**Updated for Summer 2008! ***
Welcome to Exploring Elementary 2.0, a project designed to help elementary educators become familiar with Web 2.0 tools and examine how they might be used to enrich their personal lives, professional practice, or as a tool to improve student learning. You’ll hear the words student learning over and over in this project because we want to focus on results, not just add fun tech toys into the classroom.
Many blogs and articles focus on Web 2.0 integration at the secondary level, but our elementary learners have different needs when we consider meaningful instructional design. This project helps us work together to explore and discuss which 2.0 tools offer the most promise to our young learners, who are just learning to keyboard, lack knowledge and experience about Web safety, and are developmentally at a more concrete level of thinking. The tools you choose to embrace and use with students will depend on your learners and the school and neighborhood culture in which you work.
What is this project about? How is it organized?
This independent learning project is divided into 17 steps (we call them “Explorations”) to help you experiment and experience a variety of Web 2.0 tools that you might adopt to improve student learning. You will track your progress by setting up a blog (Exploration 3) and posting your reflections. You are encouraged to visit the blogs of other participants (listed in the blogroll in the right-hand column) to view their perspectives. Go ahead — leave them a comment of support or encouragement! This journey is based on the past experiences of hundreds of prior participants in similar library-initiated projects. All participants are welcome, but to help us keep track of you, we ask that you register through your school library media specialist, who can also provide personalized support and guidance to you. You’ll learn more about registration as you start engaging in the Explorations.
What is the timeline?
You have until June 1, 2008, to complete this project (unless your school library media specialist sets another deadline for you) and note your progress on the blog. While you can work at any speed, we’ve divided the journey into weekly components to help with pacing. Try not to save the activities until the last week so that you have time to reflect on a tool before rushing off to the next.
Can I get credit or PD hours for this?
Check with your media specialist, who may be able to arrange professional development hours for you, depending on your district. BPS employees may register for 10 hours on KALPA.
How do I navigate the project?
You can click on the links below to get to the directions for each step, or click on the Exploration number under the categories list in the near-right column.
Will there be face-to-face instruction? What about tech support?
This is a self-paced independent study course runing on volunteer manpower. However, your school library media specialist is available to help you if you run into a snag. Sorry, but we can’t help you with home computers. Keep in mind that every school district has a different filtering policy. If you find any blocked sites at school, you can contact your district’s Tech Support or substitute an alternate site.
Where did this idea come from? Who is behind the scenes!
This project was inspired by Helene Blowers and her Learning 2.0 project, portions of which are replicated here under a Creative Commons license. The project was adapted by Kristin Fontichiaro of the Birmingham (Michigan) Public Schools and School Library 2.0 blogger for School Library Media Activities Monthly, with input and leadership provided by other school library media specialists. While we customized this program to focus on the unique needs of elementary student learning, anyone is welcome to participate. To be a part of our project, please register through your school library media specialist so he or she can track your progress. If your school does not have a school librarian, please contact Kristin at slmamblog[at]gmail.com to register directly.
What are my responsibilities as a school librarian if I’d like to invite the staff of my school to participate?
1. Email Kristin at slmamblog[at]gmail.com letting her know that your school plans to participate.
2. Inspire your colleagues at the building level.
3. Collect your colleague’s blog URLs and send them to Kristin so they can be included in the blogroll.
4. Track your colleagues’ individual progress (try adding your colleagues’ feeds into your Bloglines account – see Exploration 7), give them a nudge if they get behind, and do any necessary professional development paperwork required by your district.
5. Have fun!
What are the 17 Explorations?
Click on the links to be taken to more detailed information about each Exploration. Beginning with Exploration 3 you will note your reflections and observations in your blog.
Week 1: Getting Started (July 14 – July 20)
1. Read through this project home page to learn about the program. That’s it for this one!
2. Read about Web 2.0 and become familiar with its major concepts.
3. Set up your own blog, write a few practice posts, and register your blog.
Week 2: Photos & Images (July 21 – July 28)
4. Explore Flickr and learn about this popular image hosting site.
5. Have some Flickr fun and discover some Flickr mashups & 3rd party sites.
6. Play around with an online image generator.
Week 3: Managing What’s On the Web (July 29 – August 4)
7. Learn about RSS feeds and set up your own Bloglines newsreader account.
8. Locate a few useful education-related blogs and/or news feeds.
9. Organize your favorite and bookmarked Web sites with Del.icio.us
Week 4: Play Week (August 11 – 17)
10. Take a look at LibraryThing and catalog some of your favorite books.
11. Create a custom Google search engine for students
Week 5: Collaborative Writing (August 18 – 24)
12. Learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that educators are using them.
13. Take your documents online with Google Docs.
14. Organize your thoughts with Gliffy.
Week 6: Video & Podcasts (August 25 – 29)
15. Discover Teacher Tube, a site for sharing educational videos.
16. Make a podcast with your phone.
17. Summarize your thoughts, lessons learned, and/or ideas for the future on your blog.
Now that you’ve read through this page, you’ve completed Exploration 1. Let’s go on to Exploration 2 and learn about Web 2.0.