Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September 6, 2010 - Wall Wishing experiments

I'm writing this a day late, but *shrugs*, that's better than missing the week!

Today was the first day of school, and at my place of work, we no longer have a "day 0" where prep coverage is postponed. This meant that we started right away with library prep classes and collaborative ICT slots with classrooms. The ICT bit is a bit of an experiment, an attempt to integrate ICT with the regular curriculum, use it for differentiated instruction, and provide in-school PD for the staff. The idea is to collaboratively plan with the other teachers for this period but since it was the first day and first week, we were pretty flexible about our itinerary. Code of Online conduct, lab rules, password creation hints, and that sort of housekeeping business was the typical request. However, I wanted to make sure there was some "wow-new" stuff so I introduced Wall Wisher as well.

Wall Wisher, found at www.wallwisher.com, is like an online notice board. Creating a board is super-easy, and once you share the URL with people, then participants can post "virtual sticky notes" on the wall, based on the topic. I first was introduced to this tool at Treasure Mountain Canada in Edmonton this past June and was impressed with the real-time updates and paperless way one can save the work - unlike real sticky notes, which fall off the chart paper and are difficult to store.

As with anything, there were several glitches in the proceedings. For some reason, the page I pre-saved to use with the grade 2/3 class did not update the additions made from other computers. One intermediate student decided to be "naughty" and wrote someone else's name as the author and put an inappropriate comment on the sticky - and we couldn't delete it. My data projector was an incorrect distance from the screen due to a short cord, so students couldn't read the content of the stickies when they were on the carpet. Some computers had an old version of Internet Explorer, so Wall Wisher wouldn't run. When a teacher minimized the screen and returned to it, everything disappeared and she couldn't navigate back to the page. These little snags worry me a bit, because when you are introducing something new, it's best if it works smoothly, thereby giving "nubes" to the software confidence that they could use it successfully. I can rave all I want about how it's environmentally friendly (reduces paper), is equitable (shy students can participate) and promotes higher level thinking (establishing patterns in the data and sorting according to student categories), but if half the class can't get it to work, who's going to bother with it?

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