Overall, I think it has been a good experience and served as an opportunity for me to make time to actually play with many of the tools I’ve read about or experimented with breifly. I think it has opened the eyes of some people to the reality of how much the world has changed and how we can’t just say, “Let’s add some technology to this lesson.” We have to actually know the different technologies, determine the best technology for the lesson and then be able to teach our students how to effectively use the technology, while still implementing our standards.
Throughout the 2011-2012 school year, I plan to offer mini-lessons to the teachers to share ideas of how to actually use these technologies in their classrooms. I hope that by taking the time to show them one-on-one or in their teams, collaborations will increase along with student achievement and interest. It should be an exciting time!
I skimmed through multiple articles, but the one that caught my eye was from the NYTimes Education RSS feed. The article, For More Students, Working on Wikis Is Part of Making the Grade discusses how wikis are being used in a college in Singapore and how both the students and the professor have had to changed their way of thinking and evaluating their work. The professor’s comments made me think about how as educators we have to retrain our brain to move forward with technology and effectively assessing our students’ projects. When he first started working with wikis, he had the students immediately publish their work as they went along, which left their unfinished work open to comments. This intimidated many students and so he revised it to allow them to publish once the project was completed. I agreed with the professor’s statement when he said,
“Rather than trying to read a textbook and regurgitate it for an exam, in order to write coherent segments, you have to actually intellectually understand it and be able to craft your own words, and that is a higher level of learning challenge,” he said. “All the research on learning theory suggests this is in fact a better way to learn.”
It is a more authentic way of students showing what they know, and certainly a more creative way. I have been encouraging the teachers to try wikis with their classrooms, and so far I have had fifth and third grade collaborate with me on a student wiki project and second with a wiki that (for now) remains more of a tool for the teachers. It’s a start, but hopefully with time, practice, and continued encouragement from me, the teachers will begin to incorporate more wiki projects into their lessons.
Google Docs seems easy to use. I like that I can upload files that others can edit and changes can be tracked. This is great for collaboration, and would especially be helpful for a more detailed collaborative project that I as the media specialists may have with a classroom teacher. It could also be used for grant writing projects, collaborative projects for students in upper elementary grades and beyond. The presentations could be used among my media specialist colleagues to share and collaborate on similar projects that we have. I uploaded a script from my morning news show (originally a PowerPoint presentation) and it came up without issue. Now it could be shared and edited by my colleagues. A great option for feedback and alternate ideas that can’t be conveyed so easily through emails.
I have used Audacity before, so I don’t have anything to report. I am trying to get over the fact that I don’t especially like how my voice sounds and just go on with the recording. It sounds like this to everyone else all the time, so why should it matter? 🙂
I am trying to come to terms with using School Fusion, as it often doesn’t do what I’d like it to do, but that is because I am more particular about things. Overall, it was a painless experience using Audacity and uploading my podcast to School Fusion.
The first directory I searched was Learn out Loud. I searched through the list of podcasts and listened to part of latest offering from their free Book of the Month podcast. This month’s offering was, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. The books are classics, and would be quite useful for lessons for high school students or adults who may have skimmed through these classics while in high school or college. I also previewed their “Great Speeches in History” podcast, which would be excellent for upper elementary grades and beyond when studying noteworthy historical figures.
Next, I visited the iTunes store to browse for podcasts. I was a bit overwhelmed at the number of podcasts available in addition to the music, videos and audiobooks. I searched for “children’s books” and found quite a number of podcasts. I previewed “Read Aloud Books” and liked that the podcaster gave a little information about the book and also a website if students wanted to learn more about the book. Although there were only two books from this podcast site, it could be useful as supplemental material in the classroom. I then visited the Horn Book podcast and was disappointed to find that the latest episode was from 2008. Given more time to browse the podcasts available on iTunes, I am sure that I will find podcasts not only suitable to recommend to teachers and parents for additional reading opportunities, but also podcasts to keep me up to date with the latest books available.