Thing #23 – Culminating Experience

Wow!! I cannot believe I am writing my blog post for Thing #23! It has been quite the journey. In ways, I can’t believe the course is ending. But then I think about how many new tools I have learned about and had the opportunity to play with, and I realize I’ve come a long way! I think one of the most beneficial lessons I have learned is that regardless of the tool, I am capable of learning how to use it. I have learned not to shut down and give up the second something gets tricky, but rather to play around with it and give it some time. As a first year teacher, I am overwhelmed by all of the newness of teaching. But I am confident that little by little, I will begin to incorporate Web 2.0 tools in my teaching.  I am thankful for this valuable learning experience and I cannot wait to share my new-found knowledge with my students and my teammates. 🙂

Thing #22 – Twitter

So I first decided to get a Twitter account a couple of years ago because my boyfriend encouraged me to try it. I created an account and posted a few tweets here and there about things going on in my life. As Twitter’s popularity grew, I started to use Twitter as a way to follow entertainment news (sad, but true). I followed a bunch of celebrities I liked and used Twitter solely to read OTHER people’s tweets. In my college technology class, we were challenged to use Twitter for educational purposes, kind of like in Thing #22. My technology professor asked us all to follow a man by the name of Will Richardson. He is a former public school educator who founded Powerful Learning Practice, a professional development program that mentors teachers. We had to read his posts daily over the course of a month to see what this guy was all about. Will Richardson posted comments about and links to various articles encouraging educators to incorporate Web 2.0 into their classroom. Until this task, Will Richardson was the only person I have followed on Twitter that posts about educational content. However, I have begun to explore other people and organizations that Tweet about professional development and ways teachers can improve their teaching. To be completely honest, I do not see myself using Twitter as a primary way to get information. I just can’t seem to stick with it long enough to make it a regular part of my social networking hobbies. However, I do see its relevance in education. It is a great way to spread the word about new ideas in education. I will not abandon Twitter altogether, but I do not think it will be my first choice of tools to use in my teaching.

Thing #21 – Google Maps

So I had a bit of difficulty with the Google Maps. I could not figure out how to delete part of my route without deleting the whole thing! But eventually, I figured it out and successfully created a walking route of my trip to the farmer’s market. I think Google Maps is a pretty cool tool to use once you figure it out! I love how easy it is to drag and drop pins wherever we want to point out particular landmarks.

I think this would be a cool tool to use with students to prepare for field trips. Students could be a part of mapping out the trip so they become aware of exactly where they are going and of their surroundings. It would also be fun for students to use when planning for a class trip out of town. Students could take part in deciding which landmarks they would visit.

This year, my students will participate in a states project where they research a particular state in-depth. It would be fun for students to play with Google Maps and pinpoint famous landmarks in their state. I look forward to playing with Google Maps more in the future!

Thing #20 – Google Drive

The College of Education at the University of Florida was majorly into group work, so I have had numerous opportunities to use Google Docs and Google Presentations. It is such a convenient tool because it enables multiple people to edit the same document without have to constantly send new drafts through e-mail. One of my favorite characteristics of Google Drive is that it automatically and periodically saves your work, which prevents a lot of frustration! I have had the most experience with Google Presentations. It has pretty much replaced Microsoft PowerPoint in the college classroom, because it is much more collaborative and convenient.

I can envision multiple uses for Google Drive in the elementary classroom. Students can use Google Docs and Google Presentation when participating in group work to allow all students the ability to view and make edits to the assignment. Google Drive would also be great to use in writing because the students could share the document with the teacher and the teacher could monitor the editing process as the students progress through the drafting stages. Teachers can definitely use Google Drive too! For example, if teachers are working to create a syllabus for the grade, they can use Google Docs so all teachers can contribute to the document. There are really endless opportunities to use Google Docs in the classroom. I look forward to incorporating it into my teaching!

Thing #19 – YouTube

I have watched hundreds of YouTube videos in the past, but I enjoyed searching for videos that related to content I will be teaching in the classroom this year! The first video I found is of people singing the 50 states song. What I especially loved about this video was the accompanying slides that list the proper spelling and a picture of what the state looks like. My fourth graders will be responsible for learning the correct spelling and proper location of all 50 states this year, so this song would be a great way to help them remember all of the states!

The next video I found addressed two of the criteria listed in Thing 19. This video relates to my teaching content AND it was created by students. The first book my class will read together is Rules by Cynthia Lord. This video is a visual book report created by a student. I just love the idea that students can alter the “traditional” paper-based book report and incorporate their creativity into making a visual book report.

I think YouTube is a great way for students to share their work with students all over the world. My only concern is privacy. It would be imperative for teachers to get consent from parents and administration before allowing students to post videos on YouTube.

Thing #18 – Screencasts

So I was definitely a little shocked when I clicked on Thing #18 and barely saw any writing on the page! My shock was prolonged when I learned that we were responsible for teaching ourselves how to create and successfully upload a screencast… but I did it! Woo hoo! My confidence level is definitely starting to rise. I think it was very smart to have us take some more ownership of our technological journey and “play” with screencasting until we learned how to use it. It really reinforced the fact that I must have faith in myself and my abilities to use various types of educational technology.

Screencasts would be an extremely useful tool to use in the classroom. With education becoming increasingly dependent on technology, our students have countless opportunities to utilize technology while participating in various lessons and activities. As a teacher, screencasts are a great way to introduce new websites, tools, and games that students will be using in the classroom. Screencasts allow teachers to show students exactly how to navigate throughout various websites, which will be very beneficial for our visual learners, as opposed to solely verbally explaining the directions. I can’t wait to use this tool with my students!

Here is the screencast I created: Poetry Screencast

Thing #17 – Podcasting

I had a really fun time previewing some of the podcasts that are available for us to enjoy! While I was trying to branch out with regard to my educational interests, I found myself clicking on lots of children’s literature podcasts. I can’t help it…that’s my passion! I subscribed to a podacst called “Brain Burps about Books”. The podcast is narrated by Katie Davis, who is a children’s author and illustrator. She talks about various children’s books, how to incorporate them into the classroom, and she gives recommendations for teachers and parents. I could certainly use this podcast in my teaching because it would give me great ideas of books to use in my classroom and recommend to my students. While searching for a podcast that suited my personal interests, I came across a podcast called “Cooking with the Moms”. While I am not a mother, I am looking for fun, easy recipes to make as I begin my career as a teacher, so I thought this could be a great podcast to subscribe to!

I can definitely envision ways for teachers to incorporate podcasting into their curriculum. Continuing off of my love for children’s literature, I think it would be a great idea to create a podcast where students discuss books that they have read throughout the year and suggest recommendations for other students their age. This would be a great way to get the students reading and experimenting with technology. 🙂

Thing #16 – Classroom 2.0

I have been a huge fan of social networking for quite awhile now. I have had a Facebook account since my senior year of high school (5 years ago), and I just recently got a Twitter account (I do more reading than posting, but it’s a start!). Given my interest in social networking, I am surprised that I have never given much thought as to how it can impact my life as a teacher. I really enjoyed browsing through the Classroom 2.0 website and seeing how teachers from all over the country come together to share teaching experiences, offer advice, and ask questions. I thought the site was extremely user-friendly in that all of the links were clearly labeled. It made it very easy to navigate through the various components of the site. I was amazed at the number of topics discussed on Classroom 2.0. I mean you can pretty much type in anything and someone has posted about it! I typed “children’s literature” into the search engine because I am a huge fan, and came across some great recommendations of books my fourth graders should read!

As a first year teacher, I constantly seek the advice of more experienced teachers to help me embark upon my teaching career. I can definitely see myself using a social networking site, such as Classroom 2.0, to broaden my horizon of the world of teaching. I think this site is also a great way to establish connections with other teachers around the country who have similar interests to you and can help you polish the ideas and projects that you want to implement in your classroom.

Thing #15 – Diigo

So I must admit, I felt pretty technologically savvy when I saw that we were learning about Diigo because I actually already had a Diigo account!! Granted, I didn’t sign up for one entirely on my own. In one of my technology courses in college, we were introduced to social bookmarking and were required to register for a Diigo account. The requirements of the assignment were to compile at least 20 websites into your library, use tags to differentiate the sites into categories, and further separate the sites into different lists in your library. So, I made three lists: Teacher Resources, Student Resources, and Resources for Teachers and Students. Although I definitely learned a lot from this assignment, our teacher never encouraged us to take advantage of the highlighting and sticky note elements, or the collaborative nature of Diigo, so that is what I focused on this week! I found it extremely useful that you can search for websites that other people have bookmarked about any topic you can think of. Especially as a new teacher, it is so great that there is such a plethora of resources out there that I can use to get ideas about how I want to teach and manage my classroom, as well as how to enhance the educational experience for my students. I also find it very helpful to be able to manipulate the sites you find by highlighting key points and jotting down notes on the sticky notes. After reading through dozens of different online articles, it is hard to remember which piece of info came from which site — but highlights and sticky notes eliminate that problem!

I think Diigo would definitely be a useful tool to utilize in my classroom. It would be a great way for students to share resources they find online and have everything be on one, easily-managed, page to prevent things from being confusing. I can see my students using this for a variety of research purposes. For example, if my students are completing a project about different countries, they can work with their group members to find websites about key characteristics of the different countries. They can use tagging to differentiate between characteristics like culture, food, demographics, etc., and then create different lists to differentiate between the different countries. Then, the entire class will have access to the resources used to complete the project, rather than just a select few. I am glad I was able to revisit Diigo this week and learn more about how to incorporate it into my classroom!

Thing #14 – Inkle Writer

As I scrolled through the various articles on my Google Reader, I came across a blog post from Free Technology for Teachers that I found interesting. Richard Byrne introduced the tool Inkle Writer, which is allows students to write interactive stories. Students begin writing a story and then they can write numerous plot lines for the same story. When children go through and read the completed stories, they can choose which plot line they want to take, which enables them to have an element of choice as to how the story progresses. This tool immediately reminded me of a computer game I used to play as a kid. It was a series of computer games focusing around the character Rockett Movado. Some of the games included “Rockett’s Camp Adventures”, “Rockett’s First Dance”, “Rockett’s Tricky Decision”, etc. With these games, the interactive story would begin, and at certain points, three thought bubbles would pop up above Rockett’s head and the person playing the game got to choose which route Rockett should take. Each decision changed the outcome of the adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed playing these games because I felt as though I was creating my own story. I think Inkle Writer has very similar aspects. This tool would be a great way to get students interested in writing and help them practice writing the elements of the narrative genre. I think it would be fun for students to get to read their peers’ stories and navigate through the choices to create a unique story. I can definitely see myself using this tool in my classroom!