Bitstrips

Bitstrips is a Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create avatars of themselves that can then be developed into webcomics. With bitstrips, users can completely customize characters and place them into a wide variety of scenes with props and speech bubbles. Bitstrips for schools allows teachers to create a classroom with avatars for each student. Students can then create webcomics with one another in the classroom.

I think bitstrips is a great classroom tool because almost any subject could incorporate a bitstrip into a lesson. A language art class could easily use bitstrips to improve literacy skills, social studies and science could both create a bitstrip explaining the sequence of events. In the art class, a bitstrip could be created to accompany a lesson on graphic arts and design.

I can see myself using bitstrips in my classroom next year and sharing what I have learned with other teachers in my school.

Here is a link to the Wiki page I helped create with more information on bitstrips:

Bitstrips Wiki

Here is an example of a completed bitstrip that a fellow student/art teacher made for our presentation:

RSS Feeds

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a Web 2.0 tool used to follow website updates such as blogs and news. Websites using an RSS feed lets publishers syndicate content automatically. This is beneficial to readers or subscribers who want updates from their favorite sites or aggregate feeds all in one place such as google reader.

Here is great video that breaks down rss .

I personally had never understood the meaning of the rss symbol on a webpage or what it meant to “subscribe”. Now that I know how easy and convenient it is, I will be subscribing to all of my favorite sites. All you have to do is click the RSS symbol on a webpage and then select where you would like to follow. With google, you can add the page as a widget on your igoogle page, or you can select to add it to your google reader.

Google reader is another great tool from google. Google reader is an aggregator  that allows you to subscribe to feeds from your favorite sites. New updates from your sites will appear in you google reader. You can create folders to help organize the types of feeds you are receiving. Here is a great video on google reader:

google reader in plain english

You can also add google reader to you igoogle  here’s how : adding google reader to igoogle

Google reader could be a great tool for the classroom. Students could create a google reader account and then subscribe to various sites that would be beneficial to their studies. For example, in art it would be great or students to subscribe to museums and artist blogs to keep up with current exhibitions and news in the art world.

I am loving google reader as an educator especially. It makes connecting with other art teachers blog updates and art and education news incredibly convenient. What a time saver, it is all right there for you in one place with all the newest content at your fingertips!

Here is a great link from edutopia on RSS feeds     http://www.edutopia.org/tech-teacher-RSS

Blog is the new black

The first time I had heard of blogging was while reading the young adult novel The Gospel According to Larry, by Janet Tashjian. If you haven’t read it and you want to teach your students (probably best for middle or high schol) about blogs, this book is a great way to warm them up to blogging.

As for being a blogger myself, I have to admit I am much better at following blogs that I am at blogging. After a class on blog tips and tutorials, I believe I have turned a new leaf. Blogging is surprisingly easy to do and the possibilities are endless.

Here are a couple examples of a few art educators blog that I absolutely love…..smART Class, Art With Mr.E, and Color, Collage, and Much Much More. These teachers have found ways to use blogging as a resource to share lessons and student work all while creating a network of art educators.

I want to create a classroom blog so that I can show off a few of the new tools I have learned. Did you know blogs also had widgets? I do now! What about that you could completely customize your profile? One of my favorite new terms is gravatar, which stands for globally recognized avatar. It is basically your profile picture, but for your blog. Also on your blog you can include profile information about yourself so that people know who you are and what your blog is about.

I think blogging can be used as a great professional tool for educators as well as an excellent tool for students. Imagine having your students start a blog in an art class to write reactions to artwork and post pictures of their work with descriptions of the process. I think the students would enjoy the process of personalizing their blogs in additional to having a working portfolio.

Mash-ups

So I have just been introduced to Mash-ups/startpages via igoogle in my Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom course. I have learned that igoogle is a type of aggregator that allows you to retrieve information from multiple websites.I have never actually created my own startpage before but I’m please with yet another feature google has to offer.

With an igoogle page I can link all of my favorite site such as g-mail, weather, and news through the use of widgets. After I have found all of my favorites I can then place into categorized tabs such as my homepage, entertainment, art education, and tools. When I log into my igoogle page, it is all there for me in one place  with new updates from rss feeds (another new feature I am learning about).

I am enjoying having all of my sites and more in one place, it is very convenient. I think this will be a great tool in my Web 2.0 tool belt for the future! As an elementary art teacher, igoogle might be somewhat advanced, but I do not think impossible. With a little guidance I think my students could create their own start page with tabs for different subjects such as art, music, science, social studies etc. 

Here is a link for anyone new to mashups and would like to start there own igoogle page : setup igoogle

Also, here is a nifty video that explains rss feeds and mash-ups…

RSS Video