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.