Thursday, April 28, 2011

Week 14: Free Post (e-readers or an Ipad)

Hello fellow ed-techies!

I am graduating in only a few short weeks, congrats to everyone who is graduating with me (especially the 5th year ed-techies!) and I am seriously considering purchasing an ereader (nook or kindle) or an ipad and need some advice as to which would be the best purchase and make the most sense. I guess now is an excellent time to map out the pros and cons of each piece of hardware to help make my purchasing decision easier.

The ipad is obviously the priciest of the 3 options-looking at more than 500 dollars, and that is a hefty price  tag. The nook is the low price of 140 dollars, while the kindle is 150 dollars. Based off of price alone, the nook would win, but if price was the only consideration, I would spend 10 dollars on a book instead. There are much more pressing factors to consider when making a hardware purchase.

As far as I know, only the nook and the ipad have color, the kindle does not. If I were to use this piece of hardware as a simple ereader for novels and reference books, color would not be a deciding factor, but if I were to bring it in the classroom for children, color is a must have feature.

I believe the ipad is the largest out of all 3 of the options, and the kindle and nook are about the same size. While size is not an incredibly important factor, considering the ipad is still incredibly portable, I may want a smaller device for traveling purposes.

Okay, here is where the ipad really outshines the other two. The ipad is so far larger and more costly than the other two, but provides the most options for customization. The applications available (which include nook and kindle apps) as well as games, productivity tools, and my personal favorite- fitness applications, make this closer to a computer replacement than a simple ereader. The question is, do I need all of the extras? I plan on teaching, in some capacity, in september and the Ipad will be a great learning tool for my students. Looking at it from that perspective, I would be investing in my future students.

Should I wait until something "better" comes out? As technology professionals, we have a constant thought in our minds before purchasing new hardware... "When is the next big thing going to hit and my 500 dollar investment becomes a fancy paper weight?" It wouldn't be as devastating if I only spent 150 and something new came out the next month, but 500 dollars and up is a bigger commitment.

The more I write about this decision, the more I believe an ipad be an excellent addition to my "tech-team", which ironically enough, is comprised of mac products alone. (macbook pro, iphone, ipod)I still have some thinking to do before making a purchase this large, and will keep you all posted!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week 12: Two articles

Hello everyone! Happy Wednesday... just 2 short work days away from a break.... well at least for me. I found this weeks materials to be particularly interesting, I do enjoy playing the occasional online or offline computer games... I was a huge fan of the Sims in high school (no, I did not purposely antagonize my Sims... though I know many that did).

The first article that I chose to read was titled Welcome To Our Virtual Worlds, and it was fascinating. I know, from my field experience, that computer games are being heavily used to promote learning. Just today I helped the gifted and talented coordinator find "federal budget simulators" for her 5th grade students. I wish I was in that class when I was their age because the games I found were completely amazing! Instead of reading the information in a boring textbook, riddled with words only geniuses would understand, have the students learn through a simulation. The games that were described in the article can have the student's progress tracked by the teacher, which makes for easy grading and assessing. The teacher will be able to monitor what the students are actually doing and make sure they are completing what they are required to. Overall, I think it's a great idea to implement simulation type games into the classroom. They can completely enrich a teacher's lesson plan, engage even the toughest students, and provide an enjoyable alternative to reading a text book. If appropriate, I would definitely try using these computer games within my own lesson plan.

The second article I read was titled students as designers and creators of educational computer games: who else? discussed not only students using computer games to compliment the curriculum and traditional classroom activities, but getting the opportunity to create their own! Students know what they like and know what they want out of a computer game. Given the tools needed, they will be able to come up with a concept and create their own minigames! Mini-games were also discussed in this article at length. Instead of having to save a game in progress and stop a student in their tracks because the period is over, why not create smaller games that can be completed within an allotted time period? I would definitely like to use a minigame over a full length game because you are able to complete the activity in one session and you can move onto the next quicker. Also, you would be able to concentrate the information better... i.e make it more focused. Instead of having a game that covers the entire civil war, have a game that covers on incident of the war... making the students more familiar with that one piece. I enjoyed this article greatly!

21st century skills are being emphasized in schools across the country, and computer games are just another example of software companies targeting the educational market. Schools should give students access to simulation games, mini-games, and full-length games as well to compliment (not-replace) the current curriculum. We would be reaching a different type of learner, which is always a plus in the classroom.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Post 9: Smart-notebook lesson review

I decided to do a quick search in the exchange section of the SMART website for my favorite author, Dr.Seuss, just to see what would come up. I am so glad that I did! Scrolling through the various presentations on celebrating his birthday... which I wasn't really interested in, I found an excellent lesson on One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

The author of this lesson did a phenomenal job with not only incorporating all of the functions of the smartboard and smart notebook, but really laying out the purpose for teaching the lesson and what resources they utilized. I was impressed with the layout, color selection, and general appearance and flow of the smart-notebook lesson.

The activities in this lesson ranged from phonics (word families, etc), to compare and contrast, to just plain fun activities feature Dr.Seuss's amazing characters and silly words. This would be a great lesson to do in conjunction with Dr.Seuss's birthday and after reading the book one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. I really like SMART notebook lessons that incorporate a hands-on, old-fashioned activity as well (such as a read-aloud or a craft project). This project provides opportunities to utilize the technology as well as engage the students with Dr.Seuss's stories through read alouds and various in-class activities. This lesson was definitely a worth while find!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Open source blog

Tux Math Scrabble:

This game could be used in a math classroom for grades ranging from 8th grade all the way through high school. Instead of letters, as typically used in scrabble, this game uses numbers, letters, and symbols (*+= etc) to create complex and simple equations. As soon as I saw scrabble, I knew this game would be right up my ally. It is AWESOME! You can play either by yourself (against the computer) or with a friend (taking turns). I really enjoyed playing this game so much that I didn't want to stop "reviewing it" to write this blog post!

This game could easily be used in an upper grade math class. The teacher could allow the students to use the program after they complete work at their seat or if they finish a test/assignment early. There are always students who seem to zip through everything given to them and are left sitting staring at the wall. This would focus their attention to a game that reinforces the lessons taught that day.

Though there are many great things about this open source, there are a few things that I would change. When I downloaded it, I had to sift through a great deal of text files to actually find the program. I don't know if it was something on my end, or theirs, but this was a minor annoyance. Also, there should be more options for leveling. The computer was a little too easy for more advanced high school students, but average high school students and advanced middle school students will enjoy this game. There should be more of a range of difficulty of the computer.

All-in-all, I think this game is super! It's a great deal of fun while still focusing on math and learning. A great educational tool for any math teacher!

Hope everyone enjoys hunting for open source software! Anything free is alright with me!


Monday, March 7, 2011

Post 6: Response

Hello the article I chose to review is found here article!

This blog post discussed the requirements of the PLE Framework. It was helpful because I have not heard of PLEs before this class. I learned that PLEs must include:

Personalization: It should provide students with the ability to use different tools and services (software). The user is allowed to determine which tools to use and how to use them. It makes learning personal.

Social Features: It should provide opportunities for collaboration. Working with others is essential to the learning process, and PLEs are no exception.

Web 2.0 Concepts and Technologies: To develop a PLE Framework, several web 2.0 tools should be used (the author mentions RSS and openID).

Web Browser Platform: The author states, "with web browser as the platform, the independence of the operation system can be assured. This also enables PLEF to aggregate and integrate third-party services."

Mashups: The PLEF should allow the user to use several different services, such as widgets, feeds, and media.

Ease of use: A user should be able to easily navigate through the framework. If it is too difficult, the outcome won't be as desired.

This article was incredibly helpful in defining what exactly is a PLEF and what components are needed. The author was able to, very concisely define what steps a creator would need to include to have a successful framework. This is definitely something I would like to try in the future.

Hope everyone has an excellent week!


Monday, February 28, 2011

Post 5: Copyrights and Pictures- Response to outside ed tech blog 

Hello everyone!

I hope you enjoyed your February break as much as I did! Back to reality! :)

This week I am responding to a post about something I actually have issues with often in my placement, and that is image copy righting, citing, and even searching! Everyone, I'm sure, has had to go to the Internet to find images for a project (powerpoint, cover of a paper, lesson plans, etc) but have cited appropriately each time? I know, I for one, am guilty of not always citing my images when I use them for different projects, at the time I was unaware of the proper protocol. Now that I am a self-proclaimed ed-techie, I know better. At my placement, often, I see teachers showing students how to find images using google-images. I love google as much as everyone, but I've seen some pretty graphic pictures using the google-image search option. Are they filtering out all of the inappropriate images? Then my next question is, are these students citing these pictures? Do they know how to site pictures? Because I saw no direct instruction on this topic, I can only assume that the answer is no.

I looked through several ed-tech blogs and found this one to be quite helpful. Not only does it give an alternative site to google-images, but it shows how to find the citing information to make sure the pictures are free to use. This author has the image situation described right on the money! She knows that teachers need quick ways to get pictures for projects online, but also knows that it must be done safely and ethically as well. My first day of student teaching this semester, I spent 3 hours collecting images from various websites and digging for the necessary information to cite them as well. If I knew these websites existed, it would have saved me a great deal of time!

The blog that I am responding to has great posts on other sites and topics as well! Each week there is a new "tech-tip" for educators. Hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Post 4: website creation

Above is a link to a blog posting about teachers, students, and website creation. It's something that I've, as of recent, been thinking about. I want to do a project where students, either working in a group or pairs, create their own website. I think it is a great tool to learn, and it would be a skill that would be of use in their upcoming years (no matter what the age). For instance, imagine a 7th grade student that has to make a presentation on the American Revolution. How wowed would you be by a powerpoint presentation? Not very, I'm sure. But a student that can create their own mini-website on the war and include video/pictures? I would be pretty impressed.

When I first started thinking about website creation and all that it entails, I got overwhelmed. I thought I would never be able to teach something like this at the elementary grade level. I have to say, I am becoming more comfortable with the idea as the year progresses. I have found this site,, and it could not be easier to create a website (I even used the site for my e-portfolio!) I added videos, pictures, documents and so much more! As I was making the website, I knew I wanted to incorporate weebly into a project in the future.

The PBL assignment we have due in this class is definitely going to be centered around my fictional students making websites. I'm still thinking about topics (possibly colonial times), but I know I will definitely have the students (working in a group of 5) create a website. Each week they will add a new page (which will be about a different topic that they learned about during that week.) The students will create hands-on projects in class and then put their information up on their website. The parents will be able to check out the progress daily and the teacher will have several websites to show their students the following year. I'm still working out all the kinks, but I think this is my idea thus far.

As for the actual blog post, the author offered great suggestions to website creation as well as different sites that can be used. Google sites was one of the authors favorites, next they mentioned weebly (my personal favorite) and there were many other great sites mentioned as well. Website creation is slowly but surely making it's way into the curriculum, and is a 21st century skill that will serve our students greatly in the future.

Hope everyone is enjoying their time off- if you have this week off!