Friday, July 29, 2011

Setting the Stage Revision

When this class began I was knee deep in promotion celebrations, field trips, cleaning--in general all of the things that go with the last two weeks of school.  This should explain why I don't have an initial setting the stage post, it got lost in the scramble.  I'll do my best to bridge the gap from this end of the course.  I found this class initially frustrating because nothing was working for me.  This has been my general experience with technology--I have an idea where I want to go but it seems like it's always five steps back to fix the things I need to have before I can move forward.  Things got fixed and I started to work my way through the technology. 

There are some things I really like, some that are interesting, and some that I can't think of a use for yet.  I'm more receptive to things like this when I can see their practical application, not just doing tech for tech's sake.  Happily I see more and more applications for web tools within my teaching.  Just in the past week I've expanded my skills to making a fairly complex Prezi and creating a movie/assessment using a flip camera and Windows movie maker.  I'm still surprised at how well that worked.  I still like the idea of a wiki (my final project) but I may explore Edmodo and see if it will lend itself to my needs for next year.  I still need to try out Jing and Screencasting but I think that part of my trepidation is just the recording and sound.  It reminds me of long ago when I worked for the Forest Service and it was always hard to talk on the radio for the first few times.  I think I'll get there, just not yet.  I'm glad I took this class, I think that it will make me a better 21st century school marm.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prezi presentation for three classes

Here's my prezi presentation that hits three birds, so to speak.  1) It's a new Web tool, 2) it's a technology for teaching project, and 3) this is my final inquiry unit.  Wahoo!!

http://prezi.com/6dlefunsumbz/inquiry-final-project/

Monday, July 25, 2011

I just made a movie!!

I am ridiculously excited about this, I suppose that mean I'm getting it finally.  I took this video yesterday with my new handy little flip camera.  As you'll see, this is a formative assessment for my students as we move through sedimentary rocks. Looking back over it, Hill #1 needs some more time.

video

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feeling more rejuvenated for next year

I'm so happy that I took this class and Inquiry this summer.  I feel like I have more ideas for next year to get my students more excited about science.  I also feel like I have some kind of internal permission to move toward quality instead of quantity (i.e., go more deeply with inquiry and consolidate more things, not just working off of my check off list).  I also feel like I'm constantly building chunks of lessons when I'm out in the world.  Yesterday I stopped at Vantage, WA where I-90 crosses the upper Columbia River.  I took pictures of the river and the hills with different erosion patterns to use in the class this fall.  Today I pulled off the interstate by Deer Lodge and took pictures of more hilltops with different types of erosion.  I even used my new little nifty flip video camera.  It's nice to have classes that create interest in teachers and not just fill in time.

Some quality time with Google

I've explored Google Docs off and on.  I like the idea of one space for students to keep documents because of the problems that arise with "I saved it at home" or those students that keep saving their documents to the desktop (not their drives) only to have the wiped off at night.  Unfortunately my school has a pretty strict policy for student emails and that looks to be the only way to set up an account.  I think I need to check and see the exact extent of our email policy.  We've also had problems with Google, especially Images, slipping things through our filter.  On the plus side I can see its uses for the professional side of teaching.  I like the collaboration abilities and the forms.  I can actually see how the forms will simplify the Secret Santa process for our social committee, so I need to pass that along.

I get more excited about Google Earth all the time.  I love the link to the Complete List of Google Earth Activities.  Even though all of the activities I looked at were college level, the ideas can be modified for middle school.  I really like the idea of a scavenger hunt, especially for Washington state geography.  Unfortunately this is in my teaching partner's area but the more the merrier when working with web tools! :)

Class final project

I created a wiki for my classroom (I teach math and science). I've put what I think I'll link on the home page. The Science page is the most evolved, this is an idea I've had for some time. I tried to embed the video and it looked like it worked the first time, but when I checked back it was gone so I linked it in. I'd like to expose my students to science in the news and famous scientists and then have students discuss and reflect in the Discussion area. The Links page is also something I've wanted to do for some time as well. Every year at conferences I have parents ask how they can help their students with math and now I have a spot that they can go to for examples. We also have books with internet components and this is a central location for both classes. My only question right now is how to give students and parents access to the ed. wikispaces. This is actually a public copy of the one I created in the ed portion of wikispaces. Here's the link -- http://jones-webtools.wikispaces.com/message/list/8th+Grade+Science

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blogs and wikis

Finally got to explore our wiki page on wikis and it was interesting to see examples of student work.  I found the shiny objects presentation interesting, especially that students felt more confident speaking out in class after they had done the mandatory blog posts.  I agree that it would be a good way for the quieter students to have their time to shine and would limit those students that feel the need to dominate the conversations.  I was very impressed by the TALONS site.  I like the idea of the sample lessons from YouTube on the wiki for students to come back to on their own time.  I can think of a math demo that my students liked last year that's going to go on my final project wiki after I finish here.  I did see how blogs can be incorporated more into the classroom, especially in literature.  I have a co-worker that essentially does the same thing with reading journals for literature.  I think I'm going to show him the blogs and see if he's interested in giving his kids that option for reading responses (if they'd rather not do a paper journal).  I hadn't looked at edublogs yet, but I like that they're a more secure way for students to blog.  I'm really excited about my final project wiki, it's the place I wanted to put all of my stuff.  My only regret is that it's not set up like LiveBinder -- I like that tabbed format better.  I think I also have to move my wiki into public wikispaces and out of the ed section, at least for the final project.  I don't think anyone else can access it from where it is now.