Reflecting on the Value of Blogging

blogging

Click on this link for other opinions of the value of blogging

What Have I Learned About Blogging?

Throughout the duration of one semester, I have been exposed to a variety of blogs and fellow bloggers. I have learned how to create one as well as how much of an impact they can have on learning and the spread of knowledge. I have mingled with a network of life-long learners and individuals eager to share their ideas and love of information. I specifically learned so much about how useful technology can truly be in a classroom and how beneficial a multimodal approach to content can be for students with multiple intelligences. I know that I will continue to blog and contribute to the transfer of knowledge to individuals of all facets of life.

Did I Enjoy Blogging?

Yes! I loved having the opportunity to create something I knew my fellow colleagues and other educators and life-long learners would read and give feedback to. I took pride in creating each and every post and put all my energy and care into this blog, knowing that I created something others would read and benefit from. I felt apart of and connected to a community. I never knew how much fun it could be!

What Role Did Blogging Play In My Life As A Professional?

Blogging opened my eyes to the world of technology and how I could use it in my future classroom as a future English teacher. Knowing how much I enjoyed it, I realized it could be used as an enjoyable alternative to a traditional five paragraph essay. The fact that it incorporates text, videos, images, and even sound helped illustrate that blogging is a multimodal means of engaging students. This blog can also enhanced my life as a professional because it has added to my professional digital footprint and has contributed to my professional E-foilo. I am proud to share it will my colleagues and other professionals.

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Click here to learn about technology in the classroom.

What Role Could Blogging Play In An ELA Classroom?

Blogging could serve as a way to collaborate with other students across the world to share their ideas about a concept. It could help students to present information in a condensed manner and allow them to read and comment on what other classmates wrote. Blogging fosters a multitude of skills such as:

  • Collaboration skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Media literacy skills
  • Technology skills
  • Typing skills
  • Writing skills
  • Networking skills
  • Publishing skills
  • Reflecting skills

Students can build their digital footprint in a positive way and at the same time, they can learn to be globally aware. The benefits of blogging are tremendous for students!

How Do I blog?

Here are some helpful resources to get you or your classroom started:

http://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Blog

http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/how-do-i-start-a-blog/

http://wordpress.org/

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Click here to read about why you should continue to blog.

 

GoAnimate: A Fun and Educational Way to Create!

What Is GoAnimate?

GoAnimate is a fun and creative way to turn a script or a story into an animated video! It’s a free website that requires no artistic talent. With GoAnimate, anyone from students to business associates can find a use for creating an animated video. GoAnimate offers a selection of templates, backgrounds, music, sounds, characters, and even languages or accents for your characters. You have the opportunity to type twenty lines of dialogue to create your story, or you can record your own voice for your characters! The step-by-step process is easy and there is a guided process that eliminates any confusion. When you are finished, GoAnimate creates a video for you which you can share and publish to any number of social media sites for everyone to see!

How Can This Be Used In The Classroom?

There is actually an entire subsection to GoAnimate called GoAnimate4Schools. Students and teachers can use this website and this application for classroom projects and incorporating technology into a lesson in order to spice it up and engage the students in their education. Here are several more uses for GoAnimate for schools:

  • Teacher/student presentations and lessons
  • Student-to-student tutorials
  • Foreign language or ESL training
  • Creative writing platform
  • Behavioral training (bullying awareness, etc.)
  • Communication and Special Cases (Autism, Asperger’s etc.)

Here are some more reasons for teachers to use GoAnimate for Schools:

  • Student videos cannot be found from the public internet
  • Student videos cannot be published publicly, without teacher approval
  • No integration with social networks
  • All characters, backgrounds, props, etc. are school-safe. Guns, alcohol, etc. are filtered out
  • Teachers have the option to pre-moderate – to evaluate student videos before allowing them to be published to the group
  • Teachers can divide the students into classes and/or workgroups
  • Student video distribution can be limited to the class/group from which they are published
  • A student can belong to more than one class/group (great for multiple-teacher or school-wide usage)

Teachers can also create a video as a hook or anticipatory set for their lesson plans, or even to teach simple concepts! It is a great way to capture students attention! This is a fantastic classroom application that teachers should absolutely try in their classrooms!

Check out this article on sixth graders using GoAnimate in the classroom!

Check out this article on sixth graders using GoAnimate in the classroom!

SchoolTube: A Safer Video Sharing Option

school-tube

Click here to view this site on the 5 best alternatives to YouTube

What Is SchoolTube?

SchoolTube.com is “the nation’s largest K-12 moderated video sharing platform, specifically designed for students and educators and is exclusively endorsed by over twenty national education associations.” Their goal is to empower students and teachers through the use of video with a safe, informative, and fun video sharing experience.

What Does It Have To Offer?

Students:

  • Create your own videos for projects, homework, and events.
  • Watch Schooltube videos created by students and teachers about everything.
  • Safely share projects and assignments with teachers, classmates, and peers.
  • See what other students are doing around the world.

Teachers:

  • Easily & Safely Share Videos.
  • SchoolTube is approved for access in schools.
  • All videos are moderated by teachers.
  • Spark student engagement and classroom discussions with video.
  • Show your projects, lessons, and students’ achievement.
  • Impact thousands of students and teachers around the world by sharing your ideas.
schooltube-com

Click here to read this Time Magazine article on SchoolTube

The Origin And Growth Of SchoolTube

SchoolTube was created by father and son, Carl and Andrew Arizpe in St. Louis. They wanted to make a website that schools would allow to utilize and pass through their strict firewalls. The Website was established in 2007 and has since boasted over 400,000 videos and is used by at least one user from 40,000 schools nationwide.

Why Use SchoolTube?

Many schools block YouTube, so SchoolTube is a safer, more controlled alternative. A teacher in the district where the student uploads the video must approve it before it is posted to the site. SchoolTube is educational and serves as an exciting and engaging alternative to assignments such as reports, and offers an alternative option for a video project. A student can learn a variety of skills and the project can by deemed as authentic because it will be published for a large audience outside the classroom, which encourages students to produce their best quality work. SchoolTube is a large network of educational videos categorized and filed in one location for students to browse and learn from in a safe, educational environment. 

How can teachers Get Started With SchoolTube?

Here is a great link from SchoolTube on how teachers can navigate the website in order to ensure their students learn to their potential and have access to this educational vault.

PLNs: Toolkits for Students to Create, Collaborate, and Connect

personal-learning-network

Click to learn about the power of Personal Learning Networks

What is a Personal Learning Network?

A Personal Learning Network (PLN) is “an informal learning network that consists of the people a learner interacts with and derives knowledge from in a personal learning environment.” In other words, the women in your book club, your inner circle of friends who discuss gaming, and the time spent discussing football with the guys, are all examples of a PLN. A PLN can also be digital. Technology allows a person to connect and discuss with a multitude of other individuals who share common interests.

What are some types of digital PLNs?

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Click to read this project proposal for a district attempting to implement a PLN.

There are a wide range of tools utilized for PLNs. Here are some examples:

What are the benefits of PLNs for educators?

  • Professional development
  • Learn from content-area specialists
  • Locate resources for your classroom, such as free websites and software
  • Get lesson plan ideas from teachers who are more experienced
  • Learn about new technology and how to integrate it into your teaching
  • Find collaborative solutions
  • Find interesting links to education news

What are some benefits for students?

  • Students will learn to collaborate and connect with others about specific topics
  • Digital PLNs allow for creativity, making learning engaging
  • Creates an authentic audience and allows for publication
  • Provides opportunity to master communication skills
  • Learn to navigate websites and software programs

What are the important components of PLNs?

  • Connect: It’s important to do more than read a blog post or a podcast. Leave a comment or ask a question. It’s essential to reach out and meet new people.
  • Contribute: Post something you are able to share with others such as an experience or a struggle because it could be valuable to others. Again, it’s vital to keep connected.
  • Converse: As you continue to connect and make contributions, conversations will arise as people begin to respond.
  • Request: Now that you’ve build connections, contributed, and conversed, you will be able to ask these individuals questions or advice and you will likely receive much more detailed information.

Where can I find out more about PLNs?

This link offers a vast variety of of resources and components of Personal learning Networks that are both informative and interesting.

 

Audience of One 90.2 FM: My Trials and Tribulations of Technology

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Picture courtesy of First Preston HT

What is Audience of One 90.2 FM?

Audience of One 90.2 FM is the faux radio show broadcast I created with my colleague Lauren Wasilchuk for a college media literacy course this semester. We created the show around the topic of music and included a variety of segments that included listener call-ins with prizes, interviews with band members and local DJ’s, commercials promoting cafe’s with live music and open mic nights at the local college, as well as interviews with community members inquiring into their favorite artists. We also created a “Making Of” after show in which we explained our experiences and the process.

What preparation and work went into this project?

A lot! Lauren and I met up several times. Together, we created a script as we collaboratively shared our ideas for segments, characters, and lines. After creating the script, we chose sound effects and bumpers from Freesound.org and searched both our iTunes libraries for songs to add for transitions. We also selected videos from YouTube to record. After we had pieced together our broadcast, we recorded our show using the recording and editing program, Audacity.  It included a lot of time-consuming cutting, piecing together of clips, alterations, fade-ins, effects, and more.

What complications arose while working on this project?

Well for starters, the software program was a little tricky for us to navigate at first. It was mostly a trial and error type of experience. It took some time to learn how to cut portions of the  clips and how to select pieces to alter for effects such as slow motion. We also had a lot of difficulty figuring out how to insert music or sounds into the program. We utilized a series of tutorials as well to guide us along. We even ran into problems trying to upload the finished product to SoundCloud when we realized it didn’t accept Audacity files. Ultimately we had to upload it to iTunes. We also had difficulty stretching the radio show to meet the time requirements, so we unexpectedly had to create extra segments which were unscripted. To begin with, we were also a team member down! We only had two instead of three! Luckily we were able to make accommodations to make our broadcast shorter in length.

Technology-stress

Picture courtesy of GFK Tech Talk

Improving Reading Achievement in School with Lexia Reading Core5

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Click to read this article on the Education Writers Association website about the introduction of Lexia Reading Core5

What is Lexia Reading Core5?

Lexia Reading Core5 is a technology-based product designed to help students from Pre Kindergarten through fifth grade master fundamental and foundational reading skills.  Lexia “provides explicit, systematic, personalized learning in the five areas of reading instruction, and delivers norm-referenced performance data and analysis without interrupting the flow of instruction to administer a test.” Lexia is also specifically designed to meet the Common Core Standards and is based on extensive research. Lexia Reading Core5’s purpose is to accelerate reading skill development. It also can predict students end of the year performance and supplies teachers with plans of action based on data that are personalized for each student.

Read this article to learn about personalized learning for students through Lexia Reading Core5.

Read this article to learn about personalized learning for students through Lexia Reading Core5.

What are the benefits of Lexia Reading Core5?

  • Provides the strategies and resources for direct instruction to help each student finish the year at grade level
  • Using teacher-directed, student-driven personalized learning
  • Students can work at home or at school to develop skills through learning activities
  • Students are automatically grouped by skill for small group instruction
  • Uses skill-specific instructional materials called Lexia Lessons, which provide step-by-step strategies for teachers to address students gap in a skill area
  • Teachers have access to a customized certificate of achievement to recognize student progress
  • Lexia reduces dependence on traditional testing and saves teachers up to one month of instructional time
  • Lexia Reading Core5 is available for the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and allows for mobile access
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click to learn how Lexia Reading Core5 helps students master fundamental reading skills.new_gains_chart4Click to read more about Lexia and how it has helped high-risk students.

How do I learn more about Lexia Reading Core5?

This video will give you an extensive overview of all the components of this technology-based reading improvement product.

Bookshare: Making Reading Accessible To Students With Print Disabilities

Bookshare

Click Here to read about Bookshare on The 2011 Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products

What Is BookShare And What Can It Do?

Bookshare  is the world’s largest online library of copyrighted content for people with print disabilities. Their goal is to make reading accessible. Individuals have access to a large and diverse variety of texts for both academia and reading for pleasure.

Individuals can:

  • Read eBooks on computers, tablets, phones, assistive technology, MP3 players and more.
  • Listen to books with high quality text-to-speech voices, as well as read multimodally. The multimodal feature allows students to see and hear words as they are being read and highlighted.
  • Take notes, add bookmarks, and look up word definitions.
  • Download free reading tools for PCs, Mac, and Android devices.
  • Access to reading material through adaptive technology and Braille access devices, such as refreshable Braille displays.
  • U.S. students and schools can join Bookshare for free through an award from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs

http://www.afb.org/image.ashx?ImageID=3609

Read this article by Paul Schroeder congratulating Bookshare on their 10th anniversary

Who Does Bookshare Serve?

  • People with visual impairments
  • People with physical disabilities
  • People with learning disabilities
Click to read the Benchtech President and CEO discuss Bookshare

Click to read the Benchtech President and CEO discuss Bookshare

What Are The Benefits of Bookshare’s Digital and Accessible Books?

Bookshare is in compliance with IDEA 2004 which requires timely access to materials for qualified individuals. It also provides access to most curriculum’s for students with print disabilities. It also helps promote inclusive education and helps create the LRE or Least Restrictive Environment. Bookshare helps reduce the costs associated with special education accommodations as well as use tools that support the Universal Design for Learning. It even eliminates the cost to scan or copy books.

This video depicts a child who has improved his confidence in reading as well as his grades by using Bookshare.

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