About sjr20

Creative teacher by day, fearless space explorer by summer. As soon as the school year ends, I'll by joining the crew of the Star Trek Enterprise and exploring where "no one has gone before." Luckily the ship and crew are tech savvy so no problems keeping up with the course work.

Wrap-up-Thing 23

This was a great course. I have been exposed to so many new technology tools that it will take a little while, and a lot of “playing” to really understand all the possibilities for incorporating them into my classroom. It’s also been exciting to read about what other teachers are doing, and see the collaboration that is going on, on-line. Thanks for a great class.

Podcast-Thing 18

Creating a podcast was much easier than I thought. What a relief!

As far as how I could use podcasting in class, I think one of the most obvious ways is to present material in an auditory format for auditory learners. When I was teaching English, several of my students really preferred to study the vocab. words from the audio program the vocab. site provided. I imagine I could do something similar with the key terms the students have to learn in Judaics. As a study exercise students could prepare study guides based on their learning style. So a visual learner could maybe create PowerPoint slides, or flash cards with the terms defined or even illustrated, an auditory learner could create a podcast. Then, if I posted the different study tools on a wiki or pageflake, all the students could access them. It might also be interesting to have students team up. One person creates a podcast, and another creates a visual component to go with it.

Web 2.0-Thing 22

It was certainly easy to get lost within this site given all the interesting threads to explore. What a great resource for teachers! I found out about several more interesting web 2.0 programs and got some good ideas for how to incorporate them into the classroom. This site would also be a good place to go with questions as I try to figure out the merits of various applications-for example Pageflakes or a wiki?

It continues to amaze me how many possibilities for incorporating technology into the classroom exist out there, and how many teachers are already doing just that. The past couple of years I often felt like I was banging my head against a wall when I tried to integrate more technology into my classroom. The administration/tech guy always had a reason why something couldn’t be done, and then, a year or so later, it suddenly could. It’s amazing to think about what education may look like in another couple of years as technology, and its acceptance in the classroom, continues to advance.

Pageflakes-Thing 21

It was fun playing around with pageflakes. At first i wasn’t sure what benefits pageflakes offered over a wiki page, but it seems like they might serve different purposes. I can see using pageflakes almost as a resource page for a research project. It would be possible to include video, RSS, podcasts, and a list of other resources, and then students would have a choice of various sources in different medium. It would also be a good way to direct their research. I could totally see using pageflakes for a Holocaust research project I have the students do.

I do like the wiki better as a classroom tool to keep students and parents informed about upcoming assignments, as a resource for hand-outs, and as a discussion forum. Pageflakes seems to be a good way to present a bunch of related information-a list of sources on a particular topic. But it becomes a little too busy when you try to include too much information; a wiki page seems cleaner, easier to read. However maybe I would feel differently if I knew pageflakes better.

Google Docs-Thing 20

This was a lot of fun to play with. I especially enjoyed creating a survey, taking it several times, and then playing around with the different ways to format the results in the spreadsheet. I can definitely think of several ways I could use Google docs. The survey feature would be helpful, especially at the end or beginning of a unit. I usually begin my units with a “key question.” Now instead of merely discussing the students’ answers, I could take a poll/survey, and share the entire grade’s responses, instead of just one classes’.

Google docs would also allow me to post homework assignments; this way, if a student forgot or lost an assignment, they would have a way to get the work. However I already do this on my wiki, so I’m not sure if there is an inherent advantage to using Google docs over my wiki.

When I taught Language Arts I would occasionally, to review a grammar concept, have students write a creative story incorporating the grammar concept. But rather than have each student write their own story, I would sometimes have them start, write a couple of sentences, pass their story on to another student, and add to someone else’s. The end results were a lot of fun to read out loud. There might be a way, using Google docs, to do something similar. Maybe  have each student start their own shared document, then another student could add to it. I’ld have to think a little more about the logistics.

The one thing I would also need to think further about is when does using google docs make sense, as opposed to simply using my class wiki, or the school server? The answer to that questions will probably become clearer as I become more familiar with google docs.

Youtube-Thing 19

I have used youtube in my classes a fair amount this past year. What I have found is that if I am looking for something very specific, youtube can be helpful. So, when I was looking for a video presenting a scientific explanation of the 10 plagues, it was very easy to find. However when I’m not sure exactly what I want, it is too easy to waste a lot of time browsing unhelpful videos. As a Judaics teacher, the other thing I found out is that I have to be very careful to preview the videos for any obviously Christian bias. Another concern I have is that it is sometimes difficult to figure out where the video comes from. Is it a reliable source or not?

I also checked out TeacherTube. I did find one teacher who posted project overviews, even her class expectations, as video. That’s an interesting idea, especially given all the data that keeps saying students these days need information to be presented in a flashy, fun way. I’m just not sure how I feel about that.

Podcasts-Thing 17

I listened to a couple of podcasts. PBS had one that appealed to me: the education podcast with Jim Merrow. Learn Out Loud also had an interesting series on the world’s religions which could be helpful. One concern I have about using podcasts in the classroom as opposed to simply for my own professional development is I’m not sure how well students would be able to absorb information when it is presented solely in an auditory style. There’s not even a speaker to watch! I do know teachers who have had students create podcasts. Perhaps if students have to demonstrate their mastery of a subject, having them create a podcast could be one option.

There is another possibility I’ve considered is for my unit on learning styles. It would be interesting to present some information orally, through a podcast, and then present that same information visually, and finally kinesthetically to have students figure out what type of learners they are. Which method was most effective in teaching them the material?

Library Thing-Thing 16

What a fun website, though a bit overwhelming. I enjoyed browsing the site, putting in some book titles I have recently read and getting suggestions for books I might like. One way I might be able to use the site would be with my book group. I wonder if we could set up a “group” on the site and use it as a place to leave mesages about the book we are currently reading, make suggestions for other books to read, etc. It would give us a central place to communicate between meetings.

Perhaps it would be possible to set up class groups, where students could leave comments on books they are readng, make recommendations to peers, etc. This would work especially well for free choice reads. I did have students post comments about Romeo and Juliet once on a site I set up for that purpose. It was to encourage discussion between students in different classes, that could also be a possibility. I would just wantt to be careful not to sacrifice in-class, in-person dialogue for the latest technology.

Delicious-Thing 15

This is a pretty neat site. I love the idea that I can organize all my bookmarks onto an online site so that I can access them from any computer, anywhere. I played around with using tag bundles, and it does seem to be a good way to organize the sites. Although I love the site for personal use, I’m not exactly sure how I could use it in a classroom setting. The most obvious way is to tag and bundle a bunch of sites for a project the students are working on, and then the students would have a list of sites they could use. I used to simply put a Word doc. list on the schools server, with links, but that did limit the students to researching during the school day (when they could access the server). Using delicious would also cut out the cutting and pasting step of that process. I imagine there are probably other ways to use the site, but I would have to think about it further. The “cloud” function is nice, but I’m not sure how I could use that as part of a lesson.

Link to my delicious site

On-line conference-Thing 13

I actually went to two presentations because the first one was so unhelpful I couldn’t make it through the entire presentation. The information it presented-technology tools to help students develop literarcy-was actually quite useful, but the format of the presentation was not. I did learn that I am definitely NOT an auditory learner. The presentation was a series of slides with voice over. Jennifer, the presenter, mentioned a lot of really useful tools that provide alternatives to the traditional reading/writing method employed in most classes. However there was no visual component to the presentation-other than the fairly static slides. I just could not absorb the information. I guess that must be how an auditory learner feels when faced with a page of text.

In contrast, the other presentation I attended was about tagging. The presenter, Chris, used video in his presentation so I could actually SEE him visiting the sites and WATCH him as he explained how to tag and the organizational/search benefits tagging provides. This was a presentation I did find helpful and informative. So, I guess the lesson learned is, just because something is on the computer doesn’t make it interestng, or more accessible. Just as teachers in the classroom need to be sure to use methods that appeal to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Teaching on the computer is no different.