Alliteration in a 21st Century Learning Environment

The students in Debbie Creticos's and Lucy Divis's 2nd grade class learned about alliteration through painting and writing on the computer. Their work is impressive and delightful.

They used Pixie 2 to create the work, then uploaded the images to Google Presentation for publishing on the class blog.

Please enjoy the Alliteration Slide Show created by Longfellow 2nd graders.

Google Presentation for Guided Student Learning

Google Presentation is a versatile tool. Since a presentation can be published online and linked to a blog or website, perhaps a good use of this tool is for guided student learning. After all, this Cool Tool is really only a blank page.

I'd like to share an example of a Google Presentation that integrates many of the Cool Tools discussed on this blog. This is a series of guided learning opportunities for students that focuses on Internet safety and introduces students to some of the Web 2.0 tools they might be using to create and share their learning.

Please take a moment to view Design Your Digital Self, by Veena Rajashekar, Beye School.

Prezi: Online Presentations with a Twist

Prezi is an online presentation tool that's quite exciting, and certainly a welcome change of pace to the traditional slideshow. Prezi abandons the concept of using slide after slide to display bulleted text, and instead uses one giant canvas to hold all of the content. Viewers follow a path set by the author to explore chunks of information, and zoom in to take a closer look. You can embed videos and images, create links, and have a lot of fun creating and viewing Prezi presentations.

This nontraditional presentation is a Cool Tool for changing the way students and teachers disseminate information and ideas. Perhaps Prezi could be used to help students do something with all that information that's out there, and it could be used to encourage them to remix and create rather than regurgitate. Prezi seems very well-suited for the 21st Century Classroom.

If you want to try Prezi yourself, it's fairly easy to use, especially if you take the time to view the tutorial before getting started. You can sign up for a free account to get your feet wet and decide for yourself whether or not Prezi is for you.

Please take a look at an example of a Prezi presentation with a powerful message. The experience is better when you view it in fullscreen. (Choose More at the bottom of the screen.)

View Prezi: Web 2.0 in the Classroom, by Ryan McCallum

Sign up at

Google Presentation for Student Portfolios

Compatibility with PowerPoint combined with the ability to easily publish slideshows online makes Google Presentation a Cool Tool for creating and maintaining student portfolios. I know of two innovative teachers in D97 who are building these portfolios, and they are definitely worth taking a look at. What a great way to celebrate the learning, progress and talents of your students, and what a fabulous way to share with relatives and friends across the world! I'll bet these students love having their work published and it certainly does encourage people to check your blog.
Sheila and Erica are two of the teachers you might be working with if you decide to attend a D97 GoogleDocs training session, coming to a location near you. Sign Up for Google Training 

Please comment to share your thoughts about these kindergarten portfolios of student work. Just click the link below and type a message into the box.

How's Your Web Presence?

Blogger Flicker Twitter Facebook Picassa Glogster SecondLife WikiSpaces GoogleSites GoogleDocs VoiceThread YouTube Diigo GlobalSchoolNet... the list goes on...

If you are using Web 2.0 tools, then you do have a web presence. Have you googled yourself lately? Unfortunately, the Internet does not allow us to categorize ourselves to make a distinction between our personal and professional selves. This is true for everyone.

Do you think students, parents, and even prospective employers use Google to check you out? You bet. Do you think universities offering scholarship use Google to check out prospective students? Yes. Do you think students think about their own web presence and how it relates to their future. They should.

After you've googled yourself, remember this. Check the settings in all the Web. 2.0 tools you use to see how to set the privacy and lock things down. If a tool offers no control over what others see, is it a Cool Tool?

Drawing & Painting: Kerpoof Studio

Kerpoof Studio is another tool for drawing and creating on the computer. It's kid-friendly, and again, no sign in is needed to use the tool in it's most basic form. But, Kerpoof does offer free teacher accounts which are certainly worth the trouble of creating.  Teachers can create student accounts and also limit the features accessible to students using  Kerpoof. As an added bonus, there is an entire Kerpoof for Teachers  page with lesson plans, standards, a useful newsletter, and more.

There are many options available within Kerpoof studio, and some are more educationally appropriate  than others.  It's important that students using this tool have a clearly identified learning goal when using Kerpoof in an educational setting or they will just play.

A word of caution...
Kerpoof Studio is owned by Disney and this company has very clear terms of use. Please do spend some time looking at the terms you've agreed to, before using the tool. If you are going to publish work that has been created with Kerpoof, it is extremely important that you label the work according to the terms, each and every time. Notice the sample above.

Drawing & Painting: ArtPad

Drawing and painting can create a bridge between the ideas in a child's head and the blank piece of paper. Students are generally pretty movitivated and engaged when drawing and painting on the computer, and many are very good at it. In an effort to encourage content based writing and promote tech literacy, I'd like to introduce you to a very good, easy to use, online painting tool.

This simple tool is designed to bring out the artist in us all. It records the process used to paint, then makes it available for viewing. There is no login required and students can easily use this tool. Teach students to take a snapshot of their finished painting, then insert the picture into a document for writing.

View the artpad gallery glog to see what some of our teachers have created and please consider submitting a painting of your own for display. Student paintings are appreciated too!

Using Avatars to Teach Internet Safety

 Using educationally appropriate online tools with students opens up a world of possibilities, but it's important to communicate a clear and consistent message about Internet safety every time you introduce a new tool. If students hear about Internet safety often enough, hopefully they will start thinking about it themselves.

Creating an avatar is a really great way to teach students to protect their identities on the Internet. Avatars provide students with a safe way of representing themselves while also providing opportunities for creative writing experiences. So why not start out the school year with this simple but powerful learning opportunity?

A good idea for a lesson is to start by asking students to create an avatar of their own, complete with a pen name. After that, students can be challenged to write a narrative from the avatar's point of view, without giving out any personal information. The final student products can be published or turned into a podcast and the avatars and pen names can be  used when students contribute to wikis, blogs, glogs and more.

Suggested tools to choose from:
This kid-friendly cool tool was certainly the most popular choice among innovative D97 teachers this summer. Users can release their creative spirits and go wild as the title suggests. As an added bonus, no login is required . Find out what some of our very own teachers had to say about this tool, see examples of avatar stories created by some teachers and a student, and also take a peek at the avatars themselves by viewing a VoiceThread they created.
If your students are Lego fans, this tool is a good choice. This block-head iconizer is as simple as can be and it is appropriate for the youngest students.
This popular tool provides users with plenty of choices to create a unique and attractive avatar; however, teachers this summer were a bit weary about the use of fig leaves as clothing on the generic model. This is bound to cause students to giggle and also spark some conversation, so please do check out DoppelMe for yourself before you decide to use it.

View VoiceThread: Using Avatars to Teach Internet Safety

Updated: 3/2011 - Get a complete lesson plan. Go to my Cool Tools wiki.

Back To School: Cool Tools Preview

It's time to get back to school, which means it's time for me to start blogging regularly about Cool Tools again. I spent a good chunk of my summer using cool tools with fabulous teachers who were eager to use the tools in innovative ways. We discovered that the tools are indeed easy to use, but perhaps the most difficult part of using them is to identify the safest and most effective way to use them with students. It's all about management and there is a lot to consider when choosing appropriate online tools for education.

Before I start blogging about each of these tools, I'd like to point out that I have created a home for information about Cool Tools with management tips on my website, just to keep things organized. I've named this section Online Tools.

Since I haven't wordled even once this summer, I've decided to create a Wordle to kick off the new school year with a sneak peak of the Cool Tools I will be blogging about early this fall.

Go to the Online Tools section of my website.

VoiceThread - Online Conversations Around Media

VoiceThread is an online tool for having conversations around media. The possibilities for use in the Classroom are tremendous. This powerful tool is not free, but you can sign up for a trial account to get your feet wet.

Internet safety is a very important issue to address when using this tool for learning. A good way to protect students' identities is to have them create Avatars to use in place of actual photos. Also, please remind them not to give out any personal information about themselves.

You can check out this tool by contributing to the amazing VoiceThread below. All you have to do is click on comment, then register by providing your name and email address when prompted. You can record your comments, then upload your photo, an avatar or symbol. When you're done, take a look at all of the other VoiceThreads out there and let your imagination run wild!

View Examples Published on WallWisher

Access VoiceThread at

Classroom 2.0

Glogs: A SlideShow of Samples

We have created several glogs as samples for teachers and can think of many more to create. These launchers are easily accessible tools to guide and differentiate student learning in a variety of ways. They are visual, fun to create and extremely versatile.
Glogster's education section allows glogs to be private.

Google Presentation was used to create a slideshow of glog samples. Please remember to use caution when streaming in D97.
View slideshow

Glogs as a Collection of Resources

Glogs offer educators the opportunity to collect carefully chosen web resources and create an attractive package for students in order to guide the learning.

Here is a Memorial Day Resources blog.

View the Memorial Day Resouces Blog

Glogs as Curriculum Launchers

Glogs seem to have many uses in the world of education. In this case a glog is used as a curriculum launcher, to help build background knowledge through video, and guide student learning. It includes a WebQuest for differentiated learning opportunities for students, and a Google Earth Lit Trips to provide students with visual experiences to enrich the reading. This glog serves as a cool tool for teachers to collect and organize web resources and deliver them to students in an attractive and convenient passage that's ready to use.

View The Orphan Train Glog

Glogster: Online Multi-Media Posters

Glogster is a cool tool that lets you create online posters, rich with multi-media. Instead of using poster board and ink, creators gather information, synthesize it, remix it and then create something of their own that is environmentally friendly.

Glogster is visual and exciting. The uses in the classroom are seemingly unlimited. Students can certainly make a statement with this tool.

Learn more

Jing Video Tutorials

Jing is a free tool from TechSmith that allows you to capture the screen on your computer to create a video tutorial. You do have to record your voice to narrate your video tutorial, but after a little practice this becomes more comfortable.

Here is a Jing tutorial created to demonstrate how to upload a PowerPoint slide to a shared GoogleDoc Presentation.

To learn more about Jing, go to
Jing, by TechSmith

Develop Keyboarding Habits with Three Cool Tools

Effective and efficient computer use is essential to students today and keyboarding skills provide an important foundation. For this reason, I am focusing attention and effort and helping teachers and parents assist students in developing keyboarding practice habits. The Cool Tools used are the blog, GoogleDocs and Custom Typing.

Help Students Develop a Practice Habit
A habit takes about five weeks to develop, which means this is the perfect time to help students develop one. There is plenty of time between now and the start of next school year to make a huge difference in the development of good keyboarding skills by engaging in regular Custom Typing Tutorial practice sessions. Children will thank you for this one day!

Teachers: Sign up to be guided through the process of helping students develop a keyboarding practice habit:

Parents: Sign up your children up and you will begin to receive a slow and steady stream of information designed to help you support your child by encouraging home practice habits.

Google Reader: A Closer Look

Google Reader is a cool tool that allows you to collect information posted on your favorite blogs and keep it organized and updated until you have time to read it. Here is picture of the Google Reader screen.

Please notice the option to Add a Subscription in case you don't see a visible Subscribe to Blog icon on the blog you want to subscribe to. All you have to do is copy the webaddress of that blog, then paste it into the box you see.

On the left side of the Google Reader page a list of all of your blog subscriptions is displayed. If you click on one of the links, you can read the updated information right from your Reader page. To view the full blog, just click on the title and you will be taken to it.

Subscribe to Blogs: Let the Information Come to You

For a brief moment, I'm going to elaborate on an idea introduced to me by Helena Bowers at the Illinois Computing Educators conference. She described The New Digital Divide in great detail, but the one idea that encouraged me to start this blog can be found in her description of the difference between "Those who know who to get info to travel to them vs. those who don’t." Blogs allow us to let the information travel to us via subscription to RSS.

How does one get the information in blogs to travel to them? Look for the Subscribe To icon in the sidebar of this blog and click on it. You will be walked through the steps of adding the blog to a familiar personalized page you may or may not have already created, or you can take my suggestion and choose to add the blog to a Google Reader page.

The Google Reader page is handy if you use Gmail because access to it can be found right on your Gmail screen. This is where you'll find the link to Google Reader.

Hopefully I've encouraged some of you to let the information come to you. The choice is up to you, but it sure beats having to remember to check all of those blogs every day! If you need more detailed directions for subscribing to a blog using Google Reader, click here.

View Helena Bower's presentation The New Digital Divide and while you're there, why not subscribe to her blog?

Safely Blogging with Students

There are three very good reasons to consider using a blog as a tool to teach writing, online communication, safety, and etiquette all within the context of your curriculum.
  1. The teacher has the ability to monitor everything published on the blog, with proper setup.
  2. Teachers can guide the writing process by only posting appropriate comments that follow the identified safety rules.
  3. Gradually, as students learn and expand their writing abilities, teachers can provide them with opportunities to submit ideas for posting.
Recently, I have been blogging with 4th graders and it has been a very positive experience. If you are considering blogging with students, please revisit this blog during the week to learn more about ways to manage and use blogs safely.

D97 Resource
There is a handy resource created for D97 teachers interested in learning to blog with students. Please follow the link below to view this blog.

View D97 Blogging with Students

Blog Management
Although the required email address can be an obstacle when trying to blog with students, there are solutions. The way to handle this is to have students start by submitting comments, which are monitored by the blog administrator. No login is required. Initial blog setup is important from the start.

After comments are submitted, they are emailed to the teacher for review. The teacher then decides to Publish or Reject the comment. Students quickly learn how to write appropriate comments.

There is a very attractive feature available. Teachers can publish rules about etiquette and Internet safety so they appear on the page where comments are submitted.

After individual students demonstrate the ability to post safe and appropriate comments, teachers can use a few different tech tools to help students submit ideas to post, for others to comment on.

When they are ready to manage their own blogs, there are options for filtering posts through email accounts.

To view the rules established for commenting on this blog, click on the comments link below.

Blogging with Students: An excellent example
The best way to share ideas for starting to blog with students is to share a good and newly emerging student blog with you. Mel Smith's 4th graders at Longfellow are replacing the traditional paper and pencil journal with this blog. They are using the tool well!

Please notice:
  1. The GoogleDoc form he used to collect pen names. (efficient use of technology)
  2. The rules he has established for comments. (Internet safety and etiquette)
  3. The comments themselves. (nice ideas expressed well)
  4. All comments are monitored, some are rejected and feedback is provided.
Please view the Hubbard Street Dance blog.
Why not try to post a comment? These students are writing for an audience.

Blogging and Video
Teachers often ask for my assistance in posting videos for students to watch on their blogs. This is easy to do, but I'd like to suggest that this method of sharing video is most likely only useful to highlight the occasional, really special video because streaming within our district has it's limitations indeed.

I think there is most likely a better tool to create a collection of videos for students to watch at home, and that will be explored next on this blog, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, since I've been discussing student blogs, and I do have one of those very special videos to share, I'm posting it today. Remember, do not stream this video in your building with multiple people. Watch it at home, please.

watch video

Hands-on training opportunities
If you are interested in participating in hands-on training to set up a safe student blog,
View Susan Oxnevad - Professional Development
  • 4/30-Blogging with Students
  • 5/7 - Online Communication, Blogging & More, advanced
  • 5/14-Tools for 21st Century Research
  • Classes Offered All Summer, Blogs will be used in most. View listing

Something Fun: Visual Bookmarks

MyClusta has created a cool tool called Visual Bookmarks, which is attractive for a few reasons. Creating a page of visual bookmarks is a nice way to build a collection of special bookmarks you want to keep handy, and the page can be fun to create. Also, unlike the Firefox Visual Toolbar, the page of bookmarks you design does not take up extra space on your screen with another toolbar.

Visual bookmarks hold one page of bookmarks that are arranged by pictures, not words. Here is a page of visual bookmarks I put together as an example. Please take a look at it by clicking on the image to try my sample and try Visual Bookmarks yourself.

This Week's Cool Tool: GoogleDocs

Types of GoogleDocs:
There are four types of GoogleDocs to use. The documents are collaborative, which means they are easily shared, stored and potentially published online.
  • Document: This is a basic word processing document that integrates with Microsoft Word.
  • Presentation: This is presentation software similar to PowerPoint, but without all the bells and whistles. It does have enough features to create a very appealing online slideshow.
  • Spreadsheet: This is very similar to Excel and integrates well with it.
  • Form: This is what we explored yesterday. Small pieces of information can easily be collected and then displayed in a spreadsheet. This GoogleDoc is demonstrated below. Try it!
Important Things to Know:
  1. To create and use GoogleDocs, you need to have a gmail address. Just go to and sign up for one. Remember to write down your username and password please.
  2. GoogleDocs are compatible with Microsoft Office and they function similarly. You can upload Office documents to GoogleDocs, or download GoogleDocs as Office documents.
  3. GoogleDocs are collaborative and stored online. This means you can invite others to work with you, then easily share them.
In case you missed it, you can try the GoogleDocs Test form and view the results in the post below.

The Form:
We will start with the GoogleDocs form. I'm absolutely convinced this is a very efficient tool that everyone can find a good use for. I will be sharing many of these good uses all week through this blog.

The GoogleDocs form is an excellent way to collect small pieces of information because it automatically displays the information in a spreadsheet. Yes, it functions just like Excel and can be exported to your desktop as an Excel document.

You can test the form and view the results in the Experiment with GoogleDocs section below. Just click on the link to complete the test form.

If you have a comment or question, click the comments link below. If you think this tool might be useful to a coworker or friend, why not share this post?

GoogleDocs Presentation:
If you haven't had a chance to submit your gmail address, there's still plenty of time to experiment with many different types of GoogleDocs. It's time to talk about GoogleDocs Presentation.

Compatibility with PowerPoint combined with the ability to easily publish slideshows online make this a very appealing tool. The important thing to know before trying this is that GoogleDocs do require logging in with an email address and password. Please consider the options before creating a generic email account, then providing students with access to it. Do you really want to provide students with an email account capable of sending anonymous email messages? You do not.

Although the required login can be an obstacle when trying to create a group presentation, there is a very good solution. The way to handle this is to have students start by creating a slide or two in PowerPoint and saving it to their desktop. When it's done, the slides can easily be uploaded to GoogleDocs from one machine that is logged in with the teacher's email address and password, carefully monitored by the teacher.

I've done this and it works well!

If you would like to experiment with a GoogleDoc Presentation or the other GoogleDocs discussed so far on this blog, please click on the appropriate links below to begin.

Experiment with GoogleDocs Sign up below.
A few hands-on options are linked below. Too busy today to try this today? Don't worry, you can catch up on the weekend!

1. Experiment with the Form
Complete a simple form and view the results as they come in to a spreadsheet.
Sign up for the mailing list while you're there.

Complete Test Form

View Test Form Results

2. Experiment with Documents as Email Attachments and GoogleDocs
Open a document in GoogleDocs and publish it for everyone to view.
For this, you need a gmail address. Please sign up for one at, you will need it to use GoogleDocs. Once you have a gmail address, please complete the form linked below to send me your gmail address. Once I have it, I will send you a document to begin experimenting with this feature.

Submit form to get started.

3. Experiment with Presentation
Create one PowerPoint Slide, then learn how to upload it to a collaborative presentation.

Submit form to get started.

Looking for Training?
All of my upcoming U97 workshops and classes will use GoogleDocs. If you are interested in learning how to use them efficiently and within the context of the work you need to do, please view the upcoming list of professional development offerings on my website.

Susan Oxnevad - Professional Development

Wordle Fun

Last week I had the pleasure of wordling with many people in our school district in one way or another. It was fun! If you are still thinking about wordling, please take a minute to view the list of great things to wordle, and let me know if you are trying this tool. I will continue to add new wordles to my slideshow.

Mrs. White's Class: Here is your desription of 3rd grade, wordled.

View recent wordles by double clicking on the slideshow in the sidebar.


I decided to start with something simple and Wordle is simple indeed. Just go to the website, type some text into a box, click a button and your text becomes a "Word Cloud". Anyone can do it. The real trick is in how it's used. After all, words that appear more frequently within the text appear larger in size within the word cloud, which means you can spend quite a bit of time experimenting with this concept. I created the example here by copying and pasting a Wordle Lesson Plan that was shared by Fran O'Leary on The Wordle Blog.

About This Blog

I decided to start this blog as a way to keep others informed about all of the Web 2.0 tools that are rapidly emerging. In all honesty, I hesitated to start it because I am already using various tools to publish on the web and collaborate with others, but the benefits of blogging about cool new instructional technology tools and the potential for posting information that arrives right in followers laps are too great to ignore. Here's to one more blog!