I am a Kindergarten teacher and a second year TLITE student. I am interested in how involving students in regular communication between School and Home will increase their interest, engagement and academic achievement at school.
In the fall I had one of my Diverse Learners use Clicker 5 (with an SEA) to build a daily page for his Home and School communication book. The project was successful, but plagued by technological limitations. Most of them being of a financial nature. (old or dying printer, limited access to computers that have the program or the ability to print etc.) I would like to work further on this with Clicker 5 or perhaps a similar program, but have no budget to purchase new programs.
I’m wondering if anyone has used Clicker 5, Boardmaker or a similar program to have young students make Home and School communication book entries. I would appreciate any thoughts, ideas or suggestions that you may have on the subject.
By Debbie Mitchell, Maple Ridge
A while back I was asked to write this blog post for the TLITE blog about my experiences leading a class of grade 9 students through a Global Collaborative Project called the Digiteen Project. This post has been bouncing around in my head for a while and in the process has taken a slightly different trajectory than I had originally intended. The reason is that while this project was definitely worthwhile for my students I think that the process of facilitating the project was even more worthwhile for me. In particular it exposed me to new web 2.0 tools in safe and supported environment and it jump started my Personal Learning Network to an entirely new level.
Being involved in the Digiteen project gave me insight into what classroom 2.0 looks like. I could not have gotten this insight without being involved in the nitty gritty of this project and finding solutions to the frustrations and stresses that emerged. The Digiteen project forced me to stop being a passive consumer of content and to start participating in the conversation and that has been a powerful shift not only in what I am learning but in how I am learning. As David Warlick recently wrote:
Retooling our classrooms into rich and dynamic learning environments will not be something that you can learn how to do in a workshop. It’s something that will happen through continued creativity, conversations, sharing, experimenting, reporting, and more conversations.
In my opinion taking the plunge and participating in a Global Collaborative Project is one of the best ways I can think of to truly understand the way that web 2.0 tools are transforming the learning opportunities available to us and our students. In this post my goal is to give ‘legs’ to this assertion by describing the different opportunities and transformative moments that occured for me during the Digiteen project.
My participation in this project started when I registered with the Flat Classroom Ning. I had recently read Thomas Friedman’s book and was interested in seeing what this project was all about. Almost immediately I received a message from Julie Lindsay asking if I was interested in the Digiteen project. I couldn’t believe it. I was getting a message from someone that was profiled in The World is Flat! Of course I jumped at the chance. I didn’t hear from Julie for a little while about the project and one day I was playing around with Twitter (which I really didn’t understand) and I noticed that I could direct message Vicki Davis, the co-founder of the Digiteen project, so I did. And she answered almost immediately wondering whether I was interested in helping to edit their Code of Conduct Google Doc. I use Google Docs in my classroom but this was the first time I actually had a chance to use it as a collaboration tool with people from all over the world.
This was my first introduction to the amazing community of educators that are exploring the possibilities of teaching with web 2.0 tools. I realised that all I needed in order to get involved was enthusiasm for this kind of learning and a willingness to try new things.
Trying to get all my students registered on the Ning and Wiki
I felt like I had this all under control. After all I already belonged to a few Nings and had even started my own Ning (with me as the only member). I had also been using Wikispaces for a while so felt comfortable with the way it worked. What I hadn’t counted on were the countless difficulties inherent in trying to register an entire class of students for these services. Not only did I have to figure out how to make linked gmail addresses for all my students so that I could register them, but then I had to figure out how to keep track of all the invites arriving in my mailbox and then I had to get each student to register their unique name and password. Then I had to try and hold it together when they would come to me the next day to tell me they had forgotten their password. This took a while and it was messy but by the time the dust settled I certainly understood these applications on a whole different level.
Throughout this process all the teachers involved in this project communicated almost exclusively through our Google Group. I was really impressed with this simple tool that allowed many threaded conversations to take place in an asynchronous way. I wasn’t the only teacher struggling to get everyone online and we all tried to help each other through this Group.
First Elluminate Meeting
I was quite concerned about this one. The first challenge was to figure out what time it was in BC so that I could be online for a meeting that happened at EST (which I hoped was eastern standard time). I eventually became quite adept at using timezoneconverter.com to quickly figure out if I could make the meeting. I did my due diligence and tested out Elluminate before the meeting. In fact I couldn’t make the first meeting so listened to a recording instead (a great feature of Elluminate). When the time came for my first real synchronous online meeting I logged in and sure enough there were other people there, but when I was asked to speak no one could hear me! Turns out I had to configure my mic and the other teachers guided me through this procedure using the chat feature built into Elluminate. Once everything was working I had to figure out this thing called a ‘back channel chat’, that has become a staple of the web 2.0 world. Trying to listen to the conversation going on, follow the chat and click on the links being offered ALL AT THE SAME TIME was mind boggling, but it got easier with practice.
I had known of Elluminate for a while. I had even visited their table at a conference and collected their materials a few years back, but I had never actually used it. Being introduced to it by teachers that use it every day and with a reason and purpose was much more educational and meaningful than if I had just been playing around with it.
First attempt at reasoning in a Chat Room and starting a Discussion Thread
I have already blogged about this experience so for the full version of these events read my Digi Teen Stories post. The short version is that shortly after getting my students on this Ning I came across some inappropriate chat in the chat room. My first reaction was to delete the chat but then the teacher in me decided I had stumbled across a teachable moment, so I joined the chat. Trying to convey complex reasoning and arguments in a chat room environment was incredibly frustrating and really illustrated for me the limitations of this particular form of communication. I eventually resorted to starting a discussion thread on the topic of Digital Etiquette and was amazed at the quality and quantity of thoughtful replies I recieved. It was really my first ever meaningful online discussion.
I could go on and on and on about the different experiences both I and my students had on the Ning. I think the point is that by really engaging in a Social Network with my students I started to understand both the power and pitfalls of these spaces and how they could be used in education. Some of the thinking inspired by these experiences can be found in my blog posts on: Obama, Social Networking, and Digiteen and Digiteen Experiences in the Nearly Now.
First Blog Post commented on by people from around the world
Finally, by taking the plunge and committing to this project I was having experiences that I felt like writing about. I had started a blog a few months before but hadn’t felt very motivated to write anything. After all the blogosphere was already full of people writing about everything I was interested in. When Vicki Davis asked me to write a blog post about my Digiteen experiences I realised that I actually did have something to contribute. The really neat part was that by being a part of a Global Collaborative Project I already had a small network of colleagues that read my post and wrote thoughtful comments on it, which motivated me to keep on writing.
I think that the lesson here is that if you can build up a small network of peers interested in the same stuff before you blog then you start with a small audience already, and if you know that a few people are actually reading what you write you are much more motivated to continue.
I plan on staying involved with the Digiteen project for the long haul. I think it has really great potential as a model for how we can really teach our students about Digital Citizenship. There will be a new project starting in April, feel free to contact me through this blog if you are interested in participating.
I am starting my second Field Study project in T Lite. This term I am focussing on blogging. I am curious about the impact that a classroom blog has on student writing. I hope the wider audience that the blog offers will encourage my students to put more effort into their writing and motivate the more reluctant writers in my class to share their ideas.
I have read many interesting articles on the subject. These are two I particularly enjoyed…
Kajder, Sara and Bull, Glen Scaffolding for Struggling Students: Reading and Writing with Blogs
(This article lists 10 instructional activities that involve blogs that have been implemented by classroom teachers.)
Does anyone have a classroom blog? Any advice? Suggestions?
Hello my name is Betty McLeod from Albion Elementary. I am working with two classes of Kindergarten students. Last term, the students used the digital camera in our puppet center. This was a very successful literacy center in the classroom. Besides the children’s improvement in their early story-telling skills, I was able to share their work during classroom time and receive peer input for ways to improve their skills from a Kindergarten’s perspective.
Now, I am getting ready for my second term. I am very fortunate to have access to 11 laptops for this term. My plan is to improve the children’s numeracy skills by using digital cameras and comic life. We will take pictures of objects with their accompanying numbers, download them into comic life with our Big Buddy’s help and thus create a number book using technology.
Are there other ways to use technology in the Kindergarten classroom? I’m interested in hearing further ideas to improve the Kindergarten curriculum using technology.
I have a student who attends school infrequently and has a family history of moving when the school tries to ‘encourage attendance.’ I feel that this grade 2 year is a very important year for him as he still enjoys coming to school, even though he is well below grade level expectations. He is working at a Kindergarten level in Language Arts.
My field study is based on working to encourage maximum participation and learning when he is in attendance. The following is my question:
How will the use of a variety of technologies assist a student’s learning of the basic reading and writing skills?
I would appreciate any suggestions on this topic.
I am a grade five teacher who will be lucky enough to have a student teacher from January to March.
I have three students in my class who have learning problems and I would like to use technology to help focus on their reading and writing skills. I will be able to have some individual time with these students and want to set up a program that uses technology to aid in writing and improve their reading.
My students have all had an opportunity to work on the Destination Reading Site and enjoyed being able to listen to stories and then answer comprehension questions. I hope to be able to give the students an opportunity to hear stories on Tumblebooks.
I am wondering if anyone else knows of other sites that focus on reading or writing. Free sites would be the best but as one of my students is ministry identified I may be able to get some funding if there is a good resource out there.
I just had an AHA moment of using blogs for Drama to post my favourite monologs, scripts, plays and news for students (such as writing contests to enter, etc.) I always try to see ways I would use certain technological tools in a classroom. However, I find there is a tendency to want to use computers just because they are there and/or we think it’ll be more fun. When getting overloaded with so many digital technologies and online networking I have to also remember that I have my own interests and passions. So using blogs for this information, that is, the things that interest me beyond the technology, can be a great way of connecting information so that teachers and students share their learning; or, as in Cindy’s blog, share what they are reading. What a great way for English teachers/learners of all grade levels to connect their ideas.
Note from the editor: You can read Tania’s blogs at http://tlite-tania.blogspot.com/.
Hi, my name is Cindy and I am a second year TLITE student who has become a “blog junkie”. I love blogging and have two blog sites.
I started out blogging when I took a Knowschools on-line class on personal learning environments (PLE’s). BJ, the instructor, was encouraging. The first blog post I wrote was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I wrote something that anyone in the entire world could read and that was terrifying! I wasn’t exactly hooked on blogging – too scary! What if I sounded like an idiot?! Who was to know I would become a junkie!
I read other people’s blogs and from them I learned how to pick a template based on multiple factors that would appeal to me and my potential readers, I learned about RSS feeds/readers and how to install Feedburner. I added a cluster map which I love because it shows me where some of the people who have visited my blog came from. I’ve also learned the importance of an “About” page, not post, and how to write one. I struggled with a “voice”, a direction for my blog, and I found it by accident when I read my fav blogger’s about page. I am still learning how to improve my writing for an on-line audience. I tend to use humour and hope it comes across that way on-line. I am now experimenting with what journalists call a deck in hopes of snagging visitors to read my posts.
Learning to do all this tech stuff has been FRUSTRATING beyond belief at times. It took me at least three days to figure out how to add links for a blog roll into the sidebar! I waited three months to find out how to add Feedburner. It is so easy; it’s embarrassing to admit I did not know how to do this!
The craziest thing about blogging – the part that is addicting – is the comments from others and seeing who has been visiting my blog. For me, the challenge of constantly improving my blog, my writing and learning nifty little tricks like adding names/words that will be picked up by Google search engines has been even more addicting. The toughest thing is to write in a manner that encourages comments. I strive constantly to make my blog like the best of those whose blogs I read. I now have 2 readers through Feedburner; my fav blog has 1248 readers! Do I have a ways to go!
Note from the editor: You can check out Cindy’s blog at http://blogjunkie.edublogs.org/. Her second site, is linked to her blogjunkie site.
Watch for our first guest blogger’s post coming next week. Cindy is a second year TLITE student who now refers to herself as a blogjunkie. You’ll learn why as she shares her adventures riding this learning curve.
Cindy is teacher librarian who creatively uses one of her blogs to provide readers with wonderful introductions to books. You can follow Cindy’s book bin blog at http://thebookbin.edublogs.org/. Check back here for her upcoming blog coming next week.
If you would like to be a guest contributer to this blog, please contact Betty.
I’m so very impressed by the work being carried out in the TLITE community and would like to see it highlighted for a much wider audience. To that end, I will use this blog space to feature the stories, successes and challenges with the hope of eventually moving the top posts to the SFU website for increased visibility and circulation.
If you are a current or former TLITE student and would be interested in submitting a blog post about the work you are doing and/or how using technology has changed your teaching please send your post to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Then come back here often to read about the work that your colleagues are doing in the field.