Friday, June 18, 2010

All good classes must come to an end!

Today was the last day of my first class on my journey through the Instructional Technology program. The entire week was filled with great people and tons of great new technologies. Our final project included incorporating all the different technologies we have learned throughout the week. These technologies included Glogster, Google sites, Google doc, Jing, iMovie, Skype, Garage Band, and so much more. My team used lots of these technologies to create a lesson for second graders about community jobs. We focused on having the students make a Glogster. If you haven't heard or used Glogster it is definitely worth checking out!! I had never used Glogster until we started our final project, but it is definitely something I will be using in my classroom next year. For our small unit on community jobs we had the students use different types of medias to learn more about the different kinds of jobs in a community using an RWLD. Then the students picked the job they wanted to have when they got older. With the job they chose they would create a Glogster with 4 different facts, 2 pictures, and an optional video. If you would like to see the lesson in more detail please check out the website we used! Even if you can't use our community lesson I would recommend you find a different way to use a Glogster in your classroom.

Resources for using Glogster:

Here is a video on how to use Glogster Edu-
Here is an article about using Glogster in education: Glogster Launches Education Development Program
Here are some written directions on how to use Glogster-

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mac = Frustrating

I was never a Macintosh user growing up. When I got my first teaching job I had to learn how to use a Mac because that was the only type of computer in the entire school. It was frustrating to learn how to operate a new computer system. When I moved to a new school I was back in my comfort zone, a Mac free zone that is! I know some people love their Mac's, and they do have some good qualities, but they aren't for me. Today we had to create a video using iMovies and the process was exhausting and I found myself frustrated with a Mac all over again. Not only were were working with a new program, but also a system we weren't familiar with. Fortunately I remembered a few things from using the Mac last year. It's crazy how two pieces of technology that do essentially the same thing can be so different. Look at this site to see which is best for you. It comes down to your needs and which type of computer meets that need. For those of us in this class that aren't Mac users, well we will just have to get tough and suck it up! Here are a list of sites to help us get through iMovie.

This site gives you a basic visual of how to get started with iMovie:

At this site you will find a more detailed description of how to use iMovie, add pictures/videos, and edit your work:

Here is a video you can watch on how to get started with iMovie 9:

Picture courtesy of

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Top Secret!!!

I love taking field trips in school and our field trip was very cool today! We had the chance to go out to the Cedar Falls Industrial Park and take a look around a very top secret place. What makes this place so top secret you ask????? It is full of servers from several companies whether that company is important or not. Some of the servers were main servers for a compnay and some were just back-ups for a company. Another cool part about where the servers are kept is that if there as a fire that fire could be put out in a matter of seconds by a chemical that sucks out the air. As we toured the building it was amazing to see how many fans they need, the number of generators ready to start if there is a problem, and the amount of electricity they use to keep everything running. I believe our tour guide told us that they use 30% of Cedar Falls electricity! This would be a great building to think about using solar energy. What a great day!

Picture from

I learned today that I am supposed to be blogging after each class this week. Sorry faithful readers that I forgot to blog yesterday! Yesterday was very interesting as we looked at Second Life. At first I thought Second Life was pretty cool. I created my character and set forth going from island to island. As we kept exploring Second Life I got a little bored. I'm not a big video game person and Second Life reminds me of a video game. It was also a bit frustrating that I couldn't change my second life character the way I wanted to and the islands weren't loading up very quickly. I would say the coolest part about Second Life was when I went to Hallucination Island where I got to experience what it was like to be a schizophrenic. The "voices" in my head never stopped and you can truly appreciate all that a schizophrenic has to deal with. We also learned that this is not a program to be used with kids under 18. As a teacher of 2nd graders I was a little annoyed that we spent 4 hours playing with it! However, Sara from our class had some amazing alternatives for Second Life that we can use with younger kids. Check out the other alternatives on her blog at Sara's Sighs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rockin' Robin Tweedle-lee-dee-dee-dee, tweedle-lee-dee-dee

Today was my first day on campus for one of my classes and it was awesome. I thought I knew how to use a lot of different tools but today's activities took me to a whole new level. We looked at Twitter/TweetDeck, Diigo, Jing, and, iGoogle, and Google Docs. I'm not sure if I'm sold on the whole idea of tweeting yet, but it has proven to be useful today in class. We downloaded TweetDeck which allowed us to organize and group our tweets. Through TweetDeck I've been able to see all my classmates comments during and after class. For a project we are working on creating surveys for the class to fill out and sending them through Twitter. I think the coolest TweetDeck experience of the day was when we skyped with Vicki Davis author of the blog Cool Cat Teacher. While we were talking to her we were able to tweet questions/comments to her for her to respond to. This teacher does amazing things with her students and having the chance to speak with her and ask her questions was incredible and I encourage you to check out her blog up above. So how will I be using Twitter you ask? I think it will be used for educational purposes only on a needs basis. I follow Superman (Tom Welling) and even he doesn't use it 24/7...too busy saving the world I guess.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Will computers ever replace teachers???

My brother always tries to tell me that someday there will be a time where a lot of teachers won't be needed because computers will take over. I personally think there will always be a need for teachers, but then again I don't want to lose my job:) Awhile back when I was at home visiting my parents I read an interesting article in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier about a new performance based diploma academy for students that are "digital" learners. This academy is literally taking away the teacher and replacing him/her with a computer program that teaches them the concepts digitally and allows them to work at their own pace. Of course there is one teacher supervising the group of kids but it makes you wonder, can computers replace teachers? The program targets those that are failing or on the verge of dropping out of school as another alternative for getting the education needed. While this concept is a great idea I feel that those who study hard in school to get good grades and are also digital learners are being left out of this opportunity. Both Waterloo high schools have had a huge success rate with this program, but the only downfall is that students aren't getting the writing and science lab requirements needed through the program.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

All the possibilites......

As I read Web 2.0 for my class I can't help but think of new ideas to try in my classroom next year. Being a forgetful person I've recorded them all throughout the book:) I don't know about you but I love to read about new ideas/techniques to try in my classroom. At the previous school I taught at I was very fortunate to be able to attend multiple conferences and loved it!!! Each conference I attended gave me something to try in my classroom. One of the problems I run into during my reading block is finding the time to get to all of the small groups the way I want to. Sometimes I might only have time to see a group once during the week. As I read the section about Wiki's and have been using them myself for the first time I thought why not use this for my small groups??? I could pose the questions I would like them to answer on the Wiki and while I'm working with a different group that group can be taking their turn answering the questions. We would be working on comprehension, grammar, and the quality of their sentences. I could just print off their answers and we could have a quick discussion about their answers. One of my classmates had another great idea using blogs to encourage reading over the summer. On Schaa Spills Ink's blog she talked about how one of her colleagues wanted to find a fun way to get students to continue reading over the summer so that their isn't such a gap when they start school again. She decided to set up a blog for students to talk about what they are reading during the summer. They tried it in school and the kids loved it, what a great idea!