So for the first time tonight I participated in a Twitter chat. I have been a little hesitant to jump into a chat in the past but I was on my computer (under the pretense of doing some homework for my current grad class) when the chat started so I thought that I would give it a try. The topic of choice tonight on Kinderchat was Report Cards: Friend or Foe. I knew right away that this was a topic that I have some background knowledge on (seeing as I have to do them three times a year) so I thought that I would try it out.
Before I knew it, the chat was over and I had participated in a fairly good conversation with people all over. We compared how report cards work in different schools, talked about how the grading system worked (there are actually some schools that use grades still in Kindergarten instead of a number scale), how some schools are phasing out report cards in favor of portfolios, etc. The topic also changed slightly as the night went on. There were a number of teachers that were talking about making sure that they had to have their retention list in to their administration before their report cards went home. This sparked a conversation about how many school were on opposite sides of the coin in regards to retention. We also discussed the benefits to full day kindergarten.
This last topic interested me greatly as the Saskatchewan government has been making noise lately about making Kindergarten students attend school full-time. When the topic was first brought up in Saskatchewan, I was on the fence as to whether or not it would be a good idea. After having listened to many of the people tonight, it certainly seems like it might be a smart move. Full day Kindergarten will give the children a chance to explore new concepts with even more depth, spend more time on literacy skills, play more with math, etc. As a teacher, full day Kindergarten would enable me to feel less stressed. When you only have two and a half hours in a day, it is hard to fit everything in and some of the basics were often falling to the wayside. This might just be one move that the government makes that will actually benefit the students.
Thanks to my wonderful classmates, I have spent a large amount of time today playing around with different tools on-line. I have often seen different posters where there are a number of different words all centered around one theme but I have never known how to create one myself. Thanks to Judy, I have now discovered Wordle and I love what you can do.
While discovering this tool, I have also figured out how to take a snapshot of my screen. This took me quite a while to do, but after lots of playing around I was able to figure it out. It was remarkably easy to do. On my computer I had to use a tool called “Snipping tool”, but once I figured that out, I can now “snip” anything I want. I don’t know for sure if this is how it is supposed to be done, but that was the only way I could get it to work.
Thanks to Katy, I have discovered a tool called Picnik. This tool is amazingly simple to use and so much fun. I think I might just use it to make our family Christmas picture this year a little more interesting. I can’t wait to play around with it. For all of you who were wondering what my daughter might look like, I used this tool on one of her many pics that I have taken.
Thanks to Chelsi’s wonderful work with Xtranormal, I thought that I would give that a try also. It was really easy to use. I could have done more tweaking on my video, but I really was just playing around. The only downside that I could find with this tool is that there are Xtranormal Points needed to publish your video. Once you purchase a character you can use them over and over again, but at a certain point, if you continued to use this tool, you would need to put some money into it. Anyway, here is the video that I did.
EC&I 831 – trial
Well, I think that is all the time I have for today to play. I have enjoyed myself. Let me know what you think of my different attempts with some really cool new tools.
This class has been quite an eye-opener for me. I first enrolled in this class because of the fact that I was pregnant and needed a class that would allow me to not have to go to the university once a week for the entire semester. The idea of technology and social media in a classroom interested me, but I wasn’t sure how much I would actually get out of it because I taught/teach Kindergarten or Grade 1 (yes, that was how I thought a few short weeks ago). I did use technology on a regular basis in my classroom but I never really expected this class to show me how much more I could be doing. Boy, was I wrong!
Now that this class is almost done, I can see the “error of my ways” and I can’t wait to try to implement these new found (for me at least) ideas into my classroom. I had slowly started integrating some of the ideas into my classroom, but I would love to do it on a larger scale. The following is few of the ways that I would love to incorporate what I have learned this semester into my classroom:
- Classroom blog – This was something that I had begun (thanks to this class) but I would like to develop it a little more. I would like to have parent permission to put up student’s working and copies of their work, along with everything that I had already been posting.
- Twitter project – Kindergarten Around the World – Allow the students to connect with other children in a Kindergarten classroom in a different country to compare and contrast our lives.
- Digital Storytelling – After seeing how easy this was with my own children, I would love to do this with my students and then post it for parents to read.
- Incorporate more technology – Hopefully, use the SmartBoards in the school for interactive lessons with the children. My school division was also accepting applications for a “Mobile Device Project”, and if this happens in the future, I would love to submit an application.
Now, when it comes to my own personal use of Social Media, I will definitely be continuing with my blog. I find that by blogging, I have somewhat found a voice. I am able to write about things that interest me in my chosen career and there are people that will read and respond. Therefore, enabling me to hash out different ideas, or develop new projects, or create new themes, etc. Blogging has enabled me to find more like-minded individuals who have helped to encourage and support me in the new things that I have been trying.
I realize that there are still many things that I have to learn in regards to Social Media and the classroom. I would love to give VoiceThread a try. I have heard so much about it through everyone but that is one tool that I still haven’t wrapped my head around. I also haven’t quite figured out how I would use it in the classroom. There are still many of the Digital Storytelling tools that I would like to explore also.
I also would like to continue to explore Twitter. I know there are a lot of great chats that I could follow (and I do follow some really great ones already) but I find that I still don’t share as much as I could. I understand that it is all about learning and jumping in once you feel comfortable but something keeps holding me back. I don’t know if it is because I don’t think what I have to share is important enough or if I am uncertain how people will respond to what I say. I don’t know why I let something like that hold me back, because really if it is something you aren’t interested in, you can simply ignore it. I find that I have been taking some baby steps recently by asking for help with different things so maybe I am taking some of the all important first steps now. We will have to see.
As I sit here thinking about everything that I have learned in EC&I 831, I can’t help but think that I am turning into a lurker. It took me a bit to get into the whole Twitter thing, but I really was starting to get used to using Twitter for educational purposes. I found that by following a couple of hashtags that really applied to what I was doing in the classroom, I was able to discover many new ideas, new activities, new resources, etc. Twitter has helped me to develop a PLN and to discover people who can help me out with small, everyday problems in the classroom because they are experiencing similar situations. My problem is that now that I am on maternity leave for the next year, I don’t feel as if I have much to contribute to the discussion. I know that I can certainly participate with prior knowledge but I don’t know how often I will be on Twitter in order to participate. I find that what I have been doing recently has been watching the Tweets as they pop up on my screen (thanks to TweatDeck) and then every so often I will scroll through the chats that I have been following and look up any of the links that I find interesting. Lately there haven’t been as many that capture and maintain my attention though because I am not living the same reality that I was just a few short weeks ago.
I have to admit that it does seem like it is just Twitter where I seem to be lurking. When I think about my blog I find that I still have many ideas that I would like to blog about. I seem to be a bit behind (in my mind) and I don’t actually blog as often as I would like but I find that I still make the time for that. I don’t know if this is because blogging feels more natural to me and it is easier for me to do or what, but that is the reality that I have noticed. I have noticed also that the feedback and comments that I receive from the blog seem more indepth than those via Twitter. I would think this is because if someone has something to share or comment on, they are able to say it and not have to worry about character limitations.
I continue to read all the posting by everyone else in class also, and have even added some other blogs that I have found on my own that I follow also. I find these blog postings a great way to stay current and to know what is on the mind of other educators.
The farther and farther we get into our class load in EC&I 831, the more and more time I spend thinking about PLN‘s and my personal PLN that I am in the process of creating right now. I have always worked well with my co-workers (or at least I think that I have) that are in the same building as me, as well as the other teachers that are working at the same grade level as me in the same school division. Until I started this class, that is was as far as I believed my reach stretched. Sure I know other teachers in other schools, in other school divisions and even in other areas of the province and on many occasions I have spoken to them about numerous different school-related topics, but I never really considered them part of my learning network.
After being encouraged to start a blog and create a Twitter account for this class, I can see how valuable a PLN really is. With the limited experience that I have cultivated to date (thanks again in large to this class), I am beginning to see how valuable it is to put yourself out there and to simply ask the questions that I need help with. Like I have mentioned in the past, I had always thought that Twitter was more of a waste of time than anything. Man, was I wrong. Over the last few weeks, I have gotten many good suggestions, great ideas and incredible website links that I would never have found on my own. I have connected with people who I have never met and probably never will, but that doesn’t stop them from helping me out. I find it amazing that in 140 characters or less that so much professional growth can happen. I can’t wait to try Twitter out in my classroom in the future for Educational purposes with my students.
Creating a blog has also been a great way for me to develop my PLN. I have always loved writing things down and discussing things with others. I find that writing the odd blog entry about something that I have been working on at school or an idea that I am tossing around in my head helps in so many ways. One, if I write it down I find that I can work through some of the kinks myself. Two, when I post the blog I am always amazed by how many people are willing to help me out and respond to different questions that I have included in a specific post. The suggestions that I have received to date have all been useful and many have led to more thought provoking moments for me.
I know that these are just two ways that I have developed my PLN during this class but I have to admit that they are two of the most powerful ways for me. So in parting, thank you to everyone who has contributed to my PLN and I look forward to continued encouragement and support from you fine folk in the future.
P.S. Thanks Alec for the great image.