Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thing 11

When I think about all that I’ve read and learned about in this course, I too feel like, “Where do I start?” I’ve been teaching for several years now and have even taken Ed Tech courses in the past and I know the importance of integrating technology and all the Web 2.0 applications into my curriculum. I sometimes feel like I need to “wipe the slate clean” and just start over when it comes to how I prepare lessons and set up projects for my students. Don’t get me wrong, I use technology on a daily basis with my students, but I still feel like there is so much more for me to be doing to prepare our youth for what awaits them down the line. It seems like such a daunting task especially when I’m already struggling to fit in the curriculum I am already accountable for my students to know. However, preparing our students for the 21st Century is an important task that I must as an educator take on as a responsibility.

The first thing I think about when asked, “What is my plan of attack?” I think of one of the earlier blogs from “Cool Cat Teacher” about our students being safe online and getting the support of parents and administration to move forward. Other blogs like Blog Rules for teachers and Bud the teacher's blogging rules make me realize the importance of one of the first steps I need to take…setting up guidelines and rules for my students to follow before blogging or holding discussions (via my classroom wiki). Setting up these rules/guidelines may be something I can even have my students help me to create. I feel before I can begin any type of collaborative learning online, I need to be sure my students are ready for taking on that responsibility themselves.

Pedagogically, the biggest thing I want to take from this course is the whole idea of collaborative learning using technology. All of the tools we have been introduced to give us the means to get our students out there working together, sharing and analyzing information, thinking critically, and creating for an authentic audience. Having students blogging with each other about books they have read, writing papers and sharing them on a wiki to be edited by peers, presenting information that has been researched via SlideShare all allow for the collaboration we are seeking.

Personally and professionally there are applications that I already use, such as email, Facebook, delicious, and Google docs. All of these apps allow me to stay in touch with others of similar interests and to share research and findings with each other. Some of the teachers at my school already have delicious accounts, and getting the others on board with delicious will be advantageous for us all. Our principal has already sent out documents using Google docs and has even suggested eventually having teachers and students use Google docs in place of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. It just may be the way to go?

I am very interested in keeping my blog going and hope that others also want to keep theirs going as well. Staying connected as a “PLN” will allow us to bounce ideas off each other and share what has worked and even what has not worked in our classrooms. I can definitely see the benefit of blogging with the teachers at my school. I believe because we are a small group, it would not be difficult to get the others who have not taken this class to blog with us.

This is all very exciting to me! I hope that I can take what I know and apply it to my teaching affectively, and as a life-long learner, I look forward to what may be ahead and is yet to come!

Thanks, Jim, for a great class, and thanks too to everyone who has participated with their thoughts, ideas, and comments. It’s been a great experience!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thing 10

A survey for students:

A survey for teachers:

Thing 9

I can see myself using SlideShare often in my classroom. I am always looking for presentations or videos to use when teaching. It is one of the easiest ways to integrate technology into my curriculum. SlideShare offers educational presentations or slidecasts created by other teachers. I agree with the whole notion of not “reinventing the wheel.” If someone else has already created the material, why not use it? One of the presentations I have found on SlideShare is a project on the Core Democratic Values. I plan on using it with my class this year! I also uploaded a presentation that I created on the 13 Colonies. That presentation will also be used this year. This is very exciting to me!

I can also see this as being a great way to have my students share PowerPoint presentations. Nothing makes a project done in school more authentic than giving students a real audience for the work they have done. I also like how after a PowerPoint is converted to a SlideShare presentation, I can easily embed it into a classroom wiki or blog, making the project accessible to everyone.

SlideShare also offers networking and working together with other people with the same interests. Comments can be made about presentations uploaded or viewed…another great way to collaborate!

Problems that could arise might be issues with copyrighted material. Students need to know how to cite their sources as well as be aware of not uploading material that is not theirs. Teachers might have to Research websites where royalty free images and audio can be used by students. Instruction needs to be given on choosing appropriate materials and giving credit to those materials.

I did not know about SlideShare before this course. It is definitely an application that will enhance my curriculum!

A SlideShare presentation I found that I will probably use with my class this year:

A presentation I created in PowerPoint and uploaded to SlideShare:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thing 8

After checking out some the links about Google Docs, I can see how beneficial this application can be.

Creating and then collaborating on presentations, documents, or spreadsheets allows for many ideas to come together and to be shared with colleagues of common interests. I can see how valuable Google Docs might be when working with teachers from other schools or even within the same school but from a different classroom or building. The idea that we can edit material without being connected to the same local server or having to send documents back and forth to each other through email seems as if it might be the “no-brain” way to go!

I can work on presentations or documents from either home or school without the worry of saving to a flashdrive or server. I do my lesson plans using Excel and saving to Google Docs makes it easier for me to access my plans from wherever I may be.

Classroom use?
This is a little more difficult for me to justify. From what I understand, students would have to have email accounts to set up a Google account. Not all students have emails. I also read that Google Account users must be 13 years or older? This poses a problem for use with my 5th grade classroom. High school students may get a lot more use from this application. I like the idea of working through the writing process on a document that can be shared and then edited by classmates. I use peer editing often in my classroom, and could see how this tool could be advantageous. Again, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a classroom wiki that I believe is also a great way to allow students to collaborate and even edit projects or papers created and written by each other. Wikispaces allows teachers to set up usernames and passwords for students without an email account. Check out my classroom wiki (I’m still working on it!) If anyone has any ideas, just let me know!

Yes, there are many advantages to using Google Docs, but there are also disadvantages. Besides younger students not having access due to age or lack of an email address, important documents are being saved to a public server that could be lost or eventually become unavailable. I have also noticed that some of my Excel spreadsheets, when uploaded to Google Docs, lose some of its formatting. This leads me to believe there may be some compatibility issues.

Overall though, I like Google Docs and have used it in the past. It is still yet another great Web 2.0 tool that can be used to move our educational institutions into that collaborative global community we are seeking.

Thing 7

Social bookmarking is awesome! I just recently, over the summer, discovered during a training though MI Champions sponsored by MACUL. I have found it to be a great way to share websites with colleagues. It also is quite convenient. In the past when researching websites for lessons or projects for my classroom from my computer at home, I would either have to save to my flashdrive or send to myself via email. Sometimes I'd be at home and want to look at a site that I found at school and had saved to "my favorites" on the school's computer. Now I can save to my "delicious" account and retrieve from any computer. It is wonderful! This is a tool that any teacher can and should get excited about. Keeping all of your favorites in one place is ideal!

I can also see the value in using social bookmarking with my students. If a group project is assigned, and students are researching websites, they have a common place to save their research and share with everyone in the group. I have not used a social bookmarking tool like with my students, but wonder how that would actually work. Maybe it would be a tool more suitable for professional use? Could a wikispace set up for class/group collaboration take the place of a social bookmarking site for my students? Maybe so...just something to think about.

You are invited to check out my bookmarks at:

Thing 5

If anyone is interested here is the link to my bloglines feeds:

One of my favorite blogs is Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day!