An Introduction

...into the 11 Tools for the 21st Century Learner Online Professional Development

Welcome to the SBISD 11 Tools for the 21st Century Learner online professional development blog. The 11 Tools for the 21st Century Learner training is required as part of the 21st Century Learning Initiative. Currently this course is limited to campus groups and new teachers and is by invitation-only.  You will receive 9 hours of professional development credit upon completion of the program. If you have questions about your involvement in the program, please contact your campus librarian.

The course has been developed to help SBISD educators learn about technologies that will help transform classrooms into "learning centers" for the 21st century students that walk through your doors. You will gain an understanding of ways to communicate, collaborate and create using new technologies in the world of Web 2.0! 

The course activities unfold in 11 blog posts. As you read the information in each post, you will use links to other websites, view video demonstrations, and look at samples on the Internet to learn about each of the concepts and resources. Then, you will reflect on the reading/create products/samples of your own and discuss how these technologies will assist you in working with your students in your transformed classroom. 

During this course, you will be presented with lots of information and tools, more than you may absorb! However, this course will always be available to you to return to as you develop your skills and are ready to try more! Our goal for this course is that we help you build awareness of all that is available to you and help you begin developing your understanding and skills to better meet the needs of your students!

Take a minute to watch this video and consider the 21st century learner, the tools available, and the need to change the way we teach.

Listed below is the course outline.  Welcome to the 21st Century! It is moving fast! 10% of it is already gone! Grab on and let’s go for a ride!

Before you drive off....
We advise you to use Google Chrome as your browser to create your posts. Download and install Google Chrome if it is not already installed on your teacher laptop. You can donwload from the KACE software library. Watch this short video for information on navigating through the 11 Tools website.

Click on the Tool # and start adding to your toolbox!
Tool 1: Getting Started - Creating your Blog!
Tool 2: Building Community in the Online Environment!
Tool 3: Finding Online Video and Image Resources!
Tool 4: Moving Up to the Clouds!
Tool 5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools!
Tool 6: Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom!
Tool 7: Going Global: Online Digital Projects!
Tool 8: Taking a Look at the Tools!
Tool 9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning! .
Tool 10: Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship!
Tool 11: Self Assessing and Reflecting


Tool #1: Getting Started - Creating your blog!

...and establishing a web presence

So, what is a blog? A blog is a webpage that is set up in a series of posts, like entries in a journal. Blogs are a part of the online social networking world, and in the case of blogs used in schools, a part of the larger online educational networking world.

Blogs are great tools for reflection and for sharing thoughts/ideas on a particular subject. They also provide an avenue for feedback/discussion through comments elicited from those who read or follow your blog. Conduct a Google search on just about any topic, and you are likely find several blogs on the topic.

Blogs have really opened the classroom doors for many educators! There are hundreds of blogs by classroom teachers who share their instructional strategies and lesson ideas online and develop relationships with readers not only within the US but with others half-way around the world! We can also broaden the audience for our students. Student blogs (online journals) are a good way for students to share their knowledge and thinking with others outside of the classroom and are also an option for an eportfolio. Blogs allow students to have a wider and more authentic audience for their ideas. To quote David Warwick of 2¢ Worth, "students become information artisans instead of merely information consumers."

If you have little experience with blogs, view this video from theCommon Craft guy Lee Lefever that explains what a blog is.
You will create and use a blog to post your "work/assignments" for each of the 11 Tools activities.  Your blog will be your online presence for you to share your experiences with your campus group (and beyond) so that you can learn from one another. Through your posts, you will share your ideas and reflections about each tool and how you will bring the ideas/tools to your classroom for your students.

Enhancing your online experience! - Creating an AVATAR!
To further personalize the online experience, most users create a two-dimensional icon, picture, or avatar, to express their personality and provide more information to other users. Users may use a favorite photo of themselves, a pet, an object, or a drawing. Or, users may create caricature online through services such as Voki . You can spend hours creating just the look you want, it is up to you!

Note: When using online tools with students, it is always good practice for safety reasons for students to create a drawing or use one of these avatar creators, rather than to have students use pictures of themselves.

For your Tool #1 Assignment:

  1. Set up your blog using Blogger through your SBISD Google Apps account. Need help? This video should help you get started!
  • Things to consider when creating your blog:
    • The url (address) of your blog will be unique. The url you create should be short and easy to remember. ALL Blogger blogs urls start http:// and end with You will create the middle portion. For example, the url for the 11 Tools blog is The "11toolsSBISD" portion is the unique portion of that url. You can never change the url (address.) You may want to write down your url address NOW, you’ll need to refer to it later (and you may not remember it).
    • The title of your blog can be different from the url. You can choose a title now for you blog. Later down the road, you can change the title of your blog if its focus changes or if you change how you use it. For example, the title of this blog is 11 Tools for the 21st Century Learner. You may want to write down your url address NOW, you’ll need to refer to it later (and you may not remember it).
  1. Create an avatar at Voki. DO NOT CREATE AN ACCOUNT AT VOKI. It is unneccesary. Just say No, thanks when prompted. Then, watch this video on how to add it as a gadget to your blog.  
  2. Write a brief post about your experience to date. Did you find the experience fairly easy? Did you face any challenges?
  3. REGISTER YOUR BLOG with your campus librarian. Your librarian is your 11 Tools “project manager.” He/she will add your blog to your campus wiki and is available to help you move through the tools. Send your librarian an email with the following information:
        1. Your name
        2. Your campus
        3. Your blog's url (address)
        4. Your blog's title
        5. Your display name for your blog -- you selected this when you created your blog. It could be your name, your initials, an alias you created, or even the same as the title.
You will know your blog is officially registered when you get an email back from your librarian AND your blog title appears on the wiki of participating blogs. If you do not receive an email within 3 days of sending the above information, please contact
Note: You’ll constantly be moving between the 11 tools blog and your own blog (both Blogger blogs). This video will describe how to set up Google Chrome with bookmarks to both blogs! That way you can easily navigate between the two!

Congratulations! You’re ready to explore the web and record your findings on your blog!

Next up: Tool #2: Building Community in the Online Environment

Tool #2: Building Community in the Online Environment

...establishing a PLN

By participating in this online professional development course, you can begin to create your own personal learning network (PLN); developing a community of individuals with whom you share common educational interests and needs. Educators are no longer working behind closed doors! There are thousands of teachers who have developed blogs and wikis to share the powerful practices that are occurring in their classrooms.

One way you have started communicating with others in the online environment is by publishing your blog. Blogs are good places to find educators with similar thoughts and ideas. Your blog should be set up to allow anyone in the world to view your journey through the tools. As part of the interactive digital world, your blog should expand your sphere of influence outside of your campus and friends. Just as you can search the web or "Google" an educational topic and possibly find a fellow blogger, now others should be able to search and find your blog (as long as you use tags). Then, let the conversation begin!

Our students have already embraced the online world and are actively participating and developing their own PLNs. Will Richardson of Weblogged-ed briefly explains the importance of PLNs for students.

Commenting - Beginning the conversation
The posts you write are the first step in the building of your PLN. The second, and equally important step, is for you "leave your footprint" by commenting about ideas presented on other learners' blogs. Comments turn a journal reflection into a conversation.

How Do I Comment?
Here is a list of things to consider when getting ready to comment on the post of another blogger.
Long-time and highly-regarded teacher-blogger, Vicki Davis, aka Cool Cat Teacher, shares her thoughts about how to comment in this post.

How do I subscribe?
Hopefully you will find some of the blogs you visit something you would like to follow or join!

You have probably seen the little orange RSS feed icon on many online resources, particularly blogs. RSS or Really Simple Syndication is the means by which you can connect to online resources that consistently update their information, i.e. blogs, newspapers, news services, etc. (If you want to learn more about RSS feeds you can start here.) Blogger makes it really easy to subscribe by offering

Subscribing to comments
Following a Blogger blog

Below are some educational blogs and educational/social networks! Spend a few minutes on a few of these - OR "Google" your own content area! Post links to new blogs you find on your blog!

The Fischbowl
Always Learning
Technology Tidbits: Thoughts of a Cyber Hero
Technology in the Middle
Learning and Laptops
Technology Integration In Education
Mrs. Cassidy's Classroom Blog
Learning is Messy Blog
Children's Books for ELL Instruction
Kerry Gendron's Blog (Music teacher)
Science Teacher
dy/dan (HS Math teacher)
Science Education on the Edge
Science for All
The History Teacher's Attic
Educator’s PLN

Classroom 2.0

Social Bookmarking - Another tool for your PLN
You probably have been bookmarking web sites since shortly after having your first computer put in your hands. With the educational networking that has come about on the web and the need to share information 24/7, bookmarking web sites one computer at a time is no longer efficient and effective. How many computers do you use the same set of bookmarks? How many different groups are going to access all the information you have found? Social bookmarking to the rescue!

You can build a list of bookmarks, organize them into groups, and update your bookmarks with online services such as Diigo and delicious. You can then access your bookmarks no matter what computer you're on and share them with specific groups of people! Now, working collectively, users can find, tag and share bookmarks with one another - think about all of the great resources that can be compiled! For teachers, Diigo allows you to create student accounts for free so that after a little set-up you and your students can be researching at a whole new level - bookmarking, tagging, and annotating websites together. We don't have time to delve very deeply into Diigo or delicious right now, but we encourage you to consider creating an account to bookmark the tools in this course! Interested in learning more about these powerful tools? Log into Atomic Learning where you can find tutorials for both Diigo and delicious! Additionally, here's the Student Learning with Diigo website full of information, tutorials, and lesson plans!

Using a Reader - Collecting your resources into one location
The Common Craft guy Lee LeFever explains what a reader is. You will want to create one of these for the 11 Tools blogs you are following and any other online resources that update regularly.

Your Google Reader will make keeping up with new information from a variety of webpages really super simple! You will simply subscribe to your choices by adding the url (address) of the site to your reader. Take a short tour of Google Reader.

This video will show you how easy it is to set up your Reader and add blogs and other resources.

For your Tool #2 Post in YOUR blog:

  1. Visit at least 5 blogs - choose a few from the list below and a few from your campus wiki (on the right sidebar) and comment to one of the posts. To comment on a blog post, typically search at the bottom of the post for the comments link. Then, you will type your comment using your Google Apps account identity. Or, Visit 3 blogs and expand your PLN differently by signing up for a Diigo account or Google Reader and following the bookmarks/websites of 2 other Diigo members or websites.
  2. After completing the above, share you thoughts about building and participating in an online community and participating in a PLN. What points stood out to you from the commenting advice? Were you able to apply any of the advice in your comments? How did you feel about sharing your thoughts publicly? Was it different than when you're sharing your successes/challenges with your teammate?
  3. Share the url or name of a blog or social network that you plan to visit in the future. What does that site have to offer?