Friday, February 25, 2011

Thing 22

The likelihood of me taking online professional development is certain. I love the idea of being able to take a class while at home and when it is convenient for me. Taking “PD in your PJ’s” is a definite plus, and not having to leave your home, saving on gas, or taking time away from family adds to the lure of online professional development. There is just more flexibility! Although taking classes online has its advantages, it does also have its disadvantages. If one is not comfortable with the technology, it could unnecessarily frustrate the person taking the class. Not having the face-to-face interaction with the instructor could also be a hindrance to the learning if that contact is needed to succeed with assignments and activities. It is also necessary to be self-motivated and have the self-discipline to complete the course.

Most of my experiences with online PD have been related to technology. After browsing some of the course offerings on Michigan Learnport, I found classes related to teaching reading comprehension. I will definitely be looking into taking those courses for future professional development. (I also like that I can receive SB-CEU’s for these courses and many of them are free!) It would be great to see the ISD also offering online PD geared toward subject specific content if that is possible.

My time spent on this particular online class has been well worth it. Some “things” were already familiar to me, but many “things” were also new. The online photo-sharing apps like Flickr, Dumpr, and BigHugeLabs are great additions to my repertoire of technologies to use in my classroom. I also have never really explored the available podcasts, especially from iTunes. The PBS widgets and activity packs were also new to me and I am sure I will try to implement some of these into my curriculum. In my case, taking a PD course like this “forces” me to explore new “things” that I may not have before. As a life-long learner, I know that there will always be new and improved technologies and web applications for me to explore and bring into my classroom. I’m hoping that the “13 Things” class will be offered again as I know it also will be beneficial to me.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thing 21

Maya Angelou - The Power of Words

Maya Angelou - And Still I Rise

Using online video in the classroom is a great way to engage students who are audio/visual learners. I have been using video clips for awhile now in my classroom as a way to capture my students’ interest on any given subject. The use of online video should, of course, only be used as a way to enhance lessons taught. I have also found that if video is “overused” some students may “turn off” listening. So, keeping this in mind, I have learned to implement online videos as a way to introduce or reinforce what we are studying in class. Some of my favorites are the “School House Rock” videos that can be found on YouTube, TeacherTube, and even Google Videos.

Conjunction Junction - School House Rock

Sometimes after talking about a subject, let’s say for example, how people live in different cultures and different parts of the world, showing students through audio/visual allows them to “experience” that culture and bring a deeper understanding to the topic.

This year while team teaching a unit of study on the Holocaust, I plan on using video of survivors and their accounts of what it was like to live through the tragedy of that time. Just talking about what it was like for these people does not do enough justice to their experience. It is hoped that after viewing these accounts, my students will be hit with the reality of what it was really like and that it will lead them to an understanding of empathy for others. A blog will be created for students to then discuss issues of helping, speaking out for, and making a difference for others who are in need.

Clara Kramer: Holocaust survivor and author of CLARA'S WAR

A risk of using online video is that students could easily come across inappropriate content, uncensored user comments, and ads. Teacher computers have access YouTube, but it is blocked on the student computers at our school. I have YouTube videos embedded on my classroom wiki, and I notice there is a YouTube ad link that leads to the YouTube website which could be accessed from a student’s home. I know that there are video download helpers and converters like Zamzar, Vixy, and KeepVid that can help eliminate this problem and will maybe look into using them, but I just came across a new free service that will be available for K-12 teachers in April of this year called VuSafe. It is an app that will allow teachers to download videos from sites like YouTube to build a video library that can be categorized by subject and age and then viewed without the links to comments, ads, and inappropriate content. Looks like it might be a great way to safely stream video into the classroom!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thing 20

I believe my students would like listening to podcasts if they were entertaining enough for them. Of course, they also have to be educational and related to the subject being taught. I think that if the podcast is used at the right time and is short and to the point, my students would welcome them into the classroom as something new and different from the norm. Some of my students stop listening after a while, so hearing another voice explain or enhance learning may be a way to recapture their attention. Some podcasts my students would like to listen to:

Math Dude
ABC-Kids RollerCoaster -Fetch Faves
The Coolest Stuff on the Planet

My students would be interested in creating podcasts as long as they are given detailed instruction on how to create one and my expectations are clear. Some students shy away from recording their own voice because of confidence issues, but if given the time to practice and listen to themselves enough before a project is assigned, I believe they would enjoy creating podcasts. I have already had students create podcasts of narrative poetry they have written. It is a great way to get them thinking about and using the correct inflections and intonations in their voice to create the mood of the poem they have written. Some examples of these can be found on my classroom wiki. Other ideas for student created podcasts would be to “advertise” or review a book that has been read by producing a “radio commercial.” “Newscasts” of interviews with characters being studied from a novel read would be a fun project for students while still digging deeper into characterization. It always seems like my students themselves can come up with very creative ideas that I wouldn’t even think of…I always depend on that when assigning a project and welcome their ideas.

Podcasts that I have found to benefit me professionally:

Middle School Matters
K-12 Greatest Hits – The Best Ideas in Education
IRA Radio – Literacy 2.0 The New Frontier
Meet the Experts (Reading Rockets)

Podcasts that I have found to benefit me personally:

ANN-Smart Talk Women’s Radio Network
Oprah’s Book Club
Family Talk on – Dr. James Dobson

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thing 19

Grammar Girl
Catch Phrase
Just Vocabulary
A Meaningful Moment with Maya Angelou
Poetry Foundation

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
Rikki-tikki-tavi by Rudyard Kipling Part One
Rikki-tikki-tavi by Rudyard Kipling Part Two

What I like best about using podcasts in the classroom is that they are easy to use if you have a computer with internet access and speakers. After searching and exploring for podcasts that relate to the subjects I teach however, I found some difficulty in locating podcasts that could actually be used and that students would like and find interesting. A short podcast from the "Grammar Girl" for example, could be a way to introduce a topic/subject being studied in English class as long as it grabs students' attention. I find that my students enjoy and are more attentive if there is a visual involved. Having said that, the podcast does offer teachers a way to help students work on listening, a skill that many students need work on.

Listing podcasts on my classroom wiki for students to listen to and then respond to either through online discussion or by written paper would allow them to become aware of high-quality podcasts worth listening to that can enhance their learning experiences. I have a link to an RSS feed of Daily Mass Readings in podcast form right now for my students to go to on my wiki. Having these podcasts available to them readies them for the weekly student mass that our school has every Wednesday. Parents love it too!

Another way that I am using audio in my room right now is by using an audiobook from for the novel, Johnny Tremain. In my seventh grade literature class, students listen to and follow along to the book. (I will have them finish a chapter at home independently before we continue again on the next chapter in class using the audiobook.) I have found that this has raised reading comprehension for some of my lower reading students. Sometimes they can't wait to continue on the next day in class to find out what happens next! (Side note: I did have to install Audible Manager and purchase the audiobook for a small price, but so far it has been worth it!)

Overall, I can see that having students listen to podcasts in the classroom can be beneficial. Like any technology tool or application, the use of the podcast has to lend itself reasonably to and enhance the learning of the lesson, activity, or subject being taught.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thing 18

Students love to click on images, and widgets posted on a classroom wiki grab their attention. Before they even know it, they are engaged in an interactive, educational experience where learning can take place. The widget below is an example that pertains to the subject I teach --English Language Arts. I will often use interactive activities such as these on the Smartboard in my classroom as either a way to introduce or culminate a lesson. I am always looking for interactive, online activities that will support writing and especially grammar and convention usage for the 5th-8th grade levels that I teach. I find that a lot of widgets on this subject area are geared toward lower elementary levels and would love to find more that are appropriate for the upper elementary/junior high levels.

The Clustr Map widget is a cool tool that allows my students and me to see who has visited our wiki. Students are always interested in seeing where visitors are coming from, especially when the Clustr Map shows activity outside our country. I will occasionally take a few minutes to view the map with my students (5th grade) and locate and name the countries of visitors to our wiki! My students always keep me updated, so I know that they are looking!

Thing 17

Wikis are different than blogs in that they are more collaborative with many people writing and editing, while blogs are more personal with usually one writer or author. Wikis are constantly changing with anyone having access to it and adding to it or making changes. Blogs are mainly written posts with opinions from the blogger and comments from others when approved by the blogger.

When thinking about classroom use and assignments, I think that the wiki is better suited for communication with parents and students. I like to use it to communicate assignments, projects, and important links. If students are working on a group project, they can work together to add links and resources, as well as create a project collaboratively on a page within the wiki. The wiki also offers a great place to showcase student work and classroom photos! The blog, on the other hand, seems to lend itself better to discussions. Creating a blog for students to discuss books/novels that are read is a great way to get them communicating about the literary elements and themes presented.

An initial problem with the wiki is teaching students how to edit and create on the wiki. Once they have had enough practice with adding links and images and embedding video, it is important for the teacher to monitor what is happening on the wiki so that students are using it appropriately. Rules for use need to be established and discussed, with consequences for misuse in place. The history tab is a great way for teachers to keep an eye on what each student is contributing to the wiki.

The classroom wikis that the teachers at our school have created have been a wonderful tool for all involved: teachers, students, and parents! What an awesome Web 2.0 Technology!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Thing 16

Here is a link to my classroom wiki:

My colleagues and I have been using classroom wikis for two years now! Parents and students love it!

Thing 15

I added information about Michigan Lighthouses to the M!ch!gan page on the States wiki for "Thing 15". Check it out if you'd like!

Thing 14

Literacy in the Classroom “21st Century Style” – This wiki includes lists of books and podcasts from authors, as well as students. I would probably adapt this idea with my ELA 5-8 students by creating a page on my classroom wiki that would include author podcasts (if available) of books written, and then also allow my students to share books they have read through written review and also as a podcast. This list could grow and be a great resource for other students as they look for books that interest them!

Web 2.0 Cool Tools for Schools – This is a great wiki to help students and teachers of any subject or grade level to create presentations and webpages on a classroom wiki. It offers drawing, mapping, collaborative, video, slideshow, audio, music, graphing, and many more tools. I will be putting a link to this site on my classroom wiki as a resource for my students to use when creating their personal pages, as well as in creating media projects that I will assign.

My Side of the Mountain – Although this is a wiki dedicated to this particular novel, it could be adapted to suit any novel/book being read and studied in any of my 5-8 reading/literature classes. I notice that it is a wiki completely devoted to this one novel. I have a classroom wiki and wonder if I would have to create separate wikis for every book that I would do this for. Is it possible to have more than one wiki using the same email? Or, would I have to use another wiki tool such as PBworks or Wetpaint? Maybe it could be done with pages within my classroom wiki with a little planning and thought. I definitely need to get onboard with this collaboration amongst my students with what we are reading in class!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thing 13

I am impressed with the many things that can be done to a photo using the free tools out on the web! Of course Flickr offers Picnik as a way to edit and enhance photos as well as adding fun and unique effects. Students would love changing photos taken or found and adding effects and text to create images to be used in projects. I added a speech balloon with text to this photo using Picnik. Students can create comics/cartoons using this tool

A project that I have had students do in the past is to create a "Wall of Fame" for Black History Month. I have students do reports on an African-American man or woman and then trace an image of that person's head to create a silhouette. The silhouette and report are then displayed down the hallway for a dramatic "African-American History Wall of Fame." Parents and students love this. After browsing the Picnik site, I ran across this YouTube video on making silhouettes from images/photos found. It might be a great way to implement this technology tool into this project!

Other photo editing apps:

This photo was created in Dumpr using the Rubik's Cube effect.

I really liked BigHugeLabs. One of the tools allows the user to create a Movie Poster. I can see my students using this application to create posters for book reports, author studies (Students create a poster about an author.), during Women's History Month in March, students could create a poster about a famous woman in history. I created this image using the Movie Poster tool in BigHugeLabs.

Another tool from BigHugeLabs lets you create a Magazine Cover. Like the Movie Poster, this could be used by students to create covers for any subject being studied.

Not only are photo editing tools great for classroom use, I believe photo editing can be easily used for personal use! Creating invitations for birthday parties, images to be used in scrapbooking, calendars, etc...again, so many possibilities!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thing 12

I personally like the idea of having a place like Flickr where students and teachers can find photos to use in media projects and lessons. Having a "creative commons" area where students can search and download as well as upload and use photos or images either original or found offers many opportunities for creative projects.

Flickr could be utilized for projects such as collages. I will occasionally have a class create collages in groups to reflect a theme or idea being studied. Instead of using magazines to cut out pictures/images and then gluing to a posterboard, they can use Flickr.

I also like the Flickr tool that allows for the user to add text to an image. Being able to find photos related to a subject/theme being studied and adding text that analyzes what is viewed is a great way to make students think critically and share thoughts while doing it in a fun way.

Another project that I do with students to reinforce correct dialogue punctuation is to have them create comic strips with speech balloons or bubbles. Students could find photos to be used in a comic strip and add dialogue between characters using text right in the image.

The possibilities are endless!

Problems or obstacles that may arise might be the occasional photo found that may be questionable or inappropriate. Creating a "group" for a class to go to may help eliminate this issue. Reminding students of the "Acceptable Use Policy" signed also should discourage inappropriate use.

I am sure there are many more uses and tools that Flickr has to offer that could easily be utilized in the classroom. I look forward to exploring this site more!