BYOD Voice Thread

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voicethread.com/share/5670830/

Above is the link to a Voice Thread I created. My Voice Thread explores pros and cons of using BYOD programs in the classroom. It highlights ways that implementing a BYOD program may help students achieve 21st century learning standards, and it also shares some topics schools should consider and think through before deploying their own BYOD program. Overall, I’ve tried to create a balanced presentation about how BYOD programs affect today’s learners, their families, and their teachers.

 

 

Exploring Storytelling Websites for Module 2

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This week, I’ve been exploring several different storytelling websites. One of my favorites is the site Little Bird Tales. I wanted to share a fairy tale story I created using this site. I plan on using Little Bird Tales with my first grade students in the future as they create their own fairy tale versions.

Enjoy my original story, Oliver and the Three Porcupines!

 

Reflection

Instructional Focus: In collaboration with the first grade classroom teachers, I will introduce the Little Bird Tales website. Students will use the tools on the website to write and illustrate their own digital story based on a traditional fairy tale. Prior to creating their original story, I will share traditional fairy tales with students during their library classes. Students will have background information about traditional fairy tales to draw on as they create their own stories. This project addresses many standards in the Pennsylvania School Library Model Curriculum, including:

Objectives Coinciding with Pennsylvania School Library Program Model Curriculum Standards for Grade 1:

CC.1.2.G: Describe key ideas through illustrations and text.

CC.1.3.G: Identify characters, setting, and events that occur in story and describe based on illustrations and details.

BCIT 15.4.L: With help and support, use web browser to locate content-specific websites.

CC.1.5.F: Add drawing or other visual display to presentation to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

CC.1.4.U: With guidance and support, use digital tools to produce and publish writing in collaboration with peers.

BCIT 15.3.M: With prompting and support, demonstrate proper etiquette while using and handling technology.

BCIT.15.3.T: With prompting and support, answer questions about importance of safe, legal, and responsible use of technology.

Purpose for learning with this tool: The purpose of having students create their own versions of classic fairy tales is to extend the library fairy tale lessons while also putting a personal spin on them. A unique way to do this is to have students use the Little Bird Tales website to write and illustrate their stories. This is an alternative to the traditional writing and illustrating students have done in the past. It still emphasizes the same creative writing and drawing skills, and students will still use their imagination to create a story based on a fairy tale, but this lesson also introduces several 21st century technology skills. I think the best way to introduce technology skills is to seamlessly implement them into something the students are already studying, and that is what my goal is here.

How this tool enhances instruction: The Little Bird Tales website enhances instruction by re-imagining traditional creative writing. Students will have the opportunity to create their own original stories that are rooted in traditional fairy tales, but they will be using digital tools instead of traditional paper and pencils. Students will be excited to share their digital creations with their family via email or by posting them on the teacher’s webpage. They will also be relying on background knowledge they learned in library class, writing skills they practice in their classroom, and computer skills to complete this assignment.

Explanation of how to use the tool (script for screencast):

The Little Bird Tales site is pretty easy to navigate, and I think it will be great for elementary school students. One of my favorite parts about the site is the large, colorful buttons. Also, there aren’t too many options, so students won’t be confused or overwhelmed when visiting the site for the first time.

If students want to create a new story, they begin by clicking the blue “Create Tale” button. This opens a new blank story. Students can give their story a title at the top of the page, and they can fill in their name as the author. The title of my story will be “Oliver and the Three Porcupines,” and I will type my name – Mrs. Bozievich – for the author.

The first page of the story is the cover, so there won’t be any story text to write on this page. To create the story cover, students have three options. They can either click the “Draw” button to draw their own unique cover, click on “Galleries” to import a picture they created for a different story, or click “Upload” to upload a photograph or other image that is saved on their computer.

Let’s click “Draw” to create some original artwork for this story’s cover. Since my story is called “Oliver and the Three Porcupines,” I am going to draw Oliver and some porcupines on the front cover. The drawing tools are very similar to Microsoft’s Paint program, so if students have some familiarity to creating pictures in Paint, they will not have any difficulty using the “Draw” options.

The icons for each of the different drawing tools are along the left side of the page. If you move your mouse over the icon, it tells you what each tool does. You can adjust the size of the paintbrush by clicking “Pen Shapes,” and you can also adjust the size of the brush. You can also use basic shapes like circles and squares to get you started, and you can use the paint can to fill in a shape and the eraser to erase. The “Undo” and “Redo” buttons are also helpful to know about as you work. Let’s start the illustration for my story. I think the front cover should have three porcupines and a boy.

When you are finished creating your drawing, click on the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen. Then, click the “X” in the top right corner of the screen to return to the main screen. Now that your cover drawing is finished, you can record narration. To begin recording, hit the green “Record” button. Hit “Stop” when you’re finished, and click “Play” to hear your recording. Each time you record, a box will pop up asking if you will allow the Little Bird Tales site to access your computer’s microphone. Hit “Allow” to continue recording. When you are finished recording, click the green “Save” button at the top of the screen.

To add additional pages to the story, click the orange “Add page” button at the top of the screen. This new page will be the first page in your story that has text. Type your story text in the box that says “Text.” Then, create your drawing and record your narration. You can read the text you typed in the box as your narration. Save your changes, and click the “Add page” button as needed until your story is complete.

When your story is finished, you have a few options for sharing it. Click on the picture of the house at the top of the screen to go to the Little Bird Tales main page. Your story will be in the box labeled “Recent Tales.” Here, you will see options to play your story, edit it, and share it. To share it online, click “Share” and enter the email address of the person you would like to share your story with. The Little Bird Tales site will send the recipient an email with a hyperlink to your story. You can also use this hyperlink to post your story online, like on your website or in your blog.

You can find this screencast in two different locations:

Screencast-o-matic: http://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c2f6XnnOm2

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=QkfXHp_UFzQ

 

 

Checking out my first teacher blogs

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Now that I’ve checked out some library blogs from around the world, I’m excited to see how they compare to blogs written by classroom teachers!

Blog #1

As I was browsing Edublog’s list of best blogs by teachers, I spotted Paul Bogush’s blog. Bogush is an eighth grade teacher from Connecticut. One of the reasons I decided to explore his blog was because of its layout. It is organized into geometric squares, and each post has its own square. This sets it off visually from many other blogs that are arranged in order with the newest posts at the top of the page. As I continued reading, I discovered one of the purposes of this blog is to share the author’s research and opinions about the Common Core Standards. Bogush has spent a lot of time reading into the background of the CCS, and he challenges his readers to take a good look at the Standards and their history. His posts address all kinds of things related to the standards – from how the Standards affect the youngest kindergartners to questioning the wisdom in trying to standardize all learners. In addition to addressing information about the Common Core, Bogush also discusses topics like Twitter, and he shares information he sent home to parents about their students’ progress so far this school year (I LOVE the video embedded with this post!)

Overall, this is a blog that celebrates education and also celebrates kids being who they are. I think this teacher is very brave to share his somewhat controversial opinions about the Common Core Standards so publicly, but he does make it very clear in his disclaimer that these opinions are his own – not those of his employer. As we are thinking about our digital footprints this week, I think this blog is a good example of something being attached to your name that may reflect your own individual opinions but not necessarily those of your employers. I think it’s a risk to include something like this in your digital footprint – and it is traceable since the teacher lists his real name, picture, and school – but it’s also a good example of standing up and expressing your opinions about something you believe in and are passionate about.

Blog #2

One teacher blog that caught my attention this week was Classroom Chronicles, a blog written by a sixth grade teacher in Sydney. In her introduction, she explains that she uses her blog to explore, learn, and reflect on her teaching. Additionally, she also uses it as a place to learn more about educational technology – Web 2.0 in particular – and as a place to think about how to use these tools in her classroom. As I read more and more educational blogs, it seems like this idea – using a blog as a place to keep track of your own learning – is a good one. A blog is an orderly place for you to track your own thoughts while also easily linking to ideas and resources you like and find beneficial.

The types of posts in this blog vary depending on what the author is doing in her classroom. She share successes with different tools she is using like Edmoto, explaining how students are currently excited about an assignment because she has added in three new students to the discussion group. By adding three characters from the book The City of Ember and allowing students to sign up to blog as these characters, she creates renewed excitement for the assignment. She also shares how tools like Twitter help her bring authentic content and real-world expertise into her classroom – while also allowing her to collaborate with scientists and other educators around the world. The author also uses this blog to reflect on topics that she is struggling with – like how much homework is appropriate to assign to her students and how to make the assignments she gives meaningful. By opening questions like these up to her readers, she is inviting collaboration. Instead of just being an author, she is also positioning herself as someone who is interested in learning about other peoples’ best practices too.

I really enjoyed reading the posts in this blog because there is a nice balance of authority and reflection. The entries seem to be written by someone who views herself as both a teacher and a student. She is obviously very knowledgeable about her content, her students, and a lot of technology, but she is also open to learning from others and adapting their ideas to fit her students’ needs. I was also impressed that this author has been publishing to her blog consistently for more than 5 years. At the top of the blog, she has archived her posts by month, starting with 2010. This serves as an excellent resource for her to reflect on her own educational journey, but it’s also a great resource for her readers who may have only recently discovered her writing.

Blog #3

The third teacher blog I viewed was Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension, created by a fifth grade teacher from Wisconsin. Again, one of the things that attracted me to this blog is that the author has been posting to it since 2010, so I think it’s a great example of how a blog can really act as an archive of your online activities, reflections, and discoveries. The author uses her blog to share activities she is doing in her classroom, but she also uses it to share ideas and topics about which she is passionate. One of those topics is reading. She has an entire section of her blog devoted to reading resources. She’s written and reflected on how to talk about a book with a student even if you haven’t read it yourself, how to revamp your classroom library, how to get your students excited about summer reading, and more. She also has a section of her blog devoted to Forms and Things to Help where she includes links to documents such as a permission to videotape letter, a parent volunteer questionnaire, and a book review rubric. These are the kinds of resources that take a long time to create from scratch, so sharing them with other educators can be very valuable.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed as I continue to review both teacher and librarian blogs – a lot of the authors reference each other! They seem to follow each others’ blogs and often link to one another. For example, when the author of this blog, Pernille Ripp, was posting about summer reading, she referenced a post by Shannon McClintock Miller (whose blog I reviewed with my library post). The blogging world seems to be pretty tightly connected, and a lot of the dedicated bloggers appear to be aware of each other. This is exciting to me because it seems like by just tuning in and following a few good blogs, you can get a whole network of great advice from educational professionals all over the world.

Blog #4

When I looked at the blog Upside Down Education, I again noticed that the author made a point to say that the ideas expressed in her blog are uniquely hers – not the opinions held by her school district. This again got me thinking about digital footprints and the balance between sharing opinions online and putting your employment at risk. Even though many blog authors make it clear they are expressing their own personal views, I’m just not so sure I am willing to share my opinions so freely online – especially if I know they wouldn’t be popular with my administrators. I think educators today have to be more careful than ever. I know we have a right to share our opinions, but I’m just not sure I would personally ever choose to do so in such a public way.

In her blog, this sixth grade teacher reflects on experiences in her classroom – the day-to-day, real-life stuff that is happening. She shares her experiences teaching technology class to sixth graders and her struggle to balance the Common Core Standards with Project-Based Learning. I liked this blog because it is very relate-able – the author doesn’t try to gloss over what she is struggling with or the concerns she has. This is a relatively new blog compared to many of the others I’ve reviewed. It doesn’t seem like the author posts as consistently as some other bloggers, but when she does post, her entries are typically quite lengthy. I guess this shows there are many different approaches and styles to blogging – from the quick, frequent updates to the more spread-out but in-depth writings.

 

One of my favorite quotes from this week’s reading was from “The Brain of the Blogger.” Doctors Fernette and Brock Eide noted, “Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.” I thought this was such a good point because that is exactly what I’ve experienced over this Module as I began writing in my own blog. I like being able to reflect by posting my thoughts in writing. Writing them out helps clarify what I’m thinking about and digesting. But, I also like that I am able to share and receive feedback from people online as well. So far, I’ve gotten comments in my blog not only from people in this course but also from other bloggers whose pages I’ve checked out. The Eides note that this is the appeal for many bloggers: “Bloggers have solitary time to plan their posts, but they can also receive rapid feedback on their ideas.”
I see this as being beneficial in the classroom because students who may be shy or hesitant to share their ideas in front of the whole group can use blogging as a way to participate in discussions. Blogging gives them extra time to gather and edit their thoughts before sharing them publicly. Sharing comments in blogs also gives students an authentic way to practice digital etiquette.

 

After viewing some of these teacher blogs, I’m wondering how many teachers in my school district blog. I’m not currently aware of any, but I’m sure there are some. One way to share great blogs with teachers and encourage them to consider starting their own might be to offer professional development sessions about blogging. These sessions could include tips on how to create your own blog, suggestions of education blogs to follow, and ideas for incorporating blogging into your classroom. My district offers a variety of professional development sessions over the summer that teachers can sign up for, and offering one about blogging might be well-received. Since the ISTE standards note that “All teachers should meet the standards and performance indicators,” blogging might be a fun, easily-accessible way to get some teachers started introducing more technology.

References
Eide , Fernette, and Brock Eide . “Eide Neurolearning Blog.” . N.p., 5 03 2005. Web. 28 Mar 2014. <http://eideneurolearningblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/brain-of-blogger.html&gt;.

“ISTE Standards Teachers.” ISTE Standards. International Society for Technology in Education, 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-teachers&gt;.

Visiting my first library blogs

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I’m excited to have the time to explore library blogs and see what other library professionals are sharing online! As I began exploring, the first blog that caught my attention was Beyond Survival in a School Library. I love the catchy title of this blog, and I think it reflects the feeling of a lot of librarians I’ve talked to lately. As we take on even more responsibilities than ever, we are trying to do more than just survive – we’re trying to use the opportunity to do make even greater connections with our students.

Blog #1:

The purpose of this “Beyond Survival in a School Library” blog is to connect with other people who have an interest in libraries. And, I was surprised to see that the connections this librarian has made span the entire world! She is based in Canada, but people who have commented on her writings are from all over – New Zealand, Australia, London, Indiana, Arkansas, and more. I see this as one of the greatest advantages of blogs and other online resources – the ability to share ideas and materials with people you would never otherwise have a chance to collaborate with. I think we can get stuck in our own routines – doing the same things over and over again, and doing the same activities with our colleagues year after year. Taking time to explore and seek out what other professionals are doing is so beneficial – it puts a fresh spin on everything and can hopefully inspire some new ideas!

After scrolling through this blog, I discovered there are many different types of posts. In one entry, the author describes a guest visit she hosted with some local comic book artists who spoke with students about creating graphic works. In another, she describes a library reward she designed for a first grade class where everyone returned their books on time for an entire month. She also includes information about lessons she’s teaching, and she also links videos that she shares as part of her lessons. I think this is an especially valuable thing to do. Searching out appropriate online resources to share with students can be very time consuming, so it’s a huge help to find something that another educator has already used successfully.

Overall, I’m very impressed with the scope and organization of this blog. It has a professional look, and the author keeps it updated enough so that the information is relevant for readers. One layout feature that I think is extremely helpful is her “Categories” sidebar. In this sidebar, the author breaks down important topics she’s blogged about in the past. She includes topics such as Library Class, Poetry, eReaders in the School Library, Library Management, Online Resources, and more. These categories make it easier to locate information about a particular topic, and they will become even more valuable as she continues to add to her blog. Planning and sticking to a well-thought-out organizational system goes a long way towards making content easy to locate and use.

Blog #2

As I was browsing through library blogs this week, the second one that caught my interest was the Van Meter Library Voice. I recognize the author, Shannon McClintock Miller, from School Library Journal. After reading her author information and experience, I was excited to see what ideas she is sharing in her blog.

My first impression of this blog is that it is very professional looking. I can tell it contains a lot of information, but everything appears to be well-organized, and there are a lot of logical categories. The pictures and videos she includes are also embedded neatly, and there is a lot of white space, making it easy to focus on the content – not a busy layout.

The purpose of this blog is to share information about technology and how it is being used in this school library. The author shares information about the latest apps she is discovering and the technology her students are using. Her posts include pictures of her students in action as well as links to websites and databases that give more information about the devices she is discussing. She also includes screenshots of some of the technology in action. These shots are especially useful because they give a real-life glimpse of what she is talking about.

This blog is a lot more visual than the first blog I looked at. I can tell this librarian is involved in a lot of other things besides teaching. She works as an educational consultant, a writer, a speaker, and she is very involved in several professional organizations. Since she is so busy, this blog serves as a good landing point where she can share all of her accomplishments and ideas. I think this is important because it makes it easy to go to one place and have access to a variety of different resources – both educational and professional.

 

Blog #3

The third library blog I checked out was one by the librarian at Curtis Elementary School. I am especially interested in this blog because it focuses solely on the elementary grades, and those are the grades I currently serve. One of the first things I noticed about this blog was its header – it states that the librarian’s passion is to “teach, challenge, and inspire students to succeed in the global community.” I love this – it’s a great mission statement for today’s digital learners!

The purpose of this blog is to share information about what is happening in the library as well as information about new books and resources for teachers. There are clear, easy-to-spot tabs at the top of the blog so readers can easily navigate to whichever topic they are interested in. In the Library Happenings section, the author describes events scheduled in the library – a celebration for Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, an author Skype, and the Book Fair to name a few. I like how many of the posts are accompanied by pictures of the students in action or photos from the activity the author is describing. I think this makes the posts more appealing, and it also gives readers a better understanding of exactly what is taking place in the library.

One of my favorite parts about this blog is all the real-world information the author shares. She includes so much information that can be read and applied immediately. She includes brief book reviews that give fast highlights about a variety of new titles. She also shares short posts that spotlight different teacher resources. I think she’s smart to include short tidbits so readers aren’t overwhelmed and don’t feel like they have to sit down and devote 20 minutes to reading about something. Instead, they can visit this blog and in 5 minutes, they can come away with a good understanding of some of the latest books and apps to try with their students.

Blog #4

Another library blog I checked out was the Bulldog Reader Blog. The purpose of this blog is to share the author’s ideas about reading, books, library lessons, and technology integration. Like so many other blogs I’ve viewed, the author is quick to note that the opinions reflected here are hers alone – not her school districts’.

One of my favorite posts in this blog was about this school’s participation in the Washington’s Children’s Choice Contest. My school participates in a similar contest each school year where after hearing several nominated books, students vote for their favorite. I especially liked the video advertisements students created to encourage others to vote for their favorite book. Doing something like this with my students next year would be an easy way to integrate more technology into some of my library lessons. I also enjoyed seeing some of her students’ work, such as the original story they wrote based on the book The Day The Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers. I read this book with my first graders earlier in the school year, and doing a creative spin-off activity like creating our own version sounds like a lot of fun. I also liked watching some of the book trailers the author created. Throughout each school year, I also create several book trailers based on popular books students are reading. I’ve never really shared them publicly, but after viewing some of these trailers, I might consider adding mine to my own blog at some point. Overall, I thought this blog did a great job of meeting the author’s goals. It included examples of student work, information about what was happening in the library, and it also showcased some great technology-infused learning.

 

One way I might be able to incorporate blogs into my library program would be to have students write about books they are currently reading or have recently finished. My library circulation system has an option built into it that allows students to post comments and recommendations about books. This might be a way to get our feet wet with blogging and sharing opinions online.
As a way to get other teachers in my building interested in blogging and sharing opinions online, I might suggest a site like Edmoto that provides a safe environment for students to share their opinions. This is especially important at the elementary level where a lot of my students are too young to sign up for their own accounts on a lot of sites. A way to get other teachers interested in blogging might also be to share the links to one or two great educational blogs I’ve come across (maybe even some of the ones I’ve reviewed for this week). Sending the links to these blogs in an email or including information about them in a newsletter might encourage teachers to check them out. As for using blogs for professional development, I have already bookmarked several blogs I’ve looked at over the past 2 weeks. I plan to continue checking these sites periodically as a way to keep on top of some of the great things that are happening in the library world. Scanning the latest entries in a few blogs doesn’t require a huge time commitment, so I’m hoping this is something I can keep on top of!

Get inspired…

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You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.   –Maya Angelou