Thursday, April 25, 2013

Reflection Post

Reflecting on any life experience can be beneficial. It gives us an opportunity to step back and look at a situation from the outside. When I step back and look at the experience I had in taking this course I am flooded with thoughts. Not only was this course fun and easy to enjoy, but it was also challenging, thought provoking and pushed me the limits on my technological knowhow. I was definitely a little weary about the whole Blogger assignment when it was first given. But now, sitting here writing my final blog posting I have to say it was an overall great learning experience. It forced me to analyze the material I was reading the book and gave me an opportunity to see how beneficial many of the topics and technologies we discussed can be in my future classrooms. This was a great way to integrate the learning objective of critical thinking into a fun and useful internet tool.

The blog was not my only concern when reviewing the syllabus that first week of class. I was also very hesitant to do group work in a class that only meets once a week. It is difficult enough to cultivate successful projects on your own let alone organize and structure a project with 3 or 4 other people when you all are on different schedules. But, after doing the collaborative lesson plan assignment I realized that even though it was a challenge is made me feel much more capable of working with others from a distance using technology. This took care of the technology/information management learning objective that was discussed in the syllabus.
The last comment I have to make about this course is that I never expected to retain so many of the resources shown to me throughout the course. I look forward to using sites such as Wikispaces, Google groups, Blogger, Delicious, Livebinders, Prezi, Rubistar, Questgarden, and many of the other great sites we were taught to use this semester. I can’t wait to discover more great ways to integrate technology into my future classroom and use all the great tools I have learned in this class! Thank you to not only my fabulous professor, but also to the great group of peers I had the privilege of working with this semester as well.
So to close I just want to say....

Journal #11

Digital Portfolios and the Importance of Starting Early

As a future educator, it is important to understand the purpose and importance of putting together a digital portfolio. A digital portfolio is a great way to showcase your skills in technology before even beginning at a new job. It is a great way to stand out among other applicants for any positions you might be applying for as a technologically savvy educator. Most people in the education world will admit that there is a great value in being able to seamlessly integrate technology into your classroom. Not only should you as a teacher have a digital portfolio but it is also a great idea to cultivate digital portfolios with each of your students as well. There is a great blog posting I found from the Getting Smart blog that discusses the merit in developing digital portfolios with your students.
In the post the author, Kathy Cassidy, discusses the success she has found in developing digital portfolios, via a blogging platform, with the six year olds that she teaches. These online portfolios are a collection of all of the students work from reading to math. It is an age old practice to collect and organize your student’s projects to track their process, she has just modernized the process by taking these portfolios digital. It is a great way to keep parents as involved as possible when they can just log on to their child’s digital portfolio and see exactly what their child has been achieving at school. She also discusses how the students tend to put more effort into their projects when they know it is not only their teacher that is going to see their work, but also anyone who can access their blog. She says it can be a great motivator.
Creating a blog at such a young age is also a great gateway to discuss many important issues like making sure that you aren’t posting any personal information on the web. The fact that we live in an increasingly digital world is something that we can’t deny. The post states, “Children need to learn early that it is important to present yourself well online and some of the ways that can be done.” Honestly, I really couldn’t agree more. I look forward to using this knowledge in my future classrooms.
The video below is a great example of a teacher using technology to explain the importance of a digital portfolio.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Journal #8

Taking an in depth look at another educator's blog can not only help you understand them better, it will also be a great learning tool on how to improve your blog. As with all new mediums, the more you view and critique, the deeper your understanding with them becomes.

For this blog post I will be analyzing and critiquing Kathy Schrock’s blog.

The first thing that I notice when I open her blog is that it is very minimalist in design. The background is white and the writing is in a fairly average black font. As I scan through the first several blog posts I notice that she has lots of pictures and other graphics that spice up the look of the blog more so than the actual page design. In each post she has at the very least three multimedia items whether they be videos, pictures, or something else entirely. She uses hyperlinks regularly that link out to the specific things she is discussing- jsut as we have been taught to do. I was scrolling down and realized that there was virtually no end to her blog.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Journal #9

Critiquing: "7 Degrees of Connectedness" K-12 online Conference

Getting Connected

The entire video was set up on a bulletin board that would zoom into different clips and portions of the video, which was a really creative way to transition from portion to portion of the interviews. It was also was really entertaining that the video was set in the format of a walk around the speaker's, Rodd Lucier, neighborhood in Ontario. It made it such a conversational type. The video then flashed to a real teacher named Jessica Swift. She spoke about her experience with beginning to use Twitter. It was really interesting that she was so nervous to connect with people and yet she ended up making such strong relationships with other educators despite her reservations.

Rodd then brought up podcasting. There was a testimonial from a guy named Mark about his experience with podcasting. He went from being a listener to Rodd's Teacher 2.0, to being someone who interacted with others through their podcasts, and now he actually produces his own podcast to practice connectedness.

Then the bulletin board brings us to another associate of Rodd's that he met while traveling in China. This portion talks about how helpful Instagram can be. He sums it up very short and sweet by simply saying, a picture is worth a thousand words, so one post on Instagram is lie an entire paragraph on a blog.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Journal #7

This week I again decided to go with the alternative choice for my journal post. Having done so many posts on the chapters I am excited to get a chance to do this assignment another way. So, I have found an educational game that I will be able to use in my future classroom

I wasn't exactly sure where to look for these sorts of games so I started in the most basic way I knew, typing "educational games" into Google. Ahhh, good old Google. I of course was over loaded with over 100,000,000 results but after exploring the top fix or six choices I decided that I wanted to choose a game from the Nobel Prize site I found. Not only did the "Nobel Prize" in the name of the site make me think it was a respectable site to use in a classroom, but it was also a ".edu" versus a ".com". Which, as we discussed in class is another way of weeding out unreliable sources.

photo credit link
 There were many different games listed on this site, many of which were involved with earth sciences or anatomy. Since I am going to school to be an English teacher those games did not interest me as much. It wasn't until I came across the "Lord of the Flies Game" that I knew what I was going to do. The game is very professionally designed, presented, and organized. It is set up as an island with many different locations you can go visit. Each location has different activities that quiz the students knowledge of important quotes, character traits, symbolism, plot details, setting, and other knowledge the students should have ascertained while reading the book, The Lord of the Flies by WIlliam Golding. Not only did each section quiz the students on different aspects of the books but the games were designed in different ways as well. Some were matching, some were fill in the blank, and even true and false. They weren't your average quizzes though, they were set up like tree climbs or battles between two characters. at the end you get rates on a scale of one to five butterflies.

After reading this novel with your class over the course a few weeks this game would definitely be useful. I think this would be a great tool to use as a study tool that you could encourage the children to do in class with partners. Not only would they be "tricked" into having fun while they studied, but they also have a great way to review from home if they come across any trouble with the game when they play it in class. Below I have provide a brief video that summarizes this book so you can explore this educational game even if you haven't read the entire book!! Have fun! (you may even accidently learn something in the process )

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Journal #6

Webquest, What's That?!

Instead of writing another blog post about my most recent chapter I decided to do something a little different. I looked into different Webquests designed around technology.

You may be asking yourself, what is a Webquest? I know this is exactly what I was asking myself when I was first given this option for my week six journal. So, I decided to do a little digging. According to the Webquest homepage that is linked above, a Webquest is "an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web."

Now that you know what a Webquest is, a little history lesson. It all began when an educator named Bernie Dodge- with the help of colleague and friend Tom March, formed the model in 1995, within the walls of San Diego State University where they were both employed. Since its inception thousands and thousands of teachers all over the world have embraced this new way of integrating lessons into the 21st century mind set.

The Creators

Photo credit Link
I looked at a Webquest designed by Melissa Fox for 3rd to 5th grade students. It is basically designed to teach them basic computer parts. It's introduction states, "Do you know what a computer is? Do you know it has special parts? Do you know what these can do for you?". While exploring the different tabs of the Webquest I found that it left much to be desired. The information given was very vague and the pictures used were very generic and poorly spaced. I thought that it would have been better suited for students in 1st or 2nd grade, rather than 3rd to 5th as she suggested. When she listed the different parts of the computer she listed on part as "blank paper" which is used to put into the printer. I thought that could have definitely been omitted. I think even first graders know what blank paper is. I also found that she used the same graphics more than once on different tabs. There are so many different photo sites available to anyone with access to the internet that I thought it was interesting she reused the same fix or six graphics.

Below is a video on how to create a Webquest if anyone is interested in making their own. Maybe it will be more successful than the one I have critiqued above.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Journal #5

Using the internet for research is certainly not a new idea. I think that integrating the internet into your teaching style is a natural response when you have grown up in a technological world like my generation has. I have used tools from Ask Jeeves to online presentation websites like Prezi I have always integrated online research and tools into my educational assignments. So its an easy transition to think of using it in a teaching capacity. I thought that some of the statistics given in this weeks chapter were a little shocking. Like only 52% of internet users know how to judge the objectivity of an online source. This really made me question whether or not I can properly judge it or not. It also said that only 35% of online users know how to properly narrow down and overly broad search. This doesn't surprise me as much since there is so much information available online and there is only so many ways that you can narrow down your choices properly.
Using the internet is always a good way to start but the big problem that educators need to discuss in their classrooms when teaching it is the act of plagiarism. Since everything online is able to be copied and pasted onto your own work like a Word document or a PowerPoint presentation it is so incredibly important to teach your students how to properly site the information they are given. Although plagiarism has always been an issue, with the use of online resources the chance of doing so is so much greater because its a simple right click away instead of a tedious task with a pencil.

Tech Tool 5.1:
Photo and Audio Resources on the web are something that people are using more and more ofter now that the web is integrated into so many facets of our everyday life. Flickr, Photobucket, ad Shutterbug are just some of the hundreds of photo websites that are available for public use today. They are usually completely free and make it easy to share photos from any location instead of storing them on your hard drive. It even makes it easier to share them on websites you design or blogs like this one.

Focus Question:
What are search engines and how do they work?
According to our text book which is sited in journal posting one below, search engines are software programs that use networks of computers to access information about a topic from it's databases. So they are basically sites used to retrieve information from the internet in an easy way. There are many different search engines you can choose to use but according to a study done in 2007 Google, MSN, Yahoo, Ask, and AOL are the most popular search engines used and account for 95% of online searches done world wide. However, Microsoft has recently introduced a new search engine called Bing, which is now used approximately as often as each of the ones I listed before.