Getting Ready to Teach Teachers

1 11 2012

New school this year…that means more pro-d.  It’s ok, I secretly enjoy teaching, and I don’t care how old the students are. 🙂 My new school has a totally useless lab.  You can word process as long as you don’t need to print, sharing to the server is hit and miss, the only reliable file transfer method is a USB stick.  So much for many things that I do.  Plan B.  iPads.  I loaded them up with apps and now I need to “teach” how to use them.  I don’t think anyone really needs to be taught, they just need someone to encourage them. I decided that rather than “teach” iPads, I would get people thinking more about the role of technology in the school.  One of my colleagues asked me to present my Tech Top 10.  Since I was specifically asked to do the workshop on iPads, I thought I’d try to publish that here.  So here goes.

  1. Google Drive. (Formerly Documents) Hands down the easiest way to have students collaborate on a project.  Here is one a student did on Forestry While this wasn’t a collaborative project, it was done some at home, and some at school.  Google makes that easy.
  2. Twitter.  I have to say that when I have a tech question, Twitter is where I go.  Follow #edtech or #edchat I have a circle of followers and people who I follow. Follow me at cfraenkel
  3. Pinterest. Has become my new go to place for ideas and jumping off points.  A list of the top 20 Pinterest sites for education is here.
  4. That leads me to one of my goto websites for educational information so far not too commercial…we shall see.
  5. Glogster.  love love love this.  Poster it. With as one of my parents put it, no mess on the dining room table! We have used glogster for science posters, poetry, social studies.
  6. TED talks (Technology, Entertainment, Design) great place to learn.
  7. Top Documentary Films.  A colleague showed me this.  Thousands of free high quality documentary films free for you to watch in your classroom.
  8. Prezi A new overhaul makes it even easier to make awesome looking presentations really easily.
  9. Explain Everything for iPad.  Video, audio, record function, save to cloud.  I have used for recording lessons, or as a way for students to present information.  Brilliant.
  10. WordPress/Edublogs/any easy blogging platform.  My students blog, (or they did when I had access to functional computers at school)

*      My new favorite.  I’m just beginning to play with Pearltrees.  It is visual social bookmarking. It seems really easy    to use, and really easy to find information.  I’ll let you all know if I find any great educational uses.  Right now, I’m just playing.


Putting devices in kids hands

3 12 2011

I struggle daily with trying to figure out how to put internet capable devices in the hands of my students even a camera would be a great start.

We have a total of 34 reliable laptops for a school of 530 kids…it is a sad situation.

I had a bit of an aha moment when I asked my grade 4/5 class how many of them had either an iPod touch, an iPad, a 3DS or other hand held gaming system that accesses the internet. (they actually didn’t know they could access the internet on them which was another interesting tidbit) Most of them raised their hands to answer yes.

The problem I face is the “no devices at school policy.” How to get around it is the question.  I am thinking that I simply ask parents for permission to bring the device to school for use on a project and we go from there.  Has anyone out there done this? What did you do?

Techie friends are Important

10 11 2011

I have a new one on staff which is great.  Justine and I spent a morning this week preparing a “Technology Implementation Plan” for our school, which is a fancy way of saying we wrote down what we consider to be best practice on a piece of paper so that we could use it to fund some technology at our school.

This was a new experience for Justine, and it was great to have her bubbly excitement every time there was and idea between us. I am a little more jaded I guess, it felt like it was homework for my Masters degree coming back to haunt me in some ways.  Fortunately after doing that MET degree, this was pretty easy for me, just don’t look at how I did my citations…

In the spirit of cooperation, I am posting the plan here, in case one of you fellow techies need to write one.  It will give you a template to use or ideas to borrow or add to.  If you do write one using this as a template I respectfully request that you post it here as a comment so that we can all share.
Creative Commons License
Ross Road Technology Implementation Plan by Carolann Fraenkel, Justine Frazee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Pot O Gold?

23 01 2011

Photo Credit: jaqian

Not really a pot of gold at either end of the rainbow as far as I’m concerned, its more like fairy dust. In “A Personal CyberInfrastructure” (essay,)  Gardner Campbell advocates for giving all matriculating college and university students their own web server so that they can build their own “personal cyberinfrastructure.” He lost me when he used the word affordances in relation to web based analytics and database management. It is possible that Mr. Cambell doesn’t really understand what an affordance is. (pet peeve, click the link to a great article by Donald Norman himself about how the word is mis-used) It could be that what he is really trying to say is that University IT departments hand out crippled webspaces to students that don’t let them learn the whole picture.

Having been a system administrator, I understand both sides here. The sys admin in me says “heck no, I’m not giving a bunch of kids admin privileges!” Who gets to talk to the police when some student uses their server to host some illegal activity? or more likely sets up an easily hackable password and someone else does it without their knowledge? How long does it take anyone to figure it out? Who is responsible? Who is responsible for cleaning up, re-imaging and dealing with security issues on all these virtual servers? Server administration is a full time job. If that is what you are teaching, fine, but where is the time for the rest of the curriculum?

The teacher in me says, yes, I understand how frustrating it is when systems are so locked down that you can’t even change your own desktop picture. (yes that is true where I work <sigh>) How are we all supposed to learn when we are treated like idiots and made to feel like anything we do might “break” something. I work around a completely crippled computer system every day, and the sys admin in me screams about that too.

A virtual server like Campbell advocates is really just a new playground, but this one is scary and it has land mines and pits and big giant structures that need to be climbed. It could work if there is enough guidance to learn how not to fall in the pits, and figure out where the land mines are and there is enough endurance and skill to climb the giant play structure, but I have my doubts that it would work as a learning tool for “everyone” and I have my doubts that the average University professor has the skills and knowledge to manage a class or classes of students servers either.

An idea so simple

9 01 2011

I have about 4 kids who if I get 2 sentences of writing from them for any reason, it is a miracle.  So the other day, I decided to do something unusual. I took a Flickr photo set about a dog named Dominoe (thanks to Alan Levine showed them the pictures, did some pre-planning and had them write a story about the dog. It was the usual, “I don’t know what to write.” “I’m done (after 2 sentences)” until I told them we were going to the lab to write our stories and they had to write a minimum of 100 words. For a 9 year old this might seem like a lot, but word count is now their favorite tool, they are having contests to see who has the most words! Ahh small victories.

Let the Blogging Begin

14 12 2010

I have set up all the kids blogs, and hopefully they will be inspired to get their theme picked and play around with wordpress a bit over the holidays. (that is the hope anyway, I really don’t want to dedicate class time to choosing themes…) Then we are going to move pretty fast into posting on our blogs our writing, and journals. I really hope that it will cause kids to take more care with what they are writing. I am doing some workshops with my staff about blogging and literacy. I guess I’ll have to dig up some research too.

Blogging with 9 year olds

8 12 2010

Well, I am biting the bullet.  I have started creating blogs for my grade 4 students. We have practiced using glogster to get the idea of how to log in, create, save, comment get messages. There is a big learning curve. Now its full wordpress, wish us luck. My timing is intentional, don’t give them anything to do but change their theme and play around a lot over the Christmas holidays. Hopefully they will get some of the basics figured out on their own. I am finding that most of them are pretty adept at figuring things out and they are happy to help each other, and show each other (and me) tricks they learn.

I do miss teaching music, but I love doing things like this too.  These are skills that these kids will take with them for years to come. Once we get blogging down, maybe we will try some digital storytelling. I might have to register for ds106 and actually do it. I have a tendency to sign up for open courses and then never do the work.