Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 11: Self Assessing and Reflecting

1. What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.

My favorite tool is Diigo. As I mentioned before, I think it is a great tool to use with inquiry based instuction/ research. I also liked exploring the iPad apps and downloading new books. I want to experiment with incorporating Today's Meet and wikis with literature circles in order to make the reflection and evaluation more meaningful to students. I would also like to connect to other classrooms, especially in other states and/or countries. The more we can get students connected to the outside world and engaged in real world learning applications, the better.

2. How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?

One can always improve on teaching practices. I want to focus on finding authentic ways to use technology to increase student learning, instead of just using technology as a gimmick. There are lots of activities out there that emphasize using technology just for the sake of using technology. I think some of the referred websites and tools, such as Learning Games for Kids and Thinkfinity (in some regards) do just that. Of course, that is just my opinion.

3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I guess I was most surprised that we had to take a multiple choice "test" at the end of this session. Just a little ironic.

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 10 Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship

Discuss at least three things you would want to make sure your students understand about being good digital citizens.

In their article, "Digital Citizenship: Addressing Appropriate Technology Behavior", Mike S. Ribble, Dr. Gerald D. Bailey, and Dr. Tweed W. Ross identify nine general areas of behavior that make up digital citizenship:

1. Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure
2. Communication: electronic exchange of information
3. Education: the process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
4. Access: full electronic participation in society
5. Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods
6. Responsibility: electronic responsibility for actions and deeds
7. Rights: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
8. Safety: physical well-being in a digital technology world
9. Security (self-protection): electronic precautions to guarantee safety

It is imperative that parents and teachers explictly teach etiquette, responsibility, safety and security. Luckily, we have a great librarian who has helped teachers reinforce high standards. Most of the children at are school have been exposed to technology and its use and practices from a very young age. However, it is important to review the procedures and expectations each year. With intermediate students, I like to focus on access, rights, and communication. Since cyber bullying is on the rise, especially in middle school, I think it is important to address this issue early in Elementary.

Share at least one of the resources mentioned above or on the Ed Tech website that you plan to use instructionally.

The iSafe program looks promising. I like the real stories found in the Student Toolkit.

Explain briefly how you would "teach" the idea of digital citizenship to your students.

To start the year off, it would be neat to have students make an animated video describing the various components of digital citizenship. Merely talking to them about it would not be as meaningful (or memorable). FramebyFrame Leopard would be a neat tool to use on the Macs (if we have it). Students could create their own animated videos. This video shows an example of the possibilities;however, I would make sure my students produce a video with a little more "meat." I have begun to bookmark sites on Diigo and plan to start the year with an introduction of inquiry circles focused around the theme of cyber bullying.

Explain briefly how you plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with your parents.

We can inform parents of digital citizenship at Back to School Night. We can also post tips on our grade level blog.

Monday, June 13, 2011

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?

Technology is a tool. Without tying it to the objective, it can become meaningless, busy work. Without meaning to, sometimes teachers fall into the trap of using their Activboards as glorified powerpoints or worksheets. I also feel that some of the websites out there do the same thing. Instead of filling in the blank with paper and pencil, we now use the click of a mouse. It is important for teachers to reflect on the objective, task analysing the skills students need to grow. Kids love technology and some of them know more than I do! Unfortunately, our current high-stakes testing system does not measure how creative or innovative students are; however, we want to teach them to be critical thinkers and thus need to provide transformative learning opportunities.

Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?

I believe most learning takes place when we reflect on our process. Holding students accountable for their learning is a must because it helps them have a purpose for their learning. By establishing clear expectations and achievable goals, students are more likely stay focused and engaged in the learning process.

Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like? How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

I tried Thinkfinty and Studyladder.

I could see using Thinkfinty as a station. Many of the ReadWriteThink activities have a product that students would produce.

Studyladder and Atomic Learning would be good for individualized teaching, allowing students to practice grammar rules they may be struggling with. I would hold them accountable by asking them to edit their own writing, applying the new grammar skill learned. Students could also use these websites for homework practice.

List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

I will use ibook, Kindle or Nook as a listening/ reading station (see below), depending on the books provided for classroom use. To hold students accountable, students would (from time to time) be required to annotate their thinking by taking notes on the devices and look up words they do not know. I would also create a wiki or blog for students to share their thoughts on what they are reading. Students who choose to read the same books can collaborate and share ideas using this media.

iBook: This app allows you to downloads book right to your device. Most of the classics are free; however, other books will cost you between $.99 and $14.99. The new 1.3 version has a read-aloud feature for children that "uses a real narrator to read the book to you, and in some books, it will even highlight the words as you read along."

Other book apps include Nook and Kindle! If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iTouch, you can download all three of these apps for free. The Nook and Kindle are also available on Android phones/ tablets.

I am also excited about trying Jing. While it is not currently available on the iTouch or iPad, I am hoping they will add it soon. If not, I will use it as a station using the Netbooks. I think it would be a good tool to use with research, as students can take a screenshot of any of the pictures they wish to use and take notes about them. Watch the overview video here to learn more.
Also check out IEdTech to check out more classroom ideas!

What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.

Did you know, you can take a screenshot with the iPad by pressing the power and menu buttons simultaneously. Pretty cool!

Some of my favorite apps include:

Penultimate- cost: $1.99: Take notes, keep sketches, and allows you to share ideas.

Worldbook--This Day in History: An interactive calendar that features historical information for each day of the year

Flipboard: This app allows you to keep up with all your RSS feeds in a magazine format. Great for those who want to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader and other news.

Dictionary.com: A dictionary and thesaurus

Dragon Dictation: Dragon Dictation is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon® NaturallySpeaking® that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.

Mobile Mouse Pro: This app acts as a remote control that allows you to control all of your internet and media programs. It is supposed to work with the Activboard. Very cool! Check out this video for more information:

Evernote: An app that allows you to take notes with the ability to insert audio clips, pictures, and video clips.

I look forward to experimenting with these apps in the classroom next year! SBISD's database, which allows you search for Web 2.0 tools, is very helpful. If you have any other ideas for using apps in the classroom, please share!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 8: Taking a Look at the Tools

I'm very excited that we are getting Netbooks, and iTouches/ iPads! While we have access to them in the library, teachers will now be able to set these up as stations. For the most part, the kids are very familiar with using these devices. I also own my own iTouch and iPad, so I will have no problem incorporating them into my teaching. As with all things, teachers will need to provide lessons on how to use for and care for them.


While I do not find these as user friendly as a full sized laptop, the kids are more flexible with the smaller screen and keyboard. When using these last year, we had problems when using GoogleDocs. Many strange things, which are hard to describe, happened. For example, the cursor would not show up on the page, the text on the screen would not correspond to the text being typed, words would flip around on the page, etc. Currently, we have found that GoogleDocs works better with the PC vs. the Macs (especially when using the spell check feature), so I am hoping that this was an issue with the SBISD version of GoogleDocs and not the Netbooks themselves. Hopefully all of these issues will be worked out by next year. On the plus side, I am hoping that having the Netbooks in the classroom will make using Wikis more accessible.


What's not to love? I will use the iPad/iTouch as a station, mainly to use with research. With the Diigo app, it will make accessing bookmarks for research a cinch! I have listed some of my favorite apps on the next post.

I am wondering if they will come with the garageband and keynote apps. I know they are on the Mac but it would be great if we also had access to these programs on the iTouch/iPad.

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 7: Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

I could work with the librarian and other teachers on my campus/ in my district. I would like to eventually collaborate with another classroom in a different state or country.

I would like to try the following:

Content objective: This unit would encompass a wide variety of TEKS/ objectives but the main focus of the lesson would be to provide students with the necessary tools to make a difference/ impact in the world, around a unit of study such as, health lifestyles, bullying, childhood labor, ending world hunger, etc.

When you plan to implement: Jan.-May

What tool(s) you plan to use: Socratic Seminars , Diigo , Today's Meet, and perhaps epals.

A brief description of the project: I would like to start an open-ended inquiry circle unit with another classroom. To get started, it would be best if each classroom conducted a curricular based inquiry unit in the fall in order to model and guide the process. I will probably reconstruct the healthy eating inquiry unit I started last year, mainly because I have collected student resources and student examples of going public. Then in the spring, the kids could collaborate with another classroom and choose their own topics for inquiry.

Anyone interested?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 6 Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

Last year, our school used Facebook and Skype to collaborate with John O'Flahaven as he led discussions around CCP. Skype is a great tool for education and the uses are endless. When we were exploring inquiry circles in my classroom last year, one of my students tried to get Jamie Oliver to Skype with us with no luck! But it is a good tool to use tap into experts.

TodaysMeet is the tool I am most excited about for next year. I want to experiment with using TodaysMeet to enhance student participation during fish bowl/ inner/outer circle lessons.

Thoughts on other tools:


So what is VoiceThread? Here's a description from their website:

With VoiceThread, group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world. All with no software to install.

A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways - using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.

Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies.

This tool provides a creative way for students to present their learning. It then provides ways for others to offer feedback. Below is a student's presentation of the life cycle of a butterfly:

I could see how this could also be a useful tool for book talks/ clubs as seen in the clip below:

However, as I listened to some of the participant's comments, I couldn't help but think that this tool could easily become a gimmick. Some of the comments are shallow and do not add to the overall discussion at all. Take Linda's response for example. She goes on and on about how the reading was hard for her. She then purports that the book has many useful tools, ones that she wishes to try over the summer, but she doesn't go into depth about any of them. She doesn't describe which tools she liked or how she wants to apply them to her teaching. Hmmm...some of the other posts were equally disappointing. So while I do like the fact that users can leave comments in five different ways, this, like all technology, would need to be explicitly taught to students, giving them time to critique the qualities of effective, meaningful feedback.

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is a site that allows users to create a multiple choice or open ended response. Using a cell phone (with text messaging) or computer, students can log in and submit an answer choice. Poll Everywhere graphs the results. For students who do not have a cell phone, they can go to poll4.com and submit a response. For more information on how Poll Everywhere works, click here.

I liked this tool and thought it would be neat to use in high school, especially when most kids can text faster than they type. But for Elementary. it seems easier to use the Activotes instead.

Friday, June 10, 2011

RCE: 11 Tools, Tool 5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

I've used many of tools in the past, so I revisited those and then played around with a few new ones I was not familiar with such as Prezi and Storybird.

An oldie but goodie. Animoto is good about adding new themes often. Couldn't resist adding in this one I made of my son, Brian and his girlfriend, Andrea which displays one of Animoto's newer themes. Animoto is fun and easy to use.

In the past, I have created Animoto videos to use as a prewriting activity (listing). Students view the video and write down connections or ideas for writing. I usually show the video several times and have students share ideas). Next year, I would like to have students make their own videos and then write using snapshots of the moment.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.


Prezi is a glorified Powerpoint--definitely more interesting to watch than the traditional slideshows we are all used to. I could see making this an option for student presentations. It is easy to do and allows the designer to include videos in addition to pictures and texts.

Makes Beliefs Comix

This site allows students to make their own comics using various scenes, objects and characters. The neat thing about this site, it that it is great for ESL students as it allows students to make their own comics in any language. One great idea I found on the site was:

At the beginning of each new school year have students create a comic strip talking about themselves and their families or summarizing the most important things about their lives. Let each student select a cartoon character as a surrogate to represent her or him. After students complete their strips, encourage them to exchange their comics with classmates to learn more about each other. Students can also create strips that summarize what their individual interests to help a teacher to learn more about them.

For more ideas, click here: Ideas for Teachers.

After trying it on my own, I don't think I will use this with students. With the limited tools and features, it seems that this is more of a gimmick than learning tool. If you find a good classroom use, let me know. But for now, I think I'll stick with Storybird.

Storybird is a creative tool that allows you to write your own story or you can collaborate with a friend. Students would love this! An added bonus is that parents can purchase a hardcover book for as little as $25.95. Softcover books are also available. Check out the price list here--Sweet!

Here's one of my favorites: