Q: Hey Amy, if you could only use THREE Web 2.0 tools to start the school year, what would they be and why?
A: Man, that's a tough question, fake audience, but I'll give it a try!
Tool 1: Google Docs Demo here
Reason: Google Docs provides a platform for learning any other collaborative tool and a way to understand fundamentally how collaborative documents work. Now also a part of Google Docs, real time collaboration. Seriously, it's time to try it out.
Beginning of the Year Collaborative Assignment Ideas: Have students write biographies of each other or do Q&As using a document, have them interview peers and type in data on a spreadsheet, or even easier, have them create team presentations of their biographies, summer events, or hopes and dreams for the school year and beyond.
Tool 2: Prezi, Prezi, Prezi. I can't say it enough times. Sign up for your free extended teacher/student account here.
Reason: Prezi is a non-linear presentation tool that is utterly elegant in its function and design. It requires deep thought to use, especially if you start now and have students develop their own organizational structures for their presentations throughout the year. You'll be able to see the evolution of their thinking processes.
Beginning of the Year Collaborative Assignment Ideas: Start your first unit with Prezi and then build from there. Have students create their first presentation then find a way to connect each of their other presentations throughout the year. Allow students to create a Prezi to teach their peers a part of the content for Unit 1 this school year. Bring in photos, videos, links, and those great ideas. Let them do the work AND get all the rewards that come with being invested in one's own learning.
Here's a Prezi we made with lots of Web 2.0 and free tools we love!