Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tool # 7 - Reaching Outside Your Classroom

As I think about global learning in the 2012-2013 Classroom I picture students engaging in learning in a variety of ways; some simplistic and others more complex.  Many of our classrooms have extended passed their four walls to experts in all areas of the world.  Through the experiences of this summer's 11 Tools I believe we will widen these window in the areas of resources and learning outcomes.  Last year learners were beginning to experience the vastness of their powers as learners even with the simplest of forms - through online discussions in and out of the boundaries of the school day.  Through this new learning teachers/learners have new ways to safely communicate/create with others.
We will continue growing global learners as we support our classrooms through our librarian and others.  We will offer staff development to support this new adventure and celebrate the discoveries.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tool #6-Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

We use Sykpe in numerous ways on campus. Classrooms use it to visually and audibly communicate with others around the world. Classrooms have been in contact with others classrooms and experts to discuss the weather, the reaction to various current events or units of study. One of the collaborations we have and will continue to use is with our consultant, Dr. O'Flahavan. This venue has provided a very relaxed atmosphere for teachers to dialogue openly with the consultant to clarify and share successes and concerns. At least one of our grade levels uses Edmodo as a sort of Facebook for their students. They feel it is a safer venue than Facebook and have found the students as well as parents find this a very friendly way to communicate and collaborate. The teachers use the venue as a way to keep students and parent informed on the classroom learning, discussion board, collaborative discussions about various topics from core concepts to a book discussion. I would expect to see this or something similar showing up in other grade levels due to the openly discussed success of others. We have campus-wide used Google Calendar for posting important events that everyone needs. I would say that about 50% of our staff actually have remembered this tool but hopefully after the exposure this summer to the google doc tools and other collaborative sites we will see this increase. I think after using google docs, soon to be google drive, this summer I will turn to this as a collaborative site more often when creating campus wide documents/presentations. There were a couple of sites I need to use more when putting together presentations such as Prezi, Edmodo, etc.

Tool #5 - Part 2 Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

Wordle: Revere I am wondering if it would be a tool for studying key vocabulary words, key words from a passage read,etc. Brainstorming ideas,the possibilities are endless and I am betting students will have even more. I have seen our teachers use it as a mean to create an acrostic for their personal traits.

Tool #5 - Part 1 Producing with Web 2.0 Tools


The above link should take you to the Stupeflix I created on The American Revolution and The Midnight Ride. I encountered a bit of difficulty while adding text to voice feature. I am sad to say I wasn't able to correct. Maybe there is someone out there who knows what I forgot to do. At this point I will try another venue as I now must pay to get back in. Hum, if I figure this out I will share because it is a neat idea for presenting information. I could see various uses such as:students creating an project for learning a concept in almost any curricular area, producing a pictorial accompaniment to a student composed writing piece, and the ideas are endless.

Tool #11 - Self Assessing and Reflecting

New tools have at times been a challenge but in the long run worth it. Dropbox has been useful to me and I am sure I will continue to use it for future projects.  This has allowed me to collect many different resources (photos, internet sites) for easy access with "in cloud" storage.  I am continuing to work on a new way to present the important new information for the transition campus EOP. I believe that using an online training with interactive capabilities will help implement these procedures.  After visiting with our counselor, we are looking into putting together some kind of ongoing presentation, maybe TRIBES like, that can be used at least monthly on "How we treat each other whether face to face or in cyberspace."  
The quest for the 21st Century Classroom will be ongoing as the world and its resources change.  The use to these technological tools embedded in rigorous instruction will have our learners moving in the right direction.  Coupling this district initiative with our campus initiative of CCP, should cause our classrooms to be a haven for self-determining learners while the avenues widened through the use of global learning.  I know as we continue to learn/explore these areas the reshaping, redefining, re-evaluating the setting, the how, the what, the outcome will change.  
Many of our staff have begun this journey which at times can feel like one step forward and two steps backwards.  The amazing part is that the students don't see these back steps as quite the dilemma we might. In fact, when given the underpinning of the concept, shared criteria for outcome they often find these setbacks tools to a better end result.  The thing that brings a smile to my face is when teachers/students talk about the amount of on task work students give to a project or even that students have on their own time crafted new more elaborate projects taking their learning to a higher more rigorous and often relevant level.  This researching, open discussion, evaluation of what they have created or found, looking to a wider audience for collaboration ...isn't that REAL learning?

Tool #10 - Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is interesting not because it falls out of the realm of what a good citizen should be but because of the unexpected outcomes that seem to catch us by surprise.  Those outcomes are most likely our biggest challenge.  Luckily, some of them have been revealed by others thus we don't have to learn the hard way if we take our citizenship seriously.  I first started with the list of three as requested but upon further examination I believe it is in the end our very ethics that is the umbrella for all.  I mean being ethical is that you would never knowingly involve yourself in anything illegal or infringe on others' privacy or well being.  Doesn't it also mean you have the responsibility to look at the validity of the information you are viewing and/or presenting to others.  Plus, shouldn't we always operate erring on the side of caution thus being safe in our work, our postings, our presentations, our relationships, etc.  One of the hardest things in life is to realize that even in our best efforts we can make mistakes but doing it willfully is unethical.  So those good first and repeated teachings of being a good citizen to all are valid here.  The hardest piece may be the staying abreast as to what is out there.  Which, by the way, may be impossible so I believe it is back to ethical behavior in all things.  Ugh, sometimes a tough one to teach.  Providing the opportunity for open conversation (school, home, global) and creating ethical self-determining learning  may indeed give us that needed venue.
FYI - There is a district Atomic Learning course on just this "Internet Safety Workshop".  http://www.atomiclearning.com/k12/internet_safety

Tool #9 Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

Are we educating for the past or the future?  When determining this I think one will most likely realize while there is great value in many of our past practices there is the reality of the future.  I love the quote from Henry Ford, "If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said a faster horse."  Looking at the objectives closely we may not find technology ties to every objective.  However, if we don't investigate these ties our students may find themselves unable to be successful in the world they will need to live in.
Our teachers are so good at looking for these connections. I think they will agree that each year as they rework their grade level road maps they look for how they need to tweak the learning. The addition of ActivBoards and other devices brought new learning and techniques to all classrooms.  Our students are so lucky that they have teachers who are amazing at taking their new learning and adding every ounce value to their students' learning environment.   I know they won't disappoint this year.
Using workstations is a valued practice and being sure that each student is held accountable for their learning has been an on going focus. As our classrooms added technology, teachers have opened up venues for students to dialogue via various sites about the books they are reading, pieces they are writing, and learning as a whole.  Sometimes classrooms are observing a live site in nature while recording/responding to what they see and how it relates to their learning.

Here are a couple of things I looked at for PK-2 via http://edtech.springbranchisd.com/iWebsites/tabid/5856/Default.aspx

ABC Letter Tracing Lite and ABC Phonics(this particular one needs more investigation to be sure we wouldn't be accidentally miscuing the students)  This last one might be good for ESL students at the NES level.

Way to teachers!  I noted that many of these sites I have observed being used in your classrooms both in lessons, collaborative settings and workstations.