The World at Your Finger Tips

Over the course of the past week all I have been able to think about is how much I enjoy the power of the internet. Not only make my research for the papers I am currently writing, but allows me to connect and have conversations with people that I normally would not.  Last week I was able to meet with Kelly Hine’s class for the second time on Skypeblog where I post questions for her students to share their thoughts and ideas and answers.  I have also been commenting on their blog quite often, which I have found really quite enjoyable.  These students are very talented – I couldn’t help but be impressed with the commercials they made from scratch about recycling.  Check out their blog post to see examples of the talent I am referring to. 🙂   I find it facinating that these grade 4 students are being provided the experience to learn about places and communities other than their own (and see the snow with the help of my webcam, they all gasped when they saw how bright it was).   Not only are they connecting with me, they are also connecting with other classes around the United States through Skype and their class blog.  Now how cool is that?
and am really enjoying getting to know her students.  I have set up a

When using the World Wide Web the world at your finger tips!  It is true.

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Lights! Camera! Action!

Tonight in class we were given the opportunity to explore using digital videos in the classroom.  I am fairly familiar with iMovie and Movie Maker and am comfortable with using those programs with my students; however, I did not realize that there are so many different types of videos you can make!  Different types of videos include:
– Talking Video Head
– Screen Casts
– Caught on Tape
– The Slide Show
– The Mash Up
– The Edited Movie

Dean also mentioned during his presentation that when having your students shoot videos for an assignment, have a time limit of 3 minutes maximum because videos are far to complex to be any longer than that.

Here is an example of a complex video that was shot very well.  I found this video extremely touching and I just had to share.

Since we were learning about making videos in the class, we were most definitely allowed to try to make one ourselves.  Kristina, Krystal, and I worked together to create a short silent video and ended up having a ton of fun making it.  Here is what my group created!

Creation of Our Final Project

For our final project, Kristina and I have decided to make a ‘Twitter in the Classroom’ wikipage since Twitter is becoming more and more popular everyday.  When this wikipage is complete, you will find:

– an explanation of what Twitter is
– the steps of how to set up a Twitter account
– an introduction to using Tweet Deck
– the benefits of using Twitter in your classroom
– some ideas on how to use Twitter in the classroom
– commonly asked questions about Twitter
– a list of resources that we used to complete our project
– and much more!

Some of the pages will have a video that matched the text instructions/steps as a visual for you to follow along.  We will be making these videos using Jing to record our computer screens while using Twitter.  Since we had never used Jing before, we decided to make a trial video to test it out.  So far, we have found it rather easy to use; however, we have struggled uploading the video to our blog since we are using the ‘free’ version and are not able to upload our screen casts to You Tube.  We have been able to post it as a link though, so click here to see our very first Jing creation!

Special thanks to Alec and Dean for helping us out after class tonight to teach us how to upload a Jing video to our wikipage. 🙂

Skype – the latest classroom tool

Over the course of the past year I have been thoroughly enjoying Skype.  Not only was I able to talk to my friends and family from back home, but was able to save myself a ton of money on my phone bill (long distance calling adds up when you are student with zero income).  Because of the function allowing you to use a webcam, the distance barrier decreases and it makes the conversation a lot more comfortable.  You are not talking to your computer screen anymore, but to someone’s face.  How handy!

I have also become aware of classrooms using Skype as well.  Classrooms use Skype to communicate with other people/schools/classrooms around the world!  Students are able to talk to others and ask questions about themselves, what the weather is like in their city, about the communities they live in, etc.  I think this is a great tool allowing students to get to know the world around us and how diverse it truly is.

I had my first Skype experience with one of the classes I am mentoring this past week.  This meeting consisted of the students asking me a few questions about myself and where I live, and Canada in general.  Their teacher had their webcam working so I was able to see everyone on the computer screen.  Unfortunately, my cam decided to take a coffee break and would not work for me.  The students really wanted to see the snow since many of them had not seen it before and I was disappointed when I was unable to do this.  Of course, I had tested my earlier that morning and had it all set up for my Skype call, but surprise surprise, it wouldn’t work when I wanted it to.  Even though technology is such a helpful tool, it can be a frustrating tool as well.  Maybe this is why a lot of today’s teachers do not feel comfortable enough using technology in their classrooms?

Since my cam would not work, I set my picture settings to an Avator through my webcam program.  So instead of being a white, blonde female, I was a green alien with big eyes.  Oh, and my mouth moved when I talked.  It was kind of cool and the students thought it was pretty funny to be talking to this alien from a far off land (Canada!).

Through Skype, these grade four students will be given the chance to see a little bit of Canada and its weather we all love.  It will also allow them to make a connection to the location of Saskatchewan on the world map and remember where my province is in relation to Canada.  Without this tool, the students would not be able to make such a personnel connection to Canada and maybe not remember too much about it.  It could possibly continue being a ‘far off land’ …

All I can think of is that I sure wish I was still a kid going to elementary school and being provided with the opportunities to become more aware of the people and communities all around me. I think I would have remembered a lot more of the things I had learned about the diverse world we live in. This makes me even more glad to be experiencing these tools as an adult – better late then never! 🙂

Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling = telling a story using tools on your computer.

What is a “story” here consists of more than one type of media (images + text, audio + images, etc) that are assembled on the web, and can be presented on the web or embedded into other web sites.

A story does not always to be read from a book or told orally from an Elder. It can be told digitally as well.  Web 2.0 has over 50 tools you can use to do this, such as Bubble Share or Voice Thread.   CogDogRoo has a great site explaining all the different tools you can use with your students.

There are 3 basic steps to creating a digital story.  First, students need to create an outline for their story.  The most difficult part of digital storytelling is choosing a story to make an outline for.  Students sometimes struggle with finding an idea on their own and make the concept a lot harder than it actually is.  Personally, I like to give students some ‘suggestions’ in which they can choose from or allow them to choose their own.  Of course, I like to approve their idea before they can start with their outline in order to make sure that the concept is appropriate for the given assignment.

Next, students are to find some media to match their story.  This can also be tricky considering the media used in the digital story have to be copyright free; you need permission to re-use someone else’s media in your story.  This media can be in audio, video, or image form.  Click here for a list of websites where you can find copyright free media for your classroom.

Thirdly, choose a tool to build your story.  This tool is what will help you make your story come alive for its viewers.  This tool will not be as effective for you if you have not completed step one and two first! Using these storytelling tools is a neat new way to for the audience to connect with the author and the characters in the story.  Students may feel more comfortable when telling their story as well because: a) the story is their own and b) they are telling it to a computer which may be a lot less intimidating than their classmates.

“Web 2.0 storytelling picks up these new types of stories and runs with them, accelerating the pace of creation and participation while revealing new directions for narratives to flow.”

As an educator, there are many purposes of using digital story telling in the classroom.  Not only are the students learning about how to write a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, but are learning how to express themselves and find their voice in a secure setting.  If they make a mistake when reading and recording their audio it is as simple as going back and re-recording the sentence.  Mistakes are easily fixed the finished product is done in the best they can be done.  These story telling tools can be used for students of all ages as well, but if using them in the younger grades the teacher will need to help out to receive the product he/she is looking for.

What are some other strengths to digital story telling?  Any weaknesses?

Glogster


I have always wanted to give Glogster a try and after seeing a collegues go at it I finally had the motivation to check it out.  I decided to make a page about my recent trip to the Mayan Riviera, Mexico (which by the way was absolutely fabulous!) and include some of the photos I took showing my adventures.

Click here to see my finished result!  It took me about an hour to make, but maybe it would take less time if/when I try it again.

I think Glogster has many advantages and disadvantages to it.

a-and-d2

I am curious to hear everyone else’s thoughts about Glogster – if you like it, how you se it, what age you use it with, etc?

Leaving On a Jet Plane!

Ah yes, my last Reading Week break of my life.  Next February,  I will be spending my week at conferences and adding to my professional development.  All I will be able to enjoy is Family Day…unless I am subbing that is, and then I’ll have the whole week.

For my break this year I am heading to Mexico with my family for one last family vacation before my sister and I get families of our own and are unable to have the convenient vacation time  that we do while we are students. (Even though I will always consider myself a student; just because my future will consist of lots and lots of work, I hope to never stop learning!).

I plan on using this vacation also as a learning experience and for a different version of professional development; my learning will be completely hands on and experiential.  I will not be sitting at a table listening to a speaker.  Instead, I will be learning about the Mayan civilization by seeing it with my own eyes, taking part in the culture as I try new food, listen to the language, walk amongst the ancient ruins, and in many other ways.  This is by far the best way to learn about something new and to develop professionally about the different cultures that are found in our world.

The only unfortunate part is that I will be pretty close to being disconnected from my life here in Regina.  I will have no cell coverage and am not taking my lap top with me because I don’t think there is wireless Internet at my resort (although it is a 5 star resort, I do not now how connected Mexico is to the world wide web).  There will be a computer there for me to use though and I hope to get online once or twice to check my messages and possibly post about my experiences.  Maybe this disconnection won’t drive me as crazy as I think it will and will be kind of like a cleanse?  We shall see!

See you all in a week!!

trip