Thing 11.5 Evaluation

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? Skype, Screencast, Bookr and Slideshare.
2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? As with 23 Things, this program has shown me many more ways to learn about becoming a better teacher. It has given me more ways to offer choice in the classroom, too.
3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Tube videos that are actually worth watching and sharing.
4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
Nothing that I can think of.


Thing 11: Digital Citizenship (it's all about educating)

This past year has been a huge learning experience for me as far as technology goes. I feel like I am finally getting closer to understanding what younger people are exposed to (good and bad)on the web. A huge part of my job as a teacher is to be a guide to students, citizens in the community. The community has changed dramatically since I started teaching only 8 years ago. We are clearly a digital community (it is futile to ignore it), so keeping these digital citizens informed and providing ample opportunities to practice good citizenship appears to me to be the key as a teacher.

Simply dragging in the laptop cart for research and exclaiming "Go for it!" is an "out to lunch" teaching technique. Kids these days can certainly "find" "info" on the net, but inexperienced digital citizens can fall into an information trap that many fall into on the web. Google it. Well, ok. That's kinda like going to the library to research spiders and picking the first book in the library that contains the word spiders in it. You walk out grasping a book about covertible cars. Waste of time, huh? (Maybe not, if you end up learning about that cute little Alpha Romeo.) What's worse is if they do find a site about spiders, it could be giving them wrong information, or what's worse than worse is the kinds of sites that they may find on accident that have nothing to do with spiders or cars but people nicknamed Spider that you know little Jilly's mom wouldn't want near her in a grocery store.

Cool Cat Teacher makes this point:

If students take the "first thing they come to" to determine their opinion, then we are sorely at the mercy of Google's algorithms and the determination of webmasters who desire to be heard. Understanding how to search, how to validate sources, and even how to use deep web resources is an essential part of being literate.

I like the deep web resources idea. I immediately think of my first time creeping through the "stacks" in the most massive library on UT's campus, trying to locate a "deep paper resource". Although an overwhelming task for a Freshman, I felt like I was digging deep into a mountain of information to find the most crystal clear primary source on my topic. Deep web resources are a new, more user friendly way. Having a page with tons of links to muliple credible sources has certainly put research in to a tighter space :).

Cool Cat Teacher also points out that, "
The digital revolution has its own problems... largely due to an educational system that is plugging its ears and denying its existence, leaving children to self-educate themselves. (A formula that rarely works.)"

After reading a few of her opinions on the matter, I visited the following link and read the article on how to implement this. I like these ideas which seem to be good practice for all ages.


Thing 10 Virtual Worlds

I can see where this would be a video-game way to get students interested in learning. Visit a library, tour a museum, see the anatomy of a Tsunami, or just notice the vast variety of second lifers there are. I am concerned about how easy it is to get into some strange places. Making a wrong turn put me straight into a mature "place". How can I avoid that when working with this and with students? I am sure there is a way. But this "thing" has the potential of putting my children and my marriage into a state of neglect. My husband will surely question why I am interested in leading a double life. I spent hours just getting my Avatar ALMOST perfect. Also, am I negative in wondering what creepy web predator might be lurking around Second Life?


Thing 9 Slideshare

Yet another great resource for teachers and students. This is not only a great social destination for presentations, but a great place to find good examples of presentations for students to consume before they try to produce one!


Thing 8 Screencasting

This is great! Now I can post instructions (students created screencasts are a great idea)on how to get to certain sites or how to create with certain image generators at each of my PCs in my classroom. I also see how this would be a suitable scaffold for special needs learners who need instructions repeated. I will also send instruction to parents showing how to access our website, the pta website...and so on.

The screencast that I put together very quickly with GoView shows my fourth graders how to use an online dictionary to find the best meaning of a word found in their reading. It walks them through getting to the site, searching for the word meaning, highlighting the best meaning, and then copying it and pasting it into their electronic reading log. The password is johnston.


Thing 7 Video sourcing

All I can say is we've come a long way from filmstrips!

I am overwhelmed by the amount of videos available to watch. I enjoyed browsing throught the PBS stuff. I also liked the promo video for the National Archives. The message about documents as recorded history is important for kids to hear. As a writing teacher, I think the videos can help prove why keeping a journal (digital and print) is important. Also, as an historical research facilitator, the clips help us to see how primary sources can unveil history.


The above link looks like a great show to tie into my archeologist unit. We become archeologists and learn about cultures by "digging" through sources.

The link below is the Time Team America video about the Lost Colony in Roanoake, NC. I loved watching this because I have a lot of family history with this area. My grandmother and grandfather were married on Roanoke Island. My grandfather served in the Civil Air Patrol
there, and my middle name, Dare, came from Virgina Dare, the first baby born in the colonies. Her parents --The Dares--helped to start the colony. This could be a jumpstart into learning about exploration and settlements while also serving as a way for me to model personal journaling about my history.


Thing 6: ITouch IPhone Ineed a lot more time with this one

My teen aged niece graciously brought her Itouch over so I could check it out. I browsed through her music collection ( OH MY!) , I downloaded some reader apps hoping to get her to read more. "Look, now you can read these books on the plane!" I exclaimed thinking that I had done my duty as an aunt and teacher.

A few minutes later she was showing me the app that she downloaded on the trip over from California. "This is the one I like to use on the plane." It was a "game" that allows you to touch the balloons until they pop. Then she showed me the Zippo app. Nice. You touch the side of the lighter and it...lights, and it flickers as you move the Itouch. Apparently, this is the new alternative at live concerts. I was beginning to wonder about this little cute electronic device. How "educational" could it really be. I was envisioning a class full of kids ignoring a lesson while popping balloons, but the fantasy of all of my students flickering a Zippo during one of my read alouds as a sign of awareness that they were experiencing the best read aloud ever was a great vision.

I started to look into some of the other free apps that I read about. There are obviously several book apps out there. I wasn't able to find any that had access to children's books. However, I like some of the tools that you can use as you read, like how you can highlight a word and get its definition and how you can search the text for a part of the book. I can think of many uses for this as a Language Arts teacher.

I can also see where the math games and some of the other drill practice games would be good as a center.

As for a multiuser library tool, well, you could have them available for quick wiki searches, newspapers and magazines could be uploaded for browsing, and skype on these would be more compact...a nook in the library could act as a mini- teleconferencing station.

I am, however, not sure how you could police these things. It would only take seconds for a kid to upload the free handgun app and start shooting up the place.

I need one of these. I am trying to convince my husband of this. It's Just under 300 dollars, and the good apps cost money, and the books could really add up. mmmm. I need one of these donated to me, so that I can explore it in depth.

On a side note, my father-in-law told me about Kindle. It is a portable electronic book that is available through Amazon. I love that thing. I want 20 for my classroom all loaded up with tons of great book choices. Could get pricey with the uploads, though. This thing has the textbook companies shaking in their boots. I love this feature:

Automatic Library Backup: Download Your Books Anytime for Free

A copy of every book you purchased from the Kindle Store is backed up online at Amazon.com in case you ever need to download it again. You can wirelessly re-download books for free any time. This allows you to make room for new titles on your Kindle, knowing that Amazon is storing your personal library of Kindle books. We even back up your last page read and annotations, so you'll never lose those, either. Think of it as a bookshelf in your attic--even though you don't see it, you know your books are there.

Click on the pic for more info


Thing 5 Microblogesphere

Facebook and Twitter

I am familiar with Facebook. I use it to keep in touch with friends and relatives who I have a hard time getting to see on a regular basis. It is fun to see photos and witness my friends and family share their opinions and andecdotes.

Twitter and I just met, though. After doing some one-way twittering and looking for people to follow, I can see why it is a useful tool. I was able to find several educational twitters/tweets..I need to work on the vernacular. I am seeing that PR is getting cheaper and easier. I find it interesting that twitter (as well as facebook) can be graded. "What Twitter Grader is trying to measure is the power, reach and authority of a twitter account. In other words, when you tweet, what kind of an impact does it have?" Is this a pyramid scheme? Teehee. Here is a link to The State of the Twittersphere.

After reading Cool Cat Teacher's post about Twitter, I am stuck thinking about her thoughts. She wrote, "I think this whole thing should serve as a wake up call to those watching education everywhere that there is a growing grassroots efforts of educators around the world that are bypassing bureaucracy, textbook companies, and governments and connecting their classrooms and learning spaces." I too see the value in these connections.

I know that I will use twitter as a professional development/planning tool, but I won't be allowing kids to tweet on their own. I have had people trying to get me to look at their "photos" if you know what I mean. CREEPY. I do like that you can post tweets to a blog and have a feed of updates. This is indeed a faster way to update a blog.


Thing 4 Tubing

A Classrooms Without Walls

As I continue to explore in this Library2Play2, I am starting to see the walls of my classroom peeling open even more. I am surely getting a better grasp of what people mean when they say we are in an era where classrooms are "without walls". Connecting to the world is getting easier and easier as we learn more about the capabilities of the Internet.

The SchoolTube Site is impressive. The promotional videos give true accounts from students that prove that educators must meet them at their technological "zone of proximity". I will continue to comb through that site for videos to integrate and upload some of my own.

These sites provide a wide variety of voices and levels for delivering a topic. Short clips could be used as a way to get the students into a topic. I think a readers theatre archive would be cool. Kids can put together rehearsed reader's theatre presentations and upload them. The uploads could also be used to show students how to do reader's theatre and serve as a great way for kids to listen to good models of oral reading.