Tag Archives: teachers

To Friend or Not to Friend

6 Apr

“To friend or not to friend, that is the question.”  Shakespeare?  Ok, so I took a little liberty with Shakespeare’s quote. 

What am I even talking about?  Well Facebook of course!  I recently read an older post on One crazy teacher to another’s blog a post on friending your students on Facebook.  This is a dilemma to be sure!  I teach 5th grade which means my students are technically not old enough to have a Facebook account, but they do.  Should I friend them?

I am friends with several students from years past- I love reading about their struggles and triumphs in life as the approach the end of their K-12 education.  It is nice reliving the feelings of anxiety about prom or the big game (or test).

I am not concerned with my content being inappropriate for my students, my 10 yr old daughter is my “friend” so that keeps me in check!  I honestly don’t know that I have a sound rationale for not friending the few students who have asked.

Facebook would give me insight to their lives that I would not otherwise have.  Many people will post things on Facebook that they would never say in person- that would hold true for my students as well.

I have not yet decided for sure whether I will friend current students.  I am leaning more in that direction, they could always use and ally and role model in the cyber world, just as I am in their school world.

I would love to hear comments on this topic.  Have you friended students?  Why or why not?

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Flip Cameras

5 Jan

Flip Cameras are a new favorite tool of mine!  I have two flip cameras in my classroom and then our school has an additional 12.  I have had several teachers ask “how can we use these in class?”  Usually with comments of how difficult of a task this would be.  First, these cameras are INCREDIBLY easy to use!  It took all of 5 minutes to explain the basics of how to record.  I did spend some time talking about facing the camera, not shaking/moving it, and speaking clearly, but these are the same things we teach kids for a live presentation.   As for ideas on how to use it in a lesson…here are a couple straight from my classroom.

One area my students struggle with is understanding why text features are so important, and why they shouldn’t just skip over them as they read.  I broke my class of 20 into 5 groups.  Each group was handed a text feature (captions, glossary, charts/graphs, maps, index).  Each group had to create a short (about 30 second) video telling people what the text feature is and why it is so important.  I won’t bore you with all 5 videos, but here is one to give you an idea of the end product.

Other ideas:

Fluency Practice– My students LOVED reading and watching themselves read.  Especially when reading dialogue, students would try again and again to make things “sound right”.  I have never seen them want to read the same thing so many times.  I did this with a group of low readers and the results were astounding!

Brainstorming– I have a couple of students who have a very difficult time writing.  They can’t seem to get what is in their head down to the paper.  Allowing them to have a friend record their explanations and then play those back and write what they said helps tremendously.  Could they do this to a scribe?  Sure, but the addition of another student asking for clarification, or giving suggestions has helped the students go beyond what they thought they could do.

Commercials– A great way to make a commercial. We shoot, load, and project them onto the smartboard for INSTANT gratification.  By recording them, they can show these off later to parents.

How have you used flip cameras in your classroom?

Flattered

30 Aug

I recieved a shocking email a week ago.  It was an agency representing the Illinois State Board of Education.  They were putting together a training course for Illinois teachers on gifted students.  They were requesting the use of my google application video in their curriculum.

When I made the video, I had never put together a video before, at least nothing other than what I could make using Photostory, Powerpoint, or a little with Movie Maker.  When I read about the aplication process, I was completely overwhelmed.  I really didn’t think I could make anything that would “wow” google enough to include me in their teacher academy.  In fact, I wasn’t really even sure how to go about making a video.

I did what any 21st century person would- I googled it!  I searched for other application videos and used them as inspiration.  I really thought about what being a 21st century learner meant.  The ideas came forth quickly and I began working on the project.  I had to learn to use pinnacle (the only software our school had, and not an easy program to learn) and worked with students to put it together.  The end result was exactly what I had envisioned, and I was pleased.

I had no idea that over 7,00 people would view the video on youtube, nor did I forsee a time when someone would let me know they saw someone present at a conference and my video was shown.   Never in a million years did I imagine that anyone would want to use it in their curriculum, but each of those things happened.

To me this truly demonstrates the power of networking, of the internet, of web 2.0.  Someone without a “name” for herself can express her views and other people will listen; Other people will share a similar view.  The power in that is immense.

How does this translate to the classroom?  If every student could see that their opinions, thoughts, and beliefs do matter to someone, think of how truly motivating that would be.  Suddenly someone appreciates them in a way they hadn’t yet experienced.

Two weeks ago, I began a new year teaching 5th grade.  I plan to incorporate many opportunities for my students to express themselves, and to share their learning, their ideas, and their hopes for the future with someone outside the walls of our school.  I hope they find that experience as uplifting and motivating as I have.

Wordle and Animoto in the Classroom

25 Jun

Last month a coworker asked if I would be a guest presenter at her daughter’s school.  Each child in this 3rd grade classroom had the opportunity to invite a guest.  I accepted the invitation, met with her daughter and we planned a presentation of animoto and wordle.  Two of my favorite tools.

We started with animoto.  Due to CIPA I couldn’t allow this group of students to create their own animoto videos, so we decided to do a class video.  I allowed my coworker’s daughter to choose the topic.  She chose rain forests.  I pulled up my schools.clipart.com account and typed rain forest into the search engine.  The students then took turns selecting images from the hundreds available.  I saved those images and we imported them into Animoto.   The video was created while the students worked on their next project- Wordle.

Our next project was wordle.  I have posted on wordle more than once.  It is one of my favorite tools to use with students.  They love using it, it is very simple and quick to explain, and they can customize to their hearts content.  Since they were down to their last few days of school, I gave them the topic of summer.  They creations they made were wonderful.  For 30 minutes, you could have heard a pin drop.

This is the one thing I love about technology.  Once the kids get into it, they become completely engaged.  I would love to hear how you have used either (or both) of these tools in your classroom.

Google Teacher Academy Returns

12 May

goglegabThe newest Google Teacher Academy is going to be held in Boudler, Colorado on August 5, 2009!  Applications are due by midnight on July 3rd.

The Google Teacher Academy is a wonderful, FREE, opportunity to meet and collaborate with educators from all over the country- and world! It is also an opportunity to learn about all that google has to offer educators.

More information is located at Google’s Teacher Academy site. The application process includes a written application as well as a video application.

When I applied, I was so nervous about the video application.  I had never really created a video and wasn’t even sure what tools to use.  Since creating that video, I have gone on to create many more.  If you would like some inspiration, here is my video as well as several others. All of these people were selected to attend the Mountain View, California Google Teacher Academy last June.

No Time for Technology?

30 Mar

Throughout my 4 short years in education, I have heard one phrase repeated over and over: “There isn’t time for technology.”   While my last 2 years have been dedicated to educational technology- one year in the computer lab, and this year as a coach- I was previously a classroom teacher.  I taught 5th grade for two years.  I had to teach the same standards with the same time and resource limitations, yet I did incorporate technology on a daily basis.   They made powerpoints, movies, brochures, used Palms, and did research.  There are so many more projects I would incorporate now.  Things that weren’t around 3 or 4 years ago.

Technology is not, and should not be, a stand alone subject.  It should be incorporated into everything, just as it is in the real world.   I have repeatedly heard that teachers don’t have the time to fit in a lesson on technology.   I have spent time today catching up on my RSS feeds, and have read post after post about the new 1 to 1 initiative in Maine, flattening the classroom, paperless classrooms, and how we tend to worksheet our kids to death.

It does take a little more time up front to incorporate technology into the classroom.  You do need to cover basic computer and typing skills, online ettiquette, and how to appropriately use the equipment.  You also need to gain parental permission to use blogs, wikis, email, etc.  and teach the kids to use these tools.  But that can all be covered in August and September.  Then there are many more months that can be dedicated to using the technology to learn, create, and share all kinds of new concepts.

Our kids will live their entire lives in the future.  Technologies that are little more than science fiction to us now will become tools used daily in their futures.  Who would have predicted 50 years ago that people would carry around  a device that could take digital pictures, surf the internet, and call someone across the world, and yet would be the size of a thin deck of cards.  Yet today, millions of people do.

We can’t predict the future of our students.  What we can do is our very best to prepare them for what awaits.  To give them the skills to think for themselves, search for the answers and verify that the source of those answers is credible- these are what will be valuable to them.

Much of what college students learn today will be outdated 2-3 years from now.  What does that say of the elementary social studies textbooks that are now 10 years old? Written before September 11th.  Written before many elementary students were even born.

There needs to be a complete paradigm shift in education, maybe the biggest shift in the history of education- or at least since we found out that the world was indeed round.   It is a shift that will require everyone- teachers, students, parents, administrators, school districts, communities, government, literally everyone.   Change is scary.  Change takes courage.  If not now, then when?  We owe it to our children and those children on down the lines to think outside the box and to really prepare them for the future.

So I ask this…No time for technology?  How can you NOT make the time?

**Ok, I will step down from my soapbox for a little while**

Google Gab- Doodle 4 Google

3 Feb

goglegab

Google has announce its latest Doodle 4 Google.  Google frequently replaces its typical logo with a creative one.  They do this for holidays and other special days.  I’m sure most of you have seen some of them.  Doodle for Google allows students to design their own Google logo and have it published.  Th

doodlegoogle

ey can also win some great prizes including a $15000 scholarship (yes, 3 zeroes). They also have prizes for school districts in the way of technology grants.

This years theme is “What I Wish for the World.”   How appropriate given the dynamics in our country.

Please head over to the Doodle 4 Google page to find out more!