Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tool 11

As a technology teacher, I was very familiar with a large number of the resources provided in this program. My favorite would have to be Tool 5 because it encompasses so many good tools. Big Huge Labs has always been my favorite because it has so many options and applications that can enhance student learning. I did find a few new items that I will try to incorporate into my classroom in the coming year such as saveyoutube and Dropbox. Specifically, I will use Dropbox for storing and sorting the photos that my students take throughout the year as they develop our first digital yearbook.

Having worked through the original 23 Things and the follow up 11.5 Things as well as completing my Master's of Educational Technology Leadership, my vision has not changed through this version of 11 Tools. I am committed to sharing technology skills with my students and peers and doing my part to help the education process move into the 21st Century.

The only surprise I encountered was how detailed the program was this time. I will still want to return to the 11 Tools site and explore several of the resources in more depth. I will most likely share many of the resources with my students and invite them to explore with me and suggest uses for many of the items. I am glad I was able to complete the program and look forward to incorporating my new devices in my classroom in the fall.

Tool 10

Digital Citizenship simply put involves teaching children to do the right thing whether you (or their parents) are watching or not. My goals for my students in digital citizenship always involve safety first, choosing appropriate and acceptable resources and sources, and understanding giving credit to sources. There are many other topics that are covered by myself and many others, such as appropriate language and good manners, but the three that I like to focus on encompass the others. One way to do that is through educating students about Creative Commons licenses. By following the ideas and plans on the ISTE-NETS for Students site many of the issues mentioned above would be handled easily. The discussions around the various forms of Creative Commons licenses available would include student understanding of what each license entails and how to incorporate those same licenses into their personal work.

Parents need to be exposed to the same standards for ethical and legal behavior as the students. As the ideas are instilled in the students, parents need access to teacher publications and shared sites that address those issues of safety and ethical use both for their own benefit and to ensure the same concepts taught at school are followed at home as well, creating more and more good digital citizens. Parents can also be invited to share or view student work explaining good digital citizenship.

Tool 9

There are so many technology choices available it can become overwhelming to decide. The learning objective needs to drive the decision to use a specific technology. If the technology does not promote learning and synthesizing the objective, it has no place in a lesson. Just as it is the teacher's responsibility to ensure the technology promotes the objective of the lesson, it is the student's responsibility to use the technology for the intended purpose to increase learning. Students need a form of accountability to ensure they are mastering the objectives being presented.

Thinkfinity had a lesson on making a year end digital scrapbook that could be used in my class. Students could collaborate on picture selection and editing. Each student would need to document their own role in the creation of their scrapbook which would incorporate skills learned throughout the year. Learning games for Kids has typing lessons on the site. This is a skill my students work on and could easily be a center activity.

The first really interesting app I found for the iPad was i-Prompt Pro. This app allows you to download text for speeches and presentations and scroll through it on the iPad like it was a teleprompter. This could come in handy to ensure a teacher covered all important points of a lesson. It can also be useful to students who need to present a project to the class. Students are frequently very nervous and simply read slides they share with the class. An app like i-Prompt Pro would allow them to create a more natural talk and share it without having to read every line on the slides. Students could prove their productivity in this station by simply having the product available when they present to the class.

The other app I found that would be quite useful for my students is Mobile. Having basic photo editing available on an iPad in the same program my students use in class would allow simple fixes to be accomplished quickly and uploaded to appropriate locations or store them on Dropbox. Success with this app would also be documented with a finished product.

One other way an iPad can be quite useful in the classroom is as an interactive control for the teacher laptop. By installing Splashtop or Doceri on both the teacher laptop and the iPad, teachers and students can use the iPad from anywhere in the room to add comments to a projected flipchart, control ActiveBoards, manipulate files and documents, or control just about anything that is located on the laptop while giving the freedom to move around the room. It can also control the laptop without a projector enabled, allowing the teacher to take notes on student progress or enter grades from anywhere in the room.

Tool 8

As a middle school Journalism teacher, I will be receiving MacBook Pro computers. I am very familiar with MacBooks as I have several in my classroom at present. I'm looking forward to the additional machines and especially the capacity of the MacBook Pro.

In reading through the MacBook tutorials, I found several widgets I thought were on the machines, but had not located, most notably stickies and Flight Tracker. I also was glad to review the Time Machine feature to back up files. This is something I will be sharing with students. The final segment that will be useful is the Mac Cheat Sheet. I will use this to write down the serial numbers, operating system, etc. for my new devices so that I will have them on file and easily accessible when I need them.

Managing the devices in my classroom will be fairly simple. Due to the set up of my classroom, the devices will remain in their assigned locations and students will be assigned seats. At the beginning of each semester we will have a lesson on computer care and use to cover appropriate use as well as care of all of the machines and other devices in my classroom. Students will have a trouble ticket they can hand me during or after class letting me know if there are any problems with their machines.

As much as possible I would suggest students using MacBooks or iMacs be instructed in saving their documents to their student folders or a cloud location rather than on the individual machines. I have discovered that in many cases the students do not realize that saving to the home folder on the computer which shows up with their computer log in is not the same as saving to their individual student folder located on the Cougar server. It is worth the time up front to ensure that every student knows exactly how and where to save any files they create on the machine.

Tool 7

The timing for this tool was actually perfect for me. I will be starting back with students in Broadcasting in the fall and I have asked a high school teacher whose students have experience broadcasting at their campus to join my class in an online session early in the fall to share some of their experience and give pointers to my middle school students as we begin to reconstruct a program. I would anticipate using Skype for the conferencing and perhaps having students post questions beforehand on Wallwisher so the high school students could have an idea what my students wanted to know. The objective is simply to gather knowledge from experienced students who have been doing similar activities for several years and to share that knowledge with my students who will be coming from a background of very limited or no experience.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tool 6

Again, I had used most of the Tools listed, so I tried a new one. I think the Poll Everywhere would give students an opportunity to use the cell phones they always want to bring out in class and get students understanding they hold a powerful tool that can be used in many different ways. I want to be able to integrate appropriate cell phone usage into the classroom, and this looks like one way to get it started in the right direction. This is a sample question that would be used as a comprehension check for a point that is important in developing documents with technology to be printed. (If you don't know the answer, check the last line of this post. We use one number for any student documents in Middle School to prevent confusion, even if it is overkill in some instances.)
I also played with Wallwisher. I think something simple like this could be good for students to check homework assignments, due dates, and leave questions about things they don't understand. My wall can be found at:

The more tools provided to students, the more I think they will be anxious to attend class and actually pay attention. In Middle School where students are so easily bored, the challenge to teaching is more about keeping them engaged in the content than actually sharing the content with them. Interactive tools like these should promote discussion, participation, and may even drag those reluctant learners out of the corners and into active participants in the classroom.

One minor warning for those of you using Skype. It is a wonderful tool, but keep up with your password. If you lose it and ask them to remind you, the message goes to your spam filter and by the time you find the message, the temporary password they send will have expired. (Something I obviously found out the hard way.)

For those of you who might be wondering, the answer to photo resolution for a color print is 300 pixels/inch.

Tool 5

I LOVE several of these tools and have been using them for years! My all-time favorite is Big Huge Labs. There are countless uses for the Motivational Poster maker, Magazine Cover, Movie Poster, etc. My all-time favorite tool there would have to be the Trading Cards. You can create them yourself or even better let the students do it. This is such a great way to make important content visual and easily accessible. I have used them in regular content lessons and especially with second language learners. If you can find a picture and add a few words to get a concept across, how wonderful! If you didn't choose Big Huge Labs as one of the ones you wanted to investigate, I would strongly encourage you to spend some time  there. Warning, it can be addictive!
This is a sample Trading Card I made at the site.

Of course most of us have seen or used Animoto by now. They do offer an educator's account, and it is easier to get it when you first open an account than to try to switch your account to an educator account later. Pick your photos; select some music, and let Animoto do the rest. Great for students, teachers, and even your family vacation.

Since I had already used most of the resources listed, I took a little while to explore Make Beliefs Comix. It is similar to a couple of other comic strip makers I have used. Students love to create a comic strip, and it makes a good project to prove they understand the basic concept being taught, no matter what the subject matter. It also allows students to write in other languages including Spanish, which could be beneficial to our more recent immigrant students who speak Spanish. A quick trip to Google Translate and students can create original comics in both languages. I can envision students using comic strips to explain some of the technical lessons in their own words such as How to Edit a Picture in Photoshop.
This was my sample comic: