Summer fun coming to end. Work starting again. Maybe you're just yearning to try something new to engage your students.
One thing to get excited about is how you might try (or try something new) in the world of Web 2.0 technologies for the classroom. Twitter, Facebook, or maybe create your "Class Blog" for communicating with students and parents. And if you don't have a class web site yet, you need one!
Class web sites are a great place to provide copies of class handouts (lost the handout, go get it yourself :), publish a homework calendar (parents will love it), or create a spot for students to work together online (spice-up peer essay reviews, perhaps?). If you use Microsoft Office , you might want to try Office Live Workspace, a free online spot to create a basic class web site. You can easily add a PowerPoint or Word documents to your Office Live Workspace and then your whole class can access it from anywhere with an Internet connection.
One of the most interesting things on the web lately is Twitter. The basic thing to know about Twitter is that you can let people who "follow you" know what you're up to - in 140 characters or less - think of it like a text message blast to a group of friends. It's free and easy to set-up and you can even receive "Tweets" as a text message on your mobile phone. Here's a good New York Times article on it.
Microsoft has a Twitter "handle" called TeachTec where we send a occasional "tweets" to teachers interested in knowing what we're up to around technology in teaching and learning. Today we have about 1,800 people "following" us on Twitter. Following someone , a favorite actor or musician, or a company like Microsoft, you'll get the idea of how it's being used. Perhaps more intriguing is that Aston Kutcher (actor, Twitter handle: @aplusk) achieved 1 million followers in April, at the time surpassing CNN as the most followed. We'll start modestly with TeachTec, but come follow us! Search for "TeachTec" on Twitter and you'll find us.
So an interesting discussion is: how can Twitter be used in the classroom? This is where it might start to get interesting. So now it's time for me to brag. My son finished kindergarten last year at Meridian School in the Seattle area. His kindergarten teacher started using Twitter as a way to provide parents a quick update on something interesting they did in class , often quoting a student or story they read. Here's a little video clip from our local news station describing what they did. Simple, but effective.
Have any other ideas? I would love to hear them.
At Microsoft we have been working on creating professional development resources and workshops for teachers to help them integrate technology into the teaching and learning process. I am attending a Microsoft Educator Workshop in the Boston area this week and it is great to see teachers excited to use technology in the classroom for all different reasons. I will Tweet as we make resources available throughout the year, though you can also check back on our web site.
I look forward to an ongoing discussion about how technology can be integrated in effective and relevant ways in the teaching and learning process.
K-20 Educator Marketing Manager, Microsoft
Who the heck is Rob Bayuk? I could bore you with a blog post on my background, or you could view my profile on LinkedIn. (only slightly less boring)
Have to admit: I'm not yet a fan of Twitter. I say, "yet" because I'm sure I will be when http://twitterature.us/ is published. I read an article about two U of Chicago students signing a deal to tweet the classics. Can't wait! (http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/06/24/twitterature-to-hit-the-bookstores/)
I plan on doing something similiar to what your son's Kindergarten teacher did. I teach Grade 1, and I want to use Twitter as an online agenda. Parents can hear about what we did in class, but also get daily updates/reminders on important school information. I work in an area where almost owns blackberries, laptops, and/or cellphones, and so I think that Twitter would be a great way to keep the parents informed. I can't wait to see how this works!
P.S. The Board server is down right now, so my website link won't work, but when the server goes up again (hopefully soon), there's more information about my "Twitter project" on my website.