April 16, 2011

Glogster - Poster Youself!

Most days, the conversation after school goes something like this: "Hi boys, how was your day?" I ask. "Fine," mumble my children as they proceed to hit and kick each other in the back of the van while I pull away from school. One day this week, however, my third grader was actually excited about something and wanted to tell me all about it. He had to write a book report but the report was on the internet and he was creating his own web page...or blog...or poster...or something. OK, so he was still mumbling.

He kept saying "glogster" but it came out all gargled and I couldn't understand him. I had blog on my brain as I was thinking about what to write for this fourth blog post. I asked him to repeat what he was saying. "Did you say blogster?" I asked.
"NO Mom, Glogster," my son replied. He was trying to be nice, but he was annoyed already.
"You're writing a blog in school? Me, too! I'll show you my blog when we get home!" I eagerly told him, thinking we might bond over blogs.
He just rolled his eyes at me. "Glogster, Mom" he repeated, his voice getting a little more sassy.
"Oh I'm sorry, honey," I said, "I misunderstood - you said, glogger?" Now I started thinking about gløgg - the Danish spiced wine that I sometimes drink during Christmas. But, back to my son - really, I was trying to understand him.
"MOM! It's GLOGSTER!" he was shouting at this point.
"OK, GLOCKSTER!" I said in my own sassy tone of voice. I thought he was going to jump out of the van if I didn't come to my senses pretty soon.
He gave up. "I'll just show you when we get home." Poor kid, he was deflated.

Once we were home, he marched me to the computer and pulled up www.edu.glogster.com. He forgot our annoying conversation and became excited again as he pointed out the poster he had worked so hard on. It was pretty cool, I admit, even though I was still expecting to see a blog. You can create your own poster by adding images, graphics, video, text and more. I watched him add more content to his poster - it's an easy to use drag and drop interface. He had some cool graphics, a lightning bolt or two and lots of text bubbles where he wrote the main ideas of the book he was reporting on. Because I'm a safety nut, I made sure the entire world couldn't see what my son was posting. (Or "postering"...) Sure enough, it's private - his teacher had created a password and the students logged in under her account.

I know I mentioned this a few times already, but my son was very excited about this poster project. And let me assure you, he does not get very excited about school. Halfway through this blog post, I decided to create my own poster so you could see what I'm talking about. It was fun and easy to create. You could use it for any subject, not just book reports. We've been learning about how to engage students in this Ed Tech class. I think this is an awesome way to engage students in what they're learning. They can show what they know in a fun and creative way while practicing their technology skills. Check it out for yourself at edu.glogster.com. Not blogster or glogger or glockster...it's glogster. Go ahead and poster yourself!

Image created by me, used with permission from edu.glogster.com

March 23, 2011

Wii in the classroom?

As I was brainstorming ideas for my third blog post, I was watching my sons play Wii. I started wondering if and how the beloved Wii could be used in the classroom to engage students. So I googled it. Guess what? Teachers are already using Wiis in the classroom. Arcademic Skill Builders creates games to use on the Wii. Their mission is to engage and excite students. I tested out a few of their games and I'm addicted already. In Grand Prix Multiplication you click on the correct answers to make your car move. The faster you click on the correct answer, the faster your car moves. And you can play with up to 4 players. My third grader was frustrated with his multiplication homework last night. I think this would be a great way to teach and practice math facts and allow the kids to have a little fun at the same time. In addition to multiplication games, there are addition, subtraction, language arts and geography games.

I recently started rewarding my sons' good behavior with 5 extra minutes of Wii time. My husband mockingly said, "are you serious, five extra minutes?" Much to his surprise, however, my tactic works! My kids figured that multiplication problem out in a hurry - five minutes per day times seven days a week equals 35 minutes of extra Wii time on the weekend. If they can get excited over 5 extra minutes a day, imagine how excited they would be to play Wii in the classroom!

Images from private collection.

February 22, 2011

Edmodo - social networking meets the classroom.

Seems like we're all addicted to social networking. Those of us who don't post every detail of our lives on our facebook page still lurk around and read about everyone else's lives! Am I right? Well, Edmodo is sort of like that. It's a social networking tool designed specifically for the classroom...sort of like facebook for students! But the great thing is that it's a closed environment - conversations are between classmates and not the entire world. With Edmodo, students aren't posting the minute details of their lives, they're collaborating and communicating about schoolwork.

Edmodo allows students to communicate with each other and with their teacher (think backchannel chats) during class or at home. Students can talk to their classmates about the great book they're reading at home. Assignments can be managed and submitted through Edmodo. Videos can be embedding directly into Edmodo, eliminating the junk students might see on video sharing websites. Students can also collaborate on projects with their classmates. There are so many more things Edmodo can be used for, so just check out their website here instead of reading this boring post. But before you click on that link, let's review. Collaboration + Communication = Jubilation. Now go check out Edmodo!

Image used with permission from Edmodo

February 1, 2011

Using Technology in the Classroom

OK, I'll admit it. I don't really "get" blogs. My cousin has been blogging for years and I always feel like I'm spying on her when I read it. Anyone else feel this way? No? Just me, then? Well fine, I might as well jump on the blog bandwagon. Another confession - there is one blog I follow with some regularity (translation: every day). It's really more of a photo blog than a word blog, which is probably why I love it so much. I am a visual learner to a fault. Because I know you're curious now, the blog is: Better After. It has absolutely nothing to do with technology in the classroom, although someone has probably posted before and after photos of a classroom makeover or even a laptop makeover.

Speaking of technology in the classroom, it's something that is exciting to me as a parent, a school board member, and a future teacher. I think a lot of people don't really "get" the idea behind technology in the classroom. But we can't continue to teach the same way we've taught for years - we have to find a better way to connect to the students who are immersed in technology. Obviously, that's the purpose of my Educational Technology & Design class, and probably the reason most of you are reading this blog in the first place! How we go about doing that is going to be the challenge, but I think it's also going to be a lot of fun. I have always been comfortable using technology, although because of my age, I am considered a digital immigrant. Boo hoo.

There seem to be some great educational blogs, and today I found  Mathew Needleman's blog, Creating Lifelong Learners. Mr. Needleman gives ideas for integrating technology into the classroom. A really cool application that he has developed is the fluency timer. Fluency is the ability to read text with speed, accuracy and proper expression. The fluency timer times and records students doing their readings. Students can then listen to themselves and hear what mistakes they might have made. It can also be played back for parents, teachers, administrators - what a great assessment tool! Something that can probably be very boring for a student has now been turned into sort of a fun game. How's that for finding a way to connect with the digital natives? Not bad, I think. Throw that in your bag of tricks when you become a teacher; your students will love you for it.

Image used with permission from Pics4Learning