Sunday, February 04, 2007

Improving Learning with Zoho Tools

I've been going back to the tools at Zoho since last summer when I first found it. I was inspired to go back and do a little more investigating after seeing Will Richardson's post this morning on the new Zoho Notebook. Unfortunately, it's not yet available but a quick email to them let me know that they plan a public beta for March. If you're a classroom teacher, you should really take a look at it - the possibilities are endless!

As an instructional technology specialist working with elementary teachers, we've developed a number of content area related applications to technology over the years. One of them, keeping a daily temperature chart, supports our math program and helps our younger students learn about interpreting data from graphs. We've used Excel, the Graph Club and AppleWorks as different tools for creating these graphs. One of the Zoho tools is a spreadsheet which works just like Excel or any other spreadsheet/graphing program to create graphs from the numerical data collected. These graphs can then be published and made public by embedding them into a webpage or blog such as the one below.

Daily Temperatures for Week of Feb. 5, 2007 -

If our students can create such graphs online using any numerical data, then publish it to a webpage/blog, how would that benefit them instructionally? How would it benefit their math skills, their writing skills, their 21st century literacy skills? Even our youngest students could write about sentences to tell about the high and low temperatures for the week or the differences between the high and low. After gathering several of these graphs, students could begin to explain what was happening with changes in temperature over time, what patterns they were observing relative to the time of year/seasons. Older students creating graphs to compare the number of immigrants from particular European countries in the early 1900's, could then explain what they learned about the reasons that some countries show higher levels of immigration than others. Interpreting data is an important skill that students use to think more critically about this type of information. What else could we do with such applications that only require an Internet connection to allow us to create content that is useful for learning?

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