It’s more important than ever that the technologies we embrace for our schools are ones which will address a need, simplify a process, or allow us to do things we might otherwise be unable to do. Recently, John Calvert, our district’s K-3 Technology Integration Specialist, has used Web 2.0 technology to create a new breed of tools for our elementary school teachers to use. In doing so, he has achieved all three of the criteria I’ve mentioned above. (Not familiar with Web 2.0? Click here for a detailed explanation).
The first example is an interactive map created by Mr. Calvert for our second grade students and teachers. If you click here and run the Flash program he has created, you will quickly see the power of the application. My favorite part of the program is accessed by using the Panorama check box, then selecting one of the thumbnails for the map. Try it! What you will see is incredible, but it’s even more powerful when our teachers use this on a full size SMART Board,Â bringing the entire geography unit to a new level, with students engaged in ways that were previously unimaginable. Breathtaking! Of course, the second grade team is fortunate to have on-site professional development available, and by explaining and modeling how the tool can be fully embedded with this core area of study, the results are synergistic for the students we serve.
The second purposeful infusion of Web 2.0 tools is the use of social bookmarking to create a channel for providing elementary school teachers with “real time” quality links to use with their math instruction. As collaborators on the new elementary math curriculum implementation, our specialists were able to develop a tool that addresses a need presented by teachers using the SMART Boards and the Growing With Math program. This social bookmarking tool allows teachers to have access to a searchable database of links that are included in the curriculum map and/or used successfully by other teachers in the district.
The power of this is greater than it appears on the surface; when a link is added to our Atlas curriculum map, it is instantly made available to every teacher. The task of making the links available in a number of forums is automated, teachers are within a click of the latest resources, and the consistency of the district’s math curriculum is enhance by blending the curriculum map with daily instructional practices.
There are other ways that Web 2.0 can add to our district’s mission.Â The ability to share information in so many ways and to add information effortlessly holds great potential for us.Â Â We will continue to explore those that help address a need, simplify a process, or allow us to do things we might otherwise be unable to do.