Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Da Big Leap: A Blog Review

After reading Rebecca Blood’s article about the two types of blogs, I realize that for education issues, I prefer the “filter” type rather than the “web log.” I subscribe to a number of blogs, using Google Reader to “aggregate” them. Like a morning newspaper written just for me, they appear on my start page. I doubt that I’d read any blogs at all without my Reader packaging them conveniently for me. The “filter” blog searches the web for obscure items of interest or links with “how to” lessons. These are more useful to me than blogs of personal sharing, rants, and the like. I admit however that I seldom make it through my Google Reader page before some of the items are weeks old. When I read a how-to or an experimental lesson, I like to try it out. This takes lots of that scarce commodity, time. Certain writers have proven that their contributions are worth the time.

One that's worth the time is called “The Teacher Teacher,” written by “dabigleap”-- a technical trainer from Columbia, Missouri. He often writes about SmartBoard use, which is of particular interest to me since I’ve had one in my classroom for a year. If you haven’t used SmartBoards, a year may seem like plenty of time to learn the tricks of the trade, but I’m just beginning to realize its potential. In a February 23, 2009, post he explains how to use lessons in other formats, ex., PowerPoint, and turn them into an interactive activities at the SmartBoard. He describes how to change the blanks of the worksheet to text boxes, and working with the “Ink Aware” toolbar, transform the working into a game, engaging all the students in the discovery process. Next, he explains how to import an existing PowerPoint lesson into Notebook—as the software for the SmartBoard is called—and not only keep the advantages of your work in PowerPoint, but add to the interactivity of Notebook. I had known about Ink Aware tools in the SmartBoard system, but I never understood the advantages of using them. He explains how to engage students in writing notes on the SmartBoard and how to savethem to be used as part of the lesson. “Dabigleap” writes in a casual style about technical tips for classroom teachers. He often links to other blogs or web pages with more information. His entries are sometimes very short, sometimes more in depth. He keeps his advice practical, without philosophy, politics, or unsupported predictions about Technology Utopia. I like that.

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