Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What Does It Mean to Be Literate in the 21st Century

Before watching the video embedded in this post, ask yourself, "What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century." Write down your answer somewhere if you think you will forget it after watching the video. Then watch the video, and ask yourself the question again. So what are your thoughts on what it means to be literate in the 21st century? The producers of the video, educators, stepped into teachers' classrooms and asked this question and video-recorded the responses. What did you think of the responses you heard in the video? How do you think students in the elementary, middle, and high school grades would react to the video? What do you think would be their definition of literacy? What literacy skills do you think it is important to teach?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Skype for Dot Day

Today, I Skyped with a group of 5th graders from Columbia, Maryland, at the Longfellow Elementary School, in recognition of International Dot Day. Based on the book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, the concept is to make connections with others and share ideas.

The Skype worked well. The students gathered in a group on rug in the school library. Coincidentally, the rug was a map of the USA, which helped because the Skype was a Mystery Skype. After they asked me numerous questions to figure out my location, I asked them if they had a map. Finally, through process of elimination, they figured out I was in Connecticut.

At the end of the Skype, they shared with me their Dot Trading Cards. They will be mailing these cards, so my class can respond and create their own Trading Cards to send back to the Maryland class. Some photos I took of their Dot Trading Cards are at the end of this blog post.  The students took turns showing their cards and asking me if I tried the idea they offered. For instance, one wanted to know if I ever body surfed. That worked well because I grew up on an island where both body surfing and regular surfing were popular.

I let them know that I live in another location now and offered them these clues: my state has rivers and lakes and borders the ocean. They tried Delaware, Maine, and Rhode Island, all states bordering the Atlantic Ocean. They asked me if my state had "New" in the title. When I told them it did not, that helped them eliminate some other states. By that time, they knew I lived on the East coast in a state north of theirs. Finally, they figured out the state was Connecticut. One of the students offered a sibling attends Yale University in the state.  I showed them some pictures representative of the state such as the Capitol Building and our state bird, the Robin.



All in all, it was a wonderful experience. Both Dot Day and Skype are ideal ways to connect classes around the world. I was privileged to have this opportunity to meet with a class in another location at the press of a few buttons. Technology offers many learning opportunities. I learned of places to visit in Maryland, and we also discussed the National Mall in DC, which is not far from where the students live.

I also suggested that if they ever get to Connecticut, they should visit Mystic Seaport and Mystic Aquarium. I introduced them to Mark Twain and showed them a picture of his house in Hartford. I mentioned the author Lemony Snicket, who some heard of, and told them he went to college in Connecticut. I also squeezed in that Noah Webster, of dictionary fame, lived in the town where my university is located, and showed the students a picture of the Noah Webster House, now a museum. Here two pictures I shared about historic sites and one about Lemony Snicket. I hope they search their school library to find out more about each.




Students Skyping with other classes makes for excellent geography lessons and information sharing. We even discussed time zones. They wanted to know if I lived in Europe at the start of the Skype. We then discussed what time it would be in England now. There are so many possibilities for learning by using Skype or another video conferencing tool.

What do you see as the possibilities for integrating video conferencing into the classroom setting? Would you be willing to try a Mystery Skype with your students? What areas of the curriculum other than geography do you believe can be achieved through these kinds of contacts? How can video conferencing across classes support curriculum goals and what students should be learning?

For more insight into video conferencing, I encourage you to contact Matthew Winner, the school librarian who arranged this Skype. His Twitter name is @MatthewWinner  if you want to tweet with him. I am sure he will welcome the opportunity, and he might be able to connect you with classes who will Skype with you or your classes.

Here is image of tweet conversation with Matthew Winner following the Skype:

Another way to get in touch with Matthew Winner is through his The Busy Librarian Blog.

On the blog, he has posts about Dot Day and Skypes. Here is a link to one of his posts: Dot Day Connectors Map

Enjoy the pics of the students'  Dot Trading Cards.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mystery Skypes: Add Adventure to Your Classrooms

Many resources exist to help teachers understand the power of Mystery Skypes.

The Mystery Skypes 2012-2013 is a good starting place. There you will information about how to locate classes interested in signing up for Mystery Skypes and two videos about Mystery Skypes.

For more information about Mystery Skypes, check Pernille's blog post: So You Want to Do Mystery Skype. She gives detailed information about how to run an effective Mystery Skype and provides an video. Also, check the comment section.

Now that you have checked a variety resources about Mystery Skypes, consider these questions:
  • How do you think students will react? What skills will student gain from the Skype? What might they learn?
  • What kinds of advanced planning do you think a teacher needs to take to make the concept work?  What should a teacher do after a Mystery Skype for follow up?
  • How can a Mystery Skype complement the curriculum? 
  • What questions do you have about Mystery Skypes? 
  • Would you be willing to try one in your classroom?
  • What the two recommended resources, The Mystery Skypes 2012-2013 and So You Want to Do Mystery Skype helpful to you? If so, how? 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Blogging in the Classroom

If you're not yet having your students blog, consider the possibilities. KidBlog, a popular platform, has just added new features sure to entice teachers. Check out 14 New Kidblog Features You're Sure to Love.

Edublogs is another popular blogging site. Just like KidBlog, Edublogs is free and easy for teachers and students to use. Check out more about Edublogs at its home page.

What have you heard about these tools? Do you use either, or would you?  Do you know teachers who use one of these tools? Have you seen samples of blogs students have created with Kidblog or Edublogs?

Digital BackPack

Sharing Technology is Deb Norton's blog. She's a 5th grade teacher with a master's in technology and lots of ideas to share.

In one blog post, Sharing Technology: Digital Backpacks, Deb showcases the digital tools she will be using this year. These tools work well for a variety of grade levels and subject areas. These are the tools she lists. Check her descriptions of each. Which of these tools have you used? Which would you like to use? What do you think of her list?

Google Apps for Education
SMART Notebook 11
Spelling City 
Lead 21 Online Portal
Today's Meet
Course Director
Class Dojo

Monday, September 3, 2012

Exciting Your Students for the New School Year

I found this video via Twitter by accessing a blog. I thought I would share it with you. I am also leaving links for you to download the video to edit it for your own liking to reuse. Thanks to Yolan Lee for sharing this on his blog post: Welcome to a New School Year.

Download the .mov file here.
Download the Keynote file here.

 Would you consider making a video like this to introduce your students to the new school year? What did you think of the many messages Mr. Lee conveyed in this video? Note Mr. Lee invites others to use this video with students as well as to download it, edit it, and make a remix to one's liking.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Introducing Yourself to Your Students

While browsing around the Web today, I came across this blog post by Melissa Seideman about using Animoto to introduce yourself to your students. Check her post: Instead of Telling Your Students Who You Are, Show Them. She suggested using Animoto to do this.

Animoto is online tool for creating quick videos by uploading saved images and then adding a soundtrack. You can also add text slides to the presentation. I have included three examples of Animoto introductions that I found on Melissa's post. Below the Animotos, I included examples from others who used additional tools for creating introductions.

I thank Melissa for this excellent suggestion and encourage following her on Twitter, where her user name is @mseideman.

Mrs. Seidman, High School Social Studies Teacher

Here is Mrs. Jee’s Video

Here is Mrs. Lindinger’s video

Here is another created with Animoto, but then uploaded to YouTube.

Meet Mr. Lee:

Here is one that was created with VoiceThread. (Excuse the comments on the first slide, which still need to be deleted.) Just go through the full VoiceThread, using the arrows as needed, or just letting the show proceed on its own.

Introduction to Jamme Freitag, Elementary School Teacher

This one was created with PhotoStory but then uploaded to Google to be placed in a Google Site. You will need to access it from a Google Site web page: Introduction to Colin Murray

Now that you have seen how teachers are using Web 2.0 and multimedia to introduce themselves, what are your thoughts on the idea? Would you consider introducing yourself to your class in this way?

On another note, I found out that Melissa uses Animoto for her students to create projects for their  history course. Check this blog post, which has a link to the assignment directions and an example  of one student's response to the project. Animoto: Video Slideshows. The text slides in this student example were created with PowerPoint, and the PowerPoint was saved as a jpeg file, so the slides could be uploaded to Animoto similar to how images (or photos) would be.

How can you see yourself using a tool like Animoto for student projects? What kinds of projects might you integrate into your own teaching?

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