Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Thing 11.5 - Evaluation

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

I was very excited to take part in this journey since I learned so much from 23 things last year. I loved learning about screencasts and thought of so many uses for this technology. It will help greatly when students want to understand how to use certain technology programs since they can view the screencast and follow it direction by direction. I always wanted to try Skype and have been using it to communicate with my sister in England. My own children like being able to see her face when talking to her. I would love to use this when studying a topic to speak with experts.

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

I am always trying to ascertain ways for students to use technology since no matter what career path they might take; some use of technology will be necessary. For them to wait until they are older to use these applications will put them behind other students and force them to play “catch up”. Kids love using the computers and the engagement level is significantly higher when they are allowed to do so. 11.5 things has given me some new opportunities to expand their learning environment.

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

I am little surprised that some of these applications are not user-friendly to the Macintosh computer I have at home. Being able to go from one type of computer to another is a must in today’s society where both are so prevalent. I was surprised how simple seemingly difficult tasks like creating a screencast or linking my blog to video sources really was. And downloading does not take nearly as long as in the past. I still feel public websites like PBS do a much better job organizing their materials for searches than the governments websites which I found surprisingly difficult to use (scary thought if you ask me).

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

I love the way 23 things and 11.5 things are set up so I would not change much. Maybe, you could create a program like this for teachers to have students complete to make them more comfortable on the computers and on different programs. Just as Clue has a Clue Jr., Rock Band has a Lego Rock Band, etc., 23 things should have a 23 kid things and 11.5 kid things that will challenge them in such an engaging way.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thing #11 -What might my digital citizenship lesson look like and why? Five things I will tell my students about being good digital citizens.

1. Be respectful of other peoples’ feelings. Just because you find something to be funny does not mean that it does not offend others. Be courteous of those around you and before you post something on the internet, think how others may react to it.

2. Be careful of what you access on the internet. Most sites are useful, entertaining and safe. However, there are people in this world with bad intentions that may put inappropriate material online. Luckily for us, Spring Branch Independent School District works hard to keep that type of material off our school internet. But even with that protection, there are risks. Think of it this way, would you show a family member the material you are seeing. If not, stay away from it. If you are not sure if what you are seeing is inappropriate, ask me and I will look at it to help you understand why it is or is not. Remember, my number one goal is to keep you safe, not only physically, but mentally as well which includes safe and healthy digital citizenship.

3. As mentioned in digiteen article we read, identify is a very important thing to protect. You must safeguard personal information about yourself. What I mean is that there are a few people that will use information about others to steal from them (identity theft) or cause them harm. Don’t give your telephone number, address or personal information about yourself out on the internet. Understand that the website Mr. Allen has designed for you to use is only accessible to you, teachers and administrators at Woodview and your families. This is a safeguard Mr. Allen uses to keep you protected from outside sources that may or may not have your best interests in mind.

4. Be careful of misunderstandings when communicating by e-mail. The digiteen article discusses this in detail. When you say something face to face, people can see if you are joking or are serious. When you write an e-mail or blog, you may think something is funny but others may think you are being serious and become upset at what you wrote. A responsible digital citizen is one who thinks about what they are going to write and carefully words it as to minimize offending others. No matter how much you consider others’ feelings, misunderstandings will still occur on occasion. Make sure if this is the case, you listen to what the person has to say, explain your intention with what you wrote and apologize if necessary. Saying I am sorry is an act of strength not weakness.

5. Do not use the internet to make others feel bad about themselves. This is identified in the digiteen article as cyber-bullying and is just as unacceptable online as bullying is face to face. Again, think about what you are saying and could it cause someone to have his or her feelings hurt. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and stating it even if many others disagree. But that is different than stating something to intentionally hurt someone’s feelings or picking on someone because others are doing so. Report any cyber-bullying you see to me so we can make the Woodview internet learning community a safe and healthy place to be.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thing #10 Second Life and other Virtual Worlds

I have used Second Life before and have mixed emotions about it. I love the ability to explore the ocean, African wildlife and creating weather disasters. However, I would never let my students use it because there is a lot of inappropriate material. Adult suggestive themes, materialistic ideals and scams are not what I want to expose my students to. I would show them the educational material previously mentioned but would have to pull it up out of their eyesight to make sure they are not exposed to adult themes.

I do like virtual worlds, but mainly those where students can be active learners. One I have used in my class that students seem to enjoy is Whyville. It can be found at

Whyville allows students to explore a kids world with science, social studies and other educational topics. Some of my favorites are when students have to land a hot air balloon in a designated area using force, wind and other variables. Another cool part is when students sort different recyclable materials.

Virtual worlds can be a tremendous growth opportunity for students. Please use them with caution.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thing #9 - Slideshare

Slideshare would be very useful for students to as its own website states, "share ideas, connect with others....". Students will find others with common interest that can provide feedback and additional information on their topic of interest. They can take their created slideshows and embed them onto our class website for all to see. It also has a voiceover feature to allow them to narrate their content. This will help them with their public speaking skills. Slideshare also has groups for various topics that students can join and interact with those who share common interests. Slideshare does a nice job of dividing content by categories, including education. Slideshare allows sharing presentations with the public or private sharing so that students can share with each other in a safe capacity. After reading, the article comparing the different websites for sharing Powerpoint presentations, I think it is clear that each has its strengths and areas in need of improvement. Slideshare is free, is easy to use and is student-friendly. Therefore, it will be a useful tool for students to show their knowledge using technology and to gain feedback from others with similar interests/knowledge.

Thing #8 - Quick Tips for Improving Screencasts

This two minute video by Sue Waters is well worth viewing. I learned about the feature where the screencast can follow where you go with the mouse arrow. I also think it is important to capture only the relevant portions of the screen so that the page is focused and not blurry.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thing #8 - Screencast - O - Matic

I liked the screencast o matic because it only took two steps to use. It take a while to download the finished product, but if you are not in a hurry, this is an effective device. I like the fact I can use it on a Mac or a PC giving me flexibility at school and at home. I also think this is a great tool for students to show other students things they can do on the computer. There are things I am asked repeatedly and with this tool, they can figure it out by watching what I did. This would be great in centers when I am working with small groups so that students can avoid getting stuck or interrupting small group instruction. Here is a screencast I did about finding Gamequarium on the district website.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thing #8 - Jing

The Jing program was easy to create a screencast with. I made a quick one showing my students how to get onto our classroom website. The biggest challenge was understanding how to put the screencast in a place where it could be embeded onto my blog. Click on the link below to check it out. This will be great for students to demonstrate to other students how to perform certain functions on the computer. It is great for visual learners who don't get enough out of having verbal instructions.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Thing #7 Video Sources -

I like It reminds me of a source I have used to show students animals in the wild called Africam. A lot of my students see elephants and make connections with the zoo. This clips show the animals in their natural habitats which can be used throughout the curriculum (ex. writing about the clips, social interaction between species, habitats and adaptations of animals, etc.).

Thing #7 Video Sources - PBS

As opposed to the difficulty of using the National Archives video, PBS is very user friendly and relevant to science in a third grade classroom. I found a great video about hunters and prey that I will definitely use this upcoming school year. I have attached
the commerical for the video since it is quite lengthy.

Watch the

Thing #7 Video Sources - National Archives Video Collections

After viewing the National Archives Video Collection website, I have concluded it is not very user friendly. I might use it to find a specific subject but it is not very helpful when it comes to sorting through the material. I feel there are other sources that would be easier for students and teachers to use. I am not saying I would never use it, but it would be a secondary source.

Thing #7 Video Sources - Blinkx

This video on blinkx is a definite must for my class since I put such a great emphasis on using the dictionary and third graders receive a free dictionary during the school year which they use every day in my classroom. I am starting to realize advertisements are the trade off to free products. At least these ads were student-friendly (so far).

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thing #7 Video Sources - Hulu

We study animal life cycles during science instruction. I like this video I found on The downside to Hulu is the advertisements (one I saw was about Las Vegas and not really kid-appropriate in my opinion). Also, students cannot search Hulu because while their are some educational videos, there is also some adult content.

Frog Life Cycle -- powered by

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thing #6 I Touch

Students at Woodview Elementary School have had the opportunity to use the itouch this past year. A very popular program allows them to practice multiplication and division problems (kids math fun - third grade and math cards are both good applications). Another great idea for using the itouch that I observed at another elementary school was a reading program that allowed students on different itouches to read stories. With a device that allows different students to plug headphones into a multi-jack, four students used the same device. They also have brainpop movies which is a program we use to analyze different subjects (I like the science episodes).

A great way for students to use the itouches in the library is use of the NASA application. My students each chose a planet to do a slideshow for. They conducted research on computers and could have used the NASA application for additional information.

Another cool application is the United States Geography by Discovery Education. My students are asked to compare and contrast different places in the U.S. (we, as a class, analyzed Alaska and Arizona, and each students did a Venn Diagram on the kidspiration program). This application could help students (most of mine have lived in Texas all their life) understand different types of geographical features.

There is a really cool application titled 101 + 10 new science experiments. It cost 3.99 so I did not download it but the demo lists a few of these experiments and they give one example of a detailed science experiment.

There are many different applications for students acquiring a new language (whether it be English, Spanish, French, American Sign Language, etc. This might be helpful in the bilingual classes as well as for ESL students (for that matter, any student could benefit from improved language and grammar skills).

Art Lite is a great art application for those interested in seeing great works of art (for are differentiated learners who love to use artistic skills to demonstrate understanding, this would be a fun app. explore. I would be careful with this one as some art can be suggestive of adult themes.

There are so many great apps. that they are too numerous to list. I think this is a great tool for differentiated learning and I am envious to today's students that have so much more information available to them than when I was their age.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thing #5 Facebook and Twitter

I feel very comfortable with this thing since I have been on facebook for a couple of years. I have not used twitter much, but I am familiar with the concept. Twitter makes me apprehensive because I am not a fan of these short messages. I feel misunderstandings are more likely to occur and grammar is sacrificed. My uncle, a senior partner of a manhattan law firm, taught me the importance of using proper English to gain respect of others. I was required to read and use Strunk and White like a bible as it pertains to correct grammar. I am worried today's students will not realize the importance of correct grammar and their writing will suffer. I do like the idea of using Twitter during meetings to ask a subtle question to a presenter. Maybe I am getting old because I feel Twitter is a "slang machine".

I have used Facebook in many ways both professionally and personally. I use it to keep up with the important events in SBISD as well as my church. I have also gotten back in touch with friends and colleagues from the past. There are many applications I have used for specific subject matter for my classroom. I learned more about Norway during multi-cultural awareness week, found information about weather, used an interesting word game to learn new vocabulary, etc.

I think it is important to use Facebook and Twitter to relate to today's student. This is the way they communicate. Writing a letter and sending it through the mail is not the way of today's youth. My students give me credibility when I can converse with them in subjects such as using Facebook and Twitter which in turn makes them more likely to demonstrate respect and focus in the classroom.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thing #4 Teacher Tube Videos

I took a humorous video I created for students at my school and added it to teacher tube. The advantage to a resource like teacher tube is that you have available ideas from teachers around the country (and probably other countries as well). Teachers, like students, have areas that they need improvement and I always look to others for help in my areas of need. When I try to explain a concept to my students and I find some struggle with it, I will bring in another member of the school community to explain it a different way. These videos can be researched by subject matter and I love the fact that teachers had to review my video before it was placed on the site. That gives me great trust in the safety of its use for my students.

It would also be great to put students' products (with parental/guardian permission of course) on the site. Students deserve and love recognition and posting their products shows their worth and builds self-confidence. Also, often times a student's perspective is easier for other students to relate to.

I think this would be a great way to share with schools that may be working on a particular subject. For example, we will be presenting information to other classes at our school about Israel as part of multi-cultural awareness week. I will search for videos that might provide information on this subject. I also believe teachers/students may have useful videos for use to view in math (ex. multiplication), science (ex. plant life cycles), language arts (ex. reading comprehension strategies) and social studies (ex. Harriet Tubman or Helen Keller).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thing #3 Skype

I was very excited to try Skype as my sister had recommended it. I registered and had a video conversation with her in England. The possibilities are limitless. Last year, my class compared weather in Alaska with Texas. Imagine if we could Skype with a classroom in Alaska and see for ourselves. Another example would be during our multi-cultural festival in which each grade teaches the school about a country. Our grade chose Israel. I think it would be amazing if we had a video conference with a class in Israel (we would have to figure out the time difference of course) and we had conversations about the similarities and differences between the two countries.

Skype would also be a wonderful way to have an author discuss their work. Or to have an expert on a subject (ex. a paleontologist discussing bones) to bring it closer to our students.

I checked out the other skype-like programs and found the original to be the most user friendly. Of course with practice, teachers and students could become adept at using different products. I think Skype and similar-type products give students hands on learning which sparks their interest and peaks their higher-order thinking skills.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Thing #2 Bookr

Bookr is very similar to a program I use on the apple iphoto program. Online books are a good alternative to making photo projects on paper or in albums. Online books encourage students to read and are easy to share with people around the world. This program works especially well since it incorporates the flickr program which is found on the SBISD library resources page. I did have difficulty finding my pictures that are on flickr but that is an easily solvable problem.

Thing #2 Voki

Here is my Voki Avatar. If I received a Voki in an e-mail, I would be highly likely to read it since it is eye-catching. The voice module is great for conveying messages. If you use your own voices, intonation and tone can help prevent misunderstandings that may occur is someone writes an e-mail in plain text. I know, on occasion, I have not been 100 percent sure of someone's meaning in an e-mail where hearing his/her voice would have been highly beneficial.

Get a Voki now!

Thing #2 Animoto

Create your own video slideshow at

This is the animoto slideshow I created from my family camping trip. Animoto does a nice job with adapting the pace of the slideshow with the music. I feel it is limited compared to other slideshow programs. I have not figured out how to perform a voiceover on each picture. The music compilation is limited and the maximum time allowed for free is 30 seconds. In my opinion, most teachers have limited funding available for these types of programs and rely heavily on free technology applications. Students can use this program to focus on visual imagery as a means of demonstrating understanding of the curriculum. For example, if a student was doing a project about the plant life cycle, they could take photographs outside their school, download them and use them in a animoto video slideshow. It can be useful, I just believe there are better slideshow programs that allow students a greater range of creative production.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Thing #2 Voice Thread

I think voice thread is going to be a great tool for science and social studies project which use visual imagery along with voice threads. I love the way the site is set up to protect the safety of our students limiting use but still letting them know that their work is worthy of publishing. I am always concerned about outside sources impacting the safety of our students. This website puts my concerns at ease by emphasizing that only educators, administrators and those invited may comment.

Thing #2 Glogster

Here is the link to my Glogster:

This will be really useful for students that learn best through artistic/technology skills. I like this program because it combines photos, videos, text and format skills.

Thing #2 Wordsift

birth brought civil come conceived created dead dedicate
dedicated detract devotion that died endure field final fought freedom and full gave god government great hallow increased larger liberty life little
living long man measure nation new
nobly person place portion proper remaining remember resolve score seven
take task unfinished us that war world

This is my Wordsift that I created by pasting the Gettysburg Address into the program. Similar to the Wordle, this program would be great for identifying main ideas of compositions as well as being useful for summarizing passages. I think I may use this at the beginning of the year to have students tell about themselves (ex. Mr. Allen teacher father husband, etc.).

Thing #2 Wordle

I created a wordle of the last 20 World Series Champions. A wordle is a great way for students to identify the main idea of a passage by listing important words used. The more often a word is used, the larger the font gets, so it is pretty obvious what the repeated terms are. In my example, the Yankees (my favorite team by the way - my parents are New Yorkers) are the largest font because they have won the most titles in that time span. I also think a wordle could be used to create an outline for students to make a summary from.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Thing #1 Comments

What are my thoughts about the student, the video and the teacher and her role? Can a Librarian play the role depicted in the video?

the student - Much of the preliminary actions the student takes for his project involve knowledge of the tools found on the internet. To make such actions possible, a teacher would need to ascertain the technology skills his/her students come to the classroom with. This student does a great job of setting the groundwork before actually doing the research, to make his research more fruitful/effective. The student makes a very important distinction between facts and opinions when he researches blogs.

the video - I love the way this video presenter explains things. I remember this style of video from 23 things and much of what it taught me stayed with me so I am excited to have more of these types of videos to learn from. I love the idea of connections being made, the challenge I encounter and is not mentioned yet in this video, is how to protect younger students (such as my third graders) from inappropriate material. I am sure 99 percent of all connectors have good intentions, but the risk of that one percent gives me great trepidation in giving them the freedom to connect.

the teacher - The teacher, in this example, acts as a facilitator (which to me seems consistent with this idea of connectivism) and allows the student to take charge of his learning. With the teacher taking a secondary role, this student does a great job of getting connected through blogs, research, websites, etc. thereby performing in the way the teacher wants him to without the teacher lecturing or doing it for him. I would like this year for my students to use mp3's for research and learning games. My third grade class has created projects that they post on a website I created for which they each have their own web page. I hope to allow them increased time to do this. However, we have COWs (computers on wheels) and are only able to get laptops once a week. I am hoping we can increase our use of technology in the classroom. This year, we got activboards and that has been a blessing as the students are able to use the board to demonstrate mastery of all different subjects as well as participate in learning games. The teacher in this example, plays a vital role in steering the student in the right direction when he gets stuck, models effective techniques and shows him how to differentiate between what is fact and what information may have a slant to it. Most importantly, she helps him love learning which he can take with him wherever he goes.

A librarian can and should play a vital role in this learning as they are responsible for important research materials, and, at our school, much of the technology used for learning is found in our library. The librarian can also help students to find different ways to demonstrate their understanding of the curriculum thereby encouraging differentiated learning.