Saturday, October 13, 2012

ending reflections

As this course comes to an end, I can't believe how fast it flew by!  When I look back at my blog posts, I am excited about the new applications I learned about and used.  I look forward to incorporating them into my classroom this year and beyond.  I enjoyed the process of creating the digital story, and although it was more challenging, I also liked the end result of the infographic.  I feel like I see them all over the place now!  I did a search on Pinterest for "infographic"and there is board after board after board of examples.  I even found an infographic of infographics!

I feel like the work we did on this assignment in particular will be most helpful as this visual presentation becomes even more commonplace.

I really enjoyed this class and interacting with my classmates!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

PBIS @ Bridgeway

 Like others have stated, I had a hard time getting started...deciding which tool to use, exactly what information to include, etc.  In the end, I used Piktochart.  It was a new tool for me and I liked how quick I was able to teach myself how to use it.  I chose to complete my infographic on my school's beginning journey into PBIS.  I am part of the coaching team and I thought this would be a nice visual to add to our school website.  We are in the VERY beginning stages of implementing PBIS in our school.  There are so many components to PBIS, so I decided to summarize where we are so far.  As we learn more and add other components, I would like to create more infographics to document our journey.  The team is getting ready to write lesson plans for two parts of our matrix.  I think when those plans are written, an infographic would be a new way to present the information to the staff.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to be a Bridgeway Bulldog

Here are my kiddos!!  This project was a lot of fun and my kids were excited to be a part of it.

And on another note...I finally have my new website up!!

The Digital Storytelling Process

The digital storytelling process brings the writing process into the 21st century.  It creates opportunities to incorporate more senses to get your message out.  Adding voice, music, and other sound...along with images and video clips can totally transform the written word.

My digital story will be about students at my school following our code of conduct to be a Bridgeway Bulldog.  I have been taking pictures and videos of my kids, as well as recording their voices for this project.  I've told them about the project and that I will put it up on our class website when it is finished.  They are really excited about it and can't wait to see and hear themselves in the final product.

Plagiarism in the Elementary Classroom

Teaching about plagiarism in the elementary classroom...whew!  What a big topic to tackle!!  As a 3rd grade teacher, I have brushed the surface by teaching my students basic citation and discussing why it is important to give credit to the author.  I have not tried to get too "deep" at this age because you can tell when you are going over their head and you see that "glazed" look.  

At the beginning of the school year, the librarian teaches a couple of lessons about copyright, plagiarism, and fair use.  Having seen these lessons with my 3rd graders, and now this year with my 1st graders, I wonder how much of it they actually understand.  She uses this You Tube video as a main part of her lesson-

but I really feel like the kids just think it is silly and really miss the message.  While the video is clever in how they were able to put together so many video clips form Disney movies, even I am distracted by the cuts and jumpiness to understand the full meaning.  

Giving credit to the source is an extremely important topic to teach students-especially in the information age we live in now.  I feel like the younger-and more basic-we teach this concept the better students will understand it in their middle, high school years-and beyond.  I found this article from that I feel does a nice job of explaining plagiarism in more basic terms.  It explains plagiarism as a form of stealing and cheating-concepts elementary age students would understand better.  The article poses this question-

  • "Would I know this if I hadn't read it on that website or in that book?" If the answer is no, list the source.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Classroom Website

I'll be honest...creating and maintaining a high-quality classroom website is HARD!  I find myself with the best intentions, but so many other responsibilities seem to get in the way.  At times, there is not even enough time in a school day to get everything done, so finding time to update and maintain a useful website is pretty far down the list.  I actually have 2 websites right now-the one that is "live" linked to my school's webpage and one that is sitting on the hard drive of my computer waiting for someone else to press the magic button that will replace my old one.

One of my obstacles is the preferred platform for creating websites in my district.   It is a web-based application that gives instant updates when you modify your site, but it is not intuitive or user friendly.  Here is a link to my current site...Believe me, I know it needs work  :).  Honestly, I have not done much at all to keep this site current.  Everything about the application is frustrating to use.

We also have access to iWeb on our district provided laptops.  I have created a website using this program that I feel would be a lot more useful and interesting to parents of my first graders.  I have useful links and blog posts ready to go.  I have photo albums and slideshows loaded with pictures of the learning we have been doing this year.  It will also be really easy to upload media like movies and podcasts.  This site is ready to go live.  The frustrating part is that the tech department in my district has been dragging their feet and giving me the run around as to when someone will actually link it up.  It is actually a site that I am proud of...and if it ever goes "live", I will post a link to it and would love any constructive criticism.

A class website has so much potential!  My goal is to make it a place that parents will bookmark and visit often.  I would use a newsletter-style blog to keep parents updated on our learning; useful links would be provided to help parents at home; digital learning and projects can be showcased.

**As I was searching the web on this topic, a came across an interesting article from the Kappa Delta Pi Record.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Literacy in a 1st Grade Classroom

I come from teaching 3rd grade for the last 14 years.  After having the first few weeks of teaching 1st grade under my belt, I have a different appreciation for what "literacy" means at this age.  They are bursting with new knowledge and accomplishments every day!  When I think about integrating literacy into a science or social studies lesson, pictures and other graphic representations are a must.  Many students at this stage of the school year are unable to read (and understand) text independently.  Science and social studies lessons are whole-group, and I use my Promethean Board to project scanned images of text to make the lesson more accessible to my students.  Students at this age love to draw pictures to show their understanding.  Fortunately, there is a lot of really great technology out there that can let students use clip art and other graphics to show their understanding.  Programs like Kidspiration and KidPix have browsable graphics collections that allow students to choose just the right image to show their understanding.  It is also very easy for them to add text to these images, so the teacher can either require a word, phrase, or multiple sentences to go with the picture. 

science activity using Kidspiration

social studies activity using KidPix

I love using these types of technologies because of their versatility in differentiating for your different types of learners.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Wiki Can of Worms!

In my previous MET class, I had the task of creating wikis tailored toward a certain goal.  A digital storytelling kit and a place for 5th graders to collaborate on persuasive writing.  Working on these projects helped me see the power and versatility of a wiki.  Teachers can create an online workspace for their students.  Links to research, video clips, and helpful images are just a few of the elements you can add to create this workspace.  

While I was building my wikis, I looked at a lot of examples to find what I liked-and what I didn't.  What I found was that there are SOO-OO many educational wikis out there!  This wiki link has MANY examples of educational wikis across all grade levels, disciplines, from all over the world.  

Some of the wikis I found had so much information that it was hard to navigate the real purpose, and they seemed more like a class website than a place to collaborate effectively.  Here is one example from a 2nd grade class.  While this wiki is easy to navigate, the collaboration is hard to follow.  Each topic on the sidebar takes you to a taxonomy where it seems the class might have collaborated on ideas, pictures and links, but it is hard to tell.

Another wiki I found was geared towards teen readers.  This wiki has not been updated in a while, but it clearly was a collaborative place for teen readers to share their thoughts on many different genres of reading.  It is not the most visually stimulating, but it hits on some of Vicki Davis' other elements of an effective wiki.  It has a collaborative effort (teens write book talks), the book talks are organized into genre links, some readers provided hyperlinks to outside sources, and contributors were original in their reflections.

I think that wikis certainly have their place in the classroom.  It can be a wonderful way for students and teachers to collaborate, but I don't think it should be confused with a class website.  I think collaboration is the key, and a wiki should clearly show how students have worked together to create the learning space.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

my "take away"

I really enjoyed the introduction to the Literacy 2.0 text.  I highlighted several spots (in my Kindle edition :) and the one that really stood out was this-"The most profound technologies are those that disappear-they weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."  I found myself looking around and thinking about my house.  So many things in it were not even around 50-even 25-years ago.  But now they are so commonplace and I can't imagine my life without them.  Then I thought about my classroom.  And how my experiences as a teacher have totally changed since I had my first group of 3rd graders 15 years ago.  I had a chalkboard and one computer that I shared with the students.  Five years later I moved to my current district and school and thought I moved into a whole new world!  I had a DRY ERASE board, my own computer, and a small set of laptops for students to share.  

Now here I am beginning my 10th year in this district.  I have a Promethean Board in my classroom, and so does everyone else (except 1 teacher) in my building.  And when I say everyone else, it's not really an exaggeration.  In order to get the board, teachers had to attend district-provided training and classes, and create units and lessons as a final project.  SSD teachers, "specials" teachers, even the counselor went through the training and have their boards.  The 1 teacher mentioned earlier is close to retirement and has not fully embraced how technology can impact and change her classroom.  In the end, I really feel sorry for her class and all that they miss out on.  Other technologies that have weaved themselves into the fabric-all teachers in my district now have their own laptop that they take to and from school.  Students from middle school to high school also have their own district-provided laptop that they get to take home.  Second through fifth graders have classroom laptops and kindergarteners and first graders have at least 6 desktop computers per classroom.  Not to mention all of the different types of software we have for teacher and student use.  

When I began teaching 15 years ago, there is no way I could have predicted what my classroom would look like today.  Most likely I will be teaching for another 10-15 years-at least!.  I can only imagine what teaching, the classroom, and students will look like in that time!

intro & expectations

I am so excited to be continuing my journey through the MET program.  The classes have been very informative and valuable so far, and I really enjoy the interaction among classmates.  

In my teaching life, this year I have moved to 1st grade after teaching 3rd grade for 13 of my 14 years.  I am loving the change!  I have a Promethean Board in my classroom.  I love using technology with my class whenever possible, but I find it difficult to incorporate it as much as I would like.  

My expectations from this course would be to see how I can incorporate literacy 2.0 technologies in my first grade classroom.  When you conduct a search on literacy 2.0 or web 2.0 tools, the list of results can be overwhelming.  It's hard not to get lost in links looking for that perfect idea to fit into your classroom.  I look forward to learning from others some of the successes they have had incorporating new tools.  In searching for a link for this assignment, I came across this entry from a McREL blog titled- What's so different about Literacy 2.0?  I thought it was very timely for the topic of this class

In my student life, I am also taking courses from the Library Media Specialist program.  I hope to be my school’s new LTS (Library Technology Specialist) in the near future. Classes from 2 different programs certainly keep my brain busy, but it is interesting to see how the two programs complement each other.  

In my personal life, my husband and I have been together for 15 years and have 2 sons.  Fisher is 6 and just started Kindergarten at my school this year.  Sawyer is 3 1/2 and is quite the character!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Using Wordle in the Classroom

created using
Every week with this class, I am amazed at how many Web 2.0 tools are out there that I did not even know existed a few short weeks ago.  The tool I decided to explore this week was Wordle.  This is a fun tool that can be used in the classroom in a variety of ways.  A simple Google search of "wordle in the classroom" brings up so many possibilities.  This wiki had some interesting ideas for use in elementary classrooms (as well as a great list of many Web 2.0 tools that link to more ideas for classroom use).  This edublog also had many great ideas that I would be able to use with elementary age students.  Out of the many examples I saw, some that I would use with students include:
  • When students type any piece of work, they can copy and paste their text into Wordle.  The end result gives students a visual of which words they might have used the most (or over-used) in their writing (I copied and pasted this blog post to create this Wordle).

  • Use the application to create word family Wordles.

  •  Welcome students to their new class.

  • Since Wordle makes words that are entered more often bigger, use the application to take a class poll.  Students can enter their choice into the text box, then create the Wordle as a visual representation.
The possibilities really are endless as to how you might use this Web 2.0 tool in your classroom!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Social Networking for the 21st Century Teacher

"While the old web was about websites, clicks, and "eyeballs", the new web is about communities, participation and peering."  Tapscott and Williams, 2006 (page 83, Web 2.0 for Educators, Solomon and Schrum, 2010)

That quote really sums up how I now view my Internet interactions-especially when I have my "teacher hat" on.  Our assignment for week 5 was to explore new social networking sites.  

I already use Facebook quite often, but mostly for my personal life.  I "liked" pages noted in our assignments folder, as well as some of the pages of other education blogs I read.  I like getting the updates to blog posts via Facebook.  It is quicker than me checking in to the blog itself or even my Google Reader, and I can get a little snippet of the post to know if I need to check it out further.  I like this new tool  :).

I also use Pinterest...a LOT.  **I just added a "Follow Me on Pinterest" button on my sidebar if you would like to see some of my boards.  I loo-O-oove Pinterest!  Several teachers at my school are also"Pin-a-holics" like me.  When we see each others bulletin board displays or other classroom ideas we joke about how we "found it on Pinterest".  Because we all follow each other, we also share lots of ideas without even having to think about it.  One great example is this behavior management system that almost every grade level and teacher began using this year simply because we pinned it off of each other over the summer then talked about it when we came back together in August.  Now that most of us are using the same system, we have a common language about behavior choices.  This will really help next year when our school moves to PBIS and we already have the groundwork ready.  Because Pinterest brought us together.

I signed up for the following Nings-TeacherLibrarian, Teacher Vodcasting and Flipped Classroom Network, and iPads in Education, as well as The Educator's PLN.  I especially like reading through the posts in the forums of these networks.  The discussions in the threads are really interesting to read.  I have even replied in a few of them.  It really makes you feel like you are part of an extended teaching-and learning-community.  

I know I have said this before, but to say that all of this new information flooding toward me from JUST this course is overwhelming is an understatement.  It's all for good, but I am very glad that summer break is just around the corner and I will have more time to really digest it all and wrap my brain around how I would like implement some of these ideas in my classroom for next year.  And beyond.

My first Twit Chat

I participated in my first Twitter chat this week!  I was in the #3rdchat that "meets" on Wednesday evenings.  I was excited to try out a chat in this format.  I've used chat rooms before, but this was a little different to get used to since I had to make sure I included the # with every tweet.  A few times I forgot and had to delete the tweet and RT with the #.  This usually happened when the conversation was going pretty fast and I was trying to keep up.  The main topic in this chat session was creating a flipped classroom.  Because of the chat, I now also follow #flipclass, along with @claymayer and @JaimeVanderG.  Then it got even more confusing when I wanted to include both #s in my tweets, as well as mention people.  I think I finally got the hang of it  :).  

I liked that I had the chance to quickly interact with colleagues and learn about something new from their perspective.  By the end of the chat, I had 11 tabs open in my browser to go back and sift through new information.  I discovered Clay's class website,  as well as several others about creating a flipped classroom including this one and her interesting post about critics of the flipped class model. 

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and look forward to participating in more chats.  One thing that I think would make the chats easier is if there was a type of "info" or "about" for the # groups.  The Cybraryman link was helpful to know when the #3rdchat would happen, but I don't know if or when some of the other #s I follow have a regular weekly chat.  I posted a few tweets to the #s, so maybe I can find out that way.

Happy Tweeting!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

my ideas on networked classrooms

It was inspiring to read about how teachers were able to make the walls of their classrooms thinner by opening up to the possibilities of a networked classroom.
  • What are the advantages or disadvantages of a networked classroom?
When I think of any disadvantages to a networked classroom, my biggest concern would be student safety. When you open up your classroom to the world, you must make sure that your students are protected. Whether it is a website, blog, or wiki, teachers have to determine at what level student information, thoughts, and images need to be protected. This website offers a guide for educators on how to protect kids online.

After you determine the level of privacy you are comfortable with for your classroom, the advantages of a networked classroom are endless! You can take your students around the world to places most of them would probably never have the opportunity to visit or learn about. By using a class blog, you can give your students the chance to publish their work in a way that just isn't possible in the traditional class setting. Collaborating with classes around the world has never been easier and more exciting when you consider the possibilities of Web 2.0 tools such as Skype and Google docs. By building my PLN, I am learning more about how to create a beneficial networked classroom for my kids.
  • How can you slowly transition your classroom to become a networked classroom?
I think my first step to becoming a networked classroom is to explore using a blog with my students. I like this quote from the home page of Class Blogmeister-

Thousands of teachers have discovered the value of classroom blogging, both as an avenue for their communications, but also as a tool for giving voice to what their students are learning and how they are learning.

This link has some great tips for blogging with your students. And I came across this site to set up a password protected blog for your students.
  • How could a networked classroom address the diverse needs of all learners?
Creating a networked classroom has the potential to connect your students to learners all over the world as well as learners just across town. By doing this, students have the opportunity to connect with others like them and find commonalities they may have never found before.

#s are my friend!


I just have to say...I loo-O-oove hashtags! When I first started Twitter last week, I had no idea what they meant in the Tweets. Now that I understand how they work, it has helped me organize conversations to follow rather than feel overwhelmed by sifting through my feed. I absolutely see the value in following a # and using it to ask-and answer-questions, as well as focus your PLN.

Some hashtags I follow are: #ccchat & #commoncore (Common Core State Standards), #3rdchat, #teachchat, and of course #MBU543. There a couple I followed but quit pretty quickly because they were so "busy" that it was too difficult to keep up.

I just wanted to post my thoughts about this part of my journey. :)


Thursday, March 22, 2012

a timely Twitter post in my feed today

I just had to share this post that came up on my Google Reader feed today.

and the article that started the blog post-

I thought both were timely and interesting.

Happy Tweeting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

understanding the value of Twitter

I created a Twitter account a few years ago to jump on the bandwagon hype when all the celebrities seemed to be competing for the most followers. After only a few weeks, I quit using it. In my busy life, I didn't see the value of checking in on the silly details of what Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, and NKOTB were up to.

I will be honest and say that when I saw Twitter was going to be a part of this class, I had my doubts. My only experience was the celebrity world of tweets and I wasn't sure what the value would be. When I logged back into my account, I first "unfollowed" almost everyone on my list. After visiting the twitter4teachers I was able to find other educators to follow that were active tweeters. It was easy to decide who to follow-and who not to follow- by looking in the top left corner of their homepage to see how many tweets they have created, and to scan through their recent tweets to see if the topics were of interest to me. If I found someone really helpful, I also looked at who they were following and who was following them to expand my network. I have also gone back to some of my favorite blogs to see if any of them have a Twitter link and I follow them there too.

In a search for more Twitter help, I came across a post from this blog Now I am following him.

Now my goal is to find the balance. I have already found myself spending a lot of time on my Twitter feed clicking links and finding more people to follow. Since I am on spring break, I have the time right now to get comfortable. I will have to take the advice from our earlier reading-set a time limit for myself...and don't feel like I have to read EVERYthing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

my Twitter name

This is not a full blog post for the week...obviously. But I wanted to share my Twitter name with everyone-it is heatherie73. Follow me :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Making Classroom Walls Thinner"

Wow. To say that the information in the first 2 chapters was overwhelming for me is an understatement! I thought I was pretty technologically literate, but the first two chapters made me realize how much more is out there for me to learn.

· On page 20, the authors described two snapshots. One black and white depicting the more traditional role of a teacher/student relationship. The second was a full color video of the same student not only learning from their teacher, but also interacting with teachers from all over the world.

· This quote from page 24 really spoke to me and how we, as educators, really need to get on board with all that technology has to offer in order to prepare and give our students the skills they need to function in this fast changing world: “What is defined as literate today may not suffice tomorrow, given the fast-paced changes in technology.” If we take too long to embrace the current, new technology is right around the corner to make us feel even farther behind.

· In the traits listed beginning on page 27 of schools immersed in global networks, trait 6 really spoke to me as an elementary teacher. The trait discusses how “students are safer” and how to go about teaching students beginning in the lower grades how to be safe when they are online including what information is appropriate to share.

· I appreciated how the authors spoke of having balance (p. 36) in this “constant access to information” world we live in. While I think this balance is SO important, I don’t know what I would do if I did not have online access. I feel strange if I go more than a day without checking my Facebook, Google Reader, Pinterest, email...everything. It certainly can get overwhelming to say the least! The “regular reflection” noted on page 37 reminded me that I need to weed out some of those Facebook pages that I “liked” a while ago that I no longer need to keep up with, as well as the MANY blogs in my Google Reader that either do not post anymore (or seldom) or just don’t fit my life interests anymore.

· I loved the tips on using Diigo starting on page 36. I came across my first website with sticky notes from other Diigo users. I looked up the website for the tree octopus and saw several stickies on the page.

Chapters 1 & 2 were difficult for me to get through simply because I had to wrap my brain around all of the different tools and strategies mentioned. Chapter 3 was a breeze! I loved reading about the many different ways teachers have created wonderful learning experiences for their students through networked learning. I wrote down so many websites to check soon as I get this blog entry posted J.

· I love the analogy the authors used on page 76 comparing teaching students how to make smart decisions when they get behind the wheel of a car and teaching them how to also drive on the web. They have to know that almost all of the rules that apply to face-to-face conversations apply online as well.”

· I had the chance to look at the Creative Commons website and read a bit of information. I am really interested in getting deeper into this topic. The librarian at my school always spends a few lessons at the beginning of the year (and sporadically throughout) talking about copyright. To be honest, it goes right over my 3rd graders heads. As a future librarian and technology specialist, I want to find a way to explain this topic to kids at the elementary level that makes sense in their world.

· I appreciate the reminders and hints at the end of chapter 3 starting on page 81: it starts with you; start small; embrace uncertainty and failure; model, model, model; remember the goal. Oftentimes, I find myself wanting to jump right in to something new.

After reading these three chapters, I understand that this is a process I must take step by step for myself before I can begin the journey with my students.