Monday, April 30, 2012

ITEC Conference Extra Credit

I had the amazing opportunity to go to the ITEC Student Technology Fair. There were tons of middle school students showing of their accomplishments. There was an immense amount of projects covering a broad range of topics. The kids really put in some hard work and it definitely showed when we walked around to interview students about their work. It's amazing how the students are able to create these projects. I'm really amazed by all the new technologies that the students are using that I've never heard of. These kids are really getting out there and researching new technologies.
The first project I reviewed was two boys that created a song on GarageBand. The song was really cool and reminded me of a  futuristic type song. While talking to the boys about their project I found out that they finished the song right before the conference started. They had both when working on different projects and had technical difficulties so they teamed up and decided to work together. I really enjoyed listening to their song and thought their teamwork paid off!
The second project I reviewed was of two students who used Google SketchUp. I was really fascinated with this one because I was presenting my PBL later that day and incorporating SketchUp. While talking to the students I asked them how they learned Google SketchUp and they both said they just played around with it. The students said they had some technological difficulties while completing their project and lost some data, but thankfully not to much. The students said it took them about a month to complete their tower replica of Big Ben. It was great to see a program that I know being used by others and be able to talk to them about their triumphs and failures with the program.
The last project I saw was of someone who used Blender to create two and three dimensions of an atom. His original idea was to create a tornado using this project, but was unable to do so. My favorite part of this student's project wasn't actually what he submitted for judging but a model he had created of his favorite video game. He took pictures of his favorite characters in a game and then recreated the virtual characters and then photoshopped himself into the picture. He was so excited and animated when sharing this project with us! It was great to see all the kids excited about technology!
                                                       photo from personal collection
The technology fair creates opportunities for students to be creative and find new ways to do things. Each child is allowed to do their own project and can really choose something they are passionate about, which is great to see. I would say that the students were using goal directed and infusion on the Technology Matrix. I would say that it is infusion because the students get to chose the technology they want and goal directed because the students are using technology to accomplish their goals. This opportunity allowed me to get some great ideas for PBL in my classroom. It also helps me realize that students are very capable of using any technology we just need to give them the time and software to use it. I hope I get the chance to allow my students to create their own projects using the technologies of their choice. I want my future students to be as passionate as these kids were.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Middle Jaar's PBL

Today in class I learned that their are many veteran's in the world that suffer from the consequences of homeless. We can do a lot to help them by volunteering or donating to different organizations. Today in class, I made a poster to help create awareness about a program that gives medical care to veterans suffering from mental health issues. This will help veteran's because it gives them contact information to get medical help and lets them know that they are entitled to timely and free medical care! The organization is called Veteran Justice Outreach (VJO) Initiative. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Creating My Groups Final PBL

While creating our final PBL we really struggled with finding something we wanted to do. We kept trying to think of ideas and then we wouldn't be able to think of a technology that we could incorporate and vice versa. We finally realized that we could adapt or PBL from before and make it even better. We decided to have the kids create a boundless playground. A boundless playground is a playground that anyone can play on, it's handicap accessible. So many playgrounds aren't this way that we thought this would be a great way to create awareness.

We then brainstormed different technologies we could use and decided on Google SketchUp. None of use had ever used Google SketchUp, so we had to learn it fast. Google SketchUp is a really cool program that is free and can be downloaded to your computer. I had a lot of fun playing around with it and creating random shapes. I also watched a lot of videos on it so that I would know it fairly well. Here's an example of a video I watched to learn more about using Google SketchUp.

When making a boundless playground on Google SketchUp we had to be very creative in thinking up different things to use. I think the students really enjoyed using Google SketchUp.
I think this project would have gone a lot better if we had had more time and an actual class. It's hard to condense a PBL into one class period when it would normally be 3-4 weeks long. I think that it would have been a lot more beneficial to have more time so the students could explore different ideas for boundless playgrounds and maybe even use something else to create it.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Interactive Whiteboards

Smart boards can be an amazing tool in the classroom. They create an environment where the students are active participants. In my level one, the students loved having the whiteboard to do activities on. It was a great resource during their math lessons on counting money. The students could have the currency on the board and drag them around to where they need them.
There is also a vast amount of resources for smart boards online. Many teachers post their lessons and flip charts online for others to use. A website that has a vast amount of resources is promethean plant. There are also a variety of white boards that can be used interactively in a classroom and range in their prices. A great one that can be moved from class to class is the mimeo board. This board is around $500 dollars and moveable. It has many of the same capabilities as other smart boards, but is a lot more cost effective.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012


In class today, I got to explore a new technology called glogster. I really enjoyed working with glogster. It was very user friendly and I was able to do everything I wanted to do. I incorporated pictures, video, and text into my glogster. My glogster was created to be inspiration to others. I tried to put quotes that everyone could relate too. Here is a link to my glogster.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Technology Creates Opportunities

This weekend I got the amazing opportunity to Skype an illustrator in Texas for a podcast. We contacted an illustrator from the Skype an author website. We were able to have a 15 minute conversation with Nathaniel Jensen. He is the illustrator of Children's book such as, Rattlesnake Rules. It was really neat to be able to talk to an actual illustrator. We got to ask him questions about how he comes up with drawings, research he does before beginning an illustration and what he does if he gets can't get a drawing or painting just so.
This opportunity wouldn't have been possible without technology. Technology has reinvented how we do things. It has changed our everyday lives. Now instead of writing letters to friends and family we can call them, text them, and even Skype them. It has even given us the opportunity to talk to people in a different country. Technology has given us the opportunity to expand and reach other people. Just take a look at how technology has changed the education world. Technology will continue to revolutionize the world and it's up to us as educators to bring it into the classroom.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Podcasting for Education

Podcasting has created a new way for student to actively become involved in their education. Podcasts are audio recordings stored as an mp3 file. Students can listen to these podcasts on ipods, computers, and CDs.  Mr. Coley's fifth-grade students use podcasting as a way to summarize their units. They break up the class into different groups and write scripts, record it and then pull it all together with a simple program like GarageBand. They then share their podcasts on the web. This is an awesome way to broadcast what you are learning and give the students an opportunity to listen to remember their units later on down the road. I also feel like this is a great resource for teachers to use. If classes post their podcasts, like Mr. Coley, then many other classrooms can enjoy the podcasts and learn from them as well. This is a great way to give students information other then the teacher lecturing. I feel like many kids would enjoy this unique way to learn and enjoy the change of pace. Listening to Themselves: Podcasting Takes Lessons Beyond the Classroom 

While creating out podcast in class I got to see how easy and useful this would be for my own classroom. This is a great project for a class to create. It allows them to be creative and can be done on any topic. I definitely plan on not only having my kids create podcasts, but also creating my own podcasts for my class to use. There is also a vast amount of resources online that I can use for my classroom. There are podcasts on any topic imaginable. Here's a great website to find podcasts for your classroom. You can also find a ton of free podcast in the itunes store as pictured below.