Britt KJ Thorpe, March 17th 2012 |
For my first real tech integration push, I have decided to attempt two goals. First, I want to learn how to use pictures legally when publishing on the Internet so that I can teach my students. And, second, I want my students to begin publishing all finished writing electronically. Because Weebly is free and very simple, with a built in picture search feature that adds copyright information automatically, I decided to go with Weebly. In this lesson plan, you will see that students have a choice to use other tech tools as a publishing platform, such as creating a video project. We have actually created three video projects this year: a Hopi video essay, character interviews, and an artist portrayal video project. It was so much work to create these even though I had my students learn Windows Movie Maker so they could edit and make their own videos. I find the time it takes out of instruction is really frustrating, but the kids love video projects. Surprisingly, none of my students selected anything but Weebly as a way to publish their Pourquoi Tales, which is basically what my lesson plan is all about. Something very important happened when I started using Weebly; our tech instructor, who has my students three times per week and very much supports my classroom curriculum, learned how to use Weebly for education. He has created, for free, a classroom of Weebly sites with passwords and permissions that he can control. This means that if a student publishes inappropriate material, he can delete the material and put restricted use on the site. I think this is the responsible way to use Weebly as well. Students can only create five pages for their site, unless we pay for school access, so that is a downfall. Clearly, my students can create their own Weebly sites at home and publish what they want and we, as teachers, have no control over that. But, as for the school electronic portfolio, I feel better that we are using Weebly for education.
Britt KJ Thorpe, March 17th 2012 |
Recently I posted an SOS blog asking others to help me out. As I’ve been working on my lesson plan for Cohort 1, I came across http://photopin.com/, which I find to be the simplest way to find Creative Commons pictures. My students and I are “messing around” with it as we find pictures for our current narrative writing unit: Pourquoi Tale: How Something Came To Be. Photopin offers a list of sizes to download and then in a little box near the pictures it says “copy this information” so my students know exactly how to credit the photographer. We have been adding the information into the caption of the picture. It is so easy and I love the choices of sizes. Also, Weebly is one of the options for my students to use to publish their pictures and when you use a Weebly pictures, the site automatically credits the photographer when you publish your Weebly. Try http://photopin.com/
Britt KJ Thorpe, March 14th 2012 |
Dear Coetailers, I am in desperate need to feel as if I’m sitting around a table with some teachers who know more about tech integration than I do. I need advice badly. I have an idea for my first lesson plan and I feel totally insecure about it; it seems so simple as far as the tech part goes. As I learn more, I promise to pay it forward and help another new Coetailer in the future. For now, I’m calling out. First, I must set the stage. I’m a grade four teacher and we have just begun a narrative writing unit that I love called The Pourquoi Tale (PQT). Students read these tales and pick them apart to learn what makes a PQT (personification, powerful dialogue, an explanation of something in nature). Then we write our own and share our published stories with our Grade One Buddies. My favorite part of the PQT is when students explore their favorite animal or force of nature and personify that animal or force in a clever and engaging manner. We spend a good amount of time on how to write powerful dialogue before we begin writing our PQT, so in the end my students have written about how something in nature came to be (why the sky is blue, why tigers have stripes) yet they’ve created a personality for their animals/force that truly reflect the student’s voice and passions. With that said, here is where I need your help. In thinking about tech integration, I want my students to begin to publish online with pride and as a tool for self-reflection through time. I’m always resisting paper portfolios, which are bulky and environmentally unfriendly. We’re in China and Weebly isn’t blocked and it is free. So, I thought we’d write our PQTs and then publish them on four to five pages inside of our Weebly blog. Each page could have a picture. The first couple of pictures would be drawn or created by students and then as the tale unfolds and some aspect of nature comes to be, then we’d use real pictures. I know nothing about legally using pictures at this point. Does anyone have a few websites that offer free pictures and that are easy to use for a grade 4 student. Giving my students time to find pictures would be allowing “Messing Around” time. And, in time if we use their Weebly account to publish our poetry we might get to the “Geeking Out” phase too. However, my tech integration seems so simple. Although, I didn’t mention that my students are now trained to type up their rough drafts and then email volley with me until the paper is ready to be published. Parents are trained not to help too. I’ve found that the quality of their writing and my ability to differentiate is so much easier using email conferencing. I speak to the student one on one for a quick lesson and then email them about it again so that he/she can improve on the piece at home and email the revisions back to me again. That is certainly tech integration too. I think my PQT unit with Weebly will allow time for focusing on copyright and visual literacy, but is that enough? Any thoughts?
Britt KJ Thorpe, March 6th 2012 |