Thursday, October 29, 2009

Student Work

I just wanted to post this because I think it's a great example of how tech integration is not as difficult as some make it out to be.  I gave my class a relatively simple assignment.  We've just finished reading Lord of the Flies as a class, and they were asked to create a final project demonstrating their understanding of the book.  The guidelines were not strict, they simply had analyze the plot, characters, setting, mood or some combination of the above, and then present their work to the class.  The only "catch" was that they had to integrate technology in some way.

I didn't tell the exactly what they had to do in terms of technology.  They all have laptops and so naturally they have access to the programs on the MAC like I- Move, ComicLife and the rest.  I did introduce a list of Web 2.0 tools a few weeks ago, and encouraged them to experiment and share their findings with the group.  In addition to their presentations, they were required to write a 1-page reflection on the process.

Here is a sample of the projects I have received so far.  Keep in mind that I merely introduced some new tools and encouraged them to explore.  I also shared my experiences and questions as I played arouund with these tools as well.  Please click the following link and feel free to comment about your experiences with these, or any other tools you've had some success with.  Enjoy!  Class Gallery

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ummm...Why Isn't Every Teacher Doing This??

Originally uploaded by Ms Ladyred

I continue to be awed by the power of social networking. I bookmarked Tag Galaxy , an amazing Flickr tool, on my Diigo toolbar and within 10 minutes it had been viewed and saved by over 500 people. 500 people? What the....? Is this even real? It just goes to show you the awesome power of social media at its best! Oh did I mention, that I ended up having a short dialogue with a group who posted the link on Twitter in Australia?

I have recently joined 2 Nings dedicated to educators interested in working and learning from others: The Educators Personal Learning Plan and Global Education Collaborative- both are invaluable. My network is growing exponentially by they day.

The resources on these sites include videos, links, discussions, lesson plan ideas and others. Combined with my ongoing conversations on Twitter and my Diigo contacts and bookmarks, I'm starting to wonder what I can learn in my graduate school courses that can be more valuable than this!

It can seem overwhelming at 1st but beyond worth giving it a try. The  Professional Development train has now gone global people- it's time to take the ride!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Using FlickR to Inspire Writing

Originally uploaded by u n c o m m o n

First I'd like to say that there's nothing new about the basic concept of using everything from photos, to newspaper clippings to inspire students to write. Back when I was a new teacher, I regularly poured through magazines & newspapers looking for anything that would spark my student to think creatively.

Technology has just made this process easier and has also opened an entire world of creativity for me and my students. I've been teaching my students about the importance of setting and mood when writing their stories. Since it's Halloween time, we're focusing on spooky tales. I chose a group of about 18 pictures and created a gallery called "mood lessons" for easy access within Flickr.

This particular photo sparked lots of conversation & creativity beyond what I expected. Not only were students able to discuss the setting and mood, they also began writing stories based on what they thought might be happening in this scene. They zeroed in on the one individual standing at the bus stop and the spooky lights. Before I knew it, most were spinning tales about who and what he was waiting for, and whether or not he was watching someone inside the building for some terrible reason.

My point is this, especially for teachers who think tech integration means learning how to use every application on their computers, something as simple of FlickR can have a multitude of implications for student learning.   How about creating a title for this photo, or writing 2 different versions of stories based on this setting? How about turning this into a cartoon or animation, or crafting a dialogue for the lone figure in this picture? The possibilities are endless if you just open yourself up to experience them.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2 Great New Apps for Teachers

This has been quite a busy week for me.  I have been busy trying to compile a list of the most practical applications for both student and teacher use for my literacy instruction, and stumbled upon a couple of great ones.  The first one is called Wordle, and basically allows you to create wordclouds.  Simple concept right?

Well, the great thing about Wordle is the variety of ways in which it can be used.  For example, you can generate vocabulary lists in order to activate prior knowledge, study synonyms & antonyms, or have students input entire essays to examine over used words and repetition.  The possibilities are truly endless.  I shared one with the class today and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

My 2nd jewel of a find is Screenjelly  I actually discovered this one through one of my Diigo groups centered around educational technology.  When I say the power of social bookmarking for purposes of professional development and personal enrichment is massive, it's an understatement.  I can honestly say that much of my recent learning around technology and instruction has been the result of shared bookmarks and conversations on Diigo and Twitter.  Please take a look at my Screenjelly lesson about how to use Wordle.  This single tool will transform your ability to reach students and other professionals in your network almost seamlessly so enjoy!

Coming next week- pros and cons of animoto and using go animate for digital storytelling.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

America's Next Top Model

I'm currently in the process of trying to push forward the technology integration at my school.  My goals are:
  • To get teachers to use technology in authentic ways when planning & delivering instruction
  • To collaborate with my team in order to push this process forward
  • To model the habit of collaborating and pooling our "collective intelligence" as a staff

I recently set up a wiki page for my 8th graders, and was beyond thrilled when I realized that several of my colleagues quickly followed suit or were interested, but not sure of how to do it, where to start,  or questioned its value overall as a teaching tool.  Yesterday at a professional development session, a colleague and I had a strategy that models the mini-lesson strategy that works well with our students.  My first idea was explain the "why" of my thinking around building the page and then showing "Wikis in Plain English" video for You Tube.  After showing the video, we simply walked the teacher through our wiki pages to demonstrate its many uses for students, teachers, and parents as well.

The excitement was immediate as the teachers quickly bombarded us with questions regarding the setup and ways in which to use it in their own classrooms.  The model itself of the page was probably the most powerful piece of the entire session, as I was able not to merely explain, but to show how I was using my page in a useful manner. 

So, with that I've decided to include a couple of quick tips for those who may be new to this idea, as many in my work environment are: 
  • If you're students will be editing your site, you will need an email address, username, and password for each- it is best if this is done as an Excel spreadsheet, but can be done on a word document as well.
  • Create pages within you wiki space simply by clicking the "new page"tab at the top.
  • Use it as a space to store documents you use often like reading response questions, templates, or schedules (you can upload images, video, pdf files and more).
  • Utilize google calendar-it can easily be edited and included as a part of your page.
  • Use it to showcase your  students' work!
  • Have a space for announcements, reminders, and celebrations of positive things happening in your class!
  • Utilize the help staff- they are quick, patient, and willing to assist with pretty much any and everything!
Moving forward, I'm hoping to collaborate with my staff around unique ways to not only use this tool but others that foster the spirit of collaboration, creativity, and learning!

I'm in Love with....Twitter

"What are you doing"?  Four words that I thought just a few short months ago were for people with nothing better to do.   I, along with several others I know, jokingly referred to Twitter as "new age stalking", until I realized its awesome power as a networking tool.  Twitter has quickly become my primary source of exchanging information with other educators, students, technology specialists across the world.

I primarily follow those with similar interest and careers because I've found some of the most interesting articles, teaching tools, and conference dates are shared daily.  I've even recently begun to follow a group of 130 educators through TweetML, and cannot believe I've not been using this as a collaboration tool before now!  I'm also currently in the process of thinking through authentic ways to for my students to use this tool as well including short responses to discussion questions, following authors of novels we are reading, or simply exchanging quick tidbits of information and/or ideas.  So
" what am I doing"- I am harnessing knowledge and intelligence of many and plan to continue to do so!