Thursday, March 31, 2011


This week I am looking into Personal Learning Environments.   Using igoogle, I created a home page, Full Sail & Challenge Based Research (CBR) page, and a page for my current class, "Emergent Technologies in a Collaborative Culture (ETC).  The following are screen shots of those pages.

The Home page:

The FSO / CBR page:

The ETC page:


It is important for students to be able to read and make timelines. My third graders begin the year by making a timeline of their life.  I am very excited to find some resources that will make next year’s batch interactive and publishable.

Consumers of Timelines
There are many pre-made interactive timelines available for students to gain an understanding of how to read and interact with one. Teachers who have access to interactive whiteboards may find this an engaging way to teach. Students could explore on their own, find information for a research task or search for items on a timeline scavenger hunt.  Here are examples of a few I found.

This gives lengthy historical context to subject areas such as Ancient and Modern History, English, Science, Art and Music. The British Library interactive timeline allows students to explore collection items chronologically, from medieval times to the present day. Simply choose the category to explore then view the image, video or transcript. You can print or download the information as a pdf file, if needed.

This is a pictorial history of NASA by decade from the 1950’s to today.  This one cannot be downloaded.

This is categorized into six themes of Franklin’s life and color coded to match the themes.  Although complex, this timeline includes excellent text, pictorial, audio and video snippets to accompany each aspect of his life.

Producers of Timelines
To really gain an understanding of how a timeline works, a student will also need to create one.  I reviewed the following seven timeline tools, in order to find one suitable for my students.  I used this rubric to assess them.  These are listed in order from the highest grade to the lowest. (Grade is out of 100%)

Preceden:  78%

Capzles:  78%

*Beedocs: 72%

Timetoast: 67%

Dipity: 67%

*I will be using Beedocs with my students.  My Internet access is not consistent and many sites are blocked through my school district’s firewall.  Although not free, Beedocs offers 5 licenses for $70.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BP1_Welcome to my blog


(animation used with permission from activeden)

This blog will explore and evaluate digital tools teachers and educators can use to increase the visual literacy skills needed by a 21st century learner.  Some of these tools will help students be more effective and savvy consumers of the images in which they are daily inundated. Other tools will help students become effective and ethical designers, composers and producers of visual information.    

In addition to helping students expand and extend the visual literacy skills needed to successfully enter a technological work force, educators also must prepare students to perform acceptably on the tests demanded from local, state and federal entities.  Florida’s reading test (FCAT) groups reading skills into four clusters.  Analysis of the longitudinal study done over three years shows that students performed least well in Cluster 4, “Reference and Research.”  This cluster demands that students locate, interpret and analyze information gathered from a variety of sources, including charts, graphs, photographs and other visual imagery.  My own personal experience reflects this trend in Florida.  My students are, ironically, less and less capable of evaluating visual stimuli, the more they are bombarded by it through their culture.

Each post in this blog will compare a few digital tools for creating a specific thinking tool. The tools appraised will not be an exhaustive list of available tools.  Instead my investigation will be a thorough evaluation of a few. One will be highly recommended, which means I will be trying it with my students (3rd grade- public school). This rubric will be used to evaluate and rank the tools. Additionally, I will provide a brief narrative review.  Both the numeric score generated by the rubric and my narrative analysis will be used to "highly recommend" one tool.