Friday, October 28, 2011


My goal is to achieve a single subject credential in English.  For this week’s blog, I chose an article that related to that goal.  I selected the article, Wallwisher: A Geeky Teacher’s Dream Tool by Keith Ferrell.  In the article, Ferrell discusses how he used Wallwisher in his fourth and fifth grade classrooms.  In his fourth grade class, his students were learning about deserts.  Rather than have them write a text document listing off facts about different deserts and climate conditions, he set up a Wallwisher where the students could each post a fact and collaborate as class.  Ferrell repeated this set up with his fifth grade class except with writing tips and vocabulary.

This article originally piqued my curiosity because I had found the same site while constructing my graphic organizer.  The implications for this web tool are almost limitless.  Wallwisher can be used to create collaborations between students and other classes as well.  It can be used for writing tips, vocabulary lessons, group projects, and discussions boards.  I think that this web tool is an essential tool that can be used in almost any classroom and can be easily tailored to fit any subject. 

Ferrell, K. (2011, May). Wallwisher: A Geeky Teacher's Dream Tool. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from ISTE - International Society for Technology in Education:

Friday, October 21, 2011

Web 2.0 Tools

The project book by Terry Freedman, The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book, contains great resources and web tools to use in classrooms.  Two of my favorite tools are the “Talking Book Report” and “British Literature Wiki”.

“Talking Book Report” uses an online program called Blabberize.   This is great for illustrating passages from books or providing short synopsis in a fun and entertaining way.  First, the student uploads a picture that includes the head and shoulders.  They then follow the directions to create their 3D representation.  The student then uploads up to a 90-second audio recording of the synopsis of the book.  The student should also describe why they think others should read the book as well.

The web tool, British Literature Wiki, uses Wiki to contribute to a research project throughout the year.  Students contributed discussions, multimedia, and their own research.  The wiki was also used to keep students updated on due dates and announcements.  It is up to the students to collaborative build the wiki, adding their own researched material that, in this case, has helped other students across the world with their own education.

These sites apply to the NETS-S in a variety of ways.   “Talking Book Report” using Blabberize mainly uses NETS-S standards 1 and 6.  The web tool utilizes creativity and innovation that uses a created model to share book reports and explore different ways to share the information with peers.  The tool also exhibits standard 6 through the bit of technical knowledge that is required to upload a picture and audio to the website.   The site is user friendly and doesn’t require an advance degree in IT in order to work, however, minimal knowledge of terms is required.

The second tool is already set up, but to create a wiki page requires a bit more finesse and use of almost all the NETS-S standards.   The creation of a page requires innovation and creativity (NETS-S 1) to design the site to make it appealing to the eye as well as promoting students to add their own creative content to the site.  British Literature Wiki also exemplifies communication and collaboration (NETS-S 2) because the students are adding the researched content to the site as well as participating in facilitated group discussions that have been set up.  This leads into NETS-S 3 because each student is required to do their own accurate research and contribute to the site.  Lastly, British Literature Wiki also falls under the NETS-S 5 through it being required that a high amount of digital citizenship is essential.  Honesty regarding resources and citations is important making the website a reliable information source.

Overall, the project book by Terry Freedman has a variety of useful and fun web tools that apply to any age and grade.

Freedman, T. (2010). The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from Educational Technology - ICT in Education:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Assistive Technology and Writing

Chapter 6 of “Assessing Students’ Needs for Assistive Technology” discusses the different techniques a team can use to evaluate a student’s needs in writing and improving their composition.  This chapter suggests that a team of educators involved with the students learning should be formed to come up with the best way to help a student.   A variety of options are suggested to help a struggling student, such as using voice recognition software to assist with the students spelling problems, a pocket dictionary and/or thesaurus  to help with word selection, graphic organizers (like those created with Inspiration) to assist with organizing ideas, and using word processing programs to help students with grammar and spelling.

Designing a program that fits the needs and goals of each individual student should be the ultimate goal of any assistive technology program.  One such way to assist a student is providing them with a portable electronic dictionary.  An electronic dictionary would allow the student to look up words they are unsure of or that they are confused about especially if they are homonyms.  Another way to assist students is through using programs that use pictures in place of words to form sentences.  Programs like Pix Writer, Picture It, and Writing with Symbols use pictures with labels attached.  These programs provide a valuable visual asset to students.  It allows them to associate a picture with the word, helping with learning and recognizing the word in the future.

There are many other programs and techniques that educators can use to help students than the ones listed above.  Which program or technique is used depends on the student’s needs and also the skills of the teaching professional.  These programs are for the benefit of the student and should be used to enhance the student’s learning experience, building their confidence and ability to grasp concepts and succeed at composition to the best of their ability.

Gierach, Jill. (June 2009). Chapter 6: Assistive Technology for the Composition of Written Material.  Assessing Students’ Needs for Assistive Technology (ASNAT).  Retrieved from  October 12th, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Storytelling in the Classroom

In the article, “Digital Storytelling in the Language Arts Classroom”, Glen Bull and Sara Kajder discuss the rise of digital storytelling and the seven main elements (point of view, dramatic question, emotional content, economy, pacing, the gift of your voice, and accompanying soundtrack) necessary to create an effective digital story. 

One element that struck me is what they called, “the gift of your voice”.  As part of the student’s digital story, they are required to narrate their own story.  This allows for the quieter students who may not participate in class discussions or activities to express themselves and be heard without the anxiety of their classmates staring at them while they speak.  For the meeker students, allowing them to somewhat hide behind a video that they narrated could help bring them out of their shell, especially if the digital story is well done. 

There are many uses for digital storytelling in English classes.  It would be a unique and creative way for students to learn grammar, structure, and to learn to express themselves in ways they may not have considered.  Whether the story is about their own personal life or a presentation about a book or poem that is being read in class, digital storytelling offers an innovate, pointed way to tell a story or idea.

Bull, G.  Kajder, S.  (2004, v. 32, n. 4).  Digital Storytelling in the Language Arts Classroom.  Learning and Leading with Technology, pg. 46-49.  Retrieved October 6, 2011 from

Monday, October 3, 2011

Web 2.0: Today’s Technology, Tomorrow’s Learning

Social networking, simulations, and digital games can be beneficial and distracting in a classroom depending on how they are used.  Educational games that teach problem solving, negotiating skills, and cause and effect are great tools for teachers to use in classrooms.  Games like Diplomacy (though it is a board game, it still is a great asset) and Ayiti offer both fun as well as a great learning experience.   The games also help students to visualize and experiences concepts rather than read it from a book or watch a video. 

Social networks can be used in classrooms as well for the benefit of students.  Teachers can create sites, pages, or groups design for a specific class with assignments, discussion groups, or extra resource materials.

I remember in my high school sophomore history class, we did a computer simulation in class that involved extraterrestrials coming to earth and initiating contact with humans (his last name was Roswell and I think he chose this simulation because of the “incident” at Roswell, NM).  As a class, we decided how we would respond, interact, or attempt to annihilate the visitors.  My class chose the harder road and attacked.  It did not end well for us.  It was fun and we learned more about diplomacy, negotiating, and problem solving by seeing the fruits of our decisions play out.

I hope I can incorporate a few education driven games into my lessons plans in the future. I know I’ll definitely be using some form of social networking through group creation and discussion boards to keep students updated and keep the communication and discussion going between teacher and students.      

Groff, J. and Haas, J. (Sept/Oct 2008, v. 36, i. 2).Web 2.0: Today’s Technology, Tomorrow’s Learning.  InternationalSociety for Technology in Education. October 1, 2011.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Dig Up Dirt"

The article, “Students Dig Up Dirt” by Jesse Morehouse is both enlightening and unsettling.  In the article, Morehouse discusses how easy it is for detailed information to be found about almost anyone on the internet.  He emphasizes it with a striking quote, “87% of Americans can be positively identified from their zip codes, dates of birth, and genders.” (Morehouse 34) This statistic surprised me at first, just as the rest of the article did, but then it made me think and do a little testing of my own.

I searched my own name on Google to see what would come up.  The first search result was not me but a reporter in Chicago.  In fact, I gave up trying to find any information on me after going through 15 pages.  I was comforted by this until I modified the search and add my middle initial.  The first result had my parent’s names, city that I lived in, and relative age (some were off by a few years).  I also searched an old friend from high school and came up with her full current address, when she bought her house, and the purchase price.  The information was posted by the city that she now lives in. 
The article, in addition to my own experiment, made me that much more aware of how much personal information is out there and how one wrong posting on Facebook or tweet can adversely affect me or anyone else.  Students especially need to be aware of how much information they make available on the internet.   Too many predators will seek the opportunity to prey on those that choose not to be careful with the amount of information they share.  There is also that fact that future employers, teachers, and universities could easily find any information and possibly use that against them.

Morehouse, J.  (2011, September/October).  Students Dig Up Dirt to Learn about Internet Safety.  Learning and Leading with Technology, pg. 34-35.  Retrieved September 16, 2011 from

Monday, September 12, 2011

Unleashing the Future: Educators "Speak Up"

Technology is a benefit to students, increasing availability of information and resources that students have access to at home and school.  The article “Speak Up” discusses this emerging trend, the three elements to the vision of increased technology in the classroom, and the data that was collected from surveys.

The three key elements mentioned in the article are social-based learning, un-tethered learning, and digitally-rich learning.  Social-based learning incorporates student’s needs for instantaneous gratification through IM’s and texting as well as blogs, wikis, social networks, etc.  Un-tethered learning expands the student’s experiences past the classroom with the help of cell phones, laptops, Smart Phones, etc.  It allows students to access online information at all times extending the classroom from four walls to beyond.  The last element is digitally-rich learning.  This element includes educational games, simulations, and other multimedia outlets. 

The article also discussed the data that was collected in 2009.  The most surprising aspect of the surveys was the resistance from teachers to incorporate new technology in the classroom.  Administrators and students showed much more interest in increasing technology in the classroom, though there was a difference in the types of technology.

The author of the article wants technology to be used more in the classroom and hopes that through the education of future teachers in teaching preparation programs, the technology available such as laptops, tablets, Smart Phones, MP3 players, social networking, and discussion boards will increase in prevalence.  The author thinks that this will both improve the quality of the students education as well as the students desire to learn.

The data provided by the surveys is profound.  More teachers need to utilize the mobile devices and online resources.  It can only benefit the students.  After reading the article, I think that technology will only increase in the classroom and new ways of teaching and enhancing students learning experiences will emerge and grow in popularity.  I think online discussion boards and monitored blog postings can be beneficial for students in expressing views and opinions they may not normally in class.  Also, the use of online textbooks would greatly reduce the amount of weight students carry each day with the added benefit of media through games, simulations, and additional resources that tie into the course material.  Overall, technology is becoming increasingly advanced and it only fits to utilize in the classroom.