Sunday, November 4, 2012

Connecting the Dots

Students from University of Saint Joseph, West Hartford, Connecticut, in the course Computers in the Classroom, linked up with 5th graders from the Longfellow Elementary School, Columbia, Maryland, in celebration of International Dot Day. This day, celebrated on Sept. 15, is a way for students from around the world to connect.

Matthew Winner, the librarian at Longfellow, reached out to teachers, via Twitter and other means. He posted on his blog, The Busy Librarian, numerous ways to celebrate. These two posts are examples:
That's the project University of Saint Joseph student joined, linking up with fifth graders at Longfellow. The Longfellow students began by designing trading cards. Their cards were based on the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds in which a young child, afraid to be expressive, learns to open up and shares a dot that she has drawn, challenging others to make their mark on the world.

On the front side of the cards, the fifth graders draw a dot. On the back, they wrote an invitation challenging others. On a rainy Tuesday morning, the students Skyped with me, displaying their cards. Mr. Winner then mailed the cards to me to share with the Saint Joseph students, who designed their trading cards. The cards from both groups were organized into a final project, as captured in these two displays.

Reactions to this Dot Day project are welcomed. What ideas do you have for connecting classes? What are the benefits of International Dot Day? What other days or events lend themselves to cross-class sharing?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Are You Afraid to Use Technology in the Classroom?

Well, you found your way to this blog post, so you are over the hump. But are you ready to implement blogs or other forms of technology in your classroom? Are you afraid that if you try to use a piece of technology, things won't work? Do you see in your experiences of working with teachers that they are afraid of using technology in the classroom or with students?

Today, I came across a post on the Dangerously Irrelevant blog maintained by the popular educational leader Scott McLeod. He wrote a blog post, Struggling with Educators' Lack of Technology Fluency.  He posted it Oct. 20 and by mid-day of Oct. 21, the post already saw over 40 comments,  at least 150 tweet-outs excluding retweets or tweets that did not come directly off the site, and 28 "Likes" on Facebook. Evidently, there's strong reaction to the issue.

Given the timeliness of the post, I encourage you to read both the post and comments following it. Please feel free to leave a comment here regarding your response to the issue of educators' fluency with technology. Do you think there is a lack of fluency and if so, what do see as the cause? Do you even think this is an important issue to consider? Where do you stand on the issue?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Does It Mean to Be Literate in the 21st Century

Before watching the video embedded in this post, ask yourself, "What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century." Write down your answer somewhere if you think you will forget it after watching the video. Then watch the video, and ask yourself the question again. So what are your thoughts on what it means to be literate in the 21st century? The producers of the video, educators, stepped into teachers' classrooms and asked this question and video-recorded the responses. What did you think of the responses you heard in the video? How do you think students in the elementary, middle, and high school grades would react to the video? What do you think would be their definition of literacy? What literacy skills do you think it is important to teach?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Skype for Dot Day

Today, I Skyped with a group of 5th graders from Columbia, Maryland, at the Longfellow Elementary School, in recognition of International Dot Day. Based on the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, the concept is to make connections with others and share ideas.

The Skype worked well. The students gathered in a group on rug in the school library. Coincidentally, the rug was a map of the USA, which helped because the Skype was a Mystery Skype. After they asked me numerous questions to figure out my location, I asked them if they had a map. Finally, through process of elimination, they figured out I was in Connecticut.

At the end of the Skype, they shared with me their Dot Trading Cards. They will be mailing these cards, so my class can respond and create their own Trading Cards to send back to the Maryland class. Some photos I took of their Dot Trading Cards are at the end of this blog post.  The students took turns showing their cards and asking me if I tried the idea they offered. For instance, one wanted to know if I ever body surfed. That worked well because I grew up on an island where both body surfing and regular surfing were popular.

I let them know that I live in another location now and offered them these clues: my state has rivers and lakes and borders the ocean. They tried Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island, all states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. They asked me if my state had "New" in the title. When I told them it did not, that helped them eliminate some other states. By that time, they knew I lived on the East coast in a state north of theirs. Finally, they figured out the state was Connecticut. One of the students offered a sibling attends Yale University in the state.  I showed them some pictures representative of the state such as the Capitol Building and our state bird, the Robin.



All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Both Dot Day and Skype are ideal ways to connect classes around the world. I was privileged to have this opportunity to meet with a class in another location at the press of a few buttons. Technology offers many learning opportunities. I learned of places to visit in Maryland, and we also discussed the National Mall in DC, which is not far from where the students live.

I also suggested that if they ever get to Connecticut, they should visit Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. I introduced them to Mark Twain and showed them a picture of his house in Hartford. I mentioned the author Lemony Snicket, who some heard of, and told them he went to college in Connecticut. I also squeezed in that Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, lived in the town where my university is located, and showed the students a picture of the Noah Webster House, now a museum. Here two pictures I shared about historic sites and one about Lemony Snicket. I hope they search their school library to find out more about each.




Students Skyping with other classes makes for excellent geography lessons and information sharing. We even discussed time zones. They wanted to know if I lived in Europe at the start of the Skype. We then discussed what time it would be in England now. There are so many possibilities for learning by using Skype or another video conferencing tool.

What do you see as the possibilities for integrating video conferencing into the classroom setting? Would you be willing to try a Mystery Skype with your students? What areas of the curriculum other than geography do you believe can be achieved through these kinds of contacts? How can video conferencing across classes support curriculum goals and what students should be learning?

For more insight into video conferencing, I encourage you to contact Matthew Winner, the school librarian who arranged this Skype. His Twitter name is @MatthewWinner  if you want to tweet with him. I am sure he will welcome the opportunity, and he might be able to connect you with classes who will Skype with you or your classes.

Here is image of tweet conversation with Matthew Winner following the Skype:

Another way to get in touch with Matthew Winner is through his The Busy Librarian Blog.

On the blog, he has posts about Dot Day and Skypes. Here is a link to one of his posts: Dot Day Connectors Map

Enjoy the pics of the students'  Dot Trading Cards.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mystery Skypes: Add Adventure to Your Classrooms

Many resources exist to help teachers understand the power of Mystery Skypes.

The Mystery Skypes 2012-2013 is a good starting place. There you will information about how to locate classes interested in signing up for Mystery Skypes and two videos about Mystery Skypes.

For more information about Mystery Skypes, check Pernille's blog post: So You Want to Do Mystery Skype. She gives detailed information about how to run an effective Mystery Skype and provides an video. Also, check the comment section.

Now that you have checked a variety resources about Mystery Skypes, consider these questions:
  • How do you think students will react? What skills will student gain from the Skype? What might they learn?
  • What kinds of advanced planning do you think a teacher needs to take to make the concept work?  What should a teacher do after a Mystery Skype for follow up?
  • How can a Mystery Skype complement the curriculum? 
  • What questions do you have about Mystery Skypes? 
  • Would you be willing to try one in your classroom?
  • What the two recommended resources, The Mystery Skypes 2012-2013 and So You Want to Do Mystery Skype helpful to you? If so, how? 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blogging in the Classroom

If you're not yet having your students blog, consider the possibilities. KidBlog, a popular platform, has just added new features sure to entice teachers. Check out 14 New Kidblog Features You're Sure to Love.

Edublogs is another popular blogging site. Just like KidBlog, Edublogs is free and easy for teachers and students to use. Check out more about Edublogs at its home page.

What have you heard about these tools? Do you use either, or would you?  Do you know teachers who use one of these tools? Have you seen samples of blogs students have created with Kidblog or Edublogs?

Digital BackPack

Sharing Technology is Deb Norton's blog. She's a 5th grade teacher with a master's in technology and lots of ideas to share.

In one blog post, Sharing Technology: Digital Backpacks, Deb showcases the digital tools she will be using this year. These tools work well for a variety of grade levels and subject areas. These are the tools she lists. Check her descriptions of each. Which of these tools have you used? Which would you like to use? What do you think of her list?

Google Apps for Education
SMART Notebook 11
Spelling City 
Lead 21 Online Portal
Today's Meet
Course Director
Class Dojo

Monday, September 3, 2012

Exciting Your Students for the New School Year

I found this video via Twitter by accessing a blog. I thought I would share it with you. I am also leaving links for you to download the video to edit it for your own liking to reuse. Thanks to Yolan Lee for sharing this on his blog post: Welcome to a New School Year.

Download the .mov file here.
Download the Keynote file here.

 Would you consider making a video like this to introduce your students to the new school year? What did you think of the many messages Mr. Lee conveyed in this video? Note Mr. Lee invites others to use this video with students as well as to download it, edit it, and make a remix to one's liking.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Introducing Yourself to Your Students

While browsing around the Web today, I came across this blog post by Melissa Seideman about using Animoto to introduce yourself to your students. Check her post: Instead of Telling Your Students Who You Are, Show Them. She suggested using Animoto to do this.

Animoto is online tool for creating quick videos by uploading saved images and then adding a soundtrack. You can also add text slides to the presentation. I have included three examples of Animoto introductions that I found on Melissa's post. Below the Animotos, I included examples from others who used additional tools for creating introductions.

I thank Melissa for this excellent suggestion and encourage following her on Twitter, where her user name is @mseideman.

Mrs. Seidman, High School Social Studies Teacher

Here is Mrs. Jee’s Video

Here is Mrs. Lindinger’s video

Here is another created with Animoto, but then uploaded to YouTube.

Meet Mr. Lee:

Here is one that was created with VoiceThread. (Excuse the comments on the first slide, which still need to be deleted.) Just go through the full VoiceThread, using the arrows as needed, or just letting the show proceed on its own.

Introduction to Jamme Freitag, Elementary School Teacher

This one was created with PhotoStory but then uploaded to Google to be placed in a Google Site. You will need to access it from a Google Site web page: Introduction to Colin Murray

Now that you have seen how teachers are using Web 2.0 and multimedia to introduce themselves, what are your thoughts on the idea? Would you consider introducing yourself to your class in this way?

On another note, I found out that Melissa uses Animoto for her students to create projects for their  history course. Check this blog post, which has a link to the assignment directions and an example  of one student's response to the project. Animoto: Video Slideshows. The text slides in this student example were created with PowerPoint, and the PowerPoint was saved as a jpeg file, so the slides could be uploaded to Animoto similar to how images (or photos) would be.

How can you see yourself using a tool like Animoto for student projects? What kinds of projects might you integrate into your own teaching?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Learning a Little More About You

I came across a high school social studies teacher's blog, Sites and Apps for Students, in which she learned about her students by asking them about websites they use. Check her post and the student responses at: Learning a Bit More About You.

Leaving a Digital Legacy by Corey Dahl, via Flickr
Basically, the assignment asked to select 3 or 4 websites or apps they use regularly and to think about what information an historian in 50 years might learn about them based on the kinds of site or apps they were using.

Because I liked the assignment, I have duplicated her questions below. Use the comment section to indicate your responses to these two questions:

1) What websites or apps do you use regularly?
2) What might an historian looking at your response learn about you?

As the teacher did the assignment herself, I thought I would do same by way of also introducing myself to you.

The websites and apps I use the most are Gmail, Google Apps (including Google Doc and Google Sites), Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Diigo, Pinterest, and Flickr.

The use of the Gmail and Google Apps speaks to my interest in keeping frequently used tools all in one place. I can access email through Gmail and immediately see toolbars to access Google Doc (Drive), Google Search, and other Google apps. An historian would see that I like convenience, sharing, and organization.

Twitter has been an excellent tool for professional development and finding information for my teaching. I follow enough educators and others to have available to me daily a wealth of information. I have connected my Twitter account to Buffer and Shareholic, but prefer Buffer because it allows me to repost others' tweets and add to the tweets and to tweet easily any information I find online including shortening the URL for the information. Once a URL is included in a tweet, another follower can click on it to access the information. My use of Twitter would show an historian I like to keep current of educational trends and to share information with others.

My use of Diigo and Pinterest helps me archive website and other information. An historian would see that I a good curator, who organizes and saves resources. Diigo is text based whereas as Pinterest is visually based. I enjoy having information in both a text and visual format.

Dropbox is used like Google Doc to archive files as backups and so I can access my files from any computer. I tend to use Google Doc more so for collaboration and Dropbox for storing my own files, including word processed documents, spreadsheets, and pictures. Flickr is another site I use to archive photos, but I also like to use this site to find pictures that people have stored there that others can freely use. This is convenient for finding free images that the user grants others permission to use.

As for Facebook, a historiam would see I like to keep in touch with friends, but would also see that I follow sites that have professional information and post photographs. I have a strong interest in photography and wonder where this art form will be in 50 years from now. I also wonder what an historian will need to do to access electronic files we created in 2012.

What about you? What are your favorite websites and apps that you use regularly? What will an historian looking back on what you list learn about you as a person.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

101 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers

This list with descriptions and links of 101 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers will be worth looking through to familiarize yourself with some possible tools to use in the classroom. Some will be completely new to you, whereas others might ring a bell or be ones you have tried. Look through the list and see what sounds exciting to you. If you find ones of interest, let us know what you think of them and how you might use them in your teaching. Even if you can't find something of immediate interest to you now, bookmark or save the page some other way for future reference. There is a wealth of ideas offered for use now or in the future.

!0 Must-Reads for the New School Year

Photo from
Ed Tech K-12, an online site, offers some excellent links to read up on ideas for implementing technology in the classroom. Access the web page, note the descriptions for each suggestion, and click on those suggestions that most interest you. Once you find what is most helpful to you, please be sure to share feedback with others by leaving a comment. Tell us why your selections will be most useful to you and why you think others should check the recommendations. Here is the link to access the information: 10 Must-Read for the New School Year.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

You Have to See This

In my journeys online, I recently came across an extraordinary example of a teacher using wikis with her students. Not only is there a class wiki in which lots of class assignments are posted, but also every individual student in the class creates a wiki for posting work. Take a look at the main wiki and then explore at least one student’s work to see how this all works. It will take some time to explore around, but it is well worth it. Doing so will give you an excellent idea of how effective use of the technology creates an incredibly powerful, engaging learning and sharing environment for students. In fact, consider how public students’ accomplishments are by virtue of the wiki tool. In addition, the teacher has at her fingertips students’ work to assess their progress throughout the year. Here is the link to get to the main wiki. 

You will find on the homepage, a movie the students created. It is a trailer for a longer movie they produced. I have embedded the trailer in hopes that once you see the work, you will be even more motivated to explore the class wiki and individual students’ wikis.

This movie will give you an idea of how inventive and expressive these students are.

Once you get to the main wiki and have explored it, take the time to explore individual students' wikis to see what they are writing and how they are inserting their own multimedia into their wikis. Note that that students are also building a blog off their wiki pages. Additionally, spend time to see how the teacher has placed on her wiki the following information: organizational schedules, tips for writing on a wiki, and assignment guidelines.

Be sure to leave some comments. Let us know what you discovered. Has exploring the teacher's wiki and the students' wikis given you a sense of the power of technology to engage students in learning and to promote their understanding of curricular objectives? What is your takeaway message after looking into what this one teacher is doing with her students?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Watch, Know, Learn

Screen Shot from Watch, Know, Learn

Watch, Know, Learn is a site for finding videos to use in school. All of the videos on the site have been reviewed by educators, and you can find out about the content of the videos through summaries. In addition, the site is organized by grade level and subject area, easing finding videos.

The collection of reviewed videos on Watch, Know, Learn is increasing. For instance, in looking today, I noticed close to 6,000 offerings are available for language arts. One of the best features of the site is that you can easily find out about the videos in advance and see their ratings. There are also resources for teachers and parents.

Although some of the videos listed are viewable through YouTube, which might be blocked in schools, other sites are also used to access the videos. Also, YouTube videos can be downloaded from the site to use off the site. So even if you find the video on YouTube, there are ways for you to show it in the class without using YouTube.

The About section of the site offers this background on Watch, Know, Learn:

"Free educational videos delivered over the Internet. Viewed any time, from anywhere.
We believe that everyone should have the same opportunity to learn. The best way to make this possible, we believe, is to organize into one, super directory the hundreds of thousands of good videos currently available on the Internet. To make this a reality, we invite teachers, instructors and educators to suggest videos for inclusion into our directory, and then to review, approve, and assign those videos into appropriate categories using a wiki framework and philosophy. The videos are the highest quality found on the World Wide Web, cover all major educational topics from elementary to secondary schools (or age range 1 – 18), and are Kid Safe!"

If you find a video of interest, let us know. Also, let us know of other video sites intended for school usage that you have heard or used. Overall, what do you think of the Watch, Know, Learn site?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Born to Learn

This video is a new one in the series Born to Learn. It focuses on creativity, brain development, and teens' reactions to learning.  Check it out, and leave a comment. The animation itself is worth looking at, but what do you think about its messages about the human brain and teens' reactions to school? What takeaway message do you get from the video?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Teenagers Online Behavior: Get Over It

Danah Boyd, a 34 year-old, senior researcher at Microsoft Research, Cambridge, MA, sees no point in limiting young people's access to what's online. She claims that teachers, parents, P.T.A.s, and school administrators need to defer to the social changes happening offline. Teens' online lives merely mirror what they do offline and their developmental stage.

Danah Boyd Image credit: Erik Jacobs for New York Times, 1-22-12
Boyd states, in a Jan. 22, 2012 New York Times article, "Cracking Teenagers' Online Codes of Behavior": Children's ability to roam has basically been destroyed. Letting our children out to bike around the neighborhood is seen as terrifying now, even though by all measures, life is safer for kids today."

Basically, Boyd argues we need to let kids explore online. She claims that online they find information that helps them cope with issues like bullying, depression, and suicide.

As for online sexual predators, Boyd reminds us that kids are more at risk offline. For in fact, most predators are ones the children know: "The vast majority of sex crimes against kids involve someone that the kid trusts, and it's overwhelming a family member." Perhaps, our energies need to be redirected there, and we need to allow children to find advice online from professional counselors--a point that Boyd makes in support of Internet access.

Boyd is a long-time scholar and researcher in the field of youth culture. She holds a degree in computer science from Brown, earned a master's from the Media Lab at M.I.T., and  earned at Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkley, from the School of Information. Boyd can be followed on Twitter. @Zephoria. She also has host of scholarly papers available, where else, but online.

Check the New York Times article. Do you agree with Boyd that we should give teens full access to the Internet? Do you agree it is time to stop blocking sites, some of which may be helpful to teens today? What points in the article ring true? With which do you disagree?

Friday, January 20, 2012

National Writing Project Posts High School Students' Videos

Looking for some examples of videos produced by students that tell us story. Some excellent ones are posted on the National Writing Project site via using Vimeo to post the student examples.

Here is one example.

NWP Resource-Poem from D Filipiak on Vimeo.

Check the site to hear other students tell their story. . Don't forget to return to this blog to post your response. What did you think of the student videos? What ideas did you get for implementing for video technology, movie making, or digital storytelling from watching the videos?

Here are some additional links to find the students' digital stories at the National Writing Project site:

Overcoming Devastation
Obstacles for Dreams
Research Interview (Graffiti)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Creating a Digital Story with Wix

Check this site that features the work of 12th grade students based on their reading of Elie Wiesel's Night. It is just another example of how Web 2.0 tools can be used to feature student work. This project was created with using Wix.

The Art of Witnessing is the name of the project. Here are some screen shots from the project, but use the link The Art of Witnessing to explore further on your own and to take the time to look at the students' work.

After looking through the parts of the online display, including the video about the project, let us know your thoughts about using this form of multimedia to showcase student work. Would you consider using a tool like Wix to create a website like this one? How do you think students will react to using such a tool, or to seeing their work displayed in this way?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Todays Meet

I have posted before on Todays Meet, but came across an interesting use of it today by a middle school teacher and wanted to share his experiences. Please check out his blog posting called Say Something.

The posting is long, but it introduces several critical ideas about teaching, learning from our mistakes, adjusting our strategies, and finally achieving success albeit with some questions.
Picture of Steve Fulton from his blog

Check Steve's comments about his own failings and successes with introducing a "backchannel" and "online chat" when he integrated them into literacy reading activities asking students to engage in online discussions about the book they were reading in class.

If you have some time, roam around further in Steve's blog Teaching with Technology in the Middle, in which he reflects on his classroom experiences. He also has a blog he uses with his students, Mr. Fulton's Language Arts. Here you will find examples of how one teacher uses blogging to keep students current of assignments and course projects.

Also, after reading Steve's blog post Say Something, write a comment to him in the comment box. He will probably appreciate hearing from you.

And don't forget to comment here. What was your response to learning about how Steve was trying to use TodaysMeet in the classroom? Would you consider the tool? If so, how might you use it? Would like to see other examples of its uses?

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