Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tool #11 Self Reflection

   Now that I am at the end of the 11 Tools, I have learned that Symbaloo, a digital bookmarking site, is one of my best resources. Having all my bookmarks in one central location for my professional and personal work helps me to be as efficient as I can be at school and at home.  In addition, as I plan for the January 3 staff development with a team at school, I am using Survey Monkey to create a survey that will help me tailor the training to my teachers at school and Google Docs to facilitate communication among all the members of my team.
   My vision for education remains relatively the same in that students need to be highly engaged in order for learning to take place. The 21st century tools help change student roles in the classroom because with the plethora of online instruction, students can be a contributor in developing a path for learning. The teacher no longer needs to be the only holder of the knowledge, she or he can facilitate the students' learning by guiding them to learn how to learn.
   At the end of my introduction to web tools through the 11Tools PD, I have discovered that web literacy and digital citizenship are crucial skills to teach students in order to operate in online society. Moreover, the tools that are available to students to learn, create, and communicate are easier to use than ever. When our school finally receives our new technology deployment, I know that our teaching transformation can truly begin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tool #10 Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship is an important issue that teachers and our educational system need to address. Before the age of itouches, smartphones, iPad like devices, and social networks, the majority of student interactions with the web were confined to educational activities they did at school or playing computer games with friends outside of school. With social networking sites and ubiquitous smartphones, young people are now fully participating in the online world. While there are incredible opportunities to harness this power for learning to help students become productive people, students also have vast opportunities to be hurt by others and to hurt others by not realizing their duty as citizens of the online world.

ISTE has outlined some guidelines listed below that we, as teachers and society, must teach students about digital citizenship. Not surprisingly, the many of the topics parallel the discussions we must have with students about living in real society. Perhaps educators can and should discuss digital citizenship as it applies to the online world and the real world (should we refer to the real world as the offline community?) At any rate, whether one likes or dislikes student participation in online communitiies, young people are already fully ensconced in the cyberworld. We need to teach them to be productive members of any society. Using guidelines such as the one below will remind us that digital citizenship needs to be taught by everyone.
Student Learning and Academic Performance
Digital Access: full electronic participation in society
Digital Literacy: the process of teaching and learning about technology and the use of technology
Digital Communication: electronic exchange of information
School Environment and Student Behavior
Digital Security & Safety: electronic precautions to guarantee safety/physical well-being in a digital technology world
Digital Etiquette: electronic standards of conduct or procedure
Digital Rights and Responsibilities: those freedoms extended to everyone in a digital world
Student Life Outside the School Environment
Digital Commerce: electronic buying and selling of goods
Digital Health and Wellness: physical and psychological well-being
Digital Law: rights and restrictions

How do we teach citizenship to students and parents?
I believe that students should learn about digital citizenship an integrated part of their lessons. As students use the web for blogging for instance, a short mini lesson about ettiquette has to be taught and modeled by the teacher.  Occasionally, students ought to make short screencasts, public service announcements if you will, about being a good digital citizen. These screencasts should be included in the blogs for students to share with their parents as they show their parents online work that they are doing in school.

Alan November has taught us that students ought to be the driving force behind their own learning. Just as we can use the instructional strategy of "Flipping (where the student learns about the concept via video at home and practices homework problems at school)" in the classroom, we can also apply it to home instruction. Instead of the parents teaching students about digital citizenship or teachers teaching parents, students should be the ones to teach their parents about it via their blogs or tweeting to their parents as part of their classwork about citizenship.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tool #9

Technology should be part of the input as teachers write lesson plans, and it should be considered as they are writing their objective. The resources that are available to students these days online are incredible and the presentation tools help facilitate the synthesis of material. 
While requiring teachers to write technology into their objectives may be a viable way to encourage teachers to use technology, I believe asking teachers to add relevance to their lessons may lead them naturally to incorporate technology in their instruction.

There are many ways to use the tech tools including the use of it at a center or station. Whenever students do independent work, it is important to have an accountability piece to help students monitor their own work. Without it, neither the teacher nor the student can prove that there was evidence of learning.

I liked visiting MangaHigh and XLI Math in my explorations. Both tools allow the user to choose specific math skills to focus on and offers immediate feedback. The instantaneous response to students really motivates them to continue working and keeps them engaged. MangaHigh and XLI math sites would be good for stations and small group work. The teacher just has to have a reflective journal which asks students to respond or comment about the work they did while using MangaHigh or XLI math. 

    Some of the apps that I have discovered include Brain Tuner, Find Sums, and WolframAlpha. In Brain Tuner, students can choose three different time parameters. Students decide whether a given equation is true or false with a set time limit. Find Sums is similar to Brain Tuner only students have a set time limit to find all the combinations to a specific sum. These types of apps would require students to use the app multiple times in one setting to collect data on him or herself. A student would be required to use the app at least ten times to collect data about his or her progress. This data could be collected over the course of one week or two weeks. Using the app in this way actually encourages students to practice a given set of skills in order to collect data for creating graphs. Without the collection of data, the app may only have a weak hold on students' attention. Drill and kill apps can be fun, but they only hold the player's attention briefly. Wolfram Alpha is different. This app helps a student solve a problem and represents the solution in multiple ways. Students would benefit from Wolfram especially when working on order of operations. The station for this app could change from week to week because it address multiple skills across many disciplines.
    The itouch or ipad are great tools for communicating. Students can always use journals or notes for writing down short stories and capturing a picture for it immediately. Younger students could write about cafeteria life and take pictures to accompany their story. The combination of writing tool with camera opens the door to many opportunities. Math students can use the device to ask experts about questions. My personal itouch was invaluable as I visited bilingual classrooms observing instruction. Newcomers to the country have instant access to translators for many languages. The application of the tool is only limited by imagination.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Tool #8 New Tools and Management

    Although I was familiar with much of the information I read, I did learn that I can use my school computer to sync the new devices using i-Tunes.  Unfortunately, I am not a classroom teacher, so I will not be a lucky recipient of the new technology.

    The i-Pad, i-Touch, and Netbook all have incredible potential for learning in the classroom.  Like all other tools in student hands, the way in which students care for and use the tools are two issues that must be addressed prior to giving your students access to the hardware. Student expectations must be set, legal forms and permissions must be completed by the parents, and a plan must be set in place to ensure that access is equal among all students. Student and teacher accoutibility is crucial if learning is to take place. While students are instantly engaged with using different Apps, teachers must be viligent to be sure that students aren't just hopping around Apps just for the sake of playing with the new toy.

    I believe the best kind of uses for i-Touches and i-Pads is for creating and communicating with others. Using screencasts to create tutorials give math or other content areas a real life application for learning math.  While math Apps can be fun and practical for drilling, this type of Apps hold student attention only briefly. When students use math Apps, they often skip around when some thing becomes difficult. Finding Apps that help students to create knowledge is more worthwhile investment. As challenging as it can become to use teach the students to use it as a learning resource, the new technology coming down the pipe can be a great asset to both the teacher and the student.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    Tool #7 Reaching Beyond the Classroom

    Providing learning experiences for students to engage in activities that create episodic memories is one benefit of using on-line communities. Another benefit is that we can broaden our students' scope of the world. After browsing the various ways in which educators and students can collaborate with others, I think that Class2Class is a viable way for students to gather data for exploring trends, patterns, and/or probability. How could I use it? I would start a data gathering project for a proportions unit involving the colors of Skittles candy.
    1. Content objective: Students will know and understand proportional relationships by calculating the proportions of different colored Skittles in one bag of Skittles and recording class data.
    2. When you plan to implement: I would implement the project for about a three week period. As soon as the students begin their exploration of ratios, we would begin collection of the data. After students become proficient at finding the proportional relationships, they would begin to calculate proportions found from samples taken in other classes.
    3. What tool(s) you plan to use: I would use the Class2Class website that allows you to post projects for collaboration. Skyping other classes would also be a possibility.
    4. A brief description of the project (plan - two or three sentences): Students explore proportional relationship between the numbers of different color candies in a bag of Skittles. For instance, if it is determined that the ratio of red Skittles to purple Skittles was two to five, we would look at samples across the country. Students would then make some predictions based on the ratios known in their classroom and write their own questions like the following? If there are two red Skittles in every bag of 50, what would the ratio be if there were 1000 bags?

    Tuesday, October 18, 2011

    Tool #6 Use Tools to Promote Discussions

    Promoting on-line discussions is an exciting aspect of on-line communities. I am part of the Diigo community for I-Coaches and Emodo for SBISD teachers. In Diigo, I have posted bookmarks to share with others. Asking questions is a great way to engage others to share their ideas with you.  I posted videos from the Historyteacher's Youtube channel on Edmodo to share with the SBISD community. As long as the conversation is focused on professional discourse about lessons and strategies, on-line communities are exciting groups to which one can belong.

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Tool #5 Creating with Web 2.0

    Creating content using the web tools takes time to learn. Therefore, students should have multiple times to practice with it before working with the tools as a group. I liked Glogster for making online posters. Students could create posters review content or demonstrate learning. The Glog I created could be the "set" and "purpose" at the beginning of a decimal unit.

    I chose to create a blog for my second application in this section of the 11 Tools to reach an audience with student math tutorials. This is a project I am currently working on with some of my math teachers. Visit my Blog or my Glog at the links below.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Tool#4 Cloud Computing

    Cloud computing is a new way of sharing in which one doesn't clog up another person's email. I have created multiple documents to share with my colleagues. One was a copy of the teachers' planning times to share with district personnel who are visiting our schools. Having a document that I could edit easily and have the changes easily accessible was convenient. I didn't have to remember to send the revised version to anyone. My colleagues view the document through their mobile devices when necessary and can see the changes the next time they open up the document.

    The second document I created was a spreadsheet of student data that I shared with math lab teachers. Again, being able to access the information easily from different locations was great. When I was working with the teacher, I didn't have to log on to her computer to access the data file. I simply asked her to retrieve the file from her Google Docs. It was a very convenient way to retrieve information.

    Ways in which the teacher could use Google Docs in the classroom include any projects in which students have to collaborate in groups. Students who engage in group work often have the problem of having to email one another or share information view jump drives. Now, students can begin creating their research on Google Docs and work on them from home.  The forms that students can generate could also facilitate any kind of survey that wanted to conduct in an effort to collect data for creating graphs and charts.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Tool #3 Videos, Stills, and Fair Use

    Finding media to use such as videos and still clips is easier than ever. Using the resources responsibly, however, is one's duty as a citizen of the world wide web. The Fair Use policy allows users to use short clips of material as  long as the video or picture has been re-purposed. For instance, using a short segment of an article to illustrate a point in a presentation is valid while circulating the entire article for reading without the consent of the author is not acceptable.

    Fortunately, there are videos and pictures where the author or photographer has given creative license for its use to the public. Flickr Creative Commons is one example of such as resource. Another would be new sites such as CNN or Fox News that provides streaming video that can be used for social studies or science classes.

    I am currently exploring the use of student created video tutorials which give students a real life application for learning mathematics. Teaching others is a very rewarding experience for students. Giving students opportunities to consume student generated videos is an important instructional input that teachers should incorporate into their lessons as students learn how to create their own videos. To this end, I am going to use videos that I have found on Math Train.Com and some Khan Academy videos to give students some examples to emulate.

    To the right is a Khan Academy video and check out the Math Train link to view student generated videos.

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Tool #2 Working with PLNs

    PLNs are a way of allowing educators to take control of their own staff development and learning. As I was browsing through multiple bookmarks on Diigo and reading blogs that were referenced, I realized that there are many on-going conversations that exists on-line, and they are active twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Although I have always danced around the fringes of the on-line educators' community, I never quite felt comfortable with interacting with the "dancers" out there already in mid-performance.

    Discovering new ways to manage the information out there has allowed me a new entry point to participating in on-line communities. Starting with our own district's community has been a great way to start. I have been following Sara Wilkie, Richard Fanning, and Karen Justl on Diigo as they post new material for several months now and it is an ideal tool on which we collect information for sharing without inundating mine and other's email accounts. Wouldn't it be exciting if all teachers in SBISD were members of an SBISD Diigo so that they could begin sharing on-line resources?

    I am presently comfortable with commenting on the blogs of people I know, but I am still a bit uneasy with leaving comments for unknown bloggers. I guess I that will be my next step. Perhaps I will begin with Daniel Dkurapatwa's Blog, "A Difference."

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    Tools #1

    Creating my blog and avatar was easy enough. Playing around with the blog will take some time.