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Hi to all the 2013 PLN members.
 
I am currently teaching at Timboon P-12, a school not far from the picturesque Great Ocean Road. This year I have made the move to Grade 3 after over 10 years in the Grade 1-2 area. Not only have I made the move to another part of the school but the technology I thought I was so familiar with has suddenly become new and a bit daunting.
 
As far as my experience with web 2.0, it is very limited. However I currently run a grade 3 blog with my colleague, Erin McSween. Although she did all the initial setting up I am learning to contribute to the site. I have also gained experience and enhanced my teaching by participating in school based PLT’s on ipads, IWB and the Ultranet. I use other resources like pinterest and online websites.  As I’m writing this I’m feeling out of my depth and lagging behind in the world of technology. As not only is it moving at a fast pace but my equipment is getting out-dated by the minute.
My goal for this course is to become more familiar with the necessary tools and knowledge to confidently provide a learning environment for my students in the world of ICT.
I am looking forward to sharing and learning about ICT, from others in all areas of education both at my door step and around the country. So let the learning begin…

Unit 7: The Future of Learning

Adding COOLTEXT to your blog

The following link gives you a step by step guide of how to attach COOLTEXT to your blog for that extra Bling!! Unfortunately the instructions are in reverse, so scroll to the bottom and work your way up. (not sure how to change this) I used Skitch and Evernote to create the instructions. Have fun and ….

BLING up your blogs!!

http://www.evernote.com/shard/s314/sh/a7e9ed59-cb97-474a-994f-984943d7dc88/3ed8645ec93541bf7ba896ddf6aeed2e

I have completed my reflection of the PLN course with the use of storybird. What a wonderful tool. I have introduced this to my students and they love it, one student has written 55 stories and they have all submitted an assignment through this tool. The other day every student was creating a story on storybird using either an ipad, netbook or desktop computer, how versatile. Click the link below to read my reflection;

http://storybird.com/books/my-pln-journey-7/?token=v7kna9jeqn&utm_source=storybird&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share-book

Thanks again to Cameron, Kelly and the rest of the team behind a wonderful course. I have really learnt a lot, that I can now use in the classroom. Thankyou for the ongoing support and to the other PLN participants for sharing your knowledge and journey.With out hesitation I would highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to stay in tune with the current ICT tools.

Unit 6 – Changing practice in a digital environment

Changing practice in a digital world

Technology has given me access, at a click of a button, to anywhere in the world. Before I was restricted to knowledge gained from other colleagues, local PD’s, and friends in the same profession. Now I can sit in the comfort of my own home (and not spend the time travelling to places) and gain ideas from other professionals from around the world, learn the latest ideas and techniques and step inside other classrooms through the use of visual media. That is why I joined the PLN group to not only gain support through my journey of understanding these new tools but to develop a professional community, of which my teaching will grow.

As a grade 3 teacher and with the school’s introduction of the BYOD program, I’m feeling that I have to take full advantage of the new technologies (ipads), by understanding their place, value and support they provide in the educational world. I, like many others used to think computers were for transferring information (creating a document) rather than to transform the learning (by using educational apps). I do however feel that I’m in a catch 22 with the introduction of the BYOD program, only having 7 students out of 26 with a devise and 2 school ipads for my grade, limited technical support (technicians work part-time for a P-12 full of technology) and even classrooms not equipped to support the new technology (power points), and parents down my throat about purchasing a devise their kids don’t use all the time, and then having teachers (like me) trying to find the time to become more fluent in the digital world. I feel like everything is rushed just so we can say we use technology in our classrooms.

The world of technology has opened so many doors, allowing us to see and do so much more. With gaining that larger and sometimes immediate audience students need to mindful of their etiquette. I believe as both a responsible and professional digital citizen, we need to equip and support the students, so they have the tools and understanding to correctly use social sites.

 

My chosen 5 characteristics of an effective learner;

Creativity – finding the digital tool or application to express yourself and your skills, in the best possible way.

 Understanding – to be fluent in the digital language and use of various technological devices (ipads, netbooks, desktops etc)

Flexible – if a device or learning outcome isn’t working, try another way.

Organised – use the tools available to organise your personal and professional lives.

Collaborate – be part of other learning communities locally and globally. Share your ideas and learn from others.

 

Technology in the future

The future of technology, I believe is only limited by our imaginations. How we will use this technology in our curriculum is both daunting and exciting. Like many schools and communities we need to catch up on what we already have available and use these tools to their full potential. I still believe that there is a place in our lives and education to still have the skills I learnt at school. A recent example of this is when Warrnambool’s Telstra Exchange burnt down last November, it was like the world stopped for many who rely so heavily on today’s technology.

Unit 5 – Refine the web

Search engines;

I chose the topic Celebrations around the World for kids as this is one of the topic we are covering this year in the curriculum. I added the for kids part so they were friendly readable sites to gather information. I then began using the various search engines Google, Bing, Duckduckgo and Instagrok. I really like the additions to Google, as I then fine-tuned my search to sites in Australia and the reading level to basic. Bing had similar selections to enhance your search but I’m not as familiar with these or the navigation of Bing. The first search I did came up with some great websites but when I narrowed it to Australian sites it only had photos of New Year’s Eve celebrations or article from papers. I found Duckduckgo a very basic search engine visually, where the space on the sides could be filled with more information.  It came up with sites similar to Bing and Google. I did however like the icons next to the websites, like if it was educational it had an apple. Instagrok was a very different way of searching for information with its concept maps relating to your topic. Although I was initially excited about this search engine and how the students can easily see a photo, clip or information, I would feel students (as I did) would not pay much attention to the left hand side of the screen and navigate their way through the information. I also clicked on a clip and was very appalled by the content and its relationship to celebrations (not one for kid’s ears).

As a professional and educator I think it’s important to always enhance the learning of the students and to keep them in touch with the ever changing world of technology. With this in mind I would teach the students the various search engines available but I can see like me that Google will be the go to search engine. I think my next step with my grade would be to enhance their navigation skills of Google, so they are using it to its full potential.

Evaluating a website;

Continuing with my web search on Celebrations around the world, I decided to use factmonster.com as my site to evaluate. I used Kathy Schrock’s 5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation to assess its credibility.

1 Who –   The site is stated as Part of Family Education Network.   They have a contact page for feedback or any questions relating to the site.

2 What – The site provides content, resources and shopping for parents, teachers and students. Family Education Network says that it is aiming to be the best leaning and information site. At the bottom of each page is other links to similar topics within the Fact Monster site.

3 When – From 2000-2013 Pearson Education is publishing as Fact Monster. The site is always updating to stay in-tune with educational needs and information.

4 Where – the site indicated in its Terms of Service that neither “Family Education Network nor any third-party provider of information guarantees the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any content”. By that statement and the content of what I’ve read it comes from facts gathered from other sources and its users. It has a long list of educational and business sponsors as well as opportunities for others to advertise on the site.

5 Why – The site is easy to navigate and find information relating to the different celebrations around the world. I found the language it used to be suitable for my students and visually appealing to them. Even though it stated information may be incorrect at times I would feel comfortable for students to use it as I would know there was no offensive or inappropriate content.

I have added a Tag Cloud, which was easy. I have seen and used these on others sites, they are quite handy. But with the badges below, that was a different story……..

Unit 4 – Assessing the value of tools

Reading between the lines

I chose the online service of Edmodo, as I am both new to it and am using it as part of the PLN course. I would also like to explore it further by introducing my grade to it. I located and read Edmodo’s Terms of Service, which to my amazement was very easy to follow. It put me at ease and I immediately trusted them and their product. It used phrases like “This is a contract, right? Yep – you’ve done your homework! When it came to writing the legal jargon, Edmodo was apologetic about it saying “This contract seems like it needs some more legal-sounding stuff in it. You’re absolutely right. Don’t space out, this stuff is important”. After the legal stuff, which I skimmed over, it ended with “Whew”, and that’s exactly how I was feeling!! It seemed like the whole time you were having a conversation with Edmodo management.

In the Terms of Service, it also allows users to delete their account and if you delete it by mistake you can contact them straight away and they may be able to reactivate it. They also stipulated that they have the power to terminate your account if the content is not binding with the terms of condition. This may come with a warning so you can save your content or if it is seen as damaging to a third party they will delete it without warning. They have clear instructions on how to delete your account.

Also it stipulates that if you are a teacher who wants to connect their students to Edmodo for a learning tool and the students are under the age of 13, then you will need parental permission. Overall I was impressed by the simplicity and how it connects with the user as well as including the essential legal jargon in the contract. After reading The Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, it reinforced that Edmodo is a trustworthy educational tool that I would feel confident in recommending to others.

Storybird  

The tool that I chose to explore was Storybird. After selecting the teachers menu (which was the only one that was free), I then proceeded to browse the wonderful options this tool has to offer. The first page had three parts, how to create stories, feedback from other users and the following 5 reasons to use and like storybird in the classroom.

Inspirational

The gorgeous illustrations inspire students to write. The more they write, the more they read. It’s an addictive, virtuous cycle.

Simple

Making Storybirds is easy. Students focus on writing as a result, not clicking. Teachers, in turn, can focus on teaching.

Social

Students can share and comment on each other’s work, bolstering confidence and skill, within a private and safe environment.

Shareable

Stories can be embedded on blogs, shared via email, downloaded, printed, gifted—even turned into a class fundraiser.

It. Just. Works.

Storybird exudes care and craftsmanship, from the art to the interface. Everything works so that your work is everything.

Sold, I was instantly taking in by their great marketing of this tool. I then created an account which required an email and user name and then logged in, (which was easily completed by following the step by step instructions) created a class list  (so students can individual complete stories at their own pace) and if I wanted an assignment for them. But not yet, I wanted to create my own story with these breathe-taking illustrations and to explore some already created stories. Storybird.com fits in with the Modification part of SAMR assessment model. As it has changed the way a story can be created by using the illustrations as a starting point and then the story can be viewed by the teacher and/or students, printed out for parents or published for sale to relatives.

I read through the long winded but easy to read Terms of Service and Privacy Policy and found it to be a safe and secure site protected by passwords.

The site highlighted its flexibility and use by P-12 school students, writers, parents and businesses.  I would definitely use this no matter what grade I’m teaching in, as there are so many illustrations to choose from and I believe they are always getting new artists and drawing frequently. I can’t wait to start using it in the grade.

http://storybird.com/books/tug8pzz76r/edit/

Unit 3 – Facebook and Twitter

When I hear someone say ‘Facebook or Twitter’ I immediately associate it with the celebrity world, where we find out what they had for breakfast or who has the most followings. I created a Facebook account in 2009 or should I say a friend helped me so I only know how to look at messages and accept friends. As distance and time became a factor in my life I use Facebook as a way of keeping up to date with what is happening with my family and friends.

I had not used Twitter before but do know of others who find it handy to follow updates in their profession. No, I’m talking about Kim Kardashian twitting “Bye Houston, love u”, as she boards a plane. I have created an account and many of my colleagues have given me great education professionals to follow. I have even had one twitter follower say she is there if I need any help in using twitter. Thanks @megsamanda

At the moment I’m still new at Twitter and Facebook, where I’m still navigating my way around. I’ve never really liked the thought of Facebook from a personal side as I don’t like giving personal information out because I’m not sure on the security and who can see it and how the information can be used. I’m also not a fan of telling everybody my business where I went, what I ate or who I went with etc.

After exploring Facebook and Twitter, thanks to the help of the step by step instructions I can see a great value in these tools as a way of keeping in contact or being part of an online community. I have also recently become addicted to Pinterest which has enabled me to become part of other professional communities globally where we share ideas and resources.

I never really thought of Facebook and Twitter as professional tools, just ones used by celebrities. I’m sitting on the fence about whether to use these tools in schools as I am not fully aware of their capacity and place in the school environment. After reading Will Richardson’s blog post about the dangers of not teaching Facebook, it got me thinking about the P-12 school I work in and how already it has caused students’ embarrassment, even to the point of relocating schools, even when it is blocked!! Do we need to teach students Facebook etiquette or are we opening up a can of worms!! By teaching it we will then have it unblocked and with the growing number of personal computers as part of the schools BYOD program can we monitor it? We already have incidents where students are using KIK to text their parents or other students during class time. I’m not sure if students would see it as a learning tool, maybe edmodo could be introduced to use as a resource and extend their learning instead.

My current school communicates to parents by having a blog/website timboonp12.vic.edu.au/. Teachers can add celebrations or reminders or even attach their own blog.  I am very happy with the security of blogs.

So for the moment I will continue to explore and use Facebook and Twitter and its online communities to enhance my professional learning.

My Twitter handle is @NatashaKrueger

Unit 2 – Organise information

I finally have finished unit 2 of the course. It’s taken me all day. Ok I have gone off track a few times as I explore these great new tools. It’s the first day of the holidays and I’m spending it on the computer, but it has been an overwhelming first term at school and not a minute was spare. I have viewed all clips, completed each task and explored the new programs. But my biggest fear is that I will forget it all tomorrow. Or as the pressure returns next term I will just go back to what I already do, which is a disaster after looking at these tools. I thought I was pretty organised with folders (with pretty labels) on my bookshelf, labelled folders on my computer, the filing cabinet full of ideas, a favourites list that I also copied onto a word document each year (so as I updated any new sites if my computer somehow crashed) and my year level also has folders on the school network where we plan and share any ideas. So as you can see I have folders everywhere paper and electronically!! This year I was introduced to Pinterest and just love the organisation of the boards and the fantastic ideas that I have already used in my class. With a new year level this year I have found myself looking for new ideas and strangely enough I have a bookshelf full but keep reaching for the computer or phone to find them. I did however buy a book to use for literacy and had previously bought these in the other year levels that I taught and nearly fell over when the price had gone from $40 to over $100. So its back to the websites!

As I become more efficient in using these tools I will introduce them to the class. I have heard some great things happening with older year levels with Evernote and how it can be a great tool to present and save tasks for assessment. Even the completing and viewing can be done outside hours and the school gate. No more lugging of books home to do reports or the dog ate my homework excuse.

Digital technologies have changed dramatically on how we communicate and organize ourselves in and out of the classroom. It’s important that teachers learn these skills so students can be taught them and use these tools to their full potential. The only problem is not only finding the time to keep up with the changing tools but also the expense of purchasing the technology to run them.

Here is my link to my Evernote post https://www.evernote.com/shard/s314/sh/81db7abe-09c6-4d22-94f3-a6b81660b1b2/e186b97502ec7cb6c1d9413a9edcc3fb