Working with the Grade 5’s from Crozet, Virginia for my collaborative project has been an amazing experience. This venture began with a Skype interview between Paula White (the grade 5 teacher) and myself about the expectations for this project. We decided that I will be commenting on the students wiki’s, asking questions to further their thinking, and providing any kind of help that the students needed. I commented on many of the students wiki’s asking them questions about their postings so they could inquire deeper into their posts. I also did a lot of their ‘polls’ that they had for fun! My first blog post discusses the frustration I was feeling with how slow this project seemed to start off as well as the initial plans for the collaboration project. Even though the project got off to a slow start, the interaction between the students and I began to pick up and take off once the students felt comfortable with interacting and after I made a video of myself in my glog for them (it made them easier to associate a name to a face I think!). I enjoyed emailing back and forth with the students, creating a variety of jings/screencasts for the students when they had any questions about how to use programs, and I created a glog about lit circles which was something that they wanted to start in the classroom. My second blog post was about the things that I was learning from the students. I was sharing cool sites and tools with them and they were able to share some amazing resources with me (example: wallwisher). It is amazing that as a professional, the students are still able to show the teacher a thing or too. As the teacher, you are constantly learning and growing along with the students which is something that this project showed me. This project is something that I am going to continue to do, especially since I have a Skype date with Celine to talk to her about her glog she created. It was easy enough for me, through the use of technology, to be connected to a classroom thousands of miles away! Since I am going to be teaching a grade 5 class next year, using wikis is something that I would implement into my classroom. The students are able to share their work with a world-wide audience as well as comment on each other’s wiki. It is an amazing resource that before this class and collaboration project, I did not know much about. I really enjoyed this experience and I see the value that it has in the classroom!
I was able to interview Chris Craft, a grade 6 teacher from South Carolina that integrates technology initiatives into his classroom. Here is a little background information on Chris Craft taken from his website:
Who am I?
I am a learner. I teach and learn with my sixth grade students. I teach and learn with a variety of adult learners. I also present at conferences.
I am nearing completion of a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research from the University of South Carolina. My dissertation research is exploring instructional design methodologies for inherently complex tasks in medical simulations. For more details about my educational background, see the about page.
I am a Google Certified Teacher, a SMART Exemplary Educator and a Discovery STAR Educator. I have won several awards during my time teaching sixth grade, including the Making IT Happen award, was a finalist in the Leaders in Learning award, and won an excellence in student media production at the International Student Media Festival. I also delivered the keynote address at the Upstate Technology Conference in June, 2009.
You will find me to be a well-balanced mixture of real-world design skills and knowledge of the underlying theories of learning.
We conducted our interview over gmail.
1. What specific technology tools do you tend to use the most in your classroom? Which do you find the students enjoy the most?
I use many different tools. I have a SMART Board, I have eInstruction CPS Remotes, I have a mounted projector, a laptop, several student workstations, an Airliner, among others.
The students most enjoy the CPS remotes.
2. What is one example of a time when you used technology to enhance the learning for your students which was not successful? why?
Of course! One must learn to embrace failure and learn from mistakes. It ended up not being successful due to inadequate planning on my part and insufficient tech support from my school/district.
3. Has there been any challenges for you in implementing technology in your classroom?
The district filters are a constant pain, as they often filter out valid sites.
4. Do you feel that teachers in your school are on-board with your technology initiatives in your classroom?
They know very little about what goes on in my room, and tend to struggle with the technology they attempt to implement in theirs.
5. What do you think is the greatest challenge facing students today?
Poor home lives, absentee parents.
6. What is your stance on teachers having facebook. Do you think that it is okay or not?
Teachers can have Facebook profiles all they want, they just need to know the proper boundaries and understand the public nature of it.
And lastly, I am really interested in how you were featured in Ed Compass because I have had the opportunity to work at a smart showcase school in Melville, SK that has also been featured in that SMART Technologies journal. I have done a lot of work with the smartboard and think it’s an amazing tool to have in the classroom. If you could tell me a little bit about your experiences with implementing the smartboard in your class, that would be great!
To be honest, I don’t use the SMART Board quite as much as I appear. Despite being featured in EdCompass and being a SMART Exemplary Educator I am afraid of my classroom being forcefully focused on the front of the room. We work so much on our student workstations (laptops) that the SMART Board is often used mainly to annotate existing web sites or control them with my fingers as opposed to being behind a laptop for demonstrations. But remember it’s a foreign language class, so I try to give kids the chance to speak and practice online as well.
My interaction with the Grade 5 class from Crozet has been really insightful for me as well as the students. I was worried before about how things were kind of slow at first but we are in full speed now and I have been helping the students with everything that they have been doing with their wikis. The students are asking questions/suggestions on their independent studies and I have been sending them Jings to help them. The students are enjoying the Jings, and I am definitely having fun creating them!
The amazing thing about collaboration with this class is that they are giving me great resources that I will be able to use in my classroom. One of the students was asking for help for her independent study and showed me a website called WallWisher. It is like a big bulletin board where you are able to create post it notes with text, video and audio and collaborate together on whatever topic you choose. The student was working on book review on this program which was a great idea!
The students wanted to learn more about lit circles because this is something that they want to start doing in class. Mrs. White did not know too much about Lit Circles so I ended up doing some research and created a Glog for them to learn more about lit circles. I was able to tie in my “Teach Us” for March with my collaboration project which was really cool for me. Here is my Lit Circle Glog!
Here is an example of my very first glog. Looking back at it now, it is so funny to see how simple it is. I realize that the more I played around with glogster and created glogs, the more advanced my glogs became and the more comfortable I was with using the program. I used this glog in my internship when we were doing an all about me unit in social. I showed the students a virtual poster and then they created their own posters (they didn’t do a virtual one because it would have been too difficult for them). Enjoy my all about me glog!
Last Thursday, I got the opportunity to go into Alec Couros ECMP 355 class and speak to his students about my experiences with using interactive white boards in the classroom. This was such an amazing experience for me to be able to share some of the lessons and activities that I have implemented in my Grade one classroom. I feel that it makes it more real for people to see concrete lessons that have been done and have been successful on the smartboard, since a lot of people are hesitant when it comes to using them in the classroom.
I went through my morning routine as well as some science/social lessons. We also dissected a frog on the board and went through some of the notebook gallery interactive tools. The best part though was getting everyone to use the smart response clickers for my science lesson (I was teaching about animals and their habitats for this lesson). I showed the habitat to everyone and they had to use the clicker to select the correct animal that is part of that habitat. I think everyone was able to see the power of technology and how fun it is to learn when integrating new technologies into the classroom. Also, they were able to see that if grade ones can do it, anyone can! I was also able to share some really cool websites that work hand in hand on the smartboard. Tumblebooks is, in my opinion, such a great resource for the classroom. It makes any book into a big book and it is also makes books/stories interactive for the students. Another personal favorite is starfall. If the kids had any free time, they would be playing independently on starfall, listening to stories, making pumpkin and snow men, singing songs, etc.
It was great for me to share my knowledge and even though there were a few technical difficulties at first, I had a lot of fun. Sharing information and collaboration among teachers is absolutely key and even though I am by no means an expert, I know that people were able to get a few good resources from my presentation and hopefully are less intimidated to use it when they get the chance. The cool thing too is that people in the presentation were able to share with me some great websites that they know would work great in the classroom on the smartboard like primarygames. Isn’t collaboration amazing! Why re-invent the wheel when we don’t have too!
I have been working a Grade 5 class from Crozet, Virginia for the past few weeks.
Paula White is the innovative Grade 5 teacher that has been helping along the way. She is an individual that is making technology a large part of her students educational experiences. Her grade 5 students wiki’s have been visited and commented from people all over the world! I asked Paula how she monitors the wikis since they are viewed by numerous people and she showed me her blog post where she talks about wiki safety. I have been interacting with the Grade 5 students on their personal wiki’s asking questions, sharing cool tools, and supporting them in their educational endeavors. It is interesting for them to see how things up here are different than things down there. For example, we talked about how the weather up here is a whole lot worse than the weather down there.
They are interested in learning about Lit circles and since Paula is unsure about how to proceed with them, Danielle and I are making a video to post to their wikis about Lit circles. (I will post that up when we finish it on Wednesday!). Something that I am finding a little tough though is getting the students to interact back with me. I have been asking questions to further their thinking and have been offering my help, but sometimes I get no response.
It is a really insightful experience to learn with students halfway across the continent. To see the grade 5 students take an active role in their own learning is so amazing and I know that when I am an educator, creating classroom wikis would be something I know that my students would benefit from!