Sandy and I are checking out grants for another class and we want to focus on technology. It seems like it is infiltrating into my life on a daily basis. I have read several times lately that things like blogs cause students to post more than required and I must say that is true for me. I have been checking this and feel like I need to share at least something each day. I know I love it when my students catch that "bug" with an assignment so it is just another reason for me to try to incorporate more technology into my instruction and to encourage future teachers to do the same.
Oh, and for anyone wondering, Baby Fenwick (a nickname for this boy/girl inside me from my co-hort AND not an actual name being considered for this child) is fine as of my 28 week appointment today. I passed the "drink the orange stuff" test, am not anemic, and Fenwick's heart rate was 140. Fabulous.
This probably makes me sound even dorkier than I am but this week I have gotten such a nice welcome from the technology tools we have been using. I got some welcome emails when I joined some blogs and today a woman thanked me for following her on twitter. Strange that it isn't considered "stalking". I guess I like the feeling that people are interacting in such a positive way, even if it is through a computer. Such a warm and fuzzy feeling...not what I was expecting.
I spent yesterday working on my podcast and trying to get it from a MPG file to a URL. I learned a lot during my search that didn't help me but finally my buddy Lauren suggested video google. I'm not sure if that was what I was supposed to do for the project but now I can post my podcast to a variety of sites because it is in URL format. Awesome to have it work. I feel successful on several levels - I leanred to use my webcam and QuickPlay. I got through the public speaking part even though I am the queen of verbal crutches and you will hear "um" many times, and I used video.google to solve my problem. YEAH! This is a basic process for many I am sure but these were huge leaps for me.
Now we are onto podcasts and in preparation for making my own, I checked out podcastpickle.
That was an audio podcast by grammar girl that is updated frequently with new episodes as the one I listened to exposed the grammar behind the new President's inaugural speech.
I also checked out a math skill podcast that would not only be beneficial for my current high school students to watch for reinforcement but it would also serve as a model of what kind of project they could produce. Several of my students benefit greatly from having to teach others a skill. Podcasts can be used as a reinforcement tool or an assessment tool.
I just went to the globalschoolnet website. It is not only a great place for teachers to connect their classrooms up with other schools around the world, it just gives fabulous ideas for projects. The search function was very user friendly, allowing you to search by age, time of the projects, and subjects area. Their basic service is free. While they do not seem to have their own email and blogging services, they have a page devoted to sites that teachers can go to for these tools
Epals is a similar concept. It allows you to search for connections by classrooms, map or project. It is free and brags that it has its own safe email/blogging for students. This is often a concern for school districts. It also has other resources for teachers and students.
Both are sites that could be used for collaborative projects between schools. Epals may have more formal resources that might satisfy a school districts desire for safety when having students connect on the internet. Before this class, I was never exposed to these types of sites. I think that many classroom teachers would like to set up projects like these but are under time constraints when it comes to planning. Joining up on an already created project is much more appealing. As an undergrad professor, these are great sites to share with future teachers who are excited about integrating technology into their classrooms.
Skype would be a great tool to use before, during or after a global project. I have been using the video part and "skyping" into a class this semester at Buffalo. My co-hort also had a close friend return to India recently and we all have skype accounts to keep in touch. Being able to have students "see" each other during a free video call would bring them closer together. They would be able to develop that sense of community while working the project. It is so much more than the pictures we used to send as pen pals. Skype could also be sued as the reward for finishing the project. I would have been motivated as a student to email and blog another student far away, knowing we were going to be able to have a video conference to see and hear one another at the culmination. Skype makes the world a smaller place and allows for even more cultural exchanges to occur.
Check out my new video links! I love all the gadgets I can add to this blog and the idea that I could create other blogs for various purposes.
I chose to add a skype how-to video because I have been enjoying watching the short videos wehave used for this class. This semester I am "skyping" a class so I do not have to drive to Buffalo while pregnant. I figured it out but had I known I could watch a little video with directions on something like that, I would have. I didn't think about it before but will be more aware of all the resources out there from now on.
If I made a cool blog as part of teaching a teacher prep course, videos would be a great addition. They could be used to start discussions, share how-to information, or give background on a topic before class.
I have set up my twitter account and am starting to follow people. This could be very interesting. I like how quickly you could end up connected to all sorts of people with similar interests.
I checked out some twitter links on delicious:
http://www.twittes.com/teaching.php has all sorts of ideas on how to use twitter in the classroom. In Twitter breaks down barriers in the classroom Ryan Paul talks about a teacher who used microblogging with his students as a homework reinforcement activity. This allowed conversations to continue outside of the classroom. Using Twitter in the Classroom - discusses lots of uses for twitter in the classroom including collaboration across the world between classes of students, an editing forum, and teacher resource. It has links that give even more ideas. It is amazing how much each topic builds and the amount of information one can find through connections. It is both exciting and overwhelming, much like the Internet as a whole- but it does allow focus, a people-connection you don't get through web searches, and a social aspect that is attractive to teachers and students.
Several blogs I have been looking at and some emails have come my way about a live webcast on the Flat Classroom Concept. One of my feeds, Cool Cat Teacher, reminded me that it is today. That is kind of cool for busy people like me that can benefit from being reminded. Click for more information.
I had my students respond to a blog question about the Inauguration on our school teacher website this week. It was the first time I had used the feature. I seemed to be more excited about it than they were but I am glad I tried something new.
A learner is like a lot of things. I am having a hard time committing to an analogy. In many ways a learner is like a plant. We tend to put the pressure on the gardener but there are so many other factors that go into cultivating a successful plant from a seed. These historically have included sunlight, temperature, soil conditions, fertilizer, attention, other roots, and rainfall. I hang out in a biology classroom and these days we talk about so much more than your kindergarten seed in a paper cup. Now you have genetic engineering, selective breeding, and cloning. Technology meets the plant world on a regular basis. In Siemens, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, connectivism tells us that the "capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known". This is true in both the research being done on plants and learning. As we discover more about the brain, our perceptions of learning have changed. Continual learning has become a concept schools are embracing. I am much more concerned about creating a student who knows where to find an answer than a student who as rote memorization skills. They are more likely to be successful lifelong learners. We have always wanted students to "grow" but the rules have definitely changed, as have theories on how to teach them.
"you can form connections with other people" through social networking with technology such as blogs and wikis that were originally established to keep people in the technology field up-to-date when the field was changing at such a fast rate. These "conversations" have a place in the educational world. Students need to be taught both technology skills and the ability to communicate with others as they learn in that same everchanging world.
I just joined NING, a social network. It was new to me and I did search for a group that would interest me. Right now I am trying to improve my technology knowledge as a teacher so I checked out Classroom 2.0. I liked that this site welcomed "beginners".
Current forum topics talked about one site that had a rubric for blogs. As we are creating blogs for my class and discussing using blogs with our students, it will be important to consider if we are assessing the blogs.
I have also been looking into doing a study with SMART Boards after some reading in that area. There is a discussion going on right now about how teachers on this group are using them in their classrooms.
This looks like an active group that where teachers discusse current topics in technology. As a beginner, I could learn a lot from joining in.
My textbook has arrived and I am going to get started on more assignments.
The top three ways I can use blogs to increase student learning as a college professor are:
1. reflect on my own teaching in my blog- I have always put notes in plan books and tried to reflect on daily lessons but have not always been successful in documenting my experiences. Keeping a blog would give me an area to be reflective and keep all of my ideas in one place. Using technology to reflect makes sense as I spend a lot of time on my laptop right now. It is more practical than a traditional journal. I learn a lot for determinign what went well in a lesson and what I would change if doing the same lesson again. Sometimes I realize that my sequencing should be modified, that a different assessment tool would have been more appropriate, or that my lesson objectives need to be changed if I teach that lesson again. My own blog could be used as an example for my students to encourage them to also become reflective teachers.
2. have student discuss classroom activities and how to apply strategies in their own teaching - I have done this using Blackboard and it has been a wonderful forum for students to discuss their learning. The drawback of Blackboard is that that discussion board is not accessable to students after the semester is over. A blog would allow students a more permanent discussion forum. It would also allow people outside of the class to participate in discussions.
3. having students learn how to set up their own blogs to determine if they are a resource they want to use as future teachers - I like to expose my students to different instructional strategies. This is a great way to integrate technology into both my class and to show my students ways they can utilize this as a way that benefits their students. I believe that having my own blog will show them more than just tell them. Good role models show examples and use a hands-on approach to teaching. I want my students to see my own use of what I am teaching and have the opportunity to experience it themselves. That is effective teaching.