Friday, April 22, 2011

My curriculum page :)

After hours of checking, drafting, editing and then finally publishing, I have my curriculum page ready. Most students are still working on their projects, as FCAT was a bear.  But I hope by next week to have the students present, and fine tune their projects.

Friday, April 15, 2011

AR #7 Scoring Rubric.

A rubric to grade?  What’s that?
            As I first glanced at my assignment this week I saw a rubric, which seemed logical in terms of the order of activities we have been creating in our technology class.  But I was not looking forward to it because I assumed that we would be using Microsoft Excel.  There isn’t anything wrong with that, except you have to build from the ground up.  As building a bird house from one piece of wood, and having to cut and sand each piece.  But a great website was offered to us called iRubric, which is part of the Rcampus website.  This is like having a kit to make what you need for your birdhouse ready to take out of the box and just put it together.  IRubric was better that I could have expected, there were elements that I could add rows and columns just as if it were an Excel project.  The other great features were placing percentages and setting points, which in turn can be quickly clicked on in order to grade an assignment.
            By now you’re probably wondering what the purpose is for using a rubric to grade projects.  This type of assignment is considered hands-on and using alternative assessment is the preferred method for grading a project that is hands-on.  In contrast some traditional assessments are usually the plan old tests that require just basic questions that have to be answered.  This type of assessment evaluates the performance of students to follow directions and complete tasks.  The hands-on activity allows for a broader spectrum of learners and a wider variety of results.  The point of a rubric is to assess the core elements are completed and allows for the creative part to be endless.  This type of assessment is usually given to students before they start the project so that they can center their work on what the overall goal is for completing the project, in the eyes of the teacher. 
            I started with adding enough rows and columns to accommodate what I needed to be assessed.  I made categories with a weighted percentage that equals one hundred percent.  The reason behind this was because it is common practice for grading scales to be based on a 0-100% scale.  I chose the story map components and plot to be the most important so I weighted them the heaviest.  I felt that without these goals being met a summary on a book just wouldn’t make sense.  I chose sequence of events as an important concept because the summary needs to be in order to make sense.  Also, students need to be accountable for their mastery of technology as another key category because the technology was taught to them and I needed show their abilities to use technology correctly.  I finally felt as this was a language project that conventions needed to be correct in order to fit in the “well above average” category. 
            I then chose a 5 point scale across for each of the above categories to show their level of mastery.  Since the percentages alone can be confusing to most.  I decided that a completely correct project would be worth 25 points, which is the normal point value that I use for class work.  The best part was that using the iRubric site I can just click and the score can be calculated in points and a percentage. 
            This project showed me how far Excel is away from some teacher made websites for rubrics.  As I thought I was going to start from a blank Excel sheet, the iRubric site made my task much more productive and successful.  As I went through and reviewed my rubric I felt that it was a bit overbearing but remembering the writing rubrics that we use I thought this made a clear picture to what I wanted students to accomplish.  I felt by simply using the rubric an above average grade could be obtainable.  I think that this clearly shows my expectations and will help students to maintain the quality of their project.  I think some improvements on the rubric would be to downsize.  I could use this project multiple times and focus on specific elements of the story.  Instead of focusing on all elements I could assess which elements needed to be worked on by students and have students use Prezi to practice the skills that they needed work on.  Overall I enjoyed the project and was pleased with the results.

Friday, April 8, 2011

AR # 6 Sample Project

This week I was given the task of creating a sample project for students to base their digital story on.  I have asked for students to decide on their favorite book, or a book that they enjoyed and to write a story summary.  They are to include story map elements like settings, characters, plot, and use describing words or phrases to recount what they read about.  I also wanted them to include images in order to create a multimedia story.  I decided to leave out audio as this will be their first time with the Prezi program.
            I teach fifth grade Language Arts and summarizing with story element development is important at this level of reading.  It is mandated that I teach 90 minutes of reading each day.  This type of project can take away from one class’s progress through the year’s order of instruction, mainly because I need a computer lab to conduct group instruction.   I decided a few things would need to be put in place.  I first talked with my principal about the project, talked to the computer lab teacher, and the homeroom teacher to keep everyone well notified of what I was having students do as a Language project.  I of course had to create a Prezi for each student, allow them to be invited to be an editor of the project.  What this means is that they are given an URL to get to their project, and are invited to work on it.  As an ideal situation I would have students that all have computer access at home with their own e-mail accounts and just e-mail them the invitation link.  Prezi actually has a function that allows you to “invite an editor”.  This can be one or multiple students working on the same project from all different locations.  The problem is not all students have computers at home and none have their own e-mail account.  Which at this age I think is a good idea.  I used my OCPS e-mail account and created a separate project for each student.  Then I created a letter, which I had approved by my principal, that had my curriculum page URL and their “invitation” URL.  This first week they are to play around with the program, and get past the wow factor so they are ready to create.  Prezi is a great help because it give a short tutorial for students to see what they can do with the program.  I of course choose one class, instead of all three of my classes just for the sake of managing students and getting used to a facilitator role rather than a direct instructor role. 
            This week I will meet the students during their computer lab time to go over some specific concepts and directions for them to follow to complete this project.  I then will have them use their book pick to tell about the setting, characters and summarize the plot of the story.  Their next task after using print to complete the story map is to include graphics.  I told students that they can use , or they can draw pictures which I can scan or they can ask for pictures from the book to be scanned for their project so they can insert them to create their multimedia digital story.  I have created a curriculum page so that they can easily access these pictures.  I will scan them and place them in a folder for them to access.  Since scanning takes so long, I can do this at home, and they can work from home in order to increase the accessibility of their project and the material they need to complete it. 
            My most important goals are to have students work on their story structure skills and to show me that they can express these skills in a new way by creating a digital story.  I also think that it is important for them to access the Web and gain a healthy understanding of how to use the Internet for their preparations to be more independent for middle school and beyond.  Normally, I have students do the basic pencil and paper story map.  This is where they read a short book then fill in the parts for story elements.  This will hopefully make them excited to complete tasks like summarizing, plot development and character development.  I think as access to work stations or computer becomes available then it will be easier to complete project like this as common practice not just a huge learning experience as it is now.  I see that I need to continue to work and practice my facilitating of this type of assignments.  I definitely didn’t realize the time it would take to get students set up for this project.  But as I continue to facilitate these types of projects I’m sure that I will become better at distributing the needed components students need to be successful.  At this stage I feel I am still building the project and after the first run will see the mistakes I need to fix, but also will have a base to work from for the next time I have students complete a Prezi.
            I think I could improve by more planning time, and more practicing on my own.  I am still finding myself discovering new things to do.  I also am finding points of frustration, which take awhile to figure out.  Then the light bulb goes on and I have discovered more aspects of Prezi.  As for other types of Digital Storytelling ideas, I hope to visit and explore other sites with other programs.  It almost seem like I am a commercial for Prezi and it is the best thing out there.  As I have learned, especially in this class, there are more things that are undiscovered then things that we have discovered when it comes to Internet resources.  Last, for my example for students to view and build upon, I used my favorite book that I read to my son.  I hope you enjoy the example.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My creation of a Curriculum page

A way to communicate with today’s “Networked Student” is through a curriculum page.  The type of software that a webpage can be created from can vary, but the platform used for this particular curriculum page is wiki based.  Now wiki is sort of a strange word and it may be asked why this should be a top pick for teachers to use as a maintained curriculum page. The idea of a wiki page is to compile a collection of pages, files and other important items that a teacher wants students to view.  It provides such features as easily collaborating with all students by creating a page that can be commented on.  All of a sudden you have created a blog, without having a separate site.  I used a site called there is also another site called wikispaces at .  The start of my curriculum page is:

            I used a template, which is a guideline for specific tasks, to create my page.  Looking ahead I made pages for a project to have students create a digital story, in order to summarize a story that they have read, or plan to read for this presentation.  These pages include a main page that introduces my project, provides some information about the wikisite, and has a sidebar or menu on the side that directs users to other places.  This contains some planned future projects like a lesson plan, a grading rubric, and a place where student’s work will be displayed.  I placed my own Prezi, to give students and explanation and example of what I wanted as a baseline for their project.  One of the most interesting ideas presented was how I can compress files, like a can, to make more room.  This is called zipping which may not be used right away, but as time goes on and more projects are added, I will need to make space for future projects.  The reason why I need to make space is because like attaching files to e-mails, as we all like to e-mail pictures, compressing files is a must because I am aloud only so much storage space on the site.  This is how some software can fit on a single disk, you may notice when installing a software application that a message says that “unzipping” or “unpacking” is being executed in order to install the application  
            As I started the process of creating a Wikispace curriculum page, I felt it didn’t give me enough creative elbow room.  I then created a PBworks curriculum page, and felt it was more challenging, but I had more options.  I did however, spend more time learning the ins and outs rather than creating.  I wanted to be sure that it was the right fit, even though it is harder I think to use and I probably should stick with Wikispaces, I think that I’m going to try to give myself a bit more of a challenge.  The purpose of these wikis are to give a more user friendly way to create a website instead of having to use HTML code.  As I used some formats from a site called Web Quest at  This was very helpful as were the examples that past students had completed and our instructor provided.  Which looking at the projects I saw a much broader spectrum of designs.  I felt that the Wikispaces had some of the same themes, and I wanted something more unique.  I observed the PBworks projects and saw such variety I had to try it.  So that leads me to what improvements I need to make.
            I will need to spend more time just figuring out the capabilities of my wiki, part of which I discovered was how to correctly embed a Prezi.  I tried the embedding process that I used on my blog, but that didn’t seem to work.  After some trial and error I found out that I needed to “insert” the HTML code for embedding provided by the Prezi site.  As when I tried just the code I got a blank screen telling me that my Prezi didn’t exist.  So going back into what I have learned so far this semester I solved the problem and figured out the HTML was the basis of the wiki and inserting the code directly would have a positive result.  I additional will add such projects as a Rubric to grade students’ projects.  Also, I add my lesson plan which contains directions on how to repeat this with the standards coved by the activity as well.  Lastly, I think some different backgrounds or wallpapers on the pages will dress up the site in addition to some graphics, to incorporate more multimedia into the wiki.  I think a good base has been established now the rest of the pieces need to be built up.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How do I integrate technology?

The posed questions this week all had to do with curriculum or the things we teach in class.  While all around us technology is advancing at breakneck speeds, as the 4G to 5G to 6G commercial illustrates, we need to be able to add this or integrate it into the classroom.  The way that teachers present information is guided by benchmarks, which are just educational goals created by our Department of Education.  Also, teachers use a pacing guide to check on a regular basis where they are in their instruction no matter what subject they’re teaching.  These benchmarks are created by experts to create goals for learning in all curriculum areas and grade levels.  Technology is being used increasingly in schools today to enhance the learning process to accommodate more types of learning.  The use of technology with all of its hardware and software inside the classroom is considered technology integration. 
            There are all types of integration inside the classroom.  This can include the use of interactive software programs, to computers in the classroom, and even a portable “wireless media cart”(Shelley, 2010).  The ideal classroom would have a brand new computer, now it would probably be in the form of a tablet, for each child, an interactive board instead of the traditional chalkboard, and a computer for the teacher to instantly have all the needed tools at their fingertips.  This would include instantly assessing students with digital test, using digital text books, and using multimedia to expose students to key enhancements that cannot be brought into the classroom like video of a science experiment that could potential be dangerous and is better suited to watch then to do.  Technology also has become a key part of the classroom as our students have been born into the world of technology that is moving at an ineffable speed.  We as educators need to be able to teach them how to correctly use this technology as it improves and changes.  The greatest part of technology and using the Internet is it gives children an equal opportunity to learn.  Classrooms of one, two or even an entire classroom of computers can be designed to fully integrate technology to enhance learning.
            A key model called the “ASSURE” model helps teachers to become guided correctly when planning for a lesson, unit or an entire week.  It includes key ideas which are question based including how to Analyze the learner, State the objective, Select methods, media, and materials, Utilize those same methods, media and materials, Require learners to participate, and Evaluate how the learning process is proceeding and revising the lesson if needed. The mere accumulation of the knowledge of how technology works is not enough, planning isn’t enough, it must be correctly organized using a model like the “Assure” method mentioned above.  Teachers must create an environment of integrated learning, decide how to administer or deliver the integrated curriculum.  (Shelly, 2010)
            One way to use technology in an appealing way is through digital storytelling.  I someday hope to use this tool to have students retell a story.  I think to have students use a digital storytelling presentation to tell about key components, or story map a book they have read would be incredible.  They could record their voice to tell the story, and create their own artwork to become the illustrators also.  As I teach fifth grade, I think this would be more than just another summary or writing project for them.  I think it would cover benchmarks for both technology and Language Arts.  The last part of the task would be to present it to a lower grade level, either live or through strictly the presentation.  As most of my fifth graders currently read books without much illustration, finding clip art or creating their own art, which they are most happy to do on everything especially their weekly spelling tests for some reason.  I think presenting this would encourage some of them to be a presenter even though they may be shy normally.  Even entice some to read to younger students and be a good role model to work on their own role in society.  Let’s face it with how easy technology is for today’s students this would be easy and I see nothing but great things to be created by completing this project.  The resources for student’s online would be few but key.
 They would need access to an online program, like Prezi, that allows easy user access, also so they can work at home.  Also it would need to be free, as most budgets can’t afford extras in today’s economy.   Furthermore, the use of free clipart, from Google images, would benefit students to illustrate the digital story summary would be a must.   As mentioned before teacher’s are directed by benchmarks, which leads to the question what learning activities would need to be used in order to facilitate the learner to successfully complete the task.  The students would probably need some in depth practice with Prezi, view multiple examples of presentations that are in the spectrum of what I expect as an end result, and a skill set on how to find images using a search engine or how to create their own images by using Paint.  Since they are great drawlers I think using a scanner to insert their own handmade images would also be a benefit for students to use while creating this project.  In short, the end result would need to be created by me as the facilitator of learning to visibly show students what they needed to do to create a satisfactory project. 
Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital storytelling is described simply as a digital explanation of what needs to be well explained.  I used a program called Prezi to create a Digital Storytelling “Prezi”, as I was told by my professor, the company doesn’t like the reference of a presentation when referring to the creation that is made with Prezi.  I first read about digital media from Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom.  It gave me insight to the new additions to presenting and administering lessons in the classroom.
            The term digital media has great importance in education as we have more visual learners emerging each year.  This media includes Text, Graphics, Animation, Audio and video elements.  The application of this software can be used to greatly improve learning of students, as it simply makes learning more fun and interesting.  The most widely used application is software applications that are used across a variety of computer platforms.  These would include personal computers such as a Mac or IBM compatible computers.  The applications of multimedia is used for computer based instruction and interactive software in the classroom.  Other applications can be in the form of electronic books, how to guides, digital media such as E-Zines, Entertainment and Edutainment formats.  Even more advanced applications are Virtual reality or VR which can be used for gaming or real life simulations.  The real world applications of multimedia are information Kiosks, web based training, and distance learning.  Interactive software mentioned earlier allows for great leaps in education.  It allows for individualized instruction simultaneously throughout a diverse classroom.  It encourages creativity, critical thinking, and creation of digital media presentations, and support for core academic subjects.  As a whole the use of multimedia in the classroom greatly enhances learning and improves achievement for students in the classroom.
            I first went through and looked at several projects that gave me an idea of how a presentation should look.  I also outlined and sketched my basic ideas and key points to make in the presentation.  I used the book and an online YouTube presentation to gain the knowledge of the specifics to what Digital Storytelling should look like, what components it needs to include, and how it is used by teachers.  I then used Prezi to create a layout of key words and phrases to include in my display.  The most important part was how to use Digital Storytelling to enhance the classroom.  I think that the excitement by students to see another media, rather than just seeing the teacher lecturing was a big advantage.  Also the fact that you can pace at any speed or overcome interruptions was key to why I would use this as a tool in the classroom.  Including the versatility of being able to show things at any time, with the added fact that some things can’t be brought into a classroom but could be shown in the classroom really showed me the advantages to using Digital Storytelling as an enhancement for teaching lessons.  I would definitely use this the most in science.  As budgets are tight, and hands-on experiments are part of the new Science benchmarks, using a video to show an experiment, and have it go right the first time, not like normal when things always go wrong, would definitely improve class involvement.  Most of the time there isn’t enough supplies to go around.  But to be able to show a science experiment done correctly instead of just reading about it or displaying it for students to watch would make all the difference in understand and retaining the information.  Also it would be great to use as review before tests or when students seem to forget what was taught at the beginning of the school year. 
            I think I did quite well, the only problems I had were organizing and discovering how to use the tools for Prezi correctly.  After view the tutorial and some trial and error I came up with a good Prezi, remember their not called presentations.  I enhanced my presentation with clipart, and was thankful to have learned earlier this semester how to use Google to find a vast variety of images.  I decided to use all cartoon images, because well I teach elementary school and I think cartoons are friendlier.  I think that this could be used and enhanced by using photos if I needed real life examples for students to view or if they needed to see certain examples.  The only part I had trouble with was the embedding part, but figured it out with the help menu.  The hardest part was getting the order and view of each slide just the way I wanted it.  I had wanted to add some audio but couldn’t find a song that went and therefore didn’t explore the possibility of using audio on Prezi.  I did however look and didn’t see that option.  I’m thinking some other software programs may have that option more visible, but as I explored the creation portion I didn’t find it easy to locate.  Well click below to see my first Prezi on Digital Storytelling.

Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How to choose the right software?

Reading Response #4
Most people think that teachers come to work, give out worksheets, give some directions, mark papers, give test, and so forth.  Although these are some parts to teaching, being a part of the adoption of new books or tools such as software can also be a part of your responsibilities.  As a scenario was given to me this week, I came to pour over the computers for the best solution for my problem.  This was that my boss, the principal, has come to me asking that by the end of the day I find a suitable academic program to better integrate technology into my students’ learning.  As most people think that this would be easy, well it was until the scene unfolded and I was stuck with only one computer, as the dilemma unfolded I soon learned that it was going to be much harder than I first thought. 
The computer I use is recent but not state of the art.  Each computer can be refered to as a “workstation”, and that’s all that I was going to get, as the budget was set for software programs not hardware.   As for some of the nuts and bolts of the computer I have, there are some key elements that need to be addressed, each component will be viewable at the same Wikipedia site that can help explain in greater details what some of these component are and how they play a key role in the computer.  The first consideration is the Operating System, since this is the software that commands all the processes, I had to find a program that went with Windows Vista.  I also had to find out what were the main components to my computer.  I accomplished this by going to the “Control Panel” from the “Start” button.  Then to the “System and Maintenance” section.  Last I went into the “Performance Information and Tools” part to gain valuable information on what the internal limitations of my computer were.  I was somewhat familiar with what I was running on a basic level.  But as most people I had to use the information from the computer for specifics, as I use up to 5 or more different systems per day and have a hard time keeping track of specifications of each platform. 
This isn’t the latest version of Windows, but still could cause friction when trying to operate a new software program on a computer.  My next concern was the CPU or processor speed.  This is the main “brain” and the speed it can process information is greatly important, I have a clean 2.30 GHz.   Another concern is the RAM, which is quick volatile memory that can really mean the difference in performance of a program.  I have 4 GB, with a usable 3.3 GB for regular daily or quotidian use.   As this was added and doubles the stock amount it makes a smooth transition while operating the system and performing tasks.  Other considerations were the visual screen resolution, which I have a healthy 1152 X 864 screen resolution.  This is runs by the use of a Nvidia GeForce with a GPU, or graphics processing unit, of 1.5 GB.  The amount of space on my internal hard drive was also a consideration.  But with the large internal hard drives that are available space wasn’t an issue.  With my other removable media devices, e.g. the CD/DVD write drive, and USB ports I was set for most anything to be installed on my computer. (Shelly, 2010) The only problem was how I use one computer for 20 or more students.

I found it after much looking and comparing, StarMatica, a Language Arts program suitable for my 5th grade Language Students.  This program has several Language features, including assessment, practice and teacher modifiable lessons.  The best part was a feature that allows students to use the software at home or in a lab.  The limitation of having one computer made finding a versatile program that could be used by an entire class, in other areas besides the classroom a key focus to my search. 
The limits that were put in place as part of the scenario created some difficulties.  These dealt with how many computers can share or have the program installed on them.  I had to look for a program that was able to be used in a lab or at home, but still gave a range of teacher control for specific needs and had assessments as data drive the classroom of today.  One other difficulty was that some software was only compatible to certain operating systems.  At that point I could only move on and search for more suitable candidates.  Sure I would have liked to use other hardware to project lessons on the board, or to interact with students but unfortunately it isn’t currently available at my work location.   Even though I chose a program that didn’t utilize everything that could have been used, I feel that I found a well rounded program that would show a positive learning gain as part of the integration of StarMatica in my curriculum.  I would ideally like to have students use this at home for homework, or when they go to computer lab for special areas in order to give computer based assistance in Language Arts. 
As a final thought, I can’t hardly imagine how great it would be to have an up to date, state of the art classroom.  With all the possibilities, an interactive board where students could use a special pen to interact with lessons on the board by getting up and moving around.  In addition to having a voter machine where a teacher can review and ask multiple choice questions, and instantly see how many students got the right answer, and who specifically got it wrong.  This would make great strides into making the classroom more effective and teaching a diverse classroom successfully.  I could focus on students who showed difficulty with specific skills and meet their needs without review materials that they do know.  To wrap up, I see tablet instead of textbooks, handheld devices to allow students to catch up on what was taught the days they were absent, and instant assessment feedback to both parents and teachers.

Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Friday, February 25, 2011

How "All About Me" can define you on the Web

AR #3

The point of having an online identity for a teacher is to give a positive personal idea of who you are and what you hope to achieve as an educator.  The Internet can be used for a variety of reasons for a teacher, especially when a teacher creates a web page.  Most teachers create a webpage to allow for a more convenient way for parents and students to be informed about a class without having to remember everything expressed during “Open House”.  This is usually an event when teachers meet parents and students, give a bunch of information and start off the year.  A class web page that is maintained by an educator can be used for a variety of things.  Some examples are to convey a philosophy or mission statement, which is to tell what the general goal should be for the class, grade level or school.  This type of website can provide vital information with links to grade books, calendar of events, homework or assignments that are due, or just reminders.  It also cuts down on paper, as links can be set up with documents that can be printed, because let’s face it a pile of paper remains a growing pile, but if it’s organized and on a website it is easily accessible. 

There are other reasons to have online websites or even blogs as a teacher.  This can help with writing, communicating with other students, or coworkers, and even act as collaboration on projects for class.  With the wide range of online contacts that can be made a student can increase their resources to an almost immeasurable degree.  Some programs can be useful, as the Microsoft Word 2007 has a blog integration tool.  Those who have limited computer experience can gain quick online skills with programs they are comfortable with.  Other types of tools educators can use are “wikis”, which allow for a group authoring of a book or other related projects.  A great example is the Wikipedia.   Another tool that has been greatly advanced due to Mac’s iPod and other related system units, is the “podcast”.  This is described like an Internet based radio show.  As for communications it can be endlessly utilized from plain communications of opinions, to class lectures and professional development. (Shelly, 2010) Lastly a growing trend is the use of multimedia studio software.   These types of software programs use digital technology and have simplified the production of video clips.  This makes the laborious job of professionals easier for our next generation of students.  It enables them to practice and learn media skills without having to use expensive equipment.  Also it allows them to spend less time in the studio producing and more time creating.

I had the task of creating my own personality this week.  As this is a public blog, I was careful in every aspect from my philosophy to the interests and content of my blog.  It was actually a lot like when I first signed up for Facebook.  Certain information is left blank, but important educational elements are added to give the whole world an idea of my goal for an online presence.  It is now out for the public to see and add to which releases my control of the blog to the public.  The biggest concern I have is what ideas am I presenting for my coworkers, administrators, parents, students and even the general publics prospective of an educator.  Each person who public writes on the Web, gives a characteristic of all educators.  As a general rule I kept in mind what does this make me and other in my profession look like to a person that has never met me?  This leads to a big problem that the Internet has created for educators and that a permanent record of rumors or complaints that no matter how true they are, can always be found by anybody. 

The newest problem that can ruin a teacher’s reputation is the online comments made about them online.  There are also the online mistakes that teachers make.  In greater details to people and their online mistakes and how reputations can be ruined check out a site about our “Future Reputation”.  It is easy for a problem with a teacher can turn into instant online gossip.  Through testimonies from fellow union members I have heard of everything from parents blasting teacher on Facebook because of a disagreement, to misuse of Facebook relationships between teachers and parents or students, and even union impeachment of an elected position due to a Facebook post.  The common factor is a blog on the Internet is public, and if you don’t want someone to see it don’t right it.  It comes down to a rumor doesn’t have to be true, and especially on the Internet it becomes permanent, no matter if it’s true or false, it’s been told to the world.  This used to be true about what we said in the teacher’s lounge but now has moved to the digital world, where the “digital footprint” is permanent.
Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Solove, Daniel J., (2007) The Future of Reputation. Retrieved from:

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Excel can help with a digital gradebook.

The main driving engine of a computer, in terms of software, is the operating system.  This tells the computer how to complete main functions that it needs to complete.  There are a few different operating systems.  These are Windows, Mac OS, UNIX, and Linux systems, which are added to by application software.  There are different categories of application software which include productivity, multimedia, academic, personal, and communication programs. (Shelly, 2010)

This leads into a project that most teachers need, unless a specified program has been made mandatory by the school district.  A grade book can be made with the use of the Microsoft program Excel.  This program, much like an accountant’s book, has boxes called “cells” that allow for all types of information to be placed on a page for organizing and use.  There are all types of options and applications that can be utilized with this program.  There are many types of formatting as most word processing programs have.  There are options to make charts, graphs and formulas to perform tasks for a more professional application. 

Our project was to take a grade book that was previously created and show off our technology skills.  Some of the basics were asked, change cell colors, create a row (cells are classified with rows and columns, with a letter/number notation), create a header for the new row, and add some data.  As this was a grade book, we used sample grades.  Now up to this point it was pretty standard and easy to navigate.  There were some moderate challenges, which for example was to create another row that had averages of overall grades.  One of the most challenging pieces was to sort by grades, and to have below grade leveled students in bold.  I never did find a way or formula that would automatically bold a name if they had fall below grade level.  A formula is what is used to create a desired outcome in a cell, based on some type of variables.  This could be adding a number of cells that have numbers for totaling, or creating an average for a set of grade.  This was our task, which is under the popular functions of the top “ribbon” or toolbar of Excel.  The hardest element by far was how to make the names appear for all four marking periods.  Each new page is called a “sheet”, and with 4 sheets the change on one sheet had to appear on each of the other 3 sheets.  I did finally figure out that a “link”, had to be created that would affect changes on all sheets in the “workbook”.  The term workbook refers to the entire project that includes all sheets.  The Excel program has been extended where many database functions can be used now, which extends what can be accomplished with in this program.

As a teacher this has many different luxuries.  It allows for multiple assignments to be quickly averaged, with pinpoint accuracy.  It allows for me to see who is not doing well, by sorting by final average.  Furthermore it allowed me to see if homework was a positive or negative factor on students’ grade averages.  This allows me to enter any type of assignment and have it easily accessible for our own monitoring and makes it easy to show parents how their child is doing.  Also with darkening out other names you can show rankings, and compare to averages of assignments and overall final averages.   As a whole, Excel is very easy to use as a grade book.  But some companies have produced software that far surpasses the capabilities of Excel.  This would be great if you were to start a foundation for using technology for a grade book.  But other academic software has made it more work to set up Excel, than it creates a convenience for teachers.  Most “grade book” software imports most of the needed information and teachers just need to add assignments and the grades.  Excel is a great all around program, but for teachers there is better software being used to create digital grade books in our classrooms.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is filtering at schools ethical?

Reading Reflection #3

It is our job as teachers to protect students while they are in our care.  It seems that many times the filters through the school district block materials that are not harmful or unsafe for children.  It is however dependent to what is being surfed of the Internet.  I remember that some time ago I took a workshop where an adult sight had taken advantage of the “.gov” part of the Whitehouse sight, and used a “.com” domain label to trick students to view their sight.  This type of malicious use of the Web is the reason why we need filters for schools.  So does this limit what we can assign as a teacher or have child learn about?  My answer would be no, as with a classroom with more than one student doesn’t exist.  Only filters can act as a parent to help reduce the amount of objectionable material that exists on the endless Internet, a parent next to their child is a live filter, we as teachers need the electronic filters to act as the parent and protect the student.  We can’t shield our children from everything that they will eventually be exposed to, but as parents we should be given the choice.  We should feel that school is a safe environment.  Filtering material from the Internet is one way to ensure their safety.

As an article from “USA Today” stated we have a legal obligation to filter according to the “Children's Internet Protection Act”.  This doesn’t mean that it makes sense in some cases, but because the certain key words that a filtering program is based on is to exclude sites.  It becomes frustrating to many teachers and students when using the Internet at schools.  However as I stated earlier we must adjust and use home Internet more frequently so that parents can more carefully monitor Internet content. 

There is a multiple amount of computer security threats when using the Internet.  The issues students are exposure to would include objectionable material and predators using instant messaging, chat rooms or blogs to find children and baiting them into conversation, then online relationships or more.  This also continues to safeguard children from “Cyber-bullying” The other types of security risks that filtering safeguards against are computer viruses which “is a program designed to affect your computer negatively without your knowledge or permission” (Shelly, 2010).  Another common type of malicious program would include a “Trojan horse” or a “worm” both are similar to a “computer virus” in which it causes damage to computers, and networks.

This brings to mind how do we guard our computers, since this is one of the biggest investments that we may make in our households?  There are software programs that protect your computer that can be purchased that offer protection from “computer viruses”, “malware”, “firewalls” both software and hardware versions, and include e-mail safeguards from scams such as “phishing”, and “spam” schemes. 

These devastating types of software lead into one last point which is ethic and etiquette.  In terms of ethics most schools have some type of “Internet Policy” or “Acceptable Use Policies” that are a guide to how computer usage is allowable as a privilege to those using a network.  The current world is full of computers which these ethics guide all users from how to abide by copyright and fair use guidelines, to etiquette when using a cell phone.  It is so common to have a cell connected to your ear, more and more the “no cell phone” signs are constantly being posted.  As this technology increases so does the wireless network.  We are in a path of having a completely wireless world, where cell phone providers make it easy to take and use new technology everywhere and anywhere.  In a very short time the emerging technologies will allow handheld tablets and devices, like the “Smartphone”, to be our primary connection to the Internet.  This will create a completely wireless classroom. Books and assessments will be on a tablet.  It will be where students from home or in their seats can complete the same work and the teacher can use the instant assessments that technology brings to give immediate feedback to improve the learning of a diverse classroom.  Then parents can check what their child got on their spelling test from their Smartphone or home device instantly after the test has been given. 

Shelly, Gunter, Gunter (2010) Teachers Discovering Computers Integrating Technology and Digital Media in the Classroom Sixth edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
USA Today,  Associated Press (2005) Schools install Internet filters to receive federal money. Retrieved from:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Why is the digital world important to all of us?

Reading Reflection #2
The digital world is a huge part of our lives as teachers and just regular people.  One of the keys to our digital life is the Internet it is used for communicating thorugh e-mail, researching with search engines, conducting business daily, learning for students, and so much more.  The Internet has an interesting history as outlined from the “Internet Society All About the Internet: History of the Internet” tells in a well in depth how a simple project to collaborate communications between people turned into a worldwide phenomenon.  As a teacher I must understand how this works and look at how my students have change from traditional pencil and paper to a digital student as described by a short presentation of “The Networked Student” by Dr. Wendy Drexler. 

In this presentation, Dr. Drexler shows many digital avenues that the teacher and student use to learn.  In addition to why we need to know how to use the Web to be successful in today’s learning world.  Several points are made, how textbooks are obsolete, how going to class daily is replaced by online coursework, and how a social network enhances a student’s learn by connecting to others around the world to gain access to knowledge. 

The first part tells about “The Networked Student”, which as it turns out parallels how I am learning in my current college course.  I collaborate with others using a blog  and have established a “personal learning network” to enhance my learning experience.  For a simplified version of a blog see Blogs in Plain English.  The opportunities of online learning range from the students in the class to subscribing to an RSS, which allows anyone to learn from experts from around the world.  It seems that the RSS is a key factor in moving us to the Web 3.0, which is our future in surfing and communicating on the Internet.  The most interesting question, then answered, by the presentation is “Why is a teacher needed?”  According to Dr. Drexler several aspects are facilitated by a teacher, which brings me to why I need to know how my future classroom will most likely be run.  The teacher is a leader that “Teaches us how to build contacts, directs questions as the arise, teaches how to identify if the information is valid like and encyclopedia or just an opinion, and finally how to use the Web to its fullest potential.”  This is to create a student who is ready for the 21st century world and can be a positive impact on the world.
Drexler, W. (2008, November 26) The Networked Student [Video file]. Retrieved from   

Networking has taken on a new meaning in the digital 21st century.  A network helps to connect you to others and to information from all over the globe.   The Internet seems to be the General or main network, it has Lieutenants that run a regional networks, which in turn has local networks and so forth.  This goes on until your home network is reached.  This would be how you connect your computers, printers, and other multimedia devices to the Internet.  The complexity of the digital world includes the networks how they communicate through a modem and how routers steer information through a digital signal.  The explosion of the Internet has made all of these devices and networks a need instead of a want in order to be connected in all aspects of our lives.  This is the reason why as a teacher I need to know how to use the available resources, that are just second nature to the students who come through my class room door.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Searching on the never ending Web, how can we be successful when we need to find relevant materials on the Web for the classroom?

The key to being successful when using a search engine I found out is the vocabulary and how specific you are when using the search engine.  The more specific, simpler the language and more components for a search request the better your results will be.  I found that using trial and error, and building onto my search results helped me to get what I needed.  As an example, for a search I wanted some clip art that was fun or a cartoon the depicted a book for a poster in my classroom.  I went from “pics. of books”, to “cartoon book figures” before I had a selection I wanted.

The difference between a search engine and a subject directory I found  seemed to be comparable to the difference between  an “advanced search” and  “browsing” a subject.  The most useful was the subject directory, although I did find that educational website links had a quite few personal pages that were obsolete or not functional.  This probably has to do with a project that lasted a year or so, then was never maintained. 

The websites that supported our Sunshine State Standards were the Florida department of education, which I found very difficult to navigate, and the adopted series websites for core subject areas.  These were much more user friendly then the DOE site.  The sites made to correlate with the book series, that we have in Orange County,  seemed to make it very easy to interact, and “attach” standards to lesson plans.  A specific example is the Houghton Mifflin series.  This series has an outlined technology plan that identifies what lessons from the classroom whole group lessons, correlates with what lessons that should be “assigned “ to students.  Teachers can use the Riverdeep program to create lessons that reinforce the same standards and objectives that are taught from the textbook.  This helps to integrate what is taught in class with what can be practiced at home.  It also has a lesson planner to help create yearlong plan for teachers to follow with what aspects of the program they want to use. 

The current website that Orange County Public Schools maintains is a one stop area for the public, teachers/employees, parents and students. It is moderately easy to navigate, but the search engine it has to use for the site is inadequate and the results it produces mostly are not relevant.  As for basic questions and information the site is great, but the more specific you get with your information request the harder it seems it is to find what you’re looking for.   The county and individual schools websites throughout the state, seem to be the only other resource I could find that added to what the Florida Department of Education that were reliable. 

It seems the Web 2.0 is more than adequate  for my search current needs, but the new 3.0 seems to be beyond what I ever expected for being connected through the digital world.  I felt that the search tools that were provided by the textbook more than met my needs, but with the amount of disposable sites seemed to be too numerous.  There was a good amount of suggested sites that didn’t meet my needs, which shows there is room for improvement.  Included in the frustration of the search engines was when I continued to use the wrong  vocabulary, this led to dead ends and “no results found” problems.  These two issues increase the time that you spend on the web and with the ideas that were outlined for the Web 3.0, it seems there will be an ease to many current burdens of the Web 2.0, of life in general and will allow computers to help use in more aspects of our life. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

“Are we doing what is best for our students, or are we doing what is most convenient for us?” Well, are we?

As a response to the question about convenience, I can only say it depends on the person.  There are many people who are "teachers" and some that work as a teacher for a job.  A true teacher will always put the student first and do what is best for the student.  Yes I feel I do what is best for the student, but I am limited by little resources, out of date technology, and evaluators who aren't trained to educate.

There are a variety of things that we can use to integrate technology into our classrooms.  The problem is who's going to pay for it?  It seems that the taxpayers need to pay for, but it should be the private district.  They are creating new jobs, so they should be responsible for giving the public schools the funds to provide the best education, which includes paying for technology in the classroom.  With the correct funding, we can be more efficient as teachers and more effective.  The integration of technology includes software, hardware, and skills to integrate and use them.

The average tax payer doesn't directly benefit from public education that utilizes technology.  Some retired folks here in Florida never get anything from the portion of taxes they pay that funds education.  Since they are retired, their children have gone through school, and they themselves don't use technology on a regular basis, their money is wasted.  These unfortunate people are forced to pay for others to benefit from our current students education.  For them a school is a landmark rather than something that fits into their daily life.  As for our current parents, they need public schools, and just because they can't afford to pay for their child's education or help fund for technology that is now essential, the classroom suffers.  If the private district was held more accountable, we could have much better funding.  It's a cycle, a business creates a new product, we learn how to use it in school (or integrate it's use in the classroom), we buy products, and the business profits from it.

There is a huge variety of choices that school districts have to improve a classroom.  The use of technology to assist in the education process is now a key factor in allowing students to learn for their future careers.  We need computers, and not just one or two that barely work, but a mini-lab to accommodate at least 25% of a class roster at a time.  This allows for effective teaching.  We can use these computers and the vast variety of computer software to remediate, maintain and enrich students through software that instantly adjusts to the students needs.  It actually is better than what human can do, as that is one reason why computers are used.  This is, to do things faster and better than a human being can.  Today's classroom needs to have up to date and instant access to students’ performance.  Key advanced technology devices such items as "Smartboards" with student interface devices, and a centralized computer for the teacher to use is a key part of a current classroom.  Sure it's easy to use the same lesson each period, or for a few years.  Those of us that are real "teachers" constantly change what we are doing.  Using technology makes the process faster.  As the textbook talks about the differences in our current students we need make constant changes to accommodate a diverse classroom.  Using something as simple as a PowerPoint slideshow to review for a test can reach out and grab the new learners that fill the chairs of our classrooms.  Students should be using flash drives, to save their work that they do in the computer lab.  The work I think of is using word processing to help the student improve their writing when learning to write.  Also, creating presentations using PowerPoint to present a topic, instead of just standing in front of the class and reading an essay.  We need to use current devices, software, social networks, and blogs to engage students in learning.  Some students could sit at home in front of their computer, use the virtual world, and never come to school, only to perform better than those who wasted their day sitting in class.

There is a viewpoint no matter what the situation is.  I think many teachers are viewed as lazy and doing what is most convenient.  As with any profession the media glamorizes the negative "news" and creates a label of a profession.  If a doctor gets arrested for being inappropriate towards patients, all doctors are then treated as molesters and need to have a "chaperone" in the room.  Most people outside of the daily classroom see teachers as doing what is most convenient, but how many people know what the right way to teach a student is?  We have parents, not trained as teachers, politicians, who have no idea what a teacher's job is and administrators that haven't been in a classroom except the few minute to see if the teacher is doing the right thing.  Now all these people need to be in the classroom and actually teach, more than just once, and on a regular basis.  They need to see that as teachers we battle for lack of supplies, technology, support staff, time, support from parents, and motivation from students.  It is only the teacher who is motivated to show gains with "data", as this is our life and career, for a student it's just another test.

As a closing statement doing what is convenient can only be truly measured by the person teaching.  Outside observers aren't equipped to evaluate in some cases and an explanation can easily make a terrible idea look innovative.  I think the question posed on Dr. Mcleod's website is for those who may be burnt out, because I know if I had the access to current technology I could make vast leaps in student gains, and do what is best for each student.

Dr. Scott McLeod, (2007), Well? What's your answer?. Retrieved from: May 1, 2007.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Welcome to my blog, this week I want to share sum information about handheld devices.

As I read in an article from MaximumPC, I started thinking about what are the most useful handheld devices in my life.  According to the article here is the top ten most important handheld devices...

 10-the pin drive, I find that this is a needed piece of equipment that we all must have in order to bring our "work" with us without having to take the whole computer, or even a bulky disk.  Flash technology is up and coming and now is being used for hard drives.

9-the Walkman, this proceeded the iPod, but was important to handheld music progression.

 8-the Palm-VII which of course lead us to the current PDAs.

 7-the Canon 5D, this was the start of digital photograph.  Lets face it without digital cameras we would be spending a fortune on film that we wouldn't be able to use.

 6-the iPad, what can I say but wow.  This will be the next generation textbook to have in connection and will work with Smartboards to make cost efficient learning possible.

5-the Harmony Remote Control, this was the first universal remote.  It doesn't fit in the classroom, but its what lets us use the Direct TV remote for all of our entertainment equipment.

4-Texas Instruments Cal Tech, yes it is the first calculator, and according to the article "led the way for billions of calculators afterwards".

3-the iPhone, this started and still leads the way in smartphone technology.  Without this social networking would not be as accessible, nor would the Internet.

 2-Amazon Kindle, while this helps save space, it leads to endless reading pleasure.  I think it is another device that shows a window to the future of how textbooks will look like in the future classroom.

1-Abacus, while this doesn't seem very technologically advance, it gave the idea and basis for portable devices that were used to assist the human being in daily life.
(MaximumPC Vol. 16, No.2 Feb. 2011)

Please post your ideas on what is the most important handheld device for you.