Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tool #11 - Self Assessing and Reflecting

Through this training program I have learned a great deal about different tools I didn't even know existed before. One of my favorites was Bookr. I will definitely use it with the students on one of their up coming science projects. I can give them a couple of different options on how to present the project - poster, PowerPoint, Bookr, etc. I know the students will love the options and the ability to show the class what they have created!

When I looked back at my blogs one other resource that really popped out with Brainpop. Because I was new to teaching when I started this I had never used it before, but it is now something I use in my class on a weekly basis. It is odd to me that it was something I'd never even heard about a few months ago.

Being brand new to teaching I have implemented many of these tools along the way and I can't really say that my class has gone through a transformation because of the training, but I am excited to continue to try new tools all the time. I look forward to being able to look back at my blog and incorporate new and different tools this semester and next year.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tool #10 - Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship

Technology is an amazing thing, but it also has many pitfalls. Anyone can put things on the internet and it is fairly easy to make them look legitimate. It is important for the students to understand what a reliable source is and isn't. Not only is it easy to end with the wrong information because it is easy to find, but it is also easy for people to take advantage of others online. We as adults believe so much of what we see online because it is there in writing, so I have to remember the students are even more vulnerable. I want my students to remember to always keep their guards up. I also want my students to remember to give credit where credit is due. When I was in elementary the only research I did was in a library and it was easier for teachers to make sure students where following guidelines related to plagiarism. When there are so many available resources it is more difficult for teachers to monitor and to teach the correct ways for students to use the information.

Before assigning my next science research project I will do a mini lesson related to digital citizenship. I liked many of the videos I found on brainpop and will probably use one of them along with a classroom discussion based on the research and resources we are using. To keep parents in the loop I will include a few digital citizenship guidelines on the rubric for the project.

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

Technology is great, but it is super easy for the students to become distracted or even for the teacher to be pulled toward something that is a great activity, but isn't really connected to what you are trying to teach the students. It is important to look at the tool and see how it will help you to teach or the students to practice the objective at hand. It is also important for the students to be held accountable for the work they produce while using technology. First, because it is very easy for students to do something that wasn't want you initially assigned and second, because even if the students are doing what they are supposed to be doing you want to make sure they truly understand what you want them to get out of it.

I currently use Mangahigh as one of my standing stations. It tracks what they students are doing and which of the challenges they have completed, but I need to figure out how to really hold the students accountable. I assign lots of different challenges so students at different levels all have something to work on, but many times students aren't making the best choices of what challenges to do. I may try to assign them different challenges based on their level, but making those assignments sounds like a daunting task.

I liked Tutpup as a way for my students to practice their math facts and record them. I have had the students graph their fast facts quiz grades and it worked very well. Perhaps I can find some way for them to do the same with this.

On the iPad I use the brainpop app. It has a built in accountability piece since the students enter their names and it saves their scores on the quizzes  The student know they can't move on till they have a predetermined score on the quiz. For math I have quite a few applications downloaded. There isn't an easy accountability piece, but it is almost all of the students favorite station, so I haven't had an issue with students not working. I have had lots of students ask me about having game time on the ipads as a reward, but I have been nervous about having non-academic games downloaded. For now, I think this has been a wise decision in my classroom.

Tool #8 - Taking a Look at the Tools

I have been using these tools in my classroom for a semester, but there were a couple of things I learned or would change based on what I saw and read. I often show my students what I would like them to do on the netbooks using my computer, but it looks slightly different and they get a little confused. I knew there had to be a way to attach it to the ActivBoard and now I will do this the next time I want to show them a center or a way to do research. I also learned a bit of trouble shooting. I have been having an issue with one of my devices loosing wireless connection. I now know to hold down the FN and F6 keys. I had already learned how to set up my itunes account from my librarian, but that would have been one of the most useful pieces of information had I not already completed it.

Having technology in the classroom does create an entirely new set of issues. The students all love to use the technology which is great, but it can create issues during centers and research times. I have set time limits for how long they can use the netbooks during science research times because they can spend an hour, even doing the correct thing, but just not writing anything down. The students get so excited they get to use the technology that they often don't complete their work. I use technology as the reward, if the student is able to complete their work the previous time then I will allow them to use it again, if not, they have to prove they can complete their work before I will allow them to use it. I would like to have "technology experts" in the class because it does seem that when ever the technology tools are out I spend almost all of my time trouble shooting, but I am scared the same will happen with those students and they won't get their work done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tool #7 - Reaching Outside You Classroom

A collaborative program with math was not the first thing I thought of, but I came across a program on iEARN that does just that. There are many different things you could ask the students to do, but the idea is that they document how they use math in their family or community and report on it. This is great because it makes math real to them and how they use it everyday. The collaborative part is even better because they will be able to see how students on the other side of the world may use math in the same way or how differences in their daily lives may greatly change how they use it.

Objective: TSW understand how they use math on a daily basis by developing word problems that they will then trade with a student from the collaborative classroom and solve.

The students could use Google Docs so both classes have access to the problems and once they are finished they could have a skype conference to discuss their math problems and how they use math in their lives. The program is working with two teachers from Puerto Rico and one from Argentina, if they are still interested in the program it would be great to work with them.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tool #6 - Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion

There are a lot of great tools out there, so many in fact it can become a bit overwhelming. I think it can also be difficult to use some of them with elementary students. I am unsure if all of the students or their parents will have access to a computer at home, so I want what I do use to be done in class or optional. Two of the tools that interest me from the list are Skype and Wallwisher. Skype because it is something I use and I feel I can fully explain it to the students. I think it would be really great if my class had the opportunity to Skype with one of my classes from Korea. I wouldn't be able to tie it in with math or science, but it could be a fun activity some day when there is some extra time or as a prize for doing well. It would be really neat for them to see how similar and yet how different the students are on the other side of the world.

I loved the Wallwisher site, but maybe that is because I love bulletin boards! I put together a basic parent wall where parents are invited to ask questions, make suggestions, or post whatever they would like. I think this could be a really great resource since many of the parents would have the same questions. The biggest roadblock I see with the resource is the possibility that parents won't have internet access, but I can only wait and see once the school year starts!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Tool #5 - Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

I can't believe how many tools are out there! Out of the list I have only ever used Blogger and Prezi before. I tried out Bookr and started a book about the solar system. If I were to use it in my class I would ask the students to have a page for each planet and write three facts on the page. Here is the link to a start of an example:

I wanted to try Superflix studio, but it said I only get to make one for free and I didn't want to waste it, so I will wait till I make something for my students.

One of the tools I know I will definitely use is Blogger. I would like to have a classroom blog where parents can go to see what we are doing in our classroom. I'm not quite sure what it will look like, but here is the link to my person travel blog (which is unsearchable by my name so my students and parents won't be able to access it!)