Final Reflections

As I said in one of my voicethread comments, this class has been one of the best classes I have EVER taken as an educator.  I am so glad that I took it in the summer, when I had more time to devote to it.  I could probably go through most every “Thing” on our 23 Things list, and tell you how I plan on using it in my classroom – but I’ll just name a few.

  • Google Docs – love this tool.  Love the collaboration piece.  Love the accessibility component.  Plan on having my students get into the lab during the first or second week of school to set up their school gmail accounts, and get started using google docs.
  • Pageflakes – awesome tool.  I’ve create a pagecast, and dared to make it public.  Check it out by clicking here.  I plan on using it as a Homework page, annoucement page, etc.
  • Wiki – I am going to be working with a small group of students throughout the year on the Wiki that was started last year.  I also would love for my students to create wiki on the Civil War which we study in the spring.
  • Delicious – when I am on my computer at home, and find a cool school related website, I’ve also “cut and pasted the URL into an e-mail, and sent the e-mail from my personal account to my school one.”  NO MORE!  I have been adding URL’s like crazy to Delicious this summer.  Yeah for me – now I can even share them with my colleagues.  G-d, I love this stuff!
  • Readers – still using ’em!  While I don’t check it every day, when I do, I am finding useful, interesting information.
  • Creative Commons – knew nothing about this, but I need to know about this, and start having conversations with my students and even staff at our school about it.

I must admit, though, that I do have one major fear: that my school year will start, and I just won’t be able to keep up.  The demand this year at school will be greater than ever, with so many staff being laid off or cut back.  In addition to my school duties, I do have a family, with two young children that need me.  I know I will come to figure out a balance – and how to manage it all – but, boy does it scare me!

My next steps:

Start school next week – get my kids into the computer lab, and do the best I can do to continue forward into the 21st Century!

Thing 22: Social Networking

Great sites out there!  There is so much power in networking with other professional educators – it’s just a matter of being able to find the time to do it all!  I joined the Classroom 2.0 network, and I have gained some insight into this new world of social networking – well, in this case, I should consider it “social networking with a purpose”.  It’s not like Facebook in the sense of the “mindlessness” – you are networking with a purpose (I suppose some people feel Facebook is networking with a purpose as well).

What I am trying to say is that Classroom 2.0 is all about Eduation and more specifically, how to use technology within our classrooms.  I would like to continue to “lurk” in the background of this Ning, and learn from the posts/discussions that I read. 

Do I see myself using this Ning on a regular basis?  I see myself using when I find a need to – when a conversation arises that I feel like I can meaningfully contribute to.

Thing 21: Page Flakes

Wow – this is tremendous!  I have already begun building a page for my class.  I plan on using it to post Homework (the HW site given me to use through the school is so not user friendly, in my opinion), notes/reminders to the students, I put a link on there for them to get right to work on brushing up on their math facts, I embedded the google docs video, put the weather on there (so they can check it themselves in the morning and determine if they need to wear long pants or bring a jacket to school), put some games on there – fun! – a calendar, a schedule, and a dictionary.  I would like to assign homework to them on the first day of school – go home and find my pageflakes page (I’d give them the URL), and poke around.   How awesome would it be for them to get a reader of some sort set up, and then they can check their readers daily, and see if I’ve made any changes to the homework or notes.  Not sure if this will work?

This just seems like an awesome! tool!

What to do with the child who says, “My computer was down/is not working?”  For sure, that could happen, as it has happened to me – just go with the flow, I guess, and if does not become a habit, then chances are it’s legit – maybe the student would have to write a note about it, and the parent would have to sign it – for them to be excused?  I’ll figure that one out.

In the meantime, I am just so excited about this!

Patty, Shelley – hope you can check out my Pageflake.

Thing 20: Google Docs

I discovered google docs last year from a teammate of mine.  I think it is a very powerful tool in today’s world, be it the classroom or a place of business – anywhere where people need to collaborate on documents, presentations, or spreadsheets. 

I have used it, and will continue to use it, with my students.  When they have a written assignment that must be typed, I am going to require that they type it in a google doc, and invite me as a collaborator.  Maybe at some point, they can invite a friend or two as a collaborator to peer edit.  I love not having mulitple files of the same document – b/c google docs just shows the most current file.  In addition to using it with students, often times as a grade level, we have to produce documents to be sent to the entire grade, and google docs would be a great place for us to work on the documents together.  I will just have to educate my grade level about this awesome tool – shouldn’t be too hard.

I was not really aware of the presentation or spreadsheet componet of google docs.  There have been powerpoints that I have put together, and had I known about the google doc presentation, I could have done it collaboratively – now I know.  Also, throughout the year, students produce presentations within groups – a great way for them to not be tied to working only from school – and only from one computer.

 

Thing 18: I did it!

Not only did I accomplish completing all three levels of Skyhike at Stone Mountain, I also made my very first podcast – and had no problems!  Everything worked the first time, and my husband didn’t even have to peek his head in the office, telling me to “clean up my language.” 

I had fun making the podcast, and I can’t believe how incredibly easy it was.  I didn’t even realize that I could record to my computer through All Programs…I have learned so many new and wonderful things about my computer and the Web from taking this class.

Having my students create a podcast?  I’m sure the ways in which they can create a podcast are endless.  Being in summer mode, one idea comes readily to me – book talks.  I could give them a specific task to start with – something specific to reflect on from a book that they have read – and let them go at it.  Now that I am thinking of it, children are so creative and technologically savvy, if I told them what a podcast is, and asked them, “What kind of assignment could I give you related to xyz would you be able to create a podcast?”  That idea seems more exciting to me than the first one.

Sad to see my summer go, yet so excited to get back into the classroom and start applying/using/sharing all of these wonderful Web 2.0 ideas/tools I’ve learned about this summer.

Thing 7C: Google Reader

I must say, I have become quite addicted to this little tool.  I find myself checking it frequently.  But, because I am in summer mode, though, I am checking two particular non-educational sights I’ve added to my reader: Hey, It’s Free and Deal Seeking Mom.  I’ve found some neat free stuff!  And lots of coupons, too! 

But, that is not really what I wish to blog about, as far as what I am supposed to be blogging about.  Because this is an educational course, and it has to be about education! 🙂

I came across something today that I’ve already copy and pasted into a word document, and plan on using it as part of a bulletin board.  The article was Why I Read from the Successful Teaching blog.  I just thought:  What a great bulletin board to perhaps start off the year.  Although I cut and pasted the list into a word document, I may never even show it to my students.  I might just have them brainstorm a list of reasons why they read, share with each other, and post on a bulletin board outside my classroom.  Perhaps I could use a site like Wordle for them to create something more appealing to the eye?  I’ve have to investigate that when I get back to school.

 

Thing 19

The above clip I embedded I found while searching YouTube for personal use – after all, it is summer!  I am trying to work in my yard, and learn a little more about the plants I have and how to take care of them.  Some great stuff I found out there!

I just love You Tube!  It is amazingly neat!  I really enjoyed watching the video on the history of You Tube – great stuff.  I am quite familiar with this Web 2.0 Tool.  I am even going to add, not that this has anything to do with anything, my husband is “addicted” to You Tube.  He loves it! 

This past year a student of mine shared a You Tube video with me – I don’t remember if it was from Teacher Tube, about How a Bill Becomes a Law.  They really enjoyed watching it.  I am very excited about the fact that I can embed the video directly into a Wiki or a blog – perfect for classroom use –

I definitely see myself finding videos on YouTube and using them in classroom throughout the year.  The ones I would show would be short, and most likely be a springboard into a new lesson or topic of discussion.

Producing videos – wow – how neat would that be!  I can see it HIGHLY motivating certain kids to really dig deep into an assignment.  Talk about a way to differentiate instruction!

I can spend HOURS on Teacher Tube.  I just viewed a great video that I added to my Delicious bookmarks on Literature Circles.  What made this video so powerful was that they demonstrated what a Lit Circle was, so not only did it help me get a better picture of one, but I could show it to my students so that they could see it modeled before actually partcipating in one themselves.

Thing 17: Another Great Find

Podcasting – another great find from taking this course.  I had so much fun “wandering” around the various podcasts.  I love NPR, and rarely get to listen to it – but that won’t be the case anymore.  I subscribed to a few of their podcasts – one on education and one on their story of the day.  I listened to one on education, about Arne Duncan’s address to the NEA, and how Obama and his administration are pushing for merit pay for teachers, and how, of course, the NEA is opposed to it.  Don’t get me on that topic – that’s a whole different blog post. 

I then went into Education Podcast Network, and found a great podcast, that I again subscribed to, on using an IWB in your classroom, something that I am committed to using more efficiently and effectively with my students this year.

I for sure see myself using podcasts for my personal and professional use.  Personal – download to my IPod, and listen to while I am exercising – what a great way to catch up with things!  Professionally – while I am in my classroom, and my students aren’t there, and I am planning, or prepping, there might be times where I can check my reader, and listen to podcast of interest. 

Not sure yet for actually using it with the students – I know this past year, one of our interest groups for our 5th grade leadership program was podcasting.  One of the teachers worked with a small group of students where they learned about podcasting, and created one.  I will be anxious to talk to her when school gets back to see what she actually did. 

I hate to admit this – but until just a few minutes ago, I did not know what a podcast was.  But, not anymore!

Thing 12: Embedding a Slideshow

Wow – this was pretty darn easy.  I just can’t wait until school starts (well, maybe I can wait another month if I must) to start implementing what I have learned from this course into my classroom.  My slideshow is quite basic – just a “stream” of photos that I found related to the Civil War.  I used Bubbleshare because I’ve seen it all over – on the Wikis I previewed and even within my school this past year.  Can’t wait to get my students using Bubbleshare as well.  It was extremely easy.  I also must say I am pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to embed it without being given such detailed intructions from Shelley. 

BubbleShare: Share photosEasy Photo Sharing

 

Thing 16: Library Thing

For that book enthusiast – what a neat site.   I can totally see Librarians immersing themselves in this site.  For me, personally, I don’t think I will use it.  Professionally, for my class, possibly.  Baby Steps.  There are so many other things I want to do with them first, like creating a Wiki, and perhaps even getting them to start blogging. 

I tooled around a bit, and did not really find this to be a very interesting site for myself.  I read, don’t get me wrong.  I love books.  But what I am reading now is either for school, or newspapers or magazines.  I feel like I have a good network with which to discuss what I am currently reading, and having a forum, like what Library Thing offers, is not something I have an interest in or the time for.

I have a huge classroom library – wouldn’t it be great to catalog all of those books for the kids!  Can anyone add a few more hours to the day so that I can get this task completed?