Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thing 23

My first feeling is apprehension. I am very confident when it's just me and this computer and your tutorials, but when put in front of a class to run on my own, I am not so sure what I know and what I don't. I at least have learned about many free "things" out there to enhance my instruction and my personal life.

As I started this class, I almost felt that taking it was a waste of time, since my district restricts downloading, and many of the sites that I have learned to use this summer. However, not only did you provide rational for these sites, which I will share with my tech department; you also showed ways around some of the restrictions(Keepvid, etc.). It was also helpful to read other's issues about restrictions in school districts. Sometimes, I feel like my district is the only one that is such a controling environment. At least now, I can share how beneficial these sites/things are and try to be proactive instead of just saying what the heck and using old ways.

The tools I know that I will use and share with other teachers are RSS, Delicious, blogging, Flikr, Slideshow, and wikis. These are tools that can be pretty seamless because they are already using some of the skills in other applications, that may not be a user friendly.

I would like to improve the media services using several of these to provide PD to staff and to provide support services to students. I think setting up a blog to learn about specific books and genres using podcasts and slideshows will certainly get their attention and focus on some "shelf sleepers".

I will introduce Google Docs to several of my committees, so we can save face to face time and yet accomplish all we need to do. I am also thinking of developing online classes for training next summer and will use video/podcasting to support my courses.

We are instituting several classes that focus on writing in the content areas, and I will be sharing wikis and blogs with those teachers and the writing trainer, to try and integrate technology within these courses.

My timeline is to focus on introducing one tool to staff and students each month. This may be as simple as subscribing to fees or just a website for presentations. I will lay out a calendar in Google and share it with the staff so they can pick and choose the tool that may work for them.

I have really enjoyed the format and content of this course. Sometimes I would have like a little more feed back on my blog, but with the size of the class and the timeline, I understand that wasn't always possible. I am hoping this blog will stay up for a while so I can gather some of the information that others have provided. The opportunity to explore and practice is a terrific format and one that I will try to use with my staff through my pd. Thank you!!!! You have taught and old dog many new tricks, and I enjoyed it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thing 24

I am excited!! My wikispace is and it is based on several things. In our district, the middle school is seen as the negative bad kids. One of our staff members and I have been talking this summer about making things, in particular our attitudes more positive. We have come up with some activities, but I thought this might be a way to start with select staff and then organize it enough to send to everyone. The wiki is based on the book, "How Full is Your Bucket?" that I learned about in a workshop this summer. There is also a student version and if I get enough support from staff, we will develop a student group to help us on our wiki.

The idea of a wiki is a great tool to use for sharing, collaborating, and even assessing. Many can participate, while a blog is really only a one-on-one situation. Wikis offer a limitless opportunity for group work, improving writing skills, integrating technology, and participation. I actually like the idea of assigning a particular color to each member, to help track editing. With blogs, the writer has full control, where as wikis can be edited by everyone who is a member(or whatever . permission is allowed.

Wikis offer another tool to teach students and adults that not everything you see on the Net is accurate, but you can add corrections. Teaching students to investigate information they find in a wiki is a terrific learning tool.

Thing 23

This is an incredible wiki on middle school reading for summer. It includes students and staff and is organized very well. I would love to do this for the students to encourage their reading and writing over the summer, but I think it is also a great way to encourage reading year round as well as share reviews/thoughts on books, with the entire school. I have been trying to find a way to integrate reading/technology/writing through out the school year to spread myself thinner. It's hard to run contests and keep up with the reading necessary for my position, and do instruction as well. This way we could share ideas with students and staff on books we have and encourage others to read them as well.

Amazingly, wikis are not blocked at our school and are use for tracting students assignments at both the high school and middle school. Several of us have done all the work so it would be great to instruct all teachers on this tool. I think the biggest concern I have is making sure about appropriateness, but that is a part of all the Web 2.o tools.

I would like to introduce this thing to my staff as they incorporate more collaborative work in their classes. Wikis work great for group work for both students and staff. The ability to set up a wiki that can be private to a particular group and then shared with all is a great tool for brainstorming and proofing a project before the actual presentation. Our 6th and 7th graders do a Capstone Project integrating Social Studies and Language Arts. Wikis would be a great tool to use between different classes who chose the same topic. That way we could have one large presentation and share the wiki with the Internet, which is part of the actual grade level content standard.

The collaborative power of the wiki makes any fight to have it available, worth the battle. Wikis will afford conversations with other cultures and sharing information and that is truly a 21st Century skill.

Thing 20

This podcasting thing sure is not in my comfort zone. After spending several hours searching both EPN and Podcast Alley, I was frustrated. Many are just audio, which seems to me to be a lot of production for little value. I did not find anything that I was looking for. There are no or very little descriptors and it was a frustrating experience.

I did receive an email from Verizon Thinkfinity today and found that they have a podcast/video section. In looking through their website, I found excellent podcasts to use with all ages. Those links had great descriptions and I chose this page as my example of podcasting.

To be honest, in my district, downloading is not allowed and iTunes is not allowed; therefore many of the skills taught in this "thing" are not skills that I will be able to practice or use at school. However, I will be able to use the Verizon Thinkfinity site and can direct students to those podcasts as examples of good technology tools.

I can see good uses for this tool, but with the restriction in our district, I am not so sure I will concentrate my adoption on podcasting. Babysteps are called for and there are many more "things" that can be used, with the idea that we can build to podcasting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thing 19

This is the first "thing" that is really intimidating to me. I'm kind of a run and gun type of person and there seems to be so much to do for this type of production. Don't get me wrong, I can see lot's of value in podcasts. I'm just questioning my skills and focus to produce this type of a product.

Certainly the value in podcasts can't be questioned? What a perfect way to instruct students who might have been absent or just didn't get the lesson the first time it was given. With podcasts, students can revisit lessons for understanding while they are home doing the project. Also, parents can see the lesson and assist their child based on the actual instruction from the teacher.

Podcasts are also a key component for online learning and can be embedded(see I am learning) right into the online lesson.

I can see myself and my students starting slowly with the book talks. I would love to put a podcast into our daily broadcasted announcement, to highlight new materials or the "genre of the month" books. It would also be a great way to introduce new staff to the building of students.

I found that I like the podcasts with both visual and audio content. I am not an audio learner and therefore keeping my attentioned focused on the audio content was a bit much. I was pleasantly surprised to hear on of my good friends podcast in the shared list for education. Sue Spaniol has long been a mentor when it comes to book talking and her podcasts were just as good as seeing her in person. I am not sure if it was my machine or the actual podcast, but there was no visual and I would have liked to either see her, or at the very least the book cover. Here's here link, check it out for yourself

Another booktalking blog, that I could send my students to for information, is Nancy Keane's Nancy also does a terrific website for educators and parents, with detailed booklists and content by genre.

Both of these podcasts would allow me a "simple and easy" way to jump into the new tool and not really have to be the producer. Once I get my feet wet, I may explore the tool of podcasting, but I think I have enough on my plate right now. This is impressive stuff and it challenges me to do better to interest my students in reading as well as other aspects of learning.

Thing 18

This is a great tool for students to help them when they are working on a presentation at home. Many times the size prohibits the saving method and they could put it into this website to have access where ever they are. I am assuming there is no sound, however, so that might be an issue. I make that assumption because I found no sound in any of the presentations. The templates and instructional slideshows are also a good learning platform. For those making PowerPoint presentations, it can be a tool to get some feedback and to assess their presentations. I think if students saw what their presentations looked like, without sound, they might put less text, or more to make sure their point is clear.

As usual, I could not find just one slide show to share, I found two. Part of my reasoning for taking so many Web 2.0 classes this summer, was to snazz up many of my presentations to the students in my middle school. I do a research project with ALL students during the course of the year using the Big6 process and this slideshow is a great introduction to teachers about the process. Many teachers think that the Big6 is only for research and don't understand the power of using it to solve problems(although most of us use the steps, we don't focus on each step when we try to teach students about problem solving). I thought this presentation would bring it down to a simplier mind set for teachers.

The second slideshow is a library orientation for middle school and I will use that to develop my own presentation. When I lecture, it seems so dry, even I get bored; so I thought this type of presentation would be a good way to not only integrate technology, but to keep their attention. I like the idea of the scavenger hunt as well as the tone of the presentation. See what you think....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thing 17

Wow, in the past I was pretty impressed with and google, but am over whelmed with the tools that were listed. I was somewhat familiar with "remember the milk" and as a person who lives by my computer and lists, it goes a long way to serving as my brain. I was a little frustrated with the "" until I stopped thinking and just did. This is a great tool for meetings and group projects to help students brainstorm. We use Inspiration software in our district, but would, again, be a good introduction to Inspiration and the concept map. I liked Zoho, but didn't produce anything on it. It appears to be more simplicity than PowerPoint and much more user friendly. It would be a good tool for 5th graders to introduce the presentation concept. The fact that it's free is a major plus.

My all time favorite from the list was "30 boxes". It is a way for me to pull all my "organizational tools" together in one place. I like the alert concept and since I am always on my email this is a wonderful tool to keep me on task. There are many components that remind me of Google calendar but this one is more simplistic and seem to be userfriendly. I put in about 12 events/birthdays in about 5 minutes. Great repeat button for those ongoing events.