Module Assignment #2 "Educational Search Tools and Directories"
I. Collecting Websites
This is an interesting concept. It can be hard to know sometimes which is the most efficient means of saving a link to review later down the road whether it is tomorrow or a year from now or simply leaving it to google for again later. I have recently added the Diigo toolbar to my browser (Firefox) and needless to say I am now hooked on it. In the past I have always bookmarked my favorite websites to the browser toolbar. However, I have found it difficult to go back and weed through those websites especially if I have not cataloged them in a user friendly manner for myself.
Diigo offers a quick way to highlight passages or text directly on a webpage in addition to being able to bookmark and send the link to a friend.
I have only recently started using Twitter and cannot for the life of me imagine someone wanting to follow what I am doing. It's far more interesting to see what other people like my professors and Martha Stewart are up to. As often though as I update my Facebook status, using Twitter is not such a far fetched idea for me. I will definitely have to report back on using tweet links in a tweet post and see how it goes. I have clicked on several of the tweet links that I have received on my BlackBerry and have found the links very useful if not informative. I have been able follow some interesting news feeds based on the link contained therein.
Delicious is also something that I am new to. It is in the form of social bookmarking and allows you to access other people's bookmarks all over the world. I think this is quite clever, but not immediately useful for me yet in my classroom. Given time though and more time to review it for classroom purpose, will depend on my decision to use this resource. I will probably use this though to share links with friends and colleagues.
II. Educational Search Tools & Directories
With a plethora and never ending source of material on the web, it's hard for teachers to often filter through all of the worthy sites out there and locate what they are looking for without being easily distracted by something else. The textbook that is being utilized in one of my online Educational Technology courses provides many easily accessible sites geared at busy teachers.
I reviewed three sites that I considered very helpful and interesting to me. The first site that caught my interest in the textbook was www.emtech.net. This website provides more than "15,000 resources organized by topics for teachers, students, and other educational professionals." (Shelly 133) I browsed many of the links and resources that were attached to this site, and many of the links provided me with information that would be relevant to my classes (7th Grade Language Arts). I bookmarked the sites using Diigo that I felt I needed more time to go back to later on when I start planning out lessons for that particular content area. Overall I think depending on what you are looking for if it is a general topic area, emtech is a good resource, however some of the links need to be updated for more current information and ideas.
A second site that I perused is www.google.com/educators. I am a huge advocate for google and have even added it as a working verb when we are searching for something in the computer lab. I had no idea however that google had a place for teachers to look for resources on a multitude of things such as classroom tools, posters, edu apps, and so much more! I am really excited about using the Learning to Search Lessons that I can use in the classroom tomorrow to teach my students how to search in a more organized manner. This is a very helpful website for teachers and would easily qualify in my opinion as a ISTE NET-T site based on the idea of communication and collaboration with other teachers across the globe. I will be sharing this site with my fellow teachers at school to help make their lives just a few minutes easier when it comes to researching with their students.
Something else that piqued my interest on the links pages in the text was one that I have never heard of before called KidsClick! . I love "librarian websites" because who knows more about anything else than a librarian! As I become a collector of what is turning out to be useful and teacher friendly websites, I am discovering that kids don't necessarily need a textbook to learn from any longer. Everything is online, but how we utilize it and approach them with it is how we gain them as learners. This site is broken down into Topics that are interesting and kid friendly. I got quite a laugh out of the Superstitions that are found under the Literature link, but my favorite quote for the evening is "If you use the same pencil to take a test that you used for studying for the test, the pencil will remember the answers." I wonder if that works for a mouse too...Thank goodness for a history button.
III. Florida Department of Education Site
The FLDOE website is one that I attend to on a regular basis. There is something there for every stakeholder who has an interest in the education system in Florida. As a whole the site is very comprehensive and informative for educators, parents, students, and community members. I use it regularly to access the Sunshine State Standards for my lesson plans. I also have accessed the certification page to review renewal procedures. As a parent, I have found it helpful for current initiatives to help my daughter be successful in her education. For college students being able to access FACTS has been beneficial in the long run by helping me better prepare for my college education.
IV. School District Websites
I am a teacher in Clay County which is located just south of Jacksonville. The county website can be located at www.clayschools.net. One of the things that I find very useful on my particular county's website is the fact that there are a wide range of resources available for parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Recently the website transitioned into the Blackboard platform which has enabled parents to access their student's school, parent portal websites, and many other things. As a teacher I have been able to sign up for many professional development oppoturnities, LearnKey programs, subscribe to classroom management newsletters, employee wellness newsletters, and other exciting happenings in the county school system. For county newcomers the school website is a very user friendly place and parents can quickly locate what they are looking for directly from the county homepage menus. A widget also provides up to the minute school closures and other emergency data if necessary.
V. Other Outstanding Resources & My Favorites
Over the summer I took several Media Education elective courses through UCF. one site that I was reintroduced to as a college student was Sunlink. Immediately when you open this page bright colors greet you and make you feel welcome to the site. Depending on what you are looking for, will help you decide what role you will want to tackle and select the appropriate tab (Media Specialist, Parent, Teacher, Student, or Administrator). For students this website is particularly helpful and it definitely would meet the ISTE NET-S requirements based on fact that students would be actively searching for materials and investigating working on information fluency. This website has something for everyone and can help you easily locate a book or a research article that is applicable to many different topics such as "The role of technology in the classroom."
Another one of my favorites unfortunately requires a subsription, but is definitely worth every penny that my county pays for me to have access to it. Discovery Streaming, formerly known as United Streaming, provides teachers with access to 100s of videos for classroom use on any given topic. The site was "Voted the best professional development website in 2007 by the Association of Educational Publishers, this website is a place to connect to other educators across the globe." (http://community.discoveryeducation.com/about/about_den) One of the things that I find particularly striking about this DEN website is the fact that many of the presenatations are classroom ready for immediate use. Not to mention that many of the videos are already paired up with the Sunshine State Standards and lesson plans. I have used several of the presentations in my classroom in the past and the kids are usually very responsive to the videos that I have shared with them. Teachers can also create quizzes, writing prompts and other activities directly on the the website and provide students with access codes to access the material at home or in the computer lab. If you have never used this site, I definitely recommend it for all teachers to look into for their classroom use.