Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tools Reflections

My favorite tools were Bookr, Jing, and Screencast. I want to have my students create their own books using Bookr. I would also like to have them create their own videos uisng Jing and Screencast. I'm not sure what topics I would like for them to use yet, but I'm thinking maybe Science or Social Studies research for the Bookr project and maybe an introduction of themselves or an example of a chosen procedure for the Jing/Screencast project.

The main way my thinking has been changed by this training is by expanding my knowledge of the resources available for my students and me to use to enhance learning. I think that I will really be able to incorporate technology even more since we will be receiving the new equipment in the fall and I won't need to rely on scheduling the computer lab as often...the kids will have technology to help their learning right in the classroom which will help us use it more often.

I don't think there is anything that was really unexpected. Since I already took the "23 Things" course, I expected "11 Tools" to be just as helpful and it didn't disappoint. I feel that both trainings complimented each other with some overlap. I know there are several items I will need to continue to review for myself in order to make the "things" and "tools" second nature in planning and delivering instruction. I liked being able to work on the lessons at my own speed on my own schedule. The open ended nature of the activities allowed me to keep my practice projects as simple or complex as I wished.

Tool #11 - Digital Citizenship

I think the 3 most important things for students to understand about digital citizenship are:
-Critical Thinking

Safety is of ultimate importance. Students need to know how to keep themselves safe when using technology. I think I need to make sure we focus on not sharing personal information, viewing/using appropriate sites/apps, and monitoring appropriate use of devices.

Responsibility is another important part of digital citizenship. Students need to understand that their words and actions have consequences on line just as they do in day-to-day situations. Just as I work with my kids in class on treating others with kindness and respect I will need to make sure that continues in regard to on line citizenship as well.

Finally, critical thinking is of paramount importance. Students need to make sure they approach all digital citizenship interactions with thought. They will need to evaluate what they do, say and where/how they use resources. Evaluation of the validity of information and how to handle that information will necessitate students thinking more thoroughly or learning the consequences for not doing so.

It is part of my job to help students find their way through the digital community and supply support for them. It will take a partnership between students, teachers and parents for digital experiences to be as successful as possible.

While going through the links provided on the "11 Tools" blog, I think one of the best resources for helping students understand digital citizenship would be Cyberethics for Kids . This site gives good information in language kids can understand. I like the quiz that gives the students a chance to talk about making decisions and what can happen as a result of good choices or poor choices. I would need to make sure that the ideas behind good digital citizenship are something we discuss over and over so the importance becomes solidly ingrained in the students' minds.

Tool #10 - Exploring Mobile Technology And Apps

One of the free apps I looked at was Level . It has a bubble level, inch ruler, and centimeter ruler. I could easily see the kids using this in class for linear measurement exploration lessons. The second free app I reviewed was USA Factbook. It includes state information and maps. This app would help the kids in Social Studies for state review and for research projects. Both of these would be useful to students in class.

I also took a little bit of time and looked at some of the pay apps that were available for education. I liked PopMath which was an app that gives equations and answers separately on balloons. Players have to touch the equation and then touch the correct answer to "pop" the balloons. It asks multiple questions at the same time and I think kids would enjoy this fun way to practice facts. The second pay app I looked at was WordSalad. This app has players make words from a field of tiles and players try to use all of the tiles to score more points. Seems like a great way for kids to practice spelling.

I had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time using an iTouch last year under our librarian's direction when she set up a play time... I mean an educational review time... for staff members to come by and check out the new tech items the students were going to be able to use when classes came to the library. I enjoyed the little bit of time I had with the iTouch and have no doubt that there are going to be many ways to use the equipment in class. However, a lot will depend on the apps that are made available for the students to use which will be a determining factor in the amount/quality of learning we get with the devices.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tool #9 - Sharing Information Through Jing & Skype

Wow! These are some pretty powerful learning tools for students and teachers! It was a bit frustrating at first when I had to set up accounts and download all the different parts to get it to work...then, I couldn't find my Jing sun, but finally figured out that I had inadvertently hidden it from myself. :)

Anyway, Jing will be a great help for students and teachers trying to put together presentations or send information to others. I put together a brief video of plant labeling in order to try my hand at using Jing and it was not too hard. I used PowerPoint, but I think it would be easier for the kids to maybe use Google Docs or Inspire (but I have to really work with GD for me to be able to help the kids use it since we won't have access to PP on the new technology we are receiving...I wish we did have that access...*sigh*). I think that the kids could use it to make "How to" or research videos. Screencast will really make it easy for students to save their work and access it without all the hassle of having to find and log into their folders.

Skype would be an awesome way for students and teachers to access people all around the world and I hope the district will help by providing some cameras for classroom use. I think it would take some really good planning and organization to create a great learning experience. I will have to do some virtual "leg work" to find people willing to participate in a learning experience with my class outside the district...maybe the ePals might be the best idea to get it started? I'm sure my team or others at my school would be willing to experiment with me in this area...maybe we could Skype some stories with younger grade levels?

I'll have to spend some more time looking for other teachers who would like to design a Skype learning experience together...and we can plan it using Google Docs!

All of this is very exciting, but also a bit intimidating, but, as I sign all my e-mails, "The best teacher is also a student". If I expect my kids to take risks, then I'm going to have to take them too. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tool #8 - Video Resources

I believe videos can be great resources of information for students in the classroom. Video segments that are relevant to lessons being taught can be selected so that class time is not wasted on nonessential information. Videos also provide students with opportunities to "visit" places that they would not be able to really go, giving them a varied and wider range of knowledge. Like any other resources, videos need to be previewed for appropriateness and applicability before being used in the classroom.

The first video I chose was Magic Math, Place Value and Digits from YouTube. It is a good resource to help explain digits and how they are arranged in various places. The students would get a quick overview that would help further student understanding of place value.

My second video is Mammals from YouTube. This video does a great job of explaining what makes a mammal a mammal. It clearly shows students characteristics or traits that are particular to the group of animals classified as mammals.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tool #7 - Digital Storytelling

I enjoyed creating my Photostory project. Most of my time was spent trying to find pictures that met my requirements. Students enjoy using Photostory, but need more readily accessible places to get pictures without worrying about copyright infringement. I work with students to help them understand the importance of citing sources and will continue to do so with picture gathering as well. I have had support with this process from our librarian with the lessons she presents to the class. I know we will get better with more practice.

Photostory would be a great way for students to tell stories about themselves or something that they are learning. I prefer to have them draw their own pictures, either by hand or electronically, to include in Photostory projects.

I could not get my video to load when I saved it as a wmv...I waited over an hour, but I resaved it as a mpeg and that worked.

Tool #6 - Wikis

I think wikis are another way to promote collaboration and organization. They are a chance for students to work together and add to their knowledge as they learn. I would like to try using one for my students to create K-W-L charts. Since a wiki is easily changed, we would be able to add new questions and items learned as we went through our units of study...if a student thought of a question or discovered a new piece of information after the school day was over he/she would be able to add it and then the class could talk about it during class time the following day. I would also want to keep a paper one up in the classroom where it was easily seen on a daily basis.

I think it would also be great to set up comparison charts on a wiki for writing or t-charts of wants vs. needs in Social Studies. Students could also keep a wiki as their journal for research projects. I think the possibilities for use are endless and are easily adaptable for every grade level and teacher.

Tool #5 - Tagging and Social Bookmarking

I think tagging and social bookmarking are great organizers. These tools would be good time savers and make it much easier for you to find specific sites you want to pull up instea of having to hunt through a long list of "Favorites". The tags make it easy to organize the sites to match your line of thinking whether you wanted to organize them by subject or when to use them or any other way you choose. This would be helpful for teachers and for students to keep track of various sites of interest.

Two useful sites I found were Links Learning and Science Clips. Links Learning has video lessons on math and reading topics. The lessons walk viewers through main concepts, demonstrate the concepts and then ask questions of the view to increase student interaction. It has sections for kids, teachers, principals, superintendents and parents. Science Clips has interactive lessons on various science concepts and allows the user to "experiment" by changing items that are being "tested". Both sites are great and I know they will be useful. The tags I used were "place value" and "interactive science".

Tool #4 - Cool Google Tools

I created a two slide presentation concerning the importance of building relationships to a PLN member. It was fairly easy and I could see using this in class with the kids to generate presentations or ongoing research projects that multiple students could work on together. I think it would also benefit my team because we could work on our roadmap together with everyone being able to make/suggest ideas without having to have formal meetings to do so.

I put my five 11 Tools blogs in my Google Reader and realized how much easier it will be for me to keep up with any updates that are added as time goes by. I think the students would be able to use this to keep track of research sites and interest blogs that they would like to would be a great way for them to keep up with what other students from various PLNs are learning and sharing.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tool #3 - Generators and Mashups

I liked using Bubblr and Bookr. I think Bubblr could be used by students to practice descriptive writing, poetry writing (a Haiku with a picture would be great), Math word problem writing, and I could go on and on and on. Bookr would be a wonderful way for kids to show animal research findings, create original narratives, etc. I can't wait to try these with my students. I have already tried the Wordle with them to display parts of speech and these two additional tools will be more enjoyable ways to differentiate my lessons!

Bubblr example

Bookr example