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man with computer headTeachersFirst Edge Tips

Some general tips for using TeachersFirst Edge tools in the classroom:

  • Use your geeks: Remember that you can establish rapport with some of your most edgy, techno-savvy students by exploring one of these tools together and asking him/her to show you the "other things" the students may attempt that may not be appropriate in the classroom. Sometimes asking those likely to "cross the line" to show you how it's done can pre-empt the problem. If you do use these tools in class, the rules of your community of learners (and the school's acceptable use policy) should be upfront and clear about consequences. It IS worth the effort, as long as you are comfortable with the tools yourself.

  • Create a single profile: Many of these tools require joining the site (for free) to use it. Create a generic, anonymous "profile" you can use for ALL such tools, using a single email address, username, and password for all of them. The email address should be one you keep JUST for these site memberships. You need to have a REAL email account for these memberships. Make the username, passwrod, and email something you can easily re-use and remember.

  • Same profile for all: Have your students use your generic profile when acessing the tool in class, so you know what they are doing and they are not setting up dangerous user profiles.

  • TAG it to know who did it: Since many of these tools use "tagging" (keywording), you can use that as a way to sort out individual student's contributions or selections from within the single profile. Have each student use a "code" tag, such as his/her class period and initials: Ex. per1BE for Brian Enders in period 1. Have each student use the SAME tag for every tool or project he/she does.

  • Monitor student work early and often! Enough said. If you are not willing to do this, you should not try these tools.

  • Share: Tell your colleagues and administrators about the successes from using these tools. The "new tools of the web" have been bashed heavily because of misuse and unmonitored home use. Show them that safe driving does happen if you teach "driver ed" on the use of the tools.

  • Hedge your bets. Though these tools are free for now, many of them are trying to build a customer base and may later change to fee-for-service or fee-for-features beyond the basics. Some will actually disappear or be "devoured" into another site. Be willing to change to a new tool, and do not put an irreplaceable file or idea solely on one of these sites. Wherever possible, download copies of great products or projects and maintain your own file storage.

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