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Community Building Platforms


  1. Choose an area of interest
  2. Think how it applies to your curriculum considering
    1. student needs,
    2. assessment needs,
    3. language needs.
  3. Play with the tool and strategy using your curriculum


How do we build this network of learners: teachers with teachers (TT), teachers with students (TS), and teachers with families (TF)? Look for platforms online that provide the criteria needed for the type of sharing required for the project. This page provides suggestions for the platforms to use and this page, digital citizenship, suggests curriculum for building a safe online identity.

Sheri's What Else Blog Posts on How to Build a PLN - Personal Learning Network (Neighborhood) -- explains how to build your community and to keep organized. Each post contains many links and strategies. As of July, 2013, most links work. Only Learn Central and iGoogle (Nov 2013) are no longer valid sites.

What is a PLN and How I Built Mine -- Passion: Pass it on
Location, Location, Location
Building Steps: Where
Organizing Information with iGoogle -- will not be available after November, 2013; Alternatives to iGoogle Organizing with Diigo   Part1  Part 2
Webinars to Learn Tools and Build PLN
One Does What One Can

As you build your PLN/PLC and as you apply these tools with your students, think how you can help your students build their PLN.  What platform will you teach with that allows them to plan, organize, and share their learning? How will you encourage digital citizenship?

Platforms Introduction

Two of the easiest platforms for sharing and communicating with students are Google Apps and Wikis. Twitter is a microblogging platform used by teachers and schools. Next are various interactive platforms (like Padlet and Answer Garden) for quick and easy sharing. Finally, for more controlled discussions, programs such as Collaborize and Edmodo provide safe online social networks for education.  In addition, I've suggested PollEverywhere, VoiceThread, and Dropbox as addition tools. 


For links and info on many Web 2.0 tools, check out this Favorite Tools LiveBinder.

If you are interested in cell phones in the classroom, you've got to spend time with this Cell Phone LiveBinder and Tech Kids Use

If you want projects for 21st Century, see this Innovative Educator LiveBinder, listing by topics such as social justice, book reports, and eportfolios.

If you are just receiving an iPad, see this iOS livebinder.

If you want to know where I learn about my Tech Tools and Assessments, check out this  Classroom Live 2.0 LiveBinders

A few more tools: Web2.0 LiveBinders

Productivity Tools LiveBinder -- the first one is Evernote -- You gotta have it: works in browser, desktop, iOS -- store all your important documents, files -- take a picture with your phone of a sign, and Evernote can search the text!




Google Apps make it easy to share and collaborate online, anywhere, anytime you are connected to the internet. Almost all my work is done online in Google Apps; I have access anywhere, anytime and can share for others to view or to view and edit as I choose. Our Tech Committee meets online via a Google Document. Editing online in Google Apps occurs simultaneously: no waiting for someone else to finish. Here's an example of student notes during a movie on bullying.  It is safe, secure, and sensational!

Example Sites: Nespelem School   My Writing Class Home Page   2013 Writing Class
Example Blogs: My Class Newsletter Blog  Our Tech Blog

Information and Videos:

Google Apps for Education (GAFE) is free for schools. You can use your own domain name.

Google Apps for Education  Overview Video   Overview Info      Learning Center     Webinars (scroll down for specific apps)      Get Apps   Get Apps K-12

GAFE Lessons, Activities, Posters:  Google Docs    Google Spreadsheets     Google User Group    Google Lessons

Google includes a blogging platform:  Getting Started with Blogger  Blogger Help Guide

This site was created with my personal Google Apps account. If your school does not have GAFE, you can create sites like this with your personal account. I purchased a domain name for $9.99/year from GoDaddy so this site has an easy URL: http://www.askwhatelse.net  but you can just as easily leave it with the Google Address:

Besides sites, you personal Google Account also has access to documents (on blogging/can edit by Edublogger ), spreadsheets (for vocabulary/can't edit), presentations (whiteboards-public; owned by Tom Barrett), blogs (link), and forms (evaluation for this site).  These can be public, private, or shared with only those with the link (I have chosen different ways for each as examples for you).

If your students are 13+, they can access Google Accounts of their own. I would send home a permission slip whereby the students must provide the password to their parents. I plan on doing this with my grade 8 students so they can begin to create their own eportfolios online. You can then share with them.


  1. TS:Create a website a class start page: lessons, links, vocabulary, etc.
  2. TS: Create and share assignments in docs to students; they make a copy and share with you; makes grading easy--no paper stacks
  3. TS: Take notes in one document about discussion or movie -- a chat/backchannel Backchannel
  4. TS: Share spreadsheet of vocabulary words -- students can add to it --- students or teacher can upload to flashcardexchange
  5. TS: Students create eportfolios using blogs or sites to reflect on their work and share with you  eportfolios
  6. TS: Create a form to assess student understanding, survey what students know, gather data for projects, gather information from families  Forms
  7. TS: Create forms for assignments and tests; Use Flubaroo to grade them! Email student grades. Make reports.  Fluberoo  Fluberoo Video
  8. TS: Create a calendar of assignments and projects; students with accounts can also add to their own calendars and subscribe to yours  Calendar
  9. TS, TT, and TF: Create a lesson blog for students to follow; students can write answers in comments (as can teachers)  How to Create A Blog Intro  How to Create A Blog
  10. TS: Create a blog with student authors for their discussion of class content
  11. TF: Create a biweekly newsletter blog for project and image updates for families; add suggestions for homework or extensions; add helps for families.
  12. TF, TS, TT: Create pages on your blog for assignments, projects, vocabulary    Adding Pages to Your Blogger



What is a Wiki?   Video      A Wiki for EduWiki HowTo   50 Ways to Use a Wiki    18 Ways to Use a Wiki by Tom Barrett

Wikis also allow collaboration -- public or private to the users of your wiki.  You can set up a wiki as a website for your class. You can add users. Students collaborate, but not simultaneously, which means there is a wait time if working on projects during class. Like Google Sites and Blogs, you can insert images, videos, text. I do use Google Apps more than wikis. However, when collaborating with another class, or with our university mentors, we use private wikis for drafting, and transfer our finished work to a public wiki.

Check each wiki type for what you need. Most are free, but the ability to manipulate security settings by wiki page is usually covered by premium accounts. Most free wikis can be either public or private, but I like to have more control so I usually pay premium for that.

Sample Wikis:  What Else Class Wiki     Teaching With TED  (PBWorks)      Twitter for Teachers (WetPaint Wiki)     TeachersFirst (Wikispaces)

PBWorks http://pbworks.com
WikiSpaces http://www.wikispaces.com/content/for/teachers
Zoho Wiki http://zoho.com/wiki


  1. TS: Class websites and collaboration; create different free wikis for different projects. 
  2. TS: Class website with page for each student; document and reflect on their learning; teacher and peers comment
  3. TS: Vocabulary wiki: A page for each letter updated by students with examples, images, videos. Fifth Grade Start
  4. TF: Family site for information
  5. TT: Collaboration among teachers



Twitter is a microblogging platform using only 140 characters. It is a fantastic resource for teachers. Video: What is Twitter?  I began tweeting in 2009 as way to keep up with my granddaughter, which is why my twitter name is grammasheri.  Learn about those first steps in my blog post here. As soon as you begin following other educators, you discover a wealth of useful lessons and links that extend what you and your students can learn and do. 

What is Twitter?  Why join?  Animoto by  Mrs Ripp aka @pernilleripp

Find other teachers in your content area on Twitter here: Twitter4Teachers    Twitter Stars  Without connections to other teachers, Twitter is useless for education.

How to use Twitter:

Get Started With A Cybraryman

Use Twitter Hashtags to chat with groups (English Teachers use #engchat) Hashtags PD!

Twitter Teachers Podcast at Stenhouse

Twitter in the Classroom

Guide to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ Security

How to Use Twitter

How I Use Twitter

Chats On Twitter


  • TT: Connect with other teachers on what they do in the classroom; Follow others; use hashtags; I've found a such help, links, lessons on Twitter
  • TF: Create a Twitter account for your school: Tweet important events for school and classrooms (school closures, open house, etc.)
  • TS: Converse about topics in and out of class; get input from everyone (use a hashtag); watch on project. Save archive (How To here )



Need a survey of kid choices?  Need a brainstorming session? Need students to write their questions for review? Need a vocabulary wall? Try Padlet.  It's sticky notes free online. Add pictures or a URL MSP Word Padlet   Make it open, public, or private. Moderate notes or not. Just go to  Padlet and try the demo to see how easy it is. Then sign up for your account.  Note: There are many more of these types of applications on the Net; just search for them -- or ask your Twitter friends ! It is a Chrome app and has a wordpress plugin.


  1. TS: vocabulary wall, question wall, brainstorm wall, review questions
  2. TS: students share ideas for class
  3. TT: brainstorm ideas for projects, assessments, etc.
  4. TF: Simple Q and A; Have students put links to their work there.

Alternatives to Padlet

Corkboard -- now called Noteapp
Primary Wall (Complete with lesson plans)
Lino: Online Stickies  iOS too-- iPad iPhone

Answer Garden


Answer Garden is a no-sign-up, easy to use Question and Answer box. Just click create, add your question, go. Link to it or embed it. It's that easy. Try the demo.  Look at mine.


  1. TS: Review question for short answers; brainstorm; individualize

Collaborize Classroom


Collaboarize Classr  oom is a complete FREE online classroom for active participation in discussions by all students.  Videos   MSNBCVideo Their site lists:

Collaborize Classroom is designed to complement classroom instruction and engage students in online activities, assignments and discussions that allow for deeper participation inside and outside the classroom.

  • Do more with less. Allow your students to participate on their own time with an easy-to-use private platform.
  • Enrich your curriculum with multimedia. Embed Microsoft Office documents, videos, pictures, and PDFs.
  • Give every student a voice. Teach students how to have productive, respectful and supportive discussions online.
  • Publish discussions to a results page so students can see tangible outcomes of their conversations.
  • Access detailed student participation reports that make grading easy!
  • Download FREE lesson plans to help get you started. 
And it is easy to create your site, create your classes, start an assignment, and get students discussing. You can upload documents and videos. Track student work and participation. Teaches students digital citizenship and working online.


  1. TS: project brainstorming, planning, discussions, tests: anything for online class
  2. TT: create a classroom with more than one teacher to collaborate with other students on science projects, math discussions and data collection
  3. TS: a learning community



Another safe, private, social learning platform that looks like Facebook and that works with smart phones as well is Edmodo. It's very easy to sign up and set up. Video is on the link. No email required. Teacher signs up and creates groups for students or classes. Each group has a code. Students sign up with that code to participate in discussions from assignments you upload into the library. Track student participation and work. You can connect your whole school.  Here's my profile. Teaches students digital citizenship and working online.


  1. TS: project brainstorming, planning, discussions, tests: anything for online class
  2. TT:ask another classroom to join to collaborate with other students on science projects, math discussions and data collection -- just share the code
  3. TS: a learning community



PollEverywhere Instant polling using cell phones. Easy to set up for 30 students. Write questions with coded answers students text in. See results in real time, graphed in Keynote, Powerpoint, or the web. Students can share phones to respond. It's a classroom response system without the expense!  Look here.  Free and Pay ($50/year gets you grading and feedback!)  Tour  and  Videos


  1. TS: quiz, feedback, test, quickcheck, data gathering
  2. TF: feedback
  3. TT: survey staff on those endless queries



We used VoiceThread in our summer MSP.  Be sure to get the education account:

Here's their blurb:
All of the VoiceThread K-12 Products use Ed.VoiceThread, our secure and accountable environment found at ed.voicethread.com. It's a web-based communications network built specifically for K-12 Students and Educators. To learn more, watch the Ed.VoiceThread overview below. The following premium accounts have access to this network.

Now iOS !  Wowser! See here.

Integrates with Google Apps!  See here.

This is such a powerful tool. Imagine connecting with students around the world to gather data?  With this, you see and hear people from around the world. My students debated with students in China! What an experience! One of our student reflections made it into a book!

VoiceThread Wiki
VoiceThread Projects LiveBinder


  1. TS: Students input their videos, images, graphs, etc. and explain them. Collaborate with other schools.
  2. TS: Students discuss topics or share projects, offering and receiving feedback for peers and teacher.
  3. TS: Set up VoiceThread in sections: Introductions, Project Threads by students, Feedback Thread, Conclusions
  4. TF: Each student creates a portfolio explanation for families on current class topics.
  5. TS: Students teach to younger kids, and they respond back.



How do you share files with students, and they with you? Like when they take a screenshot of their comic for science class? Or a graph they've created? Use a shared Dropbox! What is DropBox? Dropbox is a place for all your information, the files you need at home and school. It's also a place you can create a shared file into which students drop their homework or other files.  And, your documents are also online -- available wherever you need access.  Students do need an email address. However, if you use dropbox in class, you could create a class account students can access from your classroom computers.  It's free, for up to 2G. I don't know what I'd do without DrobBox -- everything goes there.

DropBox How To LiveBinder


  1. TS: Share assignments, homework files in a shared folder with students who also have an account
  2. TF: Share files in a public folder (non-confidential ones, of course)
  3. TT: Share files with colleagues -- shared or public file

Note: This site links to several presentations on many of these products. Ideas to Inspire

Subpages (1): Digital Footprints