While this is not my first time taking a look at Web 2.0 tools, this will be the first time I will take an in-depth look at them. One thing that really resonated with me as I was reading and learning this week was the fact that, unless they are used in the way intended, Web 2.0 tools are merely more information sources for students to use as “consumers.” Unless students are editing and adding content, expressing their own thoughts, and interacting with others, Web 2.0 tools are not new or innovative. As educators, we must be sure to expose and encourage the use of new Web 2.0 literacies in the classroom. Students must strive to collaborate with others and disperse their own knowledge and ideas. This is something that I think can often be lost in the classroom. Too often, I feel that educators think, “I have used a piece of technology. I am on the forefront of technological advancements in education.” However, if technology is only being use to display notes or project images onto a screen, they are little more than fancy blackboards. Educators have to work to make sure that students are using Web 2.0 tools in a way that is engaging and interactive.
In addition, I really connected with the informational article about disruptive classroom behavior. I think one thing that causes teachers to fear using new technology in the classroom is the fact that they are worried such tools will be a distraction and students will not attend to the subject matter teachers are trying to teach. The great thing about Web 2.0 tools is that it puts students in the driver’s seat. Instead of teachers delivering content, students take learning into their own hands and discover information on their own. Anything can cause a distraction in the classroom, from a pencil to a gum wrapper. The information available on the web cannot be matched, however. Teachers must understand that these new tools may make us feel as though we are losing control over our students a little bit, but that is a good thing because students are gaining control over their own education.
When reading over the pedagogical models, the one that made an impact on me was the SAMR. The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition model refers to teachers taking a look at how technology can impact teaching and learning. Given the fact that certain ideas really stuck with me during this week’s reading, this model also resonated. If Web 2.0 tools are not being used effectively, students are merely “consumers” of content. If students are simply seeking information and absorbing facts through their explorations online, they are not using Web 2.0 tools as they are truly intended. Students must interact with such technology, and teachers must encourage them to do so. By using the SAMR model, teachers can reflect on how well they are achieving such a goal.
For example, there is little difference between writing notes on a blackboard or white board and typing notes and displaying them on a screen. The screen is a simple “substitution” for the written notes. In addition, if an online tool only “augments” a lesson, it might make lessons more efficient, but does little to truly help immerse students into a technology-rich environment. “Modification” is the first step in transforming a classroom into one in which common, everyday tasks are completed using technology. In order for this to happen, there must be some significant functional change. For example, in addition to a written essay, students may also make an audio recording of the thoughts displayed in their writing. Finally, the ultimate goal is to “redefine” lessons in the classroom. When this happens, students are asked to complete tasks that would not be possible without technology. For example, students may be asked to take on the role of a global humanitarian and make a public service announcement video asking for help from fellow aide workers.
The following site truly helped me figure out more and understand the difference between the four levels of SAMR: https://sites.google.com/a/msad60.org/technology-is-learning/home. The site offers examples of lessons on each of the four levels within the model, example portfolios, and resources. I am excited to delve deeper into the assets offered on this site and use this model in the classroom.
Using Twitter for Networking (Twitter Handle: @lienhard_mary)
Over the course of the past week, I have followed and interacted with my EDIM 510 peers on Twitter. Through this week’s readings and during a previous course, I have come to have a new respect for Twitter as it relates to the educational field. When I initially signed up for my personal, private Twitter account, I did so to stay connected to friends, to see funny memes, and to get the latest celebrity and sports news. As a requirement for a previous course, I started a public, professional Twitter account. Throughout that course, I began to follow prominent educational blogs and regularly view their sites and value the resources they shared almost daily. I had yet, however, to form a true personal learning network with peers and colleagues. This week, I had the chance to do just that, and what a wonderful experience it was.
Over the course of this week, I attempted to stay in contact with my peers in EDIM 510. I attempted to ask questions, request important resources they use, discuss the use of Twitter in the classroom, and connect with each person at least once. Integral to well-functioning personal learning networks, I also shared information and resources that I have found to be helpful to me in my classroom. I truly value the information I obtained this week. I was able to, through some suggestions, follow a few new educational “experts” and also gain some insight into the use of Twitter to enhance communication with parents, students, and the community. I look forward to new and innovative ideas I will learn from following these new pages. I also hope to stay in contact with my peers, even when EDIM 510 is over, in order to continue to share information and resources. Sometimes, when we only reach out to and share with those in our school buildings or districts, we become a little closeminded. By reaching out to and communicating with those in other districts, states, and disciplines, we stand to learn a lot and gain a new sense of what it means to successfully engage with our students.
One failure or frustration I had this week was the fact that I think I became a little too obsessive with this task. When discussing the levels of personal learning networks, I think I fell into the “know it all” phase. I received so many notifications on my phone that it seemed like I was constantly checking to see what people had said or “liked” on my page. In the future, I think I will turn the notifications off on my phone. That way, I will only check my account occasionally or when I am on my computer. I don’t like to let social media, even if it is professional and educational, consume me.
Next year, I hope to use Twitter in my classroom. I would like for my students and their parents to follow my professional account in order to obtain news and interact with myself and others. I think Twitter will be a great place to post homework assignments, classroom news, and “thinking” questions to get students’ ideas flowing and to get them communicating and talking with each other. I would also really love to use Twitter as a way to showcase creative and interesting student learning that goes on throughout the day. I would love to take pictures of student work or video their presentations or group work for their parents and the community to see. (My school has all parents sign a media waiver, so that should apply to this as well, but I would, of course, ask parents if they minded me posting student work.) I do think I would need to monitor my account closely and remind students that all communication must follow school media and technology rules. That being said, I don’t think there will be a problem. I think students will enjoy communicating through Twitter and find it “cool” that I can connect with them using a tool that they use in their real life with their friends. I’m definitely excited to see where Twitter can take communication in my classroom next year!
BLOG READING AND CRITIQUES
“Taking Students’ Grammar to the Next Level” on Discovery Education (Blog URL: http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2015/05/05/taking-student-grammar-to-the-next-level/)
This blog post is aimed at helping grammar teachers use a specific tool to better their students’ grammar skills. The tool Grammarly, though not free, is a tool that helps students practice and refine their grammar skills in order to improve their writing and reading. The blog post notes that Grammarly can help teachers identify common grammar mistakes and help students practice and refine their skills. The post also boasts that the tool can help teachers quickly and easily evaluate student writing. The post is advertising that, in May 2015, Grammarly was giving away a number of free subscriptions. While not helpful to its current audience, it could spark the idea that Language Arts teachers might attempt to requisition district funds for the tool. The blog, directed at Language Arts teachers, is written in formal but easy to understand writing style. Because it is discussing a specific tool, it is written in a persuasive manner to encourage teachers to use Grammarly. All of the comments from teachers on this post point out how much technology has helped them engage students and differentiate lessons in their classrooms. Almost every single comment pointed out that student learning has been enhanced by the use of meaningful technology resources.
“2 Excellent Tools to Help Students with Their Writing” on Educational Technology and Mobile Learning (Blog URL: http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2017/03/2-excellent-tools-to-help-students-with.html)
This blog post is aimed at helping Language Arts teachers by suggesting two new tools to help students with their writing. Because the two tools were created by an English teacher, they come across as being more credible and useful. The first tool is called Word Counter. It can help improve word choice and writing style, and also help to detect grammar mistakes and plagiarism. The second tool is called Grammar Check. This tool will automatically check grammar usage and spelling and then suggest changes to improve student writing. The blog post gives links to both tools, tells how to use them, and allows the reader to try them both. The writing style is informal and informational. There were no comments from users on this blog post, as most readers probably quickly read the information and then went to try the tools immediately, as did I. Certainly, the tools and information provided in this post would help improve student learning, as they could use these tools on their own and their writing could further develop.
“9 Ways to Increase Parent Engagement Using Media” on The Innovative Educator (http://tinyurl.com/SxSWEduParentEngagement)
This blog post is aimed at helping teachers increase ongoing parent engagement, which is an essential piece of building a positive culture of digital citizenship in schools. The post gives nine tips for including parents in the learning process. Among others, some of those nine tips entail making policies with parents, asking parents how they prefer to receive information, and meeting parents on their level and using their language. All of the suggestions in the post are simple and easy for teachers to incorporate throughout the school year. The blog post also provides links to certain tools teachers can use as resources that can also be shared with parents and families. The writing style of this post is both informal and informational. The post ends by asking the questions, “What do you think? Are these ideas that would be effective where you work? Why or why not? Have you tried any of these ideas? Any ideas missing?” These questions invite readers to comment and interact with the blogger, a key aspect of a well-written blog. There were several comments from readers noting that the tips were useful and even sharing a few resources of their own.
“The State of Digital Citizenship” on This and That (http://jcastelhanothisandthat.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-state-of-digital-citizenship.html)
This blog post seems to be aimed at educators, both in the classroom and in administration. The post attempts to have a conversation about the interaction of students and technology in the classroom. The blogger notes that, “We can no longer ignore that the number of student devices in the classroom is on the rise.” The fact that many schools are moving towards 1:1 device policies or “bring your own device” policies, combined with the decreased cost of mobile devices, means that digital citizenship must be taught and addressed. The post notes that teachers can no longer ignore the student use of devices and should, instead, embrace the use of technology moving forward in order to use it in a way that enhances and improves the educational process. If we expect our students to be responsible digital citizens, we must teach them how to do so. As this blogger notes, technology is no longer a “once-a-week” activity, but something that must be incorporated and embedded in the learning environment. This blog is written in a little more of a formal style than the other posts and is persuasive in the sense that the writer is trying to urge readers to use technology more in their classrooms, if they are not already embedding it in learning. Perhaps its more formal tone is the reason there were no comments left by readers.
So what do all of these blogs have in common? For the most part, blogs are written for a very specific audience, in this case, educators. They are mostly informal, using slang and everyday language in order to engage readers. It is the goal of bloggers to begin a dialogue among those who visit their sites. Many ask questions and urge readers to comment with their thoughts on a given subject. Reading blogs is different from other types of reading in a few ways. First, it is done entirely online. It is also community-building. The informal style of most blogs helps readers connect with the poster. Readers from around the country or the globe can feel connected by reading and interacting on a blog. In turn, it seems that writing blog entries is perhaps more fun than formal writing. Posters can share their thoughts and converse with their audience. They can use slang and not worry about being formally critiqued. They value the comments from their readers and hope to reach them in a way that enhances their craft. The blogs analyzed above all attempt to improve student learning. They provide information to help educators and, in many cases, provide useful resources for educators to use in the classroom.
Creating a Podcast : I really do not think I am someone who will take up creating podcasts. I’m just not fond of hearing myself in audio recordings. That being said, creating my Padlet in the Classroom podcast was not all bad. I was able to find a new tool and research it enough to know that it is something I would like to use in my classroom in the future. I think Padlet is a really great tool for collaboration and would like to try using it next year for group work, perhaps during novel study groups. However, the process of creating my podcast was not easy. After creating an account on Ipadio, I was given a number to call and a pin in order to record my podcast using my phone. I tried to call the number numerous times over the course of an hour. Each time I called, I received a message that all signals were busy. This was frustrating because I had a short window of “quiet time” (also known as “baby nap time”) in my house in order to be able to record my podcast. Finally, I decided to use my computer voice recorder to create my audio file, but I don’t think the sound quality is as good as it would have been if I had been able to record using my phone. Frustrations aside, I’m happy I got the opportunity to try my hand at podcast creation. While I don’t think it’s something I’d do in the future, I do see the value in learning how to do so and could maybe even see attempting to have students do it one day. (Podcast URL: http://ipad.io/7z5dpfz)
RSS feeds, or Real Simple Syndication/Rich Site Summary feeds, are beneficial to anyone who takes the time to aggregate information. Spending time visiting site after site on a daily basis, or even more than once a day, can waste an enormous amount of time. I do this with social media sometimes. “Let me check Facebook to see if anyone has something new to share. Let me go over and scroll through Instagram. It’s been ten minutes, maybe someone posted on Facebook now.” A person could spend all day going back and forth between different websites looking for new information. RSS feeds solve that issue where things like news websites and blogs are concerned. The use of RSS feeds helps users simplify the way they view the internet. It is no longer necessary to click on every page to see if new content has been added. Instead, users subscribe to their favorite sites on an RSS feed, such as Feedly, and then only have to visit their Feedly account to see if any new information has been added to those sites. With one click of a button, all of the new posts are there. What a simple and efficient way to organize and consume information on the internet!
For students, RSS feeds can also be helpful. Such feeds provide an easy way for them to subscribe to and read their peers’ blogs. They can then spend more time interacting with each other when there are new posts, instead of spending that time searching through page after page looking for new content. Students could also subscribe to teachers’ blogs. When teachers have an announcement, they can post it on their blogs and know that all of their students will see it, thanks to their RSS feeds. Students can obtain current information and not have to worry about wading through endless pages of useless or outdated material. In turn, not only can teachers subscribe to educational and professional sites, but they can also subscribe to their students’ blogs in order to view up-to-date content they have added to their pages.
If blog writing is to be done in the classroom, RSS feeds really should be used. They will organize sites and allow everyone to save time and view new content when it has been newly created and written.
Critical Evaluation Google Slideshow Presentation URL: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1I3xrElKyYecEAG6FCr56lLcmmTyI-Y9Mp84MshsDqBo/edit?ts=58dd34f0#slide=id.p
When asking students to perform research online, it is important that we teach them how to find reputable and reliable resources. Teaching sixth grade, I find that most of my students are performing real research for the first time in my classroom. I usually try to give them a few sites I would like them to use for a project, but I don’t think all teachers do this. That is why I chose to ask this question of other educators, and my suspicions were correct. As my survey results show, not all teachers give students reliable and informative websites to use for research purposes. To be fair, some of the teachers who answered the survey may teach students in higher grade levels who can already determine good resources from poor ones. However, for this reason, I think it is important to teach students how to critically evaluate their sources. In my slideshow, I chose to add simple critical evaluation information because my classroom will most likely be the first time students hear about the concept, and I don’t want to overwhelm them. I chose to present students with a few important questions they should ask themselves when evaluating a site and also show them how to work backwards to get back to a main webpage to see if it is reliable. We all know that there is a lot out there on the internet that cannot be believed. Students must know and understand how to separate the fact from the fiction.
In addition, it is important to teach students about creative commons licensing. First and foremost, they need to understand that they cannot just copy and paste any image they find. In sixth grade Language Arts, we talk about the negative effects of plagiarism when writing, but sometimes fail to mention that the same problems can occur if images are copied without using appropriate citations. Students should know how to search for and use various types of pictures. In addition, they should know how to license their own work, should they create it. They should know how to protect themselves and their creative efforts. While I have not taught about creative commons licenses before, I will be sure to incorporate it into my plagiarism lessons in the future.
Let's Get Ready for the PSSAs!! Click this link to see a Thinglink to help you prepare. https://www.thinglink.com/scene/905858895036022785
Student Presentations - The Possibilities are Endless! Who knew there were so many options (other than PowerPoint) where student presentations were concerned? In this blog post, I talk about two new tools I tried this week, Thinglink and Adobe Spark. I can't wait to use some new presentation tools with my students, and I know my students will be excited when they see the new ways in which they can showcase their knowledge. http://misslslearningspot.blogspot.com/2017/04/student-presentations-possibilities-are.html
Spark Video URL: https://spark.adobe.com/video/OnSEkSYL2uEhe
Statistical Infographic (made using Google Drawings)
This is a second, and in my opinion, better version of the statistical infographic.
Creation of a Google Timeline: https://goo.gl/photos/sioeY6cnJyKQvh95A Creating a Google Timeline was fun, once I got the hang of it. I think students would enjoy creating their own timelines. All students in my district already have a Google account, so such an assignment would be possible. I could see students creating a timeline at the end of the year to highlight all of the important things they learned in sixth grade. Such an activity could be a self reflection for students to assess their year and their learning. I could also incorporate timeline creation into Language Arts lessons. When learning sequence of events, students could be assessed of their understanding by creating timelines related to stories they have read in class. The ease of sharing a Google timeline would make it easy for me to assess their understanding. I also think such an activity would be a great way to teach students about creative common licenses. Part of the sixth grade curriculum centers around proper citations and usage of copyrighted materials. Because we learn about sequence of events early in the year, pairing it with a lesson in proper usage of materials would work well.
Sixth Graders and Infographics? At first, I thought, no way. This is difficult, and the end-product is not attractive. After some trial and error, I learned that infographics can be fun to make and are a visually appealing way of displaying information. Read my thoughts on using infographics in my class on my blog post. http://misslslearningspot.blogspot.com/2017/04/sixth-graders-and-infographics.html
Viewing Videos Through the Eyes of A Student. What would a student think if they viewed a video about advancing technology? In this blog post, I try to put myself in the mind of a student and try to understand new, emerging technology from their point of view. http://misslslearningspot.blogspot.com/2017/04/viewing-through-eyes-of-student.html
Help Us Connect! This public service announcement was made from a student's point of view. It urges teachers to support students in their fight to get more technology in their schools. The "student" who created the video is asking teachers to sign a petition and attend a school board meeting to support their fight. https://spark.adobe.com/video/5W5xJyR6Hg6tk