Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monthly Tech Integration Idea: January 2013

Hop on over to my blog if you want to check out my monthly tech integration idea prompt!  This month my post is filled with ideas for teachers who are building a classroom website.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Read Dang It...READ!!!


Last week I had a 6th grade class come the Media Center to checkout books.  I started by asking them a simple question:  “How many of you like to read?”.  Only 3 out of 28 students raised their hands.  I continued throughout the day to ask each class the same question and the results were similar for each class.  The most of any class was a whopping 17%.   I thought to myself “how in this day and age of unparalleled evidence into the amazing power of reading is it that only 10-17 percent of Lee students  in 6th grade have a love of reading?”.  The answer is a tough pill to swallow for many because it lies right at the doorstep of our parenting practices.  If you don’t make reading a priority in your home, it will never be a priority to your child.

Reading is arguable the single most important habit  you can instill in your child before the age of 12.  One study revealed that students in 6th grade who had been read to or read daily for at least 20 minutes a day were in the 90th percentile in their class.  In another survey compiled by the National Endowment for the Arts it listed reading comprehension as the most important basic skill of employers.  It can’t be more clear...if you read on a regular basis you will have success both in school and in your career  

Today books are not as important as is the practice of reading.  It is important in this age of technology to make a clear distinction between the two...they are not one in the same.  Reading can also be done on computers, kindles, cell phones, ipads and more and more people are reading with “tech” devices.  The nostalgia part in us hates this because we naturally associate reading with books, but students at Godfrey Lee will have a very different nostalgic view on reading and books in general.  So Reading is Reading and it doesn’t matter how you do it.  You just need to...and NOW!!!

I have been told that I am too passionate about this issue and should give parents a break.  After all they’re busy, work several jobs, have multiple kids to care for or can’t read themselves.  My response is simple:  In this world there are those who find a way to succeed and those who complain about why they’re not successful.  Parents need to find a way to make their children successful and there is no longer a secret on how to do this.  It is fact that if you read to your child for 20 minutes a day they will succeed in school and inevitably in life.  So...READ DANG IT...READ!!!!

Rebel U {Virtual Edition}: Recap

This a post in a series about Rebel U {Virtual Edition} 2013.
This year our Technology Team was granted an additional professional development that was mandatory for the Godfrey-Lee professional teaching staff.  This day was planned and developed differently than our traditional fall Rebel U day.  One thing our Technology Team receives many requests for help on is utilizing web resources, making content easily accessible to students, and building websites.  In October 2012, Kelly McGee and Sarah Wood had surveyed teachers in the district about teacher website usage and understanding (results posted here).We decided that the focus for this professional development day would be to take all of those requests and survey findings and bundle them into a learning opportunity allowing each teacher build their own classroom website.  This day was consequently named, Rebel U {Virtual Edition}.

In order for teachers to view this day as a different learning experience (yet building on what they learned during Rebel U in the fall), we held our professional development day at the Kent ISD.  The day was structured that in the morning, teachers would attend three different sessions that were aligned to the 21Things4Teachers program to learn about different tools, resources, and techniques for building their website.  The afternoon consisted of a Collaboration block where teachers had the time to take what they have learned in the morning and implement it as they build their websites.  Teachers also had time built into the day to reconvene with their grade level/content area team to discuss what they learned during the day and show off their websites.

As part of the morning welcome, the Technology Team created a video to inform the teachers of the happenings throughout the day.

As part of our evaluation, we asked teachers to summarize their day in one word.  We have asked this same question on previous Rebel U evaluations and sometimes it offers such great insight as to the teachers' overall reaction of the day.  Below is a word cloud that summarizes the responses given to the question, "In ONE word, how would you summarize your Rebel U {Virtual Edition} experience?".

The feedback we received from teachers was overwhelming in their thankfulness for having time devoted to being able to build a website and have staff on-hand to help them in the process.  We were grateful to be able to provide a professional development opportunity that met their needs and our team is looking forward to Rebel U in the fall!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Post: AirSketch & iPads in the Elementary Classroom

Today's guest post is written by Elementary ELL Instructor, Christi Gilbert, and 5th Grade Teacher, Olivia Alkema.  Olivia & Christi wanted to share how they were using iPads in the 5th Grade classroom as part of their co-teaching, student-centered learning environment.  Below is their guest blog post.  You can Christi online here and Olivia here.

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AirSketch Free is an incredible iPad app that is easy to use in your classroom. What is it? AirSketch Free is basically a whiteboard that your students can use to share their work with the rest of the class.
My co-teacher, Olivia, and I use AirSketch in our math class for students to share their thinking. We have 8 iPads and so we divide our students in to 8 groups. Then we give the students a math problem to solve. Sometimes this takes the place of the monotonous "write your problem up on the board and share with the class" instruction, or is a new way to have students work out a math word problem.
The students work as a group to not only come up with an answer, but also to explain their thinking and HOW they solve the problem. They record their thinking through words and drawings on the AirSketch screen.
Now for the fun part. At the bottom left-hand side of the AirSketch screen, there is a little button that looks like a wireless icon (upside down triangle). When you click on that icon, you will see an IP address. It looks something like this: Ok, so I made that up. But you get the idea.

Take that IP address and type it into the address bar on your computer. Make sure your computer is connected to your projector, and your projector is turned on. (Simple, yes. Often forgotten? Yes.) Wha-la! Your student's work is now on your screen for the whole class to see! Each group then takes a turn explaining their work and reasoning to the rest of the class.  The best part of this is that the students's work is shown in real time.  Anything they write down on the iPad will be displayed in real time on the computer screen.  Students absolutely love to write something down on the tablet and watch it "magically" appear on the screen.
This instruction can work with multiple iPads, or just one.  For multiple groups using multiple iPads, we create a new tab on the teacher computer for each group. Then we gather the IP addresses from each iPad and type them in to each tab. This way, when the students are ready to present, we just click on a tab and the students' work is there. This saves a lot of time and makes the class discussion run smoothly.

If you only have 1 iPad, you can still put your students in groups. Have them record their thinking on a piece of paper or a "real" whiteboard. Then, when it comes time to share, you will simply play "pass the iPad". One group will record their work on the AirSketch screen and share it with the class. Then, they will pass the IPad to the next group who will do the same.
If you have an AppleTV this process becomes even easier.  You can teach students how to connect to the AppleTV and they do the "dirty work" of the connection process for the class to have a view of that groups' work. 

Rebel U 2012: Guest Post

This a post in a series about Rebel U 2012.

As part of the Rebel U 2012 evaluation, we asked participants if they were willing to be a guest blogger on our Godfrey-Lee Technology & Media blog.  We were not only interested in hearing (and sharing) first hand accounts from attendees and presenters, but also introducing some teachers to publicly posting content online for the first time and building an online presence.

Today's guest post is written by 5th Grade teacher, Olivia Alkema.  You can find Olivia online here.

In the fall , I attended Craig Steenstra’s (from KISD) session about kidblog.org.  His bit.ly for this session is bit.ly/rebelkid. This site will give you some additional details regarding the “how-to” as well as the “why”.  I was new to blogging, and new to using a student blogging site for instruction and assessment.  However, after attending this session, I just knew that I needed to try this.  Craig showed several ways that blogging met our new CCSS standards, as well as effectively and authentically integrating technology into instruction. 

I have now used kidblog.org consistently throughout this school year.  With some of our technology limitations, I have used it about 3 times a month, and mostly in ELA instruction.  Kidblog allows students to respond to text in new ways.  I have created posts and had students comment on set questions or prompts.  I have had students create new prompts, which are more lengthy entries.  I have used student created prompts as a response to text, summary, response to theme, opinion piece, or informational writing based on web-based inquiry.  Additionally, students are able to comment on other students’ prompts. This allows students to give authentic feedback to their peers. 

PROS:  The teacher has full control of what is published.  Teacher must approve all comments and posts before they are viewable.  Also, you must be a member of the class in order to view all posts and comments.  That creates a safe environment for the students to publish their work without worry of who may see it in the public.  It is very easy to set up and use.  If you are more proficient in Edmodo or Moodle, this program may not be a great option for you.  However, for a more elementary option, younger students will be able to navigate and create their own blog quite easily.  Also, if you are new to a web based student instructional program, this is very easy to navigate and learn.   Students also do not need to finish a post in one sitting.  The post can be saved as a draft, or be revised if it is “unapproved”, and published at a later time.  Since this is web-based, students can have access to this at home.  I have a few students who have enjoyed this so much they have created their own posts at home.   And lastly, students LOVE this.  They love to read each other’s posts and reading what others comment about it.

CONS:  Since this is a “new” way to write for many young students, it takes a long time for them to type out their responses. Also, the formatting tools may be distracting, as students often focus on creating colorful text in ornate fonts of varying sizes. After some practice, and some mini-lesson instruction of creating a professional product, students do begin to create quality writing.  The teacher approval interface is not incredibly user friendly.  You can filter your view to limit the student responses that you see, but there is not a way to organize, or file responses in folders or categories.  Craig gives some strategies in his bit.ly regarding this topic.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me and I can help you!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JB Tech Info: Free Audio Books and Other Resources + Tips + Updates

Around the Net:

Internet Archive - What is it?
"The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format." -archive.org/about/

The Internet Archive has many FREE resources that can be used in and outside the classroom such as video, audio, text, and web.  I'm just going highlight the audio section where you can download audio books, old radio broadcasts, poetry, and other creative works.  
For example here are twelve Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Audio mp3 format: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I recommend you check it out and see what you can find.

They also archive webpages, some are recorded further back than others.  Here is the GLPS's website from Oct 14th, 2008: Godfrey Lee Public Schools website from 2008 .


Tech Updates:

The wireless survey over the break highlighted areas that have low signal strength.  We know where we need to add access points and are making plans in the future to make that happen.  Some areas are easier than others to deploy an access point.

With the Maintenance Department joining the Support Portal, I've been trying to streamline the ticket requests.  Over the next few weeks some options will be deleted or added.  Feedback appreciated.



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