Friday, January 29, 2010

New Job!!

Hmm. . ..I think I have written another post with this title within the last year. Last year at this a time, I wasn't even thinking about a technology (well maybe not too much). I was finishing up my classes for Gifted Education licensure. Now I have gone from teaching 4th grade, to teaching gifted education and enrichment classes, to being a K-5 tech facilitator (focusing on tech integration), and in less than a month to joining the WSFCS Instructional Technology team as a District Instructional Technologist. It is a little overwhelming but really exciting.

Monday, January 18, 2010

PBL and Technology

Putting the Nerdy Teacher Back in the Classroom
Wow! This is a great example of PBL in a classroom integrated with technology. In this blog post she talks about the steps she took to develop questions and higher-level thinking activities for her 21st Century Classroom.
If I go back into a classroom, this is the kind of thing I want to be able to do with my students. Shis managing the technology in her classroom as a tool for learning. I read this blog some in the past when he mostly gave technology integration ideas. I can't wait to see what she blogs about in the future now that she has moved from a technology integration specialist to a classroom teacher.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday Tech Tips

This year I have been sending out Tuesday Technology Tip emails to the staff at my school (along with some tech facilitators and media coordinators at a couple of other schools). I normally include at least one thing related to ActivInspire (which we are trying to get everyone at my school to use this year) and something else technology related, which is normally either something I find on twitter or on the iLearnTechnology Blog (thanks Kelly). I post the things I send out on my Technology Blog normally and try to remember to tag them with Tues_Tech_Tips.
I have gotten some thanks for sending out these messages throughout the year. I got 2 emails about the tips I sent out yesterday (a bit unusual). One came from the Curriculum Coordinator at my school(in charge of Black History Month Celebration happening soon):
"Just wanted to tell you that I had a chance to look at the link.

The other one came from the media coordinator at another school in this school system: You are a GENIUS. Love Today's Tuesday Tech Tip.
When I asked what he liked so much, I got this response: "The links for the African American Biography were exactly what I needed for a project I had just goten done talking to a teacher about doing on biographies. Plus this morning, there was an announcement our students need to get ready for Science fair. "
I did sit in on lesson planning meetings last week and heard teachers talk about the Science Fair coming up soon as well as Black History Month. While the information and resources I included in this week's Tuesday Technology Tip may not have been the most cutting-edge technological resources or tools, but it was what teachers were looking for at that particular time. The teachers who got this email with timely resources and links are more likely to use them than if it was just a really interesting tool (to me). It is about the technology going along with the curriculum, not making the curriculum fit the technology.

Image from / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

New blog inspired!!!!

Imagine my surprise when I opened twitter this morning (tweetdeck actually), and saw this message from a teacher that, as far as I know, I have never actually met:

@mwedwards You have inspired me to blog with my class! Having fun and learning! (from @teach1quilt2)

From reading her profile on twitter, I know she is a Nationally Board Certified 1st grade teacher from Montana who enjoys quilting, reading, as well as spending time with family and friends. I am not really sure what I have done to inspire her to blog with her class, but I am glad that I did what I did. I do have links to the class blogs that I kept with students in 1st, 2nd,3rd grade as well as AG students posted on my blog. I have shared blogging resources (since I bookmark just about everything I can find on blogs and link most of it to the pageflakes I created on blogs). Maybe it was just making stuff available and showing what I had done that inspired her . . .

I saw great results with the students I worked with using blogs. At first writing a comment to a blog post (assignment or idea) took some getting used to, but students were soon begging to be able to type on the blog. I enjoyed coming up with creative prompts and Problem-based Learning (PBL) activities to get them started. This year I am not in a classroom working with students, and in some ways, I miss the student engagement with the blogs that I got last year. I found it much easier to come up with things for them to write about than finding things for me to blog about :)

Added later: After I saw where I inspired a blog, I went to look at it. Yay! It's a great looking blog. I tweeted about the blog on twitter, added myself as a follower, and added a comment about looking forward to seeing more on the blog. Tonight, I got another message from this lady (Kathy Sather): "Rm 6 cheered when we saw you were following us! :) More to come."


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Skills and Tools

Blogging * WebConferencing * Pocasting * Creating a Wiki

These skill posters and a blog titled "It's not about the tools. It's about the Skills" can be found on the Langwitches Blog: The Magic of Learning. The message conveyed in these posters is something that I think many teachers hear but don't understand at first. In Reading Class, teachers don't try to make sure that students understand everything they can about the textbook that is assigned to them. Teachers do focus on using stories in that book to teach certain skills that students need to learn to be successful in the future. In a Math Class, the teacher doesn't teach specific problems to prepare students just how to solve that open problem. A teacher uses a math problem to help students discover how to use certain skills to be able to solve other problems in the future. The Reading book and Math books are just tools the teacher uses to accomplish the goals of instructing students on specific skills to help students learn. The technology tools that a teachers chooses to use to assist in her insttuction serves to same purpose: to help students learn. We don't know all that the future will hold for these students, but we do know the skills we are teaching will be needed for whatever students encounter.

images by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tools don't make the Teacher

Tonight's twitter edchat was concerning the interactive nature of interactive white boards. Comments kept appearing about how it is the teacher that makes the difference not the tool or piece of piece of equipment. I remember someone commenting that mud can be interactive if in the hands of a good teacher. Teachers need to have the training and support to make the best instructional decisions on how to use interactive white boards or anything (technology-related or not) in the classroom. Teachers also need to have the freedom to make decisions about what will or will not work best in their individual classroom for learning to be facilitated. Yes, administration can "require" that technology be used, but it is really up to the teacher to use it effectively at the right times to promote student learning. There are lots of things that technology allows a teacher to do in his or her classroom, but there are also lots of good things a good teacher can do without using technology. Technology, like any tool used in the classroom, should be used with the ultimate goal of enhancing student learning.

Different color heads still make bugs . . .

My three year old was playing with a game tonight (Cooties). Instead of playing correctly, she was just making bugs by putting the pieces together. When she and her dad played the other night, they made sure that the heads and bodies matched (same color) as well as all bugs having the same sets of legs (shoes, skates , . . .). Tonight when she was on her own, she pulled a green head off and put it on a red body. Then she looked at me and said, "It is still a bug even if it doesn't match."

Her small comment got me thinking. We may not do things the same way but as teachers we are working towards the same goal: student learning. We use many different tools, technology-related or not. It is not about what tools we use, but it is about what we are trying to achieve. Our classes look different, our students are different, our ways of teaching are different, so the way we "build our bugs" is different, but they are still bugs (hopefully bugs that have learned something).


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twitter as a Treasure Chest

I have found lots of new things (blogs mainly) to read and to add to my google reader using Twitter tonight. Two of the blog posts I read tonight talk about the importance of twitter to a PLN (especially concerning #edchat). I could not agree more! I have learned so much and been "granted access" to so many great ideas and resources by participating in Twitter. Notice that I said PARTICIPATING and not just reading. Even though I am not sure that I directly did anything that lead me to find new blogs for me to follow tonight, I do feel like that by interacting and feeling like "part of a group" I am exposed to more options. I like to see what people retweet and then go check out the person they retweeted to see what I might be able to gain by making that connection (that sounds a bit selfish, but . . . ).
Here are the ones I found tonight to add to my list of things to read . . .
Here is one I found a few days ago that I think deserves to be here too:
When I decided to write this post (a few minutes ago), I wasn't really sure what title to give it. But as soon as I started working it, the comparison of Twitter and a Treasure Chest popped right to my mind :) I really see Twitter as a Treasure Chest since it contains lot of valuable information/resources and . . . you never know what you might find . . .


Friday, January 1, 2010

My Learning

I was recently asked about the last thing I learned and how I learned it. I had a presentation to finalize earlier that morning. I wanted to do something "new" but ended up doing a presentation using PowerPoint2007. I was pretty sure we would not be able to view it in that "newer" version, but I really liked some of the things I was able to do using it (backgrounds, colors, fonts). I decided that I needed to figure out a way to put it on my blog. I tried using slideshare, but some of the fonts and hyperlinks did not work. I had some luck using powerpoints in voicethread in the past, so I tried that too. Again some fonts and colors and no hyperlinks worked. I remembered hearing something about SlideRocket last year from a Discovery Education Shining Stars Webinar. I recommended that a friend try it out, and she liked it, so I decided to try it too. I was pleased that my colors, backgrounds, and fonts stayed the same. After "playing around" a little with the options that are available in that program, I figured out how to add hyperlinks. I did not really want to change the presentation that much, so I hyperlinked the little yellow stars I added.

I thought about that question about learning again this morning as I was "playing around" with the way my blog looks. I have really enjoyed and seen the benefits of using blogs with students and teachers in the last couple of years. I have been working on "fixing up" the way my blog(s) look in the last little bit. After seeing an interesting background on another blog, I looked to see where it came from and went there too. I have now started using for my blog backgrounds. There are also all kinds of neat extra things to add to the blog that can be found there. I learned about how to add those certain things by following instructions on (where I used to get blog backgrounds from).

Well, I decided this morning that I wanted to figure out a new way to display the labels on my blog. I like the way Sam Walker displays the labels on the Kimmel Farm Elementary Blog, so I went and looked at it. Sam is my friend and would help if I sent him a message (email, twitter, or facebook) but since it is New Year's Day, I did not want to bother him. I decided to see what I could find out myself, so after reading back through his tweets on twitter and finding nothing, I searched the internet for "blogger label cloud". I found directions on how to create an animated bloggger label cloud using Blogumus on the Blogger Buster site. I didn't like the way the animated label cloud looked on this blog (so it is still plain for now), but I like the way it turned out on my Technology Blog.

So again, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, saw that it was possible, and "played around" until I figured it out. :)