Teacher, Librarian, Mom, Wife
I am a middle school librarian in the Palmyra Area School District. Before I became the librarian, I taught sixth grade social studies and language arts. I am a mom to 10-year-old twin boys that keep me very busy. I enjoy reading, cooking, traveling, and spending time with my husband and sons.
Unit 1: Introduction to Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is not new to me, but I found Kathy Schrock’s video enlightening as she highlighted a ton of online tools that I never knew existed. Anytime I am introduced to new online tools that I can use in the classroom, I find myself getting overwhelmed pretty quickly. Obviously, I can’t incorporate all of them into my classes, but there were definitely a few online tools that stood out to me as possibilities that I’d like to use. Some of the online tools that I’d like to learn more about and possibly include in my classes are Coggle (a mind mapping tool), Canva (an infographic tool), Penzu (online publishing tool), Zinepal (online e-book tool), and Haiku Deck (online presenting tool). I do appreciate all the online tools mentioned by Schrock in her video. I think she provided some valuable information and gave me some new ideas to look into as I explore new online tools for my classes.
I enjoyed reading all the articles in this unit, but the article that I found to be the most interesting was “Burp, Chatter, Tweet: New Sounds in the Classroom.” This article spoke to me because my school is about to embark on the 1:1 journey with iPads next year. Many of the issues and distractions that were mentioned in the article are concerns that myself and many other teachers in my building have as we move into the 1:1 world. Many of us have already encountered some of the issues – gaming and taking pictures, to name a few – during instruction time with the technology that we already have available to us. These behaviors have left us wondering how to manage student behavior and manage classes with the implementation of 1:1 when all students have technology readily available at their fingertips all the time. This article did a nice job highlighting how other teachers have taken the use of technology in their classrooms in stride. The message I took away from this article is that when students are engaged, technology won’t be a hindrance but rather it will be a catalyst to learning. When the technology is used appropriately, it can be a great addition to any classroom. There are so many online tools out there for our use and any of them, when used correctly, can aid in the learning process.
Galagan, P. (2010, July). Burp, chatter, tweet: New sounds in the classroom. T+D, 26-29.
Schrock, K. (2015). Teaching, learning, and creating with online tools [Video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/121203978
In my classroom, I apply Bloom’s taxonomy regularly. There are several ways I use digital tools to support teaching and learning in my classes that incorporate Bloom’s. My school is very Google driven. My students are constantly in their Google Drive using Google Docs, Forms, and Slides. I also use other digital tools like Kahoot, Popplet, PowToon, Educreations, iMovie, and Prezi, just to name a few, that aid in teaching and learning.
I often use a Google Doc as an exit slip or ticket out the door for students to quickly recall information from the day’s lesson. This is a quick way for me to assess them and it covers the knowledge part of Bloom’s. As a brainstorming activity or to review information learned, I like to use mind-mapping sites like Popplet. I also like to review information by incorporating gaming into my classes by using sites like Kahoot and sometimes, Socrative and/or Quizlet. Activities like these cover the comprehension part of Bloom’s. Application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation are covered, too, by a variety of activities that incorporate the use of digital tools. I’ve had students apply what they’ve learned through the creation of Educreations where they explain a concept. I’ve also had students create cartoons using PowToon, again to explain and/or to demonstrate what they’ve learned. Students in my classes have used iMovies to act out skits and Prezi and Google Slides to present information to their classmates. I’ve also used Google Forms as a quiz to evaluate student learning.
Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom's taxonomy: An overview. Theory Into Practice, 212-218.
Unit 2: Twitter
I signed up for a Twitter account about two years ago because I needed it for a professional development in-service that was required by my district. I must admit, after signing up for Twitter, I never used it except for the one time I was required to do so. I found Twitter confusing and never really took the time to learn it. Last year, I attended Pete & C and I decided to go to a session on Twitter since I knew a refresher would be good for me. After attending the session, I had a better understanding of how to use Twitter and actually started following people – some friends and some professionals. I still don’t tweet too much but do enjoy following others. I see Twitter as an excellent PLN and a great way to share a quick thought or idea.
This week, I followed my classmates and participated in a couple different conversations on Twitter. I asked a question about PLN and how others use it in their classes. I tried my best to be cognizant to what others posted and respond when I felt I had something to contribute to the conversation.
My biggest success this week was actually sending out a tweet and tweeting back and forth with my classmates. I must admit, before I sent my first tweet, I had to ask a colleague of mine how to send one. After I was more comfortable sending tweets, I enjoyed it. As I mentioned above, I never really sent tweets before, so I’m feeling pretty accomplished with myself.
Failures and Frustrations
My biggest challenge this week was figure out what I wanted to say in 140 characters or less. There were more than a few times that I started typing something only to run out of characters, forcing me to come up with another way to say what I wanted to say. In reading other tweets this week, I noticed that many used abbreviations or were creative in the text they used. I do think that the more I use Twitter the better I’ll get at saying what I want to say within the character limit.
I would like to use Twitter next year in my classes. I think Twitter would be an excellent way to send out a quick reminder about homework or an upcoming test/quiz. I could also use it as a tool to communicate with parents. Before I try this new venture, I do need to continue using Twitter myself so that I can continue to feel more comfortable with it.
My Twitter handle: louiseleach810
Unit 3: Blogs and Podcasting
Blog Readings, Overview, and Thoughts
“Creating and Maintaining a Positive Classroom Culture (Part1)” from the Discovery Education blog.
(URL - http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2016/12/05/creating-and-maintaining-a-positive-classroom-culture-part-1/)
This blog is geared towards helping teachers create a positive classroom environment. I think we all want a classroom that is welcoming to our students and fosters learning in a non-threatening way where students feel they can speak, share ideas, and take risks. Several tips were offered in the blog:
1. Get to know your students – Call them by the correct name and have students complete a survey about their likes and dislikes. This allows for you to make connections with your students and it shows them that you care.
2. Greet students at the door – Say “hi” and shake their hand or give them a high five. Ask them how their day is going. It shows them, again, that you care and you are being nice, something we want all our students to be.
3. Listen to your students – Thoughtfully pay attention to what your students are saying. When students respond with an answer, instead of rephrasing what they said, ask them some probing questions about their response.
4. Call home – This is a great way to build positive relationships with families. Call home to share the great things your students are doing.
5. Be clear and consistent – Students like structure. Rules and expectations need to be consistently enforced and communicated on a daily basis.
6. Embody the “key messages” including, this is important, you can do it, I’m not going to give up on you, and effective effort leads to achievement.
This blog is part one of three. The other two parts cover additional ways to create and maintain a positive classroom culture.
“12 Insta Easy Instagram Library & Literacy Promotion Ideas” from The Daring Librarian blog.
(URL - http://www.thedaringlibrarian.com/2017/03/12-insta-easy-instagram-library.html)
This blog post is about how you can incorporate the use of Instagram into the library. Twelve excellent tips were provided in the blog. One tip is to use Instagram to promote books. You can use Instagram stills and up to 60 seconds of video to create your book promotion. I struggle incorporating literature appreciation because I just don’t have the time, but this is short and engaging to students and it seems like something I can easily find the time to do. I also love the #BookDropLife tip. I can easily take a picture of the popular books that are returned and post to Instagram so that students can come in and grab those books. I also like the tip of taking pictures of students reading around the library. Again, it’s easy to take a picture quickly and post it to Instagram. I can use this as a library promotion to get students into the library and to showcase some of the books in my collection.
“Important Tech Mindfulness Strategies to Share With Students” from the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog.
(URL - http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2017/03/important-tech-mindfulness-strategies.html)
This blog posts a very interesting question – Is social media similar to other types of addiction? While the verdict is still out on that question, social media practices, like getting a like on Facebook trigger areas in the brain similar to those activated by drugs and alcohol. The blog gives some excellent tips on how to control and manage your digital life. Some of the tips include only using one device at a time, avoiding screen time before bed, keeping your phone away from your bed and using an alarm clock, and setting time limits for web browsing, just to name a few. I think these are excellent tips and something we should all be mindful of on a daily basis when using technology.
“5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class” from The Innovative Educator blog.
(URL - https://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.ie/2012/07/5-reasons-to-allow-students-to-use-cell.html)
While this blog post is older (from 2012), I think the reasons mentioned in the blog are still relevant today. This blog post discusses five reasons to allow students to use cell phones in class:
1. Students should be able to use cell phones because our job is to prepare them for life beyond school and that life involves cell phones.
2. Schools are facing budget issues. We should use the technology already available to most students – their own cell phones.
3. Cell phones, or any mobile device, teach 21st century skills.
4. Administration uses cell phones/iPads when they come in classrooms to check email and to conduct observations. If they can use this technology, why can’t our students?
5. We need to teach students the responsible way to use technology. If we prohibit them from using technology because we are worried about their safety, we are denying them the opportunity to teach them the responsible way to use it. Students are using them anyway, so why ban cell phones?
I’m sure these five reasons have been discussed by many school districts when deciding if BYOD or going 1:1 is the right choice. I know my own school district has discussed some of these reasons and ultimately it was decided that going 1:1 is the right choice.
The blogs I read are for the same audience - educators. Most, if not all, of the content in the blogs related to the education field. I thought the content of most of the blogs touched upon a variety of different subjects, but all content was pretty valuable to any educator, from preschool teachers to high school teachers to college professors and even administrators. The writing style of most of the blogs is informal, but I think that is appropriate. I find most blogs (not just educational ones) are more casual than formal, but that’s the nature of a blog. I think most blogs are easy to read, easier than reading an educational journal or even a newspaper. I attribute this to the fact that a lot of blogs are casually written. Blogs are written in a way to open up dialogue between readers and you don’t find that with other types of readings. When others comment on blog posts I do feel that that makes the blog more meaningful as it brings the knowledge of others and enriches the discussion. The great thing about a blog, since they are solely online, is that people from many different countries and cultures can comment and add their own life-experiences and knowledge to the discussion. Blogs can enhance student learning because blogs have so much to offer. They can connect our students to the world and provide them the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom walls.
My experience with podcasts is pretty limited. I have listened to only a few podcasts previously, and I have zero experience of making one of my own. I was a little nervous at first because I had no idea what to expect or what was involved in making a podcast, but I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
I thought iPadio was easy to use. I registered my cell phone because I do not have a landline. Once my cell phone was registered, I called the number provided and recorded my podcast. When I was finished, I listened to it and when I was happy with the results, I uploaded it to the site. Using my cell phone to record the podcast was super easy. I attribute the ease of recording to the fact that talking on the phone is pretty natural for me. My biggest hurdle was getting my podcast under two minutes. I tend to get long-winded, and I had to make some modifications and then record it a few more times to get it under the two-minute mark. The only thing I did not like about using my cell phone was the quality of the podcast. I’m not sure if using a landline would have resulted in better quality, but that wasn’t an option for me. There seems to be a way to record a podcast with iPadio using only your computer and the microphone, but I wasn’t able to figure it out.
I feel pretty accomplished and happy with myself that I successfully recorded my first podcast. I’m not sure how I could use podcasting in my classroom. I’m thinking podcasting would be ideal in a flipped classroom, but I’ve not ventured into that realm just yet.
Podcast website - http://www.ipadio.com/channels/LouiseLeach
RSS feed - https://www.ipadio.com/channels/b1OpGunZ974z0VqO6vy79w/rss
Unit 4: RSS Feeds and Critical Evaluation
RSS Feeds and Aggregation
There is a lot of information on the Internet, and an RSS feed is an excellent way to keep everything organized. An RSS feed is beneficial to anyone that follows several different media outlets such as news sites, other Internet websites, and blogs. With an RSS feed, there is no need to check several different sites and blogs throughout the day to see if there has been any new posts or updates. Checking to see if anything new has been posted or updated can be very time consuming. Using an RSS feed can eliminate that need to check for new posts and updates several times a day. Now, when subscribed to an RSS feed, like Feedly, users only need to check that account to see if any new posts or updates have been added to their favorite sites and blogs. It’s definitely a lot more efficient and less time consuming than checking several different sites, several times a day.
If blogging is a part of your classroom, you can follow your students’ blogs through an RSS feed. This will eliminate the need to have to search each student’s blog to check for new posts. By visiting your RSS feed, you’ll easily be able to see any new posts by your students with just one click. Likewise, you can easily send out updates, posts, and questions through your own blog and your students can see it when they access their own RSS feed. Students can follow their classmates, too, and be notified of new updates and posts when on their own RSS feeds. Again, this eliminates them having to check all of their classmates’ blogs to see if they’ve added anything new.
An RSS feed is an excellent online management tool for any Internet user.
As a librarian, I spend a lot of time teaching information literacy skills. It is essential for students to understand the importance of how to critically evaluate information and how to go about finding reliable online resources. Most of my sixth graders come to me with very limited knowledge about how to research and most have never had to critically evaluate information. Before my students begin researching, I teach a lesson on website reliability and how to find reputable websites to use for research. Once I’ve taught the lesson, I provide my students with a list of reliable and unreliable websites and they need to evaluate them. When my students begin to research, I do provide them with a few reliable websites, but I also allow them to find their own reliable websites. I’m very passionate about research and using reliable websites to conduct research. Unfortunately, I know other teachers aren’t as passionate as me. This is what prompted me to ask other teachers if they require their students to critically evaluate their resources. My research results show that most teachers sometimes require their students to critically evaluate resources and one teacher answered that they always require their students to use critical evaluation. I’m happy to report that no one answered that they never require their students to critically evaluate resources. I’m glad to see that many teachers understand the importance of finding and using reliable and reputable online resources for research. For my slideshow, I highlighted the importance of critically evaluating information and I chose five questions to ask when evaluating online resources. I also provided links to some websites – some reliable and some unreliable – for students to evaluate. Students need to understand that there is a lot of information on the Internet and they can’t believe everything they read. They need to learn to be good detectives and use a critical eye to evaluate websites.
In my seventh and eighth grade classes, I briefly touch upon creative commons licensing. I think most of my seventh and eighth grade students know that they can’t take an image from the Internet and copy and paste it into their report or assignment without giving credit. Just because students know that it isn’t right doesn’t mean that they don’t do it. I think a lot of students think that they won’t get caught and that makes it okay. I do my best to teach about copyright law and fair use and their rights as students but, unfortunately I don’t have as much time to devote to this topic as I’d like. When I teach how to cite images and photos from the Internet, I do show them how to set up parameters using Google as far as clicking on “Search Tools” and then “Labeled for Reuse” and it’s my hope that students conduct image searches in this manner, but I know most do not because I don’t think they think it’s important. Students should also know how to license their own work should they create it. I know that I need to devote more class time to teaching about creative commons licensing and the importance of it.
Unit 5: Online Presentations
Want to learn more about middle-level authors? Click on the link below:
Video Link: https://spark.adobe.com/video/g76cD5cSsLGGp
Online Presentation Blog Post
This week I had the opportunity to explore two new online presentation tools - Thinglink and Adobe Spark video. Click on the link below to read about my experiences and thoughts about each online tool:
Unit 6: Creating Infographics
Google Photos timeline: https://goo.gl/photos/esYS7iufgA5hnqpv7
My thoughts on Google Photos timeline:
I appreciated the ease of using Google Photos to create a timeline. The whole process was pretty simple, really. I chose the year 1980 (the year I was born!) and once I decided upon the ten events I wanted to add to my timeline, I searched the Internet for an image that corresponded to each event. I was careful that each image I selected was under the Creative Commons licensing. Some events didn’t have too many images to choose from, which made deciding on an image a little difficult. Once I found an image that I wanted to add to my timeline, I saved it to my desktop and then uploaded it into Google Photos. I then added text that described the event under each image. It was easy to click and drag on an image and/or text box if I wanted to change the order of the events.
Google Photos is so easy to use; I think anyone in any grade level can use it. As far as my classes, I can see my students creating a timeline using Google Photos as part of a research assignment. In my 7th grade classes, we touch upon the Civil War as part of our research unit. I could have students apply their research skills and use the information they found to create a timeline using Google Photos. Since photos would be included, it is also a great time to, once again, touch upon Creative Commons licensing. Another way I can see using Google Photos is when I’m co-teaching about the Holocaust. Again, students can take the information they researched and add it to their timeline using Google Photos.
In years past, I used Tiki Toki to create timelines and I really, really disliked the site. It wasn’t user-friendly at all. I actually did away with creating timelines in 7th grade when teaching research skills because I couldn’t find a site that I liked. I will definitely be adding the whole timeline component back into my research unit since I now have a new awareness of creating timelines using Google Photos.
Infographics Blog Post
Click on the link below to read about my thoughts on using infographics with middle school students.
Unit 7: Public Service Announcements
public service announcements blog Post
This week I watched two public service announcements, "The Essay" and "We Think". Click on the link below to read about my thoughts.
How can you use technology in the classroom?
This public service announcement was made by the tech director with the intention of being viewed by teachers at an upcoming inservice. This PSA is to make teachers aware of the importance of using technology in the classroom and it offers some suggestions of ways to incorporate the use of technology. Click on the link below to view the PSA.