Meme: Passion Quilt

I’ve been reading and enjoying many responses to the Meme Passion Quilt, started by Miguel Gulhin, this week. I never expected to be tagged but I was! I feel honored and I thank Liz B Davis for the tag. I’ve been a kindergarten, first or second grade teacher for over 20 years and one thing I have been passionate about all these years is getting children to love reading. I strongly believe that teachers need to foster this love by; reading great books to children, teaching them to read with interesting books, filling the classroom with quality literature, giving children time to read, and encouraging them read at home. If we can get our children passionate about reading in the primary grades and then continue to fan that passion we’ll have life long readers and learners. Now that I’ve moved to the computer lab I try to connect what we’re doing to books as much as possible.

Finding a photo was much harder than I expected. After spending hours browsing flickr and not finding what I wanted I turned to an old photo of my children. They are now 15 and 19 and both enjoy reading. By using my own photo I had fun playing around with flauntR.

Here are the rules:

  1. Think about what you are passionate about teaching your students.
  2. Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  3. Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  4. Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter/Pownce.

I now tag the following 5 people: Murch, Frank, Frieda, John, and Keamac.

Open PD

Here’s where I sit while attending Open PDI read about Open PD on Daren Draper’s blog. He was inviting anyone to join his class, learning about web2.0 tools, in Utah, for free. I missed the first week but went ahead and joined in the second week. For someone new to online learning it was quite an experience. I stayed for the whole class and went back the next three weeks. At our house on Wednesday nights dinner is served and dishes are done by 6:30 so I can sit down and join the class. I’m thankful my daughter is in high school and has homework to keep her busy. One of my goals for this year was to learn to be a better multitasker. Taking this course is a big help! At times I’m watching the video on UStream and of course listening to the audio, as well as reading the posts in the chat room, on one half of my screen while working on perhaps a Google document with other class participants on the other half of my screen. Oh, and of course some online students are participating via Skype. Robin Ellis, the co-teacher participates in the discussions and monitors the chat room for questions and makes sure they get answered either by someone in the chat room or by Daren in class. I was familiar with the tools Daren talked about but I learned new tips and tricks at each class. I also learned that accidentally opening Ustream in two windows causes echoes and that makes it very difficult to follow the conversation. I also learned that problems with technology can plague anyone no matter how well prepared they are but if everyone is patient things will turn out fine in the end. One night Darren put all the participants in groups and asked them to Skype in and work on a Google presentation together. Some online participants left and others were joining and some of us didn’t have Skype. I felt very guilty not being prepared for class. I was tempted to leave but decided to stick it out. (I had singed up for Skype the week before in class but it caused problems with Firefox so I had deleted it not knowing we’d need it again. I have since reloaded it and it seems to be working fine.) Our group got a late start and ended up not using Skype but we still got the job done. Later that night we had some trolls visit the chat room and they wouldn’t go away so Darren, like all good teachers, had a backup plan and moved us to another chat room but lo and behold there were more trouble makers there. But everyone was patient and finally the trouble maker left and we were able to finish the class. By last night Darren had another solution and things went smoothly. I’ll admit I tend to be a lurker in class, I’m comfortable absorbing everything that’s going on without having to participate in the chat room. However, when I did have a problem and posed a question Robin or someone else was always quick to help me out. Another one of my goals is to use Skype this year. Darren has another class starting in two weeks that will go into more detail about blogs and wikis. Maybe by the time it’s done I’ll get brave and try Skype. For a person that hates talking on the telephone the thought of talking into a microphone online is even more intimidating. We don’t have Skype at school but if we did I’d expect my students to do it so I guess it’s time for me to do something I might expect of them. One of Darren’s parting comments about blogs was to be sure to add pictures. So, I’m trying that out. The picture at the start of this post is where I sit while attending Open PD. Thanks Darren and Robin for providing the class. I appreciate all your hard work that goes into making it successful.

Google Earth

Ok, so the first web2.0 tool I’m going to have the students use is Voicethreads. The first web2.0 tool that I used for my students was Google Earth. Our second graders are learning about biographies and I know as first graders they celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday last March ,so they have some background knowledge about him. So, I put together a biography of Dr. Seuss on Google Earth. The students watched the show and took notes on a graphic organizer. (Note: Next year watch the show first, then go back and watch it a second time and take notes.) Now, we’re going over our notes together, discussing good introductory sentences and beginning to write a biography about Dr. Seuss as a partner activity. For right now we’re just typing in Word. The next step will be for each child to do an illustration in Kidspiration2 or Paint. Then finally, we’ll “publish” our story in Mixbook by copying and pasting our text and inserting our illustrations and photographs from the web. Hopefully, we’ll have this done in March and we can invite the first graders in to hear our stories. Only seeing the students once every 6 days for 40 minutes means it takes a long time to complete a project! Any suggestions on other tools I should use or any other suggestions are always welcome!

To view the Google Earth presentation click on View Larger Map and then click on View in Google Earth or it can be viewed from Google Maps as well.

View Larger Map

First Web2.0 Tool

I will admit that at the moment I am addicted to the internet and all the new resources I have found in the last four months. I spend every evening possible online reading blogs, Twitters, listening to EdTalk, checking out NINGS etc. A general piece of advice I’m hearing on Twitter and Blogs for newbies is that we should pick one web2.0 tool and get good at it instead of trying everything and getting overwhelmed. That sounds like good advice. After all this reading I’ve decided to start with VoiceThreads. I’ve selected this tool for several reasons. First of all, I’ve played around with it and it’s easy to use. Only having my class for a total of 40 minutes-easy is important.  Another reason for selecting this tool is that I can see applications in every subject area and every grade K-5.  When I combine these two reasons I think it will be a tool I can get some classroom teachers to adapt. Being free and not blocked by our server are two more good reasons for trying out Voicethreads.

 I’m beginning with the 5th grades in a few weeks. They are doing state reports in their classroom. I plan on setting up a page for each state studied. Then I’ll have all the students that learned about a particular state comment on what they’ve learned on that page. Next I’ll invite others to listen to what we have to say then if possible find their state and share some new information. If you have any suggestions please feel free to share. I hope by starting with fifth grade they’ll catch on to the whole process easily. Then when I do it with the younger students I can have a few of the older kids come and supervise the recording with the younger kids. Both age levels would benefit from the experience.  Please feel free to share which Web2.0 tool I should try out next.