September 11, 2011

Educational Technology Support Blogs

Posted in Module 1 Assignments at 10:00 am by lmt84

Blog 1: Free Technology for Teachers

About the Blog:

The purpose of this site is to spread the word about the free resources available to classroom teachers. This blog was the winner of Edublog Award’s 2010 Best Ed Tech Support Category. It has also received other titles such as “Best Individual Blog” and “Best Resource Sharing Blog”. Richard Byrne is a US History teacher in Maine who believes that technology helps to engage students in lessons. Posts range in variety from linked articles/videos about new technology and technology reviews as well as tutorials. The heart of this blog is technology and how it can be incorporated into lessons. Overall, I like the organization and writing style of this blog, and after digging around I found it to be a resource to keep for the future.

How might you incorporate the information from the Educational Technology Support Blogs in your school? How might you use Educational Technology Support Blogs for professional development or collaboration?

This blog offers countless resources for every subject area in a school. I could easily arrange to attend meetings/planning periods of teachers and introduce some of these fantastic technologies to them. For example, my school uses class laptop carts for the lower level math classes as part of their curriculum. These students often use school scientific calculators when needed, as more often they can use the calculators on the laptops for basic math. However, the sharing of calculators can be an issue—other teachers need them, calculators “walk away” etc. I would certainly share the Five Free Scientific Calculators  post with the math department as a means to alleviate this problem. They will be thrilled to see that this resource is available and more importantly that it is free! In the end the students will benefit because everyone has better access to the calculators. By letting teachers know about this technology and having a positive experience with me, I have set up the potential for future collaborative opportunities where I again could use this blog as a resource.

As every post on this blog deals with different technology tools, it will certainly increase my knowledge in these areas. An increase in knowledge helps to further place me as an expert, and thus someone that teachers will come to not only if they need support but also to spice up their lessons. One post helped me to discover Transmiti—a program that translates anything on your desktop. My school has a very high ESOL population, and many parents themselves do not speak English. In a way, these groups have the potential to be left out of many activities for fear that they will not understand what is being said. Transmiti would ensure that all school messages, the school website, teacher websites, etc. could be viewed by these groups. These parents no longer have to worry about not viewing their child’s technology products—they can view and understand them, helping them to take an interest and pride in their child’s work. Aside from the parents, I feel that this tool would help students assimilate into the English language—it would be another means of support as to not overwhelm them with the new language all at once. By using this on my library website, which houses important information as well as student work, the school community would again see that I am open to new technologies and would respect me for considering all community members. By helping to open lines of communication among all school members, I am keeping true to my professional responsibility of helping aide in the constant exchange of ideas.

How would you share the information you find helpful, relevant, or important with teachers and use this information as a springboard for collaboration?

Richard Byrnes truly thinks that technology will help to engage our students. His blog attempts to show teachers the technology possibilities that exist so they may implement them into their classrooms. Joyce Valenza shares this mindset and even states that she “would do my very best to fully load them  [the students] with the critical skills and tools they need to become information- and media-fluent adults”  (Fully Loaded). I agree that it is imperative that we work to create critical thinkers who are capable of living in a digital world.  I would attempt to impress this view on the teachers that I collaborate with. I would love to be granted some time during the first week of teacher meetings (before school starts) to talk with the teachers about this matter. I would put myself out there as someone who has resources and is willing to work with the teachers in order to benefit the students. I truly think that for me to pass on the fantastic information on this blog, or any others, I need to be positive and proactive in order to establish rapport with my colleagues. .

One resource from this blog that I would consider sharing with the entire staff via email was the Favorite Resources page. This list encompasses many things for a variety of content areas. It has something for everyone, so emailing it out to the staff seems like the best idea to let teachers in on these resources. I would not just end my efforts at the email, I would try to schedule time to meet with content groups to go over the items on the list that could best apply to their content area. This wouldn’t have to be a formal meeting—just a conversation to pique their interest. After gauging interest, I would attempt to set up a time to collaborate with teachers who seem like they want to use these technologies. The email served as the means to plant the seed, but I would be the one to ensure that it actually grows into something.

Blog 2: iLearn Technology

About the Blog:

This blog earned 5th place in the Edublog Awards for 2010. Kelly Tenkely is a former elementary school teacher who developed a love for technology while teaching. She designs and presents professional development sessions and also works as a consultant. She created the blog to give teachers as many resources related to technology as possible, as she feels technology “reaches students in a way that few other mediums can.” The posts range from her personal reflections on seminars and lessons, to videos and written entries introducing technologies and most importantly, sharing how they can be implemented into the classroom. I like this site because you can clearly see that her purpose is to encourage teachers to use the resources in the classroom. She stays true to her goal by the way she writes her posts—she first describes what the technology is, and then how to implement it. Everything is labeled, clearly written, and easy for a teacher of any technology knowledge level to understand.

How might you incorporate the information from the Educational Technology Support Blogs in your school? How might you use Educational Technology Support Blogs for professional development or collaboration?

I would have an easy time incorporating the information on this blog into my school. Kelly shows true consideration of all teachers by supplying technology that fits with all grade levels and content areas. Furthermore, I haven’t heard of many of these technologies, but upon investigating them, for the most part they look like students would genuinely like them. This factor would be a huge selling point when I go to use these technologies with my teachers. A post that I just loved was about Math Pickle. This features videos of actual “math pickles” that have been attempted and solved throughout history. It sets up a problem that is grounded in real life, and the students take an active, hands-on approach to solving it. It veers from the paper/pencil method of math, and makes it into an experience. I could see all grade levels in my high school not only enjoying but benefitting from this tool.

This site serves to save teachers and librarians time when it comes to searching for new resources. Many tools are available at this one location, making it a blog to be shared among school staff as well as other librarians. Judy Hauser writes that “information sharing, and networking…are invaluable.” This blog allows me to do just that—develop collaborative and professional developments with those in my building as well as those in my professional field. One way that this blog inspires collaboration and professional development is through the Project PLN—an online magazine that publishes ideas/inspirations/lessons from librarians themselves. I think this is a great way to further get involved in the community of librarians as well as collect great strategies for my school.

How would you share the information you find helpful, relevant, or important with teachers and use this information as a springboard for collaboration?

This is a blog that I would want every teacher in my building to know about. Not only would I send it out in an email to the staff, but I would then pick a few technologies that I would feel best suit each department. I would ask to attend the next department meeting (at my school meetings are once a month, so it would take a few months to meet with everyone) to share these tools. Based on feedback, I would do my best to get some teachers to work with me to try the technologies in the classroom. I would also link to this blog on my library website so teachers can access it when they are perusing through resources in anticipation of an assignment that uses library resources. If I have already worked with certain teachers in the building, or have a good rapport with them, I would use these people first as a springboard to pilot these new things. They would already feel comfortable collaborating with me, and we could be the first people in the school to discover an awesome tool for our students. Who wouldn’t want to do the same after hearing about our successes?

Blog #3: The Edublogger

About the Blog:

Similar to the other blogs above, The Edublogger took 7th place at the 2010 Edublog Awards and was even 4th place in 2009. Sue Waters and Ronnie Burt work together on this Edublog-established blog to inspire the use of technology in the classroom, as well as promote the medium of blogging itself. The posts are very informative and vary in format (text and video) which helps people to set up blogs and understand the full potential that they offer in the classroom. I like the simplistic writing on this website, and the fact that it is extremely well organized an easy to navigate. It is crisp, clean, and to the point, something my teachers will appreciate when learning to create their own blogs.

How might you incorporate the information from the Educational Technology Support Blogs in your school? How might you use Educational Technology Support Blogs for professional development or collaboration?

To me, this is the primo source when it comes to any questions about setting up a blog. The site is easy to understand, and would be a great benefit to even the most hesitant teachers. It almost has a nurturing feel to it, a trait I think librarians need to portray when working with teachers who are new to certain technologies. I especially liked how the site contained tutorials for blogging from multiple technology platforms, such as iPads, computers, and smart phones. Doing so makes certain that teachers can maintain their blogs from virtually anywhere! The best way to incorporate blogging would be to show them the sample class blogs available on the blog. This would certainly show them how beneficial blogs can be as well as the variety of uses in the classroom.

One feature that I found particularly useful for professional development as well as collaboration was the Skype Other Classrooms page. It offered a list of classrooms willing to participate in Skype- a program that allows you to “talk” with people all over the world—it’s almost like a virtual visit of sorts. Within the county it would be great for a teacher at my school to Skype with another teacher or his/her class. For example, students working on a research project could Skype with the other class to compare their results and discuss the information. Any content area could greatly benefit from this resource! Teachers could use it on a professional level to collaborate over units, lessons, and any other ideas for the classroom. I could use it for the same purpose myself—to see what other librarians do in their libraries and view what other possibilities are out there!

How would you share the information you find helpful, relevant, or important with teachers and use this information as a springboard for collaboration?

The best way I could share the information on this blog would be to meet with teachers in small groups and show them actual sample blogs. I could do this via content planning periods, or offer workshops after school. This blog offers tons of Class Blog samples, for every subject area and grade level. This would show my teachers that they too have a place in the blogging-sphere. By taking the time to personally show them the blog, walk them through the features, etc., I think that they would be more inclined to try it on their own. Simply giving teachers links to this page on Edubloggers would not be successful—most would probably click on the link, not understand what they are looking at, and simply close the link due to lack of time to investigate. The thing I would most want to stress in these face to face training sessions is that blogs can be fun for the students as well as for them! It is a refreshing way to deliver your content, while at the same time maintaining high academic quality. This will be a blog that I keep in mind and reference as a current teacher, as well as a future librarian!

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