Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tool #11 - Self Assessing and Reflecting

Because of the 11 Tools for the 21st Century training, I've discovered many tools to add to my personal technology toolbox.  Some of my favorite tools are now Dropbox, Google Docs, Teacher Tube, Animoto, Brain Pop, and Wordle.  I plan on using Animoto to introduce a specific genre of reading by getting the student's attention and interested in upcoming reading, and I plan on using Wordle during word study.  Using Google Docs, I've created and shared a document with my SPED team.  The document is intended to take the place of the current SPED student information spreadsheet.  The Google Docs version should help keep one accurate form instead of different versions of the same form.

  Going through the 11 Tools training has reiterated to me that students need to be actively engaged (and interested) in learning.  Continued integration of technology should help to accommodate the 21st Century learner in this aspect.  This training has also increased my awareness or the many tools and resources that are just a click away.  I love the idea of Dropbox and Google Drive and I am beginning to use Google Docs as my primary word processing tool.

I was surprised about how many tools I thought I understood but didn't fully understand prior to working on the 11 Tools.  For example, I thought that Google Docs was just an attempt by Google to replace Microsoft Office.  I now know that the vision that the people at Google had and what they have come up with is very useful.  I was also surprised at how many blogs are being written every day by educators.  It is also good to know that the Atomic Learning tutorials are available for us to use. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tool #10 - Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship

Three things I would want to make sure your students understand about being good digital citizens are
1.     The importance of online safety and security : Do not share personal information about yourself online.
2.     Digital etiquette:  Cyber-bullying has become a problem so students need to understand that negative things that are said online have the potential to be hurtful      and while online students are responsible for being considerate citizens.  The internet should be used respectfully.
3.     Digital rights and responsibilities: When I think of digital rights, I think about the importance of finding reliable resources when searching for information and the need to use online material ethically (citing sources). 
One of the resources mentioned in tool #10 that I plan to use for instruction is the workshop Digital Citizenship - touching on netiquette offered by Atomic Learning . Because many of my students are familiar with Brain Pop, I also plan on exploring the resources offered by this site.

Teaching the idea of digital citizenship to your students would tie in very well with ours school's PAWS (Positively Awesome Woodview Students) initiative.  Teaching positive character traits such as friendship (on and off-line) are essential in students understanding and avoiding cyberbullying.

The idea of digital citizenship can be introduced and explained to our parents during our school's Open House. I would begin by sharing access (if possible) to the resources mentioned in this tool (Brain Pop, Cyberbee, Digizen, CyberSmart and the workshops offered through Atomic Learning). Tips on digital citizenship can also be added to our school's newsletter.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

"Many students cannot imagine life without their mobile devices."
  1. Students want to use technology and, in my opinion, are more actively engaged as a result. The author of Tool number 9 states that it all begins with curriculum. Before considering the use of technology, we must know the desired learning outcome. Therefore, it is important to tie the technology to the curriculum objective because technology needs to be a tool for learning and not the outcome.  It is important to check to make sure the lesson activity is congruent with the objective
  2. One of the most difficult things to accomplish as a teacher is sending students of for independent work at a learning station and keeping them accountable for their learning.  I think the use of devices such as the iPod Touch and the iPad makes this task a lot easier.  Most Apps are designed to show a finished product (i.e. score).  We should hold students accountable for centers and stations because this accountability of work will make them take ownership of their learning and ensure that learning is taking place.  This accountability will allow students to demonstrate understanding and mastery of the lesson objective.
  3. I visited a number of interactive websites including  Tutpup and   Thinkfinity .  In addition to these interactive sites, I found the SBISD Interactive Database to be an ideal tool to help search for other interactive sites.  The sites in the SBISD Interactive Database have  all been approved for use by directors.  Tutpup is described as a site where students  compete in fun, educational games against other kids from all over the World.  The site offers a number of math and spelling games all of which are differentiated by levels. Thinkfinity offers interactive games  on all subjects including math, vocabulary, and science.  Students can use these websites during work stations to help strengthen and reinforce skills.  The accountability component to both these sites can be something as simple as the students keeping record of the skill reinforced and the scores from the game(s) played.  
  4. Using the  SBISD Interactive Database, I found two Apps for the iPad that I can use in my classroom.  The ABC Easy Writer is a Writing NotePad which teaches the alphabet through tracing. Key Features of the App include Upper-case and lower-case letters tracing, letter stroke guidance animations which show proper strokes for each letter, and the App utilizes easy to read bold letters.  It is designed to be used by alone by kids or with an adult in an interactive session. I also found Aliens Kids Math HD Free Lite.  The App uses fun outer space animations to teach kids how to count, add and subtract visually.  The accountability piece for the Aliens Kids Math Game is the game's prize reward system for completing each level.  The ABC Easy Writer does not include a prize reward system for accountability but I would monitor students to make sure they complete the assigned task.  
  5. I enjoy reading on my iPad so I can see my students reading books downloaded from Apple's iBooks App.  The iBooks store has a Children & Teens category with thousands of titles both fiction and non fiction.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tool #8: Taking a Look at the Tools

Three things that I learned about the device(s) that will be in my classroom this fall:
  • How to find the latest district approved version of iTunes and other software via Kace.
  • The latest version of Apple’s iOS will automatically syncs apps purchased via iTunes or another apple mobile device to other devices using the same iTunes account.  This feature can be adjusted in the iTunes settings Set Up Your iPad.
  • One way to trouble shoot any problems on the iPad is to restore the device to the factory settings  and then re-install the software.  This usually resolves many issues.
plan to use the devices that will be in my classroom this fall for Language Arts and Math.  I will create clear expectations on the use of the devices by modeling for students how to use the various apps that we will be using.  I will also need to coordinate with my Special Education team and come up with a system to share (check out) these devices since the team will be sharing the items we will receive.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tool #7: Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

  • I will begin developing the skills for asynchronous learning between student groups within the Special Education Department.          
    Given a leveled guided reading text, TSW will work collaboratively on a Google Doc literacy graphic organizer (i.e. Venn diagram, Beginning-Middle-End to Summary).  TSW will then compare the graphic organizer completed with another Woodview group of students who have worked on the same Google Doc to compare learning and add to learning. 
    • Implement in the second 9 weeks once the graphic organizers have been introduced.
    • Tools I plan to use Google Docs and Skype (Used third nine weeks to connect with other classrooms in the district once we have connected with other groups at Woodview).
    • After reading the selected guided reading text, students will collaboratively work to complete a given graphic organizer on Google Docs.  The students will add to and compare work from other students working on the given Google Doc graphic organizer.       

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tool #6: Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

I created a Skype account (Skype name is avilesf126141).  Skype is described as an easy way for teachers to open up their classroom to "meet new people, talk to experts, share ideas and create amazing learning experiences with teachers around the world."After reading this description of the Skype service, I immediately thought of how much fun it would be for my students to talk to experts and share ideas.  I plan on taking full advantage of this feature as a post learning enrichment.  

I also created an account on the online social networking site Twitter.  Twitter enables its users to create and read text based messages up to 140 characters long.   I plan on using Twitter to keep up to date with the latest news and information about topics I am interested in.   I am currently following the Discovery Channel, Steve Wozniak, Spring Branch ISD, MacWorld, Fountas and Pinnel,  Bill Gates and the US Department of Education.  I can't wait to read what Fountas and Pinnell are up to!!  ;)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tool #5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

I signed up for Animoto Lite to create free 30 second videos.  Animoto is designed to create cool video pieces from photos, video clips and music. My first thought was to use Animoto to introduce a specific genre of reading (i.e. Classic Tales).  An introduction to a reading genre using an Animoto video full of pictures of story characters is bound to get students excited about upcoming reading.  

Make a video of your own at Animoto.

I visited the Wordle website to learn how to generate a word cloud from text. The clouds highlight words that appear more frequently in the source text. The word cloud can be printed out and used before, during, and after reading to highlight specific word families (i.e. past tense words ending in "ed").