03 April 2010

Thing 12: A Few Reviews

Tada-list?  Seriously?  Lame.  I'm a listmaker, so I had to check this one out, but I'm totally unimpressed.  If I'm using it personally, without sharing it with anyone (and I'll get to that in a second), then I see zero advantage to having that list live on the web as opposed to on my desktop as a post-it note, or in my cell phone or even (gasp) on a piece of paper in my pocket, both of which are far more portable.  And sharing a personal to do list with others is just a silly idea.  I understand that the sharing feature is probably intended more for group projects between co-workers, classmates or teammates, but my sense is that if you're doing that level of online collaboration, then you probably want a site or application that allows for you to do more than just build and check-off a to do list; you want a site that would allow you to share documents and alter files and whatnot, like PBworks or Google Docs.  Tada-list would be sadly insufficient.  It might be kind of cool if there were ways to search other lists - like, for example, if I was going to visit Boston, and could search for lists of "Best Museums in Boston" or "Best Lobster Rolls in Boston" - but you can't, and anyway, I'd probably have more success using those titles as a bigger google search anyway.

Timetoast, on the other hand, is a-MAZ-ing.  I love it.  What a great, user-friendly way to create a visual representation of things.  I had fun browsing through other users' timelines and searching for things that other people created, and instantly started thinking of potential classroom applications:
  1. I could create timelines that represent the eras depicted in literature we're studying to provide historical context.  
  2. Students could create personal timelines instead of typical personal essays.
  3. Students could create timelines to summarize and highlight important events from stories we read.
These three ideas are the ones I'm most intrigued by, but I'm sure others will come to mind as I mull things over a little more.  As excited as I am about the opportunities provides, I'm immediately also wishing there were a few things that enhanced the site.  For example, can you imagine if you could share ownership of the timeline?  It would be awesome to have one timeline that all the students in my class could edit and contribute to.  I'd also be really excited if the site allowed you to mark favorite timelines or other users.  I can bookmark individual timelines (in Delicious, of course), but it would seem a little friendlier if I could do that through my account on Timetoast itself.  I'd also appreciate it if there were a little more info available in the summaries of each timeline that you see when you browse or search.  Details like the exact timespan or the number of events that are entered would help me filter through the timelines a little more effectively.  Improvements like these, in my humble opinion, would make this an even more awesome tool.  Still, it's totally worth checking out.

Weebly?  It's fine, I guess, if you want to create a more individualized blog.  Personally, I'm pretty happy with the blogger, and not yet at a point where I feel like I need to be playing with my blog on that level.  That said, if I do one day get to that point, it seemed like Weebly was pretty easy to use.

Wordle was interesting.  The idea of word webs that are created via an application is neat.  It might be a fresh way for students to review their own (and each others') essays.  I'm not sure I see tons of really interpretive, critical work that could be done on the site, but it is fun.  I uploaded the personal statement I wrote when I applied to my master's program and here's what it spit out:

Wordle: Personal Statement
Pretty cool, huh?  It might be challenging to think of really meaningful ways to integrate it in the classroom (instead of fluffier ones), but it's different, and certainly does hold some good possibilities. Look at this one - I entered the text from the first chapter of The Great Gatsby.  Seeing which words figure prominently in the chart could help clue students in to ideas and characters that might be important, if I shared this before they began reading.  Hmm... I like that.

Wordle: Chapter 1 of Gatsby

That's all for now - I want to check out more of the recommended sites, but I need to keep moving on my Things!

ADDENDUM: I was really proud of myself for that Gatsby idea, I'm not gonna lie.  So I feel, in the interest of full disclosure, that tonight, while I was searching the English Companion Ning, I found a post from someone who'd already created wordles for all nine of the chapters.  I still think the idea is good, but apparently, not all that original...


  1. The good thing about Weebly is that you can make a non-blog site with it. Weebly can't hold a match to Blogger but it's great if you want students to put together a site on a particular topic.

    I love you Master's App Wordle...It's totally you! I did one of my job description a while back. It was useful to see what jumped out of the cloud of words.

  2. Wordle is one of my favorite Web 2.0 tools. I am amazed by the words that pop out. I recently found a SlideShare (Thing 20) about ways to use Wordle...http://www.slideshare.net/JenniferW/wordle-ideas.