Friday, June 21, 2013

Power Tools Class Reflection

Over the course of the past two months I have learned an enormous amount about how to use Web 2.0 tools in the classroom.  These tools have the power to transform a classroom to a fun, engaging environment where students are not only learning critical content skills, but also crucial 21st century skills.

First, I would like to start with a self-reflection of this blog.  This is the first blog I have ever created, but I am glad that I did so before I got into the classroom.  Blogs are great ways for teachers to share educational resources, to update parents and students, and to self-reflect about their pedagogies.  With this blog project, I developed a niche for updating my followers on online resources such as gliffy, infuselearning and wikis.  I see myself using a blog in the future as a way to communicate with the students and parents in my class as well as a way to share and discuss resources with my fellow teachers.  I thought I did a really good job with the layout and design of my blog, and over time I developed a more engaging writing style.  This engaging writing style is something that I will definitely take away from this class because it keeps my followers coming back to read my updates and it facilitates discussion on my blog.

Another great tool for discussion that I really enjoyed from this class is our class webliography.  For this project, we created a wiki where my fellow classmates and I posted reviews and rubric scores for different technology resources.  This project was so beneficial that I see myself using it well into my teaching years.  I am hopeful that my classmates and I can stay in touch on this webliography and update each other on great technological finds.

During this class, I was also exposed to a new pedagogy style that is sweeping schools: flipping the classroom.  This classroom management technique is one that requires the students to listen to pre-made  lecture videos for homework.  Then the next day the class can focus on hands-on activities that require the students to apply skills learned from the videos.  I think this pedagogy style is extremely beneficial for both students and teachers.  Basically a classroom that is flipped is a classroom that is transparent--parents and students know exactly what you're teaching so there are no surprises.  Students are able to learn from the videos are that own pace, and teachers are able to give more direct attention to more students throughout class time.  It is difficult to argue against this pedagogy style.  I am planning to continue studying flipping the classroom to see how plausible it is in an elementary setting.  But overall, I can't wait to try out this new engaging, resourceful teaching style!

This class has been one where the products that we have created will serve us well throughout our teaching professions.  I wish that more teachers learned about the power tools that are available to classrooms now.  These tools have enormous potential for our students and the skills that they are learning.  We must remember that we are preparing our students for a technological age where they must possess both collaborative skills and technological skills.

Thanks for following me throughout this journey!!  I will try to keep posting throughout the rest of the summer!

Saturday, June 15, 2013 My RSS Feed Lifesaver

With so many sites and blogs to read on the internet, I have found it extremely helpful to have one place that keeps track of all the blogs that I follow as well as the websites where I can read up-to-date news and education articles.  I find that often times I am really overwhelmed with all these resources on the internet.  What do y'all think?  How do y'all keep track of the helpful sites and resources that you've found online?
Recently, I stumbled upon a site called Feedly.  This site makes blog reading easy and enjoyable, as it compiles all of your blogs, sites and news with its simplistic, minimalist user interface.  Feedly is perhaps one of the best resources that I have seen to track your RSS feed.  (For all those blog newbies out there, such as myself, RSS stands for Rich Site Summary and is a online tool that is used to publish frequently updated works in a standardized format.)

The screen shot above is what my personal Feedly Education site looks like.  The most recently updated unread blog posts and news articles are at the top of my page while my list of blogs and sites that I'm following are listed on the right for easy access.  On the left side are the categories that all of my followed sites are listed under; these make navigating around this RSS feed extremely easy.  Another great benefit from using Feedly is how easy it is to subscribe to new sites without having to copy and paste the url or any other time consuming subscription methods.  Feedly makes this possibly by providing a small, transparent Feedly button that appears in the lower-right corner of your Web browser.  If you find a new website or blog that you would like to remember or possibly subscribe to, all you need to do is click on this button and Feedly will not only allow you add the site to your feed, but also email, facebook, or tweet the site to share!  This is probably my favorite component of this website; it keeps me coming back to Feedly to remember cool sites or resources even if I don't look at them right away.  
Another positive about Feedly is it is compatible with laptops, iPads, iPhones and Androids.  I love being able to stay current with blogs on the go, even if I can just read a few articles at a time.

A few negatives about Feedly are:
  • It does not work in Internet Explorer.
  • For browsers that Feedly does work with, it requires users to install a plug-in which is not allowed on some public computers.
  • Sites can not be cross-listed in two categories.
I'm really interested to see what y'all think about Feedly if you've used it or even just visited the site! 
How easy was it to use?
Did you like the display/organization of the RSS feed?
Does it make blog reading any easier?

I would also love to hear what RSS aggregator sites y'all use and how they compare!
Thanks for stopping by and reading!  
Tune in soon for a post on a teaching strategy that is increasing its presence in the classroom... or should I say flipping its presence in the classroom!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

InfuseLearning--Thanks for sharing, Larissa!

Yesterday in our Power Tools for Educators class, we watched a Webliography presentation on a Web 2.0 tool called InfuseLearning.  My classmates and I were wowed with this website and its potential benefits in the classroom.  I found this tool to be so cool that I wanted to share it to those reading my blog outside of my classmates.  Basically, InfuseLearning is a website where teachers can prepare quizes and assessments for students to take individually when they log into the virtual classroom created by the teacher on computers or iPads/iPods.  Extremely easy to use, create, prepare and review, teachers can take advantage of BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and allow students to share open ended answers, drawings, multiple choice answers, true/false statements and quiz responses.  Another really neat component of this website is teachers can send students a link to investigate through the virtual classroom; no longer will teachers need to write down or type long urls for students.

I definitely recommend watching the YouTube video below because it gives a quick tutorial about how advantageous using the website in the classrooms is.

What would be your ideas for implementation of this Web 2.0 tool in your classroom?

Let me know what you think about this resource!!

Check back tomorrow to see a great resource to keep track of all the blogs that you follow!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Our Class Webliography (so far)

This week in our Power Tools class we have been focusing on online resources and tools that teachers can use in the classroom.  We've been reviewing these resources and then putting them on a wiki so that our webliography can be reached by all of our classmates.  So far the few that we've discussed in class are gliffy, glogster, storyboard, toontastic, and educreations.  All of these have proved to be engaging tools that both teachers and students can use to transform learning in the classroom.  I personally did a presentation on gliffy and presented an infographic as a review on this website that I have mentioned earlier in my blog:

The webliography that we have created is something that I think all teachers should make.  It is awesome having one place on the web where we can go to find an informative review of a resource that we could use in the classroom.  I think this webliography is a great way for teachers to collaborate and reflect on using online tools in the classroom.  I hope we keep adding resources to this site even after this class ends in a few weeks.  I will definitely still be using it when I am teaching.