Category Archives: Web 2.0 Tools

I heart Evernote.

EvernoteActually I am pretty organized without Evernote. But WITH Evernote, I’m the most organized person ever. Evernote is organization on steroids. Times a thousand.

And it’s not just for educators. It’s for everyone.

I recently did a modest presentation on Evernote at the TCEA Regional Conference (#TCEA1011). I prefaced the session with the fact that I am just an avid user. Not an expert. The expert was the room I was in. The people who surrounded me! You can find my presentation here.

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 1.42.29 PM

One of the gems shared was the ability to add AUDIO to any note using the Evernote iPad app.

* Disclaimer: This is my own child so I give permission for it to be published on the web. 

Add audio to any note by simply tapping on the attach icon (paperclip) in the upper right hand corner.
Tap the audio icon.
Simply start recording! Once you tap “DONE”, the audio recording will automatically be inserted into your note. While recording, you can continue to type in the note, or even toggle between other apps!

One attendee shared that she uses the RECORD AUDIO feature to record her students reading. Someone also added that you could then take a photo of the text and insert that into the same note. This is great documentation for reading!

Please feel free to add your expertise in the comments section!



Dipity Do Da


Last year, I asked my students to come up with new and interesting ways of presenting content. Not only was I fulfilling the state standards for teaching but also engaging students in new and interesting Web 2.0 tools.  Killing two birds with one stone. As my students and I researched interesting and engaging ways to present a timeline, I came across Dipity, an interactive timeline creator.  Now I am killing three birds with one stone.

Dipity came out of a private beta to a full launch a few years ago (2008). Dipity is a site that makes it simple for students to create and share interactive timelines about any subject or topic. It allows students to embed You Tube videos, Twitter, RSS feeds, Blogger, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and more right into their timelines. Dipity makes timelines relevant and fun for students and best of all, students are creating timelines in “their language” of Digital Native. The original thought behind Dipity, a timeline-based lifestreaming aggregator, is that users could manage a variety of new social features and have in turn, turned Dipity into a viable alternative to FriendFeed and other lifestreaming services, as well as a replacement for standard RSS readers.

Dipity revolves around powerful interactive timelines which intuitively display content like blog posts, YouTube videos, and Flickr photos in small hovering rectangles that can be expanded. The site is very well designed, and while the timelines seem to lag occasionally when they refresh, they’re fun to play around with (and if you don’t like the timelines, there are a few alternative views like a Flipbook, List View, and a Map viewing feature for pictures or posts with Geotagging enabled).

The service itself should be familiar to anyone who has used FriendFeed, SocialThing!, or any number of similar sites. Users are asked to input their account credentials from services that include Flickr, Picassa, and Twitter, which are used to populate the timeline. Beyond these, Dipity allows users to automatically monitor keywords across services like Digg and YouTube (you can have new Obama videos automatically appear in your timeline), and RSS feeds. This is a great social feeds management tool but even further it can be used to create timelines across the curriculum, not just for social networking.

Dipity is the perfect tool for creating a timeline for any subject in your classroom. Students can bring history to life by embedding relevant You Tube video into their timelines. Timelines can be created by students individually or as a class and posted on a class website as a study resource. I started with a timeline of the days leading up to the fall of the Alamo (very relevant and timely content for my students right now).

Students can click on any of the above events to read the description, make a comment, share the event or explore the links associated with the event.  Below, you can see where I have added an image, a link to a website, and a video on YouTube.

Personally, I am ecstatic about the integration of this incredible Web 2.0 tool into classrooms everywhere.  Timelines on Dipity are dynamic in that they can be used for a plethora of ventures and are always changing.  Even if I don’t include a feed from a blog or social networking feed, the timeline is still interactive in that users can leave comments on every single event and react to other comments made on the events.  I hope that you will consider taking advantage of this fabulous Web 2.0 tool in your classroom.  You could start with something as easy as having students document their day on Dipity. Come on! Just Dipity DO it!

UPDATE: Great blog post on Custom Timeline Creators! Check it out here!


ETC_Final Project

Relevant and Innovative Learning Scenario (RILS)

Mindi Vandagriff

Brief Overview: In this Relevant and Innovative Learning Scenario, students will be introduced to a new Web 2.0 tool, Schoology, a Learning Management System. Students will learn to manage, complete, and self-evaluate assignments through the LMS.

1.    Target Audience

The target audience is two 4th grade classes of 22 students each, for a total of 44 students ages ten and eleven from a Title I elementary school in Texas.

2.    Materials

3.    Objectives

At the end of this scenario, the learner will be able to:

  • recall the website, Schoology, and enter their username and password to obtain access to the Learning Management System- LMS. (Knowledge)
  • demonstrate internet navigational skills by accessing their assignments and courses via the LMS while viewing several open windows and toggling back and forth between them. (Comprehension)
  • design an interactive time lime in which events re displayed in chronological order. (Application)
  • conduct an investigation to produce information to support a view on what makes a successful fourth grader. (Analysis)
  • create interactive links within the time line which will increase and aid in the comprehension of the event displayed for the reader. (Synthesis)
  • discuss and recommend suggestions on events and timelines by other classmates. (Evaluation)

4.    Procedure

Prior to the implementation of this scenario, the instructor should set up a username and password for each student at and then record those onto a spreadsheet for future reference. The instructor should also have a teacher account in order to post assignments, grades, etc.

 Introduce Schoology

First, ask students to log on to  Explain to them that this is a social media networking site that will also be used for the purpose of education. Pass out the usernames and passwords to each student and ask them to log in to their account.  Students will have to use an access code to gain access to the instructor’s course. Pass out the access code so that students can enroll in the course. Next, Take students through a short tour of the site, highlighting the most important features, such as:

  • Courses, Grades/Attendance, Calendar, Files/Links (left sidebar)
  • Recent Activity feed (middle of the page)
  • Upcoming Events/Assignments, Enrolled Courses (right sidebar)
  • Home, Profile, Inbox Tabs (top sidebar)

Ask students to create the rest of their profile by adding a profile picture, updating profile information, and starting a personal blog. Students can also become familiar with the mail feature by sending a classmate a message.  Allow students about 10 minutes to get comfortable sending messages to their classmates.

 Begin the Assignment

Before students access this assignment, the instructor needs to set up the assignment in Schoology.  The assignment description is as follows:

For this assignment, you will be looking closely at events that led up to the Battle of the Alamo. Specifically, you will be looking at the prior year, the month before and even days before. Click on the document below, titled “An Alamo Timeline 1835”. From that timeline, pick one period of time (the year before, the month before, or the days before) to create a timeline. You will then visit one of the links below and create your timeline.”

Students will also have access (via a link on the Schoology Assignment page) to the event dates and descriptions and descriptions on how to start a timeline on each site.

Alamo Events

Timeline Links

This assignment should take approximately 1-2 hours to complete.  Encourage students to add the content of the timeline first and then add the links, images, videos, etc.


As students complete the assignment, they can either send a link to their interactive timeline to the instructor or they can choose to save the timeline to their desktop on their computer.  The instructor can then leave feedback for each student, along with the grade, on the student’s grade page on Schoology.

 5.    Web 2.0 Tool


Schoology encompasses the necessities of a Learning Management System (grade book, assignments, attendance) with the greatest elements of social media (discussion threads, customizable profiles, resource sharing). The result is a unique mix of social interaction and content delivery.

6.    Social Participation/Social Learning

Schoology provides all of the elements of social media with an educational focus.  Because this is a web-based Learning Management System, students can collaborate frequently via discussion boards and assignment threads. Activities for social interaction will include a specific discussion on books read where students will discuss (via the web) their opinions about the literature. Students will also be assigned group projects where they will be expected to work together via file sharing and discussion boards to produce a final multimedia project.  Schoology enables the instructor to students to group where further group discussion can take place.

7.    Making Connections

Prior to the implementation of this scenario, it is imperative that students become fluent in digital languages (such as navigating the internet, identifying reliable sources, toggling between open windows and web-based file sharing).  Students must also be introduced to other Web 2.0 tools such as interactive timelines  and web-mail. Once these introductions are made, students will be able to make connections among similar websites such as interactive timeline creators like TimeToast, Dipity, and TimeRime. With increasing familiarity with any one of these interactive timeline makers, familiarity with others will develop as a result of the individual connections made allowing deep learning to take place.  Environmental connections will be made amongst students as a direct result of the social media interaction tools provided on Schoology. The final product will be a direct result of connections made from the assignments students will participate.  Initially the assignments will not be connected, rather isolated upon first glance.  However, the final project will be a product of the sum of skills demonstrated on the class discussion assignment, slide presentation assignment and group timeline assignment. This will be the ultimate demonstration of connections made as a result of the implementation of this scenario.

Not only will these connections happen online but connections will also be made in person amongst students, as they will frequently discuss their online interactions thus also leading to global connections not only amongst classmates but also throughout the school from which users attend.

8.    Create/Produce

The end product will be the interactive timeline itself.  Students will be able to share a link to their timeline via Schoology.  Classmates will then be able to access each other’s timelines and make comments on the timeline itself.  These discussions will exhibit students’ personal connections made, opinions formed, and benefits received by using the tool.

9.    Assessment

The final product will be evaluated using the following rubric:

(20-16 points)
(15-11 points)
(10-6 points)
Needs Improvement
(5-0 points)
Content Accuracy
All content throughout the timeline is accurate. There are no factual errors.
Most of the content is accurate but there is one piece of information that seems inaccurate.
The content is generally accurate, but one piece of information is clearly inaccurate.
Content confusing or contains more than one factual error.
Project includes all material needed to give a good understanding of the topic. The project is consistent with the driving question.
Project is lacking one or two key elements. Project is consistent with driving question most of the time.
Project is missing more than two key elements. It is rarely consistent with the driving question.
Project is lacking several key elements and has inaccuracies. Project is completely inconsistent with driving question.
Visual Aids & Text Graphics
All graphics are attractive (size and colors) and support the topic of the presentation.
A few graphics are not attractive but all support the topic of the presentation.
All graphics are attractive but a few do not support the topic of the presentation.
Several graphics are unattractive AND detract from the content of the presentation.
Information is organized in a clear, logical way. It is easy to anticipate the next slide.
Most information is organized in a clear, logical way. One slide or piece of information seems out of place.
Some information is logically sequenced. An occasional slide or piece of information seems out of place.
There is no clear plan for the organization of information.

10. Reflection

a.     Opportunity for learner reflection will take place using the Web 2.0 tools, Schoology and one of the three timeline creators.

b.     The instructor will also be able to reflect upon the scenario via feedback from students and evaluation of overall student performance.

Below is a video of Schoology + Dipity = LOOOOOOOOVE!



At least that’s what my students think… and at this point, as long as they’re engaged. I’m in. This week has flown by and I have been super fortunate to get lab time (an hour or more) every day this week. WOO HOO! The kids finished two assignments this week and are eagerly awaiting their grades– I know the feeling ;) Even though my students have other assignments and responsibilities once in the lab, I gave them 15 minutes at the beginning of each lab session to “check their mail”. This was the QUIETEST I have seen my students ALL YEAR LONG!

My classes were the quietest I had ever seen them... but in their digital languages they were NOT!

This week, my students set up their usernames and passwords, added information to their profiles, uploading a profile picture, participated in educational and social discussions, sent me over 57 messages, and completed three assignments! I am using this Web 2.0 tool as part of my Challenge-Based Research and my students are producing data that amazes me! The following are assignments I have posted for my students and some of the discussions we have had online about them:

Book Study Self-Assessment

My students recently completed a book project in which they read a book and completed one of the following: a mobile, a diorama, a book jacket, or a memory bag. Although none of these was digital, I added a technology component where I created a Self-Assessment using a Google Doc Form. Students followed the link on the Schoology Assignments page, completed the survey and basically gave themselves a grade.

Technology Pre-Survey

I also used Schoology to allow a venue for my students to take my Technology Pre-Survey for my Challenged Based Research Project here at Full Sail. It was posted as an assignment, students were able to follow the link and complete the survey.

Dylan completed his Technology Pre-Survey (for my CBR Project) through Schoology.

Slideshow Presentation

Students delved into slideshow presentations by making an end-of-year presentation about their experiences in 4th grade.

* NOTE: The Drop Box feature of Schoology is wonderful! (See right-hand sidebar) Except that the upload function was disabled on the student computers. I am not sure how to rectify that situation, but some students were able to upload their presentations from home and were mesmerized by the function!

More to come! I can’t wait to blog about what my students do next week!



I decided to to try Schoology on a whim today.  Maybe not my best decision, but boy-howdy, has it paid off. Big time.  I had time in the lab today and decided to use the time to introduce my students to Schoology.  I told them it was sorta like Facebook, but cooler… and you can access it at school. They were in.

I took my classmate Glenn‘s advice he posted on his blog about Schoology.  He said that his students had a hard time remembering their usernames and passwords and once forgotten… always forgotten.  Unfortunately, in Schoology, there is no way to recover a username or password. All I can say is THANK YOU, GLENN.  That advice was a life-saver.  After students created their own username and password (I told them that their username had to be first initial last name), they came to my computer and entered both their username and password on a Google Doc I created.

Ethan types in his username and password into the Google Doc I created to maintain my class list of usernames and passwords.

I created a Google Doc (thanks to Glenn's blog "Schoology Continued") to keep a record of students' usernames and passwords for future reference.

After I spent about 30 minutes explaining the basic interface, I let my students “play” on Schoology.  After I would show them a new trick (like pressing F5 to refresh the page and see the discussion thread right before your eyes) I never tired of the OOHS and AAHS that filled the room. I figured that introducing students to an assignment right off might be overwhelming, especially since MOST of them were not familiar with this type social media.

Carter navigates through Schoology to find his friends who are also on Schoology.

Day 1 couldn’t have been more exciting for my students and I.  Schoology is the ONLY thing they talked about at recess, at lunch, in the hallways, in gym class, and everywhere else I would allow them to talk.  It was just about the only thing I talked about today as well.  I am so excited to venture further with this Web 2.0 tool.  My only regret is that I didn’t find it sooner.  Check out our Day 1 footage:



I created a one-minute video to showcase, what I think, are the great features of Schoology.


Thanks to Facebook, I no longer have anything to talk about when I see you in person. And my students don’t have anything to talk about either.  Except Facebook.  So instead of trying to fight them and industrialize them to the school setting where NO FACEBOOK IS ALLOWED, I am going to make it a teachable moment.  I am going to grab Facebook by the well… face… and I am going to make these students wish they never friended me on Facebook because I am gonna stalk them and grill them about who said what the next day and tag them in embarrassing photos of them actually doing schoolwork or reading and I’m going to comment on every single post they make and I’m going to tag them in posts I make and invite them to homework events and…. YAH! That’s what I’m gonna do.

If only Facebook wasn’t blocked at school.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

So… I dreamed a dreamed and I wished a wish and POOF! Out came a handy-dandy little Web 2.0 tool from my fairy web-godmother (AKA course director, Rena Hanaway), and confirmation that this tool was worth the while and maybe even somewhat cool to students, from my mid-life teacher classmate, Glenn. So what is the handy-dandy little Web 2.0 tool, you ask? Why… it’s..

Lately, I have been so conflicted between following school protocol (no matter how unwarranted restrictions are) and doing what I know is best for my students and providing the optimal learning environment for them. As it currently stands in my district, these two are NOT the same. Yes, I can make do with what I have. Yes, I can make learning fun and interesting without the use of Facebook. Yes, I can communicate with my students and their parents via some other outlet. But I don’t wanna. I wanna use Facebook, darn it.

But,  apparently there is something better out there than Facebooking in education and after hearing about Schoology from more than one colleague, I decided it was high time to check it out for myself. Schoology is a LMS (Learning Management System) based on social networking that seems to easily navigable and as accessible and engaging as Facebook. The basic premiss of Schoology is using social media tools to improve communication and collaboration.

A rather unique  advantage of using Schoology is the extent of features available for free in this hosted solution (For more information see the Emerging Ed Tech Blog.)

Academic Features 

  • Class Profiles/Webpages
  • Create Assignments & Events
  • Create Tests & Quizzes
  • Manage Gradebook & Attendance
  • Online Dropboxes
  • Track Student Usage & Course Analytics
  • Mobile Applications Coming Soon

Social Features

  • Cross-School Networking & Private Messaging
  • Group Workspaces for Departments, PTA, Clubs, Teams, & More
  • Blogs & Profile Pages
  • Personal File Storage / Bookmarking

Management Features

  • School, Course, Group & Personal Calendars
  • Email & SMS Text Notifications
  • Privacy Control & Word Filters

Administrative Features

  • Email Address and Username Support
  • Single Sign-On (SSO)
  • Import / Export Courses, Users, & Grades
  • School Vanity URL
  • Parent / Guardian Access

Get Started

Once you have logged in to Schoology for the first time, as a teacher/administrator, you will be guided step-by-step to manage your courses.

 Add Content to Courses

After you have named your course that you want to manage, you will be taken to a dashboard where you can manage all of the course content. Here you can add content, assignments, quizzes, documents, links, media, and so much more.

Edit Your Profile

Just as Facebook hosts a social media feature of profiles, so does Schoology. Students and teachers can manage their own profiles, post updates and reply to comments. Schoology automatically monitors the comments feed for inappropriate conversations, language and other media.

I can’t wait to get started with my class! Although we only have a couple weeks of school left, I think this will be a great time to integrate this powerful tool and possible even use some of the data for my Challenge-Based Research project!