Sunday, December 11, 2011

News From The Rose

I have been following Miss K's posts and learning about technology from afar. How nice that computers can bring us closer no matter where we are in the universe. As a matter of fact, I, a humble rose, would like to share a special thought with Miss K. and others who are tackling the challenge of learning new technology and new digital programs.
Former British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George said, "Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it." You can scroll down to one of my earliest posts to see a photo of a baobab tree. What an interesting thought. Each time the Little Prince pulls up a baobab because its long, strong roots could break apart our home, I will be thinking about all the learning in the world waiting to be discovered. I cannot even wrap my leaves around the tiny baobabs on Asteroid B-612. But to wrap my thinking around the knowledge that an ancient baobab represents...Wow!
Perhaps I could scatter my seeds around the great baobab and grow into great wisdom, unfolding gently.
It's a plan.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tool #11 Self Assessing and Reflecting

FAVORITE TOOLS
I think I had the most fun making a video at http://www.xtranormal.com/. I'm also eager to continue exploring the activities at TES iboard (http://www.iboard.co.uk/), and I see a lot of possibilities for using Wall Wisher. In the near future, I think I will have students make a poster displaying fractions at Big Huge Labs and respond to a question about natural resources on Wall Wisher. I also will use the TES iboard punctuation and narrative-writing activities at work stations.



TRANSFORMED THINKING, CHANGED VISION, CLASSROOM CHANGES

I have a better grasp of technology possibilities and as I plan lessons I often get ideas for technology to integrate with academics. I am getting students to the computers more often and giving them activities that are highly effective learning tools, which are also well-aligned with our content.



UNEXPECTED OUTCOMES

It was nice to see that the district had a compilation of suggested sites each time I was instructed to go explore online. That made the task quicker and easier.


I did not expect to be posting my responses toTool #11 one-and-a-half hours after beginning the assessment. I had to look up a lot of unfamiliar language used in the questions and deeply analyze some of the questions word by word. After reading the question analysis at the end of the test, I learned new information from the corrections. I was surprised that the question analysis did not provide correct responses for the questions that had multiple answers. I really wanted to correct my thinking about what I had mismarked.


Some of the tools that asked us to explore various sites and register to do activities took an inordinate amount of time. I did not expect to have to dedicate that much time to 11 TOOLS above and beyond the time-consuming daily obligations of teaching. In the future if teachers are required to do more online learning, it would be a kindness if lengthy online assignments like those were broken down into smaller bits.


I was very surprised to see the video in TOOL #9 with Sir Ken Robinson talking about changing paradigms. I'd seen it before and really liked it.



I am quite pleased with the technological savvy I have acquired and am looking forward to using it with the new electronic equipment our classroom will soon be issued. I appreciate the informative 11 TOOLS blog posts that got me started each time.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tool #10 Digital Citizenship

First, I'd want to make sure that my students never, ever give out personal information over the internet. In connection with that, I would not want them to carry on personal communication with others across the web while working at online academics. Secondly, I would want them to know how to check the reliability of their sources before they use the information from a site. It is cyber irresponsibility to pass along information that is fabricated or only partially true. Lastly, I would make sure they understood that cyber bullying would not be acceptable. We are researching bullying, and my students should all know by now that a bully is in a sad state of mind. I'd like to use the Brainpop video for cyber-citizenship. My students love to take the post-test using their ACTIVotes. I could also recommend that parents watch it at home with their children if they can log in before 5:00 pm. I would send home the log-in and password for weekdays up to 5pm.

Tool #9 Incorporating Devices as Tools for Learning

Why tie technology to our teaching objectives? That's like asking why we give out candy on Halloween! It's fun! It's significant! It's memorable. And we are in the business of finding ways to help students remember some very important information. I've heard at workshops that the one who does the talking is the one who does the learning. With technology, I think the one who works the keyboard/camera/microphone is the one who does the learning. And that addresses the question of accountability. Students who apply their understanding of what they are learning are those who will carry it away. When students know at the outset that they will have to provide proof of their attentiveness to the learning, they will be more alert to the learning objective and ready to proving their understanding.

I'm very excited to discover games that will support our probability and statistics unit in math with double dice rolling and decision trees. They are in year 5 under Handling Data at TES iboard http://www.iboard.co.uk/curriculum.htm#mathsks2-topicYear55maths_year_ks2year5 I included a link to the measurement page which also has a great game for practicing calculations for perimeter and area. The calculations students make in their math journals would prove their engagement in the practice. The site also has some very exciting literacy and grammar/punctuation activities. My students need a lot of practice placing punctuation around dialogue and they would really benefit from going to http://www.iboard.co.uk/curriculum.htm#34226 where they can punctuate simple, complex or their own original dialogue for scenes from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. There are activities at the literacy menu for students to practice using There/Their/They're, applying apostrophes, replacing the verb "walk" with a better word, and correcting noun/verb agreements, among the many other choices. I would have students copy their sentences into the "Word" section of their writing binders where we collect examples of great language and punctuation. That would be a record of their participation and a reference for later writing.

Some apps that would work well for an iPad station are BrainPop Featured Movie. I use BrainPop a lot for introducing science concepts. Students would be accountable for the post-movie quiz. I will definitely get Dictionary.com. On Mondays, students look up the meanings of their spelling words and write them in their spirals. They could use the iPads and iTouches as well as classroom dictionaries. I think, by partnering, the whole class would be actively participating. Animation Creator and Sock Puppets would be good sites for demonstrating understanding of a science concept as well as correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. We could print and hang the comics and show the sock puppets on the white board. My students are researching information for a debate and would benefit from Discovery Channel, Time Mobile, USA Today, and Diigo. Our librarian has provided them with a form that guides their note-taking and reminds them to reference the sites they use.






Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tool #8 Taking a Look at the Tools

Three things I learned about the new technology:
  • The netbooks will have a camera (Cool, because I set up a Skype account)
  • That, as a center activity, I should have all the students sign in to every device the first time
  • When I download to the I-Pod Touch, I should select I-Phone apps (I didn't know this because don't have an I-Phone)
Management:
  • Write the device name on the back of the device
  • Assign students the job of taking out and putting up technology tools (and trouble-shooting to inform me). Model for everyone in class how the removal and storage should look.
  • Discuss with class what collaboration looks and sounds like when using technology. Add comments to our Collaborator's Code posted on the wall.
  • Post alternate assignment on board for students who find it difficult to live up to technology usage expectations (30 or more math problems or several work sheets, spelling practice, etc.)
  • First several sessions, walk around room checking screens and behavior. Hope to catch someone breaking the rules, even for a minor infraction, and assign alternate work.All students will come to a clearer understanding of the level of expectation tied to their use of the technology tools.

Tool #7 Reaching Outside the Classroom

My students are beginning to find the fun in writing and I would like for them to continue growing in their enthusiasm and comfort level as they polish their ability to critique their own work. At this point, though, they are still not well skilled at analyzing writing with the insight of a writer. I want to use Google Docs to anonymously present a personal narrative or a sample of expository writing by a student in my class and see what feedback will be given by students in another fourth grade class. My class could critique a writing sample from the other class at the same time. This is an activity I see fitting into our writing plans in coordination with up-coming lessons on personal narrative. We could use it several times before the STAAR writing test in the spring.



Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tool #6 Web Tools That Promote Discussion

With the time demands to research numerous sites, I've left Rose to do what roses do and I, the earth-based teacher, am responding.

In my investigation of tools to encourage expanded dialogues, I researched what "back-channeling" meant. I also spent a great deal of time learning about Edmodo. I found a very helpful YouTube video that offered a number of ideas for Edmodo: 20 Ways to Use Edmodo / I'd like to use the voice feature to have students take dictation in order to check their punctuation and spelling. It would be cool to use a Voki with my own voice. I also think parents would like seeing my homework posted on Edmodo because I have several students who don't write legibly or who forget to write their homework. When I tried to set up the Edmodo account, I saw that I needed a special password from the district. So I emailed a request for that and moved on.

Next I researched Diigo as a replacement for Edmodo, and I watched two YouTube videos. When registering, I couldn't seem to drag a diigolet up to my Favorites bar. So, I abandoned that effort thinking that I would register with Edmodo later anyway and that's the one I really wanted.

Still intending to complete this tool this weekend, I moved on to Wallwisher. That site was cool! I made a bulletin board with a question supporting our science content. Weathering, Erosion, Deposition Bulletin Board / I uploaded a picture and a video to see how to do that. There's plenty of room for more notes. I'm eager to make another bulletin board to support math content. I'll write, "If the answer is 24, what is the question?" That should spark a flow of responses. Once the extra technology comes to my classroom, I'll make Wallwisher a regular workstation, simply changing the question periodically.

Lastly, I set up a Skype account. I was thinking that I could link up with an author I know in Jakarta, Indonesia and have my students learn about her writing. I also know someone in the Patagonia mountains in Chile. I thought that my students could ask questions about that biome because we will be studying the topic soon.