Tuesday, July 31, 2007

PowerPoint Book

I used some pictures of my little girl and created a little story book for her. I recorded my voice reading it. I guess I did something simple to try it out and see if I could figure out what I was doing. Doing that gives me more confidence to go back and try it with something for my classroom. I feel pretty comfortable so far. I need to go and try adding sounds other than me reading.
After I finished my PowerPoint book, I went and created one in Microsoft PhotoStory. I just selected the pictures I wanted to include (still images), and then the program led me through adding narration and background noise (it even gave me options to choose from). I liked the ease with which I was able to complete a book-like presentation. I used pictures of my little girl and I read poems for her dad's upcoming birthday. My only problem so far is that I can't figure out how to save it outside of that program (if that makes sense) to share with others or to upload to badongo.
I think learning to use these tools has the capacity to improve my instruction this year. If (when) I have struggling readers, I can send them to the computer to read along with my recorded voice (which will also provide a good reading model hopefully). I could also use it to record student voices reading aloud or telling stories aloud. It some times helps to tell a story aloud prior to writing it down, and recording it would help students with memory problems. It is also good for students to read aloud and be able to hear themselves. They can (hopefully) hear/see what they need to work on.
I also think students would really enjoy doing activities that involved recording their own voices . . . and that can be a big motivator.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I am a big fan of doing WebQuests with my students. I like to have them study the author that we are currently reading, and there are many author webquests or ones to go along with certain books. I also enjoy using WebQuests to assist in SS instruction. But for some reason, I was off today, and I am not sure I am happy with the one I produced today. It is probably because I am tired today.
I think WebQuests make the students responsible for their own learning. In evaluating ones to use, I like the ones that actually make the kids read and explore rather than just giving them answers flat out.
I can see how WebQuests can be used as a starting point for the Inquiry-based writin we discussed in class today. I really like those charts Dave showed us.
Ok, now I am at home, I have had time to think about the WebQuest-type project I created. I thought of some changes that I wanted to make. I guess that is like my telling students they should go away from the stories they are writing before they work on revising them. I added and changed some things, and then I downloaded a new background template for PowerPoint. I now really like what I created today and can really see myself using it in the next school year.

Exploring Literacy on the Internet

There were several interesting ideas suggested in this article. According to this article, the definition of literacy has widened to include learning, comprehending, and interacting with technology in meaningful ways. Electronic texts provide new supports as well as new challenges, so they can have a greater impact on individual comprehension.

"Internet-based comprehension tasks broaden our understanding of these elements (purpose, process, consequences of activity) because they present new purposes for reading, more critical thought processes dueing reading, and new examples of authentic responses after reading."

WebQuests are internet-based instructional techniques. "A well-designed one included explicit learning goals as well as recommended processes of inquiry." "By combining explicit supports with constructivist responses, teachers can increase the likelihood that externally imposed purposes are more closely aligned with those that are internally generated." These projects demand fairly high thinking and problem solving skills.

"Bill Chapman's Classroom Tools Website outlines strategies for helping students to validate online information and to recognize commercial propaganda and bias _ three critical literacy skills that are vital to readers on the Internet."

"Web-based learning environments can foster opportunities for more diverse knowledge gains, more personal applications, and higher levels of engagement."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Literature-Based Collaborative Internet Projects in Elementary Classrooms

After reading this article, I think I would like to try a Collaborative Internet Project (CIP) in my class. It is a literature-based project where students read specific texts, discuss with classmates, and then shar written responss on project websites. CIP, like reader's theater, rhyming activites, and semantic mapping, involves practices to reinforce the content being taught. Teachers in this study found it to be an innovative method that could be modified to support pedagogical beliefs and curriculm standards. CIP can foster student learning by helping students make connections (which can be difficult to teach), recognize and appreciate others, and become active in their own learning. It also allows students to learn various writing styles and ways of responding to literature. Reading and writing are integral components of CIP.

Internet access is the primary technology necessary to participate in CIP. In the study discussed in this article, teachers from various places (states and countries) as well as a wide range of grades (K-4) particpated using many different forms (individual, partner, group, whole class).

This study reveals a connection between a teacher's constructivist beliefs and technology use. Teachers must learn to view CIP as a practice used to support content. Schools must provide appropriate support and have a commitment to technology. The study was not very clear on whether or not CIP increased literacy skills (more research needed in that area).

CIP is one approach to teaching and learning.


I found an article where the author considers the meaning of literacy to be always changing. "What it means to be literate has become a moving target, one we can never completely define." After the discussion we had on the first day, I can see where this idea come from. Another idea from that article states that "researchers have clearly not addressed the question of what basic cognitive processes are involved in using present technologies related to literacy." I wanted to record these ideas so I can think about them more.

Communication Tools

After downloading Skype, I was able to get my webcam to work with it. However, I was never able to talk to anyone. After trying for quite a while (I don't like to give up), I switched to yakpak. There were several people around me that seemed to have that working a little. After a while, I was able to hear somebody talking barely. I have already adjusted the volume on my headphones and microphone. She was able to hear me responding but it was very soft. This was quite difficult to figure out, and I don't think I will be attempting this with my students until or unless I can figure it out more.
I know that just because I was not able to figure it out very sucessfully is not necessarily a good reason for not trying this out with my students, but I think there are better ways for me to use technology with my students than through this method. I do think using the webcam with students and possibly other classes might be a neat thing to try (which I might do), so we will see.

Social Bookmarking

While we were discussing social bookmarking, I was thinking of ways to use this with my students. I guess if we were doing research on a certain topic or I wanted students to look at certain sites, I could bookmark them for students to explore. It might be interesting to see what sites students could find related to certain topics. I like the idea of being able to find something at home and than saving it to a social bookmarking list rather than emailing it to myself at school.
Social Bookmarking could also be helpful for teachers to connect with other teachers and see what kinds of resources they found. It is a way of sharing knowledge.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Literacy and Technology

Literacy is being able to construct knowledge using reading and writing in various forms. Technological devices (computers, ditigital cameras, . . . ) can be used to aid in constructing this knowledge thus enhancing productivity and performance.

Threaded Discussions

I personally use threaded discussions related to my hobby (scrapbooking) almost every day if not several times a day (twopeasinabucket.com). I had never really thought about using them as a part of my teaching.
From what we read and the discussions we had yesterday, I can see how having students do threaded discussions could be beneficial. When we did it in class, we were able to all "talk" at the same time and share our ideas, so even those who did not want to speak up in class were able to share ideas for all to benefit from. If I use this in my classroom (or when I do), students would be able to add to the "conversation" at any time. After a class or discussion, I have often thought of a new idea or another comment, I could share those further ideas if we were using a threaded discussion. These discussions also provide a written record of what is being shared. I may not have heard someone's idea if we were having a large oral discussion, but using this type of discussion, I can go and read what that person shared.

Blogs in the classroom

I really enjoy what I read about blogging today. The articles and discussions gave me some great ideas for things to try in my 4th grade class this year. I like the idea of me the teacher posting questions for the students to respond to. I also like the idea of having a link for each student to write a paragraph about what he or she has been working on that week. Using a blog this way could provide another writing opportunity for my students. It could also be used as an interactive writing activity where I (or other students) can respond to things written my a student in my class. This reading and responding acitivity will serve as a community building activity.