Back for a new year and new possibilities

I am excited because today is the first day back to school Star Studentsand I am recharged and ready to go. Students don’t start until next week so faculty and staff have a chance to get together and talk over new plans and get to know one another if they are new to the building. I am fortunate because many of the new additions to our building I know from earlier working opportunities.

What excites me the most is one of the teachers I will be working with,  a fourth grade teacher wants to start blogging with her class. It has been one of my goals to try to get teachers at this school to embrace the idea but they are so bogged down with testing that when I approach them with the idea, they feel so overwhelmed that it usually doesn’t happen. I am confident that if I can get one teacher up and blogging the idea will catch on. The big plan is to get everyone in the building making global connections! But I will take one step at a time. It is encouraging when the year starts out so positive! How is the beginning of your school year? What new ideas will you be incorportating to engage your students?

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Summer Vacation

It is summer vacation and I love this time of year because of what it allows me to do. I love to discover new projects. It is a time to get creative. As I get ready for the upcoming school year I am focusing on what tools I can introduce to educators that will inspire them. I look for tools that will engage students’ learning. Here are a few of the tools that I am going to share:

Voice Thread -transforming media into collaborative spaces with video.

Storybird– Collaborative storytelling
voice, and text commenting

Quicklyst– online note-taking and creating outline tool that is easy to use.

Qwiki– delivering information in a short interactive story; provided via interactive video

From year to year I do not know which grades I am going to working with so I thought of tools that I could share with each level.  In addition to these tools, I have read and I am following people who are collaborating globally. It is my hope that I can add my name and my school to the list of schools that are involved in this initiative. If you would like to learn more check out these links:

Global Collaborative Projects

Exchange 2.0 Technology-enabled International Interaction

Hope your summer is rewarding, refreshing, and sparks more learning!

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Flip Fading Away…Oh No

Today I read on twitter that Cisco has decided to pull the plug on their Flip video camera. They will no longer produce the small, simple to use video camera. I was saddened to hear this news. I love my HD flip camera which I have had since August. What a tremendous tool for the classroom. I have used it nearly everyday. By sharing this technological tool with my students it allows my students to create tutorials or directs focus on their presentation. I also share it with members of the faculty to allow them into my learning environment. It is a powerful learning tool that helps with self-reflection. My flip has served me well. There is no big bulky camera that takes weeks learning how to use. It was point and press the red button. I loved the fact that I could give the video camera to a 5-year-old and say go flip your buddy reading his story. The students would want to take turns reading and flipping.   I know technological advances displace older or obsolete models but this is a keeper and I hope my flip goes on to a long life.

Image Credits

Flip camera by CGermano24

Students flipping Reading Buddies by CGermano24

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Lucky Today Giving Tomorrow

Giving



Today is St. Patrick’s Day here. Many people including  students, teachers, and just about everyone around will be wearing green. We all feel so lucky and festive but, I remind myself of our friends in Japan. 

I have an idea to help spread the word of giving. Today at school my students will draw on a small sheet of paper and pin it to their shirt, a shamrock to symbolize the luck we have today and the flag of Japan to remind the students to donation money for the people of  Japan. Today is the day to teach global giving and responsibility. Won’t you please spread the word of giving. Here is how you can help donations

Image Credits:

Shamrocks on flickr by cobalt123  Flag of Japan by cgermano24

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Time Gets Away

I realized tonight I have not been posting for some time and I need to get back to doing it more regularly. It is not that I have not been on-line or not had any reflections I wanted to share, I have. What has been so frustrating is making the time to sit down and reflect.

For instances, two weeks ago my third grade class completed their research project which combined science, writing, and technology. They had to choose an animal then we took them through the steps of a research project step by step. We covered such topics as taking notes and citing sources. In addition, we incorporated brushing up on some technology skills. How to find information using the internet, determining reliable sites, and designing an engaging presentation.  Powerpoint was the presentation tool for delivering our research topics. We used narration on the Powerpoint slides so we also discussed tone and inflection when we talk.  The classroom teacher was adamant  the students produce a written copy in the form of a book as well. We invited parents and other classes to the computer lab to see and hear our hard work. It was well received by all our guests.

Guests

Fresh after that project was completed our student teacher did a unit on biographies. Again each student could choose anyone they wanted and would need to do some research . This time the presentation was in the form of a living museum . The students dressed up and spoke in the 1st person as though they were that person. Using my flip camera I went around and videotaped each student. We are going to give it to our student teacher who leaves tomorrow.

Which brings me back to my reason for this post. It seems like I have so much to say but I need to make room in my hectic schedule to celebrate what we have accomplished and share my thoughts about the process. Is it me or do others feel the same way?

Image credits

Clock on Flickr by robstepaustralia

Research books by cgermano

Guests by cgermano

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Smartboards spurs teachers

Everyone at NSES is excited because the new smartboards are here. Two of them are up and running on each floor. Training has begun with all the teachers huddling together sharing ideas. That is a great thing! Many came in early to be apart of this learning. I know technology should not drive the learning but it has added spark to the faculty. That is a huge hurdle. Many (along with some administrators) who in the past were resistant are among those trying out the new equipment. In the coming weeks, I plan to do a PD session on using wikis and blogs. It may seem to some of you reading this like, are you kidding? You have to understand it has taken a long time to get this far. It is baby steps but we are moving forward. In the new year, I have plans to have a third grade at our school collaborate with a third grade with a school from England. I am motivated too!

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When Politicians Talk About Education Reform

We are at a pivotal time in history when the digital age is transforming the world as we know it. Education is no exception to change. When politicians begin the discussion it is important for everyone to enter the discussion because it affects all of us. Will Richardson tweeted:

Seriously you guys…you NEED to watch the first five minutes of this video and start screaming. http://huff.to/eoBjB6  Seriously.
 
I agree with Will this is an important video clip and want to share it with you now. I think more people should view it and become part of the conversation. I would be interested in your comments.

 

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Playing to learn

There was a time when I thought learning was information that was taught to students by a teacher. That has all changed for me when I started using social media. The more I used my PLN I realized my beliefs were out of touch with education today. My philosphy follows  an inquiry-based, constructionist approach to learning. After reading a tweet  I found this cool prezi by Maria Anderson on learning. It reminded me learning also has to be fun. I want to share the prezi with you.

Playing to Learn? on Prezi

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Introduction to Blogs and Wikis

I meet with the principal to discuss professional opportunities, sharing information on technology with the faculty. After what seemed to be a long and difficult conversation he agreed to let me have one 45 minute in the middle of January to introduce blogs and wikis to the faculty. I am still getting to know the faculty and staff but everyone here seems to be willing to learn more about these tools.This is the first year I am in the building full-time. Last year I was here half day and at another school half day.

This got me to start thinking about how to introduce wikis and blogs to educators/students who have never used them before. I will start with a short video showing a wiki or blog. The common craft video series is very good at explaining them. After explaining what they are,  I think it is relevant to discuss how educators can introduce guidelines for their use with students. Kim Cofino’s blog post Student Blogging Guidelines gave me ideas on how to accomplish this.

I am very anxious and excited to get this happening. Two teachers I work with are eager to start using the wiki in the classroom. We are waiting for the parents to sign off on parental permissions. I have no doubt this experience will engage students and lead to deeper student learning.

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Change is good

Today I was sent a link to a news story from New York City. It was the announcement by Mayor Bloomberg of Chancellor Joel Klein stepping down and being replaced by Cathie Black. The reason this is so meaningful is what came out of the news conference. Mr. Klein will focus on technology and initiatives that help the education sector. He believes that this sector is ripe for technological improvements. Not living in New York City, I do not have an opinion on his leadership abilities. What I do believe is there needs to be some type of gigantic change in education. Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal Article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704635704575604781649624438.html?KEYWORDS=joel+klein

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