Saturday, February 23, 2013

Overview of ED521

I enjoyed this course! I feel like I learned a lot more about what is out in the technology world! A lot of different programs were introduced to me that I had never heard of before! Things that will make personal and professional life more organized, and things that I can use with my students. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to master every program – I was able to simply try out what was suggested, and find what I believe to be most useful.  In this process I found many different programs that I will be using from here on out! I would love to take a refresher course like this every year to keep up with the latest in technology!

Success Story!

I have been wanting to make a blog forever: A blog for my classroom and a blog for personal use. I look at them all the time online, and have several friends who enjoy doing personal blogs. I have tried several times, but always ended up getting frustrated and giving up. This class forced me to make a blog, and in doing so, I found that it wasn’t the nightmare I thought it would be. In fact, it turned out to be rather fun! I have now done a blog for this class, and have started one for my personal life and for school. I am so excited to say I finally understand how to blog and to know that it is something I am capable of doing!!

Top Ten Take Aways!

My Top Ten Take-Aways – ED521
Final Blog

            There are so many tools and ideas I will take away from this course – tools that will make my life more organized, simple, and more interesting! Here are my Top Ten Take-Aways!

1. Diigo – I love love love Diigo! I had always thought it would be great to be able to bookmark items from other computers and be able to access my bookmarks without having to have my work computer with me. This allows me to do just that! I didn’t know there was such a thing! I will use it professionally and personally to keep track of articles and websites I want to remember!

2. Drop Box -  This is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. This eliminates having to email yourself and having to use a flash drive to retrieve your documents! I will use this personally for family photos (I will be able to share them more easily), and I will use it professionally for documents on my computer. One more way to back up the important pictures and documents I have on my computer.

3.Google Sites – I have always wanted to do a classroom website or blog, but didn’t really know how to get started. Google makes them easy to create! I will be making a classroom blog to post pictures, announcements, and newsletters. I will create a family blog to remember special events in my own life.

4.Google Calendar – I think I am in love! I absolutely love having my calendar on my computer and on my phone! I also love that I can share my calendar and get reminders via email and text message. Hello organization!

5. Photobooth –I can’t believe this was on my computer and I didn’t know it! I am wanting to use this in my classroom very soon! I like that you can create custom backgrounds and it is so quick and easy. My students will get a kick out of it!

6.Twitter – I never thought I would be on the bandwagon, but here I go! I will use the professionally to keep up with the latest in teaching and technology! I like following different teachers and tech savvy people.  I learn so much from people that I never even would have thought to ask. Teachers sharing ideas? Yes please!!!

7. Glogster - is a tool that allows users to create virtual posters combining text, audio, video, images, and hyperlinks and to share them with others electronically. This is a fun way to spice things up in the classroom for presenting, and student may be able to create their own simple glogs!

8.Voicethread – I will use this in my classroom to share images and discuss them. It is fun to do, and kiddos love to see their own pictures and their own voices!

9. Google Documents – I will use this professionally to collaborate with colleagues. It is so much easier to share a document than to copy, paste, and resend it back and forth. This would have been handy for group work in college! I can also use it personally – I think about organizing who will bring what dishes for holidays…we could all sign up on a Google document!

10. Google+ Hangouts – I will use this personally to keep in touch with family members who live out of the area. I think this is a much better way to communicate than Skype because you can have more than just two people involved in the conversation at once!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Shared Assignment - My Favorites of ED521!

What I have learned and what I will definitely use from ED 521

 Personally - Pinterest! I love the visuals and what a great way to keep my favorite things saved!
Dropbox - I can use this to back up personal information!
Blogger - I have always wanted to start one for myself, but couldn’t figure it out before!
Google Calendar
Google maps

 Professionally - Twitter- I will use it to keep up with the latest educational info!
Dropbox - I love this feature for backing up and accessing my work related documents.
Google Plus - I love all the features it provides...the calendar, sites, communities, much more to it than I realized
Blogger - I want to make a classroom blog for next year! I may try weebly too!
Garage band
Teachers Pay Teachers
Tiny Url

 What I will use with my students
I tried voicethread with my students and they really liked it! I will continue to use!
I like screenr, I could use this for a variety of things in my classroom
Photobooth - so many possibilities for students! They would LOVE this!
I like the kidblog idea too!

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Future of Textbooks

            I remember when I first heard about the concept of losing the textbooks and introducing electronic devices to serve the same purpose….I thought people were crazy! I felt quite sure that this would never happen and people would surely find that nothing could replace our precious textbooks! Now I am finding that my negative thoughts were very ignorant and I am actually looking forward to a future of more technology and less books – there, I said it J
            I have been a little resistant to change from what I knew growing up in school, to how I teach my own students. I have only been teaching for five years, but I have been so hesitant because I don’t always feel very tech savvy. As I become more and more comfortable with it, I seem to embrace it more and more. As long as somebody is willing to teach me, I am willing to learn!
            Why this change? I have seen how technology can enhance learning and increase the productivity in the classroom. I am ready for more. By using technology rather than textbooks, I see many advantages. Students will love them, they would be more interactive, my little 3rd graders would not have to carry 20 pounds of books on their back just to finish a small assignment, space….desk space for students and the shelf space – AHHHHHHH the shelf space! I think about doing novels in our classes, we could order them and instantly have the book on the child’s device. Their tablets would have texts, graphics, video, audio, built in quizzes, they can interact more with the material they are learning, and would likely be more engaged with this than a typical textbook. I could see it really helping struggling students, too! There seem to be endless advantages. Like with anything else. There would be some roadblocks – I think about students losing their homework (now an ipad?!!) that could be scary, or the fact that technology doesn’t always work and I can’t always fix it, and it would really be a HUGE adjustment. It would take a lot of leg-work to plan out the specifics on how to integrate them into the classroom, but I feel like it would have excellent long term benefits.
            I NEVER want to see books go away, however. I think there is something about holding a book, feeling it, looking at the cover, seeing how thick it is, turning the pages, and being off a computer after being on one for so many purposes throughout the day. I believe I will always have books in my classroom for my students…..but the reality is that textbooks could become a thing of the past!

21st Century Skills

21st Century skills are much more complex than those in the past. The days of memorizing information for a test and then forgetting all about the content are over! Although there are still things we want our children to memorize, they are no longer stopping at that point, they are now required to apply that information in more real world applications. In the 21st century we are looking to move up the ladder of Bloom’s Taxonomy – the first step is to recall information…but it doesn’t stop there! They need to go on to understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create in order to truly grasp concepts and be ready to use their knowledge in real world applications. Higher-level thinking skills are highly encouraged in the 21st century!!

 We are also integrating technology into teaching and learning in order to enhance the learning experiences of students and to teach them how to use technology in their own lives. Teachers need to continuously be trained on the amazing advancements in technology that can help them help their students. There are so many new trends in technology that can enhance the teaching and learning experience. There are resources available to help teachers teach, and there are resources that help student learn more effectively by keeping them more engaged.

It is so important that students are introduced to the importance of interacting and collaborating with others to learn and develop plans and ideas. There are so many resources available that will help us do just that! No longer are we working solo – two heads are better than one! People work together in the work force all the time. It is a life long skill and for many it takes practice. It is critical that we as educators work together to help each other grow, and it is important that we teach our students to do the same! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

How Technology Has Changed My Teaching

I have only been teaching for about five years, but I have already found that each year gets a little bit better because of the new trends in technology! Here are a few ways my teaching has changed for the better because of technology!

1. Went from desktop computer to laptop – so thankful for this change! I love being able to take my computer home so I can do my work from the couch J

2. I went from the overhead projector and a whole mess of transparencies, to my lovely hovercam. I use this ALL THE TIME! Now, I am hoping for a mini mac!

3. I got a smartboard about two years ago – at first I rarely used it, but now I am becoming more and more comfortable with it and enjoying it very much!

4. I use youtube and learn 360 for educational videos

5. The grading system at my school has been upgraded to Power School, which I really do like.

6. Technology has come with new curriculum; I have math CD’s for our math and social studies curriculum.

7. I have been using flash drives to back up my school plans 

8. I have itunes on my computer for school use.

In only five years I feel like my teaching has changes greatly due to technology….and I am sure it will continue to constantly change for the better. A few things I will use from ED521 that will help me in my classroom from here on out are voicethread (activities with kids), Diigo (keep me organized), google calendar (keep me organized and sane),  blogger (personal and professional), dropbox (keep my files safe and at my fingertips), and twitter (to keep me in the loop on the latest trends in teaching and technology). There are so many great tools out there!

What it Means to be a Teacher

      To me, being a teacher is a great honor. I feel truly humbled that parents feel comfortable enough to allow me to care for and teach their greatest gift in the world. I take great pride in my profession, and feel truly blessed to have the opportunity to teach children all day long. When I say I teach children, it sounds simple enough….but when you dig deeper into the true job description of a teacher you will see that it is so much more complex.
     Teaching goes far beyond content. Yes, we have a curriculum and content that must be covered, but that is such a small piece of a very big puzzle. If teachers only had to know content, teaching in an elementary school would be a piece of cake. If knowing content was the most important part of teaching, why were my days as a preschool teacher the most challenging in my life? I am no Einstein, but I know my colors, shapes, and even the alphabet. To be honest, that didn’t help me out much when teaching preschool. Yes, teachers obviously need to understand what they are teaching, but teaching is so much more than being able to tell somebody what something is.
      I truly believe that above all, teachers have to want to be teachers. If you don’t want to teach, you probably shouldn’t. So much of teaching, I believe, has to do with personal character. I am not saying that you have to be a perfect person (if that were so I would be out of a job), but you have to sincerely care about what you are doing.
       Here are a few things I feel fall under a teacher’s job description. Teachers need to understand their students and build relationships with each and every one of them to truly understand how their brains work. Teachers must WANT to help their children and be self motivated to do so. Teachers must be caring, kind, and compassionate because children need to feel acceptance and warmth while at school. Teachers need to have patience for all students, because a day will not go by that patience are not tested. On that note, a plan for classroom management is a must. Teachers must identify the unique qualities of their students and pinpoint their individual learning styles. Teachers must have energy to keep up mentally and have the ability to be on their feet all day long. Teachers must have endurance to keep up with the long days of a teacher – some days you may not have a prep, a lunch, or even a free evening or weekend. Teachers must have excellent communication skills to convey thoughts and observations positively and accurately to students, colleagues, and parents. Teachers must have some type of organization system to keep track of student files, grades, lesson plans, notes, meetings, lunch money, homework, individual student schedules, etc. Teachers need to identify any disabilities or challenges their students may have, anything from needing glasses, to test anxiety, bullying, fine motor skills, reading fluency, or any possible medical conditions just to name a few. Teachers should be prepared for recess duty, it sounds like a break period but can actually be quite the opposite. Teachers should be prepared to change their well thought out daily plans at any given moment, because as teachers know, plans can change and they usually do. Teaching life lessons is a huge priority in the classroom and can often take precedence over a lesson you are supposed to get through that day. Although many teachers are soft hearted, they should be ready for some criticism from parents and colleagues – it will be impossible to make them all happy. Teachers should be prepared to enjoy a few days off on their summer vacations, but most days on. Attending professional learning conferences, attending continuing education classes, buying school supplies on sale with your own money, and likely trying to revamp or create better lessons for the upcoming school year…..because you want to.
          Being a teacher has the greatest rewards of any profession I can think of. You get to work with children. Be their role model. Watch your students transform and learn things they never thought they would. Get compliments from them when you are looking and feeling your worst, and doing the same for them. Feeling a huge surge of excitement when you see their confidence level rise and their happiness grow. Knowing that you make a positive impact on children every day is priceless. I wouldn’t change the smiles, hugs, and even boogers for anything in the world.
          It baffles me how the government leaders, the general public, and even parents can criticize people who put forth such great effort into teaching, caring for, and even loving the students in their classrooms. There are so many factors that influence how a child performs at school. Teachers with heart do their best to help that child to the best of their ability in whatever circumstance they are in.

Friday, February 1, 2013


The Value of Twitter


            I have officially become a Twitter user…(I believe that makes me a Tweep)…and I have to say, it wasn’t anything that I had expected. I had heard of Twitter numerous on the news, and I always see my fifteen year old cousin using Twitter as venue to share daily happenings with friends. My interpretation was that it was simply a device to share the latest news with the friends they saw five minutes ago. I am already fighting a terrible addiction to Facebook, I didn’t think I needed another procrastination tool.

            Now that I am required to tweet….I am finding an entirely different use for it! I have been pleasantly surprised by the power Twitter has to create communication between educators.  I am finding tremendous value in the way Twitter is able to help me professionally. It is amazing how information is constantly being shared among educators! This is a convenient, affordable (free), and fun way to keep up with the latest in teaching, technology, and basically anything you are interested in learning more about.
            I have found a few different people and organizations that I enjoy following because they have great information about the wonderful world of teaching! Some organizations I am following include NEA Today, Teachers.Net, and Teacher Created. NEA today reports educational news, Teacher Created tweets free lessons for teachers of grades k-8, and Teachers.Net has teacher forums and it posts helpful websites as well.

            Some people I have started to follow include Brian J. Nichols, Jessica Johnson, Vicki Davis, Richard Byrne, and all of my classmates in ED 521. I think the biggest reason I enjoy following these educators is because they tweet information that I never even thought about asking or searching for myself. Vicki Davis shares inspirational quotes to motivate teachers, she incorporates humor in her tweets (something teachers want and need!), and she tweets her weekly Tweetpaper! Richard Byrne does a lot of posting on technology. Some of his tweets seem more for teaching older students, but I have found some things I think I could use! He posted about using Google Maps in science lessons – I never thought to use Google maps with my kids – good idea! Jessica Johnson has information on the Daily 5, which is something I have been interested in incorporating to my classroom. Brian J. Nichols recently had a tweet about homework policy, which is what I am doing for my thesis! I love finding more information on this topic! I have also enjoyed following my peers. It is interesting to read their Tweets each week – they have tips for us all and they have posted good information for me to use as well.

            When using a hashtag to search, I have been amazed at how many results can be found by one word! The hashtags I have used most often include, #edchat, #nchat, #edtech, and #elemchat. By following hashtags I have been able to find different people I want to follow, I came across an archived PT chat that discussed ways to encourage a love of reading, elementary school writing resources ( ) which I have been searching for, a guide on how to build a PLN (, and common core resources for grades 3-5. These hashtag searches have helped me find a great deal of articles, tips, lessons, and even some videos have been posted. This is just the tip of the iceberg! There have been a tremendous amount of resources found! I actually don’t have to look to hard for them, they are all at my fingertips! I just wish I had time to read them all!

            While following the FETC hashtags I really noticed the different ways people shared information on twitter. Some people simply tweeted a short sentence about their thoughts on a particular session they were a part of. I looked at one tweet that actually included the slideshow presentation used at the seminar. One tweet included the web address for a google document that had archived tweets. Kathy Schrock posted her entire presentation on Twitter! Lee Kolbert had a link her blog that included information on social media, and there were several posts by Edmodo that directs the readers to it blog. I am beginning to see how quickly information can travel! It is amazing how much information you are able to access without even going to the conference! So many articles, blogs, tweets, and websites were added! There was a lot of information available.

            I am starting to get the hang of Twitter. It is fun to open up my Twitter page and look for the article I find most interesting. If there is anything I am interested in learning more about, I usually do a hashtag search and find more than enough information! I can see how this will keep me “in the loop” with recent happenings in education. I will continue to use Twitter in my professional life, however, I do not plan to use it for personal use…..because the only friend I have on twitter is my fifteen year old cousin whom is on the verge of cutting me off for cramping her style with all of my educational tweets!

My Twitter Account :