I can’t believe I have reached the final chapter of this class. Although the class is coming to an end, I believe I have just opened a new book. I can’t believe how much I have learned over the summer. It has been full of adventure, frustration, and many aha moments. I never knew I was capable of learning so much about technology. I am excited about what I learned. In an ideal world I know I will be using a lot of the skills I have learned. Most of the skills could be applicable to my classroom. The downside is having the time to use them and create. I have just changed grade levels and I seem to be using every moment I have toward learning the curriculum. It is a very time consuming job! I seem to use all my energy just to survive and then I come home to a family tired and exhausted and I still have more school work to be done. I am so glad I took this class over the summer. I don’t think I could of spent the amount of time learning what I did if I was teaching at the same time.
Let me get back the the question. How am I going to use what I learned? I think in due time, I will start applying some of the things I have learned. I would like to set up a blog for my students. I still would like to pair them with an older student to share their writing with. I also believe I will have the kids make podcasts. I think they would really enjoy this. The other thing I would like to do is make a wikkisite. This may have to wait until next year. I will just have to wait and see how things continue to move this year.
I would say that this class was very worthwhile! Although I will not use some of the skills, it was nice to be exposed to a lot of different ways to enhance my teaching.
The number of social networking sites available has grown tremendously over the past decade. I think there is a place and value to some of these sites if they are used wisely. For instance, my husband works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC uses Twitter and Facebook and other popular social networking sites to reach people with important information to protect their health. I could see using these sites to acquire information and tips from other teachers as well as get updated information on a particular topic I am teaching. However, it seems I am always short of time and I simply don’t have time to plop down behind the computer to utilize these networks. It seems most of these networks are used by people to merely socialize and I am not so sure I see a tremendous amount of value catching up with someone over a computer.
I have really enjoyed reading the blog called Two Writing Teachers. It is full of ideas on how to teach writing in a unique way. It has given me plenty of seeds to plant in my classroom. I found one post to be very interesting. It was actually written by a guest named Kevin Hodgson. It is called Threaded Adventures. It is about how we learn by doing. He mentions that when you want to learn how to ride a bike, you get on a bike. It is the same way with writing. If you want to learn how to swim, you get in the water. He shares with the reader how he has taught his 6th grade students to “Make Your Own Adventure Stories” with technology. He decided to model this in this blog post by directing the reader to a website to enjoy a reading adventure where you the reader were in control. His post took you through many scenarios and was an example of ways that teachers can encourage their student writes to be creative and critical thinkers as they plan, write and publish their own “Adventure” story. He uses a wiki space to publish the students stories due to the fact that it allows the use of hyperlinks. The story can draw the reader into an active role while reading the story by presenting choices to the reader. It took some time to go through the post but it was very interesting and worthwhile to read.
This was very cool and easy to use. This will make my life a lot easier. Last spring, the other forth grade teacher and I were emailing back and fourth about our Welcome Packet. After a few times it got confusing as to which one the latest copy was. Google documents will take care of this. When I write something, I always ask someone to proof the paper. Now I can do this easily with Google documents. As my practice exercise, I wrote a letter to the faculty about a recycling program my school is doing. I sent it to some other people that can proof it and let me know if I left anything out. This is going to be great! I also did a spread sheet for a committee I am on. I have been putting off making a contact list. Now everyone can help with this. All I did was put the headings such as name, committee, address, home phone number, cell phone number, and email address. I am going to share the spreadsheet with everyone on the committee and have them fill out their own information. This is going to be great!
I can’t wait to use it in the classroom with the students. I work at a private school and it is hard for the kids to get together to work on projects. This will be a great tool to allow the kids to collaborate on a report or project. I think it will also be very useful to edit each others writing. I think it would also be neat to have a spreadsheet that is used as a checklist like what we are using for this class. When a student finishes a task they could check it off. That way, I could periodically go in and see where everyone is. I can see me using this in many ways with my students! I think I am hooked!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Once again, I found that a podcast can be right at my fingertips. I found the process using iTunes to be very easy. I had a more difficult time using the other suggested links. When I pulled up iTunes, I went straight for the educational podcasts. I found the grammar girl which we had already seen. This was a really neat one. I explored it further and enjoyed learning some neat things. I found some other ones that interested me for my personal use such as Focus on the Family and Money Girl. I immediately began listening to these. They were really informative and enjoyable. I subscribed to several of these. I even found myself listening to them as I was working on something else on the computer. I kept searching for a podcast that I might use in my classroom. I really didn’t have much luck under education. I tried some of the other areas but found little. I think I would use podcasts more for my own educational purpose or for my personal enjoyment rather than with my students. I am going to continue to explore this because I know Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you know of any podcasts that might work well with 4th grade students, I would love to hear about them.
Library Thing sounds like a useful tool for book lovers. I immediately thought about how neat it would be to set up a list of all my books that I own. When people ask if I have a copy of a book, I usually can’t remember if I have one or if I borrowed someone else’s copy. Library Things would allow me to go directly to my list to check and I could also check out the latest reviews of books. I also loved the feature where books were suggested to you based on other books that you’ve read. I don’t think I will take the time to blog about books on the site with others due to a lack of time. I have many friends that are book lovers and enjoy the same types of books that I do so I will probably discuss books with them instead . I also have a classroom library at school. In the future I might think about putting the list on the Library Thing to keep an up to date list for myself. It would help me track the books that the kids have lost each year. I could see the kids going online looking up reviews or possible giving them.
I enjoyed exploring the social networking site Delicious. I spent more than 30-45 minutes on the site and it was very interesting. I was reminded how social networking can save you time. I really enjoyed searching other peoples delicious accounts for things that interested me. I found it very easy to find and tag new sites. Once I got the hang of it, it came very natural. I recalled that I could not access my website bookmarks from computers other than mine and being able to access my favorites from any computer is a wonderful feature.
I have a colleague that is always sending me excellent websites. I can bookmark them and save them it to my delicious account. This is something I would like to help her learn how to do. She is always finding some of the most creative and helpful websites for teaching. I would love to teach her how so I could access her delicious account. I am sure there are a lot more people like her out there. Who knows what I might find!
On my reader, I ran across a post from Two Writing Teachers. It gave some notes from Kathy Bomer’s keynote address at the Writing Institute Conference. The title was “What About the Child Who __________?” She made several good points. We basically need to meet the child where they are. The child has to write badly before they can write well. I believe, and she reinforced, that all students should keep a writing journal. Sometimes it is the quick writing that you feel doesn’t have to be perfect that creates the greatest gift. As a teacher, we need to see a child’s strenghts and not always focus on their weakness. We should not assume they can’t do anything. It is important to give the students a reason to write. It is best if they have an audience. This brings me to publishing which can reinforce to students that they are writing for a reason and they have an audience. It’s also important to celebrate the kid’s writing with them. Focus on what they have done right and not just their errors. I recently saw a session from the k-12 online conference that used blogging between first grade students and college students who were pre-service teachers. It gave the first grade students a reason to write which influenced their attitude toward writing and motivated them to work hard not to mention improved their writing. This may be something you might want to read. It is called Prove It “We Like Our Blogging Buddies: The Write Stuff with Blogging Mentors.”
I chose Blabberize to explore. It is a really neat tool whereby picture images, including animals and people, talk. All you do is upload an image and then click on the mouth . You record your speech and save it as a file. Then your blabber (the image of the animal or person you chose) will move its mouth and the words you recorded will play. You can even take your image or picture and make it a cartoon. You can also make several images talk at once. I think this tool will be fun to use. I think the kids get tired of us (the teacher) doing all the talking during instruction time. Sometimes I think they tune us out. It would be fun to record a blabber for something the students need to learn as a way to add a new spice to their learning so to speak. You could also have the students record their own information and pick a picture to produce their own blabber. This would add some more variety to their learning.