Ruth and Stacey at Two Writing Teachers host the slice of life community each Tuesday. Come join us!
Some things at school have changed so much since my return to teaching (a long while ago). I remember when we first were able to get online that I told students that they must spend time using the Internet for their research. Now I would say they should find a certain number of print sources. The learning curve for teachers, in addition to all the other tasks, is huge.
Most of this new learning has happened because of the Internet and the possibilities of reaching a much wider world more easily. I don’t think I need to reiterate the many ways that teachers can support students in the new kinds of communication of whatever they want to say. Sometimes when I search I find it overwhelming. Is this the best one? How does this work? Does it require e-mails? Is there enough choice in creating?
I’ve just begun an online tool class and thought I’d share the first thing we do. I have set up an educator license on Diigo, an online bookmarking site. It’s easy to do, and all it takes is to find the site and apply. It’s free. When you receive the license, and when you have your class list, you can easily set up accounts for all the students. Diigo will create user names and passwords for you.
Here’s the beauty of the Diigo site:
o It can be accessed anywhere on any computer that is online.
o The class can send appropriate sites to each other, for an individual’s research.
o When sending a site for the class, or for an individual, to see, you can send a message with it, put a sticky note on it, or even highlight and send just part of it.
o As a teacher, you can send a site for an assignment. For instance, last year I sent several different pieces from different points of view about the celebration of Thanksgiving for everyone to read and comment on. I wanted to do something appropriate for the season, but also wanted to give students the experience so they could see how useful it is to be able to send something for response to someone. (If it’s personal writing, you can do this with Google Docs.)
o Diigo saves the entire web page of the site, even when you only highlight part of it, in case you change your mind and want to return to the whole article.
o Diigo sends the ‘owner’, meaning you the teacher, daily e-mails of more online tools and helpful internet sources.
o Diigo lets you make numerous tags for each bookmark, and even aids that by giving suggestions you can just click to choose.
I started the class with this site, and students were up and starting very soon, looking for good pages to begin their individual unit research that occurs at my school. I have lots of plans to show them other online tools, and I will be able to do that easily by using Diigo. I can send to the class or to the individuals according to their needs and goals. I also expect them to share ideas to the class too. Finally, when someone is absent, they can still participate at home.
It’s a good tool and I hope you try it.