Sunday, September 27, 2009


In all honesty, when I think back upon my previous educational experiences, going through the activities contained within this blog have been some of my very favorite. Nearly all of them were new to me, and I truly enjoyed being able to creatively express the concepts I learned in completing them. One of my favorite exercises was using Wordle to uniquely display a group of words. This is an activity I believe my students will truly enjoy, and I can envision many simple, yet effective, classroom uses. Additionally, I had fun experimenting with some of the applications on the FD's Flickr Toys website. My second graders would also have a great time using this website to creatively display various images.

This program has assisted my lifelong learning goals by enabling me to become more open-minded about using various forms of technology in the classroom - especially technology that is typically seen as "trendy" or used primarily in personal, instead of professional, settings. For example, before completing this program, I could not even envision using a blog as a means of sharing information professionally. Now, of course, I realize that there are endless ways in which to do so. One of my greatest hopes when becoming a part of this Master's cohort was that instead of fearing the "unknowns" associated with technology, I would eventually grow to learn more about and even embrace the use of technology in my teaching experience. These discovering exercises have brought me a great deal closer to realizing that goal.

One surprising outcome of this program is the fact that I have enjoyed participating in it so much! I actually looked forward to completing each new assignment, and as I did so, I could only imagine how much my students would love taking part in these activities, as well. I was also surprised to find how easy it was to pick up on using each of the applications. It was neat to discover that I could participate in and create such unique products, even as someone who is new to much of this technology.

Personally, I feel that the format of the program is very straightforward and simple to follow. It seems that you have it laid out in such a way that the students going through it can fairly easily determine what needs to be done and the means by which to do so. Thank you for taking the time to make this such an enjoyable, user-friendly, and worthwhile learning program. This truly is a great teaching tool!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thing # 15

Skype is an online application that has many potentially effective uses in the classroom. It would be a wonderful tool for allowing students to visit with an author in another city or state, in order to ask questions about a book they have been reading, about the process of becoming an author, and about steps taken to create the book they have read. This chat can be saved for later review and discussion, which is a beneficial component missing from traditional author visits to schools.

Also, I like the idea of using Skype to bring a field trip to the classroom, in cases where the students are not able to actually travel away from the school due to budgetary constraints or other hindrances. This would be a great way to take a virtual field trip to the zoo or even to NASA.

Finally, I loved the idea of using Skype as a means of receiving after-school help. Teachers, tutors, or librarians could be available at set times throughout the afternoon to help students who are struggling understand the concepts presented during the school day through Skype, without having to actually be present with the students. It seems as though there are countless uses for this tool in the classroom!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thing # 14

As I was exploring Podcast Alley, I first looked under the "Education" section in search of podcasts that might be useful for our second grade classroom. Although there I came acorss many podcasts focused on learning a new language that could be very helpful for older students, I had difficulty finding any applicable podcasts for younger children. However, after I typed "second grade" into the search engine, a huge number of potential podcasts were located. One that I particularly loved and added to my Bloglines account is called "FMS Friday Funcast." These podcasts have been created by first grade students in Bath, Maine, who broadcast school news, interviews, jokes, and music. It was fun to listen to these adorable children's voices as they share what they have learned, and I think my second graders would be inspired to hear children even younger than themselves doing something as creative as this. This might be a good stepping stone for us as we someday experiment with podcasts in our classroom!

Thing # 13

For this activity, I uploaded the TEASe video on courage I created this summer as a means of introducing my second graders to the concepts of courage and heroism. The process of uploading, titling, and creating a caption for the video was fairly simple, and now I can see why so many people choose to share their videos this way on YouTube.

Over the summer, as I was trying to gain ideas for my own video, I used YouTube videos as a resource, and this was a huge help to me in finding information, mainly because the videos contained on this site span so many different subject areas and styles. I also think this would be a wonderful way to display student work for parents to see. Instead of posting videos on our school's website, causing things to slow down due to a lack of bandwidth, this would be a great alternative. As a teacher, I would need to be cautious of displaying students' last names, and also of allowing pictures of the children to be seen publicly. However, if used carefully, this could be an excellent resource for children to use in sharing digital slide shows of writing projects with illustrations and other such activities.

Video on Courage (Uploaded to YouTube)

A Scene from My Favorite Movie, Father of the Bride

Thing # 12

YouTube can definitely be a helpful and entertaining resource for both classroom and personal use, especially because there is such a tremendous variety of videos to choose from. Although this variety is a great benefit of YouTube, it is also something that can be an obstable when trying to choose appropriate videos for students to view. Because anyone can post anything, it is important that teachers use common sense, being sure to screen materials carefully before allowing their students to watch them.

For this activity, I selected a clip from Father of the Bride (the more recent version with Steve Martin), which has been my favorite movie since I first saw it as a little girl. My parents took me to watch this film in a movie theater, and to this day, I remember taking in every detail with such excitement. To me, it seemed that the creators of the film had depicted the most perfect wedding, and I loved the way the main characters George Banks and his daughter Annie interacted with one another. After seeing this movie, I began dreaming about what my own wedding day would be like, and to this day, I still love every detail of this film.