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Unit 11: Gaming

I have grown up with gaming. My family have always had the latest game console. I always liked Nintendo the best. My brother preferred Playstation. I liked Mario and all the games related to his adventures. When Nintendo released Super Mario All Stars on Wii I was so excited and bought it the day it came out. The game has so many memories associated with it, as does Donkey Kong, another Nintendo game rereleased for Wii. I am up to date with most games but I would never play most of them. I stick to fun, family style games. I prefer Wii, DS and Apple Apps.

I think gaming can have an important role in education. I know all my students have gaming consoles at home and they are at times more familiar with using iPhones and iPads than I am. We often have chats about certain app based games when my students see my iPad or iPhone. Gaming is a way to engage students, in particular, boys. I think if we can tap into some positive elements from games we will help our students learn.

I have used a website called Kerpoof with my students and have encouraged its use amongst my level (yr 1/2). Kerpoof is owned by Disney and offers lots of activities such as ‘Spell a Picture’, ‘Make a Movie’ and ‘Draw a Picture’. These activities encourage literacy skills and very effective lessons can be created around the program. The reason I think this site fits into this topic of ‘gaming’, is because throughout the site you earn coins and the students can spend coins on items to improve the site. I was amazed at how effective this was in motivating students. They were instantly engaged and wanted to earn as many coins as possible. They also talked about what to spend their coins on so they could make wise choices.

I recently came across this blog post written by Lynette Barr on her ‘Educator’s Guide To Innovation’ blog. Lynette provides some well thought out activities based on Mario Kart. It is definitely worth looking at!

Unit 10: Learning and Teaching Tools 2

FUSE Primary looks fantastic. It has a nice feel and layout and there are so many resources on offer. The site is very easy to use. There is also a teacher resource section, which I have used. I have already found some resources for my current inquiry unit on building. If you are interested there is also an early childhood and secondary section.

Flickr is a tool that I have been meaning to try out for some time. The thing that has stopped me apart from time is that I’m not sure if I really need an account. The only photos I really post online are from my class to put on our blog. I’m not even sure if flickr is supported in global 2??? I will probably give flickr a go when I get around to it, but its not really a priority for me right now.

I love YouTube as a resource tool. It offers so many avenues for teaching and learning. I was talking to a student at recess yesterday about knitting. She was in the middle of knitting a scarf. I asked her how she learnt how to knit and her response was that she had searched YouTube for a video and taught herself. This is the perfect example of how useful and accessible YouTube is!

Unit 9: Research Tools

In this unit I have looked at Zotero, a tool that you can use in Firefox to collect references and create a bibliography. I’m not sure that this will be a tool that I will use much as I have other ways of collecting the resources I need. I don’t really need to collect resources for assignments or projects where I need to keep references. I can see how this tool would be beneficial to students in secondary schools or universities.

Google Docs is a great tool that I have started using more and more. There are often documents associated with conferences or other blogs that I connect with. Having these docs on Google Docs makes them very easy to access. I would love to start using it to plan with my level. We often begin planning together and then one person takes the document home to finish and emails it to everyone once it’s completed. It would be great if I could get my level on board to trial using Google Docs so that we can continue to collaborate on our planning after the planning meeting is over. The other thing I want to start doing is using the form function. I think it would be great to collect data from my students and staff.

Unit 8: Professional Learning

EdTechCrew

I have only just discovered EdTechCrew. This looks like a great place to find out more about technology in education. I really like that it contains podcasts so I can listen to the pd rather than always having to read everything. Its great to have multi-modal ways of learning.

Screencasting

Screencasting is something I have seen many times on other people’s blogs but have never known how to do myself. I think this is an extremely valuable tool. The times I have seen it used on other blogs, it has been really useful. I have learnt how to do many things by viewing screencasts. Screenr is a tool that you can use to create screencasts. I am only just learning how to use it but I love the fact that it is free and really easy to use. I will have to try and use the site with a purpose, maybe I could make a screencast to show my students how to use a particular tool. I might even be able to use the tool with the students and have them create screencasts for their peers.

21st Century Learning

Wow… the video: RSA animate Sir Ken Robinson talk: ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ is inspiring. It makes me want to rethink everything I do and make sure that I help my students explore and develop their divergent thinking skills everyday. I love the way Sir Ken describes the increase in ADHD and the idea that we are sedating students instead of waking them up. The idea of contemporary learning and teaching students to live in today’s world – not the world we grew up in excites me. This is why I teach, not just to teach students to read and write but to help them prepare for life in the real world – today’s world, or should I say the future!

Unit 7: Which comes first – pedagogy or technology?

I am a digital native. I grew up in a family that always had the newest technology we could afford and with close friends who were always going to go into the IT field. I learnt a lot about technology as a kid from a friend who was always pulling apart computers and putting them back together again. This was a great base to build on as I got older and continued to learn more about technology. I chose ICT as a subject in VCE and always had an interest in new tools and gadgets. Being a digital native has made it really easy for me to integrate new technologies into my classroom. I find it easy to try out new tools and am now in the lead role of ICT and contemporary learning in my school.

As much as I love technology and get excited by all the new programs and web2.0 tools I can use with my students I know that pedagogy will always come first. It is important that technology is used to support the curriculum and not just for the sake of it. Every time I use a tool or gadget I think to myself “Is this tool going to help my students learn?” If the answer is yes then I go with it and try to get the most out of the tools we are using. There are so many tools that are beneficial to teaching the curriculum and help students become deeper thinkers. I think if we use these tools thoughtfully and state the purpose before using them, then they are a great way to engage students. Being part of the PLN program has confirmed for me how important it is to stay on top of new technologies and that they need to be used with student learning at the centre.

I have started blogging this year and have found it to be one of the most valuable things I have done this year. It challenges my students to think about the purpose and audience of their work and allows them to receive feedback that would never be possible without the blog. It also acts as a place to store our learning. We regularly check our blog and make new posts. My students ask all the time to go back and look at older posts. This allows us to reflect on our learning all the time. We make connections between things we have done in the past and things we are doing now. My students go home and share their learning with their families and their families have the opportunity to comment and connect with our class. I can’t express enough how valuable blogging has been for me. Something that started as a tool I thought would enhance learning that I would use every now and again has become an integral part of my teaching.

Unit 6: Animoto, Timeglider, Slideshare

Well I’ve finally found some time to start getting back on track with the VicPLN program. So here goes…

This time I’ve been exploring the website called Animoto (my first attempt at hyperlinking in a blog :)). It looks fantastic. It’s a great website that allows you to make videos using images, videos and audio. I love how there are preset choices that makes it a lot easier to get a great look. I think one of the harder things for me is that I don’t feel like I can use many of the tools I learn about without connecting it back to my classroom. I am not really at the stage where I would use Animoto for my own personal use or for something that I would put on this blog. I really only use the tools with my students to publicise their work on our class blog. As it is holidays I really need to wait until we are back at school next week to give it a proper go. I will definitely make it a priority to try out Animoto in the coming weeks on my class blog.

Another great tool is Timeglider. This tool allows you to make a time line that presents information in an interactive way. It looks great. It would be very useful for students presenting information for projects.

Slideshare is a tool I use regularly for posting thing on my class blog. I love that it is quick and easy to upload files to share on the web. I use it to create slideshows of work samples and photos when my students have completed an interesting task. Another website I use is Kizoa. It is very quick and I can publish slideshows on my class blog in a matter of a couple of minutes. This is great when you are trying to post something the students have just done and only have limited time.


Unit 5: Digital Citizenship

How much responsibility do educators have in addressing the issues that are arising with regards to technology?

Educators have a huge responsibility to prepare students to use web2.0 tools and social media. We have to model safe ways that we can use these resources and provide clear guidelines for acceptable use at school. After starting a class blog I have found that the amount of time I spend talking about cyber safety/responsibility in my class has risen dramatically.  I teach year 1/2’s and they are beginning to use some of the language necessary for understanding how to be ‘safe’ and we have rules that they must follow. It is amazing how much children as young as 6-8 can understand. Through the blog some of my students have also started these conversations with their parents. I think parents also need to accept some of the responsibility for teaching their children how to be safe. It needs to be a partnership between home and school and cannot be left for the school to deal with alone.

Are schools and educators capable of dealing with the changing nature of student technology usage?

Schools still have a long way to go in regards to dealing with the nature of students technology usage. I think that if schools are committed to engaging students and preparing them for a contemporary world then we must be capable of dealing with it. I do agree with Will Richardson’s post (Teach.Facebook.Now) that we need to teach students how to use social media safely. In primary schools I think it should be done by using moderated sites such as nings and then in secondary schools perhaps using facebook. I think it is essential that students gain an understanding of their digital footprint and how they can protect themselves.

Unit 4: Wallwisher, Visual Thinking Tools, Google

Wallwisher:

http://www.wallwisher.com/

I have used wallwisher before with year 3/4 and 1/2 students. I have used it as a brainstorming tool in a whole class session where students posted comments about what they already know about an inquiry topic. I have also used it for a homework task where students had to comment on the site for homework. It is a great program for visualising thinking as you can record comments from the whole class about a particular topic almost instantly. Much better than just writing a list on the board!

Visual Thinking Tools:

Gliffy

http://www.gliffy.com/

Gliffy looks like a great tool for mind mapping. It is very easy to use and offers a lot of options. It would be a great tool for any age group. I really like how it has lots of graphic organisers such as Venn Diagrams, Swimlanes and Flow Charts. It is not just a mindmapping tool, it offers so much more.

Bubbl.us

https://bubbl.us/

I have used Bubbl.us before. It is a very simple mindmapping tool that works well as it is easy to use. From what I have seen so far Bubbl.us doesn’t seem to offer as many options as Gliffy. This can be a benefit if you don’t want the students to get distracted from basic mindmapping but also limits its uses.

Essay Map

http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/interactives/essaymap/

I love Essay Map. I think this would be a fantastic tool to use with students in Year 3 and up. At the moment I work with Year 1/2’s and feel essays might be a little to tricky for them especially because it has so many steps involved. I will definitely be keeping Essay Map bookmarked for when I move up to a higher year level!

My favourite visual thinking tool would be Gliffy as this is a tool I have never used before and I think it has the most potential. I really like how it has so many options and it seems as though I will be able to publish projects onto my class blog. I also like how you can collaborate with other people on a project. I think this tool would be useful when planning an inquiry unit with my level. We could all share our ideas for understandings/questions to cover and keep adding to it after the meeting is finished. It would also be a good tool to use in staff meetings when you wanted to get staff collaborating on a particular topic. There would be no need to collate all the responses from different groups if we all add to the same project.

Google for Educators:

Google for Educators looks promising. I like how everything is very easy to understand and it gives information on how the tools can be used in education. I will need more time to play around with some of the tools but I can already see that it will be useful. From what I have used so far of the Google suit I think that Google Docs is probably the most useful tool for me in my classroom and in level planning. It is a great tool for collaboration and I have seen it used to gather information from all around the world using a public document and Twitter. Google Reader is a very useful tool for professional learing. It allows me to keep track of all the blogs I follow as well as any website that regularly posts interesting information.

Unit 3: Diigo and Wiki’s

Diigo:

I have been using Diigo for a while now, ever since the rumours of the Delicious takeover became more serious. I transferred all of my bookmarks from Delicious over to Diigo and haven’t looked back. I find Diigo is extremely useful for storing and sorting bookmarks. I use it to store professional bookmarks for education and also social bookmarks. I hadn’t really started following anyone or any groups. I like this feature and have started adding to ‘my groups’ now. I really need to take advantage of the social aspect of the bookmarking site. I have really only used it to store my own bookmarks. I used to follow a few people in Delicious and found it very useful.

Wiki’s:

I have heard about Wiki’s in the past but never found them that useful, although I am sure I haven’t fully understood their potential. I think having Myclasses (a SINA based site to store websites for the students) and blogs the need for a wiki wasn’t really there. I think Wiki’s would be a useful place to store information for students to use. They could easily access all the information they need for a particular area – EG) a literacy or numeracy page. However I think at this stage Myclasses does a very similar job and doesn’t have all the hassle involved in setting up a wiki. I do like how Wiki’s can be more collaborative than Myclasses. The idea of storing documents that can be worked on and saved is appealing. I also like the idea of giving each student their own page. This would be good for encouraging students to use sites and tools that are suitable for their particular needs.

In summary, I love Diigo and will have to look further into the idea of having a wiki for my class!

Unit 2: Twitter, Facebook and Skype

I have already been using twitter, facebook and skype.

Twitter:

I have been using twitter for almost a year. It took me a while to see the value of it but I am now 100% behind it. I have been developing my PLN and now follow a range of educators and people supporting education. I find I am spending lots of time reading blogs and learning new things everyday that I can try with my class or use in my ICT leader role. I also have people who follow me that are supporting me in getting my own class blog up and running by commenting on my blog or simple retweeting me initial tweet.

Facebook:

I have used facebook on a social level and have ‘liked’ a few education pages. I like the idea of creating a professional account so that it can be completely separate from my social page and I can also keep track of educational pages.

Skype:

I have used skype for years as a tool to connect with friends. I use it mainly to speak with friends overseas as it is a free way to catch up. I would love to use skype in my teaching and make connections with other classes from around Australia or the world. This is one of my goals for this year!