Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Animoto in my Classroom

I was very impressed with the web program Animoto and how easy it is to put together a video collage of pictures and end up with a completely professional end product. I have tried doing video editing like that in the past on my own and one of my biggest struggles in doing that has always been getting the pictures to appear in sequence with the flow of the music so it was a huge relief when I found that the website does all of it for you. The beauty of Animoto is that anyone can use and do it because all you have to do is add pictures and it guides you through all of that step by step.  The only draw back I have with the website is their selection of music. I understand why they are so limited, but, it just stinks that there are so few songs to choose from and most of the songs are what I would consider terrible.  By far the best genre they offer is the Christian music because it has the best selection of good songs.  I think as far as using Animoto in my classroom I will stick to just using it as introduction to new topics that I am going to be teaching.  I think you can use the pictures to highlight the main points of what you are planning on using for your lesson. I have provided an illustration via Animoto that shows the different classes of fire and the means to put them out.

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

As can be seen by my video, it provides a great glimpse of what I will be teaching my students to try and get them hooked or interested. After showing this they will know what to expect as far the the lesson and I will be able to build off of what I have shown. I think this is great tool and I plan on using it as often as I can in the classroom to help keep things fresh.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Podcast Reflection #5: Learning in Hand Podcast #22: Educational Apps

For this weeks reflection on a podcast I chose to hit up Tony Vincents website and see what thoughts he had to offer up on technology.  His website mainly focuses on the Apple line of hand-held products; the Ipod, Ipod Touch, and Ipad.  Prior to watching his podcast I have been a bit naive on the functions of the Ipods thinking that they were only used for music and games.  That knowledge base coming from what I have seen of people using them. Tony's podcast showed me how wrong I am. In his ten minute blurb Tony showed nearly 20 apps that can be downloaded and purchased for the Ipods and Ipad that are all directly related to education and ones that teachers can use directly in the classroom.  I had always scuffed and turned my nose up at the idea of a teacher using an Ipod in the classroom but now I see how it can be directly applicable.  For example, Tony illustrated a downloadable app that allows the student to take a first hand look at a plant or animal cell. Not only can you see the cell, but, you can rotate it, zoom in, click on specific parts, and get detailed information on each parts functions.  It is basically like having a cell in your hand to examine.  What an incredible learning tool. Had I had stuff like that when I was taking biology it would have helped me understand so much better because I am a hands on learner and that would be so much better then looking at a picture in a book.  Another thing I found to be very cool and applicable at the elementary school level were several apps that tested knowledge and worked certain skills.  For example, Tony showed an app that illustrated a map of the United States and the goal was to correctly identify all 50 states in 60 seconds as the name appeared on the game.  Another app was a two player game that used simple math skills and challenged each student to reach the right answer the fastest.  Both of these would be great educational tools to use when students are forced to stay indoors on a day for recess.  I found Tony's information to be incredibly helpful and totally changed my opinion on using Ipods in the classroom.  I know follow Tony on Twitter as well and hope to get even more great ideas in the future.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Podcast Reflection #4: Opening things up to really prepare kids

So, for my first podcast I decided to listen to the musings of Kevin Honeycutt and listened to his podcast Opening things up to really prepare kids.  His podcast was not quite what I had expected in its formalities.  He spent the entire 27 minutes just casually talking with Kay Tibbs, another professional in education about the topic at hand and that was opening up technology to prepare the students for the future.  This particular idea intrigued me because I can see huge benefits in favor of the technology but also rather large draw backs as well.  One of the big things Kevin and Kay discussed is how we have to allow the students to use the internet and all it has to offer the kids and educate them on that and to also not keep them from it.  Many schools completely block kids from using the internet and that can be such a hindrance to there learning because the internet is something they will use extensively the rest of their lives.  Rather then block them from using it when need to guide them in the direction of correctly using it.  Obviously, having a completely open internet interface is not something you can do in a high school or middle school because of the stupid stuff kids would do, but, you can't block all media or all social outlets because of the potential distraction. Take Facebook for instance. A teacher can take that social outlet and use that in the classroom or as a way to have student interaction outside of the classroom.  Make a classroom group page and require students to do some of the stuff we are doing in this class such as a reflection on a question or topic.  That is taking an internet resource that schools deem simply a distraction right now and using it for a school related purpose. The main message they were trying to convey over all is to not cut out technology because there are negatives to it but rather figure out ways to turn those into positives and reach the most kids possible.  They even discussed implementing cell phones in the class rather then taking them away.  So many ideas that are beyond my comprehension at this point but I look forward to learning more in the realm of technology.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Reflection 3: Fun with Text

After using Wordle and Tagxedo I had to think for a little while about how this could  be used in a relevant manner in my classroom and I was able to come up with a few ideas and also decided it wouldn't be a bad idea to steal one of the ideas from our assignment.  One way to effectively use Wordle would be to use it as an avenue to get to know my students better by having them describe themselves via words just as we did in our assignment. That can show me each students interests and also give me a little insight into their personalities because of the different options for displaying their picture of words. Each student will be different and I think it could be a fun way to get to know them better.  Another idea I came up with for using Wordle would be to have my students add all the key words or key ideas to whatever judging competition they might be preparing for. There are usually certain things to look for when preparing for one of those competitions and the students could use this program to highlight those and have a fun way to review them.  This may have been mentioned in class, but, I as the teacher could also use such a program to highlight the keywords that I am going to have on an exam or even use it for myself to make sure I discuss those key words in my lesson. It is a different way to make sure my students know what important things they need to be picking up on in my classroom. I think the basic principle to be taken from using text software such as Wordle is that it is a way to spice up the information you are using and to try and keep things fresh in the classroom.  It might be the difference between keeping your students engaged and losing them to boredom.  Overall I think it will be a great tool to be able to have and use in the classroom.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reflection 2: CDK's Education Technology Place

After spending some time visiting Cyndi Danner Kuhns website it did not take me long to realize that if I have any sort of question regarding technology that chances are I will be able to find my answer there.  The website offers so many different links to information that can be incredibly useful to a teacher in any field.  Some of the blogs and links I am not yet totally sold on like how tweeting is really going to be relevant or something I am going to want to do, but there is still a lot of class left this semester leaving plenty of opportunities to sway my opinion.  One of the things I enjoyed were the videos on the main page and how they show technology being used first hand and how it can make a difference.  The video about reading we watched in class was used at Bishop elementary in Topeka last year and it significantly increased the number of books the students read and also their scores on reading for the standardized tests.  That is just one good example of how technology can be used to reach this generation of students.  I think the one thing about the site that I enjoyed the most was the fact that we have access to the blogs and links that feed the knowledge of the one leading us through this tutorial in technology.  I like the fact that the whole class and teacher can all work through the process of learning new technology together and have the same links and pages to reference. Ideally that makes the learning process easier for both student and teacher. I have a feeling that this will be a very useful site to frequent all semester long. 

Reflection 1: Technology Bits, Bytes & Nibbles

In the technologybitsbytesnibbles web page I found a vast array of articles that really brought to my attention the importance of technology in education and also all of the possibilities that technology is bringing to the table. One article I really enjoyed in particular was “Tennessee school requires ipad for class”.  I didn’t have a lot of prior knowledge or experience with the ipad but one of the things that really caught my attention in the article was that it can replace books and paper assignments and similar things. I love the outdoors and protecting our environment is a huge thing with me so the thought of schools across the nation being able to go near paper less, and reduce the amount of paper used for text books and such things really got me excited because that would be a huge change.  The other thing I really enjoyed was that the article said it can help to make the classroom more interactive and with my focus being on Ag Education that really opens up a lot of possibilities for how I can approach what I teach in class.  I think the ipad could indeed be a game changer for schools in the future.  Further reviewing other articles on the site, however, left me wanting more on most of them.  Articles on how to get apps for stuff or "How to port your cell phone or home phone with google voice" or other such things just do not appeal to me and some of them I just can’t connect the dots with their importance to teaching.  I am hoping that the further we dig into this class that maybe I will be able to see there significance to education.