Saturday, January 24, 2009


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.

Global Collaboration

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.

Video links

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: 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.

RSS Feeds

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.

Using what I am learning

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.

Check out The Impact of Social Media on Learning