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Brenda's Blog

An Image of Global Citizenship
Bringing countries together through the Starbucks Love Project Technology Trade-Offs
Although often criticized for pulling people away from one another, technology also has facilitated some of the most unbelievable collaborative ventures imaginable among people from the far corners of the world.

Teachers Thinkering With Technology and Learning
Tinkering while thinking leads to Thinkering, an important learning pastime for teachers and students alike.

Hooked on Glogster: Posters 2.0
This exciting poster-creation tool provides a platform for students to combine text, images, video, and audio and create an interactive, Web-based poster masterpiece.

Using Technology as a Humanitarian Tool
Projects, resources, and organizations to help you use technology as a humanitarian tool for guiding students to reach out to others and make a difference in their world.

Visual Literacy: Do You See What I Mean?
How do we teach learners to interpret and create visual, digital, and audio media in a contemporary culture, and how is visual literacy in education being redefined through technology?

Northern Lights
When given the time to think and experiment with Web 2.0 tools, classroom teachers are able to make the cognitive jump from using the tool to using the tool to promote inquiry and deep thinking.

My Weary Query, Part 2
Why dont teachers innovate when they are given computers? As a technology integration keener, I have asked myself that question often.

My Weary Query
For many educators, technology initiatives invoke feelings of dread, anxiety, or apathy. That often has perplexed me. How can the very thing that invigorates my teaching serve as a draining experience for another teacher?

Wordle While You Work
Thanks to a nifty web tool called Wordle, you can create your own word clouds and tap into the educational benefits this verbal-ranking, categorization tool offers.

Giving Lip Service to Technology Integration
The mode of instruction needed to facilitate a technology-rich learning environment demands both a significant financial commitment and a need to revisit what educators believe about teaching and learning.

Creating, Connectingand Cheating?
In a highly publicized case in Canada, a first year engineering student was accused of cheating when he set up a class FaceBook page for group study. It serves to remind educators that in spite of our enthusiastic embrace of 21st century technologies, we still carry residual expectations from our past -- expectations that can put limitations and judgments on how our students use the very technology advances we promote.

Using Technology to Bridge Understanding for Foreign- and Second-Language Learners
Internet-based technologies have the potential to enhance and extend the principles of good language teaching and to modify and adapt language activites that teachers have used in the past.

Using Web 2.0 Tools to Breathe New Life into Old Projects
Some of the pre-technology projects weve discarded could fit into todays classroom if we spent some time pondering how one of the Web 2.0 tools could be integrated to bring it more in line with the preferences of 21st century learners.

Google Goes to School
Over the past year, Google has stretched their search capabilities to include an abundance of open source web applications tailor-made for teachers. In fact, theyve called this new suite of tools Google for Educators.

Thinking About Thinking -- Using Technology
Developing metacognitive awareness in children is of prime importance in all grades. Ive recently come across two technology tools that are tailor-made to prod students to think more deeply about course content and to use visual prompts to synthesize and apply their understanding.

Voice Thread in 2008
I truly am amazed to see what Voice Thread users have been up to over the past year. Not only are they using images and sound to teach and present, they now are able to upload documents, presentations, video and images for the purpose of collaboration.

Using Technology to Mediate Learning for Every Student
More than ever, assistive technology tools, many of them open source, are bridging the gap between diverse students needs and teachers who provide the scaffolding, enabling those teachers to respond more effectively to individual differences.

The Power of Social Bookmarking
It seems to me theres an unspoken brotherhood or sisterhood among educators, one that compels them to share what they have with one another. Its because of that bond that social bookmarking, one of the Web 2.0 tools, is such an excellent fit for educators.

A Leap in Leadership
True leaders (and their followers) will not resort to throwing up their hands in despair. It is imperative that leaders create a culture of empowerment, a place where creative problem solving reigns. True leaders do not perpetuate a culture of 'We Cannot Do.'

VoiceThread: Capturing and Sharing Student Voice
VoiceThread provides an online space for teachers and students to upload a picture, record their thoughts and understanding about it, and receive feedback on what theyve shared.

Using Digital Place-Based Storytelling to Teach Geographical Thinking
I admit it -- I am a virtual eavesdropper. It was on a blog that I first read about a new form of digital storytelling called place-based storytelling, an adaptation of digital storytelling that combines digital mapping tools with the power of the narrative.

The Changing Face of Geography
Geography instruction has changed drastically over the past forty years. Students no longer just memorize locations, but grapple with such complex topics as place, space, interdependence, environmental interaction, distance, relational perspectives, and more.

Using YouTube in the Classroom
The power of YouTube only is activated when the teacher has a clear idea of how a specific video clip can be used to introduce a concept or theme, instigate a discussion, or serve as a writing prompt, says Brenda Dyke. Discover some YouTube videos you can use in your classroom.

Have You Tried YouTube?
The very online tools that provide incredible learning opportunities also allow students access to inappropriate information and images. The enduring challenge for educators is how to access one without the other.

The Web and Teacher Growth
Do todays classroom teachers have a shelf life? Is it possible that teacher "restlessness" is a natural consequence of life-long learning? Does being on a constant learning curve alter the persona of our profession? How has the Internet contributed to that change?

Web 2.0
Will the potential of Web 2.0 find its way back into the classroom, or will it serve only as the content for an engaging PD workshop? Will these new tools transform education or simply entertain?

Digital Storytelling
Just as storytelling underwent a change with the advent of the printing press, storytelling is changing once again to accommodate a generation that is focused on moving images and sound.

Listen Up!
Every day, teachers like you and me are joining the podcasting fever by using the handheld listening devices to give a facelift to an age-old learning tradition -- homework!

Is Their Work Really Their Work?
Its [the teachers] job to make sure that the student work theyre assessing is indeed the students work. Anything less turns education into a charade where students pretend they know something and we give them credit for their pretense.

The Year of the Laptop
Be wary of our tendency to ascribe magical powers to the technological gizmos of our generation. Tools are just tools unless they are harnessed to effective teaching. Poor teaching with technology attached is still poor teaching.

Ripping into 21st Century Learning
The mismatch that exists between the demands of todays economy and what our schools are supplying is closely connected to the fact that our education and training systems were built for another era.

Learning from the Masters
Times have changed since the days when we traveled to lab schools to watch exemplary teachers in action. Thanks to Annenberg Media, accomplished teachers now can come to us -- via the Internet.

Educators like Joselyn Todd are taking advantage of the learning benefits that emerging technologies offer forward thinking teachers. Venturing out on their own, those educators are leading the way, making a solid instructional path for the rest of us to follow.

Developing Learners with Thinking Buzz
As long as we limit computers to information retrieval tools, we will be disappointed with students learning gains. Until we develop wired learning environments based on dirty learning principles, we will fail to develop learners alive with thinking buzz.

Teaching in a Culture of "They'll Never Let Us"
The term digital divide never was intended as an excuse for doing nothing. The responsibility to improve schools from within ultimately rests on the shoulders of the schoolhouse and the educators who reside there.

Technology and Hurricane Katrina
Educators often speak of technology being used as a mind-tool. Thanks to the efforts of the HELP organization, students from Louisiana/Mississippi have experienced it being used a heart-tool, a tool that supports healing.

Embracing Technology with "Eyes Wide Open"
Society is in need of technological gatekeepers who know that "...a new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything. We need to look critically at how, when, or whether to use technology.

Telecollaborative Projects
"Telecollaborative projects have the potential to produce learning magic as students are introduced to authentic and meaningful activities designed to challenge their thinking and to fuel further exploration..."

Who Is Brenda?

Brenda Dyck is a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). In addition to teaching preservice teachers, Brenda is the moderator of MiddleTalk, a listserve sponsored by the National Middle School Association (NMSA). Her "HotLinks" column is a regular feature in NMSA's magazine, Middle Ground. Brenda also is a teacher-editor for MidLink magazine.