It lets you set-up a virtual classroom where students can create a “scrapbook” or other products using a very simple “drag-and-drop” interface. Text can also be added. One teacher with up to thirty students is free, but you have to pay if you want to add more.
The teacher and other students in the class can see all the student-created products, but it doesn’t appear — at least to me — that there is any way to make links to them public. I’ve sent a question in to the site to see if I’m missing the feature. If there isn’t, I hope they’ll add it so that parents and others can view it.
It’s always nice to find a web tool that can be used for a number of purposes, and David Kapuler (whom I have previously nominated for an Edublogs Award) has found one with MentorMob.
It lets you very easily create a slideshow. Webpages, videos and photos can be grabbed from the web and added, along with notes. It’s easy to use, very intuitively designed so just about anyone can figure it out, and attractive. I’m adding it to the following “The Best…” lists:
I have a huge backlog of resources that I’ve been planning to post about in this blog but, just because of time constraints, have not gotten around to doing. Instead of letting that backlog grow bigger, I regularly grab a few and list them here with a minimal description. It forces me to look through these older links, and help me organize them for my own use. I hope others will find them helpful, too. These are resources that I didn’t include in my “Best Tweets” feature because I had planned to post about them, or because I didn’t even get around to sending a tweet sharing them.
Here are This Week’s “Links I Should Have Posted About, But Didn’t”:
19 Pencils is a beta site that offers the promise of being able to easily create quizzes, share online content, create class websites, and track student content. However, many of the features are not yet activated. It’s certainly worth a look, but I’m not ready to place it on any “The Best…” lists yet. Maybe soon, though. I learned about the site from David Kapuler and Kelly Tenkely.
Corkboard Me is sort of Wallwisher-clone that is even simpler to use but has fewer features. You just paste virtual sticky-notes on a virtual bulletin board. One nice feature it has is by pasting the url address of an image link, the image will show up on the sticky note. No registration is necessary.
A site like this is very useful when I’m going to have students look for images in certain categories and then describe them. In the The Best Social Bookmarking Applications For English Language Learners & Other Students list (where I’m going to place Corkboard Me) and in my ELL book, I explain in some detail how to use these types of picture data sets as a language-learner lesson that incorporates higher-order thinking skills of categorization.
I’ve been interviewed a number of times over the past few years. And some of them, I believe, might have some useful stuff in them. So, I thought I’d bring them all together. Each one has a bit of a different focus, so I’ve divided them into categories.
If this post seems to be a self-written monument to my ego, then I won’t feel offended if you don’t give it a second glance
Alice Mercer, a Sacramento colleague, has an interview show on the Webcast Academy called Alice’s Restaurant. She interviewed me, and we had a good half-hour discussion on technology, classrooms, School Districts, the importance of relationships and community organizing.
I had the honor of being interviewed on the Seedlings podcast by Alice Barr, Bob Sprankle and Cheryl Oakes. You can listen to it here (and see the chatroom transcript).
It sometimes can be useful to have videos you want to use in class organized in an online “playlist” that is easy to create:
Here are my choices for The Best Ways To Create Online Video Playlists:
Embedr is the one many teachers use, and it makes it pretty darn easy to create a video playlist. I’ve even heard some people say that YouTube videos on their Embedr playlists have been able to get pass content filters, though that has not been my experience.
World TV is a new site that also makes it quite easy to create such a list.
Movieclips has thousands of short video clips from movies and they’re not blocked by our content filter! And they’re available without registering — except for clips that have “mature” content. The clips are categorized by theme, character, setting, mood, and more. They’re incredibly detailed. That in itself makes it a wonderful resource. But that’s not why it’s on this list. It also has a “Mashups” feature that lets you create video playlists of clips you choose.
ShortForm lets you easily create your own “channel” of YouTube videos. It would make it easy to “curate” videos that a teacher would want to use in a classroom if you’re in a district like mine that gives teachers access to YouTube. Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip.
B00mBox lets you create a YouTube playlist collaboratively with others of your choice.
Vidque is a new site that lets you collect videos from several online video sites.
Magnify Free lets you create your own video playlist and video channel.
Not that the world necessarily needs another tool to let you easily organize playlists from various video-hosting sites but, nevertheless, Yokto is another good entry into the field.
Veengle is a neat tool that lets you clips sections from YouTube videos and create a playlist to show them all together. You can read more about it at Richard Byrne’s blog.
ShortForm lets you grab videos from YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu to create your own video “channel” that can also be embedded. In addition, you can create live events where videos can be shown to an audience. You can read more about it at TechCrunch.
It’s always nice to find a web tool that can be used for a number of purposes, and David Kapuler (whom I have previously nominated for an Edublogs Award) has found one with MentorMob. It lets you very easily create a slideshow. Webpages, videos and photos can be grabbed from the web and added, along with notes. It’s easy to use, very intuitively designed so just about anyone can figure it out, and attractive.
Huzzaz lets you create video collections that you can embed in your website.
Let me know if you have suggestions of other apps that lets you create video playlists — ones that are not just YouTube and/or MySpace videos.
I’d like to share a list of education blogs that I think are great at sharing helpful resources and links. In order to be on this list, they also need to post at least once each week, though most that are here post far more often.
Unlike many of my other lists, though, I haven’t listed them in any order of priority. I’d encourage everyone to subscribe and put them all on their blogroll, as I have.
Of course, I learn a lot from reading many other blogs, too. I just thought, given my blog’s focus, highlighting these would be appropriate. You can see links to other great blogs on my sidebar.
Here are my picks for The Best Blogs For Sharing Resources/Links:
Paul Hamilton shares very thoughtful posts in “Free Resources From The Net For (Special) Education.” All his posts, though, are also certainly useful to English Language Learners and to others.
I love the del.iciou.us links I get by subscribing to Lucy Gray’s blog, “A Teacher’s Life” (not to mention her always useful posts!)
Instructify is a prolific group blog out of the University of North Carolina.
Silvia Tolisano at Langwitches has a knack for discovering Internet gems helpful to all learners.
Phyllis Anker has been posting for a long time about great links in her blog Phyllis’ Favorites.
Kevin Jarrett’s Welcome To NCS-Tech was the other blog that inspired me to start writing my own. Kevin provides great daily tips.
Nik Peachey’s Learning Technology Blog provides very explicit descriptions of resources and how to use them.
Free Technology For Teachers is written by Richard Byrne and has been a winner of several Edublogs Awards. They are well-deserved honors for all the time and energy he puts in finding and sharing gems with the rest of us.
Kelly Tenkely’s blog, iLearnTechnology, provides resources and great ideas on how to use them.
Explore The Possibilities is a blog written by Donna Murray, an Instructional Technology Specialist at the Hickory Public Schools. She finds, and shares, a lot of great resources.
Think And Dream In English is an impressive blog written by Pilar, an EFL teacher (also known as “English Teach”). It has a wealth of resources for both students and teachers, and new posts appear often.
John Norton, who, for years (since 1996!) been sharing resources on the MiddleWeb website, started a blog a few months ago. The resources he’s shared over the years have been invaluable to me and many other educators. Even though he focuses on the middle grades, the materials are useful for K-12.
Angela Maiers writes a lot of excellent stuff on her blog, but she’s on this list because of her weekly Chalk Talk Friday feature where she shares great resources she finds around the blogosphere.
Here are my nominations for The Edublog Awards 2009 (you can go to that link to find instructions on how you can make your own nominations):
Best Individual Blog
Public School Insights by Claus von Zastrow posts excellent reports on what’s happening in schools around the country, and provides essential critical reflection on what is being done, or should be done, in the name of “school reform.”
Best Individual Tweeter
Again, I’m making two nominations. Steven Anderson (@web20classroom) not only sends out a ton of useful tweets, but works hard to develop a sense of community among educators on Twitter. And I can same the same thing about my other nominee — Shelly Terrell.
Best New Blog
I have two nominees here, too:
David Kapuler has done a fabulous job at his blog Technology Tidbits. Not only does he share new ed tech resources, his interview series with bloggers has been very informative.
I’m going to be a little self-interested here. I’m pretty impressed (if I say so myself) by the work that my colleague, Katie Hull, the students in our two Intermediate ESL classes, and I have done with our Intermediate English class blog.
Best Resource Sharing Blog
Kevin Jarrett’s Welcome To NCS-Tech may be the “Dean” of all education resource bloggers, and continues to churn-out posts about helpful resources.
I had been planning on nominating Paul Hamilton’s blog, but, unfortunately, he hasn’t been posting a lot lately. I hope he’ll be able to get back in the groove again so I can nominated him next year!
I nominated Richard Byrne last year and, since he won, I figured it might be good to give someone else a chance this year. Richard, of course, has continued to do excellent work.
Best Teacher Blog
I’m nominating two here:
Alice Mercer is my Sacramento colleague who writes great posts about both educational policy and the day-to-day life in a classroom. The name of her blog is Reflections On Teaching.
David Deubelbeiss has got to be one of the hardest, if not the hardest, ESL/EFL teachers in the world, and his blog has to be on my list.
This is a toughie. Sue Waters at The Edublogger would be a definite nominee here, but I know it was ruled out last year because of a “conflict of interest” (which I’m not convinced is correct since it would just be one of many in that category and people can vote for whom they want).
If that prohibition is still in effect, I’d like to nominate two blogs:
Langwitches is on many of my “The Best…” lists, and is a great source for links and practical advice. Silvia Tolisano does an exceptional job.
The other is Tom Barrett – for his “Most Interesting Ways” series
Best Educational Use Of A Social Networking Service
Here, again I’m nominating two:
EFL Classroom 2.0, which has a community of thousands of ESL/EFL teachers from all around the world.
I’m starting a new feature called “Interview Of The Month.” I was inspired by David Kapuler’s Inside The Cyber Studio, where he interviews teachers about how they use technology in the classroom.
My “interviews of the month,” though, will have a different focus. I’ll be talking with anybody in the education world who I want to get to know better and who I think others might be interested in, too. How’s that for a broad criteria?
Future people who I’ll be talking with for this series include:
Claus von Zastrow, the director of the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of 17 leading education associations. He writes the influential Public School Insights blog.
I’m starting off this series with Kelly Young, who I consider a key mentor. I’d be surprised if there is anybody else in the country who knows more about effective instructional strategies than Kelly.
Kelly is the founder of Pebble Creek Labs, which provides curriculum and professional development to urban high schools across the United States in Language Arts and Social Studies. Kelly has been a teacher, principal, and district Superintendent (and a lot else along the way!).
Luther Burbank High School, where I teach, has had the advantage of working with Kelly as we have completely restructured our ninth and tenth grade English curriculum — and instructional strategies. We have done the same with Geography and World History. A great number of our teachers say that working with Kelly has transformed the way they teach – including me. Readers know by the student evaluations I’ve shared here that students like the results, too. I don’t believe that test results are the be all and end all of assessment, but it’s good information to have, and our test scores have gone up, too.
Other ESL teachers and I at Burbank have also been able to successfully adapt these engaging instructional strategies to these classes. I share a number of examples in my forthcoming book “Teaching English Language Learners: Strategies That Work,” which will be published next year by Linworth Publishing.
Because of Kelly’s talent and expertise, I asked him if he would agree to answer a few questions:
Based on what you’ve seen in the time you’ve spent in hundreds of schools across the country, what have you seen working most successfully and what have you seen not working well?
Well I’m biased, but I find that teachers get energized when working on instruction. Teachers want more tools, more options. Relative to engaging and challenging students, teachers want choices. They need repertoire, our favorite word. They want to think about the science and art of teaching—learn more, talk and share, practice and get better. The work is more satisfying and stimulating, also they become successful, so it becomes a self-renewing and self-sustaining proposition.
What breaks spirits and creates cynicism is prioritizing things other than teaching, turning down the screws relative to test scores, and not giving teachers’ relevant tools, skills, and support.
As part of your work, you do professional development regularly with hundreds of teachers. How do you think they would characterize the challenges they face today? What do you think they take-away from your trainings?
My, the challenges… If you think too hard about it, it blows you away. It overwhelms. It breaks your heart. The good news is how much students need good teachers. Forget how badly they deserve them, regardless of ability, SES, race, gender, language, their antennae is sharp; they can sniff immediately when they have a teacher that a) cares, and b) has tools that will help them. Our professional development is all about application and classroom practice. The take-away is that what I learn today I can use tomorrow, and the more I practice it, the more I can help students. And students can smell that. They know when they are in the hands of a teacher who learns, who cares, who believes in their skills and is eager to change student learning trajectories and really, lives.
What do you think are the three most important skills/strategies for a teacher to have in their repertoire in order to help students learn?
Just owning a rich, powerful repertoire is huge. And that journey never ends. We have to study our craft continually. There is a huge library of instructional strategies, stuff I knew nothing about when in school or in my early years of teaching. But when I found out about the concept of repertoire, it was like a religious experience. Imagine playing guitar your whole life knowing only two chords. When you know there is much more, it is freeing, and a life long study. So three? Hard question. I’m going to cheat a little by being a bit broad in my answer… 1. Literacy strategies to help students engage with text and make meaning. There are a lot of them. 2. Strategies to help students talk with one another about their learning. They like school more, and learn more, when they have to dialogue, purposefully, about their learning. It is also a vital skill for work and life. 3. The Inductive Model. This strategy is so rich, so full, can go so many places.
Can you expand a bit on those three skills you think teachers should have? Could you briefly “paint a picture” of what each might look like?
I could write and talk for days about this… but I’ll try to exercise brevity…
Students HAVE to learn how to make sense of text. There is no getting around that, as a high school student, college student, worker or adult. But students have been woefully unprepared, especially with expository text, which is 90% of their reading in high school, college and workplace. So we MUST learn techniques that teach and help students think while they read. Our curriculum provides strategies, that with modeling and lots of practice, make a big difference for students.
Learning groups, and later work groups, talk to one another. They problem solve, they read, discuss, argue, interact. Schools where teachers talk and gab and blab some more aren’t doing students any favors, especially with students of limited engagement and lackluster skills. Students need daily practice with working in teams, with reading text and writing to prompts and talking to one another about their work, their ideas, their problem solving. We simply don’t have enough classrooms where dialogue is student to student around text, ideas, student work.
The Inductive Model is a learning/teaching strategy that is as powerful as they get, and few teachers know about it. It’s a natural higher-order learning strategy, and if students used it daily they wouldn’t just like learning more, AND learn their content better, they’d actually become smarter. I cannot say enough about its power.
I understand that Pebble Creek Labs is in the midst of some changes. Could you share what those are?
We began as a consulting shop that helped teachers grow their instructional repertoire. Studying teaching is fun, real, relevant, useful, inspiring. I began to write curriculum to help teachers practice the strategies daily, to get more expert with strategies faster. This also exposed what a lack of engaging curriculum there is out there. It is sad. We had to start somewhere, and chose to start where the greatest need is— the early years of secondary school, in literacy. The work took off and we got so busy helping schools with our curriculum that we become kind of nichey… inadvertently. We want to help teachers of all levels, at all disciplines, with learning about teaching. I really believe in our curriculum, and have seen amazing results. I believe in the need to help urban, traditionally underserved, secondary schools and their students. Having said that, we also want to work with students and teachers everywhere on instruction and repertoire. All students, and all teachers, want to be in classrooms of diversity, depth, challenge, creativity.
If a school or district has a relationship with Pebble Creek Labs, what does it look like?
It depends. We start with a focus on instruction, and a commitment to practice. We have curriculum materials to move the process along. We have other embedded structures to assist with professional community. Mostly we care about a commitment to learn and get better, and establishing and developing a learning relationship together. We don’t do “in and out” work. We partner with the school and/or district and go on a learning journey.
What cities are you working in now?
We’ve been lucky to work in interesting projects and towns over the years. We spend between 35-50 days a year in a site, so we get to know it well and develop some really special relationships with school and district personnel. It’s a joy and pleasure. Most of our projects are multiple years. We are into our sixth and seventh year in a handful of projects, so the impact and change is profound.
Presently we have large projects in Milwaukee, Austin, Sacramento, Houston, with a number of smaller projects across the country.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with this blog’s readers?
Oh, well, probably some dirt on you….. Nah, actually I’d like to share how much fun it has been to watch your growth as an educator, and how satisfying it is to see how much you model what it means to be a “professional teacher.” Your readers see your expertise through your web site and blog, but probably don’t get how much you are an “everyman” teacher… like them, with classes that go well, and classes that don’t. With colleagues that are amazing and colleagues that aren’t. My guess is your readers are much like you—smart, dedicated, committed. So I guess I’d like to thank you for your contribution to the field, and for keeping it real. And I’d like to thank them, who by virtue of reading this website are kindred spirits. Let’s keep helping kids and representin’ this wonderful profession.
How should people get in touch with you if they’d like more information?
We have a new, improved web site we are just launching…. pebblecreeklabs.com We want it to be dynamic, helpful, fun. Check it out and help us improve it. I can be reached at Kelly@kellyjyoung.com . We care, we respond. Please feel free to connect.
Your new web site has a blog, doesn’t it? I know that I, and I suspect other teachers, would be very interested in hearing your views.
Well I’m not afraid to share my views, and maybe, hopefully, my musings will be of interest to readers. Our new site will have a blog, in some respects inspired by yours. We are still learning about the new web site and its applications. We know we want it to a) explain the company, b) provide a place for Pebble Creek teachers to talk and share and problem solve with one another, and c) to allow for us at Pebble Creek to share all the great things we see, as well as to comment on and “weigh in” on topics of interest and importance to teachers and the field.
I developed this list by first going to Tweet Stats, typing in my Twitter user name (larryferlazzo) and then clicked on “Tweet Cloud.” Within that cloud I was able to see the Twitter user names of those whom I had “retweeted” (forwarded) the most. Since I generally only retweet education-related links, I’m including all the Twitter users in this list who appeared in my “cloud.”
There’s probably a tool out there that provides a better way to determine who one retweets the most, but this will do for now.
The cloud indicates how many times you’ve retweeted that person, but I didn’t have time to list them in that order here.
Of course, there are zillions of people I don’t “follow” on Twitter, so you might want to take “The Best…” label with “a grain of salt.”
Here are my choices for The Best Twitterers For Sharing Resource LInks: