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Access to Information Empowers and Engages Learners

In the highly evolving technical world, students have embraced the powerful tools they carry on them everywhere. Those tools aren't just games, but powerful links to information that could once only be found in books. As educators, harnessing the power of the tools students have already become adept at using, offers us opportunities we never had before.

Most of us remember going to school, well before the internet was accessible (I didn't get to use it until college on our school intranet) where the learning had to happen in the classroom. Kids took what they learned during the day and didn't have access to help or more information (beyond encyclopedias and text books) once at home. We were limited in what we were able to accomplish in this time.

Now, with mobile tools that make accessing information all the time readily available and easy to use apps to focus that information, students can really be empowered to take their learning to a new level, and we as teachers can rethink our...

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Favorite Web 2.0 Tools for Speaking and Writing

Students need to be able to understand language and become fluent in reading, writing and speaking. For this, I would focus first on tools to improve fluency, fluidity and reading comprehension.

For fluency and fluidity I would use a combination of audio tools. The basic ones and easiest to access are any of your audio recorders on your PC, Mac, Chromebook or other mobile device. You can also use the free Audacity software or use a web-based tool like Vocaroo or Online Voice Recorder

For writing, reading, reading comprehension I would include the following:

Digital Storytelling - Research, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity
Voicethread
StoryBird
Nature Magnetic Kit
PicLits
Prezi

To improve communication and writing I would use:

Grammarly
Quill
Google Docs/Word
Answer Garden
Verso
Twitter
Edublogs


To enhance Critical Thinking skills I would use:

Visual Ranking Tool
SMART Learning Suite
Tagxedo and Wordle
Blogger, Google Docs and Google Sites
Bing Search, Google Scholar and...
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Dancing to the Music (In Their Heads)

Today I woke up with one goal in mind. To finish up a project I've been working on for weeks - scratch that - two months. To not get distracted by household chores, I decided to visit my local bookstore to get some work done. Well...it seems that the distractions that I left at home were soon replaced with newer ones. Ones that I carry in my pocket, literally.

So how do we deal with distractions...or to put this in context, how do we help our students cope with distractions that we ourselves sometimes deal with? I've thought about this for all of about 5 minutes but I think that if I can brainstorm for a few minutes and write...that I will soon be able to concentrate on what I need to...if only for an hour. So here's my suggestion to how to talk to students about distractions and how to help them cope. 

1) Teach children to identify their distractions. This should be an easy thing to do. Set aside some time on a Friday afternoon to ask students what they are thinking about. Ask...

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