Quality, Not Quantity

So, here we are, starting off the beginning of CoETaIL Course 2 already. I really am enjoying the community spirit amongst my fellow CoETaILers, from reading each other’s blogs to seeing that someone new is following meon Twitter. (I will eventually make ‘tweeting’ part of my routine, right?) My RSS feed seems to grow by the week, and not because I’m not keeping up with the reading, but that I keep adding more blogs to the list. I aim to focus on writing truly quality posts for those of you who so nicely take the time to read my blog…so, put your hairnets on…the quality control staff is in the house!

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In my Course 1 Final Project post, I mentioned the use of Prezi amongst our 5th grade students. Those projects are slowly wrapping up and I am anxious to share the students’ work here in this blog. Working on these projects has brought some great discussions up between myself and one of the 5th grade teachers, particularly focusing on the use of pictures in their work. So, when the class focus this week was on Creative Commons and your digital footprint I was excited to see what useful information I could learn. The Creative Commons website helped me to understand that its purpose was to help bridge the gap between old copyright laws and today’s technology. This allows for more universal access. As a teacher, I think it is my responsibility to help students understand the value of someone’s work, whether it’s text printed in a book, a track of music, or a picture they find on the internet. So many of us are guilty of simple hitting up Google Images whenever we need ‘just the right’ image. It’s fast and has a huge bank of millions of pictures. But, you never quite know where the original image came from or whether or not you can use that image without consequence. My blog readings led me to a new source of knowledge this week from Bill Ferriter’s The Tempered Radical blog, and in particular his post “What Do YOU Know About the Creative Commons?” In this post, he shares a story of how his use of using Google Images led to a hands-on lesson in copyrights. Two videos are linked in his post to help explain to adults and tweens why we should all pay more attention to the ownership of the pictures we are using. I plan to use them to help educate my 5th and 6th graders further on this issue. I’m proud to say that I managed to add the Creative Commons license to all three of the websites I post to regularly.

I was also really interested in the Positive Digital Footprints article from Educational Leadership. As I look back at the article to write this post, I’m realizing that the author of this post is also The Tempered Radical’s writer. Seems like Bill Ferriter is a pretty good source for information surrounding the idea of your online presence in education. The article does a great job defining some basics, like offering that digital footprints are “online portfolios of who we are, what we do, and by association, what we know.” Ferriter goes on to explain that while many educators are worried about teaching the dangers of the online world, we should not forget the importance of teaching what this new connectivity can do for us in a positive manner. He stipulates, “Instead of teaching students to be afraid of what others can learn about them online, let’s teach them how digital footprints can quickly connect them to the individuals, ideas, and opportunities that they care most about.”

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Course 1 Final Project

For the final project of CoETaIL course 1, I am using the unit that is currently underway with our 5th grade students. The students have been placed into pairs and with their homeroom teacher selected a biome to research. The research was done through use of our mini-Dell laptops and print resources. The homeroom teachers taught students about source citation used a graphic organizer to help students chart their research in an understandable manner. Now that the research portion is complete, students are beginning to work in Prezi to create a presentation about their biome, in hopes of persuading their audience to want to travel to this region of the world. In the past, students have created travel brochures by hand, but in an effort to try and utilize newer technologies, the teachers have selected Prezi as their tool for publication. The students, of course, are intrigued by the zooming feature of Prezi and it’s non-linear format and we think that it is a more engaging and meaningful way to present their information.

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Here is the UbD plan:

(Just in case the embedded form is not behaving…here’s the link as well.) https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=194nzKlRUT4cDDpsVCNKMnopdDmbP5HH9W_Diu_GNPb0

Contemplating Creativity

So today as I’ve been playing catch-up, I’ve spent many hours reading other CoETaILers blog posts, and other recent posts of those in my RSS feed. After all of this reading, a little napping, and a lot of eating, I might add, the most interesting thing I came across was a TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson.

YouTube Preview Image

This talk, about creativity and schools, seems interconnected with our current conversations about integrating technology into our classrooms in a meaningful and engaging way. Robinson stipulates that ‘creativity and literacy should have the same status and be of equal importance’ in schools. He offers several anecdotes and leads to the idea that kids are not afraid to be wrong; they are willing to take a chance on things. He offers that as you get older you lose this element of fearlessness. This seems to be true with many teachers who stick with the same lessons over and over again because figuring something new out takes more time, might not work, or might produce an unexpected result.

According to Robinson, we are “educating [kids] out of their creative capabilities.” I think that this is where technology has a real chance. There are so many possibilities in technology and in things that we, as digital immigrants, overlook. But for our digital native students each new technology gadget, app, or site is a new opportunity offering potential for them to express themselves in a new and creative way.

Even more reason for us to keep exploring.

Picture from: http://macbook.blog83.fc2.com/blog-entry-424.html


Procrastination Station…

Geez, I’m usually not one for putting things off, but when my school took a week off for “White Week” my motivation did too. I wrote my Week 2 blog in Amsterdam with some super slow internet, so slow I couldn’t link anything to the post. So, of course, I put off trying to keep up with the Coetail stuff until we got back, and then suddenly, it was another whole week later and I’m just sitting down to take care of business.

I’ve been digging around in my RSS feeds for the last few hours now and feel my head spinning with thoughts and ideas. I am, however, enjoying Feedly as my main RSS reader right now. It’s more appealing to read through the magazine-like format they offer than through Google Reader’s boring look, so hopefully it’ll keep me coming back. I keep reading other’s trying different apps and such on all their gadgets, and I’m so jealous. I’m a tech teacher with no gadgets. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I should post a picture of the phone I’m currently using here in Italy. So. 1991. I used to say things were so “1984” or something, but I think I have to move up a bit in the timeline now.

Anyways, on to bigger and better things. As I was reading my “feed” today, I was really enjoying the posts from ILearnTechnology because they were a) short and b) instantly useful. Most were of different sites and applications to use in your classroom. I like how the author tells you about the site and then offers classroom suggestions. My only request would be to have information included about the grade level or age range that might benefit most from each site. Perhaps I should make that comment on one of the posts! (See, there’s that online community building…)

I also reread Jeff Utecht’s post about Stages of PLN adoption and was considering the big question…

Where am I?

Currently, I think I’m floating between a few stages, depending on the moment. Sometimes, I feel like I have “Perspective” about it all, or I’m forced into it because my internet connection is restricted by the amount I can “stream” each month, so I feel limited to how much surfing I can do. Other times, I feel like I’m at the beginning, just starting to “Immerse” myself in the process of building a PLN because I never stick with it long enough to build those connections that will keep me coming back. And, finally, sometimes I’m hovering in “Evaluation” because I’m looking for those blog writers and sites that really connect with me and tie into my thoughts and ideas. Good news? I’m at least thinking about it!

Picture from: http://www.simplyzesty.com/technology/8-top-tools-to-help-beat-web-procrastination/