Post Christmas Blues

Thursday, December 27, 2007 | 2 comments »

It's only 2 days after Christmas and I'm already thinking I want to be back at work. Not so much because vacation isn't fun, but more so to have a little peace and quiet. That may sound kind of odd, but since Santa delivered several new toys to my children, I'm constantly being asked to play with them. Don't you think they should be able to handle that duty themselves? Nope, instead, they want dad. Dad wants peace and quiet. Dad wants time to read. Dad wants time to blog. Dad wants time to do whatever he wants. I have some ideas for "deeper" blog entries in the next few days when I actually get a chance to sit down for more than 3 minutes.

On a happier note.....

By the way, at last check the first video has over 400 views - something the girls are extremely thrilled about! We've since added a second by Lexi and Maria and another by 3 other 3rd graders.

Yesterday, we set up blogs with a sixth grade class. I figured it would go fairly smooth since I had a good handout that I stole borrowed (thanks Lou) and everyone would be on task since we were doing something fun and new. Poor assumption. For the most part, things did go fine, but there were some technical difficulties I didn't plan for. For one, not everyone wrote down their password when the website assigned them one. Now, we can request another one, but it's time consuming and I don't see the kids more than once a week. I would like everyone at the same point in the process while we start, but I'm going to have to meet with some of the kids at another time to make sure they are ready for next week. Another problem was the lack of listening skills some of the kids have. This isn't new, I'm taught for a while and I should have known, but for some reason, I was overly optimistic. For the most part, everyone's ready to go. We'll see what happens when we try reading other blogs and actually blogging next week, but I certainly can tell you one thing - I'll be hoping for the worst. That way, if something better happens, I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Now, a great tip from the Four Eyed Technologist suggested that I have students read and read and read blogs prior to writing their own. This is a great idea, but I'm looking for some help. If you know of any students blogs that my sixth graders would benefit from, please leave me a comment. If you have students who are blogging, let me know. The more the merrier. I want my students to starting thinking about what they're reading and coming up with thoughtful comments. Once they see good examples of this, their blogging will be better. Thanks in advance for your help.

Here It Is...

Monday, December 10, 2007 | 5 comments »

Permission was granted from parents, so here's the video described in the previous post.

The past couple of days brought some technology related excitement to a couple of my students. Two third graders, Lexi and Maria, are working on a podcast project with me. During center time in their classroom, they are coming down to the library. Our plan is to create a weekly podcast where they review a book they've read. It's actually going to be a booktalk/book review podcast. They've completed the first podcast and we are really excited about it.

I'm not sure how many people are using podcasts with their students, but I see great potential in a project similar to what we are doing. For this project, the students are first reading a book, then they are writing a short summary and booktalk. This time, I wrote the script with them, but my hope is that after we do a couple together, they will be able to do all the writing themselves. I see this project really motivating the students to read and write. In addition, creating the podcast will improve public speaking skills and increase technology skills. The first time we did the recording, we used Audacity. This was a pretty simply program to use, but I was hoping to take the podcast a little further. I wanted to submit the podcast to iTunes so people could search for it there and subscribe to the weekly podcast. I didn't know how to do this with Audacity and since we don't have Macs in our school anymore, I brought in my MacBook and used that. Down the road, I think using my Mac and GarageBand may be the way to go. Submitting the podcast to iTunes was simple and now we have an RSS feed for "Lexi and Maria's Weekly Podcast." If you are visiting the iTunes Store, search for "Lexi and Maria" and you'll find their work. At our school, we have over 70% of our students on free and reduced lunch, which leads me to think that not a lot of people will even be checking out the podcast through iTunes or listening it on their iPod, but who knows? Those who do have computers, will probably check out the podcast through our school website. Either way, I guess one of the goals is to share the work of the students to as many people as possible. Perhaps you want to share their work with some of the students you work with. I think the link listed is correct, if it's not, let me know.

Where is this project going to go? I'm not sure, but it's already grown. When I was using iMovie to edit the video they made (see next paragraph), I wanted to try and add a little music introduction, a sixth grader was watching. She's really into music and plays the guitar and drums. I asked her if she'd be interested in creating some introduction music for the podcasts. She liked the idea and hopefully her talents will be added to future projects. In addition, after I emailed the staff about the project, I had a fourth grade teacher ask if there was room for some of her students to do something like this. My answer - OF COURSE! It appears that what started with 2 students could grow to much more.

One of my next goals is to create a video of each book review. We already filmed the first one, but I'm hoping to share it with the world. I'd like to post the videos not only on our school website, but also on TeacherTube. I'm not going to go the YouTube route with third graders. I've sent permission slips to both girls' parents for permission for the video to be posted online. Knowing the parents a little, it shouldn't be a problem. I will certainly update this post to add the video if I get permission. I think it would be pretty powerful if the students noticed that hundreds of people have seen their work.

Take a peek at their work and let me know what you think? How can we make it better?

Mmm...Mmm...Good

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 | | 5 comments »

I mentioned in an earlier post about making the switch to del.icio.us for students links on my school website. While I'm nowhere near complete making the full transition, I'm loving the result. We used to have links for the students all ove the place - on 3 different pages of our school website and in folders all over our school server. Now, they are going to be in one place, organized well with easy access. I introduced the new list to a fourth grade class today and they picked it up quickly. To me, the best part is going to be the ease of adding new sites to the list. In a matter of seconds, I can add a new site and have it ready for the kids. I no longer have to be at the one computer in our computer lab that allows me to update the school site. I no longer have to go through multiple steps to simply add a link. Now, with just a few clicks, we can add more great resources for our students. The thousands three of you reading this probably know quite a bit about del.icio.us, but if you don't, I came across an outstanding video about social bookmarking that describes how social bookmarking works. I have to check out more of the videos this site has to offer because from what I've seen, they are pretty good.

As far as the blogging goes with students - we introduced the concept of blogging yesterday and later this week or early next week will get one of our sixth grade classes blogging. Hopefully setting up their blogs won't be too troubling. If any of you have your students blogging and are looking to expand the conversations, please let me know by leaving a comment. We should have our first blog entry in the next week or so. I'd like to get the kids up and running so they could possibly add entries over Christmas Holiday break that is coming in a couple of weeks.

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