Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Games What Technology?

The educational games sites are a useful tool in the classroom. During the elementary level we will spend various days indoors and need to have activities generated for our students to use. Many enjoy playing computer games (even educational ones). The site Academic Skills Builder has a variety of games that teach things like states and capitols, parts of speech, comparing fractions, and ratios. There are other sites like Cool Math Games which have some games that seem less educational but we must remember all people learn differently. You may have educational games on CD that you have not been able to use because of copy right issues on your school computers. The fact you bought it for a single use in your home means you will not be able to use it for the many students over the years you teach that may use it. There are many free online sites that have similar learning games you can use. Even during a unit, for instance on language or math the numerous games at academic skills builder are perfect. What a great break from the “norm” and an exciting, enjoyable way for children to learn.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Google - Who Needs More!

Google, not just a boring search engine. Things we do not know about Google is vast. Where was I when the turnip truck stopped because I missed the whole thing. I cannot think of a reason to go anywhere else but Google. As a digital immigrant I guess I just do not click around sites very much, which can be a big mistake at Google. When we are teaching our students about Google posters come in handy go to Google educators/posters and find for FREE what you need there. Google is not just for Web, Images, Video, News, or Maps - click on that more drop down that comes next and see what is there. But, don't, stop at that go to even more at the end to find the amazing variety of uses Google has for you. Down the second column is a tool called Translator. If, you have a student that speaks a different language or more specifically their parent does not speak English, you can type a document in the translator and it will come out in your target language. Also, if the parent writes you, copy the text into the translator to discover what it says. Not a fan of Wiki's try Google Knol is is in the more, even more section too. Tell us what you know is the idea, and discover things on many different topics. Another excellent use of this Google technology in the classroom is developing your own Google search engine. This allows you or your collaboration team to copy and paste web sites appropriate for your topic without the fear of students stumbling around on the web into places we do not want them. Besides, by having a pre-build search engine you know the information they find will be accurate. Listen to this presentation about Google from Classroom 2.0 Live and select the listen to full version you like best, to learn even more.

Phonics! Let's Read and Write

Ability Level-Grades K-3 • Interest Level-Grades K-8
Struggling readers, in my district, get held back at the second grade level for Reading Recovery. What if, we "recovered" these readers before they had to repeat a grade. I know that my son had to repeat second grade because of a failure to learn to read. Which, I might add did not truly happen until the end of fourth grade. I have seen other kids with a disability respond the same way. I pushed and pushed to get an IEP for him but that did not happen until the last month of third grade. This was after being in second grade twice. One of the major issues we had was his reaction to his spelling tests. Every week the teacher would tell me how he "melted down" and I had to deal with the crying the rest of the day. I begged her to just stop telling him how he did. It did not matter if he missed 9/10 or 1/10 (and generally it was many errors) he still reacted the same way. What if, the school had found out about WordMaker, follow the link and check it out. This piece of technology used in classrooms today would definitely help those struggling or not. It has many excellent features, like following the class plan so the students being pulled out for help will not fall further behind. There are set-ups for your regular education class, resource room class, or the self-contained class. When my son could not learn to read he could not learn to spell. This spelling and decoding software has the advantage of individualized instruction and corrective feedback that many teachers do not have time for on a one-to-one basis. The "techy" design of the program allows for its use with the older students as well. In our district, we have spent large amount of money to help the high school student who still has very low reading levels. Encourage your school district to spend a little on software like WordMaker and we may not still be trying to recover teenagers who lacked the access to the technology we have access to today.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The World of Video!

The idea of teaching and interacting with the class at the same time has its advantages. Besides, what student has not shown enjoyment of seeing themselves or any other member of their class, including the teacher, on television or video. The excitement in the classroom is a great starting point for developing fun ideas and creating interest in the subject. As long as you are having fun your students will be having fun also. Making this video, I will admit, was scary at first. However, once you have done it and discovered how easy it can actually be you will be eager to do it again. Then, try letting your students make videos. They might even be able to show you tips. I always recommend that we as teachers have a comfortable understanding of how software works first however. There is nothing worse then having a student ask you a question and it take twenty minutes to figure out what the answer should be.

One issue that can be hard to determine when it come to video or other image use in the classroom is copyright. This site has many guidelines and places to look for information concerning PodCasts or where to get images like Visit Video's In The and visit all the heading links to the site. There is a variety of excellent information and demonstrations.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Power of Excel

What limitations you set for your self are shonw in your desire to use technology in a new way. My project was created in an Excel document. For early learners the exposure to new programs designed in a fun and interesting way helps them to understand the function of the program without being overwhelmed by the experience. By disguising the background as a colorful sheet rather then an abundance of columns and rows makes using and learning from this tool not only easy but fun. Is your school one of those transitioning to the hand held learning, if it is or if you are interested in learning something else interesting to do with hand helds and Excel follow this link. My hope is that while you explore how I and others have used Microsoft Excel in the classroom you too will be given the spark of creativity you are looking for. The following video demonstrates a wonderful idea for making posters. Making a poster in a word document results is a single 8 1/2 by 11 piece of work. Try this demonstrated technique with your class, letting them explore their creativity and develop their technological skills.