Final Thing: VoiceThread

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this course and can not say it enough. I’ve learned so much that I’m both overwhelmed and overjoyed. However, I plan to use every web 2.0 technology that I learned about to help enhance teaching and learning with Georgia teachers and students.

Every single web 2.o tool I learned about was amazing. I’ve been sharing everything that I’ve learned with GLRS Directors across the state and with all the RESA’s also. I ranted and raved so much about what I’ve learned in this course that I’m scheduled to do a brief presentation at our next statewide Network GLRS meeting. Scarey I know! I’m not sure which web 2.0 tools I’ll share with them first, but I think I’ll suggest that I share approximately 3 web 2.0 tools at at time at the next few monthly meetings so I can play around with them more. My next meeting is at the end of May so I’m sure I should have mastered a few of these tools by then.

I’ve already decided that my NW GLRS Special Education Teacher Academy, Autism Academy, and Co-Teaching Academy will use some of these technologies. There is no better way to learn about something than to use it and teach someone else how to use it. These technologies will help all of us work smarter not harder and in these times of educational budgetary concerns, we’ve got to do things better and more cost effectively.

Some of my next steps are to continue to customize my PageFlakes page so I can have easy access to many of these web 2.0 tools that I plan to use and to continue to peruse the Ning site because I didn’t connect the dots the way I did with Classroom 2.0. The course may be over, but my lifelong learning will definitely continue on.

Jerri, thanks for making this a great course. This is the best course I’ve taken in a long time. Take care!

Thing 22: Social Networking

I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about social networking in education as I worked on this assignment. I joined Ning’s Classroom 2.0, but have not received an approval yet so my exploration of the social networking site was somewhat limited. However, I found several interested Groups I’d like to join as soon as I receive my approval. Some of which are: Web 2.0 Technologies for Teachers, Connecting Content and Technology, Google Apps in Education, Differentiating Instruction in the Elementary Classroom, Moodle VLE, Technology in Adult Education, Professional Development, Georgia Classroom 2.0, The Inclusion Revolution – Technology in Special Education, and many more! I’m completely overwhelmed with joy and anxiety with the amount of interesting web 2.0 information and support available. I want to know as much as I can, but don’t know how I can keep up with it all.

While exploring Ning in Education I located some useful and interesting information, but quickly became overwhelmed. I’m not sure why, but as I perused this site I was confused and not really sure how I would utilize this site as much as I would Classroom 2.0 even though I read how many teachers used Ning to collaborate with other teachers, they used Ning with their students, and I also read that somehow Ning communicates with several other social networking sites and brings them altogether, but the information was vague and did not connect the dots for me.

Prior to this class, I had only joined one social networking site which was Linked-In. Now, I’ve joined several social networking sites, most of which are education related. However, I’m not sure how I’m going to keep up with them all. I wish there was a way to connect all the social networking sites that I’ve joined to one location so I can keep up.  Maybe I can do that with my Pageflakes page or is there another more effective way to do this? I would love to be able to access all this information from one location like we learned to do with Google Reader and set up RSS feed to bring all the information from these social networking sites to me. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Thing 7C: Google Reader

I’m really enjoying Google Reader. I like the idea of having RSS feed bringing information to me rather than me having to look for it. I find myself being more up to date than ever on world events and educational hot topics locally and nationally. However, I do feel overwhelmed sometimes, but I like everything I subscribed to so I’m going to wait a while longer before I decide to unsubscribe to anything.

Recently, I read an interesting article from CNN regarding Wi-Fi problems with the new IPad. Over 300,000 iPads were sold within the first few days of it hitting the market but there have been thousands of problems reported regarding poor to no Wi-Fi connections and Apple not having an answer to the problem as of right now. As a new self-proclaimed “techie want to be”, I’m more interested than ever in new technologies that hit the market, but this causes skepticism about rushing out and purchasing new technologies within the first few days of them coming on the market because even the best intended items sometimes need to have all the kinks worked out of them before newbie techies purchase them so we don’t loose heart.

Thing 21: Pageflakes

I enjoyed exploring and creating a Pageflakes site. I plan to use Pageflakes for both personal and professional use.  For classroom purposes, I envision using Pageflakes to post select podcasts of lessons, assignments, notes to students and parents, add RSS feed to support instruction and to have students do the same. I also envision students creating their own Pageflakes page to act as a tutorial, news site, and/or for projects.

Teacher Themes:

  • Assignments with articles, podcasts, RSS feeds, TeacherTube, etc.
  • Parent Notes
  • Student Notes to include articles, podcasts, RSS feeds, YouTube, etc.
  • Content Pages (Reading, English/Language Arts, Math, Science, Socials Studies, Extracurricular)
  • Blogs, Notes, Calculators, Wikipedia, Google Search, Google Research, Dictionary, etc.

Student Themes:

  • Blogs
  • Student Notes,
  • Video, podcasts, RSS feed, instructional games, tutorials, etc.

Thing 20: Google Docs

Google Docs is another amazing FREE web 2.0 application that I didn’t know anything about that I now plan to make good use of. Google Docs has similar word processing features as Microsoft Office such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but some of the major differences are Google Docs is FREE, it’s online, and it can be shared online in real time! This too is considered to be social networking. Prior to this course, I thought social networking was limited to sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, Linked-In, etc. I never even considered that there were social networking tools that could be used for education and/or professional use. My perceptive was so limited then and is so expansive now.

Ideas for Using Google Doc in Classrooms and/or for my Professional Use:

1. Documents can be started in school or in my office and can be worked on and completed from home or any other off-site location as long as the site has internet access. Documents no longer have to be emailed from one location to the next nor do I have to worry about which version is the last version that was edited because when I access a Google Doc that I created  it retrieves the most up to date version and I can pull up an older versions if I need to.

2. Students can work on projects, writing assignments, homework assignments, etc. with the peers in their classroom or other peers from across the country

3. Students can write a poem and/or a story together….at the same time! Additionally, the teacher is able to see the edits, revisions, and publications and is able to see who is contributing to the assignment.

4. Teachers are also able to make comments and/or suggestions to student work and then see immediately if the students are doing the work.

5. Google Docs also allows educators and others who need to work on a document collaboratively to do the work without physically having to meet at a common location.

Google Docs is a hit!

Thing 19: YouTube & Teacher Tube

Teaching and learning is definitely different today than it was when I was in school. Please don’t misunderstand me, I didn’t go to school in a one room school like the one on Little House on the Prairie, but using technology to enhance instruction was definitely not the focus then like it is today. 21st Century teaching and learning is definitely more fun and interactive and if used appropriately can help eliminate student apathy and has a great potential for increasing student understanding which ultimately leads to increased student achievement.

I’d heard of YouTube and TeacherTube, but had no idea that there were so many other video sharing and video producing websites and production software available. Nor did I contemplate the various ways in which YouTube and TeacherTube could be used in the classroom other than watching a movie to support a book being read in the classroom. Now I realize more than ever that YouTube and TeacherTube can be used for storyboarding, discussing emotional and controversial events like Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, or Health Care Reform and much much more. With the use of YouTube and TeacherTube, students with disabilities and other struggling students may get a better understanding of the the content being taught by supplementing or substituting complex text with complementary videos. The possibility of using online tools are limitless and require both students and teachers to think, teach, and learn differently. I’m thankful that for the opportunity that this course has provided me so I too can get out of the box.

In my YouTube and Teacher Tube search, I located several professional videos that will be helpful to me on my job. One of which was a YouTube video called “Introducing iPods into Special Education“. Another I enjoyed was “Technology in Special Education“.  The How To video I found was on how to use my new Sony Webbie HD Camera so I can learn how to use my new camera to create my own YouTube Videos and Podcasts for instruction. My fun video was on Zumba, a new Latin dance and exercise that I’ve been doing for the past few months and I love. It’s so much fun and is a true stress reliever.

Thing 17: Podcasting

Prior to this week’s assignment, I never gave much thought about using podcasts in a  traditional classroom. Although, I don’t why because I’ve integrated podcasts into every online class that I’ve ever taught and a podcast is created every time I teach an online class using Elluminate. However, I was never the one who really “created” the podcast. It was always someone else, who actually did the behind the scenes thing of creating it and I never saw how it was done, nor was I ever taught how to do it, so I always thought it was a complicated secret reserved for those who had technology giftedness. What I discovered was, that’s not true at all. Anyone can create a podcast and you don’t even have to have an iPod to do it (although I do have one) and there are many educational reasons to use podcasts in the classroom with teachers and students.

I previewed the podcast, “Podcasts for Teachers (TechPod): Podcasting and Educational Technology for K12 and All Educators – The Teachers’ Podcast Ep 55 Virtual Presentations: Jupiter & Beyond Part 1 & 2”. It was really interesting and it was very similar to listening to a radio talk show. It was a really creative way to get information to teachers and is a great professional learning tool. Not to mention it’s also a cost effective way to provide professional development to teachers.

I searched all the recommended podcasts for educators, but my favorites were  iTunes, Podcast Alley, and Education Podcast Network. I tagged and bookmarked all the recommended educational podcasts to my delicious account and subscribed to 13 podcasts. Most were professional, but some were educational/personal such as Coffee Break Spanish.

I’m in the process of turning several of my NW GLRS face-to-face courses into hybrid courses (combination face-to-face and online). Now that I know that I too can create a podcast, I plan to create podcasts for a large portion of the online courses and have the teachers think of ways in which they can effectively use podcasting with their students to differentiate instruction and help improve student achievement (ex. study guides, review, preview, tutorials, etc.).

Thing 16: LibraryThing

I love to read and am the co-founder of the book club “Real Education Adult Dialogue (READ)”. Our book club was founded in 1994 and is going strong. My friends and I read a book a month, host a dinner party, and have a great time reading, laughing, socializing, and living. It’s a sacred time and it’s something we all enjoy and claim as “our time”. I can’t wait to share the LibraryThing online tool with them. Although, we have a lot of books to catalog (14 years worth), we now have means to do that using LibraryThing. We can make note of the progression of the types of books we’ve read over the years, our interests, the various authors, recommendations for page turners, and recommendations for snoozers to stay away from that received the proverbial two thumbs down rating.

I signed up for a Library Thing account  and logged the book that I’m currently reading into my personal online library. I also see how I can use LibraryThing for categorizing books in my professional loan library at work. Additionally, I see how teachers and students can use Library Thing to log books read in their 25 or 50 book campaigns. I also noticed that there were several social components to LibraryThing such as groups, blogging, etc.

LibraryThing is another great Web 2.0 tool that has convinced me that there are so many things in education we could be doing differently and better and I think technology is the means by which this will be done and is being done. Change is here.

Thing 15: Delicious

I really enjoyed working on the Delicious assignment this week. What a great idea to have one location in which I can assess all my important computer bookmarks. I work on four different computers on a regular basis and it’s extremely difficult to remember to email myself important bookmark from home to work and work to home. In addition to having to remember to do that, I then have to remember to save all my important book marks on my work and home desktop and then my work and home laptop. What a headache! Who ever thought of creating a web-based bookmarking site was a genius!

I’ve already created bookmarks, tags, a network, a subscription, and even a few tag bundles that I’ll use for both personal and professional purposes. This is awesome. This course as provided me with such a deeper understanding of social networking. I really didn’t have a clue and now I’ve gone wild! Just take a look at my Delicious links. I also just ordered three new 21st Century teaching tools by Corwin Press for my staff and myself because this is only the beginning for me. I even completed the stretchier task this week and it was a breeze! I think I’m back on track for being an “in the know teacher”. Thanks Jerrie! It’s all because of you and this course.

Thing 7B: Google Reader and an Interesting Article

The inclusion of students with disabilities into general education classrooms is not a new concept. It’s actually the law. Both the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) formerly known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act require that students with disabilities be included in the general education classroom to the maximum extent appropriate. However, this practice has come under fire as more and more charter schools are cropping up across the nation with recent studies showing an under-representation of students with disabilities are enrolled in charter schools due to them not being given equal access and special education services not being made available to them.

In a recent Council for Exceptional Children Policy Insider article, “Concerns on Inclusion of Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools Expressed in House Committee Hearing”, concerns were raised to members of congress about the under-representation of students with disabilities being enrolled in charter schools and the violation of their civil rights that result in them not having access (ex. free appropriate public education – FAPE) and parents being denied choice to enroll their children in to charter schools which claim to provide better options to a quality education than do traditional public schools.

I found this article to be extremely interesting because Georgia like many other states have an increasing number of charter schools popping up. Many of these charter schools are facing law suits due to the way in which they receive funding. I think its only a manner of time that parents of students with disabilities will ban together and demand equal access for their children to be able to enroll  in charter schools. No matter what your position is on this issue, charter schools with all the pros and cons associated with them are about to be on the roller coaster ride of their life. Hold on and stay tuned!