Category Archives: Journal Entry

My Journey Has Only Just Begun

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As I begin my last journal posting, for now, I have decided to share a personal story of my journey from classroom teacher to media specialist to graduate school.

hands-up-colorI had been in the middle school classroom for years teaching all the various subjects, and I loved it!  But there was a need for someone with organized thinking and a knack for working independently to set up and man our new school library.  So, I became the “chosen one” and I accepted the challenge.  I loved playing school as a child, and had a library that my “dolls” used, so how hard could it be?  When I was first assigned the position of “librarian,” the actual library was located in a regular-sized classroom with three round tables, a huge circulation desk (the biggest one on campus), and 6 desktop computers – a tight squeeze.  At that time, the computers were only used for looking up books on the card catalog system OPAC, and for a few high school students who were making up a credit by taking online Florida Virtual classes.  So, not only was I the school librarian, but I was now the Florida Virtual facilitator, as well.

My dream at the time was to really develop a foundational library program and truly earn the title of “media specialist.”  It was then (7 years ago) that I determined that if I am to be the right person for the job, I needed to get some training.  I wanted to go back to school, but the timing was not quite right…yet.  So, I settled for researching on my own, and learning on-the-job.

At the inception of the library program, it was always in my heart to develop computer skills in our elementary students.  My belief is that the sooner you reach them technologically, the more knowledgeable and responsible they will become.  Then four years later, we were blessed with a large donation, and we were now able to move to a building four times the size of the old library – AND we added 28 brand new computers.  My computer lab has arrived.

Now what??  It became increasingly more evident, to me anyway, that I needed to really educate myself in the field in order to become relevant to my students.  I have always been resourceful, so every new skill I learned, I shared it with my kids.  But I needed a curriculum, so I decided to find a technology program that already existed, because I certainly had no clue how to create one from scratch – yet!!!  So, I went to one of my favorite sites, Amazon, and found a curriculum that was completely based on incorporating NETS-S.  I had never really heard of these standards, but because they were National and incorporated Technology, it sounded good to me.  Who knew I would end up working with these standards so intimately?

Drawing on TuxPaint

Drawing on TuxPaint

My current curriculum has worked really well for my students up to this point.  The students have learned many things – keyboarding skills, howto create graphic organizers, how to use Word to create documents, how to use formulas and graphics in Excel, and how to present using PowerPoint tools.  I then made a discovery:  it was time – time to return to school!  And what a good decision it was for me – AND for my students, as well!Today, I am now referred to by my peers as the media specialist.  With this title comes the responsibility of teaching Kindergarten through 5th grade computer and library skills, facilitating over 30 Florida Virtual high school students daily, being an ongoing resource for our teachers, and helping to develop our newly acquired Accelerated Reader program.

Taking an AR quiz

Taking an AR quiz

Continuing to use my current curriculum based on NETS standards is a good decision.  But now, I will be able to add to this curriculum by creating my own website/wiki, teaching my kids how to blog, helping them to learn how to create digital stories – the sky’s the limit.  I am a very busy girl – but very fulfilled.  So, thank you EME 5050 – you have definitely equipped me to become more relevant for my kids.  My journey has only just begun…

Here is a picture of our media center computer lab in action today:

Computer Lab

Sources:

Hanks, Cindy. (2012).  Computer Lab Pictures.  Retrieved from my own photo library.

Hicks, Mark. (2012).  Discovery Education Clip-Art Gallery. [Web source].  Retrieved from http://school.discoveryeducation.com/clipart/

Teaching the Whole Child

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In this ever-increasing technological age, we are faced with some amazing capabilities in education.  We have learned about current and future trends in educational technology, hardware and software, the necessity and importance of integrating technology into our curriculum, a vast number of technological tools, the importance of reflection and blogging, collaboration and teamwork, and the necessity of teaching to our students’ needs rather than for our own convenience.  With so many amazing possibilities in education today, we must continually strive to better ourselves to become the teachers that our students need and deserve.  And one thing we must always remember is that our students are not just intellectual beings in need of information, but multi-faceted individuals with complex characteristics.

Photo taken by Phil Roeder on August 25, 2011, retrieved from Flickr.com.

For this journal entry, I would like to address the importance of teacher awareness in education and teaching to the whole child.  In recent weeks, my school has gone through some rather difficult times with the passing of one of our former students – a 14-year-old young man, who felt that the only way to deal with his life was by taking it.  Needless to say, we were extremely saddened by this loss.  As I personally reflected on this devastating event, I began thinking about my responsibility as a teacher in the lives of my students.  Am I supposed to continue teaching my curriculum?  Yes, of course.  But my students are not just a “brain” waiting to acquire knowledge.  They are a whole being, with “physical, moral, social, emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic” needs, as well.  (Noddings, 2005).  Some people may believe that teachers have no business getting involved in other aspects of their students’ lives.  But the way I see it, we spend, on average, around 6 1/2 hours with our kids five days a week.  I believe this qualifies us to be dynamic influences in the lives of our students.

According to the Noddings article, the history of education emphasized whole child teaching early on. “In his 1818 Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, for example, Thomas Jefferson included in the ‘objects of primary education’ such qualities as morals, understanding of duties to neighbors and country, knowledge of rights, and intelligence and faithfulness in social relations.”  (Noddings, 2005). I believe that we should continually strive to be role models for our students, constantly representing good character, exhibiting genuine happiness, demonstrating positive social relationships, and simply being “real” to our students.  Should we still set boundaries for our students?  Absolutely.  But at the same time, I believe it is extremely important to maintain a safe environment in our classrooms, making sure our students feel accepted and loved, allowing for them to feel comfortable enough to share their needs, and staying aware of situations in our students’ lives.

So how can I make sure I am teaching the whole child?  I believe it begins with  “integrating these healthy qualities into our …character development… and our classrooms and model them on a daily basis.” (Wesley Prep, 2012).

  • Understanding the importance of self-control
  • Recognizing and eliciting trust, help, and praise for others
  • Empathizing with the perspectives of others
  • Choosing our friends wisely
  • Sharing, waiting, and participating in groups
  • Giving and receiving help and criticism
  • Identifying one’s goals
  • Expressing and accurately labeling feelings
  • Employing the art of reflection and thinking in alternative ways to solve problems
  • Considering short- and long-term decisions made and how they will affect oneself or others
  • Practicing how to exercise leadership, accept diversity, and demonstrate desirable attributes such as honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, and caring

Although this posting was not necessarily about  technology in the classroom, I want to point out that with proper instruction in online collaboration and journal entry through blogging, I believe that technology may give our kids the means and opportunity to relate their feelings and get help in their times of need.  It is our responsibility to show them the right way to communicate using these forums, however.  So, we must remain active and “personal” in our kids’ lives, as well.

Our kids need us – not only as someone who distributes knowledge, but as a mentor.  This means that we have to find a way to incorporate character training into our curriculum, because “it only takes one person to make a difference in the life of a child.” (Jones, n.d.)

To Follow Melanie Jones

References

Jones, Melanie (n.d.).  Welcome to Speak to Children. [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.speaktochildren.org/index2.html

Noddings, Nel (Sept., 2005).  What Does It Mean to Educate the Whole Child? [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept05/vol63/num01/What-Does-It-Mean-to-Educate-the-Whole-Child%C2%A2.aspx

Roeder, Phil (Aug. 2011). Back to School [Web photo].  Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/6085668928/

Teacher Files. (n.d.).  Clip Art – Word Art and School Signs.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://teacherfiles.com/clip_words.htm

Wesley Prep (2012).  Teaching the Whole Child. [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.wesleyprep.org/node/38

Digital Storytelling Example: How do I do that?

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My 5th grade computer lab students will survey their Kindergarten reading buddies to determine new skills that the Kindergarteners want to learn.  The 5th grade students will then work in groups to create a digital storytelling project using Prezi or Slideshare to teach the Kindergarten class these skills.  This will not be just a “How To” project but will need to include story elements, as well.  The following example was created by me using one of our teacher’s children as the main character.  I would love to have your feedback on my digital storytelling example.  Enjoy:

Show Me How You Did That – A Digital Storytelling Project

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Storytelling is an ancient art form that has been passed down from generation to generation. What makes a good story is its ability to draw in the audience while meeting specific objectives.   A story becomes effective when the storyteller can stimulate all the senses of the listener while benefiting the various learning styles.  In today’s age of technology,  “Digital storytelling is the practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories.”  (Univ. of Houston, 2011).  It “brings the art of telling stories to life using technology.”  (Tech4Learning, 2007).

Photo taken by Miss Belardi on October 14, 2007. Retrieved from Flickr.com.

I would like to refer back to the topic of my very first blog posting, where I was assigned the task of discussing whether we, as educators were doing what was best for our kids or what was most convenient for us.  Yes, taking the time to allow our kids to create digital storytelling projects takes effort, but after personally involving myself in the integration of technology a little bit at a time at my school, I am already seeing the excitement from some of my teachers, as well as the creativity from our freshmen class.  So, is it all worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!

We are a K-12 school where we have installed Mimio boards and two PC’s in each classroom.  We also have a fully-equipped computer lab with 28 centrally-contained desktop computers.  In my position as our school’s media specialist, I feel a great obligation to absorb and learn as much as I can about integrating technology into the classroom.  I feel that I have a tremendous responsibility to share what I have learned with my fellow teachers, as well as with our 280 students.  I am happy to report that our 9th grade class is currently working on a Geography project using PowerPoint or Prezi.  They are discovering Creative Commons photos online and citing their sources like it’s second nature.  The kids are already coming up to me telling me how much fun they’re having learning new ways of doing class projects.  I even have one student taking a Florida Virtual Geometry class who actually submitted a Prezi to her teacher for one of her assignments.  The following is a list of “effects of technology on classrooms and students” and I am seeing these effects play out in front of me on a daily basis (Dept. of Education, n.d.):

  • Change in student and teacher roles
  • Increased motivation and self-esteem
  • Technical skills
  • Accomplishment of more complex tasks
  • More collaboration with peers
  • Increased use of outside resources
  • Improved design skills/attention to audience

So, what is my plan for digital storytelling in my classroom?  Even though I am the media specialist, I still consider myself a “classroom” teacher, as I am not only involved with being a resource for our teachers, but I teach specific computer skills to our elementary students.  So, with this in mind, I decided that I would combine my classroom objective of teaching how to create a presentation using PowerPoint with a collaborative project involving two of our elementary classrooms.

The project I came up with is called “How Do I Do That?”  Every year our 5th grade class teams up with our Kindergarten class and are assigned individual reading buddies who meet once a week to read together.  I thought this would be a tremendous opportunity to have our older students teach our younger students a skill using digital media.  So, I have created a pre-planning document that the 5th graders will use to interview our Kindergarteners in order to find out a skill or talent that they want to learn, (for example:  tying their shoes, playing a game, making a craft…the list is endless).

Then, the 5th grade class will get together and decide the top 5 skills that they want to teach.  We will use computer lab time to work in 5 groups of 4 where the 5th graders will create a “How To” presentation using PowerPoint to demonstrate the steps in how to accomplish the skill.  Prior to the students actually working on their presentations, I will show them examples of “How to” videos, well-done PowerPoint presentations, and my own Prezi, in order to help them visualize the elements of their project. I will also teach them that within the PowerPoint, they will use sequencing steps, text, audio, photos and video effects to enhance their presentation.  Here is just one video example that I will show the class on how to teach someone a skill.  The video that they create in their group can then be uploaded into their PowerPoint presentation:

Once all 5 PowerPoint presentations are complete, which include personally made videos, YouTube videos, photo uploads, and audio, we will, as a whole class, then create a Prezi (with uploaded PowerPoint presentations) showing the 5 new skills that Kindergarteners will learn.  Then during a subsequent computer lab class, 5th grade will present their Prezi to their Kindergarten peers.
The students are all very excited about this project and I look forward to seeing great collaboration within and across grade levels, fantastic creativity from some amazing students, higher level thinking and 5 new skills successfully learned.  The sky is the limit!
Clipart (1999).  Welcome to Teacherfiles.com. [Clipart site].  Retrieved from http://www.teacherfiles.com/clip_words.htm
Doodlekat1 (May 28, 2010).  How to Draw a Cartoon Bumblebee. [Web video].  Retrieved from http://youtu.be/Q95mNCrHDnM

Tech4Learning (2007).  Digital Storytelling in the Classroom.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.tech4learning.com/userfiles/file/pdfs/Frames/digital_storytelling/ds_classroom.pdf

University of Houston (2011).  The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/index.html

U.S. Department of Education (n.d.).  Effects of Technology on Classrooms and Students.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/pubs/EdReformStudies/EdTech/effectsstudents.html

When should keyboarding begin?

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Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there were machines called electric typewriters, where I learned how to type – or shall I say – keyboard!

Posted by MP Clemens, Retrieved from Flickr.com via Creative Commons, July 18, 2009

Although each of my subject-area classes taught me something about my world, typing class taught me the most useful and practical skill.  Little did I know that this skill would become so relevant as I use it every single day.  Years ago, typing skills were needed in only certain job assignments, but with the rampant use of computers in the 21st Century, one of my goals is to pass on this now necessary skill to my students.  But why teach the skill?

It’s all about what we allow to become a habit.  The sooner we teach our kids how to type – and type properly – the better they will be in the long run.  As soon as children have developed the right finger span and motor coordination, they are ready to learn to keyboard properly using home row.  “It is an essential 21st century skill and helping them master it early, not only provides a fun and useful activity for children to work on, but it will also help them share thoughts and ideas while saving a tremendous amount of time.” (Nielsen, 2011).  When a student possesses the proper keyboarding technique, projects will be completed faster and less time will be spent looking at the keyboard.  So, why isn’t the “hunt-and-peck” method good enough?

Posted by Andrew Malone, Retrieved from Flickr.com via Creative Commons, Sept. 12, 2009

Hunt-and-peck methods are inefficient and students will tend to take a longer time on the computer. (Rogers, et al, 2003).  If we do not provide our students with a typing tutor type of program, they “will automatically resort to the ‘Columbus Method’ of typing, where they search the keyboard for a particular letter, then press it with their forefinger.” (Andreas, 2007).   Keyboarding is a skill, much like music, that with ongoing and consistent practice, it will become a habit.  “The ability to type well is an asset and will enable the child to do research faster and finish term papers faster and more efficiently.  By requiring a child to learn to type the correct way, you are giving him a stepping stone to the future.” (Andreas, 2007).

In my computer lab classes, I introduce keyboarding to my students as young as Kindergarten, starting with letter recognition and key location.  As they begin recognizing keys by sight, I gradually introduce them to the concept of home row, normally this occurs by the time they reach 2nd grade.  From there, I am able to give them opportunities to practice accuracy and eventually add in the element of speed.  Of course, it’s a fun process for the students and they certainly have their favorite typing games!  (Please see below for some fun sites).  Last year, by year’s end, one of my 4th  grade students was typing 23 words per minute with 98% accuracy.

According to the International Society for Technology in Eduation, NETS-S standard number 6, Technology Operations and Concepts states that “Students are to demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.  (ISTE, 2012).  I believe that learning to keyboard properly is an essential part of this standard, and will enable students to operate technology systems much more efficiently.

In 2003, a research study was completed on keyboarding in elementary schools, and it made the following conclusions (Rogers, et al, 2003):

  • More schools are including keyboarding instruction in the curriculum and at earlier grades, starting with Kindergarten.
  • Third grade is the defining year to introduce the touch method of keyboarding.
  • Classroom teachers are the main typing instructors, along with media specialists.
  • Keyboarding software is used more often than a keyboarding textbook.
  • Average teaching time is 30 minutes a week for 36 weeks.
  • Reinforcement and continued practice at every grade level is important.
  • A dramatic increase in language arts skills because of word and sentence input was noted.

Of course, we, as teachers must stay sensitive to our students with special needs when it comes to learning how to type.  There are a number of alternatives and assistive technologies that we can use with students who need it.  (Shelly, Gunter, Gunter, 2012)

Do not fret if you are the “hunt and peck” typist…it’s not your fault.  Typing was an elective when some of us were in high school.  But, I really believe that it is never too late to learn.  So, while your students are learning to touch type, why don’t you join them?  It might be fun!

Free online typing resources:

Nimblefingers Typing

Dance Mat Typing

Typing Tutor

Keyboarding Games

Andreas, N. (Aug., 2007).  Why Kids Should Learn to Type Properly. [Internet article].  Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/why-kids-learn-type-properly-474423.html?cat=25

International Society for Technology in Education. (2012).  NETS-S Standard 6, Technology Operations and Concepts. [Web source].  Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/nets-s-standards.pdf?sfvrsn=2

Moore, Kathy. (Nov., 2010).  How to Start Kids Typing on Keyboards. [Web video].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Me6O7JyotB0

Nielsen, L. (Feb., 2011). When and How Should Kids Learn to Type? [Web Log]. Retrieved from http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2011/02/when-should-students-start-learning-to.html

Rogers, H., Laehn, J., Lang, A., O’Leary, D., Sommers, M. (July, 2003).  The Status of Elementary Keyboarding – A Longitudinal Study. [Research study]. Retrieved from http://facstaff.uww.edu/rogersh/keyresearch/elemkeystatusmanu.pdf

Shelly, G., Gunter, G., Gunter, R. (2012).  Assistive Technologies Corner.  In McMahon, K. (Ed.)  Teachers Discovering Computers:  Integrating Technology in a Connected World, 7th ed. (p. 197).  Boston, MA:  Course Technology, Cengage Learning.  

Would you say that to my face?

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A boy is walking down the hall at the local school, and on his way to class, someone runs up behind him and shoves his books to the floor.  Another student gets up from her desk to throw something away, when another student takes her pencil and throws it across the room.  And in the bathroom, a student is being called “poor boy” because he isn’t wearing $50 jeans.  We refer to these actions as “bullying.”  And although these seem to be harmless pranks, the effects on others can be detrimental to their self-esteem and overall well-being.

Photo courtesy of J_O_I_D via Flickr Creative Commons

Bad-cyberbully

There is another form of bullying, called cyberbullying, that can be just as traumatic to an individual, yet seemingly more widespread.  According to the National Crime Prevention Council, cyberbullying is defined as “when teens use the Internet, cell phones, or other devices to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person.” (NCPA, 2012).  Cyberbullying affects almost 50% of the high school population in the U.S. (NCPA, 2012).

Sadly, this form of bullying happens all the time.  I believe one of the reasons why it is so rampant is because of the fact that the harassment takes place through technological means, where it is not necessary to be face-to-face with the victim.  There seems to be a false sense of confidence that allows the cyberbully to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and however he wants, because, hey…that kid is nowhere in sight!  What’s it going to hurt?  I’m not actually SAYING it to his face!  He won’t find out it’s me!

Unfortunately, the harm that cyberbullying does to another individual could have the following lasting and devastating effects on that person:  “Hurt feelings, sadness, anxiety, depression, anger, shame, fear, frustration, low self-esteem, inability to trust others.”  And this could end up leading to “withdrawal, seclusion, avoidance of social  relationships, poor academic performance, bullying others, and in extreme cases – suicide.” (Puresight, 2010-2011)

I took part in a webinar about a year ago called, “Cyberbullying – what every teacher should know.”  (Honeycutt, 2011).  During this webinar, Kevin Honeycutt discussed how we, as teachers, need to educate our students about their digital legacy.  Students should ask themselves, “What do I want to be remembered for?  How do I want to spend my heartbeats?  Who do I want to be?” (Honeycutt, 2011).  Our students must recognize that whatever they decide to post digitally remains.

Kevin also referenced that kids make decisions differently when they are behind a computer screen, as opposed to when they are in a social setting.  Would you say that to my face?  I was speaking to a friend about a month ago about current Facebook postings, and she brought up a good point – Facebook should be thought of as a playground – a place to share, reminisce and have fun – not a place to bait someone for an argument or cut someone else down.  Again, I ask, “Would you say that to my face?”

According to Kevin, we should “never say or send anything you would be embarrassed about if the whole world saw.”  He also brought up the point that, “as adults, we type an e-mail, we think about what we typed, and then we send it.”  However, “kids type an e-mail, they send it, and then they think about it after it’s too late.” (Honeycutt, 2011).

So, it appears we have a job to do.  We must educate our kids on how to take a proactive approach and learn how to stop cyberbullying.  Here are some suggestions made by Larry Magid:

Additional resources:

http://www.mysafesurf.org/

http://www.netsmartz.org/Cyberbullying

References:

Francis, C.  (Nov. 12, 2011).  Anti-Bullying Awareness – Indirect, Cyber Bullying, Alienated – Lesson – School.  [Web video].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/user/chrisifrancis

Honeycutt, K.  (Nov. 15, 2011).  Cyber-bullying – What every teacher should know.  [Webinar]. Retrieved from http://community.simplek12.com/scripts/student/webinars/view.asp?id=143

Honeycutt, K.  (n.d.).  It’s time to get on the same page as our kids.  [Web resource].  Retrieved from http://www.mysafesurf.org/index.html

JOID’s Photostream. (March 6, 2008).  Bad-Cyberbully.  [Creative commons photo].  Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/winning-information/2314383724/

Magid, L. (n.d.).  Tips to stop cyberbullying.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.safeteens.com/tips-to-stop-cyberbullying/

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children®.  (2012). Cyberbullying.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.netsmartz.org/Cyberbullying

National Crime Prevention Council.  (2012). Cyberbullying:  A public advertising campaign aimed at preventing cyberbullying.  [Web article]. Retrieved from http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying

Puresight ® Technologies Ltd.  (2010-2011).  The dangers of cyberbullying.  [Web article].  Retrieved from http://www.puresight.com/Cyberbullying/the-dangers-of-cyber-bullying.html