Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thing Nineteen - Google Docs

OK, I wish I had known about this 4 or 5 years ago! My daughters would come home with group projects and so often, it would fall to one person in the group to get everyone's "part" and compile the project to be handed in. What a time and frustration saver this would have been.

From a teachers standpoint, I see many uses for Google Docs.We have a data team for each grade level at our school. As a team, we choose a standard that has weaknesses across the grade level and come up with a pre-test to assess the students. Using Google docs would allow us to collaborate on the creation of a test without having to be together. We could also use the spreadsheet to collect the results. I really like that then I could access this information from home (which is where I am most of the time when I am writing my lesson plans). This would also be a great way to share information with parents and students. If you give homework or even class work that has been teacher created, and a student is sick, you can have it posted so they can access it from home. I created a slide show from our recent field trip and thought you could allow other teachers to add photos and comments. If you had parents on the trip and they also had pictures, you could allow them to add pictures as well.

I hope to have more time to play around in Google docs and see what other applications it could have in the classroom or within the school. Here is a link to a small sheet I made for Math. Volume Question.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thing - Eighteen Social Networks

I enjoy getting on Facebook and keeping up with friends, old and new. I also looked through several other sites including Classroom 2.0. I found this site awhile back and did join but had not used it much. I am trying to make it a point to check it every few days with the hope of checking daily for comments that interest me. While teaching first grade, I do not see too many uses for this type of network for students. However I do see uses for helping me develop as a teacher. Finding sites where people are struggling with the same issues I am will help me - 1. not feel like I am the only one struggling and 2. get and share ideas with others as to how to improve the struggle. Sometimes there are links to other pages or resources that can also benefit me as a teacher. I guess my biggest struggle is how to keep track of all of it in a timely and useful manner. I know the more I do and explore, the more comfortable I become, and would be willing to share or teach others to do the same.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thing Seventeen - Videosharing

While working on the assignment for video sharing, I came across this video and just had to laugh.
I found quite a few on YouTube that I would like to access from my class. I was glad to learn about the safe mode search. Zamzar provides a way to get some of these videos in your class. Many that I found and liked were phonics based jingles or songs with the letters shown visually. I think this is a great way to teach and reinforce reading and writing skills in the early grades. There were also quite a few that worked well in teaching vocabulary for ELL learners. Video sharing from the classroom could be a great way for students to showcase what they have learned. It could also provide a way to go back to review concepts as they are learning new ones. Because videos are on the web, it can allow access from home for children who are sick or have missed school. Teacher Tube is accessible from school, but the ads are quite annoying. (I should have set the timer like Dr. Moore suggested. Notice I am posting this at 2:40 am when I should be asleep.)

Thing Fifteen - Podcasting

Podcasts are interesting. I have had an iPhone for about 2 years now and had not done much with podcasts. After reading the chapter in Richardson's book, I decided to explore a little. I found some interviews with authors under Reading Rockets. I downloaded one with Mem Fox and one with Lois Lowery. I enjoyed listening to both of these and thought that might be something I could share with my students if doing an author study. The author interviews did have a video component with them which I liked. I am more of a visual learner so just audio pod-casts are not something I think I would personally get into the habit of using. I also found one called Curriculum 21, the same name as a book by Heidi Hayes Jacobs.This has interviews with educators on how to improve curriculum and instruction in the face of changes in the 21st century. Last summer I got to attend ASCD's summer conference and got to hear from Heidi. She is such a forward thinker and definitely promotes technology.
I did add Grammar Girl to my reader and then went to listen. One of the things I saw was an app, stitcher.com, for smartphones that allows you to get pod-casts without having to connect to your computer. If you use iTunes, you can subscribe but you still have to hook up your iPod or iPhone to transfer the podcasts. With stitcher, they come directly to your mobile device. On stitcher I did find several podcasts that I might be interested in - "The Accidental Creative", "Tech Stuff", "PRI's The World in Words" and my daily horoscope. I will blog more later as to whether I get into the habit of listening to any podcasts.
I can see several uses for podcasts in education. Teachers could run podcasts of important lesson introductions or even of daily classes so that absent students could still have access to lectures. You could also add a podcast to a blog page to give homework or class updates. Since I enjoyed the interviews with authors, you could create a podcast of "mock" interviews with historical figures. Using podcasts may allow an introduction to public speaking without having to get in front of a large audience.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Multimedia project

I have decided to do a project within the Health standards since it is a topic that we do not get much time to explore and also because there is little information in PICASSO (Cobb County's site that addresses standards). I will be working with 1st grade and some of what we do will be whole group and then broken down to small groups of 5 or 6 to complete a presentation to give to their class. We will be examining the muscular and skeletal systems and how they help the body work. We will watch several videos together and decide as a class what are the most important facts or information that needs to be presented. Three groups will work on the skeletal system and 3 will work on the muscular system. The small groups will be allowed to do further research with the help of the teacher. Students will design posters on Glogster to present information, first to their own class, then to another first grade class. I was thinking they would import a picture of the system they are working on and add labels as well as video to explain what they have learned.I am open to ideas and suggestions.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Thing Fourteen - Delicious

I like this site most for its portability. No matter what computer I am on I have a way to get to familiar sites quickly and easily. I also like that you can "follow" other people and the bookmarks that they have. Searching by tags is another great feature. Following and tags will allow me to search for relevant material when exploring new concepts or topics both for my 1st graders and also for myself. I will probably spend the next couple of weeks exploring the ins and outs of Delicious to see what else I can discover.  I am http://www.delicious.com/cat1west if you want to see what I have found so far.