Monthly Archives: June 2009

Feed and Water

It’s 4:15 and I just finished my lunch…well, part of my lunch.  I guess I’ll save the apple for tomorrow.  Half-day morning meetings and an afternoon of classes don’t leave time for food.

Second and third grade students have learned how to create their own page on the Harambee Library Wiki.  I ran into some problems this time with bulk uploads that added to the rush of the day.  It seems that when there is a conflict with a user name, just changing the username doesn’t upload all those names to your wiki.  It does create accounts for them and I get an email telling me that they have been added but then they are unable to edit the wiki because they are not members. In the meantime, I changed the permission temporarily to public so that the students could create their pages.  Wikispaces has been super helpful and adds the names as soon as I email them but it has made things a little tense.

Library classes with students has been pretty rushed.  The second and third grade students are not only slower typists, as expected, but some are having trouble just remembering how to log on to the computers.  This is basic stuff that I expect them to know by now but, fortunately most of the teachers are ready with the information.  I think it means that the students have not been on the computers enough this year, or that helpful adults have been doing work-arounds for them.  I hope to correct these problems in the next few weeks as they work in the library.

For the most part, the students are very excited about posting on the wiki.  I’ve already seen them working from home.  I can’t imagine what this year would have been like if we had not jumped into this Internet Wiki world and I certainly can’t imagine going back.  Now I just need more time, for myself to be better prepared, for the students so they can complete work, for the teachers so they can be brave enough to take the plunge.

Evernote in SIOP Land

After school today I stayed late for a SIOP support meeting.  SIOP stands for Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol.  It is a fantastic framework for teaching all students but particularly ESL students.  I can hardly teach anything anymore without thinking about some of the principles found in the protocol.  This time we were supposed to bring a lesson we had “SIOP-ized” and one we were having trouble teaching.

The lesson I was having trouble with was one I taught this morning.  I was introducing the Harambee Library Wiki to second and third graders.  I wanted them to understand the difference between blogs and wikis, to know how to navigate to the wiki, sign in, create a new page, and start typing their book reviews — and then they still had to check out books.  That’s a LOT to do in the 35-45 minutes available to me.  The temptation is to rush the definitions and get on with the rest.  My colleagues had wonderful suggestions.  They thought up little rhyming chants that we could say for blog and wiki that would help students remember the meaning and I could very quickly present the definitions.  I especially liked the wiki one: We Will Work Together On Our Wonderful Wiki!

The SIOP-ized example I brought was the E2T2 presentation.  I had SIOP-ized it in several ways.  One of the important concepts of SIOP is being prepared to teach.  Coming in at the last minute with no real plans doesn’t work well with students who speak the language, but it’s particularly bad for ESL students who may need extra scaffolding.  Even though I was teaching adults at the E2T2 summer institute, I still needed to know and publicize my objectives.  I defined and elaborated on definitions that those attending would need to know.  The wiki I used when teaching, InternetStuff, was meant to be interactive.  Even though I was teaching adults I still added pictures to each page to help them remember the sites.  These are measures that help all students learn, no matter what language they speak or how old they are.

So…I’ve just written three paragraphs about SIOP and haven’t said a word about Evernote.  I had the opportunity tonight to show six teachers how I can capture print screen images in Evernote and explained that this was what I used to get the web page pictures I added on the wiki. Everyone was very interested.  It was the perfect “teachable moment.”

It is hard to find relevant time to tell teachers about Web 2.0 technologies.  There comes a time when they will smile, nod politely, then look for an excuse to make their exit.  They don’t understand the words you are using and don’t have the time or interest to ask questions.  Those of us who are comfortable with technology need to SIOP-ize our way of thinking.  If we want teachers to be as excited about online applications as we are, we must provide some scaffolding so they understand what we’re talking about.  I was able to explain how Evernote works, opened up my Evernote account for them to see the notes I had, and show how the print screen function worked.  What a treat it was tonight to be in the right place, at the right time, to use this teachable moment.

E2T2 Presentation

New Tools & Schools: Hamline University Technology Integration Institute

This year has changed what I teach, how I teach, and the way I think about teaching because of my involvement with an E2T2 grant.  One Friday and Saturday a month we met for daylong workshop sessions.  Our substitutes were covered by the grant and we got a stipend for saturdays.  It was a sweet deal no matter how you looked at it.  While it didn’t require a lot of work outside of those times, most of us still spent significant time away from the workshops learning how to use what we’d just been introduced to.

Originally I thought I was in over my head.  While I knew what a blog was, I’d never followed anyone.  I’d never heard of delicious, diigo, evernote, twitter, animoto, Google Docs, screencasting, cloud computing, wikis, etc. and had no notion of how to use any of these things in a classroom.  I’d never seen an interactive white board and thought a clicker was something you used with the tv.  I didn’t even have a smart phone.  We were totally immersed in this internet soup and told that we could swim.

Today I taught a session at Hamline University called Wikis, Blogs, Websites…What’s the Difference? One of the requirements of the grant was to take part in helping colleagues integrate technology into their classrooms through this institute.  It was fun.  I used Google Docs presentation to organize my thoughts while I was preparing the lesson.  I’ll embed it here but it’s really dry and a poor example.  Since I was mainly using it as an outline I didn’t worry too much about all the bells and whistles.

My real plan was to teach from another wiki, Internet Stuff.  Thanks to bloggers like Richard Byrne (Free Technology for Teachers), Kim Cofino (Always Learning), Kelly Tenkely (iLearn Technology), our instructors Scott, Carl, Chris, various guest instructors, the E2T2 cohort members, and my twitter network, I had some great examples and helpful websites to show everyone.

How did it go?  As with most things like this there were a few surprises.  I had thought that more people would have laptops.  Since only one person did, the survey at the beginning didn’t happen and we went around the room to introduce ourselves. I also made the mistake of mentioning rss feeds, which would be an entire session all on its own and I did a poor job trying to explain it.  However, when you consider where I started from, it went just fine.

animoto Play

Next week the 4th and 5th grade students at my school will be going on an extended field trip to an Audubon site.  They will have fun exploring an outdoor environment, challenging themselves on an adventure course or climbing wall, sleeping in bags, learning with friends and teachers.  However, a small contingent of students will be staying at school on those days.  Their friends will be doing things they’ve never done before and it would be nice if those staying at school could also have a novel learning experience.  I was delighted when the teacher who will be working with that group asked me if there was something they could do as a class that was new and different.  I suggested that they make videos on animoto.

I was looking for a picture of my school to post with my description of our year-round schedule and realized that there wasn’t one on our website.  How wonderful would it be if these students created videos using pictures that they had taken around the school? We could post them on the school website for all to see.  Can you just imagine the pride these students will have in their creations? This is the kind of real world experience our students need.

One of my concerns about online apps in general is that everything you do online requires an email address.  Since I’m working with 4th and 5th grade students most will not have email addresses.  I’ve applied for the Animoto for Education and am hoping that this will solve that problem.  I’m still waiting for a confirmation email so I’m not sure yet how that will look.

Now. . . I had to learn how to use Animoto!  I’m really not the most crafty or artistic person in the world.  Give me words, something to read or type, and I’m happy.  Pictures or art just aren’t my thing so I approached the project with a little trepidation.  I can tell you, as someone who is no good at this sort of thing, that animoto makes it simple.  Here is the demonstration video I made to show the class.