Friday, October 30, 2009

Journal: S'Cool Tools

"S'Cool Tools - 5 Great Tools to Perk Up Your Classroom and Engage Your Students" written by: Maureen Brown Yoder

As a teacher we are always looking for the latest and greatest tools out there to engage our students. This articles lists five technology tools that can benefit students from all ages. To determine these tools fit the bill they had answer a definate yes to the following three important questions:
  1. Does this tool have the potentil to enhance teaching in some powerful way?
  2. Is this tool easy to learn and well supported?
  3. Is this an innovative new tool or a substantial improvements on an earlier version?

Here is what the author of this article came up with:

Lego's WeDo - This peice of technology is a collaboration between Lego Education and MIT's Lifelong Kindergarten group. At a total cost of $299.85 WeDo comes with over 160 lego elements, a motor, a motion sensor, icon-based software,activities and instruction for 12 models, and teacher notes with cirriculum, objectives, discussion questions, and sugestions for extension activities. The technology supports integration of virtual and physical worlds where students work to make a final product.

Smart Table - This is much more than jsut an interactive whiteboard, it is a multitouch, multiuser, interactive learning center. It comes with customizable applications and ready-made lessons - which makes it easy for a sub to step in. The Smart Table allows up to 8 students to work together and encourages student collaboration. Currently a Smart Table costs $7,999, so it's pretty costly - but like all teachnology the price is sure to come down.

AVer Pen and AVer Plus - This pen and software is like an interactive whiteboard without the whiteboard, installation,calibration and alignment. It can write on almost any surface, capture images, record video, as well as several other activities. It runs on radio frequencies and can operate within a 100' radius. The starter pack comes with 1 teacher pen and 4 student pens at $799.99. You can purchase additional pens and registar up to 60 studen pens per one teacher pen.

Second Life Realities - These are educational based virtual worlds created in several forms. Students can create their own classroom world or join premade worlds that can further their education is numerous ways. The amount and types of world you creat are limitless. (Cost: Teen Grid real estate and some building materials need to be purchased, otherwise membership and participation are free)

Google Apps Education Community - Google has reached out to the educational community and provided tools to aide education. It designed to help educator be providing them with tons of resources and applications at their finger tips.

Overall, there are tons of S'Cool Tools out there, to make sure they will benefit you and your students remember the three begining questions. But get out there - and get techy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Journal: Build Your Own Board

"Build Your Own Board - Brightboards Offer a Cost-Effective Alternative to Interactive Whiteboards" written by: Keith Vallis and Peter Williamson

Interactive Whiteboards have become all the rage in education, students are begining to expect them in all the classrooms. But with such a large price tag, and the endless budget cuts how can we afford to place them in classrooms? well, instead of purchasing the large name brands, why not get creative and make your own Brightboard...

Since any computur can connect with a projector and any software can be projected on to a screen or wall - all you need to do is hook-up a bluetooth-enabled pen tablet and a wireless keyboard. And SHAZAM, you have your own interactive Brightboard at a much smaller price tag! Not that hard to set up and at a more realistic cost not only is it better for your wallet but it can be much more efficiant in the classroom. One thing that you have to deal with with interactive whitboards is the fact that you are required to sit in front of the computer to oporate the software. The nice thing witha brightboard, is that it can be portable, you can dock your laptop to the projector, get multiple tablets, and keyboards. Therefore the teacher can move around the room, and is not needed to sit in the front of the room with the only computer that has the correct software. And students can pass the tablets around, work similtaneously and dont have to feel that they are in the spotlight at the front of the room. Overall, the Brightboard idea can benefit the class at several different levels.

However, there are still benefits for having a interactive whiteboard instead of the Brightboard equiped in your classroom. Interactive whiteboards in some cases are better for younger students, where brightboards can benefits older students. All-in-all there is a place for both models. Teachers and administrators will need to consider all factors when deciding what is better for their classes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Journal: Show Us the Money

"Show Us the Money! - Planning and Preparation Can Help You Get Ed Tech Stimulus Funding" written by: Davis H. Brock

There is often a disconnect between the usage of technology for students outside of school to that inside the classroom. Living in a period where technology is so advanced it is important to bring it into the classroom for current education. So how do we get it into our classrooms, without spending our entire income? Stimulus Funds - "with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), we have the opportunity to make significant strides in bringing technology into the classroom in meaningful ways and ending the digital disconnect."

So, how do you get the funds?
  • Create a plan
  • Research results
  • Find success stories
  • Find out what's available (money-wise, within the district)
  • Create a spreadsheet
  • Include professional development
  • Make the presentation look good :)
  • Develop relationships
  • and Keep knocking at the door

These are all the things you need to consider when asking for stimulus funds and/or grants. There are so many ways to get out there and find money to improve technology in the classroom, so make sure you have all your ducks in a row when you are ready to present your request. This article basically walked you through the process in creating a successful request for funding for technology. Not only do these steps help for technology grants, but are good to keep in mind when asking for any other types of grant monies.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Journal: Extreme Makeover

" Extreme Makeover: Updating Class Activities for the 21st Century" written by: Rena Shifflet and Cheri Toledo

"Ever find yourself wishing Ty Pennington and his design team would roll their bus to your classroom and help you renovate your old activities?" It was such a perfect opening I had to borrow it... Well, this article was describing how as an educator you can use to free resources available to you on the Internet to update and renovate some old techniques and move them into the 21st century. The article had tons of recources (that I will list towards the bottom of the post for you to check out) that can help you update classroom activities. It first talke dabout Collaorative writting tools such as google docs, in which students can share and work collaborativly together on project - great for group projects. Secondly it talked about the article talked about blogs, which we know quite a bit about already, but yet again had some great ideas, such as students creating their own portofolios - great for parent /teacher confrences! Then the article continued to talk about social bookmarking, photosharing, and building reference recources (ie: wikis). Another idea I might just have to steal from this article is creating a lesson where the students make their own "Flicktion" - a story inspired by a photo. (I can see all the possibilities now...) Lastly, this article brought up one other important topic in regards to tthe use of technology in the classroom - Misuse. When using web-based application there is always the possibility of misuse, however this provides you with the opprtunity to teach the responsible and ethical uses of these tools, as we promote 21st century literacy.

Here are those resources:
Google Docs and Spreadsheets
Word Press
Blogger Http://

Friday, October 2, 2009

Journal: Blogs in the Classroom

"Blogging Right Along" written by: Jared Maders and Ben Smith

This article was a good read, and clarified something I was unsure about in regards to using a blog in the classroom. The authors of this article were science teachers and described how they used them in thier classes. The article mentioned how they used the blogs as a daily or weekly journal for their students to keep records of classroom events. They mentioned that they try to incorporate pictures of the lessons in the blogs because it is great for students who are visual learners. The article also spoke about how an individual blog can be created by a whole class, using blog-groups, who are assigned at different times to update the blog. By having a single blog for a class, it is a great way for absent students and or parents to gain access to what the class is doing. Blogs can also serve to be beneficial for the teachers as well because it is an excellect timeline of their class which can come in handy for cummulative reviews. Another things, I liked from this article was when the authors mentioned that there was an "anonymous grammar police" who revised the students work. I will definatly use that, if I ever use blogs in my future classes.

After reading this article, I was a little more clear an the different ways I could use blogs in the classroom. One of the last thing the article mentions is that, "the advantage of the blog is its public nature", this brought up my biggest concern in the use of blogs - making it open to the public. One problem I forsee with the use of blogs is the fact that the students work is open to the public, and I wonder if that ever brings up issues with the parents, or public. I still don't know if I would like the idea of the general public having access into the classroom and or students work. Overall though, this article had some great ideas for the use of blogs in aclassroom.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Journal: Favorite Ed Tech Tool

"What Is Your Favorite Ed Tech Tool?" written by Paul Wurster

I originally picked this article so that, as a future teacher, I could see what would be the most beneificial peice of technology was to own. After reading this article, it seems as though the most important item varys from person to person. It turns out that many of the educators who participated int the poll had a hard time picking one single item. The poll was split up into the following catagories: Internet tools/resources, general productivity tool (word, excel, etc.), interactive whiteboards/projectors, Web 2.0 tools, and portable devices. The results fell in the same order. The Internet tools/resources came in the lead due to the basic uses of email and search engines. Secondly, general productivity tools came next becuase of the use of programs like word, excel, and powerpoint; which educators typically use on a daily basis. Interactive whiteboards/projectors, Web 2.0 tools and portable devices all came in generally close to one another. Participants in the poll mentioned how interactive whiteboards and smart board revolutionize and transfor the learning envioronment. They also mentioned how it helps students who are visual learners as well as helping ELL, becuase it engages and gets students involved in their own learning. For web 2.0 tools people mentione things like Google Docs and Moodle which can help with collaberation. For portable digital devices people mentioned things like PDA's, cell phones, laptops, and one person mentioned a Kurzweil. (Anyone know what a Kurzweil is? I'm interested to find out... the person commented "If my classroom was on fire, I would grab the Kurzweil first" - let me knoe if you find out what it is...) All in all, it seems as though the preference for Ed tech tools is wide ranged and open for interpretation, although all the tools help make a more effective learning enviornmen. I still feel that the old "outdated" tools will still be used to make learning fun, angaging and effective in class.

As a future teacher I believe that the roles in technology will be more and more prominate and that everything will be a good use. I feel that when Im teaching technology will be a large role in my classroom. Currently I work with computrs on a daily basis, and I have no idea what I would do without my PDA, IPod or Kindle. I cant wait to find out how else I can encorporate technology into my curriculum.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Journal: Digital Libraries

Digital Libraries - Shifting the Landscape Written by: Glen Bull and Martha Sites

In this article, the idea of the "incunabula of digital books" is now in full force. With evolution of digitized books, the Kindle and the Sony reader the authors discuss the shift effects on education from print to digital books. The article also mentioned that the Curry School of Education Library at the University of Virgina is undergoing the removal of all physical texts and transitioning completely to digital books. The transition that the Curry School of Education Library made, is the first known instance of such a transition to digital books. With many books from around the world already available on Google Book Search we have already started the "irreversible transition". Portable electronic books also have multiple benefits. With the capabilities of synchronize with other devices, such as Kindle to iPhone, the convenience is significant. The article, mentions that the current e-books, and the ones that will eventually follow, benefit those who are visually impaired. With the capability to change font size or with the Kindle built in Text-to-Speech option the text can be recited aloud. Although the current devices are not perfect they are on their way for making a dramatic change to the make-up of our libraries - and they can save a considerable amount of space.

Being an owner of a Kindle2 I was greatly intrigued by this article. When I got my Kindle, I remember thinking " wouldn't it be cool if there was a program, or a pilot program, out there that would make it possible to have a kindle for each student and having all our books in a digitalized format?" Like the article said the Kindle and it's similar devices are not perfect, they are only in their primary years and I can foresee the possibilities on what they can eventually evolve to. I feel that the transition from printed to digitalized books is inevitable at this point, however they will coexist for quite some time. It's hard to believe that printed books will eventually become a thing of the past. As a kindle owner, there are currently a few kinks that if fixed would make it ideal for K-12 students. Right now, there aren't several children's books available, and the text-to-speech option is to say the least awkward. Overall though, I think it brings a whole other realm to reading for some people, for those who are into the technology I think it's a great invention, I LOVE MY KINDLE! I'm intrigued to finding out some more information on the e-books of the future and seeing how I could possibly incorporate them into my future curriculum...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Journal: New Questions

New Questions - Using Technology to Enhance Math Education Written by: Mary C. Enderson

Being a "math person" myself, I found this article to be very educational for any future and/or current teachers. I understand that in general most people, have a strong dislike for math, some who may even fear teaching it. After reading this article, it brought a real sense of how math can be full of opportunities in real-world scenarios, making it attainable for students at all levels of understanding. In this article Enderson writes about a question given to her class, and how they incorporated technology by using a software system called Algebra Xpresser.
"Problem: Given a rectangular sheets of grid paper that are 25" x 40" (made up of 1"x1" squares), make boxes by cutting squares from the corners and folding up the remaining sides. Which boxes provide the maximum Volume? Which boxes provide the minimum volume?" (Enderson pg. 29)
The students were given an opportunity to guess first before the made empirical measurements. After constructing, collecting, and sharing their data students used the software to translate their findings into a symbolic form exploring their concepts. Along the way, the use of technology, Algebra Xpresser, served as a tool in aiding the students by furthering the understanding of the concepts used in this problem. Using the graphing function students were eventually able to visualize the data by plugging in the equation they came up with (V= x(25-2x)(40-2x)). After having the graph as a visual representation of the data they collected, they students began to come up with further questions of their own in response to their findings, which became a critical element in their technology-based problem solving.
All in all, this activity seems to get the students involved in a more experimental way, which may better suit the learning styles of certain students. By going beyond the standard curricular boundaries of math and encouraging students to deeper investigate problem with technology there can be a better conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas. The appropriate software and technology can "facilitate students problem solving processes" (Enderson pg. 32) and may eliminate obstacles. I would suggest that if anyone were planning on using technology similar to this "play" with it prior to using it in a class setting, otherwise it may create more obstacles. I really like the use of technology with math, now-a-days technology is second nature to children and if it can enhance a students comprehension, it's well worth it. Math is just one of those subject you either hate it or love it, and by using technology it can get students involved, sometimes without them even knowing it. The article mentions that this same problem can be given to students varying from elementary to middle school and even high school; volume is a concept that starts early and by using manipulatives and graphs with technology it gives a new dimension to a traditional paper-and-pencil activity.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Journal: Chatting It Up Online

"Chatting It Up Online - Students Talk to a Favorite Author" By: Pamela Livingston

This article describes how a teacher, along with some help, was able to set up online chat between some students and one of their favorite authors, Mary Pope Osborne. The author of this article found out that Osborne was going to be online via a listserv (Classroom Connect), considering a group of her students were avid readers of Osborne's books, she acknowledged the possibilities a live online chat could offer for her students. Livingston explains how she prepared for the chat for the main part of the article. After registering and sending her preferences, she waited to hear back for the approval of their request. When the approval was finalized Livingston took all necessary precautions in setting up for the chat. After reserving the computer lab and clearing any issues with the technical support team, Livingstone read and re-read the email sent to her with suggestions and some online etiquette to prepare herself.
Being sure to have a backup plan in the case of a technical glitch, Livingston was well prepared for the chat.. Although she ran into a few problems, the day of, the chat with Osborne was a success! By having prepared question ahead of time, it allowed for a better flow during the chat. An online chat is considerably different than having a one-to-one conversation, due to the constant posts from various members in the chat room. Livingston described her learning curve, and how she eventually found it easy to scroll throughout the chat to find the answers to particular questions. The chat was setup to be an hour in length, unfortunately the students were unable to stay for the whole conversation. Even though the students had to leave, Livingston continued with the list of question, and was impressed that mostly all their questions were answered. Overall, Livingston expressed how pleased she was with the outcome of the chat and describes the benefits of an online chat for her students.

After reading this article, it opened my eyes to all the possibilities technology could bring to the classroom environment. I feel the "chat" environment is a great way for students to experience things outside of the realm allowing them a unique opportunity to use technology and gain knowledge. Not only could you use a chat with authors but you could use it with other subjects as well, say for instance a biologist or a doctor for science units. Technology could also be used in virtual field trips allowing students to experience things way out of their reach. Technology has opened up so many doors in education, the possibilities are almost endless. However, throughout this article Livingston brings up some good points to think about when dealing with technology that are important to take note of. The following are some good ideas to remember - that I will for sure take along with me throughout my career as an educator:
  • Plan ahead
  • Don't tell students your plans, until you are really far along in the process (being sure not to get their hopes up, in case plans fall through)
  • Work alongside with the tech team (to remove firewalls, etc.)
  • Test, test, and test again - prior to doing it with your students
  • Check location before hand at the same time of day (check for lighting issues, etc.)
  • Make a back up plan

Those were just a few I found, that would be helpful to remember in the future. I only hope that I can incorporate activities like these in my lessons, benefiting my future students in more ways than one.

Standards: NETS4