Thursday, December 9, 2010

Creative Commons Licensing

When choosing an image from Flickr you may notice that the images offered are under different forms of licenses.  Each license provides an explanation of the terms of usage of the images (works).  These include the following:
Attribution...others may copy, display, distribute and perform your work-as long as they give you cred
Attribution-NoDerivs...others may copy, display, distribute, and perform your work as long as it is verbatim copies of your work may display, distribute, copy, and perform your work, as long as it is verbatim copies for non-commercial purposes
Attribution-NonCommercial...others may display, distribute, copy, and perform your work along with derivatives of your work, as long as it is for non-commercial purposes may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work for non-commercial purposes may distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Romeo & Juliet Podcast

Very recently I switched my job as a 9th grade special ed teacher to a 9th and 11th grade English teacher.  All of the resources that I have been exposed to during this course must now be geared towards English.  When looking through Podcasts that I may use in my own teaching environment I stumbled upon the dramatic reading of William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet.  As one of the upcoming pieces of literature that my 9th graders will be studying I am thrilled to have found such a resource.  The reading of each act of Shakespeare's tragic love story are read by a teacher and his students that are very capable of reading Shakespeare.  Because students oftentimes struggle with reading Shakespeare I was hoping to provide auditory aides so that they may listen to the text in order to avoid stumbling over the words and Shakespearean language.  Students can access the following site, Romeo & Juliet Podcast , to catch up at home or review scenes or acts.  Will definitely be using in the next couple of months!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Wow, the possibilities with a global communication site like ePals are endless.  When exploring the site for myself I noticed some major components that educators would tap into.  First, you can create an account for your class or school allowing you to, as a group, connect with another school or class when exploring a common topic.  Educators can create their own individual profiles in order to share lessons, request lesson ideas, or communicate with another teacher from somewhere else on the planet.  Students are also capable of making "ePals" much like "pen pals" in order to communicate with students their age from possibly a different country or continent.  During my search of the site I found two teachers who were collaborating on lesson ideas when reading Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."  One teacher was from California, while the other was from Israel.  The teacher from Israel shared the idea of creating an additional scene to the play in the PowerPoint program.  The teacher from California loved the idea and even posted her distant colleague's projects on her personal webpage.  

I think that it is easy for any individual to forget that we are only 1 of about 6 billion people on this planet.  A global community site, such as ePals, allows anyone to reach out and bridge the gap between cultures, languages, religions, and political issues for the common idea of educating children.  I think it is essential that children understand that they are a part of something greater than they can truly conceive.  Giving our students authentic experiences to communicate with students from other regions or countries, or explore different content areas using another teacher's lessons builds their concept of the global community that they are apart of.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Bubblr is an awesome online tool that can be used to create comic strips.  You may search images on Flickr and insert word bubbles.  I feel that this could be used across content areas and engage students in creating fun, informative comic strips about any topic. I utilized Bubblr to make a short strip about the "Pax Romana". I hope to use this tool in my Science class to help students better understand abstract concepts.

In English, students could use Bubblr to create short summaries about texts or chapters they have read. They could also create alternate endings.  In Social Studies they could recreate certain time periods like I've done or discuss current events by making a comic strip.

Whichever method you choose, Bubblr is for sure to be a great learning tool for students!

Photo by -yury-

Monday, October 18, 2010


Micro-blogging is yet another way to connect with your students outside of the walls of the classroom.  Edmodo is an online network that allows you to connect with only your specific students and provide quick and easy bits of information to them.  This "closed group collaboration" allows teachers to easily connect with students after school hours to remind them of upcoming assignments and tests, make them aware of any assignment changes, and create a stronger bond between students and teacher.  It was suggested, however, in The Chronicle of Higher Education article that “My experience with using Twitter and anything similar — blogs, Facebook, etc. — for academic purposes is that students just think it is weird, creepy, and geeky in the negative sense."  Some students reject the idea of having such communication with their educators after hours, despite how beneficial it may be to them.  An opposing view from an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Dallas suggests, "Thus to extend the walls of the classroom, make education relevant to all aspects of students lives rather than just what they do four-five hours a day we need to think of ways to extend the ways we form and foster learning communities.”  I understand both points of view, however, it is my hope as a secondary educator, that younger students would be excited to be given encouragement to use such modes of communication that are usually off limits.  With my students I would love to keep them updated with reminders of due dates, homework assignments, study tips, and prompts to get started.  There is such a daily disconnect as soon as the students leave the building that I almost wish I could call them personally.  Time, unfortunately, does not permit such a luxury, whereas micro-blogging would allow those invaluable pieces of information to land right in front of them!

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Continuing on in my search for Blogs that are pertinent to my own interests, I stumbled upon the blog, "Look at My Happy Rainbow," written by a male Kindergarten teacher, .  His blog chronicles his day-to-day encounters with his "sprouts" as he refers to his students.  Although I am a high school special education teacher, the insights from a kindergartner teacher's point of view are refreshing and encouraging.  My passion was originally to work with elementary students who are just learning the lay of the land where everything is new to them.  Somehow I was guided into high school where my job now is to mold respectful,  responsible, hard-working young adults.  "Look at My Happy Rainbow" allows me to look at both the complexity and simplicity that Kindergarten classrooms are made of.  In one post entitled, "Genius," the teacher had his "sprouts" create adjectives for the pictures of pumpkins they had just drawn on a piece of paper.  One student chose the word "scary" and needed guidance in how to spell out the word.  The teacher sat down and helped the student spell out each sound and when they got to the last sound, /ee/, the student wrote a "y".  When asked how the student knew the letter was a "y" and not and "e," which was fully expected to be what a kindergartner would produce, he simply responded, "It's just like the "y" at the end of my name" (Billy).  The pureness of the student's answer reminds the teacher and readers not to ever underestimate your student's inner genius!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ning Networks...Classroom 2.0

As a former Ning user, I really like the social networking opportunity it provides, however, I was thoroughly disappointed when Ning.Com started charging to use its site.  The students that I had used the site with had also graduated in June leaving "Miss Hart's Ning" dorment all summer anyways.  Now that I have reentered the sea of Ning Networks I found an extremely relevant and useful Network called "Classroom 2.0" Later, I realized this was the first Ning Network recommended on our syllabus... Nevertheless, it stuck out to me because the site provides posts from educators and individuals from all over regarding various topics of how to implement technology within your classroom, technology/education standards, online seminars, software, etc., etc.  Classroom 2.0 was created for educators interested in Classroom 2.0 and social media within education.  I like how there is a link for "beginners" to begin digital dialog.  There is nothing more overwhelming then attempting to become more digital savvy and hitting a brick wall in your first attempt.  What a great idea to guide novices through their first attempts.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A learner is like a...

CAKE!  Quite a stretch, but a learner is exposed and compiled of several forms of knowledge (ingredients) and does not only rely on one source of knowledge, but many to create a more informed individual (better cake).  The tools and modes of technology used to obtain this knowledge (measuring cups, mixer, oven, spatulas) have become essential for 21st century learners.  Our need for Blogs, text messaging, Podcasts, etc. has allowed a learner's knowledge to be more easily obtainable and reciprocated.  It is also the 21st century learners' right and responsibility to be exposed to the most current pieces of knowledge (freshest ingredients).  By making it a point to use the best tools for knowledge and acquiring the most current elements of knowledge, the outcome will be a most informed learner (DELICIOUS CAKE).

When reading George Siemens' article, "Connectivism:  A Learning Theory for the Digital Age" I am intrigued by his theory learning theory known as connectivism.  According to Siemens, "Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity, and self-organization sets."  Furthermore, " focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more and are more important than our current state of knowing."  Continuing with my cake analogy, it is the precise "connection of information sets" (measured ingredients) to learn more or work towards a finished product (DELICIOUS CAKE).  

Although I am not able to synthesize the following quote within my delicious cake analogy, I nevertheless found it powerful  and appropriate to address regarding our 21st century learners.  In the short video, "The Conflict of Learning Theories with Human Nature," Siemens discusses connectivism and states: 
“Our challenge, then, as educators is finding a way to value and to foster that human need that we have to be expressed about our ideas and to focus less on trying to bring knowledge into the mind of a person, and more on developing skills for our learners so they’re able to go out in, fairly complex knowledge environments today, and function in a distributive manner.”

It is critical for teachers across the globe to not push mundane quantities of facts upon our students, but prepare them with the essential skills in occupations that are just emerging, yet will become the foundations to societal existence.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Response to "...K-12 Students Today"

I started watching the video entitled, "A Vision of K-12 Students Today" and immediately was reminded of a video that I had been shown by a friend and also in a graduate class last year.  Half way through the video I stopped and was curious to read the other titles of video links we were asked to choose from.  Sure enough, the video "Did You Know?" was the one I was thinking of.  After watching both, I am truly amazed at the statistics that they include.  To know that college majors are offered that didn't even exist 10 years ago is incredible.  That 70% of four year olds have used a computer is shocking.  The fact that 67% of teachers have never used wikis, blogs, or podcasts is believable, but needs to be changed. 

It is apparent that we are utilizing the interests of our students within the classroom.  By remaining unexposed and uneducated about technology that actually opens a whole new world of learning for our students, we are doing them a disservice and only prolonging the time before we must become educated.  I believe that professional development should begin to largely focus upon ways that educators can practically incorporate technology within their classrooms and daily instruction instead of it being large chunks of time that teachers feel they are wasting.  I believe education is in the midst of a complete revolution, however, it needs a slight push in order for that revolution to be complete.  Although I consider myself a young teacher, I even need that extra push to learn what children and teenagers know today.  Last year I showed my 12th grade students the "Did You Know?" video and may show my new ninth graders as well...although I don't think they're as astonished as I am when I watch it. :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Safe Blogging

In order to ensure blogging remains safe for all students I would suggest some of the following ground rules with my students prior to allowing them access to a community blog..

1. Do not share passwords with anyone except a teacher or parents.  Do NOT give a password to a "best friend" because that friendship may change throughout the course.

2. When blogging be sure to consider your audience as many people may have access to what you have written.  Avoid racial, religious, or gender bashing.

3.  Do not include any information in your blog post that reveals where you go to school, where you live, where you or your family members work, etc.  Always keep in mind that someone harmful may be your blogs for the wrong purpose.

4. Do not discuss inappropriate material or include any pictures that are inappropriate.  Ask  yourself, in ten years would I be able to get a job if the employer had access to these blogs/pictures.

5.  Lastly, do not utilize your last name in any posts!

In my district, incoming freshman are asked to have their parents sign a release form that allows them to navigate the Internet while at school.  We also use programs, such as Moodle and Castle Learning, this release also gives permission to students to create user/ID names and use these online instructional tools on a daily basis.

In order to block any inappropriate content, there is a team of technology staff that is continuously blocking and filtering any sites or images that are not acceptable for students to access.

Last year, I created a "Ning Network" with my students and informed the technology specialist in order to avoid them blocking the site after it had been identified that it was being used by students.  I informed her it was strictly for instructional purposes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Professional Development

Already after reading the first few chapters of the text and trying out a few new Internet tools, I feel that my own teaching could be completely changed if I take advantage of all these devices have to offer.  Although I absolutely hope to utilize what I learn in this course with my ninth grade students, I am also considering the benefits that this could offer in the area of professional development

Currently, I teach on a ninth grade team including four content area teachers and myself as the special ed. teacher.  After just finishing the first week of school with a new team and implementing a new form of instruction through co-teaching, I have already stumbled upon many obstacles.  One of the major struggles that I foresee for our team this year is communication (fortunately for me I am taking this course).  Despite carefully checking schedules and attempting to find common planning time between the five of us, there will absolutely not be enough hours in a day to allow us the collaboration opportunities that we need. 

I think for a situation like mine where you are teaching on a team, or a grade level/content area of teachers it would be extremely beneficial to utilize blogs to keep in contact regarding various topics.  For instance, one of the blogs could be specifically regarding parent contact.  It was suggested in the beginning of the year that we continuously communicate in order to eliminate several phone calls home, and instead, make one phone call addressing a student's problems in more than one of his/her classes.  By communicating through a blog we would each be able to discuss a student's misbehavior or missing work and have one teacher make the call home.

Another benefit of using blogs between team members is to share feedback.  Oftentimes, reflection gets forgotten as there is not enough time to sit down and discuss what worked or what didn't work.  Having the convenience to type something up in a specialized section where team members may view it would be extremely beneficial.  Particularly in the area of special ed,  it is crucial to identify which instructional strategies were successful or what content was learned or not learned. 

Thinking on a grander scale, it would of course be great if colleagues of an entire school could share some new ideas or new discoveries that they have found.  Although one may find an endless amount of great ideas on the Internet, it has almost become exhausting to filter through the huge amount of good and bad.  I think teachers would be much more receptive to the ideas of their own colleagues, rather than a stranger on the Internet.

I hope to implement this useful communication tool amongst my ninth grade team, however, I believe it would be a huge benefit if administration got the ball rolling at the beginning of the school year with something similar.