Monday, July 16, 2012

Cell Phones in Class


Before taking this technology class I was against having students use cell phones in school.  I thought they were just a distraction with students trying to text or go on social media websites while the teacher was talking.  While that can still be a problem if not monitored properly, I can now see the many benefits of having students use their cell phones to enhance learning.   The article 5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class discusses the main reasons that cell phones should be allowed in schools.  It explains that many jobs nowadays use cell phones as part of their daily workload.  So having students learn how to use them properly is only preparing them for their future.  Another great aspect of cell phone use in classrooms is that being able to access new information does not rely on the school’s budget.  Instead of having to buy new dictionaries and other resources, students can just look up the most current information on their cellular device that they already have.  It also keeps them up to date on the newest technology and apps that can help them.  Instead of frowning on cell phones in schools because the students might misuse them, it is our job to teach responsible use.  We as teachers have to regulate when it is appropriate for students to bring out their phones and keep our eyes open to what they are using them for.  I think cell phone use in the classroom can only benefit both the teachers and students if done properly.    

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Verbs Presentation on Prezi


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I have seen classmates present in class using Prezi.com and was excited to try it for the first time.  I like how it allows users to import PowerPoints that they have already made or create an entirely new presentation.  I imported some slides from a PowerPoint that I had previously used for a class as well as added some new information.  I also changed the format a bit. Prezi seems to be entertaining for the audience and a nice change from the normal PowerPoint presentation.  I found Prezi.com fun to use and intend to explore it further in the future.  Here is the link as well if you would like to take a closer look.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Digital Storybook

I had a great time making this digital story to introduce myself to my future students.  I loved learning how to use Photo Story and look forward to using it again to enhance my classroom.
My story can also be found here on vimeo.com.  I hope you enjoy!

PowerPoint

I had never thought of the negative aspects of using PowerPoint until I read the article PowerPoint is Evil.  Although I don’t think it evil and as terrible as the author describes, I do now better understand how it can hinder people’s presentations.  It does kind of make presenters seems like sales people and many do rely more on the slides for everything they say instead of using it as reinforcement.   The author Edward Tufte says “Rather than learning to write a report using sentences, children are being taught how to formulate client pitches and infomercials.”  I don’t think students are only being taught how to use PowerPoint and not being shown how to write reports and understand sentence structure.  I think this is a bit of an exaggeration, but do understand where he is coming from that those skills must not be forgotten in the classroom as well. 

As some further research, I found the article PowerPoint Presentations: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which reinforced the weaknesses that Tufte pointed out in his article, but also mentioned some positives of PowerPoint and tips of how to use it effectively.  It mentions that teachers should only use the program for key graphics and try to avoid using text on slides except for the main ideas.  Teachers also shouldn’t make students use PowerPoint for their presentations, but rather give them options and other ways to show visuals to the class.  This will also help with eliminating “dueling PowerPoint” in the classroom, meaning students trying to outdo each other. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freetech4teachers.com Revisited

I enjoyed going back to visit the blog www.freetech4teachers.com and reading about how to incorporate Skype into the classroom. The author, Lisa Mims, explained she used the video chat for the first time this past school year and the many ways in which it was a success. Skype allows students to meet and learn from people all over the world.  A really cool project the class participated in was called Mystery State.  This allows two classes to communicate via Skype and give clues about which state they live in.  The students have a lot of fun guessing where the class is from while also learning about that state.  The class also used Skype to participate in a Read Aloud program.  Students all over read the same book and then have a discussion via webcam.  This promotes critical thinking skills as well as being able to hear other student’s opinions from different backgrounds.  One of the main things when having a Skype discussion is to make sure the class is prepared beforehand.  They should have their questions ready and be reminded to be good listeners when it is not their turn.  This will help make the experience much smoother and beneficial for all.  I look forward to implementing Skype and these fun opportunities in my future classroom. 

Group Podcast

Our group decided to create a podcast explaining how Pinterest can be used to help teachers come up with ideas for their classrooms.  On the podcast I talk about some activities I used with my first graders inspired by Pinterest. :)

Safe Online Talk: Grades 6 – 8

Common Sense Media’s lesson teaches middle school students how to handle inappropriate talk on the internet.  Students explore positive online talk as well as situations when they may feel uncomfortable online, such as when a stranger instant messages them, and decide whether the language is okay or risky.  Students are shown a short video at the beginning of the lesson going over how to communicate with others on the internet.  The teacher then explains strategies for deciding what kind of language is appropriate online.  Afterwards, the students get into groups while the teacher explains an online scenario, and they decide if the talk is appropriate.  The students come to understand that flirting online is risky and should not be taken lightly.  At the end of the lesson students should feel empowered about staying safe online.