Thursday, July 15, 2010

After 11 Tools: Finally I'm done!

I think by far my favorite activity was using the PhotoStory program. An enrichment project I have been thinking about would be assigning a group of students certain shapes and then having them make a video with PhotoStory they can show the class to demonstrate all they know about the shapes assigned to their group.

I think I've transformed my thinking in that now I can see using many of these tools quite regularly. Whereas, before I may have thought they were too difficult or time consuming. I truly believe in that these tools can greatly impact student learning. Overall, probably the most unexpected outcome was that I did not dislike creating my blog as much as I first thought I would... and "I didn't dislike" is all you're getting out of me. :)

P.S. I really hated how Blogger does not leave two spaces between a period and the start of a new sentence and even if you did put the two spaces, it would change it to only one space! It just felt so wrong!

Tool #11: Citizens Unite!

I think I would have a lesson at the beginning of the school year about citizenship in general and then on another day I would go into the concept of digital citizenship to make the connection between both concepts. I would explain that one pertains to the students' actions on the internet and other to students' actions in general. Furthermore, I would want students to gain a deeper understanding of three key points.

The first is the notion of cyber bullying and how it can cause serious harm to the person being bullied. Some kids have gone as far as to commit suicide because they were being cyberbullied.

The second notion about being a good digital citizen is that they need to make sure to use resources found on the internet wisely and document where they are getting their information. Just because something is out on the internet does not mean that they can steal the idea and not grant credit where credit is due. The other facet of this point would be to ensure that students know that not every single piece of information from the web is accurate and that they have to be discriminating when it comes to getting information from the internet(or any form of media for that matter) and take it at face value. For example, look at Fox News or the Weekly Standard.

The third concept I would want students to understand about digital citizenship is the notion of doing your part to keep yourself and those around you safe. Just because you can put all of your information out there on the web, does not make doing so a good idea. If they know any of their friends are doing things like displaying pictures or giving out their full names and address, they need to alert an adult because it could potentially lead to deadly situations. Students need to know that the internet can also be a dangerous environment, so they need to keep their wits about them and refuse to diclose private information with strangers just as they would in real life.

Tool #10: Steve Jobs Doesn't Need to Worry About the Economy

There are so many educational applications (apps) out there that it can be overwhelming. Just as is the case with videos and websites, before a teacher assigns an app for students, she must go through it and ensure students will be able to use it appropriately. I looked at some math games that started off with easy addition and subtraction problems, but then continued to multiplication and division. Students in first and second grade would not be able to do all parts of these apps. In other words, even though new technology is readily available for use in the classroom, teachers still need to continue to prepare and plan for good teaching to happen in the classroom.

I looked at Soduko made by Mighty Mighty Good Games. I love this game because it really gets the brain going and works on the students' spatial and reasoning abilities.
I also looked at the Abacus application. The abacus has been used by people for thousands of years and Apple has just brought it to the 21st century. Students can use it to practice many math concepts such as counting, multiples, odd and even numbers, etc. Overall, the new devices students will have available to them in the classroom are so interesting and such a novelty for many kids that they will greatly impact student learning and will ensure students are being prepared with the technology of a modern world.

Tool #9: The Skype is the Limit

Screencast can help students because they can communicate with eachother about a project they might be working on by sharing their thoughts and giving feedback to one another. Jing could also be used by a teacher to help show students a step by step process of a certain activity or program on the computer that they might use and then they can see it on Screencast.

Skype can also be used in the classroom in many ways. Many classroom teachers use the notion of pen pals to help students improve their writing. Through Skype, students could actually have a video conference with their pen pal and see what they look like. Other possible ways to use Skype in the classroom is when learning content through themes. For example, if students are learning all about Califonia, the teacher could get in touch with another teacher in California and the students can interview the real people from California... or Australia or wherever else you might imagine. Mediums such as Skype can give students an authentic means of learning. In fact, I use Skype on a regular basis to talk to my friend that moved to Australia this past year. Without Skype, we probably would not have been able to keep in touch as much as we have done. I love Skype!

Tool #8: I'm Just a Video. Yes, I'm Only a Video...

Videos have been in the classroom for many years. The only difference is that teachers have thousands of videos readily available for use in the classroom through websites such as YouTube and Hulu and now there is no need for teachers to have the physical video/dvd to show in the classroom as long as they have a computer. Having thousands of these videos available is an extremely helpful tool for teachers because it greatly adds to the possibilities of teaching various content. In turn, students benefit because they are engaged in their own learning, their interest in learning reaches maximum levels and they retain more information.

The first video I found can be located on TeacherTube and it is called Unpack Your Adjectives originally aired on School House Rock! I know I learned so much growing up from watching these videos.

The second video came from YouTube and it might help students learn the number twelve. It is embedded at the bottom of my blog.

Tool #7: Bye Bye Traditional Media!

Using digital storytelling was easier than I thought it would be with PhotoStory. The program is quite user-friendly and gives exact directions as to what you need to do step by step. Digital storytelling has become so easy to do with all the new technology available to students. They can easily take pictures, upload them to a computer and then use PhotoStory to create any kind of project to tell a story whether it is about the life cycle of a frog or a step by step process of how they solved a math problem.

I created a video with some of my engagement pictures and I especially enjoy the song. Hope you do too. :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tool #6: A Wiki Wiki Whaaat?

Wikis can facilitate student technology use and collaboration in many ways especially in the Language Arts content area. I can see teachers using wikis in Math when it comes to problem solving. A teacher may post a problem and give students time to think and encourage students to post any questions they might have about it. Through the wiki, students can communicate with one another to see if together they can find a solution to the problem.

Overall, time and time again the collective knowledge of the masses proves to be more reliable than the knowledge of one individual and this is why Wikipedia has proven to be successful through the years.

Tool #5: Tagging and Social Bookmarking- Let's Learn From Each Other!

The sites I explored were Math Playground and FunBrain by looking through the Math tag. These websites can provide students with a variety of games and activities to get them involved and learning Math. I also joined Diigo. Joining the communities and social bookmarking can help teachers become more informed about what others with the same interests are doing and/or learning.

Tool #4: Dear Google, What CAN'T You Do?

Google is absolutely amazing! I have used Google Docs before and I just can't get enough of it. It is incredibly helpful to be able to share documents with colleagues and friends so that they may revise and have an input. In the classroom, teachers can use the tool to have students help each other edit their compositions or just any other project they may be working on. AMAZINGNESS!!

I had never used Google Reader before and I love it! It's an easier way to help you keep up with your favoite websites... and yes even your favorite blogs. Now instead of having to go search for the discovery channel website to show students educational videos, you can just add it to your Google Reader!

Dear Google, what can't you do?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tool #3: Color My World With Images

So finishing this third task was quite interesting and frustrating. I tried a number of image generators and mash-ups only to have them not work... but in the end, I was VICTORIOUS!

I created a word cloud using Word It Up and then I also created a banner at the bottom of my blog utilizing Spell With Flickr. Word clouds have the potential to be very helpful in the classroom. They could be used as a discussion tool or even to review concepts. I have to admit, I need to pull myself away from trying to make my word cloud the perfect size, but I am just too tired right now to change it.

Spell With Flickr could be used to grab students' attention or maybe even as an innovative way for a teacher to present the next topic for a composition writing.

You might be wondering why I wrote "Keeping Up With The Bigheads". If you can tell me how it ties in with my theme you get 4 points. The other reason I put it up is because I am desperately trying to keep up with those of you out there that have managed to finish all 11 tools... you know the big technology wigs. I wish I was finished already. :(

Tool #4 here I come!

Tool #2: PLNs and PLCs

I see the notion of a professional Learning Network (PLN) to be very similar to building a Professional Learning Community (PLC). However, PLNs involve the world wide web and technology. The PLN is an additional tool that can be used to further the PLC. Teachers can share with each other and learn from colleagues in a way that was not accessible in past decades.

Commenting on blogs came very easily to me because it is something that I had done before, even though I never ventured out to actually create a personal blog until now. I think the most important thing is to be specific when commenting on blogs written by members of the PLN. I commented on several blogs. The blogs I commented on were Vivian's Blog, Tomorrow and Beyond, Rosaura's Blog, Blogging, Teaching and Technology, and Mimi the blogger.

Tool #1: To Blog or Not to Blog--- Who am I kidding? I Have to Blog!

Creating a blog is something I had never really had the desire to do. There are many blogs out there in the world wide web (that Al Gore invented-- in case you didn't know). Some blogs are funny, others are weird, others are helpful and others will just make you wish you had never read them. I can't say that I haven't mocked plenty a blog or two in my day, but yet... here I am world wide web! THIS is my blog. :) I am just a wallaby wannabe and so my blog will be an ode to Rocko and how he attempted to live a life of modernity in O-Town.

I found the process of creating a blog fairly simple. I already had a google account and then I just followed the steps given in

I can definitely see how having a blog might be helpful in the classroom. Teachers can use blogging as a tool to further communication with students. Through blogs, educators can post assignments and even introduce concepts through explanations or post links to interesting videos or websites. Students will need to demonstrate initiative in their own learning and through the use of computers and the web, this initiative will undoubtedly surface in students as educators move into the 21st century and adapt to the the wave of the future.