Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Get a Voki now!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thing #11.5 - Evaluation

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?

I really enjoy the image generators and there always seem to be new ones on the horizon. They are a great way to sneak learning opportunities into your curriculum that kids just eat up and they provide entertaining, unique formats for students to create meaningful products. I’m also enjoying Skype and the iTouches as I continue to learn more about how to incorporate them into my lessons. Again, they provide fun but meaningful learning opportunities for the students.

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?

I’m slowly but surely gaining confidence in my technology skills and I’m learning new ways to help my students become information literate.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to complete all 11.5 Things without any major complications! I had struggled with the first 23 Things activity which had left me feeling frustrated, but I feel a real sense of accomplishment this time around. I recognize that developing technology competencies takes time and practice, and time is a very scarce commodity when you’re a first-year librarian. But I also understand the need for all librarians to be leaders on the technology front, so I’ll keep on plugging away at it. There are definitely a lot of cool applications out there, and I must admit, they are fun to play with!

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?!

I think assigning the “Things” in smaller chunks (i.e. 11.5 vs. 23) makes it easier to complete, digest, and master the concepts. I also like the idea of taking 10 minutes at each Librarian’s meeting to introduce/highlight one new “thing” where we could all learn it together. I find having on-hand support/guidance to be very helpful for some of the more complex “things”. Other than that, I appreciate the organizers’ efforts to identify the latest and greatest technology applications that we need to learn. After all, it’s the only way we can keep up with the kids!!

Thing #11 - Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is a very important part of every child’s education in this increasingly technological world. Teachers and librarians need to not only teach the critical components of digital citizenship, but more importantly, they need to model it in their every day activities too. I agree with Vicki Davis (the Cool Cat Teacher Blog) when she commented that you cannot teach this concept in a one-time sheep-dip effort. Instruction needs to start at the earliest age and continue on throughout a child’s education. The concepts of digital citizenship permeate all subject areas and all grade levels. I think Rhonnda’s Reflections Blog also made an interesting point about the use of filters and restricting students from accessing certain sites. She stated that having adults make decisions on what to filter out only prohibits students from learning how to identify and screen out the bad for themselves, especially when they are on computers outside of school where filters may not be present. Both the Cool Cat Teacher Blog and Mike Ribble’s Digital Citizenship Website outlined critical elements of Digital Citizenship that included topics such as digital etiquette, safety, information literacy and learning strategies. Here are the areas that I will stress to students in my lessons: the importance of validating your sources when researching – don’t believe everything your read (i.e. tree octopi!); use multiple sources - not just the first one you find (i.e. Google!); be polite and respectful in your communications online (no flame wars!); protect your identity and your computer from viruses by being cautious with your personal information and passwords; and obey the laws relative to copyrights and plagiarism. I think I will also stress the importance of finding the right balance between technology use and face-to-face interpersonal relations. Children need time off the Internet to develop social skills and to get sufficient physical activity and exercise. I’m concerned that students are spending too much time sitting in front of a computer screen playing in virtual worlds, chatting on social networks or completing 11.5 Things assignments!

Thing #10 - Virtual Worlds

Since I'm a SL newbie, I had to read through all the links and background info about Second Life (that only took a couple of hours!). I can see that as more colleges and educators get on board, there will be more opportunities for "educational applicataions" in this virtual world (as opposed to just "playing"). Second Life provides opportunities for building 3-D models, learning about economics, touring famous locations, re-creating crime scenes, staging mock trials, attending virtual seminars, collaborating with others and much more. Really, anything that could happen to you in real life could take place in SL, so there are lots of opportunities for "life-lessons" at every turn. Certainly, players will learn about digital citizenship and working with others through their SL adventures. Personally, Virtual World playing is not something that interests me and I don't see any immediate applications for SL in my elementary school due to age restrictions for participants. With 15 million users though, it doesn't appear SL is going away any time soon, so I'm sure I'll come back to it later when there's more time to figure it all out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thing #9 - Slideshare

I can see lots of advantages to using SlideShare or any of its comparables like authorSTREAM. From the teacher's/librarian's point of view, it is a wonderful tool for searching the web for presentation resources (why re-invent the wheel when someone else has already created it!). There are numerous pre-made PowerPoints out there on all kinds of educational topics. For example, I found a cool presentation on a St. Patrick's Day Quiz as embedded below. SlideShare is also a great way to share the products that you have created with other teachers. By downloading your work to SlideShare, students who were not able to be present during your classroom presentation can nevertheless access the material and stay up to date. SlideShare is also a safe parking place for your work in the event your hard drive crashes or you otherwise lose your saved presentation files. Students can use SlideShare to create a web-based portfolio of their own work. And best of all, it's all free!!

Thing #8 - Screencasts

This thing takes a little practice but it will be a powerful teaching tool. As they say, a "picture is worth a thousand words" and screencasting can show a learner step-by-step exactly what to do. It could be used by librarains and teachers to create tutorials for students, or it could be an assignment for a student to create their own "how-to" project to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. The screencast I made below attempts to demonstrate how to create a magazine cover using BigHugeLab's application. I couldn't get the mike to work on my home computer, so it's a "silent" movie.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thing #7 - Video Resources

There is certainly no shortage of great video resources out there - just a shortage of time to sort through all of them! I really liked the www.NeoK12 resource because it had a large selection of kid-friendly videos, lessons, quizzes, games and puzzles but I couldn't figure out how to download them or embed them in my blog. Using Google Video Search, I was able to find the following videos (one on coral ecosystems and one on Barack Obama's biogrpahy) that would be helpful supplements to a science or social studies lesson. The only problem with Google Search is that you have to more carefully preview the videos as it includes many "adult" oriented videos that would not be appropriate for an educational setting (unlike the NeoK12.com resource that seemed to be more like a Discovery Learning child-firendly source).