Friday, April 29, 2011

Kerpoof Studio

Kerpoof is a free online resource specifically designed with students in mind.  The Kerpoof studio allows students to create pictures, drawings, storybooks, movies, and to practice spelling.  The site is very easy to use and students will get the knack of it fairly quickly.  The site includes lesson plan ideas to help you develop ways that you can use it with your students.  The activities are cross-referenced with current state standards as well as national technology standards.

Kerpoof is a great way to let students show their understanding in creative ways.  They can save work on the site or pictures can be downloaded as JPEG files.  Teachers can sign up for a free account where they can set up individual user accounts for their students.  If you use it in your classroom, let us know by leaving a comment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy and Google

We are all familiar with Bloom's Taxonomy and its revised version.  On another blog, I found a chart that matches each cognitive area with Google tools and products.  As you can see from the image below, there are many tools that Google offers that you may not be experienced with.

googlelooms
Google/Bloom's Taxonomy (Kathy Schrock) / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Want to learn?

Google offers two great resources to help you learn about Google products and help you incorporate them into your curriculum.  The first is the Google Apps Education Community.  The community forum has discussions, video tutorials, and a newsletter to help you better understand how to use Google Apps in your classroom.  Need a lesson plan?  Google apps has lesson plans that use Google products for all grade levels.  You can narrow down the list by selecting grade levels, products, and subject.  Search around and see if there is something you can use and share it with us!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Class Website - Beyond the Wiki

Your wiki page has served its purpose for years.  You used it as a repository of links to games and important websites.  You have relied on it to be a constant for your students, a place to call home.  As we begin looking to next year and how we can improve ourselves as teachers, you may want to consider creating a classroom website.

I don't have time to be playing with a website!

There is no doubt that it will take time to learn the tools and develop an effective site.  I spent many hours looking at other teacher websites and deciding how to shape mine.  It took me several hours more to build it and revise it.  However, I feel it was a worthwhile investment and keeping it up to date takes only 20 minutes every Monday morning.  Our Google Sites is a very easy to use tool and serves the purpose very well.

What benefit is there to having a website?

In my search for good examples of teacher websites, I saw two common themes:

-An information portal for parents.  Most, if not all, of the websites I viewed had a good amount space dedicated to providing information to parents about what is going on in the classroom.  A decent website could replace your weekly/monthly newsletter.  It is also a great place to give parents information about what their child is learning.

-An information portal for students.  A website is a great way to provide students access to review materials, videos, and worksheets that can help them at home.  Students that need extra help at home would have a place to go for guidance.  They would also be able to access the same links from home that they used at school.

Where can I see some good examples?


Below are some links to great sites that I have found and that I am using to try and shape my website as it grows.

Mrs. Mark - Fifth Grade
Mrs. Dunn - Fourth Grade
Mrs. Pearce - Third Grade
Ms. Winston - Second Grade
Mrs. Zider - First Grade
Mrs. Borne - Kindergarten

Want help?  Just ask.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Online Math Instruction

Have you ever sat in a parent conference and had the discussion that goes something like this:

Teacher: Tommy has not been very consistent handing in his homework.

Parent: Tommy comes home and tries to do his homework, but he can never remember how to do it.

Teacher: Have you tried to sit and help him?

Parent: I try but I usually don't remember enough to help him out.


Khan Academy

Khan Academy provides free online instructional videos on a wide range of topics from basic addition to lattice multiplication to advanced calculus.  They also offer a free app for iPod, iPad, and Android devices.
The videos are simple and give a good overview of the topic with visual samples.  The videos could also be a great way for advanced students get a step ahead.  By creating an enrichment page on your website you could provide links to relevant video topics and worksheets to test their skills.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Online Collaboration

Collaboration is very popular in business and education. Everyday it seems there are new ways for students to collaborate online. Google Docs is a great way for students and teachers to share documents and collaborate. A new way to collaborate online are walls. Wall programs allow you create an online space for students to post ideas. Think of it like sticky notes on a white board. Many sites exist that have this feature but two of the easiest to use are Wallwisher and PrimaryWall.
Wallwisher is intended for a more sophisticated audience and may be better suited for upper elementary and secondary classrooms.  It has a more mature feel and is better suited for the more tech savvy teacher.
PrimaryWall is designed with teacher and classrooms in mind.  The themes are more kid friendly and they even have lesson plans and ideas to use it.
I have yet to use either of these programs in the classroom.  If you use either one, e-mail me and let me know what you did and how it went.

Monday, April 11, 2011

HistoryBuff.com

I stumbled upon this website while reading through another tech blog.  History Buff is a neat website for anyone teaching American history.  The two best features of the site are the narrated panoramic tours of fifteen historic sites and the newspaper archives.  The tours can be projected on the big screen and provide a quick field trip without leaving the classroom.  The newspapers give you a way to show students primary documents that date back as far as 1707.  The newspapers are sorted into eras and are very clear scans of the actual newspaper.  Check it out and let me know if you use it in your classroom.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Do you have Technophobia?

Does the thought of using technology in your classroom give you a headache? Stop. Take a breath. It doesn't have to be complicated. Technology is a great way to change up the routine and engage your students.  Make a goal to try something new every week, something small. Below is a list of some ideas that you can use this week that are simple to do:

-show a YouTube video to the class
-sign up for laptop cart and give the students time to play games.
-use a PowerPoint presentation to introduce a new topic.
-use Kidspiration to make a graphic organizer with the class
-let a student show you how to do something on the computer
-get the daily weather forecast online for morning meeting
-use Google Earth with your Flat Stanley project

Do you have a simple way to use technology? Post a comment to share with everyone.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Podcasting

Podcasting was one of the first new things I experimented with this school year. A podcast is a downloadable audio file and is usually part of a series. It is essentially an internet radio show that you download and bring with you. The educational benefit to doing podcasts is that it develops public speaking skills and fluency. It is also a great way for students to be able to share their thoughts and stories with the world.

How?

My first project with the students was a simple book review.  The first student recorded their book review podcast using a program called GarageBand. GarageBand allows you to record and edit audio as well as insert loops of generic music and sound effects. It does have a bit of a learning curve to it and the files need to be converted out of GarageBand onto mp3 format. For subsequent recordings, I had the students record them using my iPod. Most of the students have their own and are very familiar with using them. From there I e-mailed them to myself. Once the files are created, they need to be uploaded and hosted on a podcasting service. The podcasting service stores the audio files and gives you links to the playable files. The company I use is podbean.com because it offers the service free and it is fairly easy to use. The links to their finished podcasts are on the student portfolio page of my site and on the podcast page of their sites.
 
Most kids were fairly enthusiastic about this project and very excited to go home and share with family. For future projects, I plan on letting students decide what topic they want to cover and how to present it. I will guide them to think about doing interviews, performing plays, or even singing song.

This may sound like a lot but it was really fairly simple and really engaging for the students.  They were very excited to have an audience beyond the classroom and school.  Want to try it?  Let me know and I can get you started.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Voki

Voki is an online tool that allows you or your students to create speaking avatars.  These avatars can be posted on websites or sent via e-mail.  The characters clothing, backgrounds, and voices are easily customizable.  Their speech can be typed in or recorded using the computer microphone.  Voki is a great way to get your ESL or shy students to express themselves without the audience.  All students will enjoy creating an online image of themselves to show the world.  Teachers can use a Voki to draw students to the class website and to start conversations.  Put a Voki on your screen and they will listen.  Listen to the one I created below.