Sunday, August 8, 2010

After 11 Tools: Reflections

It is almost 2 AM August 9th now I guess..and all I can say is wow! It took me a while to get here, but I am finally at this point! It was an interesting journey, full of fun and frustration, but I cannot say that I walked away with nothing new. I learned a great deal from this process and I would like to say "thank you" to the designers of the technology toolbox. I definitely feel like my toolbox is full..maybe even overflowing right now? I cannot wait to get back into my classroom and use some of what I learned during this process. I know I will not be able to incorporate everything, I would rather incorporate a few things and do them really really well rather than trying to incorporate everything and not doing a good job. I want my students to fully understand the tools I use in my classroom also.

One of the tools that I will use is the photostory. Like I said in Post #7, I capture so many of the moments in my classroom and share the pictures with my students as we discuss everything, but I would really love for the students to be able to create their own stories. I can use the photostory with every subject. In science I can have students take pictures of their groups working co-operatively on an experiment/investigation, sharing their results, their hypothesis, question and conclusion. We could have class discussions on what students found doing experiments. We can use photostory in language arts by having students create their own stories, with illustrations. They can read the story and share it with classmates as well as others in the school. I love this tool because every student can have something to add to it. I enjoyed putting the whole thing together. Your creative children can create such beautiful stories using amazing effects. It is a tool that ANYONE and EVERYONE can take part in.

I always knew that technology was going to play a big role in my classroom, but after completing the 11 tools I see how important it really is for us as educators to keep up with this technology. The times of standing at the board and lecturing are gone. We can still use the board of course, but that should definitely not be the ONLY way in which we teach. Our students are changing and technology is playing a more prevalent role in their lives, so we must also adapt.

I started the 11 tools really not knowing much about blogging and the different tools there are out there. Some tools took a while (people always have the misconception that if you are young, you should be able to finish anything having to do with technology quickly and with no problems, but that's not the case!) while others were easier to complete. I do feel that I have walked away from this more informed and better aware of these tools. I also feel that I can use these tools in my classroom to make it a more technologically friendly environment!

Tool #11: Digital Citizenship

The three objectives I plan on teaching my students this upcoming school year when it comes to technology are
1. Digital Security and Safety: Receiving the new netbooks and Ipod Touches is wonderful! We can do so many wonderful things with them to enhance our students learning. But with this new hardware comes a huge responsibility. We, as teachers must provide our students with a good understanding of digital security and safety. Although we would like to constantly be monitoring them on these new devices, it is impossible for a teacher to have eyes on every single student in the class and what they are working on/looking at on the internet. In order for us to fully take advantage of this new technology we have received, we must educate our students on the good AND the bad of what is out there. Mrs. McClendon showed our students a video on Brainpop at the beginning of the school year teaching students about safety on the internet, so that would be something we could look at watching with our students. At meet the teacher at the beginning of the school year, I plan on talking to parents about the new technology that we have in the classroom and the importance of making sure we (parents and teachers) know what our student is doing on the computer. Making parents aware of this is also very crucial, they can talk to their child at home about this also. It is imperative for us to talk to our kids about the different websites out there and discuss the pro's and cons of these sites, discuss if these sites are appropriate for use in school and to what extent (e.g. Facebook and MySpace). It is important to share with students all of the wonderful things the internet has to offer, but that there are things out there that are not so wonderful.

2. Digital Etiquette (netiquette): The key-be a role model to the students! If you, the teacher is setting a good example for students, they are more inclined to follow your lead. They must look to someone so we should set that good example for them to look to. It is important for us to talk to our students and stress that they should not say stuff over the internet that can be taken the wrong way or can hurt someones feelings since it is very difficult to hear your tone, people may not know if you are joking or are serious. I plan on talking to my students about how they can have good "netiquette" and that they have to be careful because some people spend so much time on the computer they get brainwashed. I am going to teach them examples of bad netiquette and discuss this with the class-perhaps they have some examples they would like to share.

3. Digital Literacy: going along with digital etiquette, I cannot wait to teach my students about digital literacy. I want my students to know that computers are a very powerful tool and that it is crucial for them to know how to create and use information using this tool. So many of our kids don't have research skills that they think that they can just copy what they read and that is their research. This goes back to bad "netiquette"-plagiarsim. Digital literacy is not just being able to read the information and write it out again, literacy is reading, writing and actually understanding what it is you wrote. It is also having others able to read what you wrote. I would like for my students to be able to read something on the internet for example and be able to evaluate whether it is important to use, does it make sense? Is it correct? This is what digital literacy consists of and I plan on teaching this to my students by having whole group discussions, working in small groups with my kids on the ipod touches as well as netbooks. I would like to incorporate this with "netiquette".

Tool #10: Exploring Mobile Technology and Apps

So, like Mary I too attended an ipod touch training (same training, different time!) and it was my first time to touch and ipod touch also. We learned about itunes u, and Lit2Go also. I also had the opportunity to play around with the apps that were provided on the list (100 or so approved by SBISD) and uploaded some of them into the Ipod Touch. Some of the apps I looked at and played with are:

1. Discuss some of the free educational apps you revewed.
AFactor Tree (students practice factorization)
ArithmeTick (like math flashcards, but on the touch)
AstroFacts (just like the name suggests-facts about outer space such as Venus has no moons, students touch the icon at the bottom for a new fact-A solar flare is a giant explosion in the Sun's atmosphere)
(penguins eat all of the numbers that match the math fact, for example-multiples of 3, students tap on the numbers that are multiples of three, the penguin eats it. Students must be careful. When students begin to play, a window pops up telling them what a multiple is and it also gives examples. They must do all of this trying to stay safe from the yeti! If a student goes to the wrong multiple, they will lose a life, if the yeti gets to them, they lost a life! Really fun!) The Lite version is available for free, which consists of two levels only and students will play for a few minutes only. You have to buy the full version from itunes.
Capitals SB (you can either study or test yourself here. If you choose study mode, you see the state and it's capital-like flashcards. This is in alphabetical order. In test mode, the game provides a state and 4 choices for the capital city. If you choose an incorrect answer, all answer choices except for the correct answer choice disappear. The game keeps score at the top of the screen.
ClockMaster (the students are presented with an analogue clock showing a specific time. They are to touch the analogue section at the bottom of the screen to match the time. When they think that they have the correct answer, they touch "check" and a message pops up at the top of the screen either saying "Right!" or "Missed it". At the bottom of the screen (beside the "check" there is a status bar showing progress. When the status bar is full, you have completed the game and are shown your score out of 50, and your time.)
Fractions (the player is given a number line, 0-1 with 1/2 in the middle. The player is also given a number of different fractions that they must place on the number line. If the student drags the fraction tile to the correct spot on the number line, it stays, then disappears. If they drag the fraction tile to the incorrect spot, then the fraction tile goes back to its original spot and a picture of the fraction is shown to students. The student must play until all fraction tiles have been placed correctly on the number line. Once done, the student is given their accuracy and time.)
MatheMagicLE (this is not the full version but it provides students with lessons on how to: square numbers in the 50;s, multiply by 11 and divide any number by 5. Students can also play games corresponding to each lesson. If they choose multiply by 11 for example, they are given something like 52x11=? and are given 4 answer choices to choose from. This is very short, if you want full version, you have to buy it)
Presidents (flashcards for the presidents of the United States. This is in order and provides a picture, the name of the president, which party they are affiliated with and the duration of their presidency. For example George Washington, no party, April 30 1789-March 4, 1797. Students then slide their finger across the screen and the second president comes up across the screen.

2. OPTIONAL: If you had an opportunity to play with one of the devices, briefly describe your experience. Was there a WOW moment?
I loved the Ipod Touch so much that I went out and bought one for myself! When I got home I uploaded the apps I had already uploaded into my itunes library to my new Ipod Touch. I have been playing with some of the games and have been having fun. I enjoy the presidents game. I like this one in particular because I did not grow up in the United States and do not know all of the presidents. It's a fun and informative way for me to learn a bit about them! I had a WOW moment playing around with the Ipod Touch realizing that technology is SO amazing! We can do so much with such a small instrument, with a touch of a finger!
3.. Discuss ways your students could use the iTouch or iPad and appropriate apps in your class.
There are so many apps out there that I need to continue exploring, but with the apps that I have found so far, I can see using the Ipod Touches in centers and having students play on them (math games, conducting research)

Tool #7:PhotoStory!

Our Love Story (Chapter 1)


Ok, FINALLY! This took me a while to do, but was the most special tool :) I love taking pictures with my digital camera. Pictures are memories! I enjoy taking pictures in my classroom of my students working both individually and in groups. I like taking pictures of them while we are doing a "fun/interesting/cool" lesson as they are engaged in the lesson. I take pictures of my students during math and science. I love taking pictures of them as they are working in their groups for science experiments/investigations. We look at the pictures together afterwards and discuss the experiment/investigation. I have used my camera to take pictures of students' finished work. They just love standing there and showing off their hard work. We can use photostory in the classroom for students to create their own stories (in groups) to show their work in science for example-what happened in THEIR investigation. They can narrate their story, discussing what they struggled with and what turned out well. They can really go through the whole experiment/investigation and share their story with others in the class (for example if each group got different variables for their investigations, it would be interesting for students to share what THEY found using THEIR variables), even share their story with others in the school! We could use this tool in the after school program in science to create a story for each activity/investigation that is done also! Students can use this tool in language arts to create their own stories, illustrate and narrate. They can "publish" their stories and share with the class as well as other students within the school. If our students are blogging (like we are right now) then they too can upload their photostories to their blog and share with a much wider audience! Their parents can also be a part of this audience (if they have internet access at home). I also was able to incorporate my ipod with this tool! I recently purchased an Ipod Touch and have uploaded my cd's to my ipod. I was able to use the music I had uploaded into my Ipod as the music to my photostory. It will be great to be able to use this tool with our Ipod Touches!

I see sooo many possibilities with this tool and really truly enjoyed creating my photostory. I did not enjoy the process of uploading my story though, it took a while but I finally got it and it was totally worth it!

Tool #9

1. Discuss how the screencast could help your students and how you might have students use Jing.

2. Discuss how you might use Skype with your students and share across the district, the state, the nation, or the world!

1. Jing can be used to help students with concepts/subjects that they are struggling with or have missed due to absence (e.g. being sick, Tuesdays when our students go for SPIRAL) by developing videos of the previously taught lessons. These lessons can then be viewed by students who had trouble with the lesson at the time that it was taught originally (takes them longer to process, for example) or for someone who was absent and happened to miss the lesson. With our new netbooks this can be done very easily! As the teacher meets with small groups after teaching the lesson for the day, students are doing their independent work, students who were absent or struggled can go and watch the previous lesson on the netbooks to help them understand!

2. Many of my family members are on skype and it is a great tool to keep people connected. We were able to speak to and see my grandmother in Iran using skype and it was something that I will always cherish. It is very expensive to fly to Iran to visit with family, and skype is a tool that can bring us all closer together without the cost. In our classrooms, we can use skype to view other lessons going on in classrooms within our own school, within other schools in our district, city and even state. Skype can be used to have reading buddies also! It is so hard to fit this into our daily/weekly schedules but with skype and the netbooks in our classrooms I could have my fifth grade students sign up for times that correspond to times another teacher in our school has her younger students sign up for and we can have 5 students from each class communicate with each other via Skype! My students can read to his/her students, without even leaving the classroom and we will be able to fit this into our schedules (just takes a lot of organization and planning!)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tool #8: Video Resources

This is my FAVORITE TOOL! I love love LOVE showing videos in my classroom, and my students LOVE watching videos. I feel videos can provide a different perspective for students. I can teach students and they listen..but after a certain point, their attention is not fully there, so we as teachers have to constantly be changing our teaching style within even one lesson, to keep them engaged. A video is a perfect way to do so. I love using videos throught the class, I could show a video to introduce a topic, to reinforce concepts or use it as a "wrap up" to a lesson or even a unit. Videos can be used as good reviews for upcoming tests also.

The two sources I used a lot this year for videos were Brainpop/Brainpop Jr., and Discovery Education. Brainpop Jr. was a great tool to use to introduce new concepts to students (even though it's meant for K-3) it's a great tool for ELL's, and a great way to start building the foundation students need for the topic. Brainpop was also very good but would not go into as much detail about topics learned in the fourth grade, and vocabulary was sometimes very high level (mostly middle school/highschool) but a great source to use at the end of a lesson/few lessons to move students to a higher level.

Discovery Education is wonderful because you find sooo many videos on there for every subject, "real" videos. I used Discovery Education a great deal during science. We would watch informational videos, videos that would show us different experiments (which was great, in case we did not have time, or if we had done the same experiment and discuss how we could have done it differently).

I got this video from Brainpop Jr. I used this video with my students to teach them about the phases of the moon. This concept is SO difficult for students to understand because they do not see the Earth rotating around the sun, and the moon. This video is a fun way to show the different phases of the moon, and why we have these phases.

This video I downloaded from youtube. I love using songs in my classroom as much as I love using videos. This is a Bill Nye water cycle rap. The kids absolutely LOVE this video. They sing along with it, and I could see them mouthing this song as they were taking tests. When we had some free time, or eating lunch together in the classroom, the kids would BEG me to play this watercycle rap for them. They would drop everything, start dancing and singing along to it.

Videos are an interactive way to supplement a lesson :)


Tool #6 Wiki's=teamwork!

Wiki's would be a very useful tool to promote collaboration! At this stage in students' lives, teaching them about teamwork and how to work together is very important (there are adults who still have trouble working as teams!) Wiki's can be a beneficial and fun way to teach teamwork.

How this can be used in my classroom?
There are numerous activities that can be done using Wiki's. Online writing workshop is one way to utilize this tool. Another way to use Wiki's in the classroom is to do a study group-where students can discuss upcoming topics on tests and help each other. Creating an ongoing story is yet another way to use wiki's. Someone starts the story (can be the teacher, a student) and then another student continues, then another, so on and so forth.

Wiki's can also help teams/departments work together. The wiki does not have to stay within our own classrooms. A team can start a wiki, and ALL of our students can contribute. If students are preparing for a test for example, and they are using the "study hall" wiki, students in my class may have a different way of looking at a certain topic while students in another teachers class may have learned it differently and they share these ideas with each other and it may end up helping someone who had struggled with the way I taught the topic but really understood it better with the way another teacher had taught it.

Just a few ideas :)

Finally! Half way done! My trip to Puerto Rico cut into my blogging time..I'm very behind now!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tool #5

Cool math .com - An amusement park of math and more! Math lessons, math games, math practice, math fun! | Diigo

This is one of the sites I found which I think is pretty cool! I found it on Diigo and used the tag math in the search. The site contains lots of math games for our kids to play, it also has lesson ideas for us, the teachers. Another cool feature on this site is the link for much stuff!!!

The second site is:
Water Cycle Song

This is a cute song. I love using songs in my classroom to help students with learning/retaining information. Seems to work!

To find this I tagged education. I searched on Delicious for this one.

I liked this site a lot because so many times we struggle to think of new and innovative lessons that we can use with our students. On teacher tube we can search for lessons and get ideas from what other teachers have done. Why reinvent the wheel right? It's nice to actually watch a lesson as opposed to just read about a lesson. By watching the lesson we can see how the teacher delivers that particular lesson and get ideas from them, we can present the lesson the same way or change it, depending on our students needs.

Even though we were supposed to sign up for either Delicious or Diigo, I ended up signing up for both. You never know what you can find! I did find that Delicious was a bit more difficult to use though.

Tool #4

I think that this tool could be pretty useful in my classroom. I like the idea that we can share a document with MULTIPLE email addresses without emailing with attachments. Having a working document up online, and having the ability to make it available to the public or only to certain people is great. We could maybe use this for a classroom newsletter, or maybe even our school newsletter? Grade levels could submit their "piece" for the month without emailing the attachment to Pauline, we could just write it right there! This tool also makes students' work available for classmates to read and comment on which is really cool! This tool makes it very easy to collaborate!

The Google Reader is pretty interesting. I love being able to select sites/blogs that I am interested in and getting updates without going to search for them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tool #3 (I hope it works this time!!!)

I am so angry! After spending a couple of hours working on this..I lost the original post I was making! I am so frustrated right now :( This is the one part of technology that I don't like/enjoy! Here it goes again.....
I decided to create a comic strip first, and had a lot of fun doing it! I think this would be a great tool to use in the classroom. Where I could see using this tool is in writing. Teaching fourth grade, when I would tell students that it was time to write I would hear a collective "awww, I hate writing! It's so boring!". I found that the traditional paper and pencil way of writing can be very challenging/boring for some students and many get discouraged. If presented with a non traditional way, I think teachers would be surprised at what students can produce. I plan on using this with my students this upcoming school year and I know if I tell them that they are going to write a story, I will hear "oh man! I don't want to do that". When I tell them that they will write their story in comic strip form, I will hear "cool!" and when I show them how to do it I know I will have students fighting to get started! The nice thing about creating these comics online is that once the students have completed their comic, they can publish it and it is available for other students to read. Students that may not have had access to the comic if it was done in the traditional paper/pencil format. Students can comment on other students comics and right there, they have formed a personal learning network!

Create your own video slideshow at

I LOVED creating this video about weathering, erosion and deposition. What I did not love however, was trying to post it to my blog! It took many many tries, but I finally got it! Videos are a very useful tool in the classroom, as every teacher knows. The nice thing about creating your own video, you can tailor it to your own students/class needs. Videos can be used as a set to any lesson. A quick 30 second video to introduce students to the concept. Teachers can also create videos to go along with concepts that are being taught in a current unit or can be used at the end of a unit.
Creating the video was very quick and easy, and will be a nice tool for students to use. Students can create videos to go along with projects. Another way students can use this tool is to create a quick video at the beginning of the year (each student) to introduce himself/herself to the class. At the end of the year, learners can create a video to show what they have learned throughout the year. This can be used in groups or individually. It is a nice tool to use with all students. Teachers can differentiate-have students work with a partner, individually, with teacher assistance, etc.

Ok folks..I HOPE tool #3 is done and that my video posts. IF that is the case, 3 down....8 more tools to go!

The journey continues!

credits: image generator created on
video created on

Tool #2

I am back! After a rough morning trying to get on here (multiple power outages did not deter me!) I am back to blog!

Reading some of the articles related to this tool was very interesting to me. Some of the ideas shared in "What is the changing role of the teacher, and how do we support that new role?" really made me think.

I digress..let me share some of my thoughts on PLN's, and please feel free to comment!
What are your thoughts about building an online education community and participating in a PLN?
I feel that building an online education community and participating in a PLN can be a very powerful tool for us as teachers to use. In the article I mentioned above, it stated "it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes someone to show the village ways of doing things it had never thought of". I strongly believe in this philosophy. Being new to the profession I am always looking for different ways of teaching concepts and better ways of teaching concepts. I tell my students all the time that I am providing them with the tools that they need to be successful, but I also have to acquire tools to be an effective teacher in order for me to better prepare them. As teachers, we are lifelong learners and in this way we can ensure the success of our students. I can learn, have learned and continue to learn many things from my colleagues, and I also have many things that I feel I can offer to my fellow teachers. Having access to online education communities and PLN's gives teachers an opportunity to move beyond the four walls of their school in a nonthreatening environment. I can go to the online education community with a question on how to teach something, or a problem that arose while I was teaching (without feeling "dumb" or a novice) and I can almost instantly have responses from teachers throughout the United States and further! I also can add my thoughts share my ideas with someone in New York, for example on a GREAT lesson that I had, that would work nicely with a unit that they are teaching. On the other hand, I could also share my experiences of teaching a lesson that I THOUGHT would turn out amazing but flopped, and help another teacher tweak the lesson to make it better-workable! As the article said "Everyone plays an active role in a networked learning community, contributing to the community’s construction of knowledge as its members collaborate to address problems (whether the goal is learning to read or learning to fly a rocket to the moon)"

The point that stood out to me with regards to commenting was that students have changed. We too must change our teaching to meet the needs of our students, the 21st century learner.

Ok folks, in my true style, I wrote a lot! There is still so much more I could have said! Too many thoughts on my mind...not enough space to say it all!

Tool #2 down...9 more to go! Stay tuned for more!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I think I'm addicted!

I just finished with the first of many "mandatory" parts of this 11 tools for the 21st century learner a couple of hours ago..but strangely, I am finding myself compelled to come back and play with this more! I can definitely see how this will be an effective tool to use with our students. If I'm already hooked, I can just imagine how "into it" the kids will be and what a great way to get through to them! I can definitely see myself using this a lot with my kids-I haven't even seen the rest of the tools!

Tool #1

So I JUST finished the first tool of eleven and it took quite a while! The best part was creating the avatar. I had WAYYY too much fun. I can just imagine how much the kids will enjoy it. I think I could spend hours playing around with that tool! The technical parts were a bit challenging though. I am working with some of my fellow teachers and we are all working at different speeds trying to do it together, some computers take longer to load while others load quickly-that's the most challenging part SO FAR!

Let's see what the next 10 tools have in store for us!

11 be continued.............

First Time Blogger!

Hey everyone!

I was beginning to unwind from a CRAAAZY year, I was reminded that I had to complete the 11 tools! The first tool of eleven has multiple parts, and the first is to create this blog. This is my first time blogging, so this should be very interesting!

As I relax over the summer (between the professional development I have signed up for (sprinkled throughout the months of June, July and August-and people say teachers get the WHOLE summer off!) I must also begin switching gears because I am moving out of my comfort zone in teaching, which is fourth grade, and moving to fifth! I am certain this new grade level will have many adventures in store for me and I have a feeling that this will be a GREAT outlet to help me with the CRAAAZY year I am sure that is waiting for me come August!