Monday, July 14, 2008

Thing #23 - In Summary!

Wow! I did it! What a great experience! In all the years of grueling staff development requirements that I've "had" to sit through, this one beats the pants off all the rest.

I sure hope this is a sign of things to come in the district. Being able to self-pace and think about what I'm doing, as well as having the option to return to something of which I'm unsure, is the ideal educational setting. I faced things head-on when I was in a relaxed state of mind to do so, rather than late in the afternoon/evening after teaching all day!

I learned so much and feel very empowered to start the year with new ideas and resources. I've always felt like I was somewhat techno-savvy, but little did I know that the online world has made such leaps and strides in the world of 2.0.

Now I'm going to be specific and tackle the required questions:

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? Definitely! probably, because of the frequency I can see using it, and the magnitude in which it's already changed my "internet life!" I'm so much more organized!

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? It's made me realize how absolutely important it is to keep learning! As mentioned above, I thought I pretty much had a handle on things in the world of technology -- I was WRONG! This has taught me to make a continued effort to seek out opportunities to try new things!

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? Yes! That there is such a wide network available to me (especially in the realm of the library!), within the district, to try new things "outside of the box!" It was really refreshing!

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? This is a teeny, tiny, insignificant suggestion. But one thing that would be helpful would be to change the format of the 23 things index/directions page so that clickable hotlinks open up in new windows. It was somewhat frustrating to not be able to navigate back and forth between the instruction page and the new resource being explored. Not a big deal (I just right-clicked and opened in a new window). Other than that, I wouldn't change a thing! The content was fantastic!

5. If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate? YES, YES, YES!!!!!!

6. How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities? This was by far the best staff development I've ever completed in 15 years of teaching in SBISD.

Thing #22 - Nings!

This was a fun activity! I could spend hours hunting and searching around. Having the scope of discussion narrowed down to specific areas is so helpful, as compared to just blindly searching through the big wide world of blogs.

The Ning for Teachers was especially interesting. Reading opinions and ideas from educators all over the country (and world!) is really eye-opening. It's also a hoot to see that we share many of the same frustrations.

I can definitely see myself returning to this site (Ning for Teachers), especially when planning new lessons. When you're all tapped out of creativity, sometimes it helps to find something new! And isn't that what this whole course is all about? :)

Thing #21 - Podcasts and Audio Books

Whew! This one took a while! I could see it being a valuable tool for a class collaboration tool (i.e. an ongoing newsletter to keep parents informed?), but I'd have to get much more efficient with it! But like everything else, the potential is there ... it's the time that's not always available!

Here's my first effort at Photostory ....

edit: I can't get my video to upload. I've tried and tried and am about to lose it, so I'm going to return to it and try again. :)

Thing #20 - YouTube, TeacherTube and Zamzar

YIPPEE! I found Schoolhouse Rock clips on TeacherTube!

Every year I offer extra credit for students who memorize and recite the Preamble. Schoolhouse Rock has the best little diddy (it really does stick in your head!), and I love to play it for my kids ... over, and over, and over. The problem is, hauling out the VCR, rewinding to the perfect spot, and then doing it repeatedly for such a short clip is pretty time-consuming.

Now (with the help of my brand, shiny new ACTIVboard and projector), I can show video clips with ease! I'm so excited!

The TeacherTube clips we've used in this 23 Things course have been so helpful. In fact, I think it's one of the best resources I've come across over the past month. I've forwarded several helpful clips on to others as well. They're fantastic in their simplicity.

Thing #19 - Web 2.0 Awards List

OK. This is supposed to be educational-related, so I'll try to spin it in that direction! teehee!

Who wouldn't love Etsy?! Over the years, I've rapidly become a nearly online-only shopper. And around the holidays? Forget it! You won't find me out at a mall. I love online shopping, and I don't really consider myself a big shopper. But you just can't beat a few clicks of the mouse, and coming home a few days later to find your package nicely wrapped up and sitting on the door step.

The great thing about Etsy is that everything is handmade. And there are some really fun things for the classroom too! See ... I AM making this school-related! :)

Just do a search for "classroom" and some really great stuff will pop up!


Thing #18 - Online Productivity Tools

I chose to do my exploring with Google Docs ... simply because I was already registered, and because of the familiarity of the Google format.

My initial reaction to this was, "When and why would I use this when I already have MS Office?" So my next task was to do a bit of exploring. After looking into it further, I realized that there is some definite value with using Goodle Docs.

There's an area I found on Google called Google For Educators that has a bunch of input from teachers on how they use Google Docs in the classroom. It was very helpful! The description from Google was probably the best I found on the subject:

Google Docs is an easy-to-use online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables you and your students to create, store and share instantly and securely, and collaborate online in real time. You can create new documents from scratch or upload existing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. There's no software to download, and all your work is stored safely online and can be accessed from any computer.

This seems like it would be a fantastic tool in a lab setting with students. I'll definitely have to explore it some more!

Thing #17 - Rollyo

Hmmmm. This is one of the few "23 things" that I'm not sure how much I'd use. Unless I'm totally missing the boat, it seems to me like one would have to perform a LARGE number of broad-subject searches with few results, in order to feel the need to use something like Rollyo.

I actually used some sites that I've been saving from my files to compile my Rollyo search list. How's that for multi-tasking new information?! :) Because this was sort of a demo, I wanted to find a specific category to cover. I chose one of my other summer goals/projects -- scrapbooking. I've just started getting into it, so I've been saving a bunch of beginner sites. I don't have much yet, but maybe I can build on it! Here's my contribution: scrappingwithfarrell