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