Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thing 6

I went to the Apple store and even signed up for a class but when I got there they were so busy and the workers I did talk to didn't know where I was to go to for the class. I got so frustrated that I just left. Many people are buying the iTouch and iPhone so I have had a chance to watch people play with their "toys" and it is amazing what can be accomplished with these small tools. So much so that I probably will make it my next phone when my plan is up for renewal. During my recient library internship I had hoped to help students and small groups that were using the iTouch for Problem Based Learning so I could become more familer with the tools before they were put into my own library but I never had the opportunity. I am still not sure elementary students are ready for this type of technology yet since they still lack some very basic computer skills. Even students at my home school lack these skills, and our teachers do a great job of exposure to technology and making sure they are learning how to use MS products like word, powerpoint, and even publisher. They creat products using Flickr, animotos, and trading cards and these basic skills are helpful for students to understand and use tools like the iTouch. However touch screen computers might be a better fit for elementary with the shift to iTouches later in middle and high school.
For now I have a poor woman's version, the AT&T LG Vu, and that has been enough of a learning curve although limited since so many apps are intended for the iPhone. I will continue to play with my touch screen phone and try to become more familiar in preparation for our new tools this fall.
Having wikipedia off limits for awhile due to mischevious students is very sad. We may have to handle this type of problem on a greater scale once we have more technology available for students to use and why AUP's even more vital.

Thing 5

I began to use Facebook as another way to keep in touch with friends, family, and collegues and I really have fun participating. However, recently I have found that my network has grown in ways that I'm not feeling as comfortable with and I may need to make some changes. It goes along with the idea of including our students as "friends". Social networking has blurred the line between aquaintence and friend. Friends who I am able to visit with and who know me well enough to be understanding when I have a bad day, laugh when I crack a joke, or just "talk" in a casual tone together are different than those people who are aquaintences. Aquaintences are people I haven't kept up with over the years, don't know well yet, or feel I need to maintain a more guarded relationship with-students and their families. I wish social networks created various levels to include people in instead of just accept or decline. Since they don't, I may need to migrate to more than one account so I can separate the groups.

I tried Twitter just to see what was going on...and I too don't care when someone is eating or other too personal details to mention in my opnion. However, at the encouragement of our library director I have been spending time exploring special people, groups, and interest and am finding wonderful resources. I can see this as a great tool for students to learn from specialist in content they are researching or have an interest in. Our son use to tell us he didn't need to go to college because if he needed to learn something for his job he could just go straight to the pros to learn what he needed. Well I tend to agree it is a wonderful way to learn and broaden our horizons to learning. Although, that piece of paper you get when you graduate from college makes finding the good jobs easier-as he found out!

Back-channeling is still new to me but I have tried it whenever I have had the opportunity. I think it could be used for staff/student trainings as a way to answer those questions some people just can't wait to ask during presentations or trainings. I think it could help eliminate that talk that gets meetings and class off task and help keep us on schedule.

Thing 4

While still in the classroom I had used Teacher Tube to post student work.

Texas Project

When I posted this my students felt so proud of their work and enjoyed sharing with their families. It is great validation of student problem based learning.

Since I felt comfortable using YouTube and TeacherTube I thought I'd explore the U.S. Government Tube and found this site that would be great to use with grade level study of ocean life:

Ocean Explorer

With so many of our classrooms having the ActivBoard and projector teachers could project these sites in the classroom and students would feel like they are there. While actual experience is the best this certainly is a great alternative for students who often lack real life experiences and for schools where field trip money is dwindling.

Thing 3

I've tried Skype once before and had problems with it slowing down my home computer. I thought I'd try loading and using it on my school computer. I didn't have any problems loading it onto the computer since I did it from home. However, I have noticed that my computer seems slower loading and processing my commands. I've changed the settings so it will not automatically load when I start my computer in hopes to help with this problem.
Finding other people to converse with over the computer was much easier this time since it has been included as one of the 11 1/2 Things. I was delighted to connect with another "beach" player and not just type text but actually have a live conversation. I had to admit to the other player that I wasn't sure I'd want to invest in the webcam since I often work on the computer in my PJ's, no make-up, and my hair not combed. Mrs. Jetson had the idea of a mask she could hold up in front of the video camera while on the phone...I may have to check into that if I get a webcam!
While reading some of the other links it seems Skype has had problems with user "buy in" and use of the free product. This is the main drawback to using it as a tool at school. While reading The Learning Librarian's wonderful post and instruction manual she mentioned that finding classes that are evenly matched in age and experience was the biggest problem with her first efforts to create collaboration between two classes. For now it might be easier to accomplish within a district where you could collaborate with between various buildings but the same grade levels to share common learning. I would love to try it with a staff meeting to introduce our technology this fall or maybe district leaders could "visit" our schools to welcome up back in August instead of everyone trying to go to the Coleman Coliseum at the same time...anybody have some ideas they would like to work on together?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thing 2

Wordle is something I've been exploring this summer and I used it to teach a group of summer school students technology skills making spoonerisms using their names.The sample above is a recent effort to describe the middle school library where I was doing my internship. This is a tool that can be used for writing, to describe things, spelling, vocabulary, exploring main ideas with groups and so many other ways.

The voki was fun but I had trouble getting the hair just right. When I have more time I'll go back and work on "me" a bit more...or maybe dye my hair. I'm thinking it could change email having a voki "talk" to the recipient. I may try that with staff when I have a library announcement :-)

Gloster was interesting and I have hopes that I can add it to my blog easily as a link between the blog and my library webpage in an effort to advertise activities and the library webpage. This would make a cool way for kids to create an interactive poster on a topic being researched such as Texas regions, birds, ets.

Booker was cool to explore. I liked the fact that some teachers were using it for student work. The poetry book I looked at was a good use of poems in a book that can be shared electronically. This could easily replace making a book in publisher and then it has the advantage that it can be shared without the worry of compatibility.