Google Docs (and now presentations)

I use Google Docs all the time for collaboration for workshops and meetings, and for my own writing — I can move from one location to another without having to hang a flashdrive around my neck. In fact, yesterday, in class, as my students were doing some freewriting, I was writing a poem that I put on my Google Docs and then revised it back home.

Now, Google has added a presentation (powerpoint) format to its Google Docs platform and it seems to be pretty cool. A bunch of folks are already trying it out and seeing what is possible and what is not (you can upload PP shows but not Keynote, apparently), but the idea of collaborating on a presentation seems pretty nifty to me. Cool Cat Teacher created this slideshow collaboratively to show some of the ins and outs of the tool.

Meanwhile, I found this video from CommonCraft (those guys again!) on how to use Google Docs. It’s a bit old but still useful.

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Peace (in collaboration),

Intro to Apps: Vehicles of the Future

In this first week of school, I try to get my students on the laptops at our school and introduce them to some simple programs: MS Paint and MS Publisher. These are two applications we will use more in the school year. We work on a writing prompt in which they design a vehicle of the future, and the move to the computer to use Paint to draw it and then Publisher to create an advertising flier. I grabbed some of their illustrations this year for a short movie:

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You can also view two of the ads:

Peace (in exploration),


I came upon an interesting article in Wired Magazine about something called Creative Crowdwriting and it involves writing a novel by opening up the publication to the entire world to add to, edit and alter. The platform is often a wiki and the response to such endeavors is mixed — some see it as nothing more than unstructured mayhem while others tout it as an ideal product of collaboration.

Here are two of the “novels” that the article cites:

This concept is similar to the one I have used with wikis and collaborative storywriting, in which I invite a set audience (usually my students but sometimes my teaching/professional colleagues) to add to a developing story via a wiki. The results have always been interesting but the product is less the goal than the collaboration, I think. I am not sure more brains have made the stories any better.

Here are two of my collaborative wiki stories:

But here is an application of this concept that I would like to try with students with wikis and collaboration — creating Make Your Own Ending Stories via a wiki site and I might try that this year.

Peace (in wikis),

The Year Begins with … a podcast

I’ve been busy getting myself and my students situated in Week Two but that hasn’t stopped us from creating a podcast for our class Weblog site. The podcast emerged from a writing prompt on Sept. 11, in which we talked about the impact of change on the world from a negative standpoint and a positive standpoint. We brainstormed ways in which the world needs some help and then they wrote briefly about how they would change the world, if they could.

They did a fantastic job and enjoyed hearing their podcasts the next day (and parents have remarked on the wonder of listening in to the work of the classroom)

You can listen, too:

Peace (with the power to change),

Publishing Poems

I have been in the midst of a year-long project to write and publish and podcast at least one poem per month, and part of that effort is to collect enough poems to self-publish some kind of book later this year. Until that moment, however, I submitted a few of the poems to the New England Association of Teachers of English journal — The Leaflet — and two of the poems were just published.

Very cool.


The two poems (which are poems about poetry) were:

Peace (in poems),

How To … Podcasts (in a minute or so)

One of the fun podcasts I have in my Bloglines is called One Minute How-to and the host invites folks to come on and discuss something, anything really, in about a minute. The topics are all over the place and really insightful.

This is the brief overview of the site by George Smyth:

The One Minute How-To is your podcast. Each episode features someone just like you who explains how to do something. The catch is that the participant is only given 60 seconds. This means that they need to get right to the point, but isn’t that a good thing?

Here are two that I saved:

Peace (in brevity),

Day One Straight Ahead/Goals for the year

Although we, as teachers, were back in school last week, today is the first day for our students to return and I am antsy and nervous/excited as always. I already know some of my students from my role as Student Council advisor and through a claymation summer camp that some of them took with me in July. But still …


I have a few goals for this year:

  • Continue with Youth Radio podcast site (I was interviewed by a writer from The Reading Teacher journal about the project this weekend, so that is pretty exciting to get some recognition on that level)
  • I want to try to use a Wiki for kids to create a Make Your Own Ending story, allowing them to map out and craft a story that jumps from wiki page. Still working on the thinking of that one.
  • Since I have moved blogging platforms (from Manila to Edublogs) for my classroom site, I want to try to use the blog even more with my students as writers. I think I will miss the ability to thread discussion but will enjoy the ease of use. We’ll see how the students react to blogging. I intend to try a simple activity this week after an introduction to what a blog is and how you use it, and what responsibilities students have as bloggers.
  • We are being required to pump more math into the heads of our students this year and I would like to find some ways to use technology for projects that support the math curriculum at our school.

Peace (with prospects),

RSS and Wikis made simple (sort of)

These two videos are more great intros into two Web 2.0 tools: RSS feeds and Wikis. They are engaging and informative and, well, fun to watch (who can ask for more). They are done by Commoncraft. This post has been sitting in my blog files for months and kept getting bumped for other things so I decided it was time to get it off the floor.

Check the videos out:

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Peace (from my feeds),