Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thing 11 - Text-to-Speech/Speech-to-Text

Read the Words
A Bear in There by Shel Silverstein

MRA Conference Implementation PDF Document
MRA Conference Implementation

The first thing that came to mind as I explored the text-to-speech sites was how I could be using it right now in my classroom. Because I teach students how to write and how to go through the editing process, I often find that some students have difficulty in editing their writing because they just don't "see" the errors on the page. If my students were able to copy and paste their writing into one of the text-to-speech sites, they might be able to "hear" the mistakes and be able to make corrections as needed.

I really liked the vozMe site because it seemed the easiest for students to be able to use. Although the quality of the audio was okay, I could enter a small amount of text or copy and paste a large amount of text. Students would not need to set up accounts for this particular site either...a plus, in my opinion.

Read the Words was also quite easy but needed an account. I also could not upload a larger document without having to pay for an upgrade.

YAKiToMe, on the other hand allowed me to upload a larger piece of text. The quality of the audio was also pretty good. I preferred the YAKiToMe site over the others because of the the amount of text it could handle and the quality of the audio.

Dial2Do seemed like a pretty neat Speech-to-Text site. I thought the accuracy of the transcription was great. Although, it is limited in the amount of services unless a subscription is paid for.

Awesome UDL tools for giving students different ways to learn and be successful in the classroom!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thing 10 - Google Maps

Mackinac Bridge Area Attractions
View Mackinac Bridge Area Attractions in a larger map

Mackinac Bridge Street View

View Mackinac Bridge Area Attractions in a larger map

After exploring Google Maps and especially My Maps, I can see that educators could use this application in the classroom in many areas. As I teach English and reading at my school, I could have students search for places we are reading about, or I could create maps with video, links, and text to have students explore (virtual field trips). When studying folktales/mythology with 7th grade students, I could have them go to the places/areas that stories being studied took place or may have taken place...Greek Mythology - Greece for example. When studying Shakespeare a class could "visit" Shakespeare's Globe Theater. Google Maps could be used for math and geography when finding locations and distance. In social studies/history, teachers can take students to areas of the world when discussing current events. The possibilities are endless! Great Web 2.0 Tool!

Thing 9 - Google Custom Search Engine

Holocaust Search Engine

This customized search engine allows students to research topics and images for a unit of study on the Holocaust. I found my experience with setting up the Google Custom Search to be very easy. I really like the idea of creating a search engine for individual units of study such as the Holocaust because I know that my students will be going to sites that are appropriate and that allow them to get to the information they need without having to weed through what they don't want or need. After experimenting with the ease of this Google application, I will be creating a customized search engine to put on my classroom wiki for any topic to be researched. My students are always looking for websites that they can take images from. A list of fair use/copyright friendly websites of images that are kid-friendly will be my first goal with setting up this search engine. What a great way to help ensure the safety of our students while online!

Thing 8 - Screencast

Screencasting using Screencast-o-matic was actually pretty neat and pretty easy to use too. I had no issues with the website, software, or audio.

I can definitely see how teachers and students could use screencasting. The information I read about and the examples of Mathcasts that I looked at show how this tool would be extremely useful to a math teacher. Being able to show students how to solve math problems and also being able to have students show how they solve math problems in this format, which can be embedded onto a classroom website or wiki, allows for students and even parents to understand concepts learned at school. All too often, parents try to help their child with a math assignment at home, and they show their child a "different" way to do the work. Students get confused and frustrations arise. With an explanation of how to do the math concept readily available, this situation can be helped.

I really like the idea of students explaining something learned. I often have students help each other in the classroom because it allows them to learn from each other. Sometimes they learn better from each other than from only hearing and watching me teach them. Screencasting allows students to explain their way of doing something which in turn can help someone else understand.

As the fifth grade technology teacher at my school, I can see how creating screencasts on how to use applications and software can be useful. After students first listen and follow along to my instruction, if they need to be reminded of a step they may have forgotten, the screencast would be available for them to use. This helps me, and it also helps my students!

I believe screencasting could be used in any subject. Besides math and technology instruction, it would lend itself well to history or geography. Students could show movement of people throughout history with maps, images, and links done in a Powerpoint. Science screencasts could also be created in Powerpoint with images and diagrams to show a subject being learned.

Now that I've created my first screencast, I am sure to use it in my classroom instruction!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thing 7 - Screencast

Here is a screencast I created about how to make a banner in Microsoft Publisher:

Thing 6 - Comic Creators

Sentence Types

I believe the comic creators I explored including, ToonDoo, Kerpoof, and Five Card Nancy would all lend themselves to potential assignments/projects for my students. Although I used ToonDoos to create my comic, there is inappropriate content that students could run across, so utilizing the subscription ToonDooSpaces that ToonDoos created for educators and students might be the way to go. Kerpoof would require students being aware of the fair use info required.

Students in grades 4-6 would probably be most interested in creating comics. The cartoon I created is an example of an assignment I could give to my 5th graders. They would have to use the four types of sentences: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory using correct capitalization and punctuation to create their comic. I can also see students creating comics to show chronological order of events (plot) in a piece of writing. Older students such as 7th grade could take a story with flashbacks and put the events in order using one of the comic creators. Students who recognize the flashback/s would be able to adapt their creation to show chronological order of the events.

What a fun way to engage students in creating stories as well as learning about story elements and sentences!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thing 5 - VoiceThread

After browsing the many Voicethreads, I found this classroom poetry Voicethread. I am going to be having my fifth grade students create poetry after our spring break, and thought that this would be a great way to showcase their work.

Teachers and students both can use VoiceThread to share ideas and creations. Teachers could use it to "teach" lessons that could be posted to classroom websites or wikis for students to access at home. This would be especially useful to math teachers teaching math concepts. Not only can students watch and listen to the teacher, but they can comment back through text or audio. Students can also create their own Voicethreads for any subject being, social studies, and math. Another way I could use Voicethread is by having students create group stories. One group could write the beginning (setting and characters), a second group could write the plot (conflict and events), and a third group could write the ending (resolution). It could then be pulled together with Voicethread while having students record the story to go along with illustrations or other found images.

What a great tool that I have yet to use in my classroom and am looking forward to implementing!

Thing 4 - Skype

I really like Skype! Personally, I use it often to Skype dad, who spends part of his retirement in Florida during the winter months and my brothers, who do not live locally. It is a great way for us (My kids love it too!) to stay in touch with them and feel connected. Professionally, I also have been using Skype at my school. All of the teachers have Skype accounts, and we often message each other with questions as well as video Skype between classrooms. Our students think it is the coolest thing!

I had one video conversation with a colleague (to complete this "Thing") discussing the possible uses of Skype in the classroom. Our connection was good with little to no audio/visual issues. We talked about having our partner classes Skype each other to share stories we have written. It would also be great to use if a student who is absent for an extended period of time (due to illness or being on vacation)and has access to Skype to touch base with his/her class during their absence. I would really like to set up a Skype call with an author that my class/es have been studying. I've never really known where to start, but now with some of the resources shared from this course, I want to begin that process sooner rather than later.

Possible problems with skyping in the classroom could be equipment failure or issues during the call or setting up a convenient time with the person or class being skyped with that works for both parties. Students would also have to know the rules to be followed during a Skype call as to not be disruptive.

Skype is one of the Web 2.0 tools that is a must for the classroom!

Thing 2 - Twitter

So...this is the second time I've set up a Twitter account. I have one that I use to post messages to my classroom wiki and now a second one to use as my PLN! After reading all about Twitter, my first response is "Wow!" I didn't realize all that was or could be involved such as Tweetdeck, TinyUrl, and hashtags. I look forward to learning more about Twitter as I become more involved in it myself. As far as how I use Twitter and how I will use Twitter, there are many possibilities.

I could see Twitter becoming a way to stay in touch with friends and family with quick tweets to let everyone know what I am up to. And, vice versa, staying in the loop with friends and family!

Creating a Twitter account to follow other educators is a great way to stay informed, share, and even collaborate with teachers, both locally and globally. Starting a PLN using Twitter is an easy yet effective way for me to continue my goal as a life-long learner. I can also see it being a great way to get tech support when needed.

There may be ways to implement Twitter into my classroom such as allowing students to reflect on any subject being taught as well as responding to their peers' reflections. Helping students to stay up to date on current and world events is another use that I will look into. The more I become comfortable with Twitter, the more I will be able to see the pontential of its use in my classroom!