Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lab Workout #15: Making Windows Easier to Work With

Windows has a number of very helpful tools in the Ease of Access Center that can be used for students with visual, hearing, or physical impairments, as well as for those with mental impairments like ADD.

The first tool I explored is the Magnifying Tool. This tool pulls up a small box that the user can make bigger or smaller to cover certain parts of the screen. The box follows wherever the mouse goes. By cursing over certain material, the magnifying box shows whatever the mouse is over. The magnifying box also follows the cursor when typing. In the screen shot above, you can see the magnifying box at the top of the screen, highlighting text or images wherever the cursor goes. This tool would be very useful for a visually impaired student who can work on the computer with a bit of help seeing the text.

Microsoft Narrator voices what is happening on the computer screen as you navigate the keyboard. It echos the user's keystrokes, announces system messages, announces scroll notifications, and narrates. Visually impaired students can benefit from this added help to digest information on the screen. ADD students could also benefit. The narration constantly reminds students what they are doing and will hopefully keep them on track.

In the Microsoft Ease of Access center there are controls to remove background images from the desktop and minimize animations when possible. Darkening the screen can keep an ADD student from being distracted by an interesting desktop picture. Animations that pop up while students are in the midst of concentration will be gone if the box is checked, keeping students on track.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lab Workout #12 : My PLN (Personal Learning Network)

I will run my Personal Learning Network from iGoogle. My PLN allows me to access all of my resources that pertain to my professional growth in the field of elementary education. By putting all of my tools and resources in one place I can more efficiently find everything I need.

Here I will link to:

Twitter - I can follow teachers or education experts on their twitters.

Teacher blogs - I can immediately see the latest posts from elementary ed teachers.

Any useful podcasts

Delicious - All of my favorite sites and links are easily accessible. I am also linked to Professor Leftwich's account. I could find the delicious accounts of elementary teachers to really help me find their favorite tried and true sites and resources.

TeacherTube and YouTube - Here I can quickly find videos pertaining to a certain subject.

My iGoogle (where I manage my personal learning network) is still in the works, and will mostly likely always be in progress as I find new resources and tools.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lab Workout 11: My Future Classroom Blog (Example)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Happy Fall to all!

The leaves are changing, the air is turning cold - - the classroom is festively decorated! Students came to school today greeted by our newly embellished reading corner, perfect for snuggling up against the cold weather. Since today is Tuesday, we had our weekly Independent Reading time. There was quite a rush to the "leaf" corner! Most students are halfway through their latest chapter book by now. We are all looking forward to starting our book reports in two weeks, with class presentations shortly following. Guidelines for your children's oral and written reports will be going out next week....Get excited!

Our "Lovely Leaves" reading corner:

This Thursday marks our yearly "Family Thanksgiving Get-together." Here is the link to the Reservation Slip if you have yet to send this in.


Looking forward to see all families and relatives at the meal this Thursday!

Lab Workout 10: Station 2 Measuring Ourselves - Height and Foot Size in InspireData (Elementary/Early Childhood/TAL - Required, option 2)

This station involved finding the height, wingspan, and foot length of three participants. I then graphed the information in a table and an axis graph using InspireData. The goal is to then analyze what the graphs show us from the given data.

The first step was to put the data into a table:

Height, Wingspan, and Foot Length for Taylor, Hannah, and Maddie

The next step was to turn this table into an axis plot:

  • Questions:

1. Is there a relationship between height and wingspan?

Yes, the axis plot shows that as height increases, wingspan also increases directly.

2. How can you tell from the graphs?

The green dots increase along the x and y axes as the height and wingspan increase.

3. Is there a relationship between height and foot length?

Yes, as height increases foot length increases.

4. How can you tell from the graphs?

The green dots shift increasingly along the x and y axes, showing an increasing and direct relationship.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Educational Technology Tools: Communication

For the Educational Technology Tool of Communication, my group and I explored Skype. Skype, stemming from the phrase "sky peer-to-peer" is a video conferencing tool that works over the internet. Users can make calls to other users and see and hear each other. Multiple users can Skype together at one time. Users can both skype with video and voice or one person can see video while the other only hears voice, a.k.a "Skype-out".

In addition, Skype has an instant messaging feature where users can chat while connected. You can also share your screen with the person you are Skyping with. This is beneficial for sharing powerpoints, websites, pictures...whatever is on your computer screen you can share with your Skype partner. When Skyping in on a group discussion or project, screen sharing is a means of communicating data, spread sheets, or whatever document the group is working with.

Skype can be a useful communication tool for video conferencing with other groups or businesses, or to participate in a group discussion while you are home at sick and away from your small group. Teachers can lecture to their classes while away from school, or students can video conference in to a teacher's lesson when the student is sick.

This tool could be used to expose students to a virtual penpal who lives far away or in a different culture. A foreign language class could practice conversational skills and learn more about the language they study through a student from that culture by video conferencing. Elementary students could Skype other elementary students from around the country, or even from different countries. In daily life, my experience with Skype has been through seeing my friends use it to communicate with family, friends, or significant others who live far away. Talking conversationally, like on a telephone, is made even better with the addition of video, so you can see the people you miss.

Some cons could be if students took advantage of the ability to Skype into a lecture by calling in sick too often. Video conferencing should never replace classroom lecture and experience.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lab Workout 10: Station 1: KidPix Pictographs (Elementary/Early Childhood/TAL - Required, option 1)

This week our topic of an educational tool is Data Analysis. This Station used KidPix, individual student exploration, class discussion, and analyzing a pictograph and a glyph.

I first created a Tally Sheet in Microsoft Word to give to each kindergarten student. They can take this around the class and collect data from other students about what their favorite sport is.

The next section was to create a Pictograph using KidPix of the class' favorite sports. I drew a picture of a playground with 22 students, the number of kids in "Mrs. Martin's kindergarten class", on it. A stick figure with a basketball for a head represents one student who said their favorite sport is basketball. The same goes for baseball, volleyball, football, and soccer.
Next, I created a Snowman glyph in KidPix. A glyph is a picture that you make by following a list of choices. For each question, you choose yes or no. If yes you add one thing to your picture, if no you add a different thing. The resulting image will be unique to the student who made it, depending on their choices. A glyph is a good way to represent the unique differences among students.
To wrap up these activities, I created a list of discussion questions for the whole class to talk about. A class discussion is a good way to bring the whole class together at the end of a lesson and review the key topics they were meant to grasp. In these discussions, students will talk about what they see in each picture, what the things they see mean, and what they can do with that information.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lab Workout Pre-Lecture Activity #7

I am a KidPix expert.

KidPix is a drawing format used on Macs. Students can draw, paint, put stickers up.....you name it. But it doesn't just have to be for fun, aimless doodling. Many sites online offer ideas for integrating KidPix into classroom lessons. Students can create things like flow charts for book reports using the box tool on KidPix and typing into it. Creating projects on the computer, experimenting with color, and using a program make an assignment like a book report more exciting. In the newer versions of KidPix you can even do things like record your voice to go along with your picture and create a slideshow of pictures.

Here are two sites with ideas for activities using KidPix:

Here is an example of a student's work using KidPix. This kindergarden class created an alphabet book for each letter and illustrated it. They worked on phonics and spelling based on what they know about how words work.

This site offers tutorials for learning how to use the various tools in KidPix, such as the pencil, paint, drawing lines, etc. Here is an example of one of the tutorials available on this site: You can learn how to use the stampinator! Another shows you how to use the eraser tool.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lab Workout #5

Teachers need to use technology wisely in their classrooms. It should not be about bells and whistles; if technology is distracting then it certainly is not helping students to learn or grow. When using technology, we need to make sure it is either Effective, Efficient, or Enhancing our lesson.

Here are three tools that I found to be useful and which "E" they fall under:

1. http://www.educatorresourcecenter.org/view_lesson.aspx?lesson_plan_id=417
I found this lesson plan through the Smithsonian's educational site. It includes descriptions of standards that it meets, subject categories it falls under, additional resources, and how-to's. This is an example of Efficiency through technology. This offers quick access to thorough and in-depth knowledgeable resources.

2. http://www.carolhurst.com/subjects/history/livinghistory.html
Bring history to life in the classroom! This offers an idea of how to instill a curiosity about history in students. This is an example of Enhancement, because first students learn in-depth about a certain time period, place, and event, then use role-play to explore life had they been alive at that time.

3. http://www.easytestmaker.com/default.aspx
This easy test maker site allows teachers to Efficiently create tests and quizzes. This saves time on formatting and looks more professional.

Lab Workout #4 for Lab 9-22

Here are some useful sites for educational resources.

1. http://www.pacificnet.net/~mandel/EducationalResources.html
This website may or may not be operated on a small-time level; it is less professional than many other sources for educational tools. However, while clicking around on the links, I stumbled across all kinds of categories of resources, from Language Arts links to Early Elementary links, etc. Most of these are personal sites of teachers and contain useful activities they have experienced and are tried and true in their own classrooms. This site presents what real-life teachers working with children rely on in order to be effective.

2. http://www.proteacher.com/
This site is a community directory for teacher resources that includes links to teachers' blogs...ideas for lesson plans...classroom activities...games...etc. Relevant for Elementary teachers grades PreK-8th.

3. http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/
This is the Smithsonian's educational site. Provides lesson plans that you can search by topic, age group, subject, etc. Amazing! Along with the lesson plan, you can click on links to get to additional related resources, such as books to use, coloring pages.....etc.