Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label technology. Show all posts

Thursday, October 11, 2012

5 Tech Tips for Teachers...TTT

Using technology is scary. Putting it in play in our class often strikes fear. In my building I have colleagues who have never used their interactive whiteboard for anything more than a movie screen. I have watched expensive tools be purchased, and then serve as coat racks. Some of that fear could be alleviated with a few helpful tips. Most of what I believe helps is planning and prep related. So here we go.

5. Pretend you are a student. One common mistake I find is that teachers create an assignment using technology, but they never view it through the eyes of the students. For example, if I am going to use a web tool like Kidblog, I always run through what it will look like for the student. Often a teacher/administrator screen will look different than the students. Create a fake student, and run through things to familiarize yourself with how things look. This is so helpful when it comes time to troubleshoot or answer questions.

4. Focus Your Attack. Daily the amount of tools, websites, and resources grows. When you first enter the game, limit yourself to tools that are recommended. I follow FreeTech4Teachers for reviews and recommendations. Start small and use what is already working for others.

3. Expect Problems. Because technology is a tool, it will have it limitations and things will fail at times. It's like my snow shovel that has a broken handle. This is the place where most people quit. Use these times of frustration to grow as a teacher. We don't expect our kids to quit when things get hard....

2. Invest In the Savvy. Kids will pick things up quicker than you. If you give them freedom, kids will explore and grow in the technology you give them. Find the kids that pick things up quickly and invest in them. They will most likely become helpers that you can send around the room to lead the lost. This saves you so much time!

1. Allotted Time. The biggest problem I find is planning the time out for using technology. When you introduce a new tool or piece of technology it will take more class time than you expect. This happens to me all the time. I find a new web tool I want to put in play, and I run ahead of myself. (I often discover it at 8am and try to use it at 9am). Take your time learning the technology, and take your time putting it into practice. Your students will be more successful if you go slow...

What are your tips for putting technology into practice? Leave a comment to share your knowledge.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reinventing Play with Kids

I never thought the day would come when the natural instinct in kids to play would diminish. When I talk about play I mean the interaction between kids. What kids call "playing" today is nothing more then self entertainment. With cellphones, ipods, and other personal devices (all of which I enjoy to a point) kids can pass the time through endless apps, games, and other means entertainment. There are great educational uses for all these things, but what I have seen in my students is a loss of group play. My students have trouble constructing meaningful play with their classmates. The case for this is the days my students have indoor recess. I have a closet full of games, puzzles, and other activities that they can use. The problem I have found is that most of them are unfamiliar with group play. They do not know how to get from boredom to fun game time with friends. Because of this conundrum, I have had to walk kids through playing games together. I have to physically get on the floor, help set up, explain the rules, and facilitate a game. Once I do this, the students have a blast and will play the game for days. Then I can work my way out of the picture, and help some other kids make the same jump.

How do you battle a world that is calling our kids to only value self entertainment? Would love to hear your thoughts.

*I am in no means against technology. I am against my students losing the ability to interact as kids, which will form how they interact with others throughout their lives.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tech-nically Speaking #30 Goals

My life as a teacher has taken a major turn. Usually when people talk about things taking a turn, it is in the negative light. My turn has been for the good. Here at my school, we now have a mobile lab up and running (and I have conveniently parked it in my classroom). This has opened a whole new world to my classroom. We can now use technology on our time to enhance or supplement our classroom material.
Here is a snap shot of our day, now that each child can use a laptop.
*Instead of Saxon Math Fact worksheets every morning ---> We now use to practice our facts and track our progress.
*Instead of hand written journals ---> We now use to journal and document our thoughts.
*We also use to vote on different questions, discuss reading group questions, and gather resources from other classrooms.
*We often visit to practice for PSSA and Terra Nova Testing. This site hits on state standards along with the upcoming Common Core Standards.
*With an update to the laptops, we hope to continue to help pilot Sokikom. Sokikom is a new math site that takes kids on missions and allows them collaborate in standards based math games.
*This week we used Wordle to create word clouds that describe penguins, which was a theme in one of our recent reading stories. We have also followed the live webcam of the penguins at California Academy of Sciences.
*My students have also learned how to import a picture into Microsoft Word to use for a descriptive paragraph assignment. We used the safe picture site called Pics4Learning.
*Did you know writing an email is part of the state standards? Pretty cool! We have been using the ever popular site, Epals, to write emails and communicate with another classroom in Texas.
Other sites we love: ReadingEggs, Sumdog, NLVM, SpellingCity, and Voicethread.

As I write this, I realize I could have my students using technology all day long. There is a balance we are working towards, and the kids certainly enjoy all the variety of sites we have been using. In the future, we may have to limit the amount of screen time, and not lose the value of discussions, debate, and physical collaboration. For now, the excitement is high here in our class.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Make Math Fun: 3 Sites You Should Try

Teaching math can often lean towards drill and kill. I know this because our current program, Saxon Math, spirals the teaching of math facts throughout 2nd and 3rd grades. The truth of the matter is that kids need to know their math facts. The annoying part is finding a great substitute for piles of worksheets. So taking action as inspired by TeachPaperless here are some sites that are great alternatives to worksheet overkill:
  • XtraMath: A simple site that allows your students to quickly practice facts. It is timed. It tracks results and emails you their progress. A breakdown of mastered facts is an essential part of the program. Kids can access anywhere, and log in is a breeze.
  • Sumdog: A game based site that allows students to complete challenges and competitions created by their teacher. Kids can play against other classmates, students worldwide, or against the computer. A variety of games and topics gives kids a challenge and keeps their interest.
  • Sokikom: This site is still in "beta" and my class in the middle of being a pilot for the creator. From what I have seen so far, this site is full potential. It takes students on missions to complete solo or cooperatively. As quoted from the site, "Sokikom has designed the games using the principles of guided, discovery-based and situated learning. Our games contain learning objectives derived from the latest National Council of Teachers of Mathematics curriculum focal points with activities aligned to the new Common Core State Standards." More to come on this.....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Have a Couch? #30goals

I love the latest 30 Goals Challenge: Change Your Environment, mostly because I have an obsession with changing things in my room with the hope to foster better learning. I consider it like Edison and his hundreds of failed attempts at the light bulb. Change, reflect, tweek, and repeat.
Here are some major changes in my classroom that I have done and enjoyed:
  • No Desk Friday. This is a simple tool to get kids out of their seats and moving about the room. They have a spot for the entire day that serves as their learning spot. As you know, I teach 2nd grade, so this is a big deal to them.
  • Get a Couch. Won't kids abuse it? I think you would be surprise how well kids can handle objects with respect and care. You certainly have to set up some guidelines, but kids thrive when they take ownership. The couch serves as a place to read and do group activities. My other "fun places" include: the closet which is a small nook with it's own light, the bean bag corner, and under my desk. Since these are sought after places, I have to draw names when we do silent reading time in the room.
  • Around the School Scavenger Hunts. I stole this idea from Ron Clark. I got the secretary, the janitor, and a few teachers to be key players in our traveling scavenger hunt related to our book, The BFG by Roald Dahl. They held the next sealed part of the riddle, that would in turn take us on another hunt. It was a real blast, and when it was done the kids looked at me and said, "Is it really over?" The cool part was at the same time, our partner class in Louisiana was doing the same hunt, and Mrs. Thompson got the same reaction. We both agreed that we needed to create another riddle hunt in future.
  • Surveying and Interviewing is a fun and exciting activity that gets my students outside of the room and interacting with other students in the school. The kids use our class Ipod loaded with the app, PollDaddy (see my review on IEAR) to browse the hall, ask survey questions and create bar graphs from the data they gather. The kids also started using our Flip Video camera this week to interview students about Abraham Lincoln. We will combine the clips at early next week and make a highlight video of all the short facts and tidbits. We plan to post and send out to the other classes in the school to see our handiwork.
These are just a few of the things going on my class. I would love to hear the cool changes in your classroom. Post a link so I can read and see your learning environment.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weeks 6-Something Using Technology

It's been a long time since I talked about my tech. use.

Here is a quick update.

I have found some sweet apps to use on my Ipod Touch. Kid Favorites:
The World (Kids look up facts about a specific country)
Train Conductor 1 and 2 (Kids favorite game with a nice twist of strategy and quick thinking)
Mathster (Fast, Easy to Use, and Reinforces fact families)

My favorites:
Evernote (I have my students record their Dolch lists so I can review on my time)
Chorepad (I have a new student track their classmates class job completion)
Read Me Stories (I have my students look and listen to stories)

Ones I am looking to use once I get Wifi:
Tales to Go
Dragon Dictation
Discovery News

I also took advantage of the deal on 2 Flip Cameras for $150. I got one for my class and donated the second to the school to use. Starting today, the camera is out on loan to a student for an extra credit project. She is recording a tour of her house, having use meet her family, and is going to interview her brother. This is just the first of 5 kids who are completing the requirements to take the video camera home and use for an extra credit project.
Other projects kids are doing:
- Recording a weekend trip
- A Tour of My Town
-Meet the High School Wrestlers

I am really excited to see what they come up with!

I also applied for a grant to get an IPAD for my classroom. Keep your fingers crossed.

How have you been using technology the past two months? What is your plan of action for the New Year?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Weeks 3-5 Using Technology

I have to say the IPOD TOUCH is getting used a lot. It has really helped me achieve my goal of using technology to stimulate learning. So the past three weeks, I have been trying a couple of things.
  • I picked up a cheap microphone for the touch. Now I have kids record themselves reading books. They absolutely love it. I can then listen back to the recordings to hear their reading. The recordings reveal fluency, expression, self-correcting, sounding out words, and other strategies. I am also surprised at how it builds confidence.
  • I have also started using the touch for one of my learning centers. I downloaded the Brain Quest App and now the students work together through various games and subjects to achieve a high score. The kids have done a great job taking care of the Ipod without my close supervision and they are learning across all subject areas.
  • We have been tapping into the awesome videos on United Streaming. There is a large collection of books that can be downloaded, converted to ipod videos, and easily synced to the touch. The kids love watching the videos.
  • I started using Kidblog (Thanks Rich) with a few of my students, and I hope to have them all blogging by Christmas.
  • I have also been having my students access our 2nd Grade Wordpress page for our computer center. The kids love it and with frequent updates, they are usually engaged for a solid 40 minutes on the learning activities I post.
  • One thing I have been using with my parents to show class needs is our easily updated wall over at Wallwisher. Parents can see what things we need and what items have been completed. Check it out here.
I am sure I am missing a few things here and there, but this is a sufficient update. How have you used technology in your class? Got some good tips for 2nd grade use, please leave a comment.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Responding in Kind

As I get adjusted to my new class and peep a bit down at next year's class, one thing seems to evident. That thing is the necessary response for teachers to understand the ever evolving world and culture that our students are growing up within. Example: Last year I had one or two students that were really pushing to get a cellphone for Christmas. This year I already have students sharing a cellphone plan with their parents and it is an Iphone. I also have students who came into 2nd grade with Facebook accounts. Oh and I forgot to mention that they have Ipod Touches, Nintendo DSis, and many other gadgets.
The reason there needs to be a teacher response is that we are fooled if we believe that we can just copy last year's program (and who knows how many years before that). There is a new class of students, that is evolving rapidly, that is connected, tech savvy, and ultimately bent towards visual and interactive learning. Our response cannot be more lecture, more paper based learning, and ancient games like Number Munchers (I used to live for this game!).
If we can, we need to respond with educationally based tech tools that the kids are familiar with. We need to find ways to bring value to the Ipod Touch, the cellphone, the Wii, the DSi, and so on. I am not saying that we reject practices that are proven to be effective, but most likely we are holding on to "sacred cows" that could be replaced with tools designed to make learning more relevant and exciting.
I believe that anyone that plans to stick around in education for awhile will fall into two groups. They will either fight against this growing wave with ancient practice or they will respond in kind, armed with evolving tools for evolving students. Please meet me with your weapons in tow!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weeks 1-2 Using Technology

We officially have two 4 day weeks in. It was such a blast for me. After I got through all the get to know you and routine preaching, I was able to really focus on my goal for the year: Use Technology to Strengthen Learning.
Earlier this week, we got to use our newly acquired I-Pod Touch (thanks PTO). I loaded up a great video from a podcast favorite of mine: BestofYouTube (screen all videos before showing). We watched: The Happiest DJ in the World. The kids took notes during the video of the funny things the DJ did. Once the video was done (we watched it twice), we worked on a Hamburger Paragraph about the DJ. The kids absolutely loved it. Even my reluctant writers didn't realize they were having so much fun writing a 5 sentences paragraph.
Today we got to make use of the Nintendo Wii. It is one of my learning centers for the next week. The group of students played the highly addictive, WordJong and tried to solve the daily puzzle. When they were done, they woite down their word list and handed it in. They used word building skills, teamwork, beginning and ending sounds, just to name a few. I let them use their QuickWords dictionary too, which helped build their dictionary skills. The game tracks their score and if they completed the daily puzzle. This was also really fun, and every kid was figuring out how many days until they were at that center.
I also had my computer center accessing our class website all week at:

Stay tuned for more.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

IPod Touch Help

So after a lot of research and input from my awesome PLN, I decided to buy an IPOD Touch with the $200 that our PTO gave us. Now I need just a little more help. What would be the best ways to use this little gem with 2nd grade students?

Leave a comment here or use the hash tag #200spend on Twitter.

Maybe you could lead me to some sites for educators using the IPOD Touch.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Writing with Picture Prompts

I may have mentioned before that I teach in a very rural area. By rural, I mean that students have driven tractors to the high school (no joke). Because my school is rural, we can sometimes be a bit behind on technology. As of last year these are my classroom tools:
  • 3 Classroom Computers with one printer (no extra gadgets!)
  • 1 Overhead Projector
As the year went on I realized that maybe I should try to incorporate some of my own technology into the the class. The best tool I had was an Ipod Classic. I also had an A/V cord that connected my Ipod to the TV.

Now I wanted to get my kids writing, and I was almost as bored as they were of cheesy sentence prompts. I wanted to give them something visual. I did a search for picture prompts, and the best thing I could find was a selection of mystery pictures by Chris Van Allsburg from his book, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

I used the pictures and the kids loved it. (Here is a slideshow of pictures)

As I looked around a bit more, I realized there wasn't a whole lot that was labeled for pictures prompts (at least that would come up in a google search). Then by some luck, I stumbled upon MNBC's Week in Pictures. This is a great site, because they give you some amazing pictures every week. Here are a few I used with my students:

The site will give you captions and a little context, but you can also just have the kids make up what they think is happening or is going to happen.

All you have to do is save the pictures, and project them (I used my Ipod). The kids will have a blast. It is open ended so the creativity can explode.

Enjoy. Let me know your results.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Can't! (Will Richardson Video)

I love and agree with what Will Richardson has to say in this video. I fully believe that this new paradigm shift in connectedness and networking is here to stay. I think it is changing the classroom whether we accept it or not. Here is where you respond. You are passionate and ready to roll out a plan of action using blogs, twitter, social bookmarking, and online video. When you get to school with your outline for the year, you realize everything you want to use is blocked. You have to make a request for approval. What do you say to the principal whose technology baths have only included email?