other students’ ideas, but its something that improves with practice. We want to encourage students to share knowledge, and be open to the knowledge they can receive from each other. Collaborative projects reinforce the idea that individuals all have something to contribute, and that each student is responsible for the entire group.

Watch

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1) Wikis in Plain English

 

2) Getting Started with Pinterest

 

3)How to Create a Wordle Word Cloud

Do

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1) Create

  • Go to Wikispaces and sign up for a free account as a teacher. Using the tools provided with your wiki account, create a homepage for a class website that you can use to share resources and content with your students, or a website you can use to share resources with other teachers. 
  • Go to Pinterest and sign up for a free account. Create a page of thumbnails using 3-5 websites you use or are interested in using in your class. Add a link to your Pinterest board on the website you just created.
    Optional: Create 2 more Pinterest boards on any topic you choose (you can browse other teachers’ Pinterest boards to get ideas) and add the links to your website.
  • Spend a few minutes using Google to find articles about using Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. Choose one article or blog post you like the most. Next, go to Wordle and put in the URL of the article or blog post you chose. Click Submit to create the word cloud. Feel free to edit the cloud until it looks the way you’d like it to, and save a copy of it as a PNG. Upload this image of the word cloud to your website.
    Optional: Write 1-3 paragraphs reflecting on web 2.0 tools: how they work, why they are useful for teachers, and what you would like to accomplish with these tools in your own classroom. You do not need to provide too much detail, and your ideas can be very general at this point. They will change and solidify over the course of this unit. Feel free to use any information from the weekly reading, or anything you found in your Google search. Include this text as a separate page on your website, explaining to parents and students (or other educators) the value of using these tools.

2) Explain

Please review the video titled Wikis in Plain English, and then create a new page on your wiki that describes the difference between a standard content website and a collaborative wiki, using a table.