21st Century Learning Tools Project--An ePals Project

When students are a part of an online collaborative learning community, powerful learning takes place. Having the correct digital tools, like wikis, blogs, forums, email and media galleries, all in one place make for a rich learning environment ready for collaborative and interactive project work. These tools can be adapted and used in every content area, at every grade level and with every class size to reflect, question, and learn together. When you open this project as an individual classroom project you and your students have access to all of these online tools. Select just the ones that meet your specific classroom objectives or use them all. Start incorporating 21st Century learning tools into your classroom assignments today! Note: When you choose this project you will choose to make your workspace private, just for your classroom use only, without other collaborating classrooms participating.


Subjects: Writing, Reading



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Result

 

When students are a part of an online collaborative learning community, powerful learning takes place. Having the correct digital tools, like wikis, blogs, forums, email and media galleries, all in one place make for a rich learning environment ready for collaborative and interactive project work. These tools can be adapted and used in every content area, at every grade level and with every class size to reflect, question, and learn together. When you open this project as an individual classroom project you and your students have access to all of these online tools. Select just the ones that meet your specific classroom objectives or use them all. Start incorporating 21st Century learning tools into your classroom assignments today! Note: When you choose this project you will choose to make your workspace private, just for your classroom use only, without other collaborating classrooms participating.

Objectives:

1. 21st Century learning tools will be integrated into the classroom curriculum and students and teachers will expand their technology skills, knowledge and confidence.

2. Students will become proficient at using wikis, blogs, forums and the media gallery tools in the ePals workspace.

3. Students and teachers will build a learning community environment within their classroom and school, sharing knowledge and information by using digital tools. 4. Students will practice the important 21st Century skills of collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

 

Standards:

National Education Technology Standards (NETS)

 

Common Core State Standards

Writing 6,10


This is a great way to start off the school year. Ask all of your students to join the "project" and use the ePals project workspace to coordinate classroom activities throughout the school year. Let all of your students' parents know about it on "Back to School Night". Incorporate 21st Century Learning Tools into your classroom starting today!

The Tools

Blog: A blog is a personal journal published on the World Wide Web consisting of entries or posts typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first. In simple terms, a blog (short for “weblog”) is an online journal. The blog in the ePals workspace is set up for the owner of the group (the teacher) to post and the students to comment. By posting regularly to your blog sharing classroom activities and student learning and accomplishments, your blog becomes an ongoing record of learning and projects in the classroom. You can post text, photos, videos and more and reflect on the classroom activities and invite students to add their own comments.

 

Forum: A forum is a collaborative tool used to create a conversation allowing each group member to post comments to a discussion thread. This communication tool allows individuals to collaborate with others by posting or answering questions. It also gives members time to think before responding and allows for more thoughtful responses and discussions while giving students who may hesitate to join an oral discussion the chance to share their views on a topic as well. The forum in your ePals workspace would be a great place to continue an in-class discussion outside of class by posting a question or series of questions and asking students to think and respond as homework.

 

Wiki: A wiki is a place where students work collaboratively with other students, adding and editing subject-related content. You might consider a wiki always “under construction,” rather than complete, because it is a living collaboration that is constantly changing and being added to by multiple authors. Wikis are created by a collaborative effort of the group members—they work together to create and share multiple pages of work. If wikis are new to you, you can learn about the basics of how a wiki works by watching the video, Wikis in Plain English. The wiki in your ePals workspace is a great place for students to construct and share knowledge as they work towards a final product. And you can see which student did what work just by looking at the page history.

 

Media Gallery: The media gallery is an area within your workspace that can be a repository of all files related to your topic or purpose. You can allow students to upload files relevant to your discussions. Any type of file may be uploaded to the media gallery and shared with all group members, including word processing files, pictures and videos. You can upload handouts that students might need access to and students can upload completed work for peer review or evaluation.

 

Email: Email is a communication tool that can provide many authentic learning opportunities across all areas of the curriculum. It allows for direct and discreet communication between the teacher and the student, provides for more thoughtful questions and responses, and allows students to ask questions spontaneously—they don’t have to wait until the next day in class they can email the question when they have it. To learn more about how to manage your blog, forum, wiki and media gallery in your ePals workspace please reference the Ready, Set, Go document in the Resources section of this project.

 

Introducing the Tools to Your Students

To introduce each of these tools to your students, try a mini-lesson that asks them to complete a short task with each tool. Below are just suggested tasks. You can adapt them to make them a better fit for your age group and subject matter.

 

Mini-Lesson #1: Because your project workspace is private and not visible outside your group, the content is not moderated by an ePals moderator like it is in other areas of the ePals site. For this reason, students can have real-time interactions, such as “live” discussions on the forums, which can be exciting and interactive. But also for this reason, it is a good idea to come up with a Workspace Guidelines document or a Workspace Charter document in order to ensure that students have productive interactions. You can refer to Guidelines for ePals Student Wikis, Guidelines for ePals Student Forums and Guidelines for ePals Student Media Gallery for some ideas but it is best for students to work as a whole group or in small groups to write their own class guidelines and rules so that they understand them and have ownership of them. Post the guidelines/rules on the class wiki for future reference and ask students to agree to all of the rules set forth before participating in any online activities.

 

Mini-Lesson #2: Send an email to your list of students. Ask students to login to their account, open the email, read it, and reply. (Text from a Smithsonian on ePals email is available for you to copy into an email and send to your students in the Resources section of this project. These emails are a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and ePals and are sent out once a week to classrooms during the school year.)

 

Mini-Lesson #3: Have students respond to a forum thread that you have started. Post the questions here or start the thread with one of your choosing: What is a book that you have recently read? Why did you choose it? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

 

Mini-Lesson #4: Have students upload an About Me Poem to the media gallery. In a Word Document, have students create a poem following the template below. They can add a photo of themselves or use clip art. Have them upload the About Me Poem to the media gallery in your workspace to share with other students in the class. They can browse the gallery to learn about classmates and comment on their work.

 

Line 1: first name

Line 2: three words that describe you

Line 3: three things you like

Line 4: three things you do not like

Line 5: three TV shows you watch

Line 6: three things you like about school

Line 7: three goals you have or three things you want to learn

Line 8: last name

 

Mini-Lesson #5: Have students post a comment to the class blog. Post a video, picture or welcome message for your students on the class blog and have students post an appropriate comment in response.

 

Mini-Lesson #6: Have students help create the home page for your wiki. As a whole group decide on the theme of the page and what elements need to appear on the page. Do you want images/pictures? Which ones? A title or banner? Text? Links? Videos? Have students break off into smaller groups to work on the specific elements of the page, with teacher support as needed.

 

Ways to Use the Tools Everyday in Your Classroom

There are endless and exciting ways to integrate these tools into your classroom to provide rich project work and both formal and informal student evaluation. You can use just one or two of the tools or all five—make your selection based on what best meets your classroom’s needs. Consider creating a learning community of teachers at your school. Meet with other teachers a few times a month to share ideas and support as you integrate 21st century learning tools into your classrooms and lessons. Visit the ePals Teacher Forums for further support and discussions in the Global Community. Here are a few ideas on how each tool might be used every day in your classroom:

Blog: •

  • Keep an ongoing record of learning and projects by making weekly or twice weekly blog posts about what’s happening in your room. Post text, photos, and video. Share experiments, student writing, and project work. Reflect on the classroom’s activity and the student’s learning and invite students to offer their comments as well. At the end of the quarter or semester it will serve as a digital portfolio of your students’ work. •
  • Keep students informed by using your blog to share your lesson plans and reflections for the week. Students can post questions and comments, making the planning process interactive and collaborative. •
  • Use your blog as your homework or extended learning center. Post a series of videos, links to age-appropriate activities, podcasts, and resources that you want students to review at home or when their work is done. Ask students to make a thoughtful comment to the blog following the task. •
  • Use your blog to post current local and world events. Challenge students to do some research to find multiple perspectives on the events and post them in the comments along with their own thoughts.
  • Use your blog to showcase individual art pieces created by your students from throughout the year. •
  • Create a science blog where you record the class hypotheses and observations before the experiments and post videos of students performing the experiments. Invite students to follow-up with their own comments about the outcomes. Post links to related videos, podcasts and websites. •
  • Use your blog to showcase student writing throughout the year--essays, short stories, poetry. Invite classmates to read and comment.

 

Forum: •

  • Post questions to the forums to evaluate your students’ understanding of a topic before, during and after a unit of study. •
  • Post surveys to gage student interest and to help determine the direction of a project. •
  • Follow student-created threads of conversation to see where their interests in the project are leading them to help determine the next steps when lesson planning and resource gathering, •
  • Post questions related to the topic of study to the forum and request that students answer them. You can formally or informally evaluate student answers.

 

Wiki: •

  • Use the wiki for in-depth exploration of a topic together, students and teacher. Have students explore a topic, posting the information they find, editing and learning from others’ information. Eventually you will have such a wealth of information that the students can “leave their books at school” and access the wiki from anywhere. •
  • Use your wiki as a classroom organization tool. Post your assignments, rubrics, collaborations, resources—links and images for more information on the topic of study, etc. Make the wiki the center of your room with everything the student needs to know in one place. •
  • Use your wiki to write a collaborative book. Have students work together to write a non-fiction book (See the World ABC Book Project or WikiJunior for inspiration). Or create an online Writer’s Workshop with revisions suggested by peers. •
  • Wikis aren'’t only just for writing. Here are just a few strategies to use with mathematics: create a math vocabulary page that students can add to using all types of media (pictures, video, links) to define the terms, offer a problem of the week and have students work in small groups to solve the problem and post their answers to the wiki, challenge students to find math examples in art or the everyday world and add those to the wiki, post your syllabus/test schedule/homework schedule for student reference and provide a resource page that students can add to as they find math resources that they want to share with their peers. •
  • Community is a common topic in Social Studies for the elementary age student. Use your wiki to create a virtual tour of your community that includes local history and landmarks, interviews with community members, information about your school, photos, videos, and much more. •
  • And a few more ideas: Create a wiki around the idea of a field trip or virtual field trip. Use your wiki for book reviews and author studies. Create an encyclopedia on a topic of interest. Create a careers wiki.

 

Media Gallery: •

  • Use your media gallery to house student work artifacts—items created by students throughout the course of study or as a final project. •
  • Use your media gallery to house materials that students can download to support their learning—pdf handouts, instructional videos, etc.

 

Email: •

  • Use email to differentiate instruction and homework assignments for your students. By emailing the assignment directly to the student, only you and that student know what was assigned. •
  • Use email to allow your more reserved students to “speak up” and contact you directly with any questions they may have. Make sure that your students know when and if it is okay to email you directly with questions. •
  • Use email to share writing for peer editing. Before students turn in their work you can ask that they email it to a peer for review and editing suggestions.

 

This is a great way to start off the school year. Ask all of your students to join the "project" and use the ePals project workspace to coordinate classroom activities. Let all of your students' parents know about it on "Back to School Night". Incorporate 21st Century Learning Tools into your classroom starting today!

Project Leader:

Country:
Subjects: Writing, Reading

# of Students: 21-30
Age Range: 8-10
Collaboration: Email Exchange, Skype / Video Chat
Languages: English

About my classroom: BF Yancey is a small, rural elementary school of approximately 150 students in grades pre-Kindergarten through Fifth, located in central Virginia, USA. We are interested in communicating with other students from as many countries as possible regarding your school lunch experience. Do students eat in a cafeteria or common space? What foods are eaten for lunch at school where you live? Is the lunchtime meal prepared by the school or do students bring their own food from home? Are the meals sourced from local farmers and providers? What are the components of your favorite school lunch? We are especially interested in collecting photos of school lunches from around the world! Currently, we prefer to correspond by email and Skype, and to write at least 2x per month. We look forward to meeting you and learning about the food culture of your area.