Putting the Bling in Your Builders with Steve Dembo

If anyone can keep me from eating lunch, it would be Steve Dembo, who can hold a virtual or real audience word by word.  Trying to capture any of Steve’s presentations is an exercise in rapid writing and fast screen shots.  Steve was number four on the Top Ten Reasons To Attend the Fall Virtual Conference on October 24:

4.  Any time Steve Dembo uses the word “bling” in a presentation, watch out!
Putting the Bling in Your Builders (12 PM ET) 

So, here goes no lunch, and I can tell you in advance, it will be worth foregoing.  Although the Builders are wonderful, an untapped resource in Discoverystreaming, there are untapped resources in the Builders, and this presentation aims to mine that untapped gold.

Writing Builder lets you use your own prompts or ones already embedded.  Several Steps: Create a folder to organize your work, add subject level and grade, select media, use keyword search in all services, and explore your results, which include audio, video, and images.  You click “add” to your writing prompt, customize the text, choose font, color, border.  This is the place where Steve says “the magic comes in.” The Assign page, as well as everything else in the builders, was upgraded this summer, so now you can include your classes and assign prompts and quizzes directly to your students by url or code.  If you manually enter your students (as opposed to Discovery batch entering them for you), you can get individual aggregate data.

If students are too young to read text, teachers can speak the directions by integrating different Web 2.0 tools.  Steve’s go-to tool is Blabberize, because of its universal appeal, especially to primary school students.  Find your Discoverystreaming image, save it to desktop, and then add your voice by clicking “make” (very intuitive and super simple for first-time users with embeddable code–love it!). Check out Blabberize from Dembo’s Web 2.0 Tuesday Webinar two weeks ago.  Bottom line here: the Builders are accessible to students of all ages if you think outside-the-box with Web 2.0 tools.  The net result is a wonderful product for learners of all ages.  Steve reminds us that Blabberize will not raise test scores, but it will engage our digital natives in learning the way they like it: Student 2.0.

Yet another tool is Slideshare where you can upload your PowerPoint presentations and let you share them online. Steve reminds us that Slideshare works on simple linear presentations, not the multimedia Keynotes that Mike Bryant made in the last session.  These non-linear slide shows will not upload to Slideshare.  The beauty of Slideshare: embeddable code (and url too, plus typical sharing potential to social networks with ease of one-click).

If you want to add students to Discoverystreaming, go to Classroom Manager, and My Classes.  You set up your class by setting up your class with a name and and start and end date (make it for whole year).  Select and add your students to your class. If you district has imported in your students, you just select them from the roster by name and grade level.  If your students are not listed there, add them on the fly by typing in their information in the “Create/Edit a New Student.”  You can assign individual or group passwords, and then students can personalize them. However, Steve warns that this particular add feature will disappear in a week or two.  You cannot overall remove a student, but you can delete one from your class (almost the same thing). You can also duplicate classes.  Assigning is simple; you can do this by individual student or a group, a great feature for differentiated instruction.

When students complete an assignment, they move from “My Assignments” to “Completed Assignments.”  You get a date/time stamp, so as teachers you can access when work was begun and completed. As a teacher, you create accounts for your students, assignments, and then students login to the Student Center, where they see what resources their teachers have uploaded, as well as assignments and assessments. Students can bookmark content and download videos, 24/7.  For districts that want more filtering, the administrator for the account can choose what students view.

How else can we add bling?  Try meebo.com which allows you to create your own chat room.  You can have students view something and then run a back channel (similar to adults using CoverItLive) but it will be private, embedded to an Assignment Builder.   Love this feature, because you have created a private chat room for participation within your classroom.  Yet another bling to Builders if Voicethread, and again you keep it private within the Builders and grab embeddable code for the instructional stream. What you get is a live stream with event journals and authentic assessment on how students learn best, showing us what they really know.

MyPlick (already discussed by Mike and Steve in his 50 Ways to Do Digital Storytelling webinar) and VoiceMeMe.  Both create embeddable code for widgetizing an assigment within a Builder.  VoiceMeMe (What’s the most horrifying technology story you have?) creates an audio file, 100% free, reminding me of Gcast, before it went to a paid version only.

Finally, a teacher can log out as a teacher and log in as a student so you can check your work.  Steve’s mantra: Baby steps–build on your successes.


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  1. Linda said:

    Steve, I really enjoyed your presentation today. I am going to use some of your ideas on Monday. I especially liked the updated job list for students to respond to the schoolday events.

    My fifth graders would love the mysterious cat eyes, spiders, and bats. Can you tell me how to embed them into some of my October projects? Linda

  2. Steve Dembo said:

    Most of them I actually bought from http://activeden.net. For just a buck or two, I thought they were worth it. And if I actually knew how to use Flash, I could probably do ALOT more with them!

    The Bats one was free though, which I found here: http://www.amarasoftware.com/flash-animations/halloween-theme-animation.htm

    She has a few others available as well. But I was surprised to learn how many stock photo sites actually have flash animations available now for pretty reasonable prices. I wont’ go hog wild with them, but definitely worth keeping in mind.

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