Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Catch-up

While "catching-up" (does that EVER happen in technology) on reading, I found an email with a link to the Edublog Awards 2008 - time to vote. Well, each of the many categories has wonderful and thought-provoking ideas, truths, perceptions, possibilities... Oh, my head is swimming with ideas and possibilities. This is not too many cups of coffee speaking... Oh, how I wish I could work with these folks - well, I guess I can by reading and not being afraid of educational change and trying to implement some of these ideas. What a great time to be a teacher! Although there are many out there afraid of change and the work it requires, I find it exciting that change from the 1900 type classroom allows for many students to be engaged in learning and even excited about learning. A community of learners also includes the teachers who can facilitate learning and be taught by students in some areas. Saw several ideas that make me think, "We should do this at our school."

To begin this adventure in reading go to the Edublog Awards 2008 and click on the links to read and begin some "catch-up."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Megaconference Jr. 2009

We are thrilled to be presenting at Megaconference Jr. 2009! Ms. Throckmorton's 4th graders at Rural Hall and Ms. Thompson-Richards' 8th graders at Kennedy Learning Center are collaborating on a social studies project, "History Mystery: North Carolina." The students are researching, posting work, editing, and then presenting on the topics: Blackbeard, the "Lost Colony", and the wild horses on the outer banks. Watch their presentation along with many others at Megaconference Jr. on February 19, 2009. Our presentation is at 11 AM. Megaconference Jr. is live from 7 AM to 7 PM. Our collaborations are posted on our school wiki; click on Megaconference Jr. 2009.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Inexpensive IVC

Free videoconferencing? How do you do that?

In 2005 we won a Polycom PVX in a drawing for prizes among Megaconference Jr. participants. I played around with it and it seemed to be quite similar, although much better software, than a computer webcam. In 2006 we won a Polycom Communicator in a similar drawing for Megaconference Jr. This was set-up on my laptop to give me a Skype telephone since I didn't have a direct line in my classroom which is very helpful during videoconferencing.

Reading ED1VIDCONF listserv one day last fall I found a request for elementary TV news videoconferencing. What a great idea! Our big Polycom IVC equipment was installed on a large TV which is NOT movable, so I tried the Polycom PVX with the Polycom Communicator and it worked quite well. The school in New Jersey was very helpful and we exchanged broadcasts, with our school in-house news program going live to their school and the next day their broadcast was enjoyed by our school. We learned several new ideas for presenting our live program. What I found most interesting was the variety of set-ups possible to connect and use this equipment. As usual, I continue to learn so much from working with students.

We hope to do participate in this project again this year as we look for valuable learning experiences for our 21st century students.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Class - Fun!


Excited and enthusiastic! I haven't seen our teachers so excited over technology in a while. We have 12 teachers in a workshop via videoconference with NCSSM. It is two afternoons a week (3:3-5:30 + homework). They are excited and having fun learning new skills and feeling technology literate! Just like our students, we need to keep learning new things/skills; besides keeping us updated, it continues to remind us how puzzling, confusing, and frustrating students can feel when approaching new material. It keeps us honest as we work with students understanding a new concept. Having that error and stress free environment of working together as a team is working really great. We have a good teacher in Durham and are making progress. Although we are a loud bunch, we just mute our microphone as we chat and work together. We have posted several new class blogs on our school website. You should check them out and follow along as they continue.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

eSchool News Article - "10 Ways to Boost Learning with Technology"

This article by Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor of eSchool News, is must reading for teachers, technology leaders, and communities who are serious about student learning for the 21st century. Saw this in an email (you can sign-up for email updates on eSchool News) and immediately was hooked. Being an elementary teacher and instructional technologist, I appreciate the list of specific tasks. Some of these tasks we have control over and we should spread the word to all who will listen. Being engaged in this conversation is vital to our students success in this changing world. If we can't adapt to changes in our instruction, how are we going to teach students to adapt to their ever changing world?

Thankfully we are well on our way to pursuing these steps in our county schools. We have good access to computers and internet sources in our schools. Teachers have ample staff development opportunities, we use home-school coordinators in schools and use email, websites, online services, and others for communication with students and parents. Our school system is on it's way with online staff development and is receptive to outside sources for staff development. They are open to new ideas and we find we are only hampered by web filters, at times, and that is adjustable. As teachers of students under 18, we must protect while instructing, so web-filtering is not only the law, but necessary. Our school has been using interactive videoconferencing for the past six years and we have found student engagement high during these conferences. This type of hands-on learning appeals to many different types of learners and is quite successful in retention of information. Our state museums send us boxes of artifacts and items our students use for the programs and we return the artifacts and items after the program's conclusion. I could go on and on about this as I feel it offers another very interesting way to engage students in learning, but that is not the topic here. So...

These 10 steps come from SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association). This is a plan called, "Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education" which includes white papers, a Student Bill of Rights, and these 10 recommendations. You should read the entire article (just a little over 3 pages).

The 10 steps are:
"1. Ensure that technology tools & resources are used continuously & seamlessly for instruction, collaboration, & assessment.
2. Expose all students (preK - 12th grade) to STEM fields & careers.
3. Make ongoing, sustainable professional development available to all teachers.
4. Use virtual learning opportunities for teachers to further their professional development, such as through online communities & educational portals.
5. Incorporate innovative, consistent, & timely assessments into daily instruction.
6. Strengthen the home-school connection by using technology to communicate with parents on student progress.
7. Provide the necessary resources so that every community has the infrastructure to support learning with technology, including assessments & virtual learning.
8. Obtain societal support for education that uses technology from all stakeholders--students, parents, teachers, state & district administrators, business leaders, legislators, & local community members.
9. Provide federal leadership to support states & districts regarding technology's role in school reform by passing the ATTAIN Act.
10. Increase available funding for the e-Rate so that schools can acquire telecommunication services, internet access, internal connections, & maintenance of those connections."

I admit that I familiar with the ATTAIN Act, so my next step is to find out more about it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Guerrilla Learning

This website is another great source of explaining and using web 2.0 tools. The videos are good and help users understand how they work and why they are useful tools. Let's face it, there are people who are afraid of or don't want to learn about or see the need for technology tools. Why should I take the time to learn something new when I already have a method that works for me? That's a good question. But it is possible that you may find good uses for these new tools. Do you like to learn new things? I do. It's like a puzzle or mystery. Something to figure out. Just as there are many modes of learning, there are many different types of learners. The visual is helpful for many, as is making connections, which web tools are great at doing! Anyway, give it a try. I plan on using it with the staff when we have our wiki class.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jing

Have you tried Jing? It's located at Jing Project . It captures and shares images and video and posts to a website for others to see. With all the emails we receive asking "how to do something" this is a quick way to share without making the handout and printing, or attaching as email and sending. Looks like it would cut down the steps of sharing and repeating as others ask the same questions. Nice! Watch their short video.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

eSchoolNews Article: Prepare kids for exams or life?

This article poses a question that is often mentioned by teachers at all levels - teaching to prepare students for required testing. This is often a complaint by teachers that teaching for a test is boring and doesn't necessarily educate students, but prepares students to take tests well, which doesn't necessarily translate to problem solving in life.

The Students at Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC) in Sydney, Australia, are in a study that allows students to use cell phones, the internet, & even "call a friend" to help them with test questions. The teacher/researcher in charge of the study says that "purely memory-based assessment is increasingly irrelevant in the modern world." She believes that it's better to measure the student's ability to locate or find information and interpret the information than to just memorize it.

This is worth reading and I'm curious as to the findings for the study, but hope that there is some longitudinal follow-up on these students in 5-10 or even 15 years.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Quest Atlantis Begins Today

This year we have two teams of Questers in 5th grade. Ms. Pearman's and Ms. C. Parker's students in QA stay on Monday afternoons and Ms. Scott's and Ms. Bowen's students in QA stay on Tuesday afternoons. We began with a trial of 3 weeks at the end of last year with eight students; four in 4th grade and four in 5th grade. The fifth graders moved on to middle school. Our now 5th graders "spread the word" and we have 34 excited students in QA.

You can learn more about Quest Atlantis. The Questers begin.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Digital Citizenship

Have you seen the article in T.H.E. Journal about digital citizenship? It's worth reading. This is a good discussion of "what, why, and how." This article mentions the website Digizen.org, which is "owned and operated by London-based nonprofit Childnet International. Our staff will be reviewing Mike Ribble and Gerald Bailey's ISTE publication, Digital Citizenship in Schools this spring in staff meetings. Of course, like anything else we teach in school, if we don't set the example, we are automatically harming students by our observable mis-use. Students still need to see value in digital citizenship and understand it is a choice of an informed, polite, and mature society to place our personal usage secondary in some situations.

The article continues on with a summary of the 9 steps in the Ribble and Bailey book.
1. Etiquette
2. Communication
3. Litracy
4. Access
5. Commerce
6. Law
7. Rights and Responsibilities
8. Health & Wellness
9. Security
You can purchase the book at ISTE's website store.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Quest Atlantis - MUVE

Last year our school system offered training for Quest Atlantis teachers. We had a small group of students the last month of school. The students loved it and so did I. This year we have a larger group of students in an after school QA club. We hope to begin soon.

Just last week eSchool News reported student increases in math and reading using QA. The Fall 2008 edition of JRTE (Journal of Research on Technology in Education) arrived this week and one of the reviewed articles was "A MUVE Toward PBL Writing: Effects of a Digital Learning Environment Designed To Improve Elementary Student Writing." (MUVE is multi-user virtual environment) If you are familiar with Second Life, this is a similar environment designed especially for 4-5 graders and 6-8 graders. The students in elementary (4-5) are in a different world than the students in grades 6-8. The students use their avatars to complete quests on different curriculum topics. There are over 500 quests. Teachers assign or offer selection of quests. There are different worlds in QA, focusing on different areas. But the best part is QA is just plain fun! ASU uses a similar environment in their grad program in technology, called AppEdTech. Interesting way to learn for adults, too!

After reviewing different types of computer games (drill and practice, digital games & simulations, off the shelf games, and curriculum-driven games), the authors begin discussing their MUVE, Anytown, in Quest Atlantis. The use of PBL (problem based learning)in Anytown is well planned and presented.

There is anticipation that our students will enjoy these activities and surprise themselves at how much they are learning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Have you checked-out Instructify?

LearnNC has a great website and a blog called Instructify. This particular link has a list of the 10 essentials for students (and teachers who may not know about them! :-).

Friday, August 15, 2008

New School Year - Beginning with a Bang!


August 14, 2008 - the Tech Facilitators from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County met for an all day meeting to hear changes and preview new systems we will use this year. The meeting began with an introduction of David Warlick speaking on the Flat Classroom. You can find his handouts and learn many of his widely shared techniques on his webpages. One of the new things I learned was "Knitter" on his site. It acts like Twitter, but brings all of the comments together on a wiki so you get the messages and thoughts from many on the same stream of communication like a chat room.

He broached 3 converging conditions: (1) preparing children for a future we don't know, (2) networked students, and (3) new information landscape. It is true that schools do seem to have the 19th century set-up and that seems to confer acceptance and "comfortableness" (is that a word?) to parents as it is a situation they understand and have experiences with themselves. But it is not the world we now live in. Students are wired - they do have mp3 players, use chat rooms, cell phones, text messages, make movies and videos - then come to the standard classroom and find the learning teacher oriented. Our students have mastered many of the devices themselves - self-learners and with others, cooperative learners - as they adapt to these new technologies. THese are some of the skills they will need for their future. We do not know what jobs and technologies they will need or use in their careers as many have not been developed yet. Taking David Warlick's look at schools and Howard Gardner's book Five Minds for the Future, you know that changes need to be made in traditional schooling.

David talked about personal learning systems, using RSS feeds to have the information you are interested in come to you automatically, Twitter to have instant feedback from friends who have similar interests, Technorati and netvibes. He demonstrated using these to bring a narrow quick search for teachers to present info to students. I have to admit that I can use some of these efficiently and others need to refine to make their possibilities easily fit my needs. I guess instruction sometimes means PRACTICE!

The ethics question was a topic and covered well by Marlo Gaddis in a discussion of the book Digital Citizenship.

The technology team has done a fantastic job updating our resources to help us do our jobs at our individual schools. Thanks to all!

The most important connection, to me personally, was David Warlick's overall message of concrete ways to use technologies to reach our students in today's world and Howard Gardner's book Five Minds for the Future as a goal for students developing into learners for the future. I feel these two are hand in hand for our children's future and give a basic strategy or guide for making positive changes to help our students prepare for their adult life as learners, adapters, and thinkers as they create new technologies, systems, in disciplined, respectful, and ethical ways.

I first heard David Warlick in 1998 or 1999 in an 079 (tech facilitator) summer class at NC State. His first book was our text and I've heard him in conferences around the state since. He is a great speaker/teacher/learner and always has something new to share.

I love learning something new and this day was a jump-start for the school year!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ning

Ning - This website allows you to create your own social networking group. There is a great Ning in Education group. These groups give you more than the email part of yahoogroups by having so many other features. It also seems to have members from many different countries, widening the contacts and information/sharing possibilities. Hooray!

Just created a Videoconferencing in Education ning group. Join us!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer - Technology - What's next?

Summer - time to reflect again. What worked well, what didn't, what's new that will work in your classroom? How can we improve our teaching using technology? What can we do at our school to improve technology use for students and teachers? Can we develop some grade level plans and projects that will help with specific goals? What is the best way to improve classroom tasks as you move to the computer lab to complete? What technology goals do you have for your classroom? What kinds of technology goals do you think we need at our school? Do you have any videoconferencing needs? Are there subjects in science or math that need attention? We can look for additional sources or new classes. Mull it over and let me know your ideas and suggestions. Thanks!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Digital Citizenship

Is this a new buzz word in the ed tech community or the real deal?

Our tech meetings always give us much information - information that takes time to comprehend and understand the consequences - today at our meeting we received a copy of Digital Citizenship in Schools. Interesting ISTE book. This fits into an empty area and appears to be a much needed resource for filling this gap in teaching and learning. With newly created technology a daily event, changing the lives of students, teachers, parents, families, communities, we must approach an ethical way to use this exciting technology in positive ways to benefit the world community. Section 1 asks some important questions, gives a definition of digital citizenship, and then lists 9 elements that explain and expand the idea. Using technology engages students and requires that we think in ways other than the routine 19th century classroom that is so familiar and "comfortable" to adults. The comfort zone of knowing what to expect is tempting, but may not be the best way to learn or to reach students.

More as the book is digested.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Technology Facilitators

Looking into the state legislative website, NC House Bill 156 passed the house on the first reading in 2007, and was sent to the appropriations committee. Unfortunately, it stopped there. It is still written for 2008, so maybe it will be revived automatically and have a chance this year. This bill will put one technology facilitator in place for every 2,500 students, with one at the administrative unit. My elementary school has approximately 675 students. That would be one tech fac for every 3-6 elementary schools. This is a start.

The difficulty in understanding the need is the tremendous variety of uses and applications in this area. In some schools, the full time tech fac helps the staff and students by working one-on-one; being the first line of problem solving before calling the "help desk"; sets up new computers and other technology equipment; packs-up and sends in computer and technology equipment for repair; prepares workshops for the staff; works with the administrative technology staff in solving computer problems; stays updated by attending monthly meetings with the administrative technology staff; joins listservs and tech groups to continually update knowledge and ideas; spends own money to attend workshops and conferences; searches for new sources for curriculum deployment using technology to engage students; applies for grants to gain new technology or training; maintains communications with the parents, students, staff, and extended world community by emails; sends photos to local newspapers to inform community of school events; maintains listserv for school families; writes articles for professional journals; cooperates with state agencies; works with staff on software programs; discovering answers for problems and sharing; spreadsheet report cards; school webmaster; daily, live in-house TV production produced and presented by a team of students; school blogs; school wiki; audio and video podcasts; and more.

In my school, I have the added pleasure of scheduling interactive videoconfernces for each classroom teacher, establishing relationships with partner schools for class to class projects and world projects. What does this mean?

Can you imagine your child having the opportunity to visit the state museums in NC several times a year? Normally it costs over $2000 for a grade level of students to drive to Raleigh on buses for a day's tour (we are about 100 miles away). Add in the cost of fuel, lunch, and lost teaching time on the bus, and you have an annual outing. Now, consider walking down the hall to a classroom (1-3 minutes walking time) and instantly connecting to the NC Museum of History, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC Wildlife Resources Distance Learning, and NC School of Science and Math. You have free instruction from the state's historians, science, math, and wildlife experts. These expert instructors send boxes of materials for students to explore, manipulate, discover, discuss with grouped students, ask, and teach their fellow classmates in an interactive discussion. This is powerful learning! -- Now, go back to class in 1-3 minutes and you have no wasted class time spent on riding a bus or using fuel down the highway. This can be done monthly instead of annually! Have you chatted with a child who got to hold, explore, and discuss dinosaur bones and scat? Exciting!

Engaged students - is that what we want? After almost six years of facilitating videoconferences (15 years of elementary classroom teaching and 5 years teaching a K-5 computer lab) I find students actively involved in activities, discussions, and thinking during and after videoconfernces with a little follow-up. Students who may have difficulties paying attention are attentive and focused on the lesson activities. These skilled expert teachers use a variety of short activities geared to age levels, invoke skilled techniques, extending vocabulary to students, who leave the experience with a heightened sense of learning and accomplishment. Success does breed success.

Any good classroom teacher has his/her students write about a field trip upon return to school. This allows the teacher to generate discussion of what occurred, with students giving details of the event. This basic activity allows the student to build the connections in the brain and make sense of this new knowledge. You can do this too, with a videoconference. Having the students discuss, then write about what they learned can be written on paper, blogged to share with their class, school, community, extended family members, etc.

We have completed projects on a state level with 4th graders, classroom to classroom projects, state to state projects, and national and international projects where our students meet face to face with others and share learning (topics, curriculum, experiences). This is powerful learning. This year a class of 4th graders worked with a class in Pennsylvania and Spain to study the drought in the southeast U.S. and it's effects such as flooding. They used a wiki and the culminating experience in Megaconference Jr. This is 21st century learning.

Our county, Forsyth, has fiber connections in schools and by July 1 we will have 100mb connections in all of our county schools. The infracture is there; the possibilities of expert teachers and activities are present, too with our great school staff and the wonderful instructors at state institutions. Combining these time and fuel savings would be a good way to spend educational dollars for our children. One of my basic premises in education has always been "Is is good enough for my child?" If not, then it must improve because everyone's child deserves the best educational opportunities. As a parent and tax payer, I want the best for our children. As an adult I want practical applications for results. When I look at these YouTube and TeacherTube video's, I realize that without the best for our students we are seriously challenging our potential futures. We must prepare our students to live and work in the 21st century, using collaborative tools and interaction among groups as they develop learning strategies and skills for success.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Updates for May 13

SP3
Please do NOT update desktops or teacher laptops to SP3 (service pack 3) until notified by the school system. This update may try to start automatically and if so, you should say "NO" -- this update may cause problems with our wsfcs software and services; they will test this software and let us know when it is safe to use on our computers. THANKS!

Technology Facilitators - 077 or 079
There is a legislative item for the state budget that would place a tech fac in each school. This is needed by our continued use of technology in 21st century learning. You can write an email to the Forsyth Legislative Delegation recommending this position. Currently this position is paid for with local funds or school funds, which are threatened each year. Many states use this position to help students and staff advance in technology uses and meet the new standards for technology learning, NETS. These goals are changing from learning "skills" to "application" in students and staff ability to collaborate across time and space with web 2.0 tools and, for us at Rural Hall, videoconferencing (H.323 technology).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Internet vs. Computer Use

Remember that all students have permission to use a computer at school, as it is part of the SCOS. Because the computer is part of the SCOS, students may not be kept from using a computer. They must have parent permission to go on Internet, the dark purple form in the cumulative folder.

Also be aware that websites we use at school are FILTERED. If students have access to these same sites at home, they may or may not be filtered, depending on parent choices for Internet. This is an important topic that schools and parents should be clear about. A recent article in ISTE's Learning and Leading with Technology (Volume 35, Number 7, p. 26) discusses this subject and gives 4 steps to prevent a problem.
1. parent-education program about Internet safety and content filtering
2. see that teachers understand that web sources inside wsfcs are filtered and these same sites may NOT be filtered at home or in other locations (hence, use NetTrekker at school and home instead of google for elementary students)
3. use district supported web 2.0 resources (google docs and pb wiki and blogger are on this list)
4. stay alert to news and changing resources - stay updated

Instructify

Learn NC has a new website that not only has access for teachers, but offers collaboration through social networking. The website is called Instrucitfy.
There are flash cards, too. The social networking is so helpful in allowing teachers from different schools, regions, states, countries to share ideas.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

May 7 Update

Lots of information to share from 2 months of meetings. Please read and let me know if you have questions.

Virus Scan
If you see a broken line or symbol on your blue virus scan icon on the bottom right of your taskbar, you need to "alt, control, delete" and choose task manager. Click on the processes tab at the top, if you see "authenicat" then you are OK and your web filtering is working. If you do NOT see "authenicat" under the processes running list, then you need to log off the computer and logon again.

Student Information
AUP - the grape colored paper is for the cum folders and goes at the very back - these are only sent once, with new students to wsfcs and for kindergartners. We need to encourage all parents/guardians to approve use of internet. I'm happy to talk with parents and explain what we do. Even if this is denied, the students is NOT off the computer, but only internet. Computer skills are part of the state mandated SCOS, so must be taught.

IMPACT study
This can be accessed on the ncwiseowl website. All schools can use this model and it is highly recommended by DPI.

Technology Plan
We are asked to think about where we should be in five years. This is a very difficult topic as many of the software, hardware issues for five years from now are not yet here. Think about how we can change our thinking, teaching, and skills to keep our students interested while teaching SCOS and relevant topics. This conversation should be ongoing. Please post comments or email me any suggestions or ideas.

NetTrekker
I will offer this at school next year if you haven't had it. We should NOT use google with students. NetTrekker is screened by teachers and is on target with elementary curriculum.

Shared Folder
If you want to have access to your student's work, get them to save a copy to the "student shared" folder on their desktop. Inside there is a folder for each teacher. Go inside the teacher folder to save. This way you can check, print, or grade and resave to this folder. You can pull up a student's work and "track the changes" by editing or correcting and then resaving. It saves time and is fairly easy. I'm happy to show you how.

WIKI
Be sure to check the YouTube and TeacherTube movies on the school wiki. The "how-to's" are excellent. The one about using excel for a poster is easy to follow and makes a nice product. An example poster is on the computer lab door, "Museum of History Mocassins to Motorcars."

Grade Level
Next year it would be great to meet with each grade level to see what you want for technology staff development here at Rural Hall School. We can develop projects and set-up access to the WIKI and class blogs for students to share work. The new NETS standards require students to "use" 21st century skills to collaborate, not just use an excel ss or word document or powerpoint presentation. We can put our heads together and come up with some easy strategies to help you do this with your students. The new teacher NETS standards will be unveiled this summer at NECC. They are tough, so we can look at how we want to work on these, too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Updates - April 7

We have a new podcast space for saving student and teacher made podcasts. This is on the K drive. It is NOT backed-up every night like the H drive. I will put folders there with teachers names upon request. If you are interested in learning about podcasts, check out the Technology Department website for classes. If you want me to come to your classroom to make a podcast of your students, just schedule a date with me for that. Remember, we can do podcasts up to about 20 minutes and video podcasts under 10 minutes (about 5-8 minutes works well). I use an ipod, digital video camera, and a mac G5 for editing and uploading the podcasts.

If you are interested in easy access to your student's work, get them to save it to the student shared folder. Inside that folder there is a folder with each teacher's name. The students can save there and then you can open and edit, grade, print, or save to your HD. The students have an icon on their desktop that says "Student Saved Folder." You have an icon on your (staff) desktop that says "Staff Shared Folder." The student shared folder is inside that one. A few teachers have been using this for a couple of years and find it easy to use. If you find your folder gets full, let me know and we may be able to switch around the memory levels.

Besides the wonderful possibilities of Google Documents, there are many other applications. The best way to start is to get a free google email account. At school we use blogger.com for our blog images. The google login is the same for all of these, so the one gmail account opens a lot of possibilities. There is a calendar (that can be shared), Google Earth, and I love iGoogle! I also use Google alerts. It sends me an email with a link to anything on the web that I tag as my Google alert. You can have more than one alert and tailor make them for you. With grown sons and one being a journalist, I get emails of stories, college soccer games, and other interesting trivia. There are Google: groups, talk, translate (translates webpages or sentences into a choice of languages), toolbar, video, desktop, pack, maps, mobile, and many more.

If you want access to a data projector for your classroom, ask Ms. White, Ms. Hicks, Ms. Clauss, Ms. Farmer, or Ms. Garcia. They have carts that can be used. There is also the student laptop cart in the library that can be checked-out. It is easy to use. Most schools have waiting lists for using this cart.

Another way to bring your classroom into the 21st century is using the school wiki. I've set up project pages for 4th and 5th grade and will add other grade levels upon request. This is another easy way for students to share work (beside google documents) and it doesn't require an email. If you are working on a curriculum topic and want to share your class work with another class, let me know and we can tailor make your wiki page. The wiki allows students and teachers to edit work and share at the same time. We can set up a grade level project or a school to school project. We can set up some simple after bus workshops for credit and help you create exactly what you need. Let me know if you want me to meet with your grade level and we can plan for 4th quarter or next year.

WSFCS BLOG
This keeps you updated with wsfcs - read it, bookmark it! :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Interactive Videoconferencing - IVC

Interactive videoconferencing is a fantastic way for students to learn from experts in our state institutions (NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC Museum of History, NC Wildlife Resources DL, NCSSM). Next week the NC Distance Learning Association is meeting in New Bern for it's annual conference. The new slate of officers will be announced along with the winners of the NCDLA awards. After two years of being the K-12 representative for NCDLA, I must say I've enjoyed the experience and learned so much from these folks. North Carolina has so many talented, energetic, and hard working people in distance learning who share their talents and share with new people.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Traveling to Concord for the NCaect is an adventure. Even the drive back and forth is educational if you car-pool. Finding new freinds who are talented, excited about their work, and bring enthusiasm to their students and staff is a shot of joy and adrenaline to be your best. Riding with April Patterson was informative, fun, and her school is lucky to have her as the instructional technologist.

Then you arrive for the conference of folks who have similar goals, desires for doing their best for students and staff, and experts to share knowledge, along with co-workers who have special activities, and experiences to share. Teachers need this boost in learning and enthusiasm; conferences inspire and make you look to why you are doing the job.

Of course, it looks like "time off" but teachers know better, there is still that work to come back to and catch-up on. But now it's done with a different attitude and outlook. The newest buzz is on wiki's. I looked at wiki's a year or so ago, but didn't see how it would be used at school, so just let it rest there awhile. Then, last fall we applied to present at Megaconference Jr., and when we were accepted, the connection just made such sense. We tried the wiki to collaborate with our partners at Vann School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Catalonia, Spain. That project, on the drought in the southeast, was completed and presented on February 21, 2008. Now, we're going to try some grade level simple postings/projects. There's also a simple way for students to share books on the Books We Love page. We'll just give it a try and see what works and doesn't. Suggestions or experiences are always welcome!

Had a great conversation with Ellen Mulhern at the last conference session today. It was a moodle class and she had the fantastic idea of using it to put some basic computer directions or workshops online.

March 14, 2008

Student Laptop Cart and Elmo

We have added five more laptops to the student cart and an elmo and data projector! The 24 student laptops are ready to go. One laptop was used to set up the data projector and elmo. Just check them out from the library. Let me know if you need help and I'll be happy to help you set-up the afternoon before.

The student check-out laptops will begin with fifth grade soon. I have most ready to go and as soon as they are scanned into the check-out system, we will begin our "trial" of checking-out for fifth grade. The plan is to begin with one class. The laptops will go home and then be returned in one week, just like books. There will be a turn-around time before they can be checked out again as they will need to be "checked" before sending home again. If this works well, then we will add fourth grade. I don't imagine we will get to third grade this year. This is a 3-5 project.

March 11, 2008

School wiki and WSFCS wiki

Visit the new WSFCS wiki! It is located at: http://imagineit.pbwiki.com/
There are a LOT of great ideas and links there. Check it out!

Have you visited the Rural Hall School wiki? There is a link from the front page of Rural Hall SchoolCenter. It is http://ruralhallschool.pbwiki.com/
We used it for collaborating with our partners in Megaconference Jr. as we researched the drought.

Check out the changes wiki - there are locked pages and pages that students can edit/add information. One for all K-5 students is the "Books We Love!" page. It allows students to add a short statement about a book, fiction or non-fiction. Students should only add their first name, along with the author and title. There is a link on all pages that students can edit that gives advice on editing and using a wiki. If you allow your students to use these pages in class, please go over this "advice" page with them.

There are also two new project pages for fourth and fifth graders. Project pages can be added for all grade levels or projects, just let me know.

I do change the password for student or contributor access, which is called an "access key" on the wiki. The access key for our wiki is currently "rhes."

Laptops at Home

You may want to try these at home on your school laptop or desktop. They are all free. They also offer versions that you can purchase. Copy and paste the web address into your browser address line.

Avast - http://avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html (for pc)
Click on download on the left. You must meet the conditions of home users and non-commercial use to get the free edition. This one will set up and run automatically in the background. There is also a mac edition.
http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/networking_security/avastantivirusmacedition.html (for mac)


Spybot - http://www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html
Be careful with this one. There are other programs out with slightly different names. These actually may put spyware on your computer and then you purchase their program to clean your machine. You must run this one; it is not automatic.

CCleaner - http://www.ccleaner.com/download
Scroll down and click on "Download from FileHippo.com (in the same box as the paypal donate). On the right, click on download latest version. If you take all of the defaults, you will install yahoo toolbar, so you may want to uncheck that box when it appears. You must run this one; it is not automatic.

January 2008

Handouts on Shared Folder

There are handouts with pictures on the Teacher Shared folder on your desktop. Look inside for a folder called "Linda's Handouts." There are handouts on how to install Spybot, how to save to a memory stick, how to complete your excel report cards, and many others.
January 2008

Changes - SSO

After our SSO changes were installed, our computers refreshed, you may find that software and programs are in different places. You can download a word document from the staff shared folder that shows how to access standard programs if there are no icons on the desktop. You will also see how to refresh your SSO printers and answer that important question, Who Am I? This computer number is important to make any computer or printer changes.
December 19, 2007

School Center

As we navigate to SchoolCenter (from Learning Village and FrontPage) for our school system and teacher webpages, we are scheduling "team" times in the computer lab on Tuesdays from 2:30-3:30 PM. We will continue to do this as long as needed. Come to the lab and work on your new webpage and ask and share with others. The dates are:
Tuesday, September 25
Tuesday, October 2
Tuesday, October 16
Tuesday, October 23
Tuesday, October 30
Unfortunately, we can't offer credit, but we can learn and help each other.

Our next scheduled workshop from Angela and Colleen at the district level is on November 19 an 20 during your planning time in the computer lab. You must attend both of these days to receive .1 credit in technology.

September 19, 2007

Orchard at Our School

Orchard Gold is set-up much like AR/STAR as far as getting students into the program and assigning them to classes. When new students come to our school I automatically add them to these three programs and to your class. With Orchard, you can go in and set up groups of students; you don't have to have all students doing the same activities/goals at the same levels. If you choose to do this, you probably should call them teacherlastname1, teacherlastname2, teacherlastname3, etc. The reports are great with Orchard. You have time on task reports, test scores, scores from specific objectives/goals in reading, math, and writing, and of course you can print reports to send home to parents. To learn more and practice working out strategies in a group, come to one of these workshops in the computer lab:
Monday, September 10 from 2:45-3:45
Tuesday, September 18 from 2:45-3:45
Tuesday, October 9 from 2:45-3:45
Be sure to sign the attendance sheet and sign-up online if you want .1 unit of computer credit.

September 5, 2007

Videoconferencing - IVC

Monday and Tuesday were spent attending the IVC workshop at NCSSM in Durham, NC. These two days offered time with experts in NC and around the US in interactive videoconferencing. There were people on the technical side from the state ITS and from NCSSM who guided new users through set-up. There were discussions of e-rate funds. Many successful programs were highlighted and Chris Hall's programs in Gaston County were amazing. The videoconference sessions to other sites were informative, humorous (Grossology LIVE), and interesting (Cleveland Art Museum). I found several new contacts for Rural Hall School and also new program providers for our students. One contact read a blog from a workshop contributor from Michigan, Janine Lim. He is now heading IVC in a school district in Texas and is originally from Winston-Salem, so he emailed to set-up some contacts with our students. What a great experience via Michigan! Another great contact is Donna Farren from Rochester, NY, who also is the district IVC technologist. These contacts give our students possible connections in curriculum content sharing this year. What a great way to show you have learned content material than sharing it with another class in another state. We are looking forward to a fantastic year in DL at Rural Hall School.

August 8, 2007

Summer Reflections

Summer is a great time to reflect on what worked well in your classroom, what worked OK, but needs work or adjustments, what didn't work, and what you just didn't get to, but would love to try.

Personally, I would love to see more blogging in classrooms at my school. The teachers who have blogged enjoy it and the parents and students love it. Just trying to find the logistics of working it into the day without having to schedule a trip to the computer lab is a big step forward. One suggestion is to have the teacher create the blog and the teacher can login and have students bring their editted work to the computer to type in the work. After typing, the student notifies the teacher to proof-read or has another student proof-read. Only the teacher can "publish post." If there is a concern for the computer "timing-out", simply instruct the students to click "save now" instead. The teacher can look at the drafts and publish and post when ready. For elementary students, I suggest not allowing comments or hiding the comments. Because some students do not have internet access at home, the teacher can print-out the blog and send it home to parents.

Another suggestion we have used at our school is to have the school technologist create a folder with the teacher's name in the shared folder on the school server. Rights are given so the students can drop items into their teacher's folder. I have used this technique with teachers when their students send email, but it would also work with blogging posts. The teacher has the students use classroom computers or lab computers and save the email (letter) or blog post into this folder. The students save the document as their name (example: JohnSmith.doc, JohnSmith2.doc, SusanFields3.doc). The teacher can open the folder and then send the documents as attachments or open and copy into email to send. I frequently help teachers with this process. We have sent email to England every two weeks using this process and also adding posts to blogs.

We have also used www.epals.com successfully for classes at school. There are many other sites that do student email. For young students I like to have teacher control access to email such as using the teacher name such as smithstudent1, smithstudent2, smithstudent3, etc. When the teacher sets up these student logins, she/he can also put in the passwords and make them similar, also, such as mascot1, mascot2, or room206, or smith1, etc. Keeping the passwords known only to the teacher helps student safety by only using email when it is checked by the teacher. When email is received, the students can print it out, write their reply on the bottom and exchange with a buddy to check before logging in to send. Or use the above technique of having the teacher send and receive from her/his email.

More to come on another day.

June 25, 2007