Friday, September 14, 2007

Bye Bye Blogs, Hello Think.com

I made a decision this school year that I thought I would never make: the decision to give up using blogs in my classroom. 21Publish, a provider I had used for two years, simply does not have enough control over the ads that show up on their free blogs. So when the ad "Find your perfect lover" started showing up on my fifth grade student blogs from last year, I decided to move on. It was really not a difficult decision though as I had already tested a product with the same capabilities, Think.com. Think allows my students to post text, photos, video, and even interactive stuff like polls and debates on their sites. Although there is no comment feature, students can still give and receive feedback through "stickies," which are posted at the bottom of their webpages.

Here are a couple projects that I've either completed or I am currently working on for Think:

A Science Fair for the 21st Century

When you think of the traditional science fair, what comes to mind? A gymnasium or an auditorium full of students standing in front of three panel backboards?
This past spring my fifth grade students completed science fair projects in an altogether different way. The overall purpose did not change--students were still learning about the scientific method by independently developing and conducting a scientific investigation and communicating the results. The method of communicating and presenting the investigation changed: instead of using a three-panel backboard, students presented their work on their own personal Web sites. I called this project the Online Science Fair.

Stick or Switch Project

Think.com has a very nice projects feature. It allows teachers to set up one or more project sites and designate members who can post material to the project pages. This fall my students will be doing what has become an annual project for my classes, using experimental probability to determine the best strategy for the Let's Make a Deal game--stick or switch? On Think I created a project site with a summary page; a directions page--complete with a poll that asks students what they think the best strategy is before they play--with links to the website where the can play the game; and a final page where I will post three graphs of their data. On this page students will vote for the graph that they think best represents the data. They will be able to see the votes of the other students and read their reasoning.

With so many possibilities publishing their work on Think, I can see my students working on projects that aren't even required and will not even be graded! They are fired up about this technology and so am I...


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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to read that you're monitoring the technology you're using in your classroom and that your students are showing excitement toward projects that in the past have become more of a chore than something of a fun learning opportunity (with the exception of the students that are destined to become scientist).
Can you say why use of technology is so capable of capturing students' intest when they're technically learning the same principles? It's not as though the computer, blogs, and websites are new to studens of today. Any downfalls to using blogs/websites in your classroom?

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