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.