Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tool #11

Hooray!  Tool #11!  photo credit: -  copyright free!


Stop Animator App (and Miniatures Tilt-Shift Time-Lapse App)

Videolicious App


iMovie App

Students can use any of these apps to make videos about digital citizenship (see Tool #10) or any other concept.



Unexpected outcomes:  
* Great app discoveries (especially iPad project tools, like video creation)
* Easy access to tutorial videos
* Motivation to improve collaboration with other classrooms
* Who knew that Atomic Learning had 21st Century Skills lessons for teachers? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tool #10

Three things my students should understand about being good digital citizens:

1. They should never give out personal information, like their first and last name, address, school name, telephone number, email address, or password.

2. They should tell a trusted adult if they see something online that upsets them.

3. They should be kind and positive when they correspond online.

Instructional resources I plan to use:
Definitely Brain Pop. It always keeps students' attention.

Maybe the Cybersmart website. I like the "think" acronym.

How I will teach the idea of digital citizenship:
It will take at least two direct lessons. One lesson will be about safety (using the above resources). The other will be about proper "netiquette."  The children will need ongoing reminders and supervision throughout the year.

I like the video that was on the Flat Classroom website (from Tool #7) that was called "Using Edmodo in a Week in the Life Project." I couldn't embed it here, but this is what it looked like:

3rd graders on the video talk about how to make appropriate posts. Be kind and positive. If others make mistakes, "just go with the flow." Don't repeat other people's answers and always proofread your work before you send it. Be specific. Don't just respond with "That's great!" Tell why it is great. My favorite line from the video is, "Use more words, not exclamation points."

I think I will have my students make a class video about digital citizenship to post on our class wiki.

The concept of "don't believe everything you read on the Internet" is also important, but I think safety and etiquette take the front burner with primary kids.

How I plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with parents:
I will make sure they receive and acknowledge the SBISD Acceptable Use Policy. I will also draw their attention to the class video on our wiki.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tool #9

When I watched the RSA animation that was used on Sir Ken Robinson's video, I thought to myself, "There must be an app for that."  Sure enough!  Using a free app called "Miniatures: Tilt-Shift Time-Lapse Videos," I was able to make my first iPad time-lapse video!


Sir K R's views about ADHD are interesting.  I wonder how many emails and letters he received after calling the condition a "medical fashion" and "fictitious epidemic"?  I also wonder why the number of diagnosed ADHD cases increase as you travel east across the country?  It's easy to understand its correlation with the growth of standardized testing.

Now, for the Tool #9 questions.

1.  Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?
If you don't tie the technology to the objective, you are just using technology for technology's sake. The whole purpose of the equipment is to provide authentic, real-world tools to help the children grow academically and collaboratively.  Objectives are needed to keep the students focused and to allow for assessment of student success.

2.  Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?  If you don't hold them accountable, they might not meet the objectives.

3.  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 thought that made a great math station for my 4th graders this past year.  It allows students to work at their individual levels and it provides competitive situations for children who thrive on competition.  It also allows teachers to monitor student progress.  It was fun having manga high competitions with Angela B.'s class and Barbara P.'s class this year!  I think the site will be good for my higher level 2nd grade math students.  I'm not sure there are enough games to meet the needs of struggling 2nd grade math students, at this time; but it looks like there are plans to add more games.  

Tutpup looks VERY familiar.  I think I've used it before . . . can't remember why I stopped.  I like how there are a variety of subject areas to choose from and how students compete anonymously with other countries.  It seems like every time I do a search for online educational games, the Learning Games for Kids website appears.  It is usually a link on my class wikis/blogs.  It is harder to hold kids accountable for websites like these.

4.  List two to three apps you found for the iPod touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom.

"Miniatures: Tilt-Shift Time-Lapse Videos" (the app that made the tiger time-lapse embedded earlier in this post) - fun way for students to teach review lessons or to demonstrate quick "how to's"

Here are some I learned about at a Summer U iPad class last week:
"Puppet Pals HD" and "Sock Puppets" - allow kids to make electronic puppet shows of stories they have read or written

"Toontastic" - allows children to make story arcs

"Videolicious" - fast and easy video generator - kids can take their own pictures and narrate their shows

What do you see that station looking like?  I really can't picture just "one look" for stations.  It all depends upon what the objectives are for the week.  I imagine that the equipment will be out and easily accessible for the children.

How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?  I thought the district provided some great accountability ideas:  products, discussions, choice menus, and rubrics.  I liked the ideas of creating open-ended/close sentences, reflections on Google Docs, screen shots of activities, and web cam or voice recordings.

5.  What about other ways to use the ipod touch/ipad?  Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.  They could type reading responses or research notes using the "notes" app. They could use FaceTime to interact with learning buddies from another school.  They could collect daily weather data using weather apps.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tool #8

O.k., this new equipment rollout is going to be fantastic!
Great tutorials!  Baby steps . . . very methodical . . . just what I need!  It is good to know that the tutorial videos will be easily accessible when it comes time to actually use the equipment.

Whoa, Nellie!  The link towards the end of the iPad tutorials in Tool #8 is a little overwhelming.  The part that says:

Here are some great websites to support the introduction of iPads/iPod touches into the classroom: iPads in the Classroom.  

It'll take a couple of months to do that website true justice!  It is nicely categorized, but there sure are a lot of categories!

After reading and watching the less overwhelming parts of Tool #8, I learned:
* making videos using the netbook's web cam is easy
* the netbook web cam has a time lapse option (how fun is that?!)
* teachers will be in complete control of their devices and won't have to sync very often
* navigating through iTunes is much easier if you have a tutorial video
* the district has some great ideas about how to label iPod Touches and iPads.

I plan to use most of the district's suggestions about how to manage the devices.  In my experience, the biggest danger the devices face is being stepped on.  Students like to use them on the floor, like they do at home.  I will probably have a "no floor" policy.  I also plan to assign specific devices to specific students whenever possible, for accountability reasons.  If they aren't assigned and you say, "Who was using netbook #2?" you are greeted with silence.  I like and have used the concept of having a "group of experts."  It frees up the teacher for trouble-shooting.

Tool #7

It was so much fun watching the Flat Classroom Interview on You Tube!  I wonder what program they used to make it?  It was very humbling watching the video, too.  Julie and Vicki, the Flat Classroom founders, are so far beyond me, technologically and intellectually!

Why do you suppose the lady avatar in the audience is standing up?
She is blocking the view of the other lady avatar in the back!

Julie and Vicki brought up the point that administration can be the barrier or can remove the barrier. So true!  An administrator once told me that the children in my classroom were using too much technology.  After she said that, I felt like I had to scale down what we were doing, even though I believed that our use of technology was helping the children grow academically and socially.  Administration also blocked my attempt to work with a Canadian school.  This time it was the other school's administration.  They did not feel comfortable having their students interacting on blogs or private wikis.

In my opinion, once the administrative barrier is broken, the key to successful collaboration is to find teachers who are as enthusiastic about it as you are.  They need to have the projects high on their priority lists; otherwise lack of time will always be an issue.

My favorite collaboration activities have involved skyping.  The most productive skype session my students had was when they were working on bird reports.  They compared notes with 2nd graders from Rummel Creek who were researching the same birds.

I plan to work with the same Rummel Creek teacher this coming year.  FaceTime on the new iPads will be a perfect medium for our interactions.  Students can also do some of their planning with edmodo.  In the fall, we study national symbols and government.  Here are two of the TEKS:

identify selected symbols such as state and national birds and flowers and patriotic symbols such as the U.S. and Texas flags and Uncle Sam.[14.B]

identify functions of governments.[11.A]

Government vocabulary is always challenging, especially for the ESOL kids.  The best way to learn is to teach, right?  It might be fun to break up the vocabulary list and assign words to students who have difficulty with them.  They can teach their words to skype buddies who also struggle with the words (absence of threat).  Later, they can design computer-generated quizzes for each other.

Children who need a higher-level challenge can design new national monuments with small skype groups.  They will need to decide who or what the monument will honor, where to build it, what it will look like, etc.  This will provide an opportunity for some good researching!

I think it is important that collaborative activities truly enhance learning and that they don't just entertain students.  I'm definitely going to give my ideas some more thought before implementing them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tool #6

I had always dismissed edmodo as an intermediate grade program and never paid too much attention to it.  Then quite suddenly, I was an intermediate grade teacher!  Edmodo quickly gained importance!  This social network works extremely well for 4th grade departmentalization.  Here's what I liked:

1.  I was able to post to my homeroom, Christen M's homeroom, or both at the same time.

2.  Christen was able to post to my homeroom, her homeroom, or both at the same time.

3.  Student comments are instantly emailed to teachers and can easily be deleted by teachers.

4.  It is simple to post videos and assignments, like so:
     (Student names have been omitted to protect the innocent.)

The only aspect of edmodo that I don't like is the teacher linking feature.  If you link up with other teachers and enter their codes to access their edmodo pages, you get all of the same email notifications that they get.  For example, I linked up with Angela B. so I could watch all of the fun things that she was doing with her 3rd graders.  Her students were so involved, that I found myself receiving at least 5 or 6 emails every evening.  I finally had to unlink.  

Then, there was the unfortunate case of Christen and Lucy D.  Since they were linked to my Edmodo account, they received emails every time I edited my posts.  And I edit my posts A LOT. Even though Lucy said that it gave her something to read while she was in the dentist office waiting room, I knew it must be very irritating.  I learned to get around this (I think) by setting up content-related subgroups on my Edmodo page.  Students joined the subgroups, and I could post and edit all day without inundating my poor colleagues.

I'm not a fan of Voice Thread.  I tried it in the classroom a couple of years ago.  It was cute at first, but then it quickly became frustrating because the editing features are very limited.

I've used Today's Meet at a lot of teacher seminars.  It's fun and easy, but I have trouble concentrating on the comments and the speaker at the same time.  It is perfect for multitaskers.

This is the first time I've seen Poll Everywhere.  Here's my poll question.  I can see how the texting option has potential with older kids, but some second graders have trouble choosing A, B, C, or D. I'm thinking 271513, 271514, or 271515 might be a quantum leap.  Without the texting option, unless I'm missing something, it doesn't appear to be any more useful than Google forms. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tool #5

Well, I think this team-revised Google Document says it all:

The first Web 2.0 tool I tried was  The You Tube directions said that these books could be embedded, but I was unable to find a code.  The only way to share it easily is to email the link to yourself and post the link you emailed yourself.  Here's the link I received for my creation:  The New and Improved Frostwood.  It takes you straight to the book and lets you turn the pages.

I prefer embeddable products for children in primary grades.  The only way I could think of to make this book immediately visible on this blog was to save the book as a pdf file and post screen shots of the pdf pages, like this:

This isn't as much fun as using the link, though, because you can't make the pages turn.

Other than the embedding problem, seems to be a viable writing tool for my second graders.  It has plenty of picture choices, it can be saved and edited, it has spell check, and it is relatively user-friendly.

I liked Storyjumper better than the second Web 2.0 tool I tried, Tikatok, which won't embed or send a link.  I had to save it as a pdf.  I inserted three pictures, but for some reason, only the one on the cover appeared when I saved it.  Here's the cover.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tool #4

At first, I had trouble thinking of an interesting document to create in Google Docs and send to my teammates.  Then it suddenly came to me!  Here is the beginning of a list of pros and cons concerning one of the most controversial subjects ever to face public education:

I can't wait to read the input that my teammates have to offer!

Here is a screen shot of the Google Form I sent to a few colleagues.  Not very academic, since we are all in summer-mode.  Easy to set up!

My favorite Google App has been Stupeflix Studio.  It used to be free for students.  Now, I think they only get one free video to make.  The videos are super easy to make, the program has a great music library, and the products are very professional-looking.

Tool #3

When I first started a class wiki, I relied upon Teacher Tube a lot. My tech coach recommended it (thanks Amy!) and I used it to post student-made videos in a way that allowed only private access. I didn't want complete strangers looking at the children's work. As time went by, other sites, like School Tube, offered faster and more efficient processing.

When I am searching for videos for lessons, I usually look at Discovery Education and You Tube. I was surprised that You Tube had so many quality videos. There are a lot of phenomenal teachers out there, and they are posting videos of their lessons. Some of them helped me teach 4th grade math and science this year. I've also used You Tube videos of news events from ABC, CBS, and NBC for learning center activities (with iPod Touches).

 Here's a video of a professor using a cookie to explain how tides work. It certainly helped ME understand them better!


Here's a fun teaser I used when I was starting a unit on states of matter. What do you think? Should we call Myth Busters?


I'm still not crystal clear on what the copyright laws are.  They don't seem too well-defined -- a lot of gray areas!  I encourage students to cite photo sources whenever possible.  If there is a copyright symbol on pictures, or a watermark, we don't use them.  I encourage students to use license-free music.

I like the Photopin website. Hadn't ever tried it before!  I also like the sites that allow you to strip all references to You Tube.  Both were new to me and will come in handy.  I don't like the idea of 2nd graders hitting links within You Tube and going on age-inappropriate adventures!

I've used Dropbox a lot.  It is a fast way to share files from my home computer to my school computer without using Google Docs or email.  It was also great for making videos accessible to students on iPod Touches.  Instead of having to sync all of the iTouches, I can have the kids upload them by clicking on the Dropbox icon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tool #2

I visited and left comments on three Frostwood blogs:  Mallette's MusingsBeman's Blog, and Meg's Magic.  Since I already have a Diigo account, I went with the Google Reader option and arranged to have updates from the Houston Zoo's blog sent to me.  Google Reader is now also connecting me with a friend in England who keeps a blog about her school's bird web cam.

If you would like to see some cute English birds, click here:  Brigg Infant School's web cam.

I think that building and participating in online communities is important, but I think it can also become overwhelming.  Too much information is hard for an individual to process, even if it is placed in tidy bundles with great tools like Diigo.

It doesn't bother me to share my thoughts publicly in "sheltered" online environments like the blogs we are using now.  I'm a little intimidated by the heavy-duty, serious, professional blogs that have thousands of followers.  Most of the time, I don't feel as knowledgeable, passionate, witty, interested, or argumentative as their contributors.  

The blogs and educational/social  networks recommended by the Tool 2 lesson were interesting, because they showed such a wide variety of interests.  I personally liked the Science Teacher blog.  It made science poetic.  It was kind of therapeutic reading his lightning bug poem.

I thought Cool Cat Teacher gave good commenting advice when she suggested asking questions at the end of your posts to generate more comments.  Does anybody know how to turn off the text enhancing that is making certain random words (not links) in each post appear blue?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tool #1

A few years ago, I started blogging when I took SBISD's "23 Things" course.  It was the hardest course I ever took (not counting calculus . . . or economics); but it sure taught me a lot!  Blogger keeps adding fun, new user-friendly features.  Right now I see a lot of new icons I need to try out.  "Insert jump break" sounds pretty exciting.

Voki is always a student favorite.  So simple and so professional-looking.  I've had second graders use Vokis for showing story characters' points-of-view.  It can also be used for history (Abraham Lincoln can tell his autobiography) and science (an animal can talk about its life cycle).  I love how the eyes of the avatars follow the cursor around the screen.

Does anybody know how to get the "text enhance" off of the word "student" in the above paragraph?  It really bugs me.