Thing 23

WHOOPEE!!  I finally made it to the end of this class with not a minute to spare!  Even though I had some rough going at some points, I feel SO proud to have taken this course and to have learned how to use so many useful tools.  This class was a wonderful hands-on, experiential learning exercise that I would recommend to anyone wanting to improve their technological know-how.  It truly is through doing that you learn to master some of the technological tools that are at your disposal.  Some of the “things” came at me fast and furious and I know I barely scratched the surface with some of them.  I worry that I won’t remember how to use them or access them again.  “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”  However, I think I have enough to play around with that I’ll be occupied for a while.  My thoughts on technology and the use of it to connect and communicate with others has been altered as well.  I’m finally able to recognize the benefits of social networking and to recognize that I can learn so much more from sharing and collaborating with others.  Before I looked down on using a computer to connect with others because I felt it was taking away from my “real” life.  Why would I choose to sit in front of a computer than to play a board game with my kids?  But now I see that it can be another avenue for interacting with others.  (And I’ll still play those board games with my kids!)  I think I had a lot of hidden fear about technology as well before taking this class.  I didn’t understand some of the terminology and I had a genuine fear that as a society we were losing focus on what was important in our lives.  Spending face to face time with our children, visiting our family, or calling our friends.  What I’ve come to realize is that those things that are important to you, will still be important to you.  And you will incorporate these new technologies into your existing way of functioning.  If anything, they will enhance your relationships with others.  A final thought and out and out plea to Maureen!  I have used the 23 things consistently throughout this class and went back to review some basic techniques.  I hope I can still access the 23 things after the class has ended!  I don’t know if there’s a way to do it, but it would be SO helpful to be able to refer to some of the helpful tips and descriptions in the future.  Thanks to everyone who participated in this class for your comments and support!  WE DID IT!  (I had to include this video as a good-bye – I think it speaks for itself!)

Thing 22

So many thoughts are racing around my head right now!   This is really the crux of the matter, isn’t it?  How do we access technology, become digital citizens, connect with other people,  and still protect ourselves and our students?  Obviously, the answer is education.  We need to teach ourselves, our students and our families.  We have a golden opportunity to teach our students to be responsible in all areas of their lives, especially their life online!  After all, this is the way of the future.  I’m so behind I feel a little guilty that I’ve already failed my own children in some way.  My initial thinking about facebook, texting, etc. was that it’s all just so stupid!  I don’t really CARE about all the junk that gets posted on facebook.  Plus, I felt it was just  another avenue for bullying.  After all, you tend to say things online that you would never dream of saying in person.  Because when you say it out loud, you realize how horrible it sounds.  However, by not participating, I feel like I’ve set my learning back a few years.  How can I help my own children make responsible choices, when the only choice I’ve made for myself is to bury my head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist?  I had an interesting conversation the other day with another mother in my community.  I bought my older daughter a cell phone for Christmas after being harassed by her for close to a year.  My decision to not buy her one previously was that I thought I was protecting her from the bullying that can happen through texting, posting pictures, etc.  Plus, I didn’t want her to become one of those kids who are glued to their phone but won’t say hi to a friend they might see at the mall.   I blocked texting, however, because I want her to become more active socially and phone her friends from school.  However, my friend made some very good points.  Kids are connecting through texting and through facebook.  These are the new avenues and if I’m concerned about my daughter’s socialization, I need to help her by allowing her access to these tools.  And the best way for me to do that is to educate myself about the possibilities and pitfalls.  We need to provide our students  with guidance, support and training, to use these tools in an appropriate manner.  According to my score on the digital citizenship (47?), I need a little more training myself.  I spent the other day exploring Classroom 2.0 using cyberbullying as a tag and found some really great PSAs to share.

Thing 7c

I found a great item in my google reader a couple weeks ago and given the overindulgence of the holiday season, I thought it was a great idea!  It also was very timely given the recent “thing 21” on social networking.  Here’s the idea:   educators created a network called Edurunners aimed at encouraging others in their quest to become more fit.  They track how many miles they’ve run, or how many minutes they spent at the gym, basically any kind of physical activity.  They also offer encouragement to their fellow runners.  In her blog, CoolCat teacher details her own growth as a runner through connecting in this way with other edurunners.  I’m thinking about joining because I find it really hard to get to the gym by myself.  (Especially because I belong to “ugly gym”, lots of old suburban women in their swishy suits!)  It would be nice to have someone pushing me to go.

Thing 21

I can’t believe I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, but with everything happening at once –  last week before break nightmares, family visiting from out of town, SHOPPING – this is my first opportunity to get back to my “things”.  At any rate, I explored the Classroom 2.0 and was of course overwhelmed by the amount of information out there.  I felt like I had come full circle from the start of this class.  In fact, rather than rewriting my thoughts please refer to my previous post, Thing 2.  I’m kidding.  I actually found some great resources under cyberbullying.  I found the website fairly simple to navigate and would like to explore more using different tags.  Here’s what I discovered:  the resources would help me in my job; I could connect with other educators and share information; I could become more proficient; and there’s never time to do it all.  I always feel like I’m making choices in my work.  Do I phone this parent now, or do I try to see another student?  Do I consult with the teacher, or do I finish my report?  It’s the same thing with using internet resources.  Do I get lost for an hour finding some great tips to share with others or do I participate in a discussion with my team about a specific student?  If I’m spending time on the internet connecting with other educators, am I missing an opportunity to connect with the educators right in front of me?  I guess the old motto holds true, in everything, moderation.  It’s necessary to strike a balance and I guess I’m still struggling to find it.  The good news, is that there is help out there.  Overall, I’m thrilled to discover these networks.

Thing 18

Finally!! Thanks to some expert advice and hands-on assistance from Caren my podcast is ready for listening on our practice wiki.  I’m apologizing here for my stuttering and stammering.  I had something all planned out and then couldn’t figure out how to record myself  and see what I had written at the same time (lesson 1 in organization).  Then I tried about 6 or 7 times to upload it to gcast and/or the practice wiki (lesson 2 in frustration).  So, despite my initial hope to use podcasts in my work, I realize I need a lot of practice before it becomes a regular habit of mine (lesson 3 in patience).   However, I’d like to say that I’m not completely discouraged and will try it again sometime in the near future (lesson 4 in perseverance).   For those of you who don’t have the desire to listen to yet another podcast about podcasts, my thoughts are as follows: for my own work as a social worker I could record lessons on using voice tone and volume demonstrating different emotions.  My students could use the podcasts for reinforcements of lessons learned during their sessions with me.  Another thought (which I borrowed from Elaine) was to insert a podcast onto my teacher blog (yes, I know I don’t have one yet, believe me, it’s coming) of a quotable quote related to character education.  Each blog posting could include a mini-podcast of a suitable quote.  Finally, podcasts could be used for professional development in terms of training on various disorders or specific cases that the social workers deal with regularly.  It could be set up as review lessons on paperwork or procedures.  My problem with podcasting in general is that I am such a visual learner that I usually need to SEE something in front of me in order to really learn a new skill or task.

Thing 20

Google docs is an incredibly useful tool for educators and students alike.  Working collaboratively on a document couldn’t be more easier by using this tool.  Gone forever are the endless emails and trying to incorporate revisions from multiple users.  Luckily, google docs is very similar to word.  It’s really easy to edit and the toolbars looks similar.  What’s harder is setting up a spreadsheet.  I thought I was using a specific theme but when I clicked on the document itself, it looked like a simple accounting form and not the jazzy theme that I clicked on in the menu.  Oh well.  I’m sure it will take practice.  However, I can see the future in using this tool.  Students who are working together on a classroom presentation can set it up in google docs so that each group member can have access to the document and make their changes as they see fit.  The revision history allows you to use the version you find most acceptable to your purpose and audience.  It can be a great way to avoid a power struggle among each other as well as provide some protection from losing work already accomplished.  In my own work,  I can see using google docs to complete an FBA/BIP with the school psychologist.  It is so much easier than sending an email with an attachment that you have to edit and send back as an attachment.  You have to coordinate all your edits as well (do I use highlighted text, do I bold everything, or use all caps, etc.).  Creating a google document takes away all the questioning and increases your productivity.  It’s so much faster when you have access to the document at any given time.  Plus, you have the revision history.  I love it!  I’ve already begun using google docs to collaborate with a teacher and the speech-path on a social story for a kindergarten student.  Given our part-time status, this is going to make our lives MUCH easier!  Finally, having a document that is accessible from any computer is such an incredible concept, I can’t believe I haven’t been making use of this tool until now.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to wait until I had my own computer to complete a report or send an attachment to an email.  As long as I have control over who can view my documents, I can see a great increase in my use of google docs.

Thing 19

Who hasn’t been on YouTube?  No one, apparently.  There’s so much content that the real struggle is finding something worthwhile among all the garbage.  However, I managed to come across some interesting videos on body language and the different meaning of specific gestures in different cultures.

I checked out TeacherTube but was a little disappointed initially.  The videos were somewhat static in nature, more of a collection of pictures than an actual video.  The best how-to videos by far are the ones that we’ve been using in our class by Lee LeFever of the Common Craft show.   However, I found another video, by Tom Kuhlmann, on how to embed a video to a wiki or a blog.  Tom writes a blog, Rapid eLearning that I bookmarked on Delicious.  (See?  I’m beginning to use the tools from other “things” to enhance my own learning.)  Tom’s blog offers lots of tips and techniques for using technology.

Thing 17

I found some really interesting podcasts by using iTunes and subscribing to some feeds.  I chose NPR because I used to listen to it religiously when I had a long commute in the mornings.  I still have a long commute but decided I needed to laugh more on my way to work, so now I listen to Eric & Kathy. (I know, look how far I’ve gone downhill!)   However, back to the podcast.  It was great to listen to NPR again.  I chose “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”, which is a great show and one that also makes me laugh!  To feel like I haven’t completely given up on staying informed, I selected the NPR podcast, “Story of the Day”, which is a summary of the news from “Morning Edition” and  “All things Considered”.  I also checked out Grammar Girl because it’s short and has lots of nice little tips for using correct English and grammar.  From that search, I found another brief podcast from the House Call Doctor.   It provides lots of tips for staying healthy and as we’re approaching cold and flu season, I decided I wanted more information on how to avoid catching all the diseases that float around elementary schools!  I checked out Learning In Hand and the “Our City” project.  This project has been completed by students all over the country and also in England.  The students create a podcast sharing information about their city.  I thought the podcast was a great tool for connecting students from different cities and learning about other communities.  It can be used for other purposes as well, connecting parents to classroom events, sharing live performances of band or choral ensembles, as well as providing students with a wider audience than their classrooms.

Thing 14

Digital storytelling:  I’ve been sweating ever since I read what we had to do for this week.  In fact, I was having such severe panic attacks about how I was going to accomplish this task that I did what any other healthy, well-adjusted individual does – I pretended that I hadn’t read that line about creating a 2-minute story through digital storytelling.  If I don’t know about it, it can’t be a problem!   I felt great for a few days.  Went on to complete a few other things, celebrated Thanksgiving, went to see New Moon, and then reality hit.  So, today,  I explored digital storytelling.  Thank goodness for Briana who provided the class with some previewed tools and examples.  I’m taking slow, deep breaths to calm down (as any social worker in the district will tell you to do) as I write this blog.  It’s really not that hard.  In fact, I think it would be an awesome exercise for any student to create their story for either language arts, social studies, or visual media class.  I think it’s a great exploration for any student to tell their story.  I can see great benefits social/emotionally as well.  It gives the students an emotional connection to their family and past as well as to their fellow classmates.  It can truly lead to greater understanding among peers –  to show each other something about themselves, who they really are and how they feel about themselves.  There’s something to be said for bonding in such a way with other people.  My main concern is confidentiality.  Since I don’t have a classroom of my own, the very fact that I work with specific students is confidential.  I don’t have the same freedom to have students create their story as classroom teachers might.  However, I can certainly see the potential of using this method in my work.  I just might not be able to publish it.

Thing 16

I explored Wordle and LetterPop for this week’s task.

I chose Wordle because my kids have been using it for months to create birthday cards for their friends and relatives.  I decided it couldn’t be that hard if a 9-year old could figure it out without help.  (No disrespect to my daughter intended.)  It was really fun and super easy.  I’m not sure how interactive it can be, but of course, I’m just getting started with it.  I can see it being used to create vocabulary for a specific unit of study.  It also makes a catchy cover for book reports or other papers.

The next tool I played around with was LetterPop.  This tool was also very user friendly.  I can envision many uses of this in the classroom.  Parent newsletters, student projects, as well as fliers for specific events, to name a few ideas.   The website provided different options for sharing the newsletter with others.

my wordle for this blog (Let’s see if it works!)