So. Here I am. The final post of this particular experience in my teaching and learning life. I’m not sure whether it should be the post parade since I’ll shortly be setting off on the real race, or if it’s the finishing post since I’m at the end of the class. Regardless, the exercises have been worthwhile. Not a single one of these assignments would I have completed on my own this summer (though I would probably feel more prepared in other regards), and many of them have given me ideas and resources that I would like to re-visit. They have also given me much to think about. They have forced me to make official note of some of my concerns: That students (and grown-ups) are becoming less and less comfortable dealing face-to-face because it’s so much more comfortable to type; that there seems to be a presumption that the good things on the web more than make up for the lousy (or inappropriate) things on the web–and I’m not always sure that I agree; that Web 2.0 “stuff” is de rigueur for those who want to teach and learn effectively–and I’m not 100% sure that I agree; that our students don’t know how to keyboard efficiently, and my expectations for them need to keep that in mind… But I’ve also found fabulous tools to consider including in my bag of tricks. My concern for myself is that I already feel like I’m up until the middle of the night most nights wearing my teacher hat after I take off the mother hat and before I can put on the sleeping cap… Web 2.0 will not change the content I teach; nor will they change (I don’t think) the effort I put into assessment. I’m not sure I can get too many more balls into the air and still keep some semblance of control over them. 🙂 But this class has gotten me started, and I’m grateful!! It’s been a fun run!
Thoughts on Classroom 2.0, a NING “network” of teachers, and thoughts on the use of Twitter for more than, well, as my daughter put it, “knowing who’s drinking what at Starbucks.”
About Classroom 2.0: I found it an interesting place to wander through, and perhaps I’ll re-visit and join in the party. I tried to check out each of the sections represented on the homepage. Under Forums, I followed one about sketchcasting which intrigued me, and I liked the back and forth of the “conversations.” It made me think about ways I might use my tablet for presentations… Under Groups, I checked out “Elementary School 2.0” and saw something that intrigued me there as well, an on-line publishing website called Issuu; and PBL Better with Practice (real teachers with real questions and suggestions). I searched for Social Studies and History; found some but not anything amazing, and I searched by trade books and didn’t find anything. Under Tags, I looked up history, since that’s the subject that I have the harder time finding ideas that work for me. I found lots more, and lots more that I wanted to read! One comment mentioned an article on YouTube videos for teaching Science and Social Studies topics I noticed a few questions obviously from students, and teachers tried to help… Which I thought was interesting–and generous. Under Videos… I looked at the list and saw some that looked interesting. I happened to choose Egypt as a search term and the one I watched was HORRID. Yikes!!! But this motivational video is cute.
Twitter: I never thought about using twitter professionally. An article by Mark Marshall provided me plenty of food for thought. Looking through some samples, though, made me wonder about being overloaded one more way… Ack! I am not good at sifting, filtering, passing over things… I watched a video I thought it was creative of her, and her students seemed to appreciate her approach. One student said something telling. This was a college class, but he commented that students were able to participate who wouldn’t share out loud. This is one of my concerns about an excess of technology… That students (and grown-ups) will be tempted more and more to hide behind their screens, and will be less and liss willing to speak. Speaking. I hope the world never outgrows that ability. Somehow, that still seems important.
Despite the cool things that have arrived in my RSS feed box, and despite the new websites and ideas that I’ve found on-line, the words that truly inspire me are words spoken by those I know, those whose lives inspire me. They keep the bubblegum fresh…
My favorite RSS fed-article of late? One from Cool Cat Teacher entitled, “What’s the most important thing you should be doing right now?” She ends with, “What is the most important thing you SHOULD be working on right now? Stop what you’re doing (you’re in your RSS reader) and DO IT.” I need to make dinner for my family. It’s summertime. Enough blogging on that thought, don’t you think? I hope that’s not apostacy, short as it is!
Google docs have a mixed history in my mind. As a teacher, I’ve listened to rave reviews from the guy in the tie in the classroom next door. As a mother, I’ve listened to rants from my children about how cumbersome it is. I’ve had fun playing with it today, and I think I can see both sides better than I could yesterday. Not sure there’s a way to perfect it! I found it spooky that it saved so often, and I haven’t figured out yet how to decipher who made exactly what changes, though I could tell who had contributed. Indeed, I liked some of the features, but found some features missing; not the first to notice that. It was a straightforward interface to deal with sans introduction, and I found the same to be true of the spreadsheets and presentations. I don’t have a lot to say here–other than that I was glad to be forced to mess with it! I know Google docs can be useful for editing student work on-line (longer compositions come to mind, though our fourth graders are not adept at typing and I don’t expect the school to make them so any time soon, so that’s probably out for us; and I’m not sure I want to read 16 planet research papers on a computer screen…), for peer editing poems or shorter pieces (as long as the author maintained control of the final decisions), for taking classroom polls, for working on presentations as the fifth graders do about stone age sites or the fourth graders do about explorers. I’m still not sure, though, that every family wants to come through (in or out?) that swinging gate and join a required “conversation…” I’m pretty sure I’m not ready to be the one who requires it of fourth graders, though I certainly appreciate the options offered.
Oi. Okay. I love youtube for wasting time. I just spent an evening trying it for content and, um, I must admit that I feel like all I did was waste time. I searched for various topics related to content I teach and watched various goofy videos that were basically useless. Even when I typed in “how to” “waltz,” “do snake makeup,” “treble reel,” “make a friendship bracelet,” etc., the results were dreadful. The youtube content that makes me laugh, makes me laugh, and I LOVE it–but I’m not so sure there’s enough content for fourth and fifth graders out there to make it worth my while to spend the time searching. I did find the opening and closing clips from the Flintstones which I have thought about showing the fifth graders during our unit on the Stone Age (but that raised up copyright concerns, so I googled a website from which I can at least purchase them…). I felt a bit more at home on teachertube, but found the ads annoying, and the lack of references discouraging. Just because something comes from a website called teachertube doesn’t mean it should find it’s way into your brain or classroom! I suspect that youtube will continue to be, for me, an outpost of joy and humor, and probably not a source for content per se. Just for you Shelley: my favorite indoor-recess entertainment is the Washington Post’s annual peeps contest; here’s a youtube Peeps Diorama Shoot. Enjoy–even if it’s not exactly civilization!
Thoughts on creating a podcast using a Mac and Garage Band. Phew. That was stressful, but ended up fine and dandy. Here’s the final product: March 17. It’s nearly six months off, but why not? Actually, I’m not sure that link worked, but it’s definitely there on Podbean. The first time I recorded it, I made some wrong choice(s) on Garage Band, and it was all echo-ey and then broke into song (I think because iTunes was still open on my desktop… but I’d never heard the song before!) when my voice stopped. I got it sorted out by choosing Podcast (doh) instead of Voice, and all is well. It wouldn’t let me upload the picture I had chosen, but I think I can work on that. I imagine I could make the video part work as well, if that’s nearly as straightforward as the audio was. I can foresee using this to record the presentations the students make in class; for instance, they research explorers, and make passports for them, then have to share what they’ve learned. Each presentation is short, and could easily be a podcast.
I enjoyed looking at and listening to the efforts of my fellow classmates on Podbean, and will check back again to see what their fertile minds have created in podcast compost… 🙂 That’s a compliment. Really.
This is one topic with which I shall be very happy to continue to experiment, though I am going to take a break now to take care of this assignment documenting my first official podcast experience. Thanks to the CommonCraft video, I now know that I don’t need an IPod or iTunes to take advantage of podcasts–though I finally have both… A few years ago I took a class at the National Museum of the American Indian and regretted that I didn’t have (turns out I just thought I didn’t) the technology necessary to make use of their podcasts. One in particular intrigued me, and it took me until now to see it. It’s on tanning deer hide using the brain of the deer; this concept is either fabulous or gruesome to any given fourth grader, and it’s one we talk about after reading The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich, and one which is always mentioned when we visit the Native American village at Jamestown. Here’s the link if you’d like to see it for yourself. http://www.nmai.si.edu/video/ibd/identitybydesign_04.m4v This is a podcast I will certainly share with my students, because I’ve been waiting for three years to do so! Beyond that, I look forward to finding more resources along those lines.
My thoughts, though, on searching the iTunes store… I didn’t have great luck, but I won’t let my initial experience dull my enthusiasm. Many of the podcasts that turned up from my searches were audio only, and I don’t think audio alone would hold the attention of most of my fourth and fifth graders. Also, I was unable to find the deer hide podcast I was looking for on iTunes, though I found others from the same museum. I’m sure that’s not an iTunes’ fault, but it pointed out to me that not every podcast is going to be available there. When I went to the museum website, I couldn’t find their list of podcasts until I searched “podcasts.” Shame on them to keep such information buried! Again, when I searched iTunes for podcasts from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, I found a few, but knew there were plenty of others. Indeed, when I googled “history.org podcasts” I found a wealth of choices. I think a trip is in order to each of my favorite museum and organization websites, with eyes peeled for podcasts.
You asked for it, you got it. Post on demand. Podcasts are cool.
My mother was a school librarian. Well, she still is, she’s just retired. My dad is a law professor. We grew up surrounded by books, and I still find it spooky when I walk into a home that doesn’t have shelves of books in every room. I’d never heard of The Library Thing, but I sure had fun there! Besides nosing around for books that I like myself, I searched for the books I’ve assigned as summer reading for the fourth and fifth graders I will teach in the coming year. The reviews were the same sort of reviews I would have written, and the fact that there were multiple reviews allowed me to compare and contrast opinions of different readers. I think I could use the same technique to get an idea about a book I was considering using. I was a little confused about one review which was flagged as abuse, but when I clicked on it and read it, it didn’t seem to me to be abusive… Not sure what that was about. I loved the word clouds scattered throughout the website (lists of most-mentioned people, places, awards, etc.). I appreciated the links to recommended books and books by the same author. I can get lost for hours in Amazon, and this had the same appeal. I can see using it, as I said, to read reviews on books I’d heard about but not read; using it (like I use the wish list feature on Amazon; but that doesn’t work so well when not logged in from our home computer) to track books I want to read or buy; and, most usefully, to find books that are similar to books I know I like. Professionally, we could share books that have been actually useful (as opposed to ones that I thought would be useful and weren’t!). Of course, I already have a pile that fills up a shelf in my room of books that I own and haven’t read yet… Maybe I could make a list of those on The Library Thing! Plenty to keep me entertained in the post meridian!
I have a little tiny binder that holds index cards on which I write the names of websites I use for different units. They are divided by topics, and I can write notes on the cards about the sites and how I use them. However, tiny as it is, I never bother to carry it around with me, and frequently find myself e-mailing myself links from home or school so I can use them or review them at school or home… I put sticky notes on lesson plans, on my desk, on my laptop… I long ago gave up on bookmarking because I use so many different computers and because that long, aimless list drove me crazy. Delicious. Tasty indeed. In almost no time at all, I bookmarked eight websites to use with my fifth graders during the unit on the Stone Age. I pulled my four favorites right off the bat, and then found some new ones as well. Tagging was easy, and editing the tags (as I realized what I wished I had written) was easy as well. Searching was easy. Following my nose to other users’ lists was easy. Tagging sites for k12learning20 was easy–though mine are not yest showing up in the wiki, they are in the delicious list. I like it! I can now say goodbye to my little binder (just as well, since I don’t think I’ve updated it in a year), and to my miscellaneous sticky-notes as well.
I’m a little bit (just a teeeeeny bit) OC (like most of my friends) and I find it intensely difficult to ignore things that I’ve signed up for. On my way to bed at the end of a busy (in the summer sense) day, I would remember the 33 nice blogs that were sending me updates, and feel that nagging voice that said, “But you TOLD them you WANTED that information, so you really better go see what’s there…” Way to ruin a good bedtime, because it takes me half an hour to get back out of Reader Land. I fixed it, by deleting the “fun” feeds and the ones that I already knew I didn’t really like. I’m down to seven. Two are friends, five are educational. I’ve used the STAR feature a lot, because there were plenty of links I liked but knew I wouldn’t need until the school year got started. I’ve enjoyed e-mailing interesting tidbits to fellow teachers. One that intrigued me, since I teach composition to fourth graders, was this offering fron Scholastic, called Writing with Writers Another was a link to a new collaborative tool called Aviary, which I signed up for, thinking it might be a good jumping off point for my fourth graders and I to learn together! So, I get a better night’s sleep knowing that fewer feeds are mouldering in my list, AND because the things I want are tagged for future use. Twinkle twinkle little star…