Some of the technology tools that I am familiar with and plan on integrating into my curriculum are Animoto and VoiceThread. These two tools are incredible tools and I have already practiced implementing them into my curriculum and I will share with you the two items I have made. First off, Animoto is an amazing tool for introducing, or supplementing, a lesson that is being taught. Here is an example I made over the fire triangle and the different classes of fire.
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
This video highlights the main points of what I will be discussing in the lesson that day. It provides audio and visual stimulation that is different from the standard PowerPoint or lecture type lesson. This is a great UDL strategy and by illustrating the lesson it really helps those students who are ELL or Learning Disabled to be able to see visuals of what I am wanting them to learn in the lesson. Incorporating technology like this helps to keep all students engaged and gives the students with different learning styles a chance to catch the information in the way that they learn best.
The other technology tool I will employ as often as possible is VoiceThread. I love the idea of using VoiceThread because it can teach the students a lesson all by itself through pictures and my words. Essentially it allows me to teach a lesson without even having to be in front of the students. I have made an example VoiceThread with my partner Levi, that high lights a few of the different game species that Kansas has to offer. This falls under Wildlife Management in the section of Natural Resource Management.
VoiceThread is another tool that provides good UDL Strategy employment. Not only is VoiceThread is visual with the pictures but it is also audio as the students will be hearing what I record for the information I want them to learn on each picture. It can also be interactive which is good for the students. By allowing editing, each student can leave their own comments on any of the pictures in the lesson so I can get feedback or maybe so they can tell me something they learned from the lesson itself. This is a great tool and resource to take advantage of because they students can do it at school or in the comfort of their own homes and for some that gives them the comfort and courage to participate in a group activity that they might not otherwise be inclined to participate it.
Both of these tools are highly adaptable and are great tools to be utilized in the classroom. I hope that I can gain more knowledge on a few more useful tech tools that I can employ in my curriculum. The students of today are technology driven so it is important that I use that technology and try and reach them in a place that they are going to understand it best.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
My Wow Moment happened this semester when I made the change from a Google Site to my Weebly Site. I was enjoying putting together my site on Google and I was liking how things were going but the more I tried adding to my site, the increasingly more difficult it became to organize everything and make my site look nice and professional. When CDK posted the links to the other sites that we could possibly use I tried all of them. When I started making a Weebly Site I knew I had a winner. The site was so easy to manage I began to wonder why CDK had us bother making the Google Sites to begin with. On Weebly, they have a drag and drop feature where you simply place what you are wanting on your page on there and then add it in. For instance, if you want to embed a video on the page, you drop in the edit html box on the page where were want it and then add the embed code and you are done. It was literally that simple. It was from that point forward that I started to really get into making my website professional and fun. I became very proud of the work I was doing and I wanted to put together a site that I would not be afraid to show to anyone, especially a future employer. I spent extra time on the weekends working with it and added in extra stuff to jazz up the home page and some of the alternative pages. Before I knew it, I had a website that I was showing off to everyone because I was that proud of it. I am that proud of it. I never thought I could make a professional looking product until I started using Weebly. So, I guess you could go out on a limb and say Weebly was my Wow moment. Wow this is easy and Wow this looks really good. I am absolutely proud of my website, http://dmknapp21.weebly.com and I hope you all take a second to stop and take a look. Leave some comments, let me know what ya think or what I can do to improve it. Now that I have had my Wow moment, I am ready to tackle any task to make my site a step above the rest to give me that leading edge with my future employer. Bring on the interviews.
My Podcast Favorites? Well, this is a tough question because I struggled with the Podcasts if I am being 100% honest. I do not like listening to people sit and talk for a long time about stuff that I don't find overly interesting and most stuff dealing with education technology I do not find interesting. I am more interested in hearing about which welder works better, or which cattle breed is the best suited for Kansas climate. I enjoy stuff that other people, CDK in general would probably find boring. If I had to pick a podcast that I felt was something I could relate to or was directly applicable to me, it would Kevin Honeycutts podcast on Facebook Talk. The reason I really enjoyed this particular podcast is that it discussed cyber bullying and the digital legacy. First off, cyber bullying is becoming ever prevalent in todays society and is a problem that all of us professionals must be aware of and learn how to deal with. Even if you don't have a lick of technology in the classroom, the kids have it home, or on their phones or in the class before, and they are going to be utilizing it and if someone is getting picked on via a social network, it is going to end up in your classroom either way. We have to have teach our students the correct way to utilize these social networks like Facebook in a correct and responsible manner. The last thing I really liked was his statement on a digital legacy. Everything we put on the net has digital permanence to it and everyone, including our students and fellow professionals has to be aware of that. No one is exempt from this. We need to be cautious of everything we say and every picture we put it because it will always be there for someone to find and we need to make sure it is something worth finding. Out of all of the podcasts, that is the one I enjoyed and learned the most from.
The two things we used this semester that would easily be my favorite are Animoto and Google Maps. I loved Animoto because it was fun and so easy to use. The fact that we could take pictures, add them to the site, and pick a song and then have a 30 second video made for us that is both professional and fun is one of the coolest things to me. I used to spend hours trying to make presentations where the pictures come in with the beat of the music and sync with certain parts of songs and now that I have found Animoto I can do it in minutes. My group and I utilized Animoto for our presentation and the students in our classroom responded very well to it. It was a visual stimulation that they would not have otherwise been able to see without the program. I plan on using Animoto in my classroom as a professional for sure.
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
View A Tour of Kansas State Parks in a larger map
Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.
The other technology I fell in love with was Google Maps. I liked Google Maps so much because of the practicality of it all. To be able to go and plot out a trip and then leave pictures and information at each point you plan on stopping at is just fun and incredibly informational at the same time. I used Google Maps to teach a lesson on Eco- Tourism in Kansas and took my students through a brief trip of the many State Parks Kansas has to offer. It was amazing to see how much I could teach them all on the map by showing them pictures, videos, and leaving mini-lesson sized blurbs of information that were easy to remember and stuff they would want to learn. I liked this project because it is so applicable in all subjects in the school. This, like Animoto is another piece of technology I plan on utilizing whenever possible.
View A Tour of Kansas State Parks in a larger map
For my last podcast I dove in with the Tech Chicks once more. The tech chicks went over a variety of different websites that coincide with YouTube. One that I liked was called EmbedPlus. This website is a great tool that you can use to edit YouTube videos. You can upload the video to the site and then go in and edit piece by piece which parts of the video you want to use. I found this to be genius because most classrooms don't allow or have access to YouTube but you YouTube has a lot of great informational videos on it. So, with this website you edit the movie and then you can literally embed or send the information to a format or place that allows you to show it to the students. This would have been a wonderful tool to have before we did our middle school lesson because there was a video we found on YouTube that went perfectly with our lesson, but, the Middle School had YouTube blocked and the teacher was not comfortable with all of the content on the video. Had we been able to use this tool we could have edited the video to just show the sections we wanted and then been able to embed the video in our PowerPoint and show it to the students. A similar tool they highlighted was called TubeChop. The down side to using this over EmbedPlus is that you can only cut parts out of the beginning or the end. It allows limited editing so I would stick with EmbedPlus. These are both tools I can see myself using in my classroom in the future.
For this podcast I decided to listen in on the Tech Chick Tips. Their topic of choice was one that I found very interesting. They discussed a tool that students will utilize to gain extra time on an assignment. The tool they are referring to is called document corrupter and it is a tool that you simply have to upload your document onto this website and it will corrupt the document so that when they send it to you and you open it, it won't work and they will get extra time to work on it as you will feel sorry for them for it now working. What a thought, a website that virtually buys you time on an assignment by tricking your professors into thinking there is something wrong. It scares me to know there are programs like this out there, but, I have to hand it to whoever made it because they are a genius. The Tech Chicks had a good idea to incorporate this website into the classroom, although I see it as a double edged sword, but that was to use it as a segue to discuss ethical dilemmas. Bring a sight such as this up and have them discuss whether it is right or wrong to employ such a tool. I feel like it gives the students the information for the sight and an excuse to use it and see if it works, but, that could just be me. I would say be careful with what you choose to do because that could come back and bite you in the butt. This was a very informative podcast and one that I definitely gained insight on something I did not even realize was possible. Now I just have to make the ethical descision of whether to employ my new found knowledge or continue being the honest student I have been. Hmmm....
On this podcast with Kevin Honeycutt he discusses with Wesley Fryer about Story Chasers. The concept behind Story Chasers is using technology to document stories that are important to the people creating them. It has been used in several different ways and is something that we ourselves did in class and didn't realize it. When we did our VoiceThread assignment we were being Story Chasers without even knowing it. Our assignment was to find something in our history and to tell the story of it. I chose the Salt Mines in Hutchinson and I helped bring that story to life through media outlets on the internet and pictures and my voice. I told the story of the mines for someone who has never had the chance to experience them. Wesley Fryer stressed in the blog that when you are doing a digital story like I did you have the responsibility as a digital citizen to make sure what you are putting on your story is factual and to be a digital witness and to document and share wisely. Be creative, but make sure that what you are doing is factual and real because others are going to see your work and believe what you have to say so you need to steer them straight and be responsible about the information you are giving them. This is definitely something I would utilize in my classroom because after having done it for myself it is a great way to make a presentation that is out of the norm and a great way to put forth new information.
This was a very interesting podcast and one that I could really understand. Kevin Honeycutt discusses with two guest some of the pro's and con's that Facebook and other social media has on students in this day in age. One of the main things they discussed was how Facebook can be used for cyber bullying which is becoming an every growing problem in todays society. One of the guest speakers made this comparison, "what used to be a note that was written out of haste in the moment and could be thrown away later, is now a public document that is online forever for not just one person to see, but 150 or more people to see." Bullying is not a new thing but social networking sites make it a more public and lasting thing and this can be really detrimental. Kevin wanted to highlight on this because it is something that affects all students and in turn it will affect all of us as professionals so we need to keep an eye on it and keep monitoring it. Another thing they wanted to highlight on is to make sure you are paying attention to what kind of digital legacy you are leaving. Everything you put on the internet is potentially permanent so it is imperative that people pay attention to the pictures they upload and the things they say because they will always be on there in some way shape or form and could come back to haunt you. Be very mindful of what you post so it does not come back to hurt you later in life. Kevin and his guest stressed at the end to not cut the social media out of your life, but, instead to just be careful how you use and what you put on it. This was a very good post and one that I found to be incredibly insightful.
After having used Twitter for awhile now I feel like I am able to give a justifiable assessment of it as a tool for educators. I think if it is used, and used in the correct manner it can be a great resource, it just boils down to actually taking the time to use it. I will be very honest, I struggled to use it how it needs to be used for it to work effectively. I like technology but is has to be to the extent that I can use it and not feel overwhelmed or get bored with the information. With Twitter and the educators I was following, I felt like I got a mass over load of information, some great, some not so good, and got so much that it was overwhelming trying to keep track of who was a good person to really follow and who was not and it became a chore trying to read through all of the new posts trying to find the good information. When something becomes a chore and it is not something that is required, I don't do it. That is where I found myself with the assignment to follow Twitter this semester. It became a chore attempting to keep up with the information overload I was experiencing, so, I quit doing it. I think if I employed a tweet deck like Cyndi Danner-Kuhn I would have become more overwhelmed or simply annoyed with the stuff popping up all the time. So, my final thoughts on Twitter are that it can be a great educational tool if you have the patience or desire for it. For me, there are much more productive things I would rather be spending my time on so Twitter will not be something I will use regularly in the future.