Friday, July 17, 2009

My thoughts....

I enjoyed very much this adventure. Some of the "Things" we covered were completely new for me, some other were already familiar. There were some Things that were very challenging, but having a positive attitude, I was able to move forward. I was a little nervous about some things like the Wiki, but once I started, and follow the directions, I found out it wasn't so hard!!!

I think this experience has enriched me as a person and as a teacher, not only because of the new tools we learned about, but also by opening my mind to all the possibilities that are out there on the web 2.0

I definitely want to continue learning, and would love to keep in touch with the 23 Thingsters. And this adventure is never going to end.

Thank you to all the persons involved in creating this online class. And to the facilitators, for all the work you put into this class, I'm sure it required of hours of research and time to put everything together. You've done a great job.

Thing 23. Beyond MySpace: Other Social Networks

I found Classroom 2.0 and Ning more productive as a Social Network for Educators. You can choose your group of interest, or create your own. Through Classroom 2.0 you can access live video events, workshops, or webinars. I also explored the Forum, where you can find useful information about different topics, links, websites, related with web 2.0. Ning has a huge variety of social networks divided by interests, from educators to music lovers to Broadway followers. It has something for everyone.

What I like about these Social Networks, is that you can use them for fun, to learn, to collaborate, to meet people, ... the possibilities are endless.

It was nice to get the 23 Thingsters badge.

Visit 23 Thingsters

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thing 22. Explore Social Networking

I have mixed feelings about Social Networking. I set up an account with Facebook, and it was nice to find a lot of old and current friends, and family. I performed some searches and I found out it is a powerful communication tool. I think that I am going to be able to establish a wider social network after some time. Here is the link to my profile.

I don't see a concrete application on education or in the classroom, other than establishing an educators network, where we could share things and stay in touch. I found a lot of friends who came from Mexico (just like me) and are teachers all over Texas. We all teach Bilingual classes and share similar interests. I am going to be open to some other uses and applications.

Thing 7b. Google Reader visited

I found this posting by LeAnn Morris about How people learn best, I felt connected with her when she mentioned the ideal conditions for learning to happen, like making connections to prior knowledge, giving time to process and reflect, asking questions, giving time to apply and practice and giving reinforcement for success. But in the real world, we are faced with standardized testing which gives us few time to really give the students the time to have a whole learning experience. Are this tests really helping to create life long learners? or just score-driven learners.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thing 21. Google is not just for searching anymore.

I had fun discovering the other "faces" of Google. I took the Picasa online class and I liked it very much. After creating a presentation with Picasa Albums, we were able to upload it to YouTube. Here is the video.

I worked with Google Calendar and it was very nice to see your events organized graphically. This is really going to help as an agenda to record the appointments, meetings, test dates, trainings, schedule lessons, etc.

Google SketchUp was a nice surprise, I thought it could work on a lesson teaching volume and 3d figures, where the students could create and name the figures.

I finally explored Google Book Search, and I liked having the chance to preview books, being able to read them from your phone, buying them, or adding them to your personal virtual library.

Thing 20. Google Docs

It was a very pleasant surprise working with Google Docs. I think it is a great tool that can help to improve productivity. It was much easier than I thought. In the beginning I was a little reluctant to try the Formats, Surveys or Spreadsheets (I still have to explore the Presentations), but after trying, it became very easy to create and edit them.

One of the ideas that I thought about, was to create a Survey for my Class called My favorite things, where each student could enter their favorite color, pet, movie, character, cake, etc., and generating the Spreadsheet and then creating Table and a Graph representing the top favorite of the Class. I know the students will have a lot of fun while learning with a real life example of how to organize data.

Another idea is creating online quizzes, that could work as reviews or as a way to assess the individual understanding of a lesson. The results can be stored in a Spreadsheet, and keep record of the student's scores without having to write one by one.

Thing 19. Voicethread

This is a completely new "thing" for me, and I kind of liked it. I think it is an interesting tool to work with the students in the classroom. It allows everybody, even the shy ones, to express themselves.

I liked the Multimedia Venn Diagram because it was made mainly by students. You can use it with many different topics, since Venn Diagrams are very often used as graphic organizers.

I can think of using Voicethread in the classroom for a Writing lesson, kind of a Writing chain, where every student adds a new sentence and all together create a cool story!!

Thing 18. You too can YouTube

I discovered this great video in YouTube about multiplication tables, created by MisterNumbers, explores how to teach multiplication using number patterns, really easy and fun. Teaching kids the multiplication concept is relatively easy, but having them actually recall the multiplication tables can be a challenge, specially for those kids who struggle with Math.

This is a great way to teach them, without having to go through hours of memorization!

TeacherTube is another wonderful tool for teachers and students! It is amazing discovering all the work that somebody else has already done for teaching the same things that you are trying to teach. And it is great that we can all share this resources.

In 3rd grade we teach a unit in Science about Crayfish, and I found this great video made by LBrandon called I am a Crayfish:

Thing 17. Intro to Podcasting

I previewed the NPR (National Public Radio) Podcast, because I have a personal inclination to Classical Music and Art, and so I spent some time looking for podcasts related to those topics, and I found some really interesting ones.

I also explored the Math Factor Podcast, which is a great website with a huge collection of Math related podcasts and collaborations from their followers. I actually put it on my Reader, because I thought it had some very challenging Math Word Problems that could be very helpful in my classroom.

I had already worked with Audacity doing a Read Aloud project for my class which I am planning on using next year. I also thought about working on an audio Newsletter as a Podcast for those students and parents who have a computer and internet at home, as another way to reach them and stay in touch. The students could participate with their voices on creating more Read Alouds of their favorite books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Thing 16. LibraryThing: Where Books Meet Web 2.0

I enjoyed very much LibraryThing, it was a treat for those who have a considerable collection of books and have a hard time to catalog and classify. I was able to set up an account and play around performing searches, tagging, reading reviews, etc.

Last year I had a hard time organizing the books that were in my classroom, that belonged to the unit itself. I had to look for help to find a way to classify and keep record of it's location. I thought about doing it a database or a spread sheet. Well, LibraryThing is going to make it very easy for me to create the catalog, classify, tag, share, etc. I can make it a classroom activity, to have students think of tags for each book, make them think of the classification for each book, and add them to the collection.

Thing 15. Play in the Wiki Sandbox

Uff!! Finally :-D
I was able to set up my own Wiki. It took me a while to figure out how to make the Table of Contents. I tried different ways until I realized I had not tipped 2 brackets on each side of the code!!! I learned a good lesson: Read instructions and FOLLOW instructions!! Hahaha

After I had the Wiki set up and working, adding the elements was relatively easy, only a little time consuming, you had to get familiar with the Edit menu, and embedding the elements with the Embed Widget button. As I said, it took some time, but I'm glad that it finally worked out.

Here is a link to the Wiki, it is called Learning Together.

Thing 14. What in the world is a Wiki?

In the beginning of this activity I was a little confused about the difference between a Blog and a Wiki. Now I think I know the difference. A blog is like a personal diary, kept and fed by an individual and open, or not to other people's comments. And a Wiki is more like a website made and fed by it's collaborators, who can post, edit, comment, add topics, etc.

From the wikis I investigated, I noticed that there is a huge variety of styles and contents. Some are very organized, have a lot of information, some others are quite new, some others are kind of confusing because they don't seem very organized.

I definitely see myself having a wiki for my class. Sounds very exciting, and I would love to have my students collaborating on it, even though they are third graders, and some of them may not have computers at home. But we could find a way to let them collaborate during school hours.

I liked the Let's Go West! wiki made by third graders, I was very impressed by it's content, structure and graphic organizers. It is a great example of collaborative work.