Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tool 11 of 11 Tools

1. What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox?  Since most of the tools and web site I've seen are for Math and ELA, my toolbox is pretty specific: Poll Everywhere and Todays Meet are awesome.  Anything on Discovery and the Smithsonian is ready to go and user friendly! YouTube, Teacher Tube and School Tube are also easy and very goods sources. I am  the download queen and have access to many videos that are embedded in the lessons.
2. How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?
I have wonderful ideas for using Web 2.0 Tools in my class. However, I am also realistic enough to realize that I have so much content to cover, I have to move quickly and effectively. In other words, there is no time to play. Like Klien ISD and CyFair ISD have done in many of their schools to be truly effective we whould be checking out laptops to all the students at the beginning of the school year so that our students would become truly proficient. As it is, we do the best we can with 6 iPads in a class of 30. Of course I will do everything I can to 'create' lessons for my 21st Century classroom.. My kids are ready and willing, we just lack the equipment.
3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

No surprised. I took 23 Tools a couple of years ago. The only thing that surprised me was that there were a couple of Things I was suppose to do (including Atomic Learning) and I had difficulty because I was working on a MAC. I had to change back to my school computer to finish a couple of the activities.....Bummer...my school computer is falling apart. I think I have three screws holding this computer together. I love all the new programs....let's hope that this computer stays operational or my kids are headed back to a hard copy of the textbook....

Tool 10 of 11 Tools

Digital Citizenship is a big issue for me, so I introduce proper digital etiquette at the beginning of the year. Then, I remind the students and discuss any news events as they arise. My students know that I have a zero tolerance policy. I also let them know that 'Digital Citizenship' isn't just something you do in school. At the beginning of the school year, I also decline numerous requests to 'friend' me on Facebook. My answer is NO! I know that there are teachers who invite their students on to their Facebook page. I left my stupid pills at home that day, because that is a very dangerous game to play.
My students are kids and I  want to leave it that way.  The same is true with texting students.... How old are those teachers...12?  My students will be driving in a few short years. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be on the freeway with a 16 year old texting from the drivers seat.  Further, I do address the issue of sexting with my students.  These are middle school students, good God! If there isn't a standard at home, then I try to make it clear that there are standards in my class and that they are non-negotiable. I also send home a Digital Literacy Contract that the student and the parents both have to sign. I think that because I treat the issue so seriously my students follow protocol without question.
I enjoyed Wes Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity. Everything he says is right on the money.
Finally, at the beginning of the year while schedules are being changed and the kids are settling in with a new teacher, I have the students discuss a relatively current article from the paper on sexting, texting in class, cyber-bullying or texting and driving....you name.  I want them to realize that digital  abuse happens and that it is wrong and, in some cases, illegal. Fortunately we get to study the Constitution in depth during the school year so Digital Citizenship fall right in with the duties of responsible citizens.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Tool 9 of 11 Tools

Wikipedia defines Technology as:  the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of toolsmachines, techniques, craftssystems, methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Well said!  The more technology our students master, the better prepared our students will be perform in the real world with real jobs. Students have to be held accountable for assignments at work stations just like they should be held accountable for the homework. Work stations also provide an opportunity for students to develop and refine their communication skills. I particularly liked Learning Games for Kids and Thinkfinity especially since those were the only two that actually pertained to my content.  Thinkfinity also  ties to EDSITEment and Smithsonian which I already use in my classes. One of my assignments is to have the students create a presentation replicating the structure of a presentation from either one of those sites. 
I like Educreations Interactive Whiteboards and Subtext for the iPad. I think the word Interactive says it all. Also, my students need to be able to read and understand (interpret) and analyze primary documents. Subtext provides a vehicle for an interactive interpretation or reading of a primary document section by section. The complete documents can be intimidating  at first. Ultimately, my students will need to read many primary documents, and the iPad will enable the kids to hopefully post their analysis and interpretations for other students to use for reference.

Tool 8 of 11 Tools

It would certainly help to know which devices were going where. Our school already has COWs with the Mac Laptops and Dell Notebooks. Some of our class rooms have 6 of the Dell Notebooks and I think there might even be a classroom or two with the iPads. I prefer the iPads over the Dell Notebooks.  Some of our Math classes tried to use the Notebooks, but the print is so small that the students have trouble seeing the mathematical symbols.  The iPads are awesome and I think the students would appreciate how easy they are to use.  I am excited to have the students possibly create a video of sorts using the two-way camera on the iPad. I am going to post the classroom rules for using and handling the classroom electronics. Most importantly, the students will be arranged in groups so the students will need to sit with their team and not wander around the classroom.  The sound will need to be turned down or off so that the students can hear each other and not a favorite video. It is also important, in the beginning, to give the students a timeline for any projects.  Even allowing the students to change the font in a presentation opens up a door that you don't want to go through.  My students will spend two or three days just picking out the font they like (typically one that is very difficult to read) and what size and color they like. There has to be specific classroom rules that are introduced at the beginning of the school year and then maintained throughout the year. The rules should be simple and specific.  By the time I get the students, they are old enough and experienced enough to know how to behave on computer; it is just a matter of showing the kids that the teacher is just a savvy .

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Tool 7 of 11 Tools

Collaborative learning.....great idea. Everyone is talking about it...too bad for the kids who are disenfranchised ... you know the ones....yeah...it would be those kids who are living in shelters or crammed with other family member (all 16 of them) into a two bedroom apartment. Those would be the kids that are worrying about when or what they will be eating later that day or tomorrow. Right....those are the kids who don't have computers at home let alone internet service.  With that in mind, a collaborate project that I would like my kids to join would be one with children of a similar economic and social environment. Having said that... the other classroom  would also have to have little access to personal computers or the internet. Due to time constraints and equipment, I would have the two classrooms communicate over a 6 weeks period discussing an issue or event that the students identify. A current event provides a great opportunity for language development to support our ESL students. The two classroom could take turns over identifying an essential question for the other class. Then, once a week the students could present a response on Edmodo or, if time permits, Skype. I think the issues should be real and relevant for the students. I think that there is also a lot to be said for writing so if need be the students can take pen to paper. I just don't want the lesson to me one more experience of useless application. If time zones are an issue, I thinks Edmodo would be the best bet.

Tool 6 on 11 Tools

Today's Meet is probably one of my favorites.  My kids enjoy Today's Meet as a great way to discuss issues in a 'Fishbowl".  Many of my shy kids prefer to write their comments and it really brings out some great discussions from kids who never say a word in class. I use Google Docs to create a document  and then ask some of the kids to discuss the Google Doc on Today's Meet ( http://todaysmeet.com/Rules-of-Civility ). The kids also enjoy using Poll Everywhere .. its quick, easy and great for review or warm-up.   Here is a sample of a warm-up poll: http://www.polleverywhere.com/free_text_polls/LTE4NDg4MTExNjY    Good Luck! oh..and...my ESL kids love both of these tools. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tool 5 on 11 Tools

This tool took some time because I started this particular Tool using a Mac. Some of the 'tools' don't like Macs so this Tool was a bit tedious. Also I didn't particularly like having to register for all the different sites and I think I have already spend tons of my own money on my classes. As such, I will not even consider some of these web sites. I believe it is time for SBISD to pony up for some of our expenses. To wit, I don't know what anyone else has as a work load or how much anyone else is tested, but I don't have time to play with computers if I am going to successfully cover all of my content. The kids already have enough 'computer' play time. Don't get me started....time and need and computer accessiblity determine the lengh and depth of student computer assignments. Are there any spelling or writing or vocabulary sites for history??? Not! I have time for these two tools only because they can be done in one class period and then oops...the COW is needed for the next six weeks so kids can write a personal story in another class. The trading card under Big Huge Lab was used to make a review card for Elizabeth Cady Stanton. I used Wordle for the Preamble.