Tuesday, June 26, 2012

11 Tools, Tool #4: Google Apps

Google Apps has a lot of potential beyond what we're currently doing. Google Docs can be used for communication between teachers, teachers and students, and students with other students. Tests can be created, students can place writing pieces here that are intended to go to the "publishing" stage, questionnaires and surveys, as well as group projects that students can work on together. Blogs may be readily incorporated into the classroom. Google Reader would give students easier access to the websites they visit regularly. Perhaps some of the websites will allow students to connect directly to their account in the websites found in Reader? Older students can use Google Sites to create internet sites. Students have greater control over finding sites they can use to access photographs, videos, and BrainPop. Students, in general, are more in control of navigating the web through discovery rather than having continual teacher assistance. I am excited about after-school children blogging about the garden and nutrition program that is starting up in the fall. In the regular classroom, I look forward to students having their accounts accessible and learning the Internet "layout of the Google Apps land". Some students are just wired to be tech-savvy and they will be the ones to be able to navigate different sites and use them independently. This gives teachers additional time to work with other students, as well as peer tutoring on how to be more fluent with the internet. Incorporating academic learning projects into the mix will be motivating, more interesting, and require more skills used simultaneously. I would like to see students also using email to communicate and online test taking.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

11 Tools Tool #3: Online Video

Of all the online video sites available to teachers I love most Discovery Education, which has provided video and video segments for my students in so many academic areas. I have also used YouTube and some of the traditional news services to show current events, the Japan tsunami being one in particular that significantly affected student understanding of geography, natural disasters and their impact of human life. For this lesson I explored TeacherTube, but I will have to visit the site another day because I could not get much to work there. I did, however, find several interesting videos for students and teachers on SchoolTube. Here is an example of a video benefiting students on what to consider before leaving a digital footprint.

The presentation of video categories and uploading procedures in SchoolTube is user friendly. Attaching a video to the blog was easy enough. The only problem with linking the video to ActivInspire is one that is common with other sites with links to flipcharts, that is the uncertainly of which web browser the video will open up in. No new surprises in copyright and fair use. There is no exaggeration in saying that it can be time consuming to note the source of the photograph or video being borrowed. It is time well spent, I agree. I love Flickr Creative Commons! I would like to have this quote here for future reference. From 21st Century Learning, 11Toolssbisd blogspot, "To download YouTube videos to your computer, use KeepVid or saveyoutube. Then, use Tube Chop or snip.snip.it...." I created a Dropbox account on my laptop and installed the app on my smartphone. Assuming one can easily add netbooks, ipads, etc. to the account, it makes teacher work more convenient. What comes to mind is how it is different or better from a wikispace in a teacher's point of view when considering getting pictures or files into student hands.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

11 Tools...Tool #2: Creating a PLN

 I have opened up my Google Reader to see where I left off from before. Several feeds have been deleted and new ones are in the process of being added. I'm still looking around on how to share some feeds for organic gardening because two other teachers and I are learning the Seed to Plate requirements in order to start a program at Woodview. I like Google Reader because it is convenient to move from place to place in search of the information I have stored or requested. It's like another brain...I wonder about the synaptic paths I am creating in my own brain that help me to recall where I am going on the internet and why I am going there. Then, remembering what to get and how it has to be used in the physical space. I'm Little Red Riding Hood trekking through the woods in hopes the Big Bad Wolf doesn't sabotage my trip.

Meanwhile, I left comments at the ELL literature blog http://booksforellkids.blogspot.com/ and at Technology Integration In Education. I am still fairly unsophisticated at the whole aspect of making communication convenient for me because it's usually hindsight teaching me what's important and why it's important. It then becomes which site is more important because of the number of reasons WHY it's important. That is the problem derailing the learning process. oh well... I'll wait to see if one of my comments warrants a reply from the blog authors. That's a whole new twist to what's important. Ha! Talk about short term relationships, acquaintances, two ships passing in the night...long term relationships are yet to happen.

I just submitted a subscription request with http://edupln.ning.com/, acceptance granted. So much to do, so little time. I feel like the Mad Hatter. This is a network I will follow, along with ian@byrdseed.com, but that's a newsletter I get at my email account. Hmm.

Here are my thoughts on building an education network through a PLN: it's really, really vast with a lot of advertising, and quick changes and technological advancements. It's hard to know the audience you're interacting with and sometimes difficult to evaluate the value of the information being consumed. Responding appropriately requires not only careful consideration of what is written, but also internet etiquette when responding. 

11 Tools...Tool #1: The Blog

I am familiar with Voki, but have not yet had children use it in the classroom. Perhaps next year will be THE year for having students create one, if for no other reason, just to have it on their wikispace page. But, truly this will give students some idea of what is out in cyberspace and how to manipulate tools. Also, the practice alone will make students more internet savvy. I wish there had been more time for this last year. With a change in district five-year goals this might be much more doable because there is now less emphasis on standardized academic performance and more on being college-bound. And what kid wouldn't want a Voki tool in their tech toolkit.