Monday, May 10, 2010


Podcasting is another highly useful internet technology tool. While not all schools have a Smartboard in every room, or even a television for that matter, most have at least one computer. Podcasts do not have to be visual but are always audible. Podcasts can be easily downloaded to a computer. Teachers are able to share the downloaded podcasts with their students through the computer speakers. Why is this important? As teachers, we do not have all of the answers. In researching podcasts, I was hard pressed to think of a subject where a podcast did not exist! Also, students benefit from hearing information from additional sources and voices besides that of the teacher.

I explored Podcast Pickle.
I typed 'science' into the search engine and I was delighted to find "Why? The Science Show for Kids." Dr. Dave Brodbeck created episodes answering questions asked by students.

Some examples of the questions are:
Why Isn’t Greenland a Continent?
Why Can’t Fish Remember?
What Happened to the Dinosaurs?
Why Do We Have a Tongue?
What Makes Some Ice Clear and Some Ice White?
Why Do We Have Five Fingers?
Is There Life In Space?
How Do Bees Make Honey?

I especially liked the podcast on 'What Makes Some Ice Clear and Some Ice White?' Living in Erie, that could be a question that a student would ask me! Kids ask the best questions! In an effort to create a community of learners where each child's contributions are respected, I would have the ability to look up the answer to a proposed question on a podcast. Podcasts in my classroom would not just be a tool for science. Podcasts cover other subject areas where the experts could explain particular concepts in a different way than I would. Math, social studies, language arts and technology integration are all common themes among education podcasts. I will use podcasts not only to answer questions posed by students but to clarify specific concepts in the content areas. (Example: I found a podcast that would be useful for explaining phrasal verbs.

Global Cooperation

This assignment involves the exploration and comparison of two global cooperation sites. I chose to review and

Epals is a safe way to communicate, connect, create and collaborate with local, national and international classrooms. This site claims to be the world’s largest K-12 learning network; it is a project oriented site. The site has easy to navigate tabs for projects, teachers, collaborate, students, and families.

National Geographic is a partner in creating this global community. The projects are standards-based and concentrate on topics of global interest. It is extremely easy to choose a project. Some topics include digital storytelling, global warming, people and culture, and natural disasters. Once a teacher has chosen a topic of interest, Epals makes it easy to “connect to classrooms.” With a click of a button, you can search locally by zip code or go international by searching for a specific country. The world is at the teacher’s fingertips! The site provides forums for connecting to classrooms, on-going projects, and epals wanted. In addition to searching for an existing topic, teachers are able to publish project ideas of their own.

Once a topic is chosen and the teacher has found a classroom to connect with, Epals offers suggestions to the teachers for working out the logistical details. The site suggests creating a timeline and choosing the order in which the classrooms will communicate. There are a few pairing possibilities. Teachers can decide to communicate teacher to teacher by the class preparing one letter together. Teachers may decide to pair the students up individually or have groups of students communicate with other groups of students. Customizing the lesson to the specific needs of the two classrooms is also an option.

GlobalSchoolNet is a content driven collaboration. Science, math, literacy, and communication skills are at the forefront of their mission. Another goal is to foster teamwork, prepare students for the workforce and create multi-cultural understanding. The site is more overwhelming than Epals. There are several main programs including Doors to Democracy, International CyberFair, and Geo Games. GlobalSchoolNet claims to have the largest data base for a project registry. Teachers are able to search by “date, age level, geographic location, collaboration type, technology tools or keyword.”

The website is rather congested. The graphics are distracting from the actual content. The site is in the process of converting to a new format; this could be one reason that everything seems just a bit jumbled. Despite that, the variety of programs would encompass something for every classroom. I liked the Doors to Democracy program. The focus is “to encourage middle school and high school students around the world to produce web projects that teach others about the importance of international affairs and diplomacy.” The project is more of a contest and has a $2,000 scholarship as a grand prize.

Both sites focused on communication, connecting, creating and collaborating. GlobalSchoolNet had more of a content focus while Epals had more of a concentrated focus on global interest. I would be more inclined to use Epals. The design of the site was well organized. In choosing a project, these were columns reviewed: Project, Topic, Essential Questions, Overview, and Community.

If I were teaching in the classroom currently, I would use Epals to focus on a project on natural disasters. I would search for a community in Tennessee that has just experienced flooding. I would connect with them to provide my students with a first hand account of what it is like to experience a flood. This could be expanded to other areas of the world that have experienced floods, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters of interest as they pertain to my classroom curriculum.

I really liked the “Who We Are” project on Epals. I would take it a step further and incorporate this project with another tool that we explored earlier in the term, Skype. ( For the Epals project, the idea is to have the two classrooms collaborate on the question “What makes me who I am?” The Epals recommendation for this project is that “through email exchanges, students learn about the daily lives, cultures, climates and geography of children who live in other regions of the world.” I propose that the collaborating teachers of the two global classrooms adjust the project to include skype sessions. Students could email their pen pals but also have a chance to see them “face to face.” What an amazing way to bring international cultures to life in the classroom! Also, skype would be fun to use around the holidays. I could do a lesson on exploring Christmas around the world and connect with different global classrooms. The students could prepare a synopsis of their customs and share with students from other countries without leaving the classroom!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Video Clips in the Classroom

When I was doing my student teaching, I had the fortune of working in a school that had a Smartboard in every classroom. It was so great to be able to pull up a video on Lewis and Clark to reinforce what we read in the history book. When we were talking about Russia and Ukrainian eggs, I found a video that gave the history and showed the actual collection of the famous eggs. When we were talking about the famous composer Tchaikovsky, I found a video of his work. Having another source of information for the students really helps bring the concepts to life!
One video that I would use in my classroom is the 50 states and their capitols video. What a unique resource for the students to be able to use when learning the capitols! Informational songs are fun and really help students retain the information. I still remember the 50 states song from when I was in elementary school. This video would serve as another tool for my students success.

RSS: The New Killer App for Educators

After watching Lee LeFevers video on RSS feeds, I was excited to take on the task of setting up my bloglines account. What an amazing feature to be able to subscribe to a site in one click and have that blog appear on my bloglines account! I love this quick and efficient method of getting relevant information all in one place!
One interesting post that I found was from Cool Cat Teacher. The title of the post was "What is the Deal with this Ning thing?" The author was discussing Ning's decision to downsize and begin charging for their normally free resources. Her perspective was interesting. She mentioned that it was their company and they owe it to their investors to be profitable, but she fears educators will not be given an option to pay to save what they have already posted on the free educational sites.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A learner is like...

In the article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens states that “Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements- not entirely under the control of the individual (p.5)” After exploring the connectivism theory, I propose that today’s learner is like the ocean. The ocean is a body of water that is impacted, beyond its control, by various aspects in the environment. Winds, waves, tides, gravity… many components of the environment impact the ocean. These elements are constantly changing. As a result, the ocean is never the same from day to day. The ocean ‘goes with the flow’, so to speak. It adapts and changes according to the input of the environmental factors surrounding it. In the same way, today’s learner is like the ocean. To be successful, it is important for the learner to adapt to a complex environment and adjust for the tides of life accordingly. In the video The Changing Nature of Knowledge, Siemens says that “knowledge is really about the distribution that occurs across the entire network.” The network is composed of both the internal mind and the external influences. The video also summarizes that the “network becomes the learning.” By utilizing the entire network, today’s learner, much like the ocean, has the ability to stay ‘current’ and connected.

Video: The Changing Nature of KnowKnowledge

Siemens, G. (2005, January). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Retrieved November 20, 2005.

Practicing Connectivism through Social Networking

In exploring the world of social networking, I came across the Edublogger World site. This site is an amazing resource for presentations and photographs. It also serves as a useful forum to ask other educators for ideas. For my student teaching, I taught geography in a middle school setting. I can see how this connection to other teachers around the world would help make for a more authentic experience in a geography classroom. I could ask for helpful tips, different traditions, and clarification on questions that arise. This networking site would benefit the quality of the geography lessons for my students by enabling me to bring a 'real world' approach into a book oriented classroom.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blogging in the Classroom

When exploring the role of blogging in the classroom, my first thought was to examine the blogs that I have already come into contact with. My best friend had a baby. Every so often, I get update notifications from “Ellie’s Little Blog.” It is an adorable way to communicate her baby’s triumphs and milestones. This could easily be a concept applied to my classroom. I would love to create a blog for our room that could communicate with parents. The blog would serve as another location for announcements. More than that, the blog would be a comprehensive venue to celebrate all of our triumphs and milestones.

During my student teaching, it was made very clear that time was not on my side. Class periods are too short and there is just too much required material to cover. This was frustrating for me because I love a theme. I was working with teaching fractions and math and could have spent an entire week relating fractions to pizza. I think another good use for a blog would be to encourage extended learning. Creating blogs with additional related concept activities for thematic units would be an excellent way to channel all of the creative supports. I love an idea that I came across about having the students blog about their vacations and charting their destinations on a map; what a perfect geography extension! The blog could be utilized at home, during an after school program, or serve as a station in the classroom when a student finished an assignment early.

I loved the section in Lee LeFevers Common Craft video where they say that “anyone is a reporter and publisher” and “everything is news to someone.” This would be my focus of the third way to use a blog in the classroom. I would love to create a blog where students report on acts of “good” that they witness in the community. Sometimes, it is so depressing watching the local and national news. It would be nice to have a vehicle for the students to report on the good things that are happening in the world that could help combat some of the bad.