Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tool #11

One of the tools that I particularly liked is Stupeflix. I plan on having the students look for pictures on the Internet that represent each of Newton's Laws of Motion and then create a Stupeflix video. They will need 2 examples for each law, with brief statements of relevance and cite the sources.

I also like using TodaysMeet, which I used on Friday. The students thought it was really cool, even though we had internet connectivity issues with the iPod Touches. Now all I have to do is work with them to stay on topic.

My thinking has not really transformed about the learning, but my resolve to utilize more technology in the classroom has. I have to admit, keeping up with the work involved in setting up, monitoring, evaluating and assessing, can be overwhelming, not to mention the frustration when technology problems arise. I need to let go of some control and utilize the "student technician" idea to solve problems when I am working with students. I realize that there are so many different web tools for students to use to demonstrate their learning, that I just need to keep this in mind when I am doing my lesson planning.

I can't say there were really any surprises from this program, unless to say, that WOW, there is a lot of "stuff" out there. I think as teachers, we sometimes forget to put ourselves in the same place as our that of a learner. This program put me in that place and pushed me outside my comfort zone at times and frustrated me, but it also gave me the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment when I completed an assignment. I will say it tool quite a bit of time than I thought it would, so I prefer to do these programs during the summer when I have more time and I am less stressed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tool # 10

Digital Citizenship
Why should we teach students about Digital Citizenship? Using the internet is the primary platform 21st Century learners use to investigate, create, collaborate and communicate. As educators, I feel it is our responsibility to help them learn the skills to discern the multitude of information that is available at the click of a button and to be safe while doing so.
There are several Brainpop videos that we have used to help students better understand some of the topics associated with Digital Citizenship. Some that we have covered are Cyberbullying, Copyright, Digital Etiquette, Plagiarism, On-line Sources and Internet Searches.
Copyright Cyberbee would be another source from the Ed Tech resource chart that looks promising.
Teaching students about copyright and plagiarism is difficult, but it is one of the most important issues in Digital Citizenship. One way to teach them about this is to have students write a creative paper on any topic of their choice. Then collect all the papers and select a few of them to read aloud to the class. Do not use any names, but after reading one that impresses the students, tell the class that the paper belongs to someone other than the true author. When the student protests, begin a class discussion of how it makes the person feel that their work was “stolen” (claimed) by someone else. I think this helps the students have a better and more personal understanding of plagiarism and why we have copyright laws.
To help parents understand digital citizenship, you can send home the acceptable use policy forms, but you can also share some of these ideas during back to school sessions. Another idea might be to create a short podcast or video and post it to your website.

First, and foremost, I would want to make sure that the students understand the importance of being safe on the internet. They need to realize that you should never give out personal information to unknown sources.  Students should also be taught that bullying is not allowed and that includes bullying on the internet. Students also need to have an understanding of copyright; what it is and why it is important to request permission when in doubt. Students need to realize that we should never copy someone else’s works and use it as our own. We should also make sure that students have an understanding of reliable sources when doing research. Using some of the information that was given to us by Alan November will help us teach this to our students.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tool #9

I think it is important to tie the technology to the objective because we are using the technology as a tool to help students learn the content. We can also have the students demonstrate level of mastery through a variety of technologically based products.
We need to hold students accountable for the work done at stations so that we can determine whether learning is occurring. The stations provide opportunities for students to learn the content in a variety of ways. It is a way for us to differentiate the content to better meet the needs of our students. If we do not hold them accountable, then it becomes a “play” time and not a “learning” experience.
Interactive Websites – PhET was one of the links I checked out. Some of the interactive simulations were pretty cool, but others seem to lack clear direction and were somewhat confusing. I did see a couple that I feel can fit with my curriculum on Force & Motion. I still like having students actually using some of the flipcharts as a station. This allows them to review the information and you can hold them accountable through the ActiVotes/expressions and even using a quick write as a summary of their visit to the station.
Apps – A few of the apps that I like are, of course, App. The students frequently choose to use this app over the old-fashioned book on the shelf. The iTalk Recorder would be another good app to use as a station. As a Science teacher, I can see using this as a way to have students discuss their observations during a lab and then the discussion that follows the completion of a lab. With a set of questions to guide the discussion, the students can record it and you can listen to help evaluate and assess whether learning occurred. It helps keep them accountable.  We have used several different Flash Card apps in the past, but I would like to find one where I can type up the vocabulary information and then sync it to the iPods/iPads. One of the problems I found in the past is that students rarely check their spelling or even the information they typed into the device. If I could do it once, then sync it, I would be assured that the students had the correct terms and definitions.
Students can use the iPads/iPods to blog, or collaborate on documents together. They can also use them to research topics, read iBooks, and create a variety of electronic projects. We can also use them to Skype with other classrooms or individual students.  I think there are so many ways to use the mobile devices, that we are only limited by our imagination and our time, and of course, a wireless connection! J

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tool #8

Having had a class set of iPod Touches for the past three years, I am already familiar with a variety of Apps to use in the classroom. I also have a personal iPad, so I am somewhat familiar with the capabilities of this incredible device. We also required the AUP signed and returned prior to issuing a device to a student.

Since we have had a number of iTouches in the class, it was important to track the use of each device. As some of the devices were lost and/or broken, we had to rethink how we use and distribute the devices. I keep a spreadsheet with the serial number, asset tag number and the student names that use that device. Because of the PTL Grant, when we first received our devices, we had enough for each student to use, so the students could take them home. We no longer have enough to do this now, so the devices remain in the classroom.

When we use the devices as a station, it is a good idea to keep track of which devices the students use. I placed a sticker on the back of each iTouch, so I have students write the number in their journals (or on an index card) with their name so that I can discuss any problems that come up with the use of the device. For instance, we had a couple of boys that thought it would be funny to put a pass code on the devices and then they forgot what they entered. Ultimately this locked us out and we had to restore it. By knowing which students used the device, it was easier to track down the culprits.

We also have “Table Captains” who are responsible for getting and returning the iPod Touches to the charging cart. They also alert us to any problems that come up with the use of the devices. We also encourage students to bring their own earbuds. We have some, but during the last 3 years, many have not held up to the “abuse” of a middle school student. We can lend some to students, but then I feel the need to clean and sanitize them after each use. Alcohol wipes work well for this.

Tool #7

I have always envied and admired teachers (and their classes) that have taken technology to this next level of collaboration. It is my desire to do this next fall. 
Content objective: The students will collaborate with students from other schools world-wide to determine factors that contribute to the formation, strength and frequency of hurricanes. Students will collect data on hours of sunlight, water temperature, latitude, longitude and other factors associated with the formation of tropical storms and hurricanes. Students will track named hurricanes world-wide. Students will draw conclusions about the relationship between location and hurricanes.
Some of the tools we will use are Google Docs (spreadsheet), Skype and/or TodaysMeet, Google Earth and Maps.
Since our hurricane season begins in June, I would like for students to begin our school year with this long-term collaborative project. If we are able to connect with schools in the southern hemisphere, I would like this project to continue through the year. This should help students have a better understanding of universal practices in collecting data and using the data to help make predictions of future weather events and make comparisons between the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tool #6

I had completely forgotten about Today's Meet. We tried this at the beginning of the school year at our own Staff Development. I thought it was really cool, but you know how it is...I got busy and completely forgot the possibilities this tool has to offer.  Later this week, I will give the students my link and we will "talk". I will let you know how it goes.

Here is the link I will give them:

I also really like Edmodo. There are several teachers here who use Edmodo on a regular basis. I see this as a way to utilize more in-depth discussions and delivery of information. At this time I haven't used it, but would like to give it a try in the near future. I have used Google docs, both as a link with other teachers and as a collaborative tool for the students.  The more Google Apps I use, the better I like them.

The real challenge we have faced this year is the problem with the different technological devices we have in our classroom. Our mini computers (which we received with a grant) are frequently not working, despite numerous trouble tickets and the iPod touches seem to have a lot of trouble connecting to the network. It just becomes frustrating when you really try to integrate the technology and you spend half your time trouble-shooting.

If only I didn't need to sleep...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tool #5

Force & Motion

This is a Wordle I create to show the students how easy we can create a visual representation of vocabulary for Science. I am trying to include this as a link to open, but I am not sure if it is working properly. The preview mode did not allow me to activate the link.

I have also created a short video using Stupeflix, and I finally was able to embed it in my blog, but I am not sure how it will look because, again, Preview does not permit me to actually play it. I will go ahead and post and then hopefully it will play properly. If not, help!

Woohoo!  It worked. I think this is a really cool tool. I can see this as great way for students to put together key information about a topic in a quick and easy way. The hardest part of the 11 Tools I have found so far is the differences in screens that appear on the tutorials and the the actual screens. This throws me off and of course, I still have difficulty embedding. Each thing I try to embed seems to need to be done in a different way. Anyway, I do not plan on giving up!