Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Something that made me smile...

Okay, every once in a while something comes along that makes me really laugh. Either because I am in the right frame of mind, or because it is really truly funny. Lately things related to cats have come across my radar, so here are a couple of videos that might bring you a smile or chuckle as well.


And on a little more serious note...


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tool # 11: Self Assessing and Reflecting...

Wait!!  You're finished?  But there is so much more out there!!

1.  What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.
I have found a tool called Kohive.com.  It’s a collaborative website where students can put documents they have created, pull in videos they find that are related to the topic, pictures, and can write sticky notes about what needs to be done, or leave messages for other members in their group.  I can create the hives using the school issued email address, and assign the groups.  I can also go in and see how each group is doing and leave them a message with my feedback.  I think I will try this out when we are working on our famous Americans.  I can assign groups to research a particular person, and they can collect all of their online resources in their “hive”. 

My other favorite tool is the makebeliefscomix.  I think my students will enjoy using this Web 2.0 tool to create character conversations from their books, or they can use it to teach about something they have learned.  Because they don’t have room to write a whole lot, reluctant writers will enjoy this as much as Susie Storyteller.  (Actually, this tool might aggravate Susie Storyteller because she won’t have enough room to write all that she wants to say!)

2. How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?
I am not quite so resistant to the technology---in the past I have felt that I have had technology pushed on me, but it wasn’t really enhancing my teaching or the students’ learning.  That is changing.  I see how I have been using it in my own learning, and can see ways to apply it to a second grade classroom.  We teach them how to use the features of nonfiction in a book, and now that is transferring to webpages such as allaboutbirds.org.  We watched bird cams in the spring, and they learn quite a bit about the behaviors of birds—such as they figured out the times of day that we would have a better chance of seeing the eaglets eating verses when they would be dozing.  Last year I had a group that presented a lesson using the Activinspire software and there was a high participation rate for that lesson presentation!  I think one of the stumbling blocks in my room now is that there are differences in the devices.  I have some of the Asus eee’s that I got with the Power to Learn grant, and my students last year hated using them because they weren’t reliable, or they were difficult to work with (for example, changing the size of the screen accidentally).  Now it’s going to be what sites can they use on the iPad verses what sites will they need to use a netbook for.  Writing book reviews/reports are not the mind-numbing activity they used to be.  When the students know that they can record themselves either using the itouch or the flip cam after they write their script and practice it three times (hello writing practice, and reading for fluency!  Heh), most can get write to work, and want to produce more than just one!  They think about what it sounds like, and make necessary adjustments (details, expression, speed).  There is definitely more freedom to use the devices in my room---they used to be taken out for one lesson at a time then turned off when we finished.  Now we leave three or four netbooks on all day for easy access.  I do wish my itouches would hold more of a charge.  I used to go for a week at a time before charging, now some have to be plugged in after just a little bit of use.
Definitely need to incorporate the digital content more.  Students are using it more and more on their own, and why should they have two different lives---one with technology outside of school, then they don’t get to access it while they are at school?  With my age level, they see it as entertainment, it’s my job to show them how to use it for the quest of being a lifelong learner.
Even Mickey has joined the digital age!

3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
I am very surprised as to how fast I got hooked on the iPad that was issued to me at the end of the school year to use for the summer.  It took me a while one afternoon, but I figured out how to put secondary google calendars on the calendar, so I can access the calendars without actually having to have a laptop in front of me.  I used it during my internship at SBEC---the middle school and high school students wanted to know what books were on their school’s reading list…bam, pulled it up using Safari while I was standing in the middle of the fiction section.  Is such and such book here?  Bam, I pulled up the online catalog under library resources and checked for availability, all without having to run back over to the computer at the circulation desk.  Took pictures of book displays and other things I did, emailed them to myself so that I could include them in the documents that I have to turn in each week.  I had scoffed at people that talked about not being able to live without their iPhone.  Hmmm.  I wanted a piece of jewelry for graduation, but maybe…

I don’t know about it being an unexpected outcome, but I have definitely learned that if there is something that I can think of for my students to create, there is probably a way to do it in a digital format!  I noticed one of m teammates was curious about the time lapse drawing used in a video and she found an app for doing that.  That is the next thing to play with---after I finish my grad school papers and the G/T book study that I am doing for my update hours…  :P

Now that it's finished, it's party time!!

Tool # 10: Underneath it All-Digital Citizenship

Plagiarism and copyright are two huge conversation pieces in education these days.  Smartboards, digitally created products, attaching music files…how long can an image be used in a lesson and still be considered “fair use”?  There are time limits as to how long you can hold onto a videotape of a program you recorded from the TV to use in the classroom!!  ARGH!  Probably one of the most problematic of these is students (and teachers) copy and pasting images from the internet for use in projects and lessons.  We’ve learned about flickr and using creative commons and such, but there is a way to use some images from Google.  When you click on images, also click on the gear icon for advanced search.  Towards the bottom of the advanced search screen, there is a category for “usage rights”.  Click and choose the appropriate choice for your  project! 
Eh, it’s just one little thing, but it’s important to teach students they can’t just go ripping off whatever pictures they want off of the internet. 

Three things that I want my students to understand about being good digital citizens:
(ideas are from Mike Ribble, director of technology at Manhattan-Ogden Unified School District in Manhattan, Kansas)
  •   Etiquette:  Text unto others as you would have them text unto you (or blog, or Facebook, or whatever other social online activity they are taking part of).  Just because a student is online doesn’t mean it’s a faceless being out there, they are interacting with other human beings that think and feel as well. 
  • Law:  Online ethics such as downloading illegal music, plagiarizing, and copyright.  Students need to know that there are laws regarding online activities that have legal ramifications.  I don’t think it is appropriate to have a conversation with my class about sexting, but it definitely could be something that middle school teachers have to deal with.  Other conversations need to be had about damaging other people’s identity or work online is also a crime. 
  •   Security:  Students should not be using each others logins, sharing passwords, or using their full names on the internet.  Also included in this is giving away identifying information such as school, city, sports team names, and family information (mom works until 5 PM).  Under this label, Riddle also refers to antivirus programs, surge protectors and data backups.  2nd graders need to know that these are things that the district takes care of for our school computers, but they are things they need to talk about with their parents at home, to ensure safety of their home devices. 

2. Share at least one of the resources mentioned above or on the Ed Tech website that you plan to use instructionally.
I like to use the Brainpop jr and Brainpop videos about digital citizenship and online safety.  The script writers for this site use friendly vocabulary and scenarios that are familiar to my students.  While we watch these videos, I pause it after segments and we discuss what was said and other ways it applies to our online activities, and I talk about what kinds of activities we do in the classroom where they would need to be careful (such as recording a podcast, they don’t say their full name).

Another resource I found was was a game involving CyberPigs.
There are some interactive games that teach the kids how some of the online games they like to do can get them to fill out forms at the promise of a contest or to get more privileges. 

3. Explain briefly how you would "teach" the idea of digital citizenship to your students.
We talk about being good classroom citizens, so on a different day I would connect it to being a good digital citizen.  We would talk about what citizen means, and we would talk about what digital means.  We role play scenarios (such as you found student A’s folder with his login information, what do you do?) and we talk about what the right thing to do is, and we talk about some other choices that might be made that are a common thing to happen, but it’s not the right thing (such as clicking onto a website with inappropriate content.  We SHOULD minimize the screen and talk to the teacher, but sometimes a student’s first reaction might be to show this to the friends sitting by them).  We also talk about integrity, and that sometimes people do the wrong thing and don’t get caught (like people speeding in their cars), but you should always do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

4. Explain briefly how you plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with your parents.
I think it is important that I as the classroom teacher communicate with the parents what kinds of online behaviors I am teaching the students, just as I communicate with them what kinds of other academic things are happening.  If there is a common language being used between home and school, it makes that much more of an impact on a student.  I also need to stress to the parents that they shouldn’t be afraid to let their 2nd graders be on the computer, but they shouldn’t be doing it in their rooms where they cannot be easily monitored.  Just as parents have responsibility to keep their kids safe around the pool, they need to help guide their children as to how to be safe on the computer.  Parents need to keep up with the new technology coming out, don’t just give it to the kids and not give them any guidance.  We don’t just give them $50 to go do whatever with it, nor should we do the same with technology.  We all need to help students learn how to use it effectively.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

1.            Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective? 
The objective of a lesson is what you want a student to know or what the student will be able to do at the end with the knowledge gained from the lesson.  The technology used within a lesson should be congruent with what is being taught, learned, or practiced, otherwise there is a disconnect.  Students should have a direct link for the technology being used with what they are learning so that there are connections being made.  There is a debate about using technology for technology sake.  Some teachers use these devices as babysitting tools (and granted, and itouch and headphones do make for some quiet students!), or they do fun projects that kids really enjoy, but don’t develop any new skills or learning, and there are other teachers that use these tools to get students excited and more engaged with their learning. 

2.            Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?
A simple answer—students know that you care about them when you hold them accountable for their actions.  When students know that you are checking in with them and making sure they are learning or understanding something, they have a higher work ethic because they don’t want to disappoint.  They want to know that they are doing activities that are meaningful, and if a teacher isn’t holding a student accountable for an assignment, then the student will wonder what the point is in doing it, then often becomes off-task.  It reminds me of a teacher I had in elementary school that gave us worksheets to do frequently, but she didn’t grade them.  There were two of us that often wrote nonsense answers just to see if we would ever get caught.  (I only remember getting a sheet back to re-do one time!) 

3.            Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?
 I liked Tutpup—I just tried out a few games, I did not create an account.  I liked that there wasn’t any ads!  Most of the games are math related, with one spelling (they call the word, you type it.  The proper English accent could be tricky, and homophones need a sentence, for example, tin and ten).  This is a beta version, so I would assume to see more things get added as they build the site.  One way to hold the students accountable would be for them to use the print screen key.  They could paste it into a google doc and send it to me.  I could see the kinds of math problems they were doing, and how well they were doing them.  Also, winning games will automatically post to their wall.  I would need to check that this site can be accessed with the itouches and iPads!

Another site that I liked is Thinkfinity.  I came across this site a few semesters ago while working on a graduate class.  It gathers activities from other educational sites that Verizon partners with.  You can find many different activities that fit a wide variety of TEKS that need to be met each year.  As for holding students accountable, it really depends on the activity you choose for them to complete.  Some things can be produced online and saved in an electronic folder (either the student’s personal folder, or you could create a folder for the specific purpose). 

4.            List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?
 I like any of the ABA flashcard apps to use with my ESOL students, especially the ones that I get that are brand new to the states.  My students have been using itouches to access these apps, and there is another app on there that is a “whiteboard” where they can draw or write.  I have had them pick 4 or 5 words that they practiced that day and find the whiteboard to write a sentence.  They took a picture of their sentence (using the screen shot abilities of the itouch), then wrote the next one.  When they were done, they showed me the photos of their sentences.  If there was time, I would help them with changing the subject of the sentence, or helped them with the verb tense. 

Another app that my students have liked in the past is the American Presidents 2 in 1 app.  When we are doing our Social Studies Unit “All American Kid”, they learn about the mayor, governor, and president.  When using this app, they tap around and find a president that has a fact that they find interesting.  From there they access some of the informational books about presidents that I have in the classroom and make a mini-biography poster about the president.  They especially like to add what pets the president may have had while living in the white house.  Later in the year we use the biography posters to practice putting events on a timeline.  I can not currently find it on the itunes list, though.  :(

Another Social Studies app is the State Capitals Study Buddy.  The students enjoyed quizzing themselves and others on the states and their capitals.  Often they would sit by the door where I had a US map hung and look for the location of the state.  There were a few kids that made it into a racing game as to who could put their finger on the state first.    

5.            What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.
 I like the app for italk.  I have a thumbtack microphone that fits into the jack where you plug in the headphones, and the students can record their voices.  I have used this to record their reading for running record purposes, have played the recordings for parents at parent conferences, and we have used this app for making podcasts.  Students have used the memo or notes icon to type in a reading response and then they email that to me. 
In iTunes U, there are some great lessons that can be uploaded onto the itouches and iPads.  The Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX) has some that I have used.  There is one my students last year enjoyed, where some fourth graders teach how to write a haiku.  In the same set of podcasts there is a fun one about cause and effect.  The kids enjoyed watching this podcast several times!  It led to a great discussion about cause and effect in the stories they were reading in small group as well as the stories they were reading on their own.  If you get an attachment called a rockstar, it enables several students to plug their headphones into one device, then they can have a small group discussion when they finish watching a podcast.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tool # 8: Taking a Look at the Tools

I really appreciated the advice about naming each of the devices with a different name and also WRITING it onto the device. 

Since I have had itouches in my room for three years now, I was most interested in learning about the I Pad.  I am interested in how I am to keep my kids “safe” on the internet—I know that many teachers use them as a center while they work with small groups, so how does one monitor the activities they are doing?  I found a couple of tips that can help.  Under the settings button, the search engine can be changed from google to Yahoo or bing, and you can also change the general settings to restrictions.  You can also set a password for things like YouTube and your Itunes account so the students have a bit more barriers to getting to places they shouldn’t be. 

Another helpful trick I have found is that you can add websites as links onto the home page.  Go to the site that you want to have easy access to, choose the + sign and pick “add to home screen”.  Now it shows up as an icon like your other apps.  Instead of loading your home pages full of links though, open a Diigo account, and then just link the Diigo site to your home page.  (Or, my other thought is to add t a new site as a home page icon, and after the students have used it a time or two, add it to Diigo and take the icon off your home screen). 

Here is a website with lots of suggestions for apps that I am slowly making my way through, checking to see what apps I might want to use in the classroom.  

As far as managing the devices, I have always had a student helper be the “tech guy/gal” and one of their responsibilities is to make sure all of the devices are accounted for at the end of the day.  Last year I had one for the netbooks and another for the itouches.  Guess I’ll have to have 3 helpers this coming year!  These were very computer saavy kiddos that could also help troubleshoot problems if I were busy with a group.  If they couldn’t solve the problem, then they would drop a “trouble ticket” on the table where I was working, then I could help out when I had a free moment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tool #7: Reaching Outside the Classroom

I was excited about this project!  I have a friend in Flower Mound, Texas that I called to see if she would be game to participate in this project.  She teaches 2nd grade in a lower socio-economic area, and is the lead teacher with all of the gifted and talented students for the grade level in her classroom.  We talked about the different TEKS that we cover in a year, and which ones did we want to do something different with in the upcoming year.  We settled on Language Arts 2.6:
Reading/Comprehension of Literary Text/Theme and Genre. Students analyze, make inferences and draw conclusions about theme and genre in different cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Students are expected to:
(A)  identify moral lessons as themes in well-known fables, legends, myths, or stories; and
(B)  compare different versions of the same story in traditional and contemporary folktales with respect to their characters, settings, and plot.

The start of this project would be mid- October, after we had time to establish classroom routines and had expectations under control.  We would first model for the students how to interact online, how to use etiquette and discuss appropriate positive language.  The two teachers would read aloud a pre-selected book and respond to each other on the wiki.  By the end of November, the expectation is to have students split into three groups, but time and number of groups is flexible depending on what we observe with our students. 

The plan is to use a Wiki, so that several pages can be set up, and more can be added as needed.  Each classroom will likely have their own Blog to post videos and pictures (as allowed by parent permission).  At various times during the year, we'll conduct different Skype sessions, some as a large group, and some for small groups that are reading the same or similiar books. 

Our plan is for groups of children to read the same book in a particular genre, and then Skype to discuss.  Students may have some prepared questions to help a conversation roll along in case there are "dead" spaces in the conversation.  There will also be opportunities to read and compare different versions of the same story (Cajun 3 pigs, Alaskan 3 pigs, traditional 3 pigs .. one where wolf gets cooked, one where wolf gets away).  From there students can choose other books from genres for their free reading time and discuss them on the wiki.  There will be an available place to add books that they find and want to recommend on the wiki.

Covers from Titlewave.com

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tool #6: Using Webtools to Promote Discussions

Ah, Today’s Meet…do I admit online that some classmates and I have used this to communicate to each other during a grad school class or two?  My experience with this is that it is used more in an inappropriate manner than in a professional, educational, appropriate way.  I have seen presenters use it to help communication with the audience—as they are talking and an audience member has a question about what was being said, they could post the question, and the presenter could address it, or other members in the audience would put their two cents worth in.  I guess so far I see it more as a distraction.

Poll Everywhere is a hoot!  I was demonstrating this to a group in one of my grad classes, and they were breaking into a sweat pulling out their devices so that they could participate in the poll.  They loved seeing the graph lines grow as more people participated.  Not so helpful in elementary school classrooms, but definitely livens up staff development participation.  After being in a middle school/high school summer school situation the last couple of weeks---if students are allowed to have their phones that much during the regular year, I would definitely think about how to incorporate this into some of my lessons.  This would be great to use as a set to get a class discussion going about a topic, maybe from a reading that was supposed to have been done for homework?  Since it is anonymous, there is no connection as to who has participated or who has not, and depending on the texting plans, students can borrow other classmates phones to participate. 
There is a fun little poll that you can participate with down at the bottom of this page.  In the To: section of your phone, type in the number at the beginning of the poll.  In the message section of the text, type in the number of your chosen response.  You will need to refresh your screen to see the change in the graph.

Ways to use Wallwisher:  KWL chart, Students can posts questions during a lecture, post links (can share what students are doing in class with parents-just send them the link), students can post evaluations/what they learned that day/what they enjoyed in class (an “exit ticket”), use as a suggestion box, post learning goals, get to know the class by having them post where they were born and connecting the location to Google maps, post book reviews or reading suggestions, write or report topics-students add ideas of what information needs to be included.  That should be enough to get you started.

I love Diigo.  Love, love, love.  I tag internet places for my 2nd graders—they get to learn about “tagging” and how to use it, the parents like it because when the kids come home and talk about something we did on a website, they can look at it together at home by going to the Diigo page, There were a couple of YouTube videos that I used in lessons that the students wanted to revisit over and over, so we tagged those.  In the spring, we were watching a variety of bird webcams, and they could watch them at home on the weekends—which was useful since birds don’t fledge very often between 8-3 CST!  I have learning activities tagged, and when I have small groups researching certain topics, I can tag appropriate websites for them that fit for content and reading level.  At one time we tried to use Rollyo (I think that was the name of the site), but it wasn’t user friendly at times, and not very reliable.  I found it to be difficult to work with it.  Diigo allows you to tag, so students can find the tag for “math games” and up pops the sites with math games.  This also helps when working in the computer lab and you want them to go to a site that has a long, cumbersome address.  You can also highlight certain information on a webpage, or leave sticky notes.  Diigo makes being online with younger students much less painful!

Skype in the classroom:  There are a lot of blogs and sites to help you utilize this tool.  A good online article to visit first is A Window on the World:  Using Skype in the Classroomsince it has some good etiquette tips.  Two other sites that I found helpful when getting started was 50 Awesome Ways to use Skype in the Classroom, and 10 Waysto use Skype in the Classroom.  Not only can you connect to “experts” in all subject areas, but if you have a student that has to be at home, they can continue to be a part of important lessons if they are up to participating. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Tool #5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

Animoto is fun, and some students pick up on how to use this pretty quick, others get bogged down in the choices of music, picture order and the like. Here is one that I made to introduce temperature and the different kinds of thermometers that my students might be able to locate around their own house.

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

Here is a different one that I made when working on a project for a class where Dr. Bishop was my teacher. I am sorry that I was only able to have him for one of my graduate classes before he retired.  He is missed!  This was designed for a fifth grade class that might be beginning their unit of study on the Revolutionary War.  It went along with a Wiki that had different resources that teachers could use, and there were places where students could respond about their learning.  (Oh, and I made the opening smiley face guy at BigHugeLabs).

Make your own slide show at Animoto.

I was familiar with many of the sites listed...we have used BigHugeLabs for trading cards and magazine covers.  This past year we made trading cards for government leaders, and I think that helped some students get a better understanding of the different between mayor, governor, and president, which is very abstract and confusing to young minds.  Just be careful to NOT click on the back arrow to edit your work on that site...you'll lose everything you have typed in.  One thing that was helpful in that area was to have the students type their info in a google doc, then they would copy/paste the info when they got to BHL.  Saved a lot of tears in doing it that way!  (hattip:  Amy Markham!)

I am getting to like Prezi.  If you are working on a presentation that doesn't have to be linear, this is a lot of fun.  In Library Land, where I am spending a lot of my "free" time, this is fun to set up for booktalks, or set up examples of different genres.  For a lesson in 2nd grade, you could make one with different book covers or titles, and click on each one to discuss if it is non-fiction or fiction, locate author names as well as illustrators.  Makes it a little more engaging because the student can take charge of the order of the lesson.  It is possible to "assign" the order that things are shown in a prezi.  I made a how-to prezi for a faculty staff development back in January, and I needed it to play in a certain order.  Click here to go to that prezi.

So, I wanted to find something new for this tool.  I had a great time playing with the comix site.  This is great for my 2nd graders.  They are just getting into the humor of comics, and one of the spelling menu choices every now and then is to make a comic using their spelling words.  The downside of this is that they can't save their work, they need to complete it in one sitting.  This might be handled through having them "pre-type" their speech bubbles in a document, then they can copy paste it into the comix, which will help them get through the process a little easier.  They can also create one from home, then email me the link as well.  Another downer, we can't use ipads to do these since it requires flash.  Maybe that will be fixed in the near future.
Here is the one that I made---my friends and family are going to be just as glad for me to finish grad school as I am.  I KNOW they have to be tired of hearing me complain.  I don't mean to--much.  I've never been good at finishing long term projects, and this master's degree thing is about to send me over the edge!!

Tool 4: Google Docs

Google Docs has been growing on me these past couple of years. As improvements and reliability has increased, I am liking it more and more. Most of my experience is with 2nd grade, so let me speak in a utopia sense, where students can type 40 words a minute, and don’t have to take 40 minutes to type 3 sentences… (heh)

 I like for the students to make podcasts. There is an app on the itouch called “italk lite”, and with a thumbtack microphone (seriously, it looks like a fat thumbtack!), it is very easy for students to record their stories, ideas, research---whatever. Before they can record a podcast though, they have to write a script, so that they don’t weave and talk in circles. If I have them working in groups, they can use Google Docs to write their script. They aren’t confined to only working on it in the classroom, since they can access it from home.

 This is also a good tool for Writer’s Workshop…if students are working on a document, they can then share with say, three classmates, and those classmates would be responsible for commenting. The teacher could make a standard, such as at least three comments per paper, and then give a grade from there. I think an easy way to get this started with the smaller folks is to assign them to editing groups. Once the student shares a document to some contacts, those contacts remain in their system so that they don’t have to type the entire email address each time. The teacher can assist small groups at a time to get them started, since that will take up a chunk of time, then can repeat the process by adding new addresses at another time, making the circle of contacts for each student a little larger. You folks that work with the smaller folks know that a lot of errors get made when trying to type anything!

 Another use of google docs that I have seen is where the students share their work with the teacher, then the teacher can pull it up for the class to look at together on the activboard (student’s name is withheld!!) for learning purposes.

 I liked the Google Form. This was a first time to play with that for me. I think this could be helpful when getting input from team members about a variety of issues that need to be talked about, as well as for student use. Something for me to think on some more…we do graphing in math, and ask the students to make graphs. Perhaps having them make some questions and then share them with a certain amount of classmates to gather information for a variety of graphs---then they will have collected information at one time and can use that as an ongoing database from which to make the different graphs we do throughout the year, and also for when we connect fractions with pie graphs. Student can write a question, come up with 4 or 5 possible responses to choose from, then repeat the process for a designated amount of questions. Then you save classroom time by having them collect data every time you want to make a new graph. If you teach language arts, students could develop questions related to the book they have read in a book club.  The other thing that will have to be done is teaching the students how to read the spreadsheet that goes along with it.  I don't think that will be difficult, it's just one more thing to take into consideration when planning a lesson around using this!

Here is what my first form looks like!

 Now that the amount of technology is increasing in the classroom, some of these things will be easier to implement. Back when you only had 2 or 3 computers to a classroom, this would be a nightmare with how much time it would take to even start any of these projects. Now the computers are smaller, and can travel easily between classrooms, and I am blessed to work on a team that the folks are willing to share their devices if they aren’t currently being used by their own students.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tool #3: Online videos and image resources

Two resources on the web that I like for use in the classroom come from Khanacademy.org  and watchknowlearn.org. 
Khan academy has a wide variety of math videos that I like to use when introducing a concept that is difficult for me to teach, or I also use it for students that need information presented in a different way than how I taught it.

Watchknowlearn.org is another site with videos that can be used with students.  I highly recommend watching the video all the way through before deciding to use it!!  This would also be a good time to use the services that let you cut the video to where you only use the necessary part. 
In second grade we touch on Abigail Adams and Sojourner Truth who spoke up for women’s suffrage and the right to vote.  This video would be one that I think would be too overwhelming and the message would get lost if I showed the whole thing, but it would definitely engage students when talking about the meaning of having equal rights for all citizens.  Then when we talked about the Civil Rights era in the mid-1900’s, we can compare the women wanting fair and equal treatment with the African Americans.  This video is a bit more meaningful than watching the mother from Mary Poppins dancing around---which I have used in the past, showing that this movement was also taking place in England, that it wasn’t just an issue in the United States.


 Okay, history lesson over!  J  I just stress caution over content—it is so easy to find videos on the internet to use in the classroom, but just like anything else, if you use too much of a good thing, when does it stop being good?

Copyright in school will never be a black and white issue, there will always be gray areas.  Carol Simpson has done extensive research and has written about copyright laws and how it applies to schools and classrooms.  In her book, Copyright for Schools, she writes about four misconceptions about fair use.  First, schools can use any copyright protected materials they wish, because they are schools, second, using materials is OK if you don’t make a profit, third, promoting someone’s work by distributing copies is justification for free use, and fourth, materials used “for the good of kids” absolves one of copyright liability.  Educators are not given the right to fair use.  When charged with an infringement, this is a defense, but it is up to the educator to prove fair use.  There are laws in place as to how much music can be used in a powerpoint, the amount of work that one uses by one author (copies of pictures/poems), and with smartboards and activboards becoming more widely used in classrooms, the materials that teachers use to make flipcharts needs to be addressed.  If one is just pulling pictures off of the internet and not giving credit or abiding by the time constraints (some material may only be used for two years), there could be grounds for a lawsuit. 

I wish I had known about Dropbox sooner.  It would have come in very handy for an oopsie I experienced during grad school.  (Lucky for me, I had printed out my slides so I was able to recreate my presentation before class, but if I had utilized Dropbox, I wouldn’t have  been quite so frantic!).  This tool can be handy if students put their projects here in addition to their electronic portfolio.  If the server is down at a particular time, it won’t affect their ability to stay on task, (or the other thing, they “save” it in the wrong location).  I haven’t tried this out with a classroom yet, but it is definitely worth taking a look.  If you have had any experiences, please share—the good, the bad, or even the ugly.  What useful tips do you have?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tool #2

This Thing goes with “to be a friend, you must first be a friend…” Two points that were made that I thought were important: 1) Respond with a meaningful comment. Just telling the blogger that you thought that was a good post---well, why did you like it? What made it resonate with you? It’s like asking one of my students what they liked about the field trip and they respond with “It was fun”. Uh, okay. Doesn’t help too much with making the next trip better! Same thing with blogging. What did you like about the post, so that I can write other meaningful posts? (On the other hand, at the least, you know SOMEONE was looking at your blog…). 2) Edublogger Etiquette: When to respond, when do you leave it alone? At this point in my learning, it’s like leaving a comment on a blog, respond if you have something meaningful to say! If someone leaves a comment that you find especially helpful/meaningful, respond back. If the commenter has asked a question, and it is a question that can be answered (and no one else has responded) then it would seem rude to not give a reply. 

On another note---people won’t know if you are smart or stupid until you open your mouth.  Comment carefully.  Don’t just pop off with your first reaction or feeling about something until you have researched it yourself!  And similar to facebook, blogs are not the place to air your dirty laundry.  It’s always best to stay on the positive side with your comments, and not post negative things.  I like participating in online conversations that will help me learn new things, or help me to look at something differently.  There is a whole big world out there on the web, and there are bloggers out there that are helpful in helping me get smarter! 

The blog that I plan to visit in the future…Doug—Off the Record  
Has some links out there on the internet that are interesting to scope out that I wouldn’t find on my own.  For example, have you heard of a search engine called “Duck duck go”?  Doug writes about this in his blog.  Check out the “more” tab on the duck site!  There are all sorts of interesting factoids/information pieces located under that button!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tool #1

I am far from being new to the world of Blogger.  I completed 23 things through UHCL when I was taking a class with SBISD's former library administrator, Dr. Barry Bishop.  I have used both the Blog and a Wiki in my classroom, I'm not sure that I prefer one over the other, you can accomplish different things with each one.  I do like how I can add gadgets on the side of the blog, and the parents have an easier time figuring out how to find things on a blog as opposed to the wiki.  I learned about Voki last year when I went to the TCEA conference in Austin, Texas, and so the kiddos that I had last year really got into making a Voki to share some kind of a reflection or share knowledge after units of studies.  Something off the top of my head...I wonder how difficult it would be to have the students come up with one or two "test questions", and then you could play each student's voki and discuss the answer to the questions as a way to review before a test, or they could create a Voki to represent a character from a story they are reading.  Fun, fun, fun!  What are some of your ideas?

Sidebar---needed someplace online to save this link, and can't get to my Diigo toolbar at the moment...