Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thing #11.5: Evaluation

I'm DONE! I gave myself a deadline of July 1st to complete this, and I'm surprised that I finished ahead of my personal schedule!

Reflecting on this experience:

1) What was my favorite discovery?

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED screencasting. I will definitely use this in my classroom (with a mic, I promise!) to show students how to navigate certain things that we do on the computer. I will also be using it to have my students this year make screencasts to share with my students the following year, as I'm a big believer in having peer to peer tutoring in place when needed.

2) How has this program assisted my lifelong learning goals?

Library2Play2 has forced me to learn new things, regardless of how many years I've been out of college. It has shown me that you can't give up if something doesn't go the way you think it will and to always try again and/or look/ask for assistance when you need it. Also, you guys got me back into my family blogging, which I had put on the back burner for months, so I appreciate that! :)

3) Were there any takeaways or surprises from this adventure?

I was surprised that I disliked Second Life so much. I thought I would have enjoyed it, but in the end, it turned out to be my least favorite thing. My takeaway is that I need to challenge myself to use more technology in my classroom. Maybe I'm hindering my students because of my own fears of technology, so I need to get into the trenches and learn how to use things with them instead of just limiting the technology use to what I feel comfortable with.

4) What could L2P2 do differently?

Not much- maybe just check that some of the links on the things are actually linking to what was originally intended. Some of the links to particular blog posts were to the blog but not to the specific post, and seeing as this program was set up last year, most of those bloggers have blogged a whole year's worth of stuff, making it hard to find the intended post to read. Also, the majority of the things can be used with ELL students, but I think any extra goodies you guys could find that directly benefit ELL students would be super appreciated by all teachers.

Thanks for everything, L2P2!

Now, I'm off to read textbooks, manuals, and lesson plans as I delve into a new year of teaching a new subject at a new school!

Thing #11: Digital Citizenship

I like this image from Cool Cat Teacher. I looked at her blog, Digiteen Digital Citizenship, ISTE NETS-S, and ISTE NETS-T.

Here are my 5 topics that I would make sure I covered with my students in regards to digital citizenship:

1) Safety and Security: My middle school students need to be aware of the dangers on the internet, whether it is online predators or malicious software that can destroy their computers. I would discuss not giving out personal information, trying to talk only with people they know, and not downloading files from people they don't know. (Maybe discuss things to watch for in e-mails- don't open them if you don't know who they're from.)

2) Etiquette: Students need to realize that the same golden rule that we use in the classroom should be applied to the internet. I cannot tell you how many times fights and arguments have erupted in the halls, classrooms, or lunch room this past year because of what so and so said about so and so on MySpace. If you have nothing nice to say, it's probably best to not say anything at all.

3) Validity of websites: I go over this every time my students do a research project. I model how I check the validity of a website and use rubrics/checklists to see if this is a site that is really worth my while when I research.

4) Give credit where it is due: I think it is important for students to understand that plagiarism can spill over onto the internet. You can't take something and pass it off as your own work. The internet is a great place to share ideas and findings, but you always need to let others know where you got your information from.

5) If you put yourself out there, be prepared for criticism: Sometimes, our students think that they live in a little protected bubble. As much as we as teachers and parents don't want to see our children harmed, we have to realize that we can't protect them from critics. If they are going to be blogging on a public level or posting their work on YouTube, anyone in the world will be able to read what they have written or view their video, and some people may have some not so nice things to say. Students need to understand this and know that just because there are a few nay-sayers in the bunch doesn't mean they should give up on their dreams.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thing #10: Virtual Worlds

Sorry L2P2. This has been my absolute LEAST favorite thing. I'm not a gamer. I've never gotten into Sims or anything like that. I tried to be positive and try Second Life out multiple times, but I just don't enjoy it.

Here's a picture of me: AggieAl Viper at the airport for NOAA. I have no idea why I have a skirt on over jeans and two completely different shoes on. I tried and tried to get myself in an outfit, but somehow, this is what my avatar turned out as. During my first session, my avatar somehow managed to down an entire bottle of wine and then stumbled across the lands while onlookers yelled out, "Hey, she's hammered!" Great start. I found it sometimes easier to talk with other avatars to get information on how to do things. In the morning, people were pretty helpful.

The search option is NOT user-friendly. One avatar kept telling me that I needed to learn to use my search box. Well, I may be blonde in RL (real life), but that dumb search box was not working well with me. I went to several of the places suggested on L2P2, but when I went there, no other avatars were there. You could open up links to read online, but there weren't really people there to interact with.

When I went to random places on SL like a ski chalet, beach, and dance club, I truly realized how much I wasn't enjoying my experience. My avatar got hit on by a 13 year old boy (who shouldn't be on SL in the first place!), a blue fairy tried to eat me, some guy kept calling me a w**** and shouting the f-word, and when I asked questions about how to get to places where I could learn, lots of avatars told me to stop trying to learn and just play, buy stuff, etc.

I even Googled "How can I use Second Life in the classroom?" I found these slideshares (go figure!) I read through some of the posts about using SL and even asked a few avatars why they thought SL would be useful in the classroom. A lot of what I heard was: You can make learning more fun, and some students who are reluctant to do classwork may be more willing to learn in this gamer setting.

Okay, points taken. I'm sure SL can be a great tool for education and for getting students motivated. Can I be the reluctant one now and say that I'll pass on SL? It just wasn't MY type of thing. (Update: I don't think any of my current beach buddies have gotten to this thing yet, so I looked at blogs from last year's class. Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels this way, so I feel a lot better about not being into this one! Whew!)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thing #9: Slideshare

The question for this thing is: Would it be important for students to use Slideshare? If so, why?

My answer: I don't know that it is necessarily important or essential for students to use Slideshare, but I do see a few advantages to the program.

- You can share your presentation with others on a website instead of just through e-mail.

- You can do voice over instead of just having the audience read your slides/notes.

- You can search, view, and download others' slideshows.

- You can embed your slideshow onto your blog and other websites.

I'm not sure about high school as it has been a while since I was in it, but I know in college, slideshow presentations were a requirement for many of my courses. If students are able to practice making slideshows, they will be able to work on their presentation skills, something that will only help them later in life when they have a job.

As a teacher, this program is beneficial for the same reasons I listed for students. If students are absent, they can download your slideshow and listen to your presentation instead of just asking someone for the notes. I think a lot of the teachers who attend professional developments would find this useful to look at after the presentation to review the key concepts.

I looked through the channels on Slideshare, and there are currently only two contributors to the Education channel. Maybe this will pick up in the next few years so that educators can share ideas for their classrooms?

Thing #8: Screencast

Here's my try at a screencast. I used ScreenCastle. I made one about how to take screen shots and post them on your blog, hence the post below. When you click on it to play, please make it full-screen. I didn't use a mic (I detest listening to myself speak!), so I wrote commentary out and highlighted it as the screencast takes you through taking screen shots of websites. I think this was super cool! I could use this tool to go through instructions before heading into the computer lab and then leave it on my blog for students to refer to if they forget and without me having to repeat the same process seven million times! (I would use a mic for my actual classroom projects.) I also like how L2P2 suggested having students make screencasts so that next year's students could watch and see how other kids did something for my class. Sometimes, you feel like you say the same thing over and over in so many different ways that it would be nice to see it done and to have a student help another student with a classroom process.

How to add a screen shot to your blog

How to take a screen shot and load it onto your blog...

1) Open up whatever page you would like to take a shot of.

2) Hold Ctrl and the button that says "Print Screen"

3) Next, you should open up a document like Powerpoint

4) Now, you can paste the screen onto the document

5) Here, you can crop or add text- whatever you need or want to do

6) Now, you want to save that Powerpoint page, but make sure you change it to a JPEG file.

7) Finally, you want to add the page onto your blog by adding a picture to your blog.

8) And there you have it! Hope this helped!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thing #7: Video Resources

I viewed the video and looked through some of the information about fair use. On campus, we usually have posters in the copy rooms about legal limits about what can and can't be reproduced. I understand that I can pretty much show videos that I have found online. Does fair use correspond more with if I took videos I found online and put them into a video I made? This is what I was gathering from what I viewed.

I had trouble searching on The National Archives Video Collection. However, I went to their link and found a lot of great stuff to use in my class with reproducible primary sources!

Here are two videos that I found that I could use in my history class. Both are from PBS.

This first one I was able to embed because it had a code. This is a short film that reviews the key causes for the Civil War. This would be good to use with my eighth graders before and after the unit to help students quickly recall the main ideas.

The second video, I have to link to. (I guess because of its length.) I like that this video brings the history to life. (And I think students will like this option of seeing history in action, instead of just through photos) Instead of it being a slideshow, actors act out what happened and is mixed with interviews with historians. We Shall Remain

Watch the full episode. See more History Detectives.

Thing #6: iTouch Apps

As stated in previous posts, I have a phone from when dinosaurs first roamed the earth. My husband has an iPhone, and I find it helpful when we're looking up directions (if we're in my car that doesn't have GPS) or when we want the answer to a random question we have while driving: (How many albums did this band put out? What movies are playing this weekend?) I personally don't want an iPhone or iTouch for my everyday life. I just don't think I would use it.

Now, in the classroom, I can see students getting more excited about learning when you throw in iTouches. However, watching some of the videos, a lot of the students were talking mostly about how they like them for Facebook, MySpace, or for downloading music- not necessarily for helping them with their learning. I think the YouTube feature, camera, and internet connections would be useful in the classroom. Students can easily look up information, regardless of where they are. Students can communicate with each other, their teachers, and other resources via e-mail, blogs, nings, wikis, etc.

Here are some apps that appeal to my U.S. history class:

U.S. History Trivia Quiz (my 8th graders take a TAKS test in the spring)

Top 100 Milestone Documents- U.S. (look through documents that have shaped America)

iHistory (explores people, events, wars, inventions, etc)

Today in American History (significant events for each day)

Constitution (the U.S. Constitution right at your fingertips!)

I'm still not totally convinced, but then again, I'm NOT a Mac person.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thing #5: Microblogging

I started Facebook when I was a freshman in college and had been on up until January of this past year. Even with my privacy levels at a maximum, certain "friends" kept posting links to something I had posted on my account. I grew frustrated and decided to set certain friends at a minimum viewing zone. Well, then that person found out from another person that I had posted a new picture and why couldn't they see it, I've ruined their life (really, you have a life when it revolves around what you can and can't view on Facebook?), etc. So, I went on hiatus for a few months. It was nice being away from there for a while, but then I was offered a job at a new school, and I would be sad to not see some of my good friends and co-workers on a regular basis, so I re-joined to keep in touch. (Plus it's summer- I openly admit that as a teacher, during the summer, I have zero life, and that's just the way I like it, thank you very much!) When it comes to school use- maybe students could set up groups for a class to have discussions about what's going on in class, find someone to tutor, set up a study group, etc. I'm sure there are tons of pages for organizations that I could join as an educator to get ideas or invites to special events that correlate with my subject area. Oh, there are! I just checked!

I set up a Twitter account last year and didn't stick with it. I don't think anyone really cares to know that I'm headed to the grocery store or am just back from buying shoes. Have you seen that commercial? I laugh every time! I don't have a smart phone. I've had the same phone since I first started dating my husband five years ago. If I did have a smart phone, then I'd maybe keep up with stuff like this. I was reading through some of the suggested readings for this thing, and I did come away with these two ideas: 1) You can learn to say what you need to say in short, succinct statements. 2) Need help with something? Someone out there is bound to have some sort of advice or opinion. For educational use, you can follow people in the edu world, but you can also create an account for your students to reply to. Keep them on their toes- ask meaningful questions and see what they have to say in response.

I LOVED reading about back-channeling, and I loved how it was described as passing notes during the presentation! I think this would be really useful in professional development courses. Sometimes you have a question you're dying to ask, but then you either forget or there ends up being zero time. I think back-channeling would be awesome in a classroom setting especially for those students who are too shy. As a teacher, you can gauge how the lesson is going- what do I need to re-teach? What do I need to go more in-depth on? Students can also start up conversations that you would never have even thought of.

Thing #4: Video Hosting

Wow! I thought that would have taken FOREVER, but it literally took 2 minutes of my time!

I had to go back to Library2Play 23 Things to remind myself how to embed this video. (I had to go back to learn how to screen shot and such, too! That's what I get for not keeping up with my blogging this past year!)

Some of the advantages of having teaching/learning videos available online are:

* You can get ideas from others to try in your own classroom (Like Harry Wong says, "Beg, borrow, and steal")

* A lot of videos find a way to make the learning interesting, fun, and/or memorable which is super important for my middle school students. I always have to think about, "How can I teach this so that they'll remember this in 10 years?"

* Sometimes it's helpful for kids to hear or see a concept in a different way than you've taught it by yourself. Some teachers feel like they should be able to do everything by themselves, and if you're not willing to try something new or let someone else show the same concept in a different manner, you're just setting yourself up for failure.

As for student created work, I think the advantages would be:

* Students are more likely to take pride in their work if they know others will be able to view it. I created a classroom reading blog this last year with my sixth graders, and when they knew that anyone from anywhere in the world could see what they had to say about a book, they thought about it a little bit more than they would if it is was just a pen and paper assignment.

* Students would be able to share their work with family, friends, and the whole world.

* Students would be able to receive feedback from people other than just their teachers.

Thing #3: Like Skype

Skype and other programs like it would be great for the classroom. When I was in college, I had a class where we had to help students in Hong Kong with their English. We worked via e-mail and instant messaging. However, if we had Skype, we could have worked on their English through practicing speaking and listening instead of just reading and writing.

I looked through the list of 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom, and here are some of my favorites:
* Chat with an author, historian, artist, etc.- just like in Thing #1- sometimes, you just have to ASK! I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who wouldn't be able to get on a plane and talk to your class in person but would be willing to get on the computer to talk with students about whatever you ask them to talk about. You never know unless you ask.

* After-school help- If students are working on homework and message you on Skype to chat, you have the ability to tutor after school over the computer instead of in person.

* Skyping with other classes- This would have been beneficial for my college course. You can connect with other classes in the district, city, country, or even in foreign countries. Sometimes wikis and blogs just aren't enough, and if you're working on a collaborative project, students may get more out of talking and seeing.

* Inclusion- If a student has a circumstance that leaves them out of the regular classroom, it would be really cool to be able to include them in the every day classroom experience, especially when there's a project involved. I know my students can't stand when a group member is out of school while they're working on a project, so this is a good option for situations like these.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thing #2: Wordle, etc.

I think the internet hates me. Nothing is working properly this evening!

I love Wordle AND WordSift! I can't decide which one I like more. I like Wordle because it's pretty. Students can use it to help with figuring out main concepts. You could have students make a wordle with a page or notes and then have students discuss which words are biggest (most common) and what words and ideas could we put under those main concepts. I like WordSift because of the links and pictures that it comes up with. A lot of students need a visual, so it's cool that clicking on a word that was used often in a text can pop up pictures to go along with it.

Glogster was neat. I hate the fighting and clean-up that comes with traditional poster making, so for students to have something online that can be easily created, easily changed, and the ability to put videos on the poster makes this tool an awesome resource for students and teachers. The thinking is similar in the fact that students will think about: What are the most important things to put on my poster? What should the layout look like? How can I make my poster attractive? The thinking is also different because when you add in sounds and videos, students will have to ask: Why am I using this feature? Does it add to or take away from the presentation? Is this a reliable source, worthy of being used in my presentation?

I tried Animoto. Just to put 4 pictures in the show was taking 30+ minutes. I'm not really sure what was going on. I tried to do another one, and same thing. I'll try again tomorrow, but this just wasn't cutting it. Plus, you have to pay to make videos longer than 30 seconds. I'm not sure this would be valuable for student use if the videos had to be 30 seconds or shorter. Since Animoto didn't work, I moved to the Voki. I made my avatar, but when I went in to type the speech for her to say, she refused to say any of it, regardless of the voice choice. The internet gods really must hate me this evening!

As for Bookr- I got nothing but Internal Service Error. Is anyone else having this problem? I tried it on my Google Chrome, my Internet Explorer, and from my home computers. Guess Thing #2 will have to be continued tomorrow...

Tuesday morning follow-up: Guess the internet connection at my house was super slow last night. Everything works today. Here's the Animoto I made with photos from Father's Day weekend:

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

As for Bookr, I thought it was cool and seemed pretty easy. The only thing is that you use pics from Flickr which I don't feel totally comfortable with. I just don't use the program, so I don't know how easy it would be for me. However, if the pictures are all tagged, it might be easier to use than searching for Google Images.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thing #1: The Networked Student

And we're back!

I'm very happy to be back at these "things," but this summer has presented a completely different challenge than last year... toddler lurking around, wanting to play, eat, and make mischief. So, please pardon the crazy random time stamps on my posts!

After watching the video about networked students, I'm thinking:

Students: When I was a kid, someone who had all of this information would've been considered a complete dweeb. Now, having access to various resources (and knowing what to do with said resources) makes you intelligent and in some cases, powerful. I'm amazed with all of the advances in technology. I'm even more amazed how quick students are to embrace it and become experts. Even though a lot of my students don't have a computer at home, they make it a point to get to the school or local library to access technology. Those who step outside of using it strictly for Facebook and MySpace will surely find that knowledge is power.

Video: I love the simplicity of the video. I've never played with Flip cams or any of the movie making software programs, but I'm sure this wouldn't be too hard for my students. It's nice for students who need visuals along with the audio, instead of constant lecturing and flip charts. I'm moving to a new subject area this next school year (social studies), and I will have a section of newcomer ELL students. I think making these videos would be a goal I could set for myself, as well as for my students.

Teacher/librarian: I agree with other L2P2 players. The librarian is a teacher- no question about it. He/She teaches students, as well as classroom teachers about how to access resources in a room full of books or on the web. I think it was very important for viewers to understand the part about how students must be taught how to judge a source's credibility and to distinguish between fact and opinions. As old-school as I can be, I truly see the value of using the various internet resources to network for information, career opportunities, or just for fun.

Looking forward to completing a few more things,

A Gal Named Al

P.S.- You can follow along with my family's blog: Life with the Lees