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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Thing 13. Social Bookmarking and Tagging with Delicious

Being a Bilingual teacher, I am in a constant search (hunt) for Bilingual and Spanish resources. Delicious gives me a great way to search, organize, bookmark and share these resources. I performed some searches with keywords, and found some great websites that you can see here. The interface of Delicious makes it very easy to use and manage your websites, and you can take them with you anywhere you go!

It is also a great way to share this wonderful resources with other Bilingual, ESL or Spanish teachers who are also on the hunt for books, tips, authors, lessons, teaching techniques, etc.

Thing 7a. Google Reader Revisited

Well I found a lot of interesting new postings but I found Search Like an Expert: New Google Search Lessons Unveiled at NECC 2009 by Lucy Gray especially useful. It talks about how being a skillful searcher on the web can be of great help for teachers and students. We can find these lessons on too, and are divided into 3 modules: Understanding Search Engines, Search Techniques and Strategies, and Search Features. Each module is divided into 3 sections.

It is worthwhile to take a look at these lessons because they explain how we can understand and be successful with our searches. You can mix and match the lessons that best suit your needs and they come with a set of slides to guide you and your class with additional help.

The posting comes from Infinite Thinking Machine.

Thing 12. Discoveryng Web 2.0 Tools

Wordle: Classmate qualities

Part 1. I created this word cloud with Wordle, and it was very
I am planning on creating a cooperative learning
in my classroom, so I thought this tool would be
a great way
to create and print posters, describing the traits
of a
cooperative learner.
I think this tool can be very powerful in presenting informa-
tion to support a lesson, because students can relate the
words and colors to a concept.

Thing 11. Online Image Generators

ImageChef Word Mosaic -

It was so much fun exploring these tools and very easy to use. This first one was created with ImageChef. I chose the Word Mosaic generator (It was hard to decide which one to choose from all of the options they have). You only have to choose the symbol, type the text and choose the font and colors. These applications make it very accessible to everybody with a computer to create attractive signs. It can be a very fun way to have students in the classroom create signs or edit images for a given lesson. - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

This was also created with ImageChef. I chose the Candy Hearts generator. You only have to type the text, and choose the font!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Thing 10. Create a Slideshow!

It was a lot of fun working with all those online slide show creators. They are very user friendly and intuitive. They give you endless possibilities to create more attractive and engaging lessons, with all those awesome pictures from Flickr.

Here are the credits for those beautiful pictures:
Honouring Amphibians: Year of the frog by Tim Ellis
Frog by Stellaretriever
Salamander by Paddy B
Marbled Salamander by Cotinis
Red Frog in the Rainforest 2 by Stellaretriever
Toad by TomFlickrPhotos
Big-eyed tree frog by Jormungund
Reed frog by Jorjungund
Axolotl with reflection by Mandy Verburg

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thing 9. Photosharing with Flickr

I enjoyed very much exploring Flickr. I thought about creating a lesson about Amphibians for my 3rd grade students. I found great pictures about amphibians on Flickr. One would think that there are very few amphibians, but if you only think of the huge varieties of frogs that exist, that gives you a more accurate idea of the richness of nature.

I wasn't able to upload the image from my blog, so I tried doing it from Flickr and it worked. Under the Share option, you can choose Share to my Blog.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thing 8. Creative Commons

Creative commons is a gold mine of electronic media. I was amazed by the amount of resources available for creators. I am into the Graphic Design and Multimedia, and being able to use clip art, pictures, videos, music, lessons, is very motivating.

We are living an era where the visual factor is more important than ever. With the help of technology, we are able to become developers. And Creative commons makes it easier and safer to use resources to enrich our media. Weather if you want to create lessons, websites, electronic newsletters, blogs, etc., you have to think of your viewer, your receptor, you want to give them a visually attractive product, dynamic and fun. Of course you also have to take care of what you want to say, because you don't want to create something hollow. That is, we want to take care of WHAT we want to communicate, as well as HOW we want to communicate it.

Thing 7. Creating community through commenting

Commenting on blogs has NOT been an easy challenge.
1. First you have to read the original posting, and try to understand the point that the blogger tried to make.
2. Then you have to think on what is your own opinion on that particular topic.
3. Then you have to think if you agree or disagree, and how you can express it in a constructive way.
4. You also have to think if you can contribute with something new or different.
5. Finally, try to write as clear and concise as possible, so that any reader can understand it.

I am sure we will get better on this with time and practice.

On the other hand, having followers and readers is very rewarding, because it makes you feel that you are not alone in the cyberspace! :-)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thing 6. Feed your Reader

Sharing items or articles of common interest is great. This really changes the way we navigate on the internet. I found this very interesting article called New Reading. New Writing. which talks about how e-books will change the way we read. I will say, not only e-books, but any electronic reading material. We can stay in touch, get notified when something has been added or shared on our favorite blogs or websites, bookmark, highlight, etc.

This article also talks about this bookmarking tool called Diigo, which I found very interesting, watch the demo video if you can. This program allows you to bookmark, highlight, share or annotate. Just like if you were reading a real book!

This and other programs are powerful tools that make it easier to handle the huge amount of information available on the web. And as we add blogs to our Reader, we sure can take advantage of this tools to make it easier to find and share information.