Monday, April 28, 2014

Week 8: My computer is sick!

I can't believe this is the last week of class, and my last blog for the class.  I haven't decided if I am going to continue this blog with another topic, or stop it altogether.  This class has made me explore technology, and I have learned many many things.  The technology explorations alone have given me so many things to use for my future classroom.  There is one more thing to talk about before this class comes to a close: computer viruses! 

Apparently, there isn't just one kind of computer virus; there are also things called worms, and Trojan horses.  Who knew?!  They are all different and affect your computer in different ways.  

A computer virus will attach itself to a file or program which allows it spread from one computer to another.  A virus is spread by human action.  People unknowingly spread the virus by sharing viruses or opening emails with viruses as attachments.  

A worm, a sub-class of a virus, is very similar to a virus.  A worm still spreads from computer to computer, but does not require human action to spread.  It travels unaided by taking advantage of a file or transport feature on your system.  

The Trojan horse masks itself as a useful program for your computer, but once installed does some damage.  People get tricked because the programs do appear useful, but once run on the computer, they cause problems.  The results can vary.  

To protect your computer it is important to have up to date software.  Also, it is important to have up to date anti-virus software downloaded on the computer.  Make sure the software has the ability to scan emails and files as they are downloaded from the internet.  

Lastly, it is important to make sure your students know about viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.  If they will be working a lot on computers through out the year, it is important they know how to download, or open attachments safely.  

At schools, it may also be beneficial to talk with the IT person to see what anti-virus programs they have in place.  As I said, I don't know much about computers, and honestly, I really don't know what kind of software we use at my school.  My personal computer is a MacBook.  When I bought it I was told Apple products don't need anti-virus software because it was included in the IOS software. 

I know I have learned a lot in this class, but I have also realized there is so much more to learn.  Since I am going to teach students the importance of using technology appropriately, I am so glad I had the opportunity to take this class.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week 7

I can't believe we are already in week 7, just one more week to go!  This week, like every other week in the class was crammed full with information.  It is really hard to believe that there is sooooo much information available and easy to get.
One web 2.0 tool I've seen used is on the starfall website.  There is a calendar game/program on the site that one of the special education teachers that I work with uses.  At first, she uses it for whole class instruction.  Students can fill in the month, date, year, and days of the week.  It can be set up to where it asks questions and students have to answer.  Or, as a whole group, the teacher can ask the questions.  For the students that she works with, this tool works well for them.  Sometimes the questions can be a little difficult for the level that they are on, but starfall is a great site that students can use on any level. 

Another tool that I would use a teacher would be the webquest.  It took some work and time, but I really enjoyed creating a webquest and I think students would enjoy completing one.  I think they would give students that sense of responsibility for taking learning in to their own hands.  Using it in fifth grade would be good because entering middle school, students will see what it's like to complete projects on their own with out someone telling them 'there's only so much time left to complete this'.  
This week we also completed our last technology explorations.  Most of them, this week, I enjoyed exploring. is a free and easy to use website.  It allows you to save and organize your links on the web.  Any teacher could benefit from this site, especially if they are constantly using the internet in their lessons.  I would recommend this to other educators.  It would be helpful to gather all your sites/links for one lesson and save them in one place.  This way, you don't have to waste time searching for them again.  You can also search education technology, you can subscribe to links other teachers have posted, you can share links with other teachers, and you can add links to different posts. was an amazing site! I loved it! It is a way for people around the globe to communicate through history and pictures.  The site aims to build a more complete understanding of the world and its events.  You could use this site for visual literacy activities.  I found myself spending a few hours just looking at pictures.  I started out looking at pictures from my hometown, then I started looking at pictures in a group call 'how it used to be'.  I would recommend this site to other teachers, it's free to sign up through e-mail or facebook.  
Diigo is a digest of internal information groups and other stuff.  It is basically personal knowledge management, and it archives webpages for the links you save.  You can share this information and use it for collaboration.  There is a free plan, but they also have an education plan you can purchase.  It will give you 20 cached webpages a month with unlimited highlights, and teacher consoles.  I don't really recommend this site.  I think I am a little too old fashioned for this website.  I didn't really like it.  

Cyberchase talking calculator is on two different sites, PBS kids and softpedia.  On the PBS kids site, the calculator is a little more 'kid friendly'.  On softpedia, you can download the calculator for free.  You can turn the voice on or off and it talks in number terms.  Both of these can be an asses to any classroom.  It may be especially helpful in a classroom with students who have special needs.  I would recommend these to other teachers because anything to help make math a little easier to teach would be good.  

Mathwiki is a wiki that talks about writing across the curriculum, particularly math.  There are articles posted that talk about from theory to practice.  Teachertube is on there is the teacher toolbox.  This is a great resource to have in any classroom.  I would recommend this because it was a free site with many many ideas.  

Piclits is inspired picture writing.  It is a creative writing site using beautiful images.  Students can look at any picture and create a story about it.  This site reminded me of the visual literacy lesson.  A teacher at my school already uses a site like this in her special education classroom.  From what I could tell, this site didn't cost anything.  Sites like this have already been going around my school so there is no need to recommend it. 

As I said, I can't believe there is only one more week left.  It feels like a lot longer because of everything I have learned so far.     

Monday, April 14, 2014

Week 6: Webquest!

This week was awesome! I learned all about webquests.  Turns out, I love them!  I have never heard of them before, but I did some research.  I even made one of my own.  Webquests, which were created by Bernie Dodge and Tom March in 1995.  They are a great way to integrate technology and problem based learning.  Students are given a short or long project that engages them in searching information through the world wide web.  It asks students questions that encourage them to think critically and take learning in to their own hands.  You can use webquests that have been created by other teachers, or you can make your own.  I explored both of these options.  Webquest was soooo user friendly.  I was able to create a free 30 day account.  It allowed me to do a subject search for the grade level I work for. is a webquest that was already created by another teacher.  I thought it was a good example to use for third or fourth graders while learning the parts of speech.  This webquest is very well put together and it seems to be very upbeat.  The teacher encourages students along the way and the instructions are easy to understand.   
I created my own webquest, first one, and it was a little challenging.  I particularly had trouble with the resources and getting them in the webquest.  I enjoyed the experience of making one but it was a little time consuming.  I could see why some teachers may not choose this to use, but I think students would enjoy it.  It could be useful in centers during morning work as a project.  The students that do it would be responsible for managing their time to make sure it gets finished.  is the webquest that I created.  I designed this webquest for fifth grade students.  They were assigned to explore the elements of a story and then create a group presentation using the information they found.  I think this is good for the students I work with because the students I work with are very independent.  Looking back at my webquest, I wish I would have done a few things differently.  I wish I would have taken the time to put more encouraging words through the quest.  I also wish I would have put some graphics in to each one of the different pages.  If I could have spent more time on this, I could have made it 100 times better.  I think it's important to know, though, that the work I did did not take over four hours.  So, when I am a teacher I could easily see using something like this for a center for my students.  I think it is a great way to incorporate technology in to the classroom.  I also think students would be excited to have the responsibility to take on so much for their own learning. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Week 5: Visual Literacy

This week I have explored AUP policies, email, and visual literacy.  The AUP policies were not as scary as I thought they would be.  E-mail is a great way for teachers to keep in touch with students and parents, if they have internet access at home.  At low-income schools, it is hard for teachers to require students use e-mail or blogs or chat sessions.  Visual literacy is something I never really heard of before.  In a Language Arts classroom, or any reading class, visual literacy can be used as a supplemental resource.  When talking about plays, setting, and set design, students can discuss what they think it would look like on-screen.  Maybe students could even act out a scene from a book they have read.  They can choose their own camera angles and what they want to show to the class.  This will help them see how views can be manipulating.  Then the class could discuss different tools the media uses to manipulate the consumer.  Visual literacy is all about getting students to think critically about what they have watched.  It gets them to think about how they are feeling because of something they have just watched. 
The first tech exploration I did was look at Prezi.  “Prezi is a virtual whiteboard that transforms presentations from monologues into conversations: enabling people to see, understand, and remember ideas.”  It can be used from an Ipad or Iphone, and it is very user friendly.  It can be used in any classroom to present a new concept to the class.  Yes, you can use PowerPoint for this, but Prezi is a little more 'flashy'.  This site seemed to be free, and students can make presentations at home and it will be saved to the internet.  Spicynodes is a fancy website for concept mapping.  Since I am not a particular fan of concept mapping, I dont know that I would recommend this site to any one.   I tried to stay unbiased and explore this site, but I got annoyed when trying to look at the sample maps.  They kept shifting, and it made it hard to keep track of what you already clicked on.  I also had a difficult time finding the pricing for this program.  I wasn't too impressed with this site, to say the least. 
Edmodo is the next website I looked at.  This is similar to a social media, so students may be interested in using it.  It is a great way for students to view their grades easily, turn in assignments, take quizzes, or contact their teachers.  If all of the students in the class had internet access at home, the teacher could have them use edmodo to turn in certain assignments.  I would recommend this site to other educators because it's a great way to incorporate technology in to the classroom.  Mathdictionary was an awesome resource! I would totally recommend this site to other teachers!  This can be used individually or in a whole class setting.  Instead of students writing math definitions off a board (boring!), they could explore them on this site.  Then they could use the site to look at different examples of the definition in use.  This site could be so helpful to many students.  It did seem like it was geared toward younger ages, so elementary school would probably benefit most from this site. 
Glogster is the next tech exploration I did.  This site is cool, but I feel like it's the same a lot of other sites out there.  This site allows students, or teachers to create web posters with text, audio, or videos.  A teacher with 30 students can set up a virtual classroom for $39 a year.  This site could be used for a number of projects.  Students can create their own poster page, and students can discuss it.  I am sort of indifferent about this resource.  I would only recommend it to other educators if I thought they would get their money's worth.  Jing is a way for teachers to capture anything on their screen.  The video only lasts five minutes.  The videos on the site were used for teachers to flip their classroom.  I think this site is free, but I don't see myself as ever using it.  I also don't think I would recommend it to other educators. 
Schooltube, youtube education and teachertube are great websites! I would recommend them to other teachers because they are free and beneficial!  As we have learned about visual literacy this week, using videos in a lesson can help as a supplemental material for students.  On these sites you can search the videos.  I would suggest watching the video first because sometimes things are not what they seem.  Sometimes on these sites there are videos made by classes. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 4 PowerPoint

PowerPoint presentations can be a very useful tool in today's classroom.  If you use it correctly, it can help students learn and stay engaged in the lesson.  I created a PowerPoint presentation for a fifth grade Language Arts class.  The lesson covered interjections and how to use them correctly in their writing.  I compared the interjections to chicken wings, mild and spicy.  The presentation allowed me to have visuals of chicken wings, spicy on the slide with spicy interjections- 'Stop!' and mild wings with mild interjections- 'Hey, blah, blah, blah'.  This comparison allowed students to associate how the interjections should be used.  The students really liked the lesson.  I introduced a Shel Silverstein poem 'Boa Constrictor' in the presentation.  This allowed the students to see a real writer use different kinds of interjections.  They were also able to see how punctuation can change the way you read things.  The students were then assigned to write their own poem with multiple interjections using the Silverstein poem as a template.  One thing I might change if I used the PowerPoint again would be to put more examples of different kinds of interjections.  The kids loved writing and sharing their own poems reading the interjections in mild and spicy ways.  
This week I had the opportunity to explore four different websites through tech explorations.  The first site was ispeech.  It is a high quality text to speech and speech recognition provider.  The basic plans are free, but to upgrade the price increases.  When you pay for it, you can more hours of recording.  This site was easy to use, but it's not much different from many other text to speech sites.  
The next site is voicethread; this is a cloud app so there is no software to download.  You can upload and share and discuss documents or presentations, images, audiofiles, and videos.  This can be used in online classrooms or after school tutoring.  For a teacher to purchase with up to 50 student accounts, the price is $79 a year or $15 a month.  There is a digital library on the site that has all kinds of articles about successful voice thread uses.  I would recommend this site to teachers if they didn't already use gmail or something like that to communicate with their students outside the classroom.  
The next site was really cool.  Story bird Scribblar is an online tutoring platform.  You can use it for online tutoring, revising documents, brainstorming, demonstrations, and tests.  They have free and paid plans, and each upgrade to a new plan is only $9.  This would be great at my school as an after school tutoring program.  Some students can't stay after school because they have to get the bus.  They could log on to scribblar to join in on the tutoring.  
The last website was buncee.  This site is a new way of creating and sharing online and mobile greetings.  This site is very user friendly.  You can search different topics or create your own.  Teachers can use this site to send information to parents.  Students can create short stories and then the class can go online to comment.  Students can watch pieces of art from other schools.  I would recommend this site to other teachers.  A teacher in my school who teaches special education uses a site like this already to create short stories with her students.  She loves it. 
Though it wasn't a tech exploration, I got to explore the TED site.  Like youtube, this site is full of videos.  These videos are informative and interesting.  I found myself watching hours of videos of differing topics.  If you find the right video, it could be used in you classroom as a resource tool.  
This advanced technology class is already half way through.  I have learned so much already, and I'm excited to see what the next four weeks include.        

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lesson 3: Desktop Publishing

This week was BUSY, to say the least.  My school just started March Madness, in the classroom, and in the gym.  Each class has been practicing their basketball skills.  This week, each grade level will compete against other classes in the same grade.  In the classroom, each student is preparing for dreaded K-Prep.  In the gym, they are preparing for BASKETBALL!! I had to create a flyer to hang around the school informing students of when March Madness (in the gym) would begin.  The first one I created was boring.  It was just typed in black letters, same font in a boring word document.  There really wasn't anything visually appealing about this flyer.  Just a boring piece of paper hanging on a school hallway, not attracting anyone's attention.  I believe the boring-ness of the flyer distracted from the message because who would stop to read it?  It had no flare, no special features, it was boring.  I re-created it to make it a little more visually appealing.  


I feel like this flyer will catch students' eyes.  There is color on this flyer and I used different fonts and sizes.  It was difficult for me at first to come up with this flyer because I don't have much experience in this area.  I was lucky because the principal didn't want any more information on the flyer since it was just hanging in the hallways of an elementary school; it is just supposed to get the students ready for the games.  

Visual images are important because it attracts the person to look at what ever the visual image is on.  It helps people put a picture to what they are reading.  Visual images help people understand and connect to what they are reading, whether it be in a flyer or book.  

Now, on to the tech explorations! There were many this week that I really enjoyed learning about, and I feel like I can use many of these websites (or at least pass them along to the right teachers at my school).  There were other websites that I did not particularly enjoy, and I found them difficult to look at.  
     Zoho is a free site, any one can sign up for an account.  You can use zoho for many things.  They have different applications to assist many different people and activities.  They have collaboration applications, and these can be used in the classroom.  Students can use these for projects.  Productivity applications can be used for keeping up with calendars or grades.  I feel like this site is like google (gmail).  It provides e-mail and a way to save things on the browser so you can access it from any internet friendly computer.  This website was a little hard to understand what all it could offer.  I wouldn't recommend this to teachers because it was a bit overwhelming for me.  
     GPAT is a website that helped me learn a lot about assistive technology.  Though this website is for the Georgia Department of Education, it has many links regarding assistive technology.  This site is completely free, but as far as I could tell, it would only be helpful if you are looking for ways to gain assistive technology in your district.  In a school setting I would use this website as a resource.  There are many pages regarding legal mandates and how to implement the program in the school district.  
     The next website is called 4teachers.  I loved this site! On this website there were links that connects you to many different websites, I explored three.  
          Quizstar is a free web based quiz maker.  It allows you to administer and grade quizzes online.  With the quiz, you can attach multimedia files, put it in multiple languages, and access the quiz from any computer.  I would totally use this in the classroom!  Teachers at the school I work at already utilize this great site.  From what I have heard from them, and the website, making the quiz is easy.  Students login and click on the class and the quiz is right there! This would be good for little pop-quizzes or long multiple choice tests.  I would recommend this to teachers because it's easy to use and it's FREE!!  Quizstar is great because it also can keep track of the grades and report student progress if you use it on a regular basis.  
          Trackstar is a free website.  It has online lessons and activities.  Teachers can create their own tracks.  Tracks are a collection of websites and information regarding a particular lesson/subject.  Teachers can make their own or they can browse others.  This site is easy to use.  It allows you to search by grade, subject, or theme.  There are also fun lessons made for everyday of the year.  If I was a teacher, I would try to utilize this website by having an interactive lesson during morning work.  They could get on the computer and complete a lesson using trackstar.  The students would kinda be in charge of their own learning with each lesson.  I would recommend this to other teachers because it is free and easy to use. 
          Arcademicskillbuilders is a website that has educational video games, arcade style.  You can get online and play for free, but it does talk about terms of service, 3% of the proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Club.  The games are separated by skill level and grade.  You can pick the games relating to what you are working on in class.  The games focused on math, at least the ones I was interested in.  I actually did recommend this website to one of the teachers at my school because she was having a time teaching fractions.  Students were just not grasping the concept.  I would use this website in the classroom during centers, to give students a choice between dreambox or this.  Both have math games, but it would be something different.  

     Dimio was a website that I did not particularly enjoy.  Powertalk is a free website that tries to explain how to install text to speech programs on the computer.  I think the site was difficult to figure out.  I could not find a price for any of the programs, but it does attempt to explain several.  The program allows you to select different voices and combine them to create dialogue.  They could also be translated in to different languages.  You could use this in the classroom if you have students with seeing disabilities or major problems reading.  Instead of having paras read tests to students maybe they could use a program like this.  I would not recommend this site to colleagues because as I said it was difficult to figure out.  I didn't even like looking at the layout of it.  
     Fullmeasure-powertalk is a free website.  It can speak any presentation or slide show running on Microsoft Powepoint for Windows.  It can speak text as it appears on the screen and hidden text attached to images.  It has directions on how to use/install right on the web page, so I think this site is pretty user friendly.  I think you could use this in a classroom in elementary school or high school.  Imagine losing your voice, but have an important topic to teach before a test.  This program would allow the teacher to still get their point across with out straining their voice.  It could also be useful for students who, again, are visually impaired.  I would recommend this site to other teachers because it is free and all you have to do it download it.  The instructions are right on the website, and I feel like it would be a fairly easy program to use in the classroom.  
     Webquest- I have never heard of this site, but there is a bunch of information about it on the webpage.  This is an inquiry oriented lesson format- the information comes from the internet.  This is a good use of internet while engaging students.  It allows the use of google and other search sites that yield the most appropriate search results.  Students could use this on research projects and group projects.  I would recommend this site to other teachers.  I believe it is free, I couldn't find anything that stated otherwise.  It was also fairly easy to navigate and learn about.  
     Readthewords is a site that can convert any document in to a speech recording.  You can do some things for free, but if you want to do anything elaborate, you may need to purchase a package.  They have 3 different packages and a teacher package.  They all include different things like number of hours you can record, save, broadcast, and so on.  I don't know that I would recommend this particular website because I feel like there are other websites that can do the same thing for free.  This can be used to teach pronunciation to students, specifically younger students.  If teachers purchase the teacher package, they could use this site to document events that happened in their room through out the year.  You could also send students/parents pre-recorded messages via phone. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lesson 2: WIKIS

This week, I got the opportunity to explore many websites using databases and spreadsheets.  I feel like I am more familiar with the spreadsheets than the databases.  I have at least used Microsoft excel, which if you don't know is an example of a spreadsheet.  I feel like these can be useful in the classroom if they are implemented in an appropriate manner.  They are great for organizing a large amount of information.  Tools like excel can be used to make tables, charts, or graphs.  Just like in "The Machine that Goes Ping", it is important to know how to use the shiny new technology, and not just have it in your classroom because it is new and shiny.  So many teachers have the latest technology, but don't really utilize in their classroom.  This doesn't help the students when it comes to learning how to use any technology. 
Another exploration I did this week was learning all about Wiki.  I've never really knew what these were before, with the exception of wikipedia.  A wiki is a website created so that multiple people can have acess to it, not just to read, but to add to.  Wiki can be used in a classroom for group projects, discussion boards, or as ways for teachers to get information out.  A specific Wiki I looked at was one made by Vicki Davis, a Georgia school teacher.  She uses Wiki in her classroom.  The website is used for her and her students.  You could say it is administrative and educational.  It gets information to parents/students while allowing students to share on their class projects.  The website is being used to post and compile information.  It is also being used for the construction of new knowledge.  I think the use of Wiki in a classroom is a great use of technology.  However, what about those students that don't have computers at their house.  For anyone that works in a school system where many students are low-income, this may be a problem.  Students without computers may feel left out or like that can't contribute.  Then, you couldn't make the use of the Wiki mandatory because not every student has access to computers.  
I also completed three tech explorations this week.  Online mapping tools are used to organize your data.  Your classroom can use these for brainstorming and organizing what they come up with.  This resource would be good for science and math classes.  It allows the student to see what their work got them.  Another website was google docs.  This is a great way to share information from student to student or student to teacher! It is free and extremely easy to use.  Bonus: you won't have to keep up with a flash drive.  You just upload your assignment to the doc then go to school and get on any computer sign in to your google account and it's there! Animoto is one of the last sites I explored.  It does cost money to use, but only five bucks a month (or $30 a year).  For some teachers this may be worth the cost.  It allows students to be creative and create 30 second videos (if you have the free version).  Students could use animoto when making presentations.  There are great attention grabbing tools.  Teachers could also use it for their presentations.