Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thing #2.11.5 Reflection

I had great fun with this installment of Library2Play, and learned a lot that I can take back with me when school starts. I think that the things with the greatest benefit to me are the image generators, screencasting, and video resources. My goal in learning more about technology is to become more effective as an educator, and one way that I want to do this is to give better explanations to my students. I think that screencasting is going to help me realize this goal in several ways, and I cannot wait to start using it. Another way that I plan to reach my goal is to better communicate with students, parents and colleagues and many of these things will help me become a better communicator.
My unexpected outcome was how well this class integrated with my wiki class. There were many things that I learned here that I could take there, and vice versa. My next step is to fix up my wiki to be a better communication tool.
Thanks for another great journey!

Thing #2.11 Digital Citizenship

And now we reach the heart of the matter: teaching students to be responsible digital citizens. I think that at the elementary level especially, this is the most important part of teaching students using Web 2.0 things. Since many of the tools are only going to be introduced and used under teacher guidance, now is the best time to start some frank discussions with the students about being good digital citizens. Here are five things that I will tell my class:

1. Always remember the "Golden Rule:" Treat others the way that you want to be treated. Even when you are using an alias/screen name, you have a responsibility to be kind and considerate to others. Just because people can't see you doesn't mean that you can act however you choose. If what you are thinking of doing or saying on the Internet is something that you would not do or say in the classroom, then you probably should rethink those actions. You are always responsible for your actions, always!

2. Use your brain. Be good question askers and problem solvers. Think about your goal before getting on the computer and starting the project. Make an outline of what you plan to do when you get on the computer. Are you going to do research? Think about what you will search for and where you will search for it. Are you going to create a poster/slideshow/video/etc.? Think about what sounds, pictures, and music you will use. Are they okay for you to use? What if they are not? Have a plan B in mind for when plan A doesn't work. Be sure you are familiar with the tools you are using, or make sure that you have a way to get questions answered. If you somehow end up somewhere you shouldn't be, or see something that you think is for adults, quickly exit the program and alert an adult. Use your head and heart, if something doesn't feel right, then don't do it! A good rule of thumb is to ask first, then use!

3. Work with your friends. Have a buddy that can help you check your work, and you in turn can check theirs. If you have a question about whether something you are doing is appropriate, ask your buddy or buddies. Collaborate with your friends to make your projects better, but remember to be positive in your intereactions. Collaborate with friends or relatives in other places--send them links to your work and get their ideas too. Work with people you know, or with people that your teacher has approved. Never search out random people to share your work with, this could be dangerous. Share your facts, share your positive opinions, but keep the rest to yourself.

4. Learn how to research with a wary eye. Not everything you find on the Internet is fact or even true. You will find many sites that are full of opinions, and some that are completely fiction.* Often authors have a bias that makes them print only the facts that support their ideas. Look for information that gives both sides of an issue without bias. Don't be afraid to actually read the information that you find! Skimming through the pages is not always effective, and you may miss important information. Take your time when doing research. When you find an interesting site, take the time to validate it. Find out if you can trust the site and its information.

5. Communicate! Tell your parents when you are getting on the computer, and what you plan to do when you are there. Do the same thing at school. Don't hop on the Internet and start playing without letting an adult know about it. If you find a site that asks for personal information, stop and tell an adult before proceeding. On the other hand, if you find a site that is very useful or cool, let an adult know that too!

I think that my first lab lesson of the year will be on digital citizenship. I'll introduce each of these concepts, and show examples of the Internet being used wisely and unwisely. Then I'll have a short webquest for them to complete that will give them a chance to practice. Then each time we are on the internet we can work on these skills.

*This is the best site that I have ever seen for teaching about validating sources. I found the site when I taught third grade in Utah and the students were doing animal reports. One pair really wanted to do this animal, and it took us a bit to realize that it was a hoax.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thing #2.9 Slideshare

Slideshare is super and would be even better if it supported Activstudio! There is a huge push to stop using powerpoint and start using Activstudio, which makes sense since SB is spending loads and loads of money on the software and hardware. I didn't use powerpoint much before, and so don't have much that I am giving up. You can share flipcharts with students, parents and colleagues, even those without the software, because Promethean offers a free flipchart viewer. You can use your flipchart to make a screencast to share, or you could create podcasts that go with your flipchart.

Yes it is important for the students to learn to use slideshare. I think that the students should learn how to use powerpoint, and these sites are great for sharing those presentations with family and friends. Since our goal is collaborative learning, students need to know how to share their work with others, and for others to comment and learn from that work.

Thing #2.10 Second Life

I can see some very promising learning opportunities with Second Life. The ability to create something in 3-D that can be explored by the students has some definite advantages. Whether fictional sites (like the one for MacBeth), or actual models (like the human cell), the students will be able to experience things first hand that they would not otherwise experience. This could be especially helpful with low SEC students who may not have very rich life experiences. Just being able to go to the beach or the mountains in Second Life could give them something to draw upon when studying habitats or regions. Is it ideal? Of course not, but it is a lot more reasonable than complaining in the teachers' lounge about how the kids can't picture what a wave looks like because they have never been to the beach!

I liked the Charles Darwin area where students could retrace his footsteps with a guide, or visit kiosks with more information. I also liked the astronomy tour, and know that the students would like it too. This is very novel for them right now, so even the slightest interaction with Second Life will have my students sitting up and paying attention.

I am worried about safety, but teenagers would be using their own second life, although I'm sure that there are still some corrupt thinkers using it too. I was trying to get my avatar clothed and was in my undies because I had no idea what I was doing, and some avatar came up and asked me "Sex?" I had been on for 5 minutes! So yes, safety is an issue for me, but I believe that kids shouldn't be sheltered, but taught how to deal with all situations. I told nasty man to move on about his business, and hope that my students will have the know how to do the same.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Something you will enjoy

Here is something new that I found from my pbworks "camp". It is called Read the Words, and it is very interesting. You can type in text, link a webpage, or upload documents, and an avatar will read the text to you. It is free, and there are many options to make it easy to use in the classroom--embed, download, or podcast. I just thought that I would share! (This is a letter that I sent home with my new students on Step Up Day.)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thing #2.8 Screencasting

I really like screencasting. I never knew what it was before, and have often thought about how I would love to have this ability, and I do!

I immediately think of the computer lab and giving instructions a million times because someone misses one step because they sneeze or scratch their arm or talk to their neighbor. If I were record as I was giving instructions, I could then post the link on the wiki immediately and the students would then be responsible for figuring out what they missed! I would probably need to make a screencast of how to do that too.

I did download Jing, then it told me I needed some other Microsoft product in order to make it work, so I did not install it. I then downloaded GoView, and I like it better anyway because it has editing capability. I'm worried that it will not be free forever though, but I'll cross that bridge when they ask me to pay. This is the GoView(this one has sound from just the internal mic and I don't think it is that bad):

I played with the "no software" options, and settled on Screencast o matic, because it has such a cool name. It was easy to use, and had a variety of useful saving options. I also liked the blue indicator that showed on the video when I clicked on something. Since I have done all of the converting I wanted to for the evening, I exported it, and here it is (this one does not have sound, this was my first attempt and I didn't think the internal mic would work):

This will be a very useful tool as I put many of these "things" to work in the classroom.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thing #2.7 Video Resources

I was happy to see this "thing" because I have heard in passing of many of these sites, and having them all together to compare and contrast was nice.

Obviously some of the sites seem better for education than others. The TOTLOL site does have some cute things, like the Animaniacs--I love them!, but was not full of educational content, and you would have to change everything. (When is the district going to cave on the Youtube ban?) PBS has great programming, but they are so long, and probably would need to be previewed before showing them to the class so that you show what is important and they aren't sitting through an hour of a documentary that is mostly over their heads. None of the videos on the National Archives Site worked when I tried, but it could be user error. Hulu had some useful videos, and I did like a couple from Blinx, but it took so long to load that I didn't spend a lot of time playing there.

Here is a Wildcast that I thought could be used in science to talk about learned and inherited behaviors and traits. In fact, most of the Wildcast videos could be used to in this way, as well as to lead off discussions about adaptations and environment.

Here are some water cycle videos:

This one I found from Google videos and it is a how to for teachers. It shows how to make water cycle bracelets. Obviously we wouldn't have the kit, but how hard would it be to get those beads? I'm going to make them this year (no stealing younger MDE grades!):

Here's the Magic School Bus (you can also find many of these on United Streaming, but Google was easier to search, and would probably be easier to use with flipcharts):

This is a ridiculously dated song about the water cycle that I would use for comic relief during the lesson. I love to sing, and try to incorporate songs as much as possible. Some of the kids will actually sing along, but we'll all laugh. I love finding videos like these:

I know you only wanted 2, but I got a little carried away. What a fun "thing"!