This is the name of the presentation I am giving at the Northern Illinois Computing Educators (NICE) Mini-Conference this Saturday, January 31st. Stay tuned for my presentation notes, complete with links to various tools and resources.
To prepare for my workshop, my 3rd graders created posts today on our classroom blog that are reflections on the blogging experience. The questions I asked them were: What do you like about blogging? Why is it different then writing things down in your writer’s notebook? Do you like giving or receiving comments better? What is your favorite comment that you received? What is your favorite post that you have written? What else would you like to write about on the blog?
Here are some of their thoughts:
“I like blogging because typing is easier and you don’t get writer’s cramp.”
“I like receiving comments because each new one is from a new person in the world.”
“I like blogging because it is relaxing.”
Please visit “The View from 3rd Grade” to read the rest of their thoughts. Please also take 5 minutes to leave a comment. The 3rd graders have worked hard and they get so jazzed when others notice!
Halloween can be so much fun, but it’s also a “lost day” for curriculum. Earlier in the week I had let our 3rd graders go onto their blog pages to create titles and choose templates. Their excitement was encouraging and I thought that maybe I could have them begin to create their first posts on Friday (also Halloween).
The assignment for their first posts was about friendship and they had to respond to the following questions: What qualities do you look for in a friend? What are some responsibilities that you have toward your friends? If friendship were a color, what color would it be for you? How are you a good friend to other people? What’s your favorite thing to do with a friend?
At 8:00am they arrived to school bouncing off the walls and in full costume. We had 3 of the 4 Beatles, a ladybug, a birthday present, Indiana Jones, and so on. By 8:20 I was reminding them that the parade was not until 10:00 and we that we needed them to calm down and cooperate. Now I was having serious misgivings about doing anything academic.
At 8:30, half of the class went to science and the other half followed me (dressed as Bob the Builder) into our smaller room down the hall. They were very excited when I told them to each get a laptop because we would be writing our first blog posts. I gave directions while demonstrating on my new smartboard and set them to work. I walked around between the tables to monitor their progress and to be available for tech assistance. As I walked around I realized very quickly that it was totally silent except for the sound of fingers tapping on the keyboards. Here were thirteen 8 and 9-year old kids in full costume, working, focused, engaged, happy. It was an awesome sight. I was further amazed when almost half of them completed the post before time was up. I was only requiring 4 sentences, but that can take an eternity for a child who is new to typing.
Now our classroom blog is up and running! Please click here to see The View From 3rd Grade or click the link to the right under the “Additions” menu. The 3rd graders are excited and ready to receive comments from you. Drop on in for a visit!
Below is an explanation of the presentation I was asked to create for our annual school auction. Here is a link to the actual screencast video or you can read below and click on the links to screenshots to get the jist of it.
Earlier this week, Vinnie Vrotny, my friend and colleague asked me to send him a lesson that I created using my TabletPC and the smart cart projector on my floor. He explained that he wanted to use it to show at our school auction in order to share how Lower School teachers are using newer technology. At first I was very nervous about this idea, but I have decided to jump straight into this with both feet by using a new technology tool called Jing to share this with the parent community.
First I must go back in time to an earlier post . . .
Then I imported the text from the document into Microsoft Journal. This is an application on the TabletPC that allows you to write using a stylus. SinceI never have and never will be a great typist, I have enjoyed using this program for writing and projecting brainstorming sessions (like when we voted on names for the class gerbil) and for teaching cursive.
By importing the text into Journal I could model what I expected the 3rd graders to write. We watched a scene from the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When the short scene was over, the kids recalled what was said, what the characters did as they spoke, and how they felt throughout the scene.
When they brought their homework back the next day, I first let them share what they wrote if they wanted to. The kids were very eager and as they shared I mentally selected “good candidates” for writing out the scene with all of the parts in one paragraph.
Here was a scene that a student shared from the movie The Parent Trap. We began our class rewrite with some of the dialogue she wrote down. Next we chose a sentence that explained the setting of the scene. Then came more dialogue and we inserted some action for the character, Hallie. The class decided to put in some of what Annie, Hallie’s twin, was feeling. Then we concluded the paragraph with Annie’s final statement and some more action.
What we ended up with was a paragraph that would give a reader a clear picture of what is going on in the scene.
The 3rd graders used this and other lessons to help them write their fiction stories which were presented at our annual “Hot Chocolate House.”
Parents and alumni, thank you for supporting the teachers and students by coming out the the “Green B. Lounge!”
So I’ve unplugged a bit lately due to the busyness of life at home and school. Of course I have a million excuses for why it is okay that I have not met some of the Web 2.0 goals I had made for myself after participating in the K12online Conference. Here are just a few of my excuses:
1) I can’t show the kids that new program because the smart cart is too big to fit comfortably in my room along with 15 third graders.
2) I’m too bogged down by email to get past my inbox each day (and I think they must breed in there because there is always more each day).
3) No one (administration, parents, other teachers, etc.) is forcing me to try all these new Web 2.0 tools, so I don’t have to.
4) It’s too hard to implement more tech into my curriculum because I don’t yet have “buy in” from my fellow teachers whose support I need to have.
5) I am not as excited to post on this blog these days because I am not getting the readership I had hoped I would.
OKAY, OKAY, OKAY . . . now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I need to get back on track. Here are the reasons why I have to get past the excuses:
1) I knew it would be hard to jump onto a moving train. Yes, getting “plugged in” is a lot like drinking from a fire hose, but that doesn’t mean that I should “unplug” when I get overwhelmed. One way I am doing that is by focusing on one tool to implement in my classroom. After I get one success under my belt, I will be ready to take on the next new tool.
2) My students will benefit from my newly acquired knowledge. I have already impressed them by using simple programs like Microsoft Journal to record thoughts they have brainstormed for social studies and writing. They are much more comfortable with technology than I am because there world has never been without it.
3) I am personally benefiting from each new skill I learn. I have already made new friends that I haven’t met (yet.) People read my blog (even though it is not as many people as I would like) and give me positive feedback.
4) I have to help bring my fellow teachers “on board.” If I wait for some of them to be as fire up as I am, it could be a long wait. If I keep them posted on my progress and show them tools that would be easy for them to learn, I am sure that someone will be inspired. I am going to start by showing Brian Crosby’s keynote address from the K12online called “Obstacles to Opportunities – The Whys and Wherefores.” You should check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.
I got this ball rolling and I need to keep it going now. I’ll keep you all posted throughout my journey.
No more excuses . . . for now.
This has been such a busy two weeks! I was invited by a friend/colleague to join in the K12 Online Conference and it has been amazing. I won’t even try to list the new programs and things I want to play around with, but I strongly urge you to click the link above to find things that interest YOU.
Here are some things I have taken away from this experience:
1) Taking the risk often pays off
We all get comfortable at some point in our lives and feel like things should just stay as they are. Although it is nice to feel safe, it also means you stop growing in a way. Watching these presentations was not risky – just a time investment. But joining the live chat events and talking with people who are fully immersed in web 2.0 practices was risky. I had no idea how I would be received. As a result of taking the risk, I have already expanded my network of colleagues to people who teach in other places in the world.
2) Don’t keep it all to yourself
When I began this journey toward integrating tech into my classroom in 21st century ways, I was doing it because I was trying to make a name for myself. Being a young teacher and working for a school with yearly contracts makes me feel like my position is somewhat vulnerable. I wanted to become indispensable. Next, I thought about the ways I could effect the lives of the students in my classroom. So now, at least I was thinking about how to share this with 3rd graders.
Well, a total shift happened for me after seeing Brian Crosby’s presentation entitled “Obstacles to Opportunities- The Whys and Wherefores.” Now I am thinking about how I can “infect” my local colleagues (the ones in the Lower School) with the passion I have developed for this type of teaching/learning.
3) Say “thank you”
In one of the very first presentations I watched, the presenter reminded educators that we owe thanks to the people at Wikispaces, Edublogs, and Flickr to name a few. They have provided free access to teachers who are using these tools to enhance their classrooms. Wow. I had not even paused to catch my breath so I certainly hadn’t thought about giving credit where credit is due. A big thank you should also go to all of the presenters, moderators, people behind the scenes, and people handling tech support for K12online. I hope you feel your hard work has paid off.
While I am giving thanks, it is important once again to recognize the people who have inspired me to take this journey. Thank you to my family who let me shut myself in a quiet space to work on report cards and bounce in and out of “When Night Falls” (the 24 hour live chat event which concluded the conference). Thank you to the head of the Lower School for believing in me, encouraging me, and supporting me along the way. Thank you to our technology department for allowing access to many websites and tools that are blocked in schools around the world. And the biggest thank you goes to Vinnie Vrotny, our Director of Academic Technologies, who began as my inspiration and has become a mentor and a friend.
Now I must return the favor by inspiring others and showing them that a little risk, some sharing, and some gratitude can take you a long way.
Here I am gearing up to teach 3rd grade again! I have restocked my supplies, cleaned and organized bookshelves, created new bulletin board displays, labeled folders, and all of those things that prepare my classroom for the stampede of 8/9 year olds this Wednesday. These preparations are the same every year, so why is there a new spring in my step as I anticipate this school year? I am excited about infusing more tech into my classroom just as tech has become an integral part of our everyday lives.
This summer I spent some time getting “wired” myself. I was inspired by a presentation made by our Director of Academic Technologies on an inservice day in February. Next, I was invited to a technology conference in May. I didn’t have my first computer experience until I was taught Basic on an Apple IIE in 5th grade. Today’s kids are different, and if I don’t figure some of these things out I will not be able to help my students navigate through “Life 2.0.”
Here is what I’ve been up to:
1) I set up this blog. Those people who know me best know that I am always someone with something to say. Therefore, putting it into writing in the form of a blog was a natural fit for me. For those of you who are intimidated by the idea of blogging – take heart! There are still many way to get “wired.”
2) I set up a wiki as a space to write, share, and further organize notes. I was given a summer grant which involved a lot of reading. It was a new and different way to take notes. Now I don’t have to retype them later, and I can edit them as many times as I like. Click on the link to see what I have accomplished so far. This is a much more efficient way to work with a group than by emailing documents back and forth.
3) I joined Classroom 2.0. This is a great social networking site designed for educators. I set up my own page and was surprised by how quickly I began to connect with other teachers across the world. For those of you who are reluctant bloggers, it is a way to write short blurbs without the pressures of maintaining your very own site.
4) I began reading other people’s blogs. I use Netvibes as my RSS aggregator (a way to organize the blogs I subscribe to). I am in the process of linking some of these blogs to this blog so you can check them out yourselves. I have a mixture of blogs written by teachers and class blogs where the writing comes from the students. I hope to set up a blog for my class in the future as part of our writing curriculum.
5) I set up my family road trip on GoogleMaps. I was able to figure out the best route from place to place and link placemarks to webpages for lodging, attractions, restaurants, traffic information, etc. I could also share the link to my map with my family members ahead of time so they could comment on what excited them. Click here to see where we went!
So you can see why I am energized for this year in a new way. Far from being overwhelmed by technology (as I used to be)I am now inspired and trying out a “can-do” mentality. I know that embracing these things has enhanced my life, and I will begin to translate some of these new ideas to my teaching this year.
Think of it as an adventure!