Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thing 24

Well, blog, this has been quite the journey.  It's one that I couldn't be happier to have completed.  When I first heard that we had to blog, I was none too excited to begin.  My first post seems like so long ago.  I quickly found myself falling behind in keeping up with blogging.  Life got in the way and the blog became more of a stress looming over my head than something enjoyable.  Now that I'm done (finally!), it feels great!  Some of the things I remember most are and Animoto.  There were others that I did not enjoy in the least.  But, through it all, I worked towards strengthening my biggest weakness from thing 1: using technology to my advantage.  I feel like I now have a better idea of tools to use in the future.  There are some things we did that I can't see myself ever using again: online todo lists, twitter, and to name a few.  There are others, however, that I will undoubtedly use in my future classroom.  I wouldn't say that I completely conquered this habit or made it my strongest of the habits, but I definitely learned some things that make me more technologically savvy than I was just a few short months ago.  I was surprised at how easy almost everything was.  There were a few things that stumped me, but overall, everything was fairly simple and I was able to figure it out with little time or effort wasted.  I like the overall format of this blog.  Each thing is broken down into short exercises.  If any of the things were combined, it could become overwhelming.  Completing one (or more) thing(s) in one sitting was definitely doable and didn't take too much time.   There are definitely tools that I have learned about that I will use in my classroom.  The online calendar is something I can definitely see myself using as a way to communicate with my students' parents.  Livebinder looks extremely useful, but I need to work with it a little more to get a better handle on it.  Web 2.0 is something that is constantly evolving.  Since we started our blogs this semester, things have probably already changed.  Now that I know about things and how things work and what they mean, I can tackle new things with ease as they arise.  Our students, regardless of what grade we end up teaching, will undoubtedly be very familiar with each new technological advance as it develops.  The more we know about technology and feel comfortable with using it, the better we will be able to relate to and appeal to our students.

I've never been much of a fan of resolutions.  They're great in theory, but a few weeks in, the novelty wears off, and old habits persist.  I don't often make New Year's resolutions.  By February, how many people are actually keeping up with their resolutions?  The gyms are so crowded in January, but by March, they're as empty as they were in December.  I feel like making a resolution just sets me up for failure.  In all honesty, I'll probably never touch this blog again.  However, I may create a blog for my future classroom and maintain it as a way to keep in touch with and communicate with my students' parents.  I could use the blog to keep parents informed of upcoming events, projects, tests, field trips, etc.  Parents could refer to the blog to learn about what their children will be learning.  This knowledge could allow them to work with their children on these skills and better assist them with homework.

Well, blog, that's it.  Thing 24.  Done!

Thing 23

Creative Commons is something I have repeatedly heard about in this class, but only now do I understand what it is.  I watched the video that clips different audio from Disney movies together to explain what copyright means.  I'm a sucker for Disney movies.  Even now, I still love Disney movies.  That was a creative, albeit somewhat long, way to explain copyright.

A quick search of "learning 2.0 23 things for teachers" led me to this statement...

The Learning 2.0 - 23 Things program is based on the Learning 2.0program that was designed by Helene Blowers, Technology Director at the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Public Library system, with the support and assitance of several staff. Helene's program was loosely based upon Stephen Abram's article, 43 Things I (or You) might want to do this year (Information Outlook - Feb 2006) and the website43Things.

Creative Commons is a great idea that really allows people to share and use information in a multitude of ways.  There is so much information out there and creative commons licensing offers a way to share and use information without plagiarizing the work of someone else.  I have always been very aware and conscientious about plagiarizing.  I'm working as a teacher assistant at an elementary school now.  Just a few weeks ago, a second grade teacher was talking to her class about plagiarism.  She asked me to tell them about what would happen if you were to plagiarize something in college.   They were writing a paragraph about a famous African American last month and the teacher was trying to teach them how to write without simply copying information from a book.  

Creative Commons really opens the door for collaboration and information.  The possibilities of its use are limitless.  Reinventing the wheel is no longer necessary.  If I find something I like online, as long as I provide the owner with sufficient credit and recognition, I can use it.  This could potentially save me a ton of time as I start teaching.  I will be able to consult the work of veteran teachers for ideas and guidance as I navigate my first few rocky years of teaching.  Creative Commons doesn't mean that you can just take someone else's work and use it as your own.  When using something made or created by someone else, you still have to provide them with credit and use it in the way outlined by them in their permission, but this really opens the door to a wealth of possibilities and information.

Thing 22

Livebinder was something that immediately looked overwhelming.  In fact, before completing Thing 22, I went ahead and completed things 23 and 24.  Once I finally sat down and made myself do it, it wasn't that bad.  I made three binders: continents and oceans, fractions, and expository text.  I picked continents and oceans because those were the standards I had picked for the live text project in this class.  I did fractions because I had to teach a unit on fractions last semester.  I picked expository text because I just did a lesson plan for one of my reading classes about expository text.

Here's the link to my Continents and Oceans binder.  I included some worksheets, lesson ideas, and videos about continents and oceans that would be appropriate for elementary school, specifically 3rd grade.

I still don't feel like I really know how to do everything on Livebinders, but this is something that I could definitely see myself using in the future.  Organization will be key to my success and anything that I can keep track of electronically rather than on paper will undoubtedly make life easier.  This is also something that could be shared with parents.  This could be useful for parents who want to help their children with homework or if their children are struggling, parents could consult the live binder to figure out what their children are learning and then use the resources there to help their children outside of school.  When students are absent, I could post things here for students to complete.  This would be especially beneficial for students who missed multiple days of school at a time.  Ideally, their parents would work with them on the content they missed so that when they came back to school, they wouldn't be too far behind their peers who had not missed those days.

Thing 21

Well, that was shockingly easy.  I created an account in a matter of seconds.  I downloaded some pictures I already had on Facebook and uploaded them into the video.  In less than a minute, I had created a video.  I used pictures from my year in Europe.  While I was there, I only worked four days a week, so I traveled as much as I could every weekend.  The pictures I put on the video are from Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, France, England, and various cities in Spain.  I was pleasantly surprised with how easy Animoto was to use.  When I first read the assignment for this "thing", I'll admit that I was in no way looking forward to completing this "thing".  It turns out that my procrastination was all for nothing, because this was one of the easiest "things" I've completed to date.  This could be something that I could see myself using in my future classroom.  I could make short videos to show my students using their pictures or pictures of their work.  This would also be something neat to share with parents.  I could take pictures of student projects and make a quick video for parents to see what their children have been doing at school.  Using students' pictures in the videos would only be okay if permission had been given.  Animoto has a feature that allows you to email the videos you create, so this would be a way for me to share videos I create with my students' parents.   Schools could use this for school-wide assemblies to showcase various things and students that relate to that day's assembly.

Here's my video I created using Animoto.

Thing 20

Oh, YouTube, I have wasted countless hours watching videos on you.  One video can quickly turn into 2 which turns into 3 and so on.  Before I know it, I've lost an hour.  Like anything, I think youtube has its place and time.  Overall, I'd say the benefits outweigh the negatives.  At the school where I work, YouTube is blocked, which really limits the ability of teachers to use it in the classroom without converting the videos to files and saving them.  When I taught English in Spain, I had a class of juniors in high school.  Their English teacher wanted me to use videos about current events to work with them on their listening and comprehension skills.  I only saw each class once a week, but on my day with this class, I would bring a video that I had to convert to a file and save.  I don't think YouTube was blocked in their schools, but it was a poor school and the likelihood of us having a computer in the room, let alone internet, was always iffy at best.  I would type up a transcript of the audio and take out words for them to fill in as they listened.  Then, I would come up with questions to have them answer to ensure they understood what they had just watched.  Then, we would talk about the current event in English.  They really liked this activity and by the end of the year, they were able to only watch the video once or twice to get all the information rather than 5 or 6 times like they needed to at the beginning of the year.  I like YouTube because it is really easy to use.   I have the app on my phone which is what I use more than the actual website.  Whenever I want to hear a new song or check out a video I have heard about, I just type some keywords in the search bar, and any and everything related to my terms pops up and the videos almost always load quickly.  I like that when you watch a video, similar or related videos pop up along the side (though this is also one of the dangers of getting on YouTube as you can waste hours looking through multiple videos).

I used Vodio.  I didn't spend a ton of time exploring it, but from what I noticed, it was very similar to YouTube.  I try not to spend much time on YouTube either though.  It was easy to search and navigate through Vodio.  I wonder if this site is also blocked by schools.  If not, that would be a good way to bring videos into the classroom.  I always loved when we watched videos in school (though back then, it was usually a VHS tape and the teacher spent half of the class trying to figure out how to get it to play), and when DVD players made their way into the classroom, things only got worse.  I think videos can help break up the monotony of instruction and get kids interested.  They're also a great way to appeal to visual learners.  Providing kids, especially younger ones, with a concrete visual example of whatever you're talking about is always a good thing.  Videos can help clear up confusion and misconceptions.  Vodio was easy to search and advertises that it keeps track of what you watch to help make suggestions about other related videos that may be of interest.  I think YouTube does this as well.  This would be a helpful feature.  If you were teaching a topic, you could find a video to share with the class.  Then, more videos that are related may be suggested to you, providing you with more resources to share with your class.

I picked this video from YouTube, "Things Teachers Lie About", because I thought it was funny.  How many of those lies did we hear as students?  The biggest one that stuck out to me in this video was that if you study hard and get good grades, you'll get a good job.  I heard that at school my whole life and what a joke it was.  I was a great student.  I worked hard in high school and college.  I graduated from both with honors and never got below a B.  Ever.  What a waste of effort all of that turned out to be.  I graduated with no job and no direction.  I went to Spain for a year to try to figure things out, and that's how I ended up here.  This is NOT the way I pictured things going in my life.  By this age, I thought I would have things together and already have a decent job.  Boy, was I wrong!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thing 19

Ah, more ways to waste time.  As if I needed anymore distractions from getting things done.  Well, now I have them.  I already have a Pinterest account.  I used to have the app on my phone, but had to delete it.  I was wasting FAR too much time.  IMDB is something I have used quite frequently.  When I'm watching tv or a movie and see someone familiar, if I cannot figure out where I have seen them, I immediately head to IMDB in search of an answer.  This can be a rabbit hole as I then find myself looking at other things he/she has starred in if I like him/her.  Then, I find myself reading synopsis after synopsis of television shows or movies to see what I should add to my never-ending list of things to watch.  I have also used yelp on rare occasions to look at reviews of restaurants or businesses.  I have mostly used this when traveling to a new city to find the best places to stay, eat, or visit.

I can't say that I have every thought about the sites listed for completion of thing 19 as being social networking sites.  I have used some of these sites before and never thought of them as being social networking.  To me, social networking sites are sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  These sites seem less interactive and more impersonal than what I would consider social networking sites to be.  Social networking sites are something that educators will inevitably have to use, regardless of how opposed to them they may be.  Social networking appears to be here to stay, so we may as well embrace it as much as possible.  Using it may also make learning more appealing to students who will inevitably belong to social networking sites at some point or another.

Classroom 2.0 Ning is something I could actually see myself using in the future.  This site has suggestions of how to use web 2.0 tools in the classroom and provides ideas for how teachers can incorporate technology into their classrooms.  Social networking for educators is something that will be essential as I enter the classroom.  Technology is here to stay and will only become more and more integral to the classroom as I enter the classroom and finally begin teaching.  Using social networking can allow educators to connect with other educators around the world to share ideas and learn new things.

Thing 18

I have resisted Twitter for years, and I am not too pleased that I now have an account.  From what little I know about Twitter, people post their every waking thought for the world to see.  I'm not really interested in reading about what someone did today or what someone ate.  I waste enough time and procrastinate enough.  The last thing I need is something else to make me waste more time.  I have Facebook.  That's enough for me.

I feel like I probably went into this activity with a bad attitude.  I wasn't very open or receptive to learning more about it.  I went into it with a negative attitude.  I looked around a bit at the educational hashtags.  I think social networking (or at least understanding it) is extremely important for today's educators.  Kids are using social networking, so educators may as well take advantage of these sites and appeal to students.  Social networking has advantages and disadvantages and the more educated teachers are about their inner workings, the better prepared they will be to use them.  I had never considered using Twitter to look at educational things.  I didn't love the hashtag search.  Most things seemed so broad and people can put a hashtag on anything, regardless of whether or not the information in the post is actually relevant to the hashtag.  I don't really see me ever using Twitter in the future or in my classroom.  I think there are other social networking sites that would be more useful.  I'm sure there are applications for Twitter in the classroom, but I don't really see me finding them or using it.  Twitter is simply not for me.

As I sat up my Twitter account, I clicked the "skip" button as much as possible, not wanting to find people to "follow".  I will probably delete this account as soon as I can.  I just don't see myself ever using it.   Here's the link to my profile, though there's no point in following me because I have not tweeted anything (nor do I plan to).  I didn't even come up with a creative profile or user name.  I kept the generic suggestion Twitter gave when I created the account.