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  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  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