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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Digital Literacy


Did a nice lesson on digital literacy last week.

I told students we were going to start a research project, placed them in groups, and told them that they were going to view different sites to gather information.  The information was going to be placed in a shared google presentation, but I had lots of issues with that, so I would reccommend sticking with word or paper for recording the info.  Also stress to the students that it does not matter if they have the same information as they will be comparing it later.

These are the sites that they visited:
Dihydrogen Monoxide


Save the Rennets/

Save the Guinea Worm Foundation

Help Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

The Burmese Mountain Dog


After doing research for 15-20 minutes they had to watch a short video from Google about research:

Being Smartonline

Only the first minute is really relevant.  It stresses 3 main points of research online.
Be a skeptic
Check the source of the site
Always compare a site with at least 3 other sites to confirm that it is true

Then students to copy/paste their search topic from the site into google and do some searching.

It becomes evident pretty quick what is going on as many of the sites that come up on the search show that they are all hoaxes.

After several angry outbursts from students who weren't happy about being tricked we looked at the sites in more detail, in particular the URL's for some of the sites, and checking further into the foundations that created the sites.

Lesson went well, and you could tell that it was going to stick with some of the students when one said they weren't going to waste 20 minutes of their life researching a topic that wasn't true.

Also, I don't think they quite trust me anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TESIC

I attended TESIC on Wednesday and Thursday, the Technology Education Special Interest Council.  They have their BGM and host a PD session every two years.  It was my first time attending.something similar to this.  On Wednesday night we had a speaker, Dr. Steven Van Zoost.  He was quite interesting, and had a lot to say about student involvement in the learning process.
The next day there were several breakout sessions to attend that we had selected prior to registering.  My 3 choices had been a session on E-Backpacks, another called "Why Integrate Technology?" with Dr. Van Zoost, and finally a session on Mobile Learning with Ipads.

The E-backpack session was with Mario Chiasson.  He spoke about using ipod touches in with a group of grade 7 students.  He spoke about the students interest in using them, their feelings about using them, and the effect it had on their learning.  His E-backpack wiki is chock full of information using the devices.  He also showed a short video:

The "Why Integrate Technology Session" with Steven Van Zoost was interesting as well.  He showed several tools that he had used within his classroom, and most importantly, spoke about why they were important for his students to use.  It was a well done session.

The last breakout session, Mobile Learning with Ipads was not what I had expected.  It was mostly an introduction to teachers on the capabilities of using the ipad as a tool.  I already have my own ipad, so it was not new to me, and even the people I was sitting with were quite familiar with the technology, so I did not even get to help anyone with theirs.  It did feel good to be with a group of people who were so interested in using them.

Overall it was a great day and a half.  For me, the best part was just being around other people who were interested in using technology to further learning in the school.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kidblog

I can't believe how much of a difference this simple product has made for some of our teachers. There are teachers who had very little experience or interest in doing something like blogging have really taken to this site. It provides a very easy method for them to get started blogging.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Class Participation Tools


Polleverywhere
http://www.polleverywhere.com/ 

Certainly been shared before.  Was just in the collection of tools I was making.  Worth mentioning again.  Lets you use cellphones as a clicker response tool for quizes.  Very easy to use, and free up to a certain point.  Certainly the kind of thing I would consider paying for if I did a lot of teaching that required this though.  And it is not expensive, and the features are decent.  One of the nicest features is that the polls update live.
Thanks to Ian Crewe for this one.

Socrative
http://www.socrative.com/ 

Lets you do quizes and questions beyond just multiple choice questions, including true/false, short answer, paced quiz, and an exit question, across a variety of devices such as  phones, tablets, computers.  I have not played with this one at all, so I am somewhat unsure of what it is like to use, but the feature set seems great, and it is free.

Soapbox
http://gosoapbox.com/ 

Is in beta, but I believe they are accepting anyone who applies for it.  Bit different than the other two.  This is more of a lecturing engagement tool.  You post the soapbox code, others join, and can indicate their level of understanding while you are speaking.  The presented can also post questions that listeners can respond to in public, privately, as well as quizes.  I really like the set up of this one, but it would be best for some sort of lecturing presentation.  Still very much woth a look.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ClassParrot



ClassParrot is a site that allows you to communicate with your students via text message, privately, and for free.
You create an account on the site, it generates a number and passcode.  Students text that number, and are given further instructions to enter their name.  They are then entered on the class list.  You can now send texts to that class without revealing your phone number.  Students are also able to ask questions, and the teacher can even send Yes/No polls.
It seems like a nice way to communicate with students.  You start with 500 free text credits, and each text sent or recieved costs you one credit.  Each month you are given 200 more credits.  If you want more than that you need to start paying, about $9.00 month for unlimited texts.
Link for an inviation is below.

http://bit.ly/n0dm7K

Friday, October 14, 2011

Think Green Recycling

Think Green participants did a great job getting the word out about the recycling blitz this week.  They emailed and phoned radio stations as well as putting up posters to remind students, and even did a spot on the announcements!  It did not translate into too many recyclables though.  Going to have to spend more time getting the word out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ipods in the classroom?

Had a meeting today, and we spoke about getting ipods for the school!  Sounds pretty exciting, don't know exactly how it will work out, but sounds fun!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quick Response Codes


QR Codes are those crazy codes that you sometimes see on posters, or around buildings.  They are similar to barcodes, but you can generate them yourself quite easily, and they can have text or web address linked to them.  Below is a quick review I made of "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus"


To scan one these you usally need an app you can install on an Iphone, Ipad, Ipod Touch, or an just about any smartphone.  You can even download programs that allow you to use Webcams to scan them.

[ http://www.classtools.net/QR/index.php ]http://www.classtools.net/QR/index.php

Above is a link to a site that lets you generate a QR treasure hunt, allowing you to create a series of scanable questions.  Because they are just text the codes do not require a connection to the internet to work.

http://www.activehistory.co.uk/Miscellaneous/menus/history_mystery/qr.php

An example of a QR treasure hunt.

http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

One of many sites allowing you to generate QR Codes.  You follow the instructions, it generates a code, and you can download the code just like any other picture.  The Code can then be put in a document and printed.  My favorite way to use them is to print them on labels, makes them easy to stick on something.

My plan/hope is to have students to book reviews/reports and put them on a website.  They can then be placed in the back of the book and other students can see reviews that their peers made.  A bit more interactive than the standard book report.


That is a link to my "review" of the very hungry caterpillar.  Though it is a pretty poor review.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Eyes on the Solar System


http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes/

Another awesome space site from NASA.
Here is the description from the site:

"Eyes on the solar system is a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data.  Explore the cosmos from your computer.  Hop on an asteroid.  Fly with NASA's voyager 2 spacecraft.  See the entire solar system moving in real time."

I first saw it on www.ilearntechnology.com .


Friday, September 30, 2011

Think Green

Just sent out emails to students to let them know they are in Think Green.  Certainly easier to do it via email than dealing with all of the paper copies I had last year.

Lunch Time Activities

This year I wanted to try something different for lunch time activities than the double groups of Think Green I had last year, and the Scratch that went on for several months.  Last year I realized that only 1 group of students taking part in Think Green was enough.  For the extra time, I needed something else that the students could be interested in.

My first thought was The Student Blogging Challenge.  It is an awesome concept.  However, the only problem is that its start date is right up against the beginning of school, and it is very difficult for me to free myself up during that time.  They do a second challenge in the Winter, so I believe I will pursue it then instead.
Blogging was on my mind though, so I thought about getting the students involved with a school blog, one that would be similar to the classic "School Newspaper".  I could get some students involved in writing about the school, or things that they thought were interesting.  We could start with a text and image based blog in the fall, and maybe after Christmas try to extend it to an Audio podcast, and perhaps, if everything worked, we could even try video later in the year.  After some thought, and speaking to a journalist I know, I thought I would go with this.

For the extra time I had available, instead of one long term project I could instead do shorter ones.  The blogging challenge lasts for approximately 10 weeks, and the I could bolster that with some other activities like Scratch, or even a take-apart computer club I thought about.

I presented the journalism idea to the students in Grade 6 and got an overwhelmingly positive result.  We met yesterday with the roughly 19 students who showed interest to do a preliminary talk about what we would do, what we could call it (MQP Journalism sounded somewhat stuffy), and so I could pass out permission slips.

I told the students that most of the time I would like them to suggest what we were going to do, but for right now, with the elections going on, I was going to direct them.  After that there would be several weeks where we ironed out details on posting and using Google Apps.

When it came to naming, one student had an excellent idea, suggesting we call it "The Queen's Columns", because we were at Mary Queen of Peace, and columns would be similar to a newspaper.  The idea met with great approval from the other students.

So we meet again on Monday to discuss our first job, which is finding out who our election candidates are, and writing some questions for them.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Website Problem

Hmm, I was planning on showing teachers how to make websites on Tuesday so that they could have updated teacher sites, or at least some method of communicating with parents.  I had a plan.

Blogger for those that were willing to take the effort to learn how to use it.

Posterous for super easy blogging.

Tinyletter for a super easy newsletter.

The first and last are still in great shape, actually better than ever.  Posterous just changed itself up though, and now I am unsure of what I am going to have to replace it.  Biggest selling point was that you could set it up so one could simply send an email and it would post it.  Now I need to find something else.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Well, that was the first day

Nothing much here to say for me.  The first day is full of fixing computers and deleting patrons from the library system.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New schedule

Previously I was set up with a 40 minute, 14 day schedule.  This year it is 30 minutes.  I believe it is better because no student in Grades 2-6 really needs to be doing anything for 80 minutes in a row, which is what was happening.  Now, as they have double periods, the most they do is 60, and Grades K and 1 have 30 minute periods.  Should work for the best.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jux

I really like blogger, and the new backend interface is much nicer.
However, I have been trying jux.com recently.  It is slightly different, though still a blog or sorts.  I may try to keep it going throughout the year.  It is more focused on images, and it takes up the entire screen, making your pictures a little nicer to look at, and giving them more focus.  Check it out at:

mwalter.jux.com

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Showmeapp

Well, very strangely, my Showmeapp embedded tutorial has stopped working.  I hope it is just temporary, cause I really need that thing to work.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mergepdf.net

For the last couple of days I have been busy making the certificates for the Grade 6 leaving ceremony.  Annoyingly, I realized that I was going to have to print each page one at at time because each file was a unique pdf file.  This process was going to take forever, as there is 114 Grade 6 students, and I would literally be sitting in front of a computer pushing print over and over again.  A couple of minutes searching found me mergepdf.net a site that lets you upload pdf documents separately and merges them into one file.  This meant that I could take each class, upload them, have them bunched together and print the classes as a bunch instead of individually.  Much much easier.  I assume this same task could be accomplished by purchasing some Adobe software, but it looks like the basic license for that is several hundred dollars, and I need it so infrequently it would be a waste. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Almost Caught up on Work

This weekend I managed to get the majority of my Week 4 work done.  All I have left to do is my last post on the Facebook and grades debate, and all of that information has been read, I just need to formally write a post.  It was a pretty interesting debate and I imagine that when researchers find conflicting information on a topic they really need to call each other out determine either who is right, or who has the more rigorous research, because sometimes there is no "right" answer.

After this week is done I can get right on the readings for week 5, and besides that I really need to finish off some work for school as well, especially regarding my schedule for next year.  That is much larger post/topic though!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June Post!

I should have posted a long time ago, but am using the lame excuse of time.  Even though that is not really true.  I did finally set up the ability to blog more easily from my smartphone though, so I hope that causes me to post a little more.

Have been busy though.  The school ordered a Mobi board and a set of clickers.  The Mobi's themselves have met a lukewarm response.  This school has Smartboard brand IWB, and it seems like the teachers are more willing to stick with those instead of trying something new.  I can understand that, there is only so much time in the run of a day, but the Mobi's are about a 1/10th of the cost... Oh well.

The clickers on the other hand were great.  I have set them up with two Grade 4 teachers already and they have done math and science quizzes on them.  The students and the staff really enjoyed it and found it easy to set up.  May be more traction with those guys.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Google Sites Template Going Well

The one thing I really wanted to get done over Easter was to create a template in Google Sites to use as an online eportfolio for students work.  I really want the students to have the ability to easily share their work.

Previously they had created websites, but they really seemed to be more of an exercise in creating websites, than an opportunity to share their work.  In fact, most of them did not seem to share any real work at all.  Here is a quick example of 5 sites:

Earlier in the year when I got a Google Apps for Education account set up for the school I really thought Blogger itself may have been the way to go.  It had just been added, along with a number of other Google programs, to the GAfE account, and it is extremely easy to use.  Students could set up a page for each year they were in school, and blog about what they currently doing.  Unfortunatley, for some reason, if we tried to set up to many blogs at one time we ran into a problem where Blogger started needing students to validate themselves with a cellphone to prove that they were not spammers.  This meant that either I had to set up all the accounts myself, at a rate of about 6-10 a day, or the students would NEED a cellphone to get started.  While many had cellphones, there was no way I could require them in order to do an activity.  I finally did get some set up, but without strong direction from me (because I was pretty sure we weren't going to use them) or the teachers (who had no idea what to do with them) they degenerated into a mess of random youtube postings.  To be honest, I tried using weebly, which does have a student account, but I find their interface somewhat difficult to use, and I had really hoped to link everything up with their Google Apps accounts.

Here is an example of some of the sites they created with Blogger and Weebly:
So then we move to Google Sites.  Hopefully I won't have the problem with it that I encountered with Blogger, and the need to authenticate accounts with cell phones after several students. I might be able to test that out at home, but I need to set up some accounts first... Just thought of that.  Regardless, one great thing about Google Sites is that I am able to set up a basic template for the students to work with.  After the log in they can select the template and get started right away.  This will give all of the sites some basic structure, but because the themes and fonts can still be changed the students will still be able to personalize their sites to reflect themselves.  Here is the test portfolio I am working with:

It gives a location at the front for a sort of blog posting, though no comments can be left.  And there is a page for each grade level.  I currently envision it working in this way.  Students would not really start using this until Grade 4.  One of the first things they would have to learn to do is take their work from Grade 1, 2, and 3, and then post it on their site, filling it out and giving it some content.  Then for the next 3 years, 4, 5, and 6, students would just add to it as they finished work.  As I hope to incorporate Google Docs into their workflow as well that should make it easy to slide the typed work from there over to the site. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trying to post from my Ipad

Seems like this will work out alright. I was just testing out Google Sites, and I seemed to be unable to edit text in the main body of the site pages. That is the first time that it has seemed the IPad is not good enough for the work I am doing. No big deal really. I will just power on the netbook and edit the info there, but it is kind of annoying.

I am using Google Sites because I am trying to create a simple portfolio template to use for elementary students. The previous sites were very cumbersome, and were only able to be edited at school. I also thought about trying to use Blogger itself as a platform for that, but it is not really providing the setup I want for this sort of work. A little too interactive, and too multipurpose. At least with sites I can create a simple template, one that will allow some degree of customization, but has enough restrictions to keep it from imploding into a YouTube smorgasbord.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dewey Decimal Pictorgrams

A fellow teacher just shared these with me:

Dewey Decimal Pictograms

They are awesome pictograms that would assist students in finding information on the shelves.  I have to say I was pretty impressed with them, thought partly that is because the library is in a state, and needs a lot of work.  This would make things SOOOOO much easier.  Students would find it easier to find books, and, if I placed these on books as well, it might be easier to put them back.  It is an interesting thought.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Resources for Earth Day

Some Resources you may find useful for Earth Day

The Story of Stuff : Bottled Water

The Lorax on Google Video

The Lorax Questions

The Facts about Bottled Water Infographic

The Hidden Water We Use - An interactive visual showing how much water is needed to make food and fuel. Almost 7000 liters to make .5 kg of beef!!!

Mockumentry of the Majestic Plastic Bag

Why you should stop drinking bottled water inforgraphic (text heavy)

Bad things Baggies Do

Edmodo

I am really looking at Edmodo, a free, private, microblogging CMS for schools.  It looks like it would be a very easy way for me to create work and share it for classes.  Perhaps I will be able to test it out after Easter.  I am really hoping I can change my schedule around, and test out some things that I would like to use for all of next year, stuff such as Edmodo, and just as importantly, Google Apps.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Popplet: A mind mapping, collaboritve work tool




That is a quick one I made on the solar system.  Best part about it is that you can share the popplet with others, and it easily identitifies who created what.  I could have started wtih just the sun, shared it wtih 8-9 people (depending on your thoughts on Pluto!) and asked them to finish the solar system.  Some would have just added images for the planets, others may have added text to append to each planet, and there are others who may have added info on each plaent, and slapped the moons in there too.  Pretty great sharing/creating tool, and VERY easy to use.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Presentation to other Teacher-Librarians

Yesterday I had a Professional development day with my fellow teacher librarians in the Eastern School District.  It was a great day that started with a presentation from the Public Library showcasing all the resources that they had available for schools to use, including the World Book online, EBSCO, Tumblebooks, and even information about their upcoming E-book online check-out!  More exciting, all of this material was free, as long as you have a library card.  Overall, great presentation, and certainly made us all aware of resources that we had no idea about previously.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vocaroo and Poetry!

One of the Grade 6 classes was working on poetry this week.  They had to research a poet, and find their favorite poem by that author.  After doing some biographical research to learn about their poet, and then posting it in their kidblog.  After they did that I suggested to the students that they could record their favorite poem using Vocaroo.  Vocaroo is ridiculously easy to use.  Once you give it permission to access your microphone you click the record button, and record whatever you want to say.  After that, if you like what you hear, you can share it by emailing it, or get the code to embed it into a website.  If you don't like it, record again.  Thats it!  The students had no problem using it, and within 15 minutes everyone pretty much had theirs done.  I would recommend it for anyone to use.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I love the internet, and this is an example why

I was moving through my regular sites, and I noticed this awesome video on making an ice tower!


I love that someone cared enough to make this video, and then to share it as well.  It looks really fun, and I would love to take the time to try it myself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Two New Sites for Book information

I found two new sites for information on books today.  I find getting information on tech is usually pretty easy.  I have tons of RSS feeds, and twitter feeds that are full of educational tech information.  Finding information about new and exciting children's literature is somewhat of a different matter.  Because I was never formally trained in this area, and have limited expertise (this is only my third year as a teacher-librarian, and my first as a full time one!) I have not found it easy to learn or hear about new books.

They are:
The Cath in the Hat
Cath is a children's liteature author and editor, and she offers her opinions and insights about books that she has read.  I find her ideas interesting, and well written, so I keep coming back to see what she has said.  Her blog is on now on my RSS feed.

Tinlids

I heard about Tinlids from a fellow librarian.  While they are a book seller, so far, in  just a week, I have enjoyed what they have to say about different books.  Almost as important, they are Canadian, giving them a slightly more local approach to books.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vocaroo



Just testing out vocaroo, a site for simple audio sharing.  Looks interesting, and I look forward to playing with it more.

Glogster Explosion!

Last week I had one class using Glogster!  I did a short presentation on it at school, for our collegial circle.  This week I have 8 classes using it, and several more interested!  I guess it goes to show that an interesting learning tool,and an alternative method of presenting information is interesting to a lot of teachers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good Day, Glogster Account Issues

Today at school there is some pretty good stuff going on.  A Grade 6 class is finishing off their powerpoint presentations on French Celebrities.  Two Grade 2 classes just had book exchange.  After recess a Grade 4 class is going to continue with their research on endangered animals.  And after lunch I am introducing another Grade 3 class to Glogster.

I have used Glogster several times before, and it always seems to go over quite well, with the teachers and the students.  Now that I am at a school long term though, a problem with the accounts system is occurring to me.  If a teacher in Grade 3 makes an account for a student in Grade 3, and that student moves on to Grade 4 and wishes to continue using Glogster, we have an issue.  The Grade 3 teacher will most likely want to use Glogster again, because it is awesome, and in order to do so she will have to delete her previous classes work.  The student will not have any sort of persistence with their work then.  If I plan to create sites that allow students to demonstrate digital portfolio's, this could become an issue.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snipsnip.it is super video snipping!

Just tried out http://snipsnip.it/ today. Students were trying to get a video added to their presentation about a figure skater, and wanted to show a short clip of her skating in the Olympics.  However, the best quality video they could find, that showed exactly what they wanted was over 8 minutes long, far longer than the presentation itself could (or should!) be.  I remembered seeing Snipsnip.it showing up from http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ last week, but I had just bookmarked it and not had a chance to test it out.  The interface was really easy, and in a few moments the students had selected a 30 second clip that showcased exactly what they needed.  No fuss, no registration.  Very nice.  Only issue we ran into was that it did not work correctly with Internet Explorer 8, but as I had installed Chrome at the same time as Google Earth we had a ready alternative.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scaredy Squirrel Maps!

Every 2nd day 7 on the cycle I spend some time in some grade 2 and grade 4 classrooms before lunch.  At first, I panicked.  I did not have access to the computer lab during this time, and I really wasn't sure what I was going to do with the students for 40 minutes in their own classroom.  It has turned out to be awesome, as soon as I realized that I could start sharing books with them!  For the last two sessions we read some of Mo Willem's Pigeon Books, and the students had to create their own cover of what the pigeon could and could not do.  They loved it, and for several days later students would stop me in the hallway to tell me about a new pigeon idea they had, (Don't let the pigeon run a chewing gum factory!) or to show a new pigeon they had drawn.  This time, I wanted to focus on maps.  Scaredy Squirrel always makes the best maps about things terrify him, so after reading Scaredy Squirrel at the beach, I asked students to take a place they normally went, and imagine it how it could be made scary!  They had some excellent maps, including basements at backyards that I am sure a SWAT team would not want to try and get through.  I wish I had scanned or take a picture of them, but they were quite large, making it difficult to easily save them.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Knuffle Bunny Too!

Inspired by Mo Willems Knuffle Bunny series of books, the Grade 2 French Immersion classes started, and partially completed a small project today.  We read Knuffle Bunny Too, and discussed how the author uses real photographs and added other drawn pictures on top of them to make their story.  I took several pictures of places in the school, converted the pictures to black and white, and saved them on the schools server.  The students then had to pick one image, edit it, and then embed it in a word document where they could write the words that accompany their story.  One class almost finished, and another still has most of their writing to complete.  It was somewhat of a challenge for the French students who were not used to typing in French.  They had to become a little more used to typing and adding the letters with accents using the alt key plus the 3 digit code.  Overall it went well, and the students certainly seemed to enjoy it.  When its finished we may try to share them online so that others can see them, and even try to share them with Mo Willems.
An example of a students work.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

So Long!

I hate to do the "I did not post in so long!" post, but it has been a while.  Before Christmas I had the book fair, and then the Christmas concert, followed by the accounting for the book fair, and attempting to get everything ordered.  Then just before Christmas, I was desperately trying to get the library back in shape so I could have it up and running for Jan.  That did not get done, but I hope this week I am able to finalize everything.  The real issue now is getting some volunteers to help actually run the library, as there is no way I will be able to do that myself.  I am going to have to ask the principal to place it in the next newsletter, and I will post it on the schools website as well.  Even 5-6 people helping for an hour or so each week would make a dent in the mess that is the library.  Actually to be honest, the library isn't a mess.  I really need help cataloging new books.