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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thing #11.5 Evaluation

1. My favorite was the screencasting. So easy and straightforward, so cool.

2. As far as achieving any lifelong learning goals, I can’t say that I did. I was already familiar with a lot of this technology. I have been doing and promoting technology in the school for a long time, and this was just business as usual.

3. No unexpected outcomes. Sorry. But I still love and use Big Huge Labs and Vokis.

4. This list of things was not as involved as Library 2 Play #1. With the first, you had to spend a lot of time reading and sampling, and then doing the assignment. This list was much more streamlined. You could wade into the material and start working with it right away. I appreciated that, especially since time was so limited to work on it. To be able to get up and running and working on the assignment was welcome. I would not do anything differently

Virtual worlds was one of my least favorites to try to think of ways that it could be used by my less sophisticated population. It was so “young adult.” As an adult I did enjoy exploring it, but as an elementary educator I felt it was for the most part a waste of time for me.
Thing # 7

Having a school-wide never-ending problem with 5th grade science TAKS scores falling, I immediately start looking for video materials which will help my teachers in getting those science concepts to sink in. Since many of our kids are not the best readers, I immediately noticed Totlol, and tried it, but without much success. I filtered it as education and found a few science things, but any useful video material needs to be TEKS specific, or close to it.

Videos work well with our population in getting science concepts across.

Google video search was blocked by the district.

Success with Blinkx! It took some digging past all the pop stuff, but I keyed in mixtures and solutions and found this:

I would use this as a library technology lesson in conjunction with 5th grade science TEKS.

One thing I noticed about Blinkx was that grade levels were not included. You would also have to preview and judge the quality and appropriateness of the video.

It’s also important to do technology just for technology. All the lessons can’t just relate to the TEKS and TAKS. The kids just need to explore what is there and discover to put them on the path of becoming life-long learners. My thoughts ran to a second grader I came across last year who was a gifted student and rather isolated in his class of definitely non-gifted peers. The boy was obsessed with oceans and all forms of ocean life. If I ever have a quiet moment and he is in here I will steer him into this site from PBS videos:

I have discussed Jacques Cousteau with this child and given him the biography.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thing # 11 Digital Citizenship

As an educator working in a community whose parents and students believe (literally) in witches, goblins, the chupacabra and the evil eye, certain aspects of digital citizenship are more important to me than others.

The articles and sites stress a huge lack of students being able to discriminate and judge sources of information on the internet. Tell me about it. My kids believe EVERYTHING they read and see. I was ready to hang my head and cry the day I was doing the thing on the Northwest tree octopus and I just took it on and on and on, and no one caught on that it was a fake. No one. I finally had to come clean. I am still wondering if they understood …

I was especially struck by the comment that the library “sanitizes” everything, and anything they read and hear in here, including of course the internet, has to be right … maybe that’s why they just couldn’t get the tree octopus thing. Isn’t the librarian always reliable and truthful?

As to a lesson on digital citizenship, I would include the following points / ideas

The internet is much more than Facebook and E-mail. But to use it as a valid source of information requires thinking and effort. That’s hard. Most people don’t like hard stuff.

Safety is paramount. At Halloween, I used to show students a picture on the internet of Ted Bundy, the serial killer. I would ask them to guess what he did for a living. They invariably came up with things like teacher, doctor, lawyer …I used his image to stress that people were not always what they seemed to be.

Bullying would be a big thing in our school. It goes on here, especially up in the middle schools. E-mails and internet social networks make it too easy since they are just typing their ugly little comments on a screen and saying things they would never have the courage to say to someone’s face. Internet social networks also lend themselves to impulsive statements. I even see it go on with teachers who fire off inflammatory e-mails to one another without thinking of the consequences. If they had to meet face to face and settle their differences, they would never make such statements as they would in an e-mail.

If you want to work and exist in this world, you have to by cyber savvy in many areas: word processing, texting, messaging as basics, and then for the higher paying positions, expertise is mandatory in all the areas.

Showing self -respect and respect for others is paramount. Use good internet manners in all cases. Don’t post gross stuff or tasteless pictures of yourself. What’s hilarious to a fourteen year old might cost them a job offer when they are eighteen.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thing #10 Virtual Worlds

As I explored and worked my way through the site and various blogs, etc., two things came to mind. The first was that this was totally inappropriate for grade school children, and the site is indeed for age 13 and up. For grade school children to use this, as the suggestion goes, teachers or librarians should demo the possibilities with an LCD projector. What puts me off in the site are the Barbie doll type girls and the boyfriend / girlfriend stuff.

The other thought that comes to mind is how useful and necessary such sites as this are for the adults and young adults. Within ten to fifteen years, much of what we do will be virtual and the skills to manipulate within the virtual world will be mandatory. I recall seeing a news segment on how potential medical school students wanting to become surgeons were evaluated partly on how well they could perform on computerized games. The reason for this being that much of the instruments they would be using in surgery would require the same hand to eye to brain coordination that computerized games presently require. Today, doctors. Tomorrow, almost everyone.

In the site, I did like and see possibilities in the "Be creative" section. Our children are in love with art, and for our population, art is one of the few creative outlets available to them. The opportunity to virtually design a car, or a dress, or whatever would be attractive to them.

I also liked Virtual Land. Our children are apartment dwellers, within very small insulated communities. The opportunity for them to dream out their own lot or house is appealling.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thing #9 Slideshare

Access to slideshare would be most valuable to us here at Ridgecrest. I have third, fourth, and fifth grade students all doing powerpoint shows on various research subjects. We have been wrestling with the problems of trying to save their work. So far, I have created share folders on SAN for them to upload their powerpoints into, but that is time consuming and often confusing to them. It would be a bit of a learning curve for them to learn how to use slideshare (logging in, creating accounts, remembering passwords …), but I can certainly see the value of it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thing #8 Screencasts

This was a real odyssey, especially trying to work on a slow computer. I chose to use screencast-o-matic and it was most impressive. I had it working on the first try. It was easy to size and manage. Unfortunately, I was working on a rather slow desktop and the machine chose to be super sluggish while I was trying to record. In fact, it froze on me so I had to abandon that screencast.

Try #2 I tried again later, and all seemed to be going along well until the machine froze again near the end. There was a pause recording function, so I thought this would be a good time to pause the recording until the machine started to work again. When the desktop finally resumed, I hit play, but had lost everything.

Try #3 Using a laptop, I had much more luck. The screencast that I made was rather crude, and could have used some editing, but at least it got done. My problem came with saving to my documents. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I had to do a search function and finally located it and moved it to my desktop to be ready to upload to the blog.

The subject I chose to screencast was Accelerated Reader. We have a big push to start using this invaluable program again, and the teachers are afraid of it. I can send them all the screencast which shows all the simple and direct steps they need to take to get it going. Learning things visually is so much easier for them.

Thursday, October 8, 2009