Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Machine is Us(ing) Us

Go to YouTube to watch an anthropology professor's video on the history of the internet and how it is formatted. It is called The Machine is Us(ing) Us. Super interesting! We need to rethink how we get information, who writes it, how it is formatted and sorted. We drive the machine --the internet----by posting, tagging, inserting and finding information on the net. Honestly, I don't understand how all of it works, but he broke it all down so that it made more sense and I could see how the codes work for html, p for paragraph, etc. In the beginning, form and content were connected but now as the internet has grown, they have been able to separate the different elements to let the writing grow and not be defined in a certain way. When I say "they" that is not true either---its us and all the people that use the internet and search stuff every day. As an educator, I just need to stay as current as possible and know that when the students and I research items, we help define and the content and use what we need and not be controlled by the machine.

Monday, April 13, 2015

January -Google apps Read and Write by Textsmith

I just went to a Google class on Read and Write and other amazing apps and extensions of Google. I was inspired to come back immediately the next day and have my students get the apps for themselves. Here are some things I liked about these programs and how I hope to use them.

Read and Write-(purple puzzle piece) is a great tool for students to have text read to them. It can read their own text to them in a Google doc but they can also use the app on a webpage and have articles read to them. They can use different highlighters to help them distinguish text or pieces of writing. I am excited to have kids see where and how they can use this as we research for our informational writing.

Clearly- a great app that I plan on using when I use Google up on the Smart board with my class. Right now in Life Cycles science, I pull up different articles or images on dragonflies or whatever. When you hit the extension button at the top of your menu bar, it will take away all the extra text and potentially inappropriate images and ads from around the piece you are trying to read. That will be great!

Visor- I had my student with dyslexia put this on her Google account. When she activates the visor, it gives her a window to be able to focus on a few lines of text at a time instead of trying to read the whole article with all those words swimming around! Very neat app!

Extensity- an app to control all of these apps and extensions! You can easily see what is running and turn it off. Nice! I need this app after attending this class and downloading all of these apps and more!

November Movenote

I just tried out Movenote for editing my students' work. This is a cool app that takes a video of me talking to my student and editing their piece "with them." It feels like I am conferencing with them since I am talking to them but really, I can look over their Google document at home and make suggestions when it is convenient for me. When you place your cursor over their text, it will show up on the video and you can highlight pieces as you talk so they can understand your message.

The kids all were motivated to finish their document and share it with me because they really wanted to have me "talk to them." It was so easy it was to copy the link and paste it on their doc. Really simple! I even did Movenotes with my students and they were watching in real time but they were able to go back and replay my notes to them until they made the necessary changes.

I guess the only downfall to Movenote is the wait time while your video downloads to be able to paste it to their doc.

I will be using this often! Love it!

October--Cursive writing

I just read the article "The Case Against Cursive" about why teachers and school districts have dropped cursive writing instruction. As a 3rd grade teacher who has traditionally taught cursive for 23 years, I enjoyed reading this. I agree with much of the author's stance. His points on how we are moving into a digital, technology based writing are all true. He believes that it is just not necessary to be able to write it or read it. He argues that someone can learn to read the script in an hour or less instead of spending days or weeks learning how to make the loopy cursive writing.
On the other hand, I feel that cursive can be taught in a quick and speedy fashion. Students really love to learn how to write it and it feels like a 3rd grade milestone that they look forward to learning. I suppose they really don't need to be proficient at it but with just the little bit of time we allot to cursive, it can help later with their signatures on documents. Another reason I like to teach the kids cursive is that it can help with reversals particularly with b and d. Finally, think it can help with fine motor development. Many kids that struggle with nice penmanship get a new outlook when they have to take their time on their cursive and "relearn" penmanship. Their style and neatness can really improve!
So, in conclusion, I think I can rethink teaching cursive. It is not in the Common Core and it is probably not necessary to teach. Maybe I let this tradition go. So far, I have not let it go and my students and their parents thank me for it. I guess I will take it year to year!


September : Motivational Videos for Teachers:

My principal showed us the Dalton Sherman video to inspire and motivate us. This amazing boy speaks so eloquently to a huge auditorium of teachers back in 2008. I don't think anyone could ever get tired of seeing this video. He brings me to tears every time because he just knows how to speak to your heart and make you remember why you got into this profession. It is all about the kids and I never want to forget that . Every day make that connection with kids and give them confidence. That will make them be a huge success.
I highly recommend teachers watch this before they start a new school year!