Tuesday, June 30, 2009

11.5: Thing #6 - iTouch Apps

Load apps...

I promise to load a couple of apps on my husband's iTouch. I'm going to load the Tangram puzzle game first. It's called Tanzen Lite.
UPDATE: Wow, once you have Apps app, loading new apps is really easy! Added iSign and Tanzen lite with a couple of touches! Tanzen lite is FUN! Certainly requires visual spacial skills. iSign was disappointing.

Ideas on using iTouch in the library...

I think the best uses for the iTouch in the library are for quick reference (internet searches) or educational games. There do seem to be apps for blogging, so that might be an option. I also think students could create podcasts with an attached microphone. I like the readers, too. For reluctant readers, it might be an incentive.

This is hard for me. I WANT to be in favor of the iTouch. I support the idea of technology integrated into the curriculum. I want kids using the tools of tomorrow today - and learning appropriate uses for them. I see the iTouch as an internet access tool and a gaming device. There were good educational games, lots of calculator and flash card type activities, too.

I think I'm more in favor of a netbook. I don't want to be, but that's where I am right now. It may be because of my experience and comfort level. I think a netbook has more flexible capabilities. I'm also a fan of the keyboard.

When I think about integrating technology into the classroom, I start with asking myself, "What do I use technology tools to do?" My computer is an essential part of what I do every day. I communicate with others, both professionally and personally; I gather information via the internet; I find experts via the internet; I do my banking online and track my district budgets in Excel and on MUNIS; I compile, analyze and report data; I create professional development using videos, audio clips, and PowerPoint. If virtually everything I do is done on the computer, then that's how the classroom should work. So if the trend is for this to be done on an iTouch or netbooks, that's where we should be in education.

By the way - I found a great ezine with an article on 100 apps for education. And an interesting initiative started by a teenager, Travis Allen, called iSchool. Here's a video in which Travis demostrates his favorite Apps for education. (Original video on YouTube.)

In the video below, Travis explains how using the iTouch can transform the educational system. He highlights currents Apps and proposes others that could easily be developed. He even includes a financial breakdown. Pretty impressive presentation by a 17 year-old! (YouTube original)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

11.5: Thing #5 - Microblogging

I have really gotten into a post about a student Twittering in a college class and the professor's reaction. What I've most enjoyed are the comments in reaction to the post. What a GREAT discussion! (I got there from the ...can I Twitter that post linked on the Thing #5 page.) The discussion/debate is really rich. I can see exactly the same thing happening in high school.

It's the idea of taking notes in a collaborative environment, of sharing the learning process, of the process being visible that I like. Backchanneling or live blogging or Twittering during the workshop, the lecture, the class means the student is engaged in the learning process. Isn't that a good thing? How could a teacher not like that?

I, personally, do not believe kids will be more off-task with technology than they are without it. I also believe that teachers must take responsibility for off-task behavior. Really good, engaging instruction solves the problem in many many many cases.

I got on FB because we were talking about it a lot in SBISD. I wanted to catch up. I also have a 13 year-old and needed to be an informed parent. It came in handy to prepare for my 20th HS reunion, as that's who the majority of my friends are. I'm still trying to work out how to use it professionally. I do have a colleague who tends to be more responsive to his FB inbox than his ISD in box!

I'm a definitive newbie. I'm atxteacher. I don't understand how to follow a thread of discussion. Or how to search. I'm not confident with re-tweeting, either. Twitter seems to have a whole unique language that I don't know. I'm sure it's like many other things, I just need to invest some time and practice. It may be that my network isn't large enough. I'm only following 13 folks, but I have 25 followers. Many of the followers I don't know, but maybe they're trying me out. It makes me feel like I should say really important things.

I've read about Tweetdeck and some other applications related to Twitter. I'm wondering if one of these could help me get more out of Twitter. I also think I'd get more out of it if I had a PDA to check and create updates. I've resisted the urge to get an iPhone - I just can't swallow the extra $30/month for data services.

I didn't know I that can Twitter by text message - even with a plain mobile phone. Here's how. That's something I might try out! I've set up my account so only the Tweets of a couple of the folks I follow will be sent to my phone. I can always go in and turn them off - even from my phone. I may get much better at texting with my plain old Nokia!

Following @joelmcintosh is helpful. He's the publisher of Prufrock Press and tweets about all kinds of things from Prufrock discounts and new web resources, to day-to-day experiences.

From a post by @RussGoerend, I found a wiki devoted to documenting what people have learned from Tweets. It's new and worth a glance.

I think there's real potential here. I introduced teachers to TodaysMeet in our June 11th professional development. It wasn't used a lot, but may grow with practice. I used two screens and two computers so the backchannel was visible to the whole group. I thought seeing it might help in the learning process. I'll definitely try it again. Here's a great blog post about using a backchannel with middle school students during a video presentation. Great idea!

11.5: Thing #4 Video Hosting

Since I'm working on my "things" while in the district, I elected to upload to Teacher Tube. I registered, created a profile, and uploaded the two Animoto videos I did for Great Book for Gifted Kids (younger readers, older readers). Now I'm waiting for Teacher Tube to approve and post them.

What would be some advantages of having teaching/learning videos available online at sites like these?
Using online videos makes them available to students 24/7. You can show them as a hook or part of the content of a lesson. If students want to review them again later, they can easily do so. Media adds a richness to lessons - it brings something outside the school in.

What about student created work -- would there be advantages to having it uploaded?
In gifted education we'ver been talking about authentic audiences for years (here's a great blog post on Authentic Audiences). GT students should be doing products/performances for real audiences, which are typically outside the school. That's been a bit challenging. The web makes more doable. Now students have a world-wide audience. They can get input from experts and peers. I've heard Alan November speak on a number of occasions (when I hear him I want to be back in the classroom trying out what he describes). Each time I hear him saying that kids put a lot more thought and energy into creating a good product when it's posted to the web - when it's broadcast to a larger, more meaningful audience than the class or teacher.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

11.5: Thing #3 - Skype

Have I started every post with, "I love ___" ? Even if I have, I love Skype!

I first learned about it from a family friend. For Christmas after my toddler was born, she gave my sister, my mom, and I web cams and a suggestion that we try Skype. I have an account that I use at home for friends and family. My toddler loves to call his Aunt Colee. They talk regularly. He hasn't enjoyed calling Mia and Papa Scott as much because they have a slow internet connection and the picture isn't very clear.

I then read about Skype in educational settings. I think it was a posting at Gifted Education 2.0 by Ginger Lewman. I saw a video of primary age kids using Skype and Google Docs to write collaboratively with kids from classrooms across the globe. So cool! The kids had meetings to discuss their ideas via Skype.

I loaded it onto my desktop, but have only called Ginger to make a connection when I first discovered Gifted Education 2.0. I've so wanted to try it, but don't have a good reason to do so. I'm going to think about ways to work it into my GT staff development so teachers will see the possibilities.

How could you do this in a classroom? Any project could be done collaboratively. Finding a classroom with which to partner seems to be the biggest hurdle. Maybe we should start within the district. I see the biggest potential in research - either collaborating on a joint project or for gathering data. Librarians fit into this research piece. I also love the idea of connecting with an author via Skype, but that might be tougher.

Once our budgets open up and I can get a new computer, I'll be open to Skyping with anyone who wants to try it!

Here's a great video by Cool Cat Teacher on getting started using Skype in the classroom:

Monday, June 22, 2009

11.5: Thing #2 - Image Generators

Wordle or Wordsift

I love Wordle. I just showed it to teachers in GT training on June 11th. There are so many terrific applications! For example, I created a Wordle from the text of the first chapter of No More Dead Dogs. I explained how the size of words in a word cloud are based on the frequency of words appearing in the text. Then I asked them to predict what the book was about. It was a great intro to the book. See:
Next, I put two Wordles side by side. The text comes from Dr. Bertie Kingore's article, "High Achiever, Gifted Learner, Creative Thinker." I took the list of characteristics of high achievers and created a Wordle, then did the same for gifted. I put the Wordles side by side and asked them to identify which was which and why. Great thinking!

Since I already know and love Wordle, I decided to try out Wordsift. Here's the Wordsift for gifted learners from Dr. Kingore's article.

As a visual person, I like Wordle much better. However, the links are interesting. I see it being helpful for vocabulary purposes, in particular.

Glogster or VoiceThread
I couldn't get the Glogster/edu tutorial to play. I may need to be out of the district to get it. Maybe seeing the tutorial would make me a fan. I've spent 45 minutes working on a Glog and got a title and 2 pictures loaded into it. Too much time! I think the idea is awesome. Some of the student examples were great, too. I like it better than Trading Cards.

When you do a physical poster, you have to think through the content, then plan the layout, maybe look for images to paste on or determine images to draw. You have to do all of those things for a Glog, but there are more steps involved: choosing the right background and graphics, determine the right keywords for a product image search, finding appropriate websites to link - or tacking them during your research. I can see parents getting irritated at the time it takes to do a Glog versus a regular poster. I'd make this a choice rather than a required product.

VoiceThread is neat! I looked around and found this great retelling of the Three Little Pigs. I love the commenting. Getting kids an authentic audience is difficult. This makes it easy in a somewhat protected environment. It's a great venue for research reports or original stories. It's also a great place to post questions kids have about something to collect opinions. I tried creating one, but got stuck. My current computer doesn't have a microphone, and then I had trouble adding text comments. I will definitely play with this one more, though!

Animoto or Voki

I'm already a fan of Animoto. I've posted several in the past. (See Great Books for Young Readers, Great Books for Older Readers, and my fabulous toddler.)

Voki is fun! I think folks would get a kick out of it at first. You'd have to change up the message or make sure the Voki spoke the message in an email for it to maintain it's interest.

Well here it is... hours later!

The examples in the archive were great. Good for a poem or short summary of information. Took forever, hard to find good pics - not one of my favorite activities.

11.5: Thing #1 - Registration

Great video in the CommonCraft style on the 21st century student and learning, The Networked Student.

The most significant section of the video for me was the discussion of the teacher's role. I loved all the descriptions of the teacher - "learning architect," "learning concierge," and "network sherpa." It's what the teacher's role was alwasy supposed to be. Guiding, facilitating, providing feedback and nudges. When the teacher fills this role, it gives the responsibility of learning over to the student.

When the teacher controls all the learning, all the activity, makes all the decisions, there is nothing of importance left for the student to control - for which to be responsible. We want kids to be responsible for their own learning. To do that we have to give them some control and decision making power. I think all of the discussion about building 21st century learners just highlights this!

I recently heard someone say that they think kids are getting bored with technology. That we adults think it's fun and motivating, but that the kids are over it. She gave an example of kids who were excited to be able to choose a non-technological product. I wondered if the excitement really stemmed from being given choices. I think maybe kids are over PowerPoint presentations or using technology exclusively for product development. But product development is integration of technology to my thinking.

Yippee for 11.5 Things

Spring Branch ISD's Library Information Services Department is truly acting on a vision of the future. I so admire the leadership of this department. They are "walking the walking" and inviting folks to join them on the journey of bringing education into the 21st century.

By creating an open blog site they are inviting everyone to join the professional development community. Don't know the first thing about web 2.0? That's okay. Work the 23 Things and you will! Not only will know you about it, you'll be able to apply that knowledge in your library, classroom, or any setting.

Before 23 Things, I knew what a blog was and used Google regularly to search. After 23 Things, I have 4 blogs on my dashboard, have a Google reader, have a ning, and used a wiki in a professional development! Am I an expert? No way! But I've started.

Now the journey continues with 11.5 More Things.

Working the things makes me want to return to the classroom and try it all out! I'd love to see the excitement on the kids' faces as we learn to manage these tools together. Now my forum is with teachers. The excitement isn't quite as evident, but the progress is there.

Stay tuned as I learn about 11.5 more things!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Thing #23 - Summary

Yippee! I finally completed this segment. I'm excited about 11.5 Things to come!

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
I have used Animoto more than any other application. Second to that would be Zamzar. These two tools are simple to use and have positively impacted my professional and personal work. I also really like Wordle. I'm thinking about how to use it in the professional development that's coming up next week and in August.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
I grew up as computers grew up. My dad was big into computers so I had access that a lot of folks didn't. I was a big word processor and played games on the computer. The Apple IIe was the standard in my school experience. I took a computer to college with me with a dot matrix printer. I'm not a digital native, though.

L2P has prodded me to get more current with technology. In the work I do with teachers, I know I need to model good teaching. That means integrating technology at a significant, application level. I'm not there yet, but this has given me the tools to make progress.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Podcasting/vidcasting was surprisingly easy. I feel more confident about doing it. I was surprised to have progressed on my 23Things journey even when I wasn't working it. I stalled at Thing #15 and didn't work on them for months. But when I came back to it, I had already discovered several of the later "Things". So L2P started me on the journey, but I didn't have to be working the "Things" to continue benefitting - to stay on the journey.

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
This was a wonderful introduction to online learning and Web2.0. Some of the "Things" took much longer than others. Part of it is how long you play and your level of comfort. It might be helpful to have a range of time that one could expect to spend on each "Thing". It would just help with time management.

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
23 Things was a professionally life-altering experience that gave me the tools I need to make learning and instruction meaningful to today's audience.

Thing #22 - Ning

One of the advantages of procrastinating on the completion of 23Things is that I've already interacted with several of the later "Things." I feel very proud to have not only found a Ning specific to gifted education prior to starting this "Thing" but to have created one, too! I'm so 21st Century!

Gifted Education 2.0 is a ning created specifically to connect those who care about gifted education. It's a network of teachers, administrators, parents, and advocates. There are rich discussions about resources, content, and issues. There is a great tech side to the ning, also. Many of the most active participants are very techno-saavy.

If you want to Skype with another classroom of GT kids, this is the place to find a partner! If you want to share lesson plans or get new ideas for the classroom, this is the place. It's terrific!

I created a pilot ning for for the Research Division of TAGT. It is not open to the public at this time. TAGT is working to develop a social networking component of their web site and I want to honor their work. I greatly value TAGT and the work they do to support gifted students and their parents & teachers.

The ning has multiple components. You can post videos, do a blog, have a discussion. I think that it has so many components. It's also visually very appealing and easy to use. A classroom ning is richer than a blog. It's great to connect people with a common topical interest.

Thing #21 - Podcasts and Videocasts

BTW - I love the CommonCraft videos. They are worth a million!

I knew when I saw the title to this "Thing" that I'd have to do a podcast! I was excited but worried about the time it would take. I've been thinking about developing some online GT courses and I know that vidcasting will be a big part of it.

It was easy! This isn't my best work, but probably only took 15 minutes since I already had the pics together for the Animoto I did.

Wow! This is a great tool! Book reports, research reports, daily class updates. There are so many possibilities!

Thing #20 - YouTube, TeacherTube and Zamzar

I love Zamzar. It has helped me get around YouTube when I'm developing a professional development session. I'd love to be able to preview the video before I send it for conversion, but it's worked well. I use the free service and get a pretty fast turn-around.

I'm working on adding some more media elements for a class I'm teaching on June 11th - Great Books for Gifted Kids. I've got 100 registered and a waiting list of 20, so the class needs to be really good. We'll be talking about books that are of interest and social/emotional benefit to gifted kids. One such book is The Mysterious Benedict Society. I found two videos by students on the book. The first is a teaser for the book. The second is a book report.

The Mysterious Benedict Society_Jackie, posted on TeacherTube by miskanicsphotoshop

This is a book report on YouTube. I used Zamzar to convert it. It's difficult to give appropriate credit for YouTube videos because you can't get to the site to get all the particulars.

Through Blinkx I found a spot on the Today Show on the book. It includes input from kids and the author, Trenton Lee Stewart!

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Video adds a whole new dimension to teaching. I primarily teach teachers. I've always been a very visual person and that means I'm also a very visual presenter. I love PowerPoint because I can provide visual prompts for my audience. (I'm registered for a FlipChart class this week.) I've always used a lot of graphics in my presentations. The ability to add other media elements is incredible! I can give my students a much more complex experience that addresses a more of their brains when I use rich media.

I rarely use YouTube outside of my professional life. However, I highly value the access it gives me to every day folks around the world.