Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Power of the Internet in Education!

     This week's topics centered on extended and improving our use of the internet.
    First, we 'powered up' our internet searches with Google. I have always been a Google-Lover, but this was a new level of love. I have even created a board in Pinterest solely for Google information in the classroom, click here. I am referring you to my Pinterest board (which is a lot of YouTube tutorials) in lieu of embedding any videos to save space, and to not limit my post to my knowledge of today. Check it out, some of the titles/topics of the posts include but are not limited to:

  • Great Google Searches-learn how to expertly use the Google search engine to harvest the vast amounts of information on the web.
  • Google's Hidden Dictionary
  • Improving your Search Results
  • Filetype Searching-Extra Cool-this is my personal favorite, great if you are looking for a PowerPoint to tweak, sound file, document, etc.
  • Keep Up-to-Date with Google News-this would be great for a current events section in a Social Studies class.
  • Use Google as a Calculator-It All Adds Up!-watch out Math teachers I plan on sharing this in the lab.
  • Google Book Search-great resource I am going to share with my librarian and LA teachers. However, they are wonderful, so they may already know about it.
  • Searching a Single Site-I haven't used it yet and I am not sure of the application for me, but I added it to board for future review.
  • Google Search by Reading Level-Another great one to share with my librarian and LA teachers.
  • NonVideos
    • The Google Cheat Sheet-love it and a definite must have
    • EHow-actually more videos, but another nice concise collection
    Second, I was introduced to Wolfram/Alpha. According to my Google search: 

  1. Wolfram. | Alpha is an engine for computing answers and providing knowledge. It works by using its vast store of expert-level knowledge and algorithms to automatically answer questions, do analysis, and generate reports.
  2. This is an impressive site. Watch the video:

    With that being said, I didn't get it. I couldn't really get it to work, so I do not have any application ideas. However, I have not given up. We have a discovery day in my classroom periodically. I think I will post a link to the above video and the website, and see what my phenomenal students will do. In addition, I will create a collaborative document or slide in their Google drive, and have them respond to some reflective questions or prompts about the site. If you have suggestions or ideas, respond below.
    Next, we reviewed Creative Commons and how to find Google images that are in the public domain (see the videos below). I do a large unit at the beginning of my course with copyright, fair use, and public domain, because of the direct impact an validity in my course. Following through and giving them ample areas to find the correct image, sound, or video file to use is a challenge. I cannot wait to use this knowledge early and often next quarter/semester.
   Finally, we created a collaborative project.  Which is too cool, I do 1/2 slides of information, but gain more than 20 slides of information. All the information that has been submitted by my classmates has been added to my Google Pinterest board, and as more students complete I will add them. Here is a taste of the topics or click here to check out the presentation yourself:

  • Search within a Specific Website-using Google or the Google sponsored site
  • The Currency Calculator-I am hoping to be a world traveler soon and need this.
  • The Conversation Search-Caution: I had the microphone on and was talking to my daughter, scary things came up in my search. WHOOPS!
  • Google Scholar-
  • Measurement-
  • Using Symbols in searches
    Finally, Finally, as I reflect back over the last 7 weeks. I must say a big Thank You
to my instructor (get it, it was a big thank you). I am so glad to have a professional web presence in my blog, and I have great plans to continue. I can say this is the BEST class I have taken, while in my masters program.  This course has had a positive and a very significantly positive impact on my classroom. Again, Thank You. I hope you all enjoy and find the benefits as well.

Signing Off, put hopefully only temporarily,

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Social Networks & Media in Schools.

It was a busy week with a lot of learning, our class started off with this inspirational video. What are your thoughts when you watch it?

As educators, it is important for us to embrace the social media/networking world we live in. However, we must do so wisely and not blindly. Educate ourselves, model for our children.
Here is a quick video with tips for using Social Media, it is simplistic in nature but effective. If you, your students, or your own children are or want to be involved in social media have a plan, educate, and practice safety.

Our second topic is one I hold near and dear to my heart, Pinterest!
As I was droning on and on in my post about Pinterest, I thought "Maybe I should have done an entire post about Pinterst!".  So that is exactly what I did. Click the Pinterest label below to be taken to my Pinterest post.
Did I say I LOVE IT! Check it out, use it. With all the time you save using it as a tool, you will have time to create one of the many craft ideas or cooking ideas you see.

On of our final activities, or topics, this week in class was "Pros/Cons of Social Media & Networking in Schools".  Through the research, I found tons of information, linked below:
But the most powerful piece in this activity, to me anyway, was the Google Drive tool for research. I have already shared it with one coworker, and plan to revise my Google Drive post (or possibly a Google Drive Board on Pinterest) and share it with my building.

Social Media/Networking
the future:yes
Embrace it,

Pinterest! Join Me!

Okay, I started this as part of my Social Media and Networking page, but I clearly had too much to say. Therefore, it received a post of its own. Enjoy!
This topic is one I hold near and dear to my heart, Pinterest!
Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that you can use to find ideas for all your projects and interests
I was introduced to Pinterest several years ago, and weirdly enough, had a hard time getting an account. At the time, you had to be invited, or link it to your Facebook.  I had not and still do not have a Facebook page, luckily I had a coworker who invited me to join. I LOVE IT!
Why I love it, and how I use Pinterest.
  • Primarily as a bookmarking tool. When I find something I like: clothes, hairstyles, decorating ideas, recipes, websites, blogs, school projects, quotes, gift ideas, holiday ideas, organizational ideas, ideas, ideas... I pin it to a board to easily find it later. I am a visual person and the image bookmark appeals to me.  In this class we have learned a lot of bookmarking sites, but I still find Pinterest to be the one that appeals to me most. It is easy to Pin something you find online, click here for a tutorial on how to add a button to your browser. Here is a tutorial for how to add a pin to safari for your ipad. So as I am doing research for my projects in my classroom, decorating ideas for my home, gift giving ideas for Christmas, etc, I pin it and come back later.
    • Click here for a tutorial for keeping your board private, so your followers wont know what you are getting them for Christmas.
    • Click here for a tutorial for sharing your boards, if you are working on a project with others and want to have a collaborative board.
  • Inspirational or research tool. I use it to research for new ideas and inspiration. I can search the entire Pinterest site, I can peruse or search through themed public areas (I think the mobile version is the best for this), I can search through my boards, or I can follow people with similar likes and interests. For example; I have a pork loin and I want a creative new recipe.  I can search pinterest public, or pinterest 'food & drink' (which allows me to further specify; desserts, healthy eating, sandwiches,...), or I can search my boards for something I previously pinned (I currently have almost 4000 pins).
  • Professional Learning Community.  I follow many educators and gain powerful ideas and knowledge through their pins. I am the only teacher in my building that teaches my particular content, so the abilty to collaborate on my content within the building is limited. Therefore, a social media tool such as Pinterest lets me collaborte virtually. When I see something one of my followers pins, that I am inspired by or would like to use in my classroom I can repin it. Or as mentioned above, we can share a board and be co-contributors to the items on a particular board.
  • Networking. Several years ago my sister and I started a blog, just for fun. My sister is amazingly creative and crafty, and this seemed like a great way to showcase her 'stuff' and my attempt to emulate her. Linking your blog posts on social networks such as; Pinterest, twitter, Instagram, and Facebook increase your community, visibility, and traffic.  We will never be the Pioneer Woman, but we do have our own little niche in the blogging world. 
I would like to end with a final tip: organize, organize, organize. 
Keep your boards appropriately labeled and organized as you progress through your pinning experience. If you visit my boards, please be patient as my OCD has me often creating and resorting boards and board content.

Pinning away,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Google Drive-Know the Power!

I Love Google Drive!
     I have just recently embraced Google drive, I mean within the last month. Therefore, I was excited to see Google drive as a topic this week, in addition to tinyurl.
First and Foremost Google Drive:
     I had been introduced to Google docs years ago, but had not embedded it in any of my classes.  This year, my children had a couple of unfortunate 'crashes' of projects on their flash drives, and that is what motivated me to embrace the Google drive.  My children are lucky, the district they attend creates a district gmail account for them, and of course a Google drive. I have been playing around with how to handle the creation, parent permission, and district policy in my class.
     Because of the experiences my children had with their flash drives, I started teaching my students how to use their Google drive as well. Before this class, our use for the Google drive was purely storage. But I am excited to embed many of the things I have learned. 
     Here is a great video for inspiration, 10 ways to use Google docs/drive in the classroom.

     If that is a little overwhelming and intimidating, here are some great YouTube channels, websites, and articles to help:

      Here is a great link to a YouTube play list of Google tutorials by Anson Alexander
   Here is a great link to a YouTube play list of Google tutorials by Karen Canfield.
    Here is a great link to an article titled "10 Things Every Teacher Should Know How to do with Google Docs."
    Here is link to a great Google Education site titled "Docs & Drive Level 2: Classroom Application.

     If you are still not convinced to use Google docs/drive, this video is very persuasive, and you may even switch from your dropbox account.

    I was very glad to be exposed to tinyurl this week.  However, at this time I don't think it will be advantageous to use in my classroom.  I am lucky to be in a lab, and connecting to preferred sites is not a challenge.

Join the drive, you will love it!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Social Bookmarking, Google Calendar, & other Organizational Tools

Wow, another week packed full of learning.
Social Bookmarking-Diigo
   I loved the organization of this tool on a personal and professional level.  I am often doing research or stumbling around the internet and find tons of ideas and resources.  Bookmarking them is a pain and unrealistic.  I have even been known to create a word document with all the links.  I have even tried 'onenote' unsuccessfully. Diigo is great. However, there is one draw back.  I am a very visual person, and the presentation is somewhat bothersome.  I hate that there is no thumbnail image, or snapshot.  I think it would help me find things, if there was an image too.
   You can use this tool with your students too.  One site, mentioned having a separate account as your student sharing account.  It definitely makes sense to have a separate account, but I am not sure I would like the management of a separate account.
Google Calendar
    How did I not know about this.  Not only do I plan on exploring the option of using this as a checkout calendar with my staff, but there are so many more applications.  It would be a great way to have a 'family' calendar.  My husband, I , and my three kids all have smart phones.  What a great way to manage a crazy family schedule. Finally, I think I will encourage my husband to use this for his club lacrosse scheduling (share with parents and players).
Other Organizational Tools
    What a great PLN our class is.  I have some great ideas, I am excited to try.
    SignUpGenius for conferences, why not?


tough choice. Click here or here for some reviews and comparisons
    Remind-easy to use! Could this be a tool for emergency contact during a crisis event?
    Alarm Clock software for your computer. I love this tool it is free, and helps us remember to save and log off for the bell.

Here is a list of sites my class shared:

Happy Organizing,

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Edmodo for Professional Development

Wow, who knew Edmodo for Professional Development! 

     Let me share my history with Edmodo.  In the past, I had heard of it, but thought I don't need it. But last spring, my district notified us that they would be adjusting, and eventually ending, their relationship with School Fusion. School Fusion was our website host, loved it! I had a website for all my hours, my students could blog, take quizzes, turn in work, .... Right away I started looking for something to replace our School Fusion functions. A colleague mentioned Edmodo.  

What is Edmodo? 
  1. Edmodo is an educational website that takes the ideas of a social network and refines them and makes it appropriate for a classroom. Using Edmodo, students and teachers can reach out to one another and connect by sharing ideas, problems, and helpful tips.
     I started this school year with Edmodo, and I have to say at first I hated it. I wanted the freedom to make my site prettier, I hated the posting format (I am not a facebooker), on and on and on...Change is difficult.

     Now I love Edmodo.  My students have their own backpack to store their items and access at home, more reliable then a flash drive. Parents have a code and can access it.  This just names a few of the pluses. 

     The best thing about Edmodo now, is the networking abilities.  I have joined some very large communities (Computer Technology & Career and Tech Education) and some smaller groups (TV Video and Movie Production). Follow this link for instructions How to Join Communities. I hope to create some phenomenal groups as well; Allison Tech help for my building, and Explorations in Technology for my content colleagues across the district.

    Don't believe me, then here is what kids say about Edmodo!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Personal Learning Networks and Twitter For Educators

what a lot of learning I encountered this week!

     Networking is not a new concept, but it is new to me with concerns to my professional self.  I never considered my collaborating with my building, district, and colleagues as networking.  Now, I not only see that as networking, I see the possibilities of networking with the world.
     I have fought social networking on a personal level for years. To this day I still do NOT have a Facebook. But a couple years ago, as my children were getting older, and I felt out of touch with my students; I created an Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter account. Pinterest of course was addicting for my crafty nature, and as my children created Instagram account owners it became my 'lurking' place. Twitter however, has just recently bloomed. We attended an inservice with Kevin Honeycutt and Wes Fryer (2 very dynamic speakers who utilize technology extensively), and my twitter knowledge and comfort was expanded.
     I have to be honest, the twitterchat process was frustrating and confusing for me. I was excited however, to make some new connections after my posts. I now see why my student's currency is in likes and follows.  It feeds the narcissism in me. The twitterchat experience became more successful when I used my computer to follow the conversation; Twubs.
    I have added a couple gadgets to my right side bar.  Here is a video on how to add a blog list (love mine) and labels. Enjoy!

    Now all I need is a couple extra planning periods everyday; to check my networks, learn from my networks, plan from my networks, grade from my networks, ......etc. I better stop, I am overwhelming myself.
    How do you juggle it all, any advice?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Educational Blogs & Feedly

     This week in class we had the opportunity to explore educational blogs.  This was somewhat challenging for me, because I quickly became distracted. I found so many with so many posts, I had a hard time pulling back and completing the assignment. The blogs varied from providing content, philosophy, and/or organizational ideas. I have added a blog list to the side of my site, check them out.
     We also learned about RSS feeds and feed readers.  I was a little familiar with RSS feeds, but the feed readers were new to me.  We created Feedly accounts, which is a free feed reader.  I am excited to use this tool for all the educational blogs I am now following, in addition I may add some personal blogs I follow. 
     Finally, we created our own professional blogs here on blogger.  I am excited to have an avenue to showcase my thoughts. Of course, I had to choose a color theme that matches my classroom.
    As I read through the syllabus, I look forward to many of the upcoming topics.