Sunday, July 8, 2012

4.3 Reflection: Social & Professional Networks

Social Media, it is around the majority of us every single day whether it is Facebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, etc. people see and use it in their daily lives.I have both social media for my personal and professional life as a teacher. I find that using social media in conjunction with my student and parent population I am able to communicate more with them because of the daily use of social media by a 21st century society.

There are definitely drawbacks to using social media both for myself and my students & parents which by no means is a deal breaker for it's use as a communication tool. I, as I'm sure they, sometimes find myself diverging from the task and "browsing" the internet or the social media page itself. I do believe that self realization of the task does occur and we all complete the tasks we started. As I write this blog itself I am sidetracked with the Facebook notifications as they pop up for my Facebook page that is opened in one of my tabs. I find myself reading the notification then switching back to finish writing.

I try to guide my students to use social media and all internet sites as part of their learning process. This is one of the main understandings in my classroom as I have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy and we use mobile devices constantly for learning. Using social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am able to communicate and students are able to communicate freely in a 24/7 environment. I additionally embed the feeds/posts into my website for students to follow if they do not have any of these social media accounts. It is because of my use of technology in the classroom that has students wanting to be in my classroom. This forward thinking using what they know as fun as a learning tool has them actively involved learning about new ways to use their mobile devices.

Moving forward I think that having students incorporate Twitter into their learning process by posting topic information or websites using hashtags (#) will add to how they use social media. As I have moved over the course of the past year to a Google presence in my classroom and the use of Google +, Blogger, etc I'm interested in how that will now become the platform of preference. I do not see myself eliminating Facebook as it connects with students and parents but see more of Google + being utilized as my social media of choice.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

3.3 Reflection: Using Web 2.0 Tools

This reflection is based on how I would use a WEB 2.0 tool in the classroom with students and the process that it would be used in and how it relates to the HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) of Bloom's Taxonomy. This reflection has actually been difficult for me as I use many WEB 2.0 tools in the classroom daily with students. These tools are second nature in the process of learning within the four walls of my classroom. 

As I reflected on the past year and activities that students undertook using mobile devices and WEB 2.0 tools I think of a web quest that was QR Scan based. Students were given a handout with QR barcodes for activities that hand them analyzing documents (primary sources), maps, watching video clips and gathering information from websites. The ability for students to work collaboratively in groups for this project was extremely helpful for the handful of students who did not have a mobile device. Students would also use their own laptops, iPads and the classroom iPads (we have 2 in the class) to process their results.

Depending on the device students would create podcasts, iMovies, Prezis, Google Presentations or Thinking Maps using Bubbl.US all students were able to engage in the activity with their individual learning modality. Students would compose blog responses, perform skits that would be recorded (iMovie) or evaluate maps as part of understanding a historic event. These are just some of the tasks they would complete in their processing and understanding of curriculum.

A WEB 2.0 tool that stands out for immediate use as students enter the classroom is Google Voice. Google Voice allows students to text messages to the teacher without having the teacher's personal cell number. Teachers set up a phone number through Google Voice, teachers can even select their number based on a word or series of letters. As students enter the classroom a trivia question or warm up activity is waiting for them on the board. Students text their response during the beginning class activities as they enter and prepare for the class. Though not every student has a cell phone they can borrow and add their name to their response for holding each student accountable. Students are able to text messages/questions throughout the class as necessary. This keeps them on task but able to send the teacher their question to be answered. As the teacher facilitates the class activity they are able to monitor questions and join groups as needed or address the whole group as necessary. Google Voice is great for the shy students, the student afraid to ask a question or the student that asks a lot of questions and needs to be focused.

Google Voice doesn't lend itself to showcasing a student's work but students using Spreaker an online podcasting platform that has apps for Droid and iPhone will allow students to create an end product. Spreaker allows students to create a radio talk show to showcase their learning. I see this in my US History class as a way for students to do biographies of the important figures from history; like Paul Revere, Thomas Jefferson, Sam Houston, Eli Whitney and a host of other key figures. Students would use their Mobile Devices to research, write and then produce their podcast using the Spreaker app or going to the Spreaker website. 

Some students may wish to take this to a different avenue and instead of creating a podcast (radio show) and film a Dr. Phil style show. This opens up new areas as students create characters, backgrounds, and role play explaining the importance of the individual for the biography. Students video tape their Dr. Phil show and edit on the iPad uploading their published copy to a site like Vimeo. The activity described will take a series of class periods before the final copy is published. This is only just a piece of what can happen in classes and has happened in my class in the past.

Google and Google +: A Teacher's Cloud Helper

Google +, this is my newest success story for my classroom in the realm of WEB 2.0 and its ability to make life as a teacher easier. Google + is a social network very similar to the more popular Facebook. Google + however is, in my opinion, a super tool for classroom teachers. In order to understand Google + you first must realize that Google + is more than just a social network but one piece to an intricate puzzle that Google has woven together and continues to mend new improvements into it.

The foundation of Google + is what is known as your Circles. Circles is the term used for the categories of relationships a person might have in their lives. In my case, I have family, personal friends, colleagues, technology networks, education networks, students (broken down by class) and parents (broken down by class) all groups of people that I interact with and wish to share information about my life. I however do not want to share my personal life with business or students/parents. I also do not want to share with my family and friends newsletters or homework that I send out to my students and parents. This is where the Circles come into play, I decide based on the information who I wish to send it to, similar to an email distribution list but with the perk that it’s online (Cloud Based).

Google + interfaces with Blogger and this is where Google + and Circles take on a whole new meaning. One app that I utilize almost daily from my iPhone is my Blogger app. What I do is take a snapshot of my whiteboard with homework listed for the day (or week) and post it to a Blogger page that I have set up for Class Assignments. After making the appropriate comments and attaching the picture into the app I send it off to be posted to the Blogger site. It is at this point that Google + and Circles come into play as I am automatically asked if I want it posted to my Google + page and to which Circles. I click on the appropriate student and parent Circles and each one is notified of the post. For those without a Google + account they receive an email of the homework. This whole process takes 60 seconds at best and eliminates any questions that students or parents might have about class assignments.

In addition to homework I also post my class news on a separate Blogger that is for my news and newsletters. Any notes or charts from class will be posted to the Assignment Blogger if they are complex for student review later at home. Google +, Blogger and the rest of the Google Suite of Apps have become a part of my classroom’s daily habits. I post to the site regularly various pieces of information and students either comment on the Blogger or use another great Google app, Google Voice to text me questions. Google Voice, more on that app and its uses in another post.

Google + for students in my classroom helps them in a 24/7 mindset that they are able to access information from class on the Blogger Assignment page. This might be simply the homework or a more complex Thinking Map that was drawn during a Whole Group or Small Group activity. The use of the combined Blogger and Google + Circles ensure that the outcome of completing assignments and understanding the curriculum from class lessons is viewed in the original classroom format (picture of information from the classroom). Looking at the HOTS from Bloom in this part of Google + is limited but the application of using the Hangout feature of Google + allows for video conferencing and here is where Google + steps up the level of Bloom. Students are able to Hangout with one another at home for assignment activity, Hangout in the class with specialists in topic areas such as book authors, historians, museum presenters, etc. In having a Hangout they are able to ask questions of individuals who are specialists in the field of study gathering more information than they would normally from a textbook. Learning goes Beyond the Classroom.

3.2 Activity: Collaborative Presentation of Web 2.0 Tools / WEB 2.0 Tools - Cinch Cast (Prezi)

3.2 Activity: Collaborative Presentation of Web 2.0 Tools / Web 2.0 Tools - Cinch Cast

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