My First Posts

2010 Edublog Award Nominations
It is time to nominate my favorite blogs for the 2010 Edublog Awards. This will be my first experience at nominating, but I so appreciate the wonderful blogs I learn so much from, I wanted to show my support for their incredible efforts.

Best Resource Sharing Blog – FreeTech4Teachers – All I can say about this blog is WOW! Richard Byrne has pointed me to SO MANY useful resources. I look forward to the new sites he highlights on a daily basis. There is no way I could check them all out, but my students benefit weekly from the resources he shares with me.

Best Group Blog – Coconnections – This blog is absolutely one of my all-time favorites. It is hosted by two co-teachers who have given their students a truly global perspective by going above and beyond what most teachers do. You will find such a variety of posts and subjects here. If it is your first time to visit, don’t neglect the archive of past posts.

Best Class Blog – Coconnections – I would also have to nominate Coconnections for the best class blog. Although this blog is not a “traditional” classroom blog, the students are fully involved in the posting, comments and activities you find on this blog. When you realize these students have to overcome obstacles most students do not have to struggle with, it becomes apparent how truly significant this blog is.

TCEA 2010
I returned from my second annual TCEA conference in Austin last week. What a great opportunity to see what other teachers from across the state and nation are doing with the use of technology in their classrooms. I, along with two of my co-workers, had the profound privilege of presenting at the TATN event held on Tuesday, February 9th. My presentation was on using Glogster EDU for integrating technology in any subject area. You can see the presentation done entirely in Glogster posters at http://ninapeery.edu.glogster.com/tatn-11 (follow the arrows). Jennifer Saccoccio, a 2nd grade teacher, showed participants how she is making her classroom global with twitter, skype, and her blog. You can view her presentation at http://www.slideshare.net/jsaccoccio/small-world. Pam Cranford, TCEA 2009 Classroom Teacher of the Year, presented a workshop on Moodle and made all her Moodle lessons available. You can view her presentation at http://www.slideshare.net/cranfordp/stuck-in-moodle-tatn. To view White Oak Intermediate Schools Moodle courses, go to http://www.woisd.net/view. You can log in as a teacher and view the lessons. You may not, however, register for the courses.

This was my second year to attend TCEA in Austin. I came away from the conference this year with some clearly defined goals for this next year. As the technology teacher for the White Oak Intermediate School, I will develop an Internet Safety course using Moodle and other online tools that meets the requirements for districts who receiver EPACK money. I attended a workshop on iSafe.org and a workshop on Good Citizens that proved to be invaluable for the development of my course. I will also work closely with the fifteen classroom teachers in grades 3 through 5 to help them integrate technology in their lessons. Over the summer, I would like to create some technology professional development lessons for the staff at my school using Moodle. I am very excited for the future of my school!

Below is the animoto created using the snapshots and video taken during the TCEA Conference. Enjoy!

My First Attempt at Smilebox
I just created my first Smilebox and wanted to see how easy it was to embed it in a blog post. We are hosting our second AHH (After Hours Help) meeting for the year tomorrow afternoon, and several teachers were interested in using Smilebox. After Hours Help is a non-mandatory meeting after school where teachers can gather and work on tech stuff with the help of fellow teachers. It is a great opportunity to spend time together learning and creating using our computer lab. It’s always a good idea to try something on your own before letting students or teachers jump in to it. I really enjoyed reliving the memories of our great summer vacation in Orange Beach, Alabama as I created this. I hope you enjoy it. My husband, the photographer, was so impressed, he’s going to purchase a Club Smilebox membership. YEAH!

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Sun Fun
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

TCEA Area 7 Presentation

A Class Project Using Etherpad & Wordle

Stand Back – She’s About to Blow!
800px-arenal-volcano

(Photo found at http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotos-g309236-Arenal_Volcano_National_Park_Province_of_Alajuela.html}

I really do not know how to begin this post. I just felt the need to blog about how I’m feeling right now, and that can probably be a dangerous prospect, especially since writing is not one of my strengths. School has been out for seven days now, if you count the weekend. I feel pressure building to explore the tech world. Nothing I do seems to lessen the pressure. It seems the more time I spend on the computer, searching for all the right tools and all the right answers from all the right places and reading all the right blogs leaves me even more convinced that I will never arrive where I need to be when I need to be there. Sound confusing? I believe the pressure has increased since the start of summer vacation, because now I have no excuse for not using all the resources available to me to discover all the wonderful tools and gadgets on the net that are just waiting to be discovered and implemented in a meaningful way to make my life more connected and to make me a more effective teacher. Whew! I might have to go take a nap before I can even finish this post. I mean, while school was in session, I could honestly say I did not have the time to chase that rabbit or hunt that deer. I find myself putting other worthwhile projects, like painting my kitchen or digging that hole in the back yard so I can put that trampoline flush with the ground or replacing the carpet with wood laminate, on hold because I haven’t arrived in my quest for tech. I so desperately want to be in a position to help other teachers in my district get on board with technology, but it’s like trying to stop a moving train to get on board. Sometimes I think other teachers must feel like they are standing at the depot waiting to board the train; they see the train approaching, but it doesn’t stop at the depot. They must risk jumping on while it is moving. I feel like I caught the last handle on the outside of the last car, and I’m holding on for dear life. My hope was to move inside the train to the comfort car where the java is flowing and the conversation is satisfying, but the train is moving faster and faster, and instead of moving forward, I’m getting tired of holding on. I know this is just a symptom of information overload. I know (or at least hope) it is a temporary feeling, and I will overcome it. I say “I” will overcome it, when what I really mean is I must allow God to set my priorities so that I do not become overwhelmed. I know He will lead me down the information path I need to take for my sake and the sake of my students, because He cares about all of us.

Does Technology Make You Feel Like This?

One of my twitter buddies (sorry, but I can not remember which one), posted a link to this video. I thought it was worth sharing here. Enjoy!

 

Taming My PLN
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I can hardly believe that just two months ago, I didn’t know what a PLN (personal learning network) was, and now I’m being taken over by it. I discover so many wonderful tools and ideas from my twitter buds and the blogs I subscribe to, but time management has become a real issue. Then there is the time it takes to check email and my own blogs to see if any red dots have been added to my clustr map from outside my own little area. I was so proud when the first red dot appeared outside of the U.S., but my husband said it could just be a “crawler.” I realized he was probably right, because I cannot tell you how many spam comments I have had to delete before I finally added the Askimet plugin. I find myself wondering if I missed something crucial because I did not have the time to check this or read that. Then, just in time, I received the Personal Network Member Bill of Rights and Responsiblities from an email Scott Floyd sent me off of Doug Johnson’s The Blue Skunk Blog. I decided to repost it here so I could be easily reminded of “my rights”.

Personal Network Member Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

  1. I have the right not to be social 24/7 – either online or in person.
  2. I have the right to time for reflection and responsibility for doing so.
  3. I have the right to use only the tools that suit my learning style.
  4. I have the right to stop using a tool when it is no longer useful.
  5. I have the right to not be on the cutting edge all the time or feel I need to always know all there is to know.
  6. I have the right to choose those with whom I learn in my personal learning network and responsibility to learn from those with whom I don’t always agree.
  7. I have the right and responsibility to disagree and the responsibility to do it professionally.
  8. I have the responsibility to become familiar with a tool before sharing it with others.
  9. I have the responsibility to share my knowledge with others in my network.
  10. I have the right and responsibility to not let online activities keep me from my friends, my family, my workplace, or my community.

 

Don’t Go Keyboard!

An idea ran across my mind this morning while discussing plans for our first ever technology summer camp. I briefly mentioned the possible use of a pilot keyboarding program. After a short discussion, a comment about the need for teaching keyboarding, and cursive writing for that matter, was made. The comment was brief, and we continued our plans for this summer. After I left the meeting, I began thinking about the comment that was made. I began to ask myself the question, do we need to be teaching keyboarding to this generation of digital natives? I quickly did a google search asking why teach keyboarding. It does not seem the question is being raised. I found many sites that ask when should keyboarding instruction begin and who should be teaching keyboarding, but all the sites I looked at implied keyboarding MUST be taught. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE KEYBOARDING! I know it may seem strange, but the thought of keyboarding brings back fond memories for me. I can remember being five years old and watching my Dad pecking out “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country” on a manual typewriter while sitting at the kitchen table. He was teaching himself to type. I was in awe of how he could look away from the typewriter and find the correct letters. I love the power I feel when I can place my fingers on the home row and key in the letters without looking down. I love the amazed look in my students’ eyes and the WOW factor when they see the letters quickly appear on the screen. I love explaining the whole process and emphasizing the need to practice, practice, practice, but I began to wonder what the instrument will look like we will use to produce content in five or ten years. Everything tech seems to be shrinking in size. Will the keyboard we use today be replaced tomorrow by some smaller device? Will proper keyboard technique become a lost art? If you have an opinion on the subject, feel free to share it.
 

Why Integrate Technology from April, 2009

Technology in Education from April, 2009

I came across this interesting article while on twitter. It was mentioned by haretek, who always seems to find interesting articles. It addresses the reluctance of some educators to understand how new technologies can help them be successful teachers.

A Bit of Advice from March, 2009

I’m introducing our technology “no excuse words” by showing three words a week. One of our first words was bit – an electronic signal that is either on or off and represented by a 1 or 0. The definition gave me a perfect opportunity to share one of my concerns regarding technology. As I have personally experienced in the last month, the technology we have available to us is a tremendous tool to connect us to each other. The world is truly becoming flat. I was never more aware of this than when I saw what my TCEA Classroom Teacher of the Year and co-worker, inspirer, and personal friend (I am so blessed) has done with her classroom blog, Co-Connections. She added a global translator plugin that will display her blog entries in different languages! My concern is that the technology that is suppose to connect us, if we allow it, can actually do the opposite. I became concerned about this some time last year when my friend alerted me to a PBS Special she had viewed that chronicled the “on-line” lives of six individuals. All six people said their on-line friends were the only people in their lives that knew the “real” them. Excuse me, but you’re telling me that people who have never looked you in the eye physically know you better than your parents, or siblings, or classmates? I had to ask myself, “What is going on here?” I came to the conclusion that these individuals had created their own virtual reality and had lost touch with what was real. But why? Maybe because real relationships are sometimes difficult and take work…sometimes hard work. It is much easier to shut out those relationships that require effort, and instead believe what we want to believe. The real problem is that one day, sooner or later, reality and virtual reality will collide. When that happens, real depression can set in. I have seen this happen with people I know personally. This can happen on a smaller scale, when the technology that is meant to connect us can do the opposite. I was at a basketball game the other day watching my eight year old son. While I was deeply engaged on my cell phone, I missed one of the only baskets he shot that season. That’s where the “bit” of advice comes in. Sometimes we have to know when to turn it off.

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