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