truelifeofasecondgradeteacher

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As I wrap up the end of the semester and my last blog I started thinking about some things that I still need to work on. My last post discussed my trials and tribulations with technology and this course and how I learned to incorporate new technology into my classroom. Prior to this course I was not familiar with the NETS standards for teachers or students. I did discover that many of these standards are part of my everyday routine. While composing assignments and projects for this class I did find that it was a little difficult to adhere to all the NETS-T standards per assignment. NETS-T standard 4; Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility, is one standard that I still find challenging to meet. This standard demonstrates the importance of addressing the global societal issues, ethical behavior, and promoting safe, responsible social technology interactions.

Even though we use technology in my classroom every day I find that I do not focus on the importance of citation, copyright, navigating “safe” sites and modeling safe internet access. When it comes to computer centers, I have a favorites bar full of websites that we are able to use during class. Usually, I already have the website up and running, focused on a skill that we are working on. In second grade, students really are not taught how to navigate a computer. I do have my students type their writing assignments (which takes centuries it feels like). So teaching legal and ethical behavior on a computer never seemed like a necessity. However, it is something that I do want to teach because although I am monitoring my students in my classroom, there is no guarantee that they are being monitored at home.

Even as adults I learned that I am not a professional at citation and I still struggle with APA format. Although, my students are not writing research papers right now, it does not hurt to introduce to them at least the importance of giving the author credit for their work. I am going to make it a point to teach my students the importance of navigating safe websites. Since it is hard for students to remember educational websites to type in the search bar I thought of an idea in which I would send a letter home to parents with a list of websites to use at home and how to insert them into a bookmark folder. Then, I can demonstrate to my students how to access this folder so they can navigate all their favorite sights safely. With technology being literally all around us, not all parts of it are “child friendly.” Teaching students from a young age what is acceptable and not acceptable and teaching them the purpose of technology can help eliminate the negative aspects in the future.

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It’s all around us! You can’t get away from it!! Imagine, a nice, warm, spring day at the park. You look around and see a girl sitting on the bench texting her girlfriends, a boy riding around on his bike listening to his ipod, a man reading a book on his ipad and myself typing on this laptop. It’s the 21st century, and technology is slowly taking over the world. Technology is also taking control of our classrooms and facilitating learning and instruction. However, not all people think that technology is such a fabulous concept, some think it is the root of all evil.

The individuals who think this way are the ones that don’t want to learn new things and implement new ideas into their classrooms. This semester has been very challenging, but in a positive and rewarding way. Prior to taking this course, I considered myself very “tech savy”, however, I realized just looking at websites does not justify that. My biggest challenge perhaps was creating the wiki and digital storytelling project.

I faced many challenges when trying to create my wiki and digital story, and can understand how some people may get very frustrated with technology. For example, my first challenge was simply just setting up my wiki page. I had read about designing your wiki on a word document prior to designing it on the webpage. I am a perfectionist and it took me hours to put all these cute images and set up a very cute background. Well, once I went to copy and paste everything, my wiki looked NOTHING like what it looked on my word document. Then it took me several more hours to figure out how to import my curriculum page. After several e-mails to Dr. Thompson, I was then reassured that there are some things that cannot be done on a wiki. There went hours of my time and a cute background! Another challenge I faced was composing my digital story. Prezi looked like a fairly easy software to use. My original digital story worked great with Prezi but then after reflecting on it, I realized this may not be the best tool to use with second graders. Prezi, should be used with an older audience and is not child friendly. I want my students to use ppictures, images and sound and I couldn’t even figure out how to even insert a blank slide on Prezi! It was then, that I decided to use Microsoft photo story 3. This is such an EASY program to use. I loved it! You could just upload any picture or image, add text and sound. I was able to narrate my entire story without any struggle. This to me is a lot more child friendly, and something that my students can all use.

After many headaches and tears of frustration, I FINALLY completed my final project. Easily, anyone could’ve given up. That’s exactly what many teachers do, it seems too difficult that they rather just do it the “old fashioned way.” Not only did not have a choice to do that but looking at the overall big picture, I see how much of a benefit incorporating technology has on children and learning. For example, finally, a projector was installed in my classroom. Although it is not interactive like a smart board, the children are able to see what is on my computer on a large screen. That little bit of technology completely fascinated them! Through the use of technology, students become more engaged, motivated, focused and learn easier. . Digital stories are very appealing and engaging to students because they contain a variety of multimedia such as images, text, voice recordings, music, and video clips. They are able to take ownership of their work and make the most of their creative potential.It improves a variety of skills such as research skills, organization, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. Students can develop technology and presentation skills. If students calibrate with one another, they also develop interpersonal skills. Teachers can facilitate learning, meet the needs of most students and learning styles, increase classroom discussion, and maximize student learning. Through digital storytelling teachers can build background knowledge, review concepts taught, pre-teach vocabulary, and assess students. Digital storytelling is recommended for ESL and special needs students as well. For ESL students, digital stories can be used as an accommodation in the classroom since it is both visual and students can listen to the audio. Teachers can introduce new vocabulary through text and pictures in both English and the native language. Digital stories can be used as a form of communication between the teacher and the ESL student. For ASD or other special needs children digital storytelling can be used as a method to express emotions and a way to communicate as well. Digital stories are used also to improve communication and social skills. I have both ESL and Special needs children in my classroom, so this is something that will benefit my classroom.

Jason Ohler describes digital storytelling as an advantage to having students maximize their creativity and express their ideas and themselves. Students can strengthen critical thinking skills and media literacy skills. Children are taking ownership and developing power of their own voice. I have noticed a huge improvement on the motivation of my students and their academics since my projector was installed. Now they are beyond excited when I can hookup my ipad to the projector. The possibilities are endless, and although technology is VERY complicated, it gets easier the more you become familiar with it. With the success of virtual schools, we need to implement more technology into their daily lives. As the world keeps changing and adjusting we must do the same. So yes, technology may be the root of evil, but positives out weigh every negative aspect!

References
Ohler, Jason. (2006) The World of Digital Storytelling. Educational Leadership, 63 (4),44-47.

http://prezi.com/2d635odu70de/it-was-a-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-grocery-trip/

Reading comprehension skills have become a dreaded topic in my classroom; mostly because, students have a hard time trying to grasp the higher level thinking questions that are integrated with these skills. However, my students are in second grade and with FCAT just around the corner, improving comprehension skills is something that we will work on daily. Last week we were learning about problem and solution. I read the wonderful story, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, the children absolutely loved it. We tried to brainstorm some ideas about our own terrible, problem filled days, and how we solved these problems. I thought that creating a digital story in which the students can narrate a time where they had a problem and needed to discover a solution, would be a great way to integrate technology and learning in the classroom. I teach second grade, and have to admit that Prezi may be difficult for them to use and a little more sophisticated. Microsoft Story seems to be a better and more age appropriate software for children, in which they can create a slideshow of pictures and add music and audio to their story.

Please let me know if there is anything I need to add or remove from my story! Is this second grade level appropriate? We are all new to this, so any help would be great!

Thanks,
Amanda

Digital Storytelling

What is Digital Storytelling?

I didn’t know how convenient and important Digital Storytelling is for students. In this day in age, technology is taking over the world. It is also taking over the minds of our young ones. However, this doesn’t need to be a negative thing! Incorporating technology in the classroom is beneficial in facilitating learning and engaging students. Digital Storytelling is a positive and educational way to incorporate technology both at home and in the classroom. Digital storytelling is similar to traditional storytelling in that they both focus on an explicit topic and a particular point of view. However, Digital stories rely on computer based tools to tell the story. Digital stories are very appealing and engaging to students because they contain a variety of multimedia such as images, text, voice recordings, music, and video clips. These stories do not need to be long and time consuming; Digital stories can range between two to ten minutes long.

Why should students participate in digital storytelling?

There are many positives to having students create their own digital story. They are able to take ownership of their work and make the most of their creative potential. It is fairly easy and user friendly to create a digital story. It improves a variety of skills such as research skills, organization, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. Students can develop technology and presentation skills. If students calibrate with one another, they also develop interpersonal skills.

Can ELL and students with special needs benefit?


YESSSSSS!!!!! Digital storytelling is recommended for ESL and special needs students as well. For ESL students, digital stories can be used as an accommodation in the classroom since it is both visual and students can listen to the audio. Teachers can introduce new vocabulary through text and pictures in both English and the native language. Digital stories can be used as a form of communication between the teacher and the ESL student. For ASD or other special needs children digital storytelling can be used as a method to express emotions and a way to communicate as well. Digital stories are used also to improve communication and social skills.

How can I integrate digital storytelling in my classroom??


Children love to talk about themselves more than anything. The great thing about digital storytelling is that it can incorporate more than one subject area, engage and facilitate student learning. We have been working on Personal narratives for writing and problem/solution for comprehension skills. I had my students write a brief personal narrative on a problem they had to overcome. This would be a great topic for a digital story.

Websites you can use for digital Storytelling in your classrooms!


1. Animoto Turn your pictures, music and video clips into a classroom video.
2. Voicethread A collaborative and interactive multimedia. Children can tell a story and collaborate with others.
3. Photobucket Upload your own pictures or images. You can also browse images and pictures to use in a digital story.
4. Prezi Great website to start your digital storytelling experiences. The best part, is that it is very user friendly!!
5. Flickr Upload your own photos or browse thousands of photos based on categories. Great to use for digital storytelling.
6. Web of stories Upload and share your own video story and pass history on from generation to generation.
7. Lego Digital Story Great site to introduce digital storytelling to children.
8. Little Bird Tales Children can expand their creativity and create their own digital story.
9. Carnegie Library for Kids Children can create their own story using different backgrounds, characters, and sounds!
10. Chogger What greater way to engage boys than to create their own comics and develop into a digital story!

Technology is such a huge part of teaching these days. And with the dreadful teacher evaluations, it is a HUGE part of being labeled a “Highly effective” teacher. However, I love using technology in my classroom because the kids love it and have more motivation to learn. I use a bunch of websites in my classroom to reinforce the skills being taught. I also give the parents a list of websites that they can use at home. All of these can be used anywhere with internet access!! Check some of these out and use them in your classroom. I am on the search for more 


http://www.pbskids.org
PBS Kids is a great website for children, parents and teachers. As a teacher I use this in my classroom for lesson plans, slide shows and videos. I can search by grade, subject and the skill. Not too long ago we were working on punctuation and I was able to pull up a video and the kids loved it. Parents can also navigate this site for homework help, tips, interactive games, child development and educational articles. Children love it because there are hundreds of interactive educational games, music and television shows.


http://whitneymusicbox.org
The music box is a great tool for your computer or smartboard. I use this on a daily basis for “quiet time.” The children love it because it is very captivating by the colors and animation. Put it on your Smartboard when students arrive and they will be silent as they watch and listen.

http://www.online-stopwatch.com/classroom-timers
Every teacher needs to use this in their classroom!! I was getting very fed up with my students taking so long to unpack and just write their homework in their planners. I found this websites with tons of fun times to use in the classroom. My students love the “bomb ticker”; you just set up the time and the children will rush to get their stuff done before that bomb goes off. The children love when the bomb goes off and I am a happy teacher because they get their stuff done in a timely manner.


http://starfall.com
This site has lots of great language arts games and they are even adding math games as well. There are songs, animated video clips and interactive games. Starfall is great because it focuses on letter/sound recognition, early reading, phonics, and reading practice for 1st and 2nd graders. At the computer centers my students use this site daily.

http://www.abcya.com
This is a newly found favorite! I love this website because it is dedicated for grades K-5. It is so easy to navigate, you just go to the homepage and select the grade. The computer educational games and divided by subject and skill. My students love this website! So glad I found it 


http://www.tumblebooks.com

Tumblebooks is a website I always recommend to my students parents. There are tons of animated, talking picture books to choose from. You can select by grade level, reading level and make your own favorites list. After you listen to the stories, there is a comprehension questions quiz which I use to test their comprehension skills. The children absolutely love it!! There are additional extension activities that you can do with the story as well. You do have to have an account but many schools do, just ask the reading coach at your school!

Finally after three years of teaching I get my one wish, “to have technology in my classroom!” Yes, I have an e-reader but it is very difficult for children to see the TV from across the room. Well I just received great news that I will be receiving a projector next week. I figured with that news and the new release of the iphone 5, I better explore some educational apps to use in my classroom. I found a few good ipad apps that will help every teacher and engage students! This apps are a great time-saver!

<—— Dropbox

Dropbox is like having an external drive everywhere you go. You can access any of your files, documents, pictures, etc… over a wireless network. The best part about it, is that it is free. Why is it perfect for teachers? How many times do we need to access our lesson plans at home and forget our USB drives in our classroom? With Dropbox you set up an account on your PC, I pad and phone and you can access anything you need from anywhere, as long as there is wireless access. This app is a must need!

<—– Evernote

Evernote is a free app and website that allows you to take notes, snap pictures, create files, voice recordings, to-do lists, grocery lists and so much more. You can access your saved files on the go! Need to find that website you loved, not a problem. You can save it and click on it when you need it. This app allows you to organize everything you need as if you had your own personal binder.

 <—- Book Retriever

The Book Retriever app is like having your own librarian at the palm of your hands. This app allows you to scan and run an inventory of your entire classroom library. Not only can you organize your classroom library but you can also find the Guided reading levels, lexile, Accelerated reader, reading counts and DRA for each book. Students can “check out” a book by using the app and teachers can notify parentsvia Book Retriver. This app is amazing and only $.99!!

<—- Stick Pick

What if I said, you can say goodbye to those name popsicle sticks used for calling on children in the classroom. With this new app you can say goodbye to those ugly sticks and say hello to Stick Pick. On this app you set up your class, or multiple classes and you are able to randomly call on your students. Not only does it keep your students engaged, but it makes your life a lot easier too!

<—- Common Core

We all know what the importance of the new Common Core standards and we also know how big the curriculum is to carry around in paper form. With this app you can access all the common core standards by grade level so that way you can do your plans in the comfort of your own home without hauling around all your paperwork.

<—- Airscketch

Airsketch is like having an interactive whiteboard right from your i-pad. Pull up a website, write on your i-pad and it shows up straight on the webpage. You can set up your ipad to a projector and have the children see what you are drawing on your i-pad.

 <—–Edmodo

Edmodo is a wonderful free app that allows students and teachers to participate in discussions, message boards, or quizzes. Students are able to collaborate with one another, keep tabs on their homework and view important announcements from their teacher. It is like an educational version of facebook.

<—LevelFinder

I couldn’t tell you how many times a day I hear “Miss Torres, is this an AR book?” I could have definitely used this app today! The LevelFinder app allows you to search the title of a book, find out the reading level and whether or not it is part of the AR program. The best thing about this app is that no wi-fi is needed, so I can surely use this in my classroom.

Hope you all can use these in your classroom! I will be on the lookout for more as well. Once I get my projector next week I will be sure to update you on how these apps worked out in my classroom! J