Monday, February 18, 2008

Part IV - New Tools

I intended to complete a write up of my time with teachers in the local alternate route program immediately following those training days. Life got in the way.

I always felt very confident in my preparation for the class starting with the survey, moving into wikis, and continuing onto online professional development. In my original plan, I was going to do a jigsaw activity to introduce blogs (both by teachers and in classrooms), online videos via YouTube and TeacherTube, Voicethreads, Podcasts, Google tools (such as Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Earth), and so on.

Overall, as time passed, I realized I faced two obstacles: time and understanding. All three nights went differently in the order in which the information was presented. I tried to keep my handout in mind at this point in the night.

I wanted to do a little show and tell with technology tools. I tied into the idea of using a cell phone from both the wiki work we did earlier in the night, the video, and the reference to the Cellphones presentation from the K12 online conference. The way I did this was pointing out the tool called Gabcast. I gave some ideas from recording students reading in earlier grades or interviewing them about their day to taking the cell phone along on a class trip for reflections. These ideas have been garnered through reading blogs. I gave it a test a week before the class and had a sample sound file on the wiki at the bottom of the page.

I recently purchased an iTalk device for my iPod and recorded my Kindergarten students singing our song at the beginning of class. At this point in class, I played the mp3 file and spoke about the iRiver and other mp3 recorders.

Another tool I mentioned was the FlipVideo camera. I do not have one, but it is a tool that I want to explore with our technology dollars next year.

During that week, we also happened to have a student visiting from Argentina. The student was in my class for one 42 minute period. I took the opportunity to deviate from our class plan to use Google Earth for the first time. I was great because I was able to show the teachers the pin he added to the map to show where he lives. My seventh graders were so excited, everyone wanted to come up and show where they lived. I was also able to talk about how I recently used Google Earth to show my first graders where their email buddies went to school.

Google Earth leads into Google in general. I wanted to give the teachers a short, quick, useful tip or two. In January, I listened to a podcast recorded by Bob Sprankle at the Christa McAullife conference. In the presentation, If You Knew Google, Susan Adams mentioned the use of the Advanced Search to find PDF files and flash animations. I just followed her lead and used water cycle as the example. We compared typing water cycle vs. “water cycle” and discussed the results. I never really used the PDF and flash advanced search feature until I heard the podcast, so it tied Google and listening to podcasts together nicely.

Next, I wanted the teachers to have some hands on time again, so I brought up TeacherTube. I explained that they might have more success accessing TeacherTube in class than YouTube. To add a little levity to the class, I started with a video that I found funny: Walkthroughs and Learning Objectives. They laughed, so it was fine. I showed how to type physics in the search box, then gave them five minutes to explore. During the five minutes, I saw at least one teacher watching Did You Know/Shift Happens. I also mentioned that they could find the Pay Attention video at TeacherTube.

I love Voicethreads as a tool. It was blocked on the laptops at the school I was visiting, but I was able to access them from my personal laptop. I showed the entire Voicethread my fifth graders created for our introduction to our partner schools. It was great because Sharon Betts added a couple of comments. I also showed two slides from my seventh grader’s Fair Use Voicethread. It shows that you can use photos or drawings and gave an example in the older grades. I gave them a little look at Wes Fryer’s Shanghai Cricket Market Voicethread to show them how I was drawn into the tool. We looked at about three images. Finally, I showed the images of objects on a scale that my sixth grade students took for math class. First the sixth grade took the photos, then I uploaded them to Voicethread and added comparison questions, finally the sixth grade added their answers. I had placed the Voicethread on the math class blog. It gave a demonstration of typing and drawing comments.

I took a few minutes to start up iTunes and point out iTunes U. I explained how I am able to find a lot of free information. For example, when I was getting ready to work with the seventh and eighth grade on copyright, I watched a talk at a major university. I gave them a list of some podcasts to start with on the wiki.

All these things happened differently each night, but we touched on them all. To finish off the night, I had them complete an exercise called 3-2-1. I set up each participant a workspace to reflect on the night. The first night, the wiki would not let them in. I think it was because I was planning on having them use a template and it just didn’t work. The second and third night, I got some nice feedback.

I was invited back to do it again next year and I’m sure I’ll tweak it again and again. On the last night, I had one participant who noticed the word Twitter on the K12 Online Conference. I gave a quick demonstration to him. I’d like to give a great big thanks to all the folks who jumped in to say hi. He was wow’d with the quick response. I think he’s comfortable with online connections already, but it might have been too much for everyone else. I think he was also surprised at the diversity of the locations responding. Thanks: @paulhami, @mrichme, @techicebreaker, @alicebarr, @JackieB, @kjarrett, @jepcke, @jeffwhipple, @kdumont, @langwitches, @ddraper, @cathyjo, @mrmosesdotorg, @mjmontagne, @mkforbus, @LParisi, and @derrallg. It gave a nice response to one interested teacher and the principal who hired me looking over our shoulders. The principals comment: “Wow, it looks like you could be online 24 hours a day”.

We could, couldn’t we?


  1. I have a flip video camera and I may get a few for my classroom. They are incredibly portable and easy to use. Of course, you lose quality over portability. I don't think it is DVD quality, for example, but for web- and computer-based work, it is fine.
    And for the price, it is a deal.
    Love the USB connector, too.

    PS -- If you are using MovieMaker for editing, you may need to install a Codec to convert the raw file for Moviemaker. I think.

  2. It is what i LOVE most abt my network--instant gratification anytime of the day or night--24/7--365 (or 366) days of the year. Great post Ann.