Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tool #11 - Reflection

1. My favorite tools so far would have to be Animoto and Google Docs.  Animoto would work well with group projects, as would Google Docs so students could easily collaborate if logistics were a factor.

2. Through these lessons I have been reminded that technology should be integrated more into the classroom, no matter how little the amount.  That small amount might engage a students who has shown to be otherwise reluctant in the learning process.  Assessments and assignments will probably need to be revamped to meet these technology changes.

3. With the level of importance given to 11 Tools, one would think it could have been presented in a different manner.  In my opinion, it was quite overwhelming...a lot of things to learn in a short amount of time.  With everything else that is expected from us each day, I don't feel like I was able to enjoy the process (and I like to learn new things) and as a result probably didn't retain as much as I could have if it was done at a slower pace (in services, over the course of a school year, and so forth).  I am hopeful that the information will stay posted on the district and library websites so that I can go back to them for reference whenever needed.  Also to note, the choices for English were quite slim.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tool #10 - Digital Citizenship

Students need to understand how to be good digital citizens. Even with our anti-plagiarism website, plagiarism is, unfortunately, a huge problem. They need to find credible resources and give them proper credit. We also have problems with kids using random blogs as credible sources...NO! (Ha, note the irony of me bashing blogging!) They also need to learn to NOT share too much about themselves.

I think both of our research papers would be excellent units to utilize the ideas of digital citizenship. I will probably use the ActiveBoard to present the material to students. The Atomic website would aid in this, too.

"Teaching" the idea of digital citizenship to students would actually fit in nicely in both the first and second semesters. Since we are compiling research papers, I would use the ActiveBoard to show different websites, both credible and not, to illustrate how to determine what is valid and what is not. Atomic Learning could also assist in this process.

Communication with parents is always important, and sharing the topic of digital citizenship with them is probably something that also needs to be done. Each September we have a Back to School Night (Open House) where parents visit each teacher. As it is now, I already discuss the research papers in length, due to their importance and weight towards their averages. In addition to what I already discuss, I could show them on the ActiveBoard a snippet of what I am going to show the kids. I can also post it on my webpage so that parents that weren't able to attend the event or want to review it with their kids may have the option to do so.

Tool # 9

It is definitely important to tie the technology to the objective. Technology, like anything else utilized and covered in class, MUST be tied to the objective. If not, it is simply wasting time. There isn't enough time to cover everything as it is without wasting time with bells and whistles.

Oh my gosh, this is a no-brainer. Students most definitely need to be held accountable for the station/centers. Just as we hold them accountable for their work through written assessments and other tests, they need to be held accountable for their work at the stations so that it isn't just playtime. In addition, the expense of the equipment has got to be enormous, and in a time where money in the schools is scarce, if students aren't held accountable, then they will abuse it and items will be broken, possibly even stolen.

I have seen students use a flashcard app in which they are able to create and utilize flashcards, all for a mere $1. This was great! This can be helpful in all disciplines, but especially in English as we have so much vocabulary (literature, vocabulary study, SAT prep, and so forth). Someone within my team suggested something called Thinkfinity, so I viewed it. I will say I was quite disappointed as I didn't see anything I could use for my classes. I was so impressed with Flashcard that perhaps I didn't give it a fair chance? My students could easily use them for reviewing for tests and quizzes.  (Again, I say "them" even though I probably wouldn't use Thinkfinity in my classes.)

Usable app for the classroom? Flashcard, Flashcard, Flashcard! Any media app would prove useful to facilitate class discussions during our research unit, and they could also be used when discussing various elements of literature to tie in what we are reading with real life (characterization, setting, and so forth).

There are different ways to use the IPod Touch and/or IPad. We can use these when we do the background information for a specific time period, when they are compiling information for group work/presentations, and when we do our two research papers. Not every student has access to computers at home, and quite a few students are involved in extracurriculars or work and are unable to utilize the library resources after school. This might help ease their burden a bit?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tool #2 -

For blogs to follow, I chose people I used to coach with, friends throughout the school, and fellow English Department members who are all in the process of learning/completing 11 Tools assigned to us by the district.  It is fun to see how they have designed their blogs and to look at the different people that are following them, too.  I do wonder, though, why we are being told to do blogs since I recently heard somewhere (and through the comments of students) that blogging is considered to be a thing of the past??

This process has has been helpful, as it is always helpful to learn something new.  I will say that I am feeling quite overwhelmed, though, due to the large amount of things thrown on us at one time.  I don't think we are being given enough time to "enjoy the ride" as we learn? In all, personal learning networks can be beneficial, and sharing with other teachers and organizations can freshen up a classroom.  

Some of my colleagues were discussing the fact that it would be a good thing if we were consistent in  visiting/revisiting the blogs of our department, especially our specific teams. I have absolutely no idea of other blogs (other than the mommy blogs I look at once in a while) to view, so someone in my team suggested one from major news publications.  They tend to be more up to date and deal with the nation as opposed to what the state is currently trying to push?  

Tool #7 - Collaboration

The students will collaborate with Mrs. Ammon's 12th grade classrooms using Skype concerning ideas  for their persuasive research paper.  As papers are started at the beginning of the semester, the project would need to be done as soon as students came back from Winter Break. They will have the chance to share topics/current ideas for their assignment.   Skype and Google Docs will be utilized.

The Plan:
Before Skyping another classroom, we will discuss current issues that are suitable for argumentative topics.  We will use the LRC to research this information and place topics in Google Docs.   Mrs. Ammon's 12th grade classroom will be contacted to discuss those topics which are the most suitable and have the easiest, most credible information to access.   Since the opposing side will have to be acknowledged in the paper, we will also need to discuss the different opinions. From there, we will listen to their opinions and form a list of subjects which are acceptable on the 12th grade level.  Finally, students will type a response paper to one topic.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tool #8 - Looking at the Tools

Netbooks - Netbook computers for my classroom...yay!  They will be equipped with Windows 7, so I will have to learn the different looks/features so I am up to speed with what the kids are using.  They will also have webcams which will make collaboration and projects much more within reach.

IPads - I have never used an IPad, but am hoping it is easy to use, like my IPhone.  I know that I will have to put my classroom webpage in an app.  I found ideas for appropriate apps for the IPads I will be receiving.  Unfortunately, I will have to create a new account in ITunes for Spring Branch, even though I already have an existing ITunes account.

Management - It will be interesting to try and figure out a way to utilize the small amount of IPads and Netbooks (8 total) when I have over 30 kids in a room.  I worry about keeping them working and in tact.  I think technology contracts for the classroom will be a must to hold the kids accountable.  Even though the challenges seem to be many, I am excited to get these items in my room.

Tool #6 - Using Web Tools for Discussion


Poll Everywhere could serve as a quick, easy to way both engage students and perhaps make them be held accountable?  And then act as a springboard for discussions as to what made an answer right or wrong?

Blogger has helped me get ideas from colleagues as to what does and doesn't work.  I think in the future it might be something good for the students to be able to get immediate feedback from one another.  It would be a good, go-to spot so that people don't have to go to multiple sites to do