Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Thing #23 - Reflection

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I am so glad that I participated in this course! Some of my favorite, new things that I am taking away from this journey are Delicious, learning more about wikis, and discovering how to create Animoto slide shows using images from Flickr

I was surprised at how many of the "things" I already knew how to do, but never knew efficient ways to incorporate them into my classroom. This class really helped me work though some of my technology frustrations. It has also encouraged me to get back into blogging, this time with an educational focus that I can put to work in my classroom. There is a vast amount of educational information out there via blogs, twitter, and other social networking avenues that I hadn't even begun to explore before this course. I remember last year as a first year teacher, there were moments when I felt like was grasping for information and didn't know where to look. This course has opened up so many possibilities for me!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thing #22 - Social Networking in Education

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Classroom 2.0 is one of those resources that I will have to visit several times and will discover something new with each visit! I love that it is a network of educators, all looking for ways to better teach their students. I do think that it is important for us as teachers to include a "professional learner's network" in our toolkit and sites like Classroom 2.0 is a great resource to do just that!

I really hadn't ever considered social networking as an educational tool before this course, and that is something truly valuable that I will take away from 23 Things. In another course I am taking this summer, I also had to explore a site called Edmodo. It is a site very similar to Facebook, but much more secure. You can set up groups for your classes and give them the code, and there's even a way for parents to log in as well! I have learned so many things to work with and consider using in my classroom this Fall, and I am excited about the possibilities! 

Thing #21 - Twitter

So I've had a Twitter account for awhile now, but I am definitely more of a "lurker" than a "tweeter". I hadn't really ever thought about using it for educational purposes, but by reading the articles listed on the Thing #21 page and browsing through some of the educational Twitter page suggestions, I found a wealth of great information! I even came across another educational Twitter page where she had been working on a "Professional Learning Network Starter Kit" complete with other educational "tweeters" and educational blogs! Go check out Library Girl and follow her!

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Thing #7b - Personalizing the QOTD

One of the edublogs I have discovered during this course is RAMS English; a middle school English teacher with lots of interesting and informational posts! I especially like this post from the other day. He shares how he assigns each student a day (throughout the entire year each of my 150 students should all get a chance to participate at least once) to choose a quote and write it on the objective board to be seen throughout the day. He has a book for them to choose from, and will allow them to bring their own as long as he pre-approves them. Sometimes they spur quick-writes in the journals, other times a class discussion, and some are humorous while others are serious. 

I loved that it gave each of his students a chance to express themselves in a small way for that day, in a way that all their peers could experience as well. I think this is a great idea to get my kids talking, thinking, and expressing!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thing #20 - The Glory of Google Docs

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In addition to taking the 23 Things course, I opted to take 2 more online courses this summer to help me implement technology in my classroom. One of them, which I completed last month, was ALL about Google Apps! Many of these things I already knew how to do, but learning how to use them in my classroom is pretty valuable!! 

In the course, we created newsletters, spreadsheets/rubrics, slideshow presentations, forms, and even drawings to show/label the different regions of Texas! I can truly see how using Google Docs in the classroom would be highly successful! It allows students to pull up work from any class and make changes, without needing the hard copy physically in their hands. Something like this can really eliminate any need for paper! Save a tree!

One way that I MOSTLY excited about using Google Docs in my room is when we are writing. Students can draft in Google Docs and share it with me... I can revise, edit, and offer suggestions for change right within the document. This is amazing to me... one of the things I really struggled with last year was finding time to conference with all 31 kids in a 50-minute class period on their individual writing. With Google Docs, I can add comments from the comfort of my couch and they can see the suggestions the next day when they log on, or from home if they are doing it for homework! This will also work well for peer revisions... they can share the document with their peers who can offer suggestions of their own! I love that we can accomplish all of this without 3 written copies of drafts and various colored highlighters... just the computer!

The only thing I did find is that perhaps my version of Word is a little more sophisticated on my personal computer than the one in Google Docs. I uploaded a newsletter that I had made, and it took away quite a bit of my formatting. I had to go through and mess with it quite a bit until I was satisfied with the overall look. In my opinion, though, that's a small concession considering the other ways I can use Google Docs to my advantage!

Thing #19 - Conversations in the Cloud

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When viewing the required videos about VoiceThread, I immediately recognized the format from Thing #1 where we looked at the "7 Habits". In thinking of using this with my kids, I think they would enjoy being able to record audio comments versus having to "write" a comment. While I DO want to encourage them to write, I know I have to get creative to get them to express themselves so we can write about things. I also like the fact that they could include their own slides from power point presentations... it's just another way for them to share information with me and each other! I love the idea of having another source in which to help "capture" my student's voices in such a unique way!

Thing #18 - You too can YouTube!

Fortunately, navigating YouTube is one of the 23 Things that I am actually pretty familiar with! Woo hoo! I use it whenever I can to pull videos in class... my kids LOVE it! I used the video below (and a couple other similar ones) to help tie together figurative language devices and pop culture... it was one of their favorite lessons all year!

"TheMrWasko" has several similar videos like this on YouTube to use in the classroom!

We also used YouTube just the other night to help us in the kitchen. We were making teriyaki chicken for the July 4th holiday and my husband and I had never broken down a whole chicken before... YouTube to the rescue!

When browsing for this "Thing", I also came across the following video about middle school that I thought was cute and a little bit funny...

I didn't know much about TeacherTube until today, so it was fun spending some time browsing around in there. I loved that I could search for something like "writing" and it would give me all sorts of videos to browse through related to teaching writing. I saved TeacherTube on Delicious so I could revisit it later! It seems like it will be a great source of information for my classroom!