Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Reflections of summer

While I was visiting a friend recently, her husband said, "So, what's it like to have the summer off?" I laughed and said, "I guess I'm not going to school, but I still have so much to do!" I listed books that need cataloging, Bluebonnet books I need to read (so I can converse with my students in the Fall about what book they like the best), trying out new websites, and planning my maker space. Needless to say, after my conversation with him I sat down for awhile with Twitter and Pinterest until I felt I had curated enough for one evening.

I love summer, but NOT because I'm not working, because believe me I am! I love it because it gives me time to reflect on new learning, connect with like-minded educators, and really think about my goals for the coming school year. I have not attended a conference, big or small, this summer, and I miss it! I have tried to keep up with tweets from ISTE and ALA to catch a glimpse into what is going on in my realms of interest, but it's not the same.

This week I will have to spend time organizing the links, tweets, ideas, and websites shared by my virtual, growing PLN. I will need more time to reflect, connect, and bounce questions and ideas off of the growing number of educators I am connected with thanks to Twitter and Pinterest.

What's it like to have my summer off? It's a lot of work!

Monday, May 20, 2013

March/April reflection - Online PLN experience

For my online PLN experience, I participated in the FETC Virtual Leadership Summit: Leveraging Digital Learning on April 11th.  I was able to view several sessions that shared many great technology applications and uses in education.  Our campus iCoach was not on campus during the summit, but she was able to log in during the morning sessions, and we chatted as the speakers presented information.  We shared ideas and excitement for the new web tools, Apple apps, and innovations that these experts shared. Some of the topics discussed were: "Technology Smackdown", "Walk the Talk: effective use of Technology", "iPads for Learning and Teaching", "Promising Technologies, Creativity & Teaching: 25 ideas", and "Super Secret Twitter Tips, Tricks, and Resources."

My favorite pieces of take-away information came from the "Technology Smackdown" session.  I loved the web tools that John Kuglin shared. Some I had heard of before, like Popcorn Maker and Thinglink, which allow you to layer audio, video, web links, and text to make a very interactive product. One I had not heard about yet was knovio, which is an educational site that stores lessons made by other educators, and has an app that allows easy access for students. Flipping your classroom just became a little easier! One last one that I want to try is vialogue, which is like VoiceThread, but with video.  It allows students to view a video and make a comment about it to encourage discussion of the topic right there.

I really enjoyed this format, and I have signed up for several other webinars through School Library Journal, edWeb, and Edudemic that I hope to view throghout the summer.  What I enjoy most about virtual webinars and session like these, is that I can connect with actual experts in the area of technology and also with experts in my area of interest, books and libraries, and on my time and schedule since most are archived for later viewing.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

February reflection - PLN

I find that I do some of my best learning and discovering of new ideas while surfing my favorite sites in the evenings on my couch!  That is the beauty of a PLN and PLE.  It allows my learning to be personal and relevant to what I need in order for my teaching to grow and develop. I am encouraged to hear that SBISD is considering using a teacher's PLN as a way to give credit for professional development. It gives value to the time a teacher spends making connections outside the district, as well as encourages conversations to happen across the district while acknowledging the time commitment.

I have found several places on the world wide web that have connected me to experts, leaders, and innovators in education.
  • Pinterest: Here is my Technology board. I have found Pins for so many new websites, apps, and things to try that I need to have more time to actually go back through them and read, dig, and TRY them all!
  • Twitter: The person I make sure an read links from on my Twitter feed is John Schu () because he always has a good book to recommend! Two technology twitter feeds I frequent are Cool Mom Tech () and edutopia ().  Not only do I get information on the most recent trends, but notices of free apps too!
  • edmodo: This is a new tool that I have been trying to utilize more often, as there are so many great teachers and communities to connect to.  The problem I have is that it is one more place I have to remember to check, and my student's posts are also in my feed, which makes finding teacher posts a little harder.
  • Flipboard: I like using Flipboard because it is a place that I can go to look at Facebook, Twitter, as well as other sources on my iPad or iPhone.  I have tried a couple of other services that pull information into one place, but this is still my favorite because it is just so easy!
  • Google+: I am starting to use this as a place to connect, but again it is another place to go to and I have to sort through personnal and professional connections.
  • You Tube: I love this as a place to share information of new books, authors, and videos of how to do things! Creating my own channels to save playlists has been my favorite new thing I have added to my toolbox this year!)
I don't know if I can make a visual of my PLN, but in my head, it is all connected.  When I find someone I really like, such as Kathy Schrock or John Schu, I find all the places they post information and add them to my growing PLN in as many places as I can! That way I never miss anything, no matter what I choose to look through that particular day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

January reflection - tech toolbox inventory

At times I feel like I have an abundance of technology tools and could never use any more, and then I find out about a new gadget, app, or website and I fall in love all over again.  As our teaching and learning incorporate more and more digital aspects, it becomes increasingly important to change up the things we use, clean out our toolbox, and look for things to make what we do new and exciting again. So here are my current thoughts on where I am with technology at school:

My favorite tools:

  • iPads and iTouches - I am always finding new apps that facilitate learning, creating, and discovering.  (I think I need to make a separate post of my favorite apps to use with students.)  One I just found yesterday is called "Cam On! Pro", which accesses webcams across the world.  You can see ecosystems, urban streets, countrysides, and businesses from Antarctica to Vietnam.  I use an app called "Apps gone Free' to notify me of apps that go on sale for a limited time, and try to add those to my devices when I can.
  • edmodo - This is such a wonderful place to share information with students and teachers! I am finding more and more ways to encourage teachers to use edmodo all the time.  Plus I love the fact that they have apps within the website that allow students to explore and create as well.
  • Blogs and wikis - I use my blog for the MWE library to share with parents the fun and exciting things their students get to do when visiting the library. I use wikis to help teachers offer reliable sources on the internet for students to use when exploring a new topic or doing research.
  • VoiceThread - I have helped first grade classes create VoiceThreads about the US symbols and kindergarten made a VoiceThread about Texas symbols.  It is a great tool that works on oral language skills and listening to one another.
  • google docs - I use this more with teachers than with students.  The netbooks in the classrooms do not always cooperate with google docs, and thus cause more frustration. However, I love the tools I can utilize as a teacher when sharing documents, access websites and linking my YouTube account.
New tools I am trying:
  • Go Animate! - I am using this with my first and second grade PGP group.  This is an animation creation tool on edmodo.  I am having them create an animated movie to teach a concept that they have learned this year.  It is a great tool to help me facilitate storyboard planning, as well as encourage creativity.
  • iMovie - I am trying to use this more this year when I am creating culminating movies for grade levels or teachers.  Recently I helped the kindergarten classes make 100 day of school movies.  I need to work on transitions of movie clips within this program to make my finished products better.
  • Glogster - I started using Glogs last year with my fifth graders, and have introdced Glogs to fourth and fifth graders this year.  Students love the freedom to create and share in this "digital poster' format.
  • Skype - My first Skype experience was this year with an author for our fifth graders.  We did a Skype session with Eve Yohalem, the author of "Escape under the forever sky," and she was incredible! It was an amzing experience that did not cost a thing, but allowed these students an opportunity to have conversations with an actual author. 
Tools I am not using at this time, but might again in the near future:
  • animoto - It is a good tool to use as an intro or attention getter, but I have not found a good way to use the free 30 second account (and that's another issue - creating student accounts) as a culminating project.  It does allow me the opportunity to introduce the idea of finding pictures that we are legally allowed to use in projects.
  • PhotoStory - I have done some wonderful projects with PhotoStory in the past, and love that it can be lengthy, uses text and voice-overs, and can be incorporated with many curriculum areas.  It is a time consuming tool to use and requires hands on attention to students' questions and inevitable problems.
  • Google Reader - I have one set up, but I am not good about checking it and reading through the wonderful things I have bookmarked to follow.  I need to clean out, delete, add, and update to make it something I want to spend time reading again.
Tools I want to try:
  • I want to help students create podcasts, and possibly video webcasts.  I have a teacher on my campus who has done this with her students in the past, and look forward to learning with her the process of making them better.
  • New bookmark websites, like Symbaloo or Diigo, which i have heard about, but have not used.
  • Google+ - I have not figured out if this is better than Facebook and Twitter, or if it is just one more thing for me to keep up with.