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Friday, June 21, 2013


This is the web address for my final project, a digital portfolio.
There are links to projects I have created during my ten Wilkes graduate courses, including discussion posts and papers that I have written.

I have shared it on Facebook.  I could not get it to share on Twitter, but will keep working on that.
I have linked many of my favorite web tools and sites that I have on my Diigo bookmarking account.

This was created using Weebly.  The information that I was able to link and the format I used was all done using their free version.  I had to link to videos and video projects because to upload video I would need a pro account, which was quite expensive.

I believe I will add more to this digital portfolio as I come across other projects in my files that I find.  This will be a work in progress, but it was a great way for me to review all of the courses and projects I have completed during this Wilkes EDIM Graduate program.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

u06a1 Live Webinar Reflections

The live webinar that I attended this week was called “Summer of Making and Connecting”.  It was a Classroom 2.0 Live webinar about Connected Learning.  It was very easy to get on to and there was no registration process.  There was a schedule of webinars to choose from and a description of each one to help the viewer choose to attend or not.  When you sign on, it leads you through tests to make sure the video and audio are working correctly.  My set-up was very easy, all I had to do was log in.  

The strength of this webinar was that it is relevant to something I am very interested in, namely using projects and experiential learning to teach content to students.  The main topic was Connected Learning which was defined as an equitable, social and participatory learning.  Its facets include being production centered, using student interests, having a shared purpose for learning, a setting with a peer culture, being openly networked with others and academic.  To summarize the students learn by creating or making.  The following were strong points that I took from this webinar.

Connected Learning Key Points  
  • When topics are interesting to the learner the learner is more invested in the learning.  
  • Learning comes from being active and producing, creating, experimenting and designing

The presenters were also discussing the National Writing Project as an example of Connected Learning.  They described this NWP as:
  • Locally based projects that are based out of university connections.
  • Projects that use digital tools to create stories and to build the stories in community spaces
  • A program that gives teachers ongoing professional development with a connected learning framework that leads kids to link in and connects to kids’ interests
  • It is focused on making, producing and creating

Other strengths were the links given to view examples of Connected Learning and the National Writing Projects.  There were blog links and a livebinder link with all of the resources for this webinar.  

The only weakness was that I did not have any background information about the term “Connected Learning” or the “National Writing Project”.  It would have been helpful to have more background information given right at the beginning to have a better understanding of the content as I was listening.  Eventually, I was able to put it all together and connect it to similar terms and experiences I have had such as Project Based Learning, Constructivist Learning and the International Baccalaureate program. There were many more strengths than weaknesses and I would revisit the Classroom 2.0 site for other webinars.  I have attended many webinars so I was used to the format.  Most of the ones I have attended were Discovery Education webinars, so it was good to branch out a little bit.  

In my classroom I will use some of the ideas I learned in this webinar.  Since I will soon be teaching writing classes in our summer school program, I am very interested in incorporating the idea of creating, producing and making projects and sharing them with an audience in some digital format or project format.  It has made me think of making my writing classes this summer more purposeful and interesting to the students.  I also learned about a badge system that one program uses where the students earn badges for completing projects.  This would be a great motivator to my sometimes reluctant summer school workers!  In my school year classroom and my summer school classroom, I can have my students create things to learn and to share. For example some projects I thought  they could create are: plays, documentaries, digital stories, movie trailers, skits, dioramas or models and screencasts or live broadcasts.

This particular webinar would not be something my young primary students would attend, but they could certainly be broadcasters and teachers to others.  We all know that teaching content is an excellent way of learning content.  My students could be given the task of teaching and presenting information in a webinar format for the purpose of solidifying their understanding of various classroom content.  It would be an example of making something that they can share with others.  They would love it!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

u06a2 Live Stream Broadcast - 2nd Graders Advising the 1st Graders

Today I am trying to create a live broadcast with the help of some of my second grade students and the first graders.

My second graders will explain to the first graders, some of the most important elements of second grade.

This is a first for all of us.  We are trying to record and live stream using

I am broadcasting live at  come and check it out!  This will take place at 12:30 pm on Thursday, June 13, 2013.

This week I tackled the assignment of creating a live broadcast.  My first step was to view and read the the resources shared in this week’s introduction to our course.  I was advised by my colleague and school tech teacher, to try Google Hangouts.  So I viewed the Google Hangouts videos that were in the introduction this week.  This helped me understand that Google Hangouts is similar to Skype.  So, I had made up my mind to learn how to use the Google Hangouts.  I downloaded the app and played with it a little bit.  When I viewed the tutorial video for it, the advice was to use something like Audacity to record the audio and Screencast-o-matic to record the video and the to use  Now I started to get a little bit anxious.  I had to run four different apps all at once?  This would be a little confusing to keep track of.  However, I thought, of course I can do this, I just need to practice a little bit.  I have used Audacity and Screencast-o-matic.  The only new ones for me were Google Hangouts and UStream.  

The other part I need to share with you is what I decided I would broadcast.  I knew it needed to include me and I was very relieved to see that I could include colleagues or classmates.  Since I knew I would need to do this during this past week, when I would be at school most of the time, I decided to incorporate my second graders into the video.  This way, during our last full week of school, I could have them do a “fun” technology project with me, that would be productive and would teach them some new technology.  So I decided to have my second graders be interviewed by me about advice they thought they could give to the first graders about coming to second grade next year.   I posed the possibility of this project to the students and they were all for it.

The process proceeded by having the second graders list the most important pieces of advice they wanted to share.  I recorded these ideas and we categorized them in categories such as classwork, homework, classroom rules, classroom materials, how we line up and behavior system.  From there we developed the questions I would ask them, that would make sense for the predetermined answers they had just generated as advice.  

Then I started to practice using Google Hangouts and tried to figure out how I would simultaneously use Audacity, Screencast-o-matic and UStream TV.  I began realizing I didn’t know how to get it all together at once.  It was when I explored the UStream TV a little more thoroughly that I realized, UStream TV could do everything I needed by itself.  It was a live stream, it recorded audio and video and it developed a link to share with the first graders to watch live.  Phew, I was relieved!  This was not going to be so bad after all.  

We began to practice with student volunteers being interviewed by me.  During this practice I learned it was impossible for the rest of my students to be quiet while I was practicing with one or two students.  I had to pick a time to practice and to do the real broadcast when my students were out of the classroom, and I could just pull a few students to be with me to do this broadcast.  It ended up working out just fine because about half of my twelve students said they were really not comfortable with doing the project and being live on camera.  So I worked with five students who wanted to do the recording while the rest were in music class.  They chose the questions they wanted to answer and we left the other ones out.  
Before broadcasting, I sent a letter home to parents explaining what I was doing and asked for permission to have students participate.  All of the parents were on board with the project and the recording.  I was a little bit uncomfortable with putting my students on Facebook, but I do not have many Facebook “friends”.  All of the ones I have are family, close friends and educators; in other words, they are trusted by me.  I posted the invitation to view the livestream on Facebook and on my blog.  After it was finished I also shared my blog link to parents who had missed it and wanted to see it.  I also invited all the staff and students at our school to view the live broadcast via email.

The actual broadcasting went fairly well.  I was concerned about the audio, and wasn’t sure if we should use headphones or not.  I tried with and without, and decided to go without and that worked fine.  We used a webcam so we could fit up to three of us in the camera’s view.  One problem I had was that I had all five students with me during it.  As I interviewed two, the other three were to sit quietly and wait their turn.  Well, that didn’t happen.  It was too difficult for them to sit and wait their turn.  They did wander around the room, and they got in the background of the filming.  I had to talk to them as the live stream was happening.  It was all very real - no editing!  After it was all finished, when I was saving the recording, a computer phantom suddenly clicked ahead into another screen before I could actually hit a save button.  I thought I had lost it all.  I had a 35 second practice broadcast that was saved.  I thought I would have to use that one.  Fortunately, later that night I searched through the site and my dashboard and the real recording was there.  So I was able to download it onto my desktop then copy and paste it into this blog page.  It must take awhile to appear in the list of recordings.  

The first graders, by the way, did tune in live and watched our broadcast.  They made comments about some of the content and they noticed that my students were not always behaving in their best way.  It was a learning experience in more ways than one!  Here is another reason why it is good for my students to be recorded, so they can see their behavior and learn from it.

What I learned was how to use  It is very easy and I would definitely use it with students in the future.  It will give them an audience to perform for, namely their parents, classmates and other students and teachers in the building.  It will give them a way to view themselves and help them improve the content of what they are presenting and the way they present the material.  I would like to use it myself to share information with parents or even students that are not in school.  I also learned how to use Google Hangouts and I can see that using both of these sites can foster collaboration among my colleagues that are not in my own building.  Since I am the only second grade teacher in my building, I could use these to collaborate with other teachers, in my district, and at other schools.  

This project ended up being a lot of fun.  It was also a good way for me to view myself and learn where I can improve the way I questions students, respond to students and present myself in front of an audience.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fractions Lesson Incorporating Social Media, a Classroom Wiki

My second grade students have been learning how to use fractions to make equal pieces in shapes such as circles, rectangles and squares and to break sets of objects into equal groups.  To evaluate their understanding of the concept of fractions as equal pieces of a whole I will give them the task of creating a fraction story problem for their classmates to solve, to show how to solve at least two of their classmates’ fraction story problems and to post their fraction story problem and their solutions on our class wiki page.

1.  Students will create a fraction story problem that involves using knowledge of fractions to solve a presented question.

2.  Students will solve two story fraction story problems showing their knowledge of fractions in their solution.

3.  Students will share their fraction story problem and their solutions to two of their classmates fraction story problems by posting them on our class wiki page.

Objective: To show understanding of fractions as smaller, equal parts of a whole shape or group.

1.  Students will solve presented fraction story problems, as a whole group, to explore examples of what fraction story problems are, and to practice using their fraction knowledge to solve them.  They will participate by solving a story problem, when the work being done is recorded and projected as the lesson is carried out.  The teacher will project and demonstrate the process of problem solving with them by using a document camera or interactive software on an interactive whiteboard.   

Sample problem:
Mary’s family gets pizza every Saturday night.  The pizza  has twelve pieces.  If Mary, her brother and her two parents want to share the pizza equally, how many pieces would each person eat?  What fraction of the pizza does each person get to eat?

Possible Solution:  Each person would eat 3 pieces which is ¼ of the pizza.  This is right because if you take 12 pieces and divide it among 4 people, then each person gets 3 pieces because 12 divided by 4 equals 3.  Since the pizza is being shared equally by four people, then each person gets 1 out of the 4 equal parts of the pizza, which is ¼ of the pizza.

2.  The teacher will guide the class in developing a fraction story problem together.  She will type it on a Google doc and project it on the interactive whiteboard.  She will show how to label it as “Whole Class Story Problem” to differentiate it from other story problems that they will make.  She will demonstrate how to make a new page on the class wiki and label it as “Whole Class Fraction Story Problem”.  Then she will show them how to copy and paste the completed story problem on to the class wiki page.

3.  Students will discuss with each other how to solve the problem and then type their answers onto a Google doc adding sentences to describe why they think the answer is correct.  The teacher will help them to copy and paste their solutions in the comment box under the class story problem.

Whole Class Story Problem (Sample)
Mrs. Sullivan made a pan of brownies for six of her students.  She cut the pan of brownies into 12 equal pieces.  How many brownies will each of the students get?

Possible Solution:
Each student would get 2 brownies because when she cuts it into 12 pieces she would pass all of the brownies out to the six kids evenly.  If she passed them one at a time to every student until there were no more brownies left, then each student would end up with 2 brownies.   This is correct because 12 divided by 6 equal 2.  .

4.  Next, the teacher will assign the students the task of writing their own story problem with the criteria being that it must be about a shape or a group that is broken into equal pieces.  They must describe a situation with a shape or group and give information about part of the shape or group and ask a question about a fraction of the shape or group.  They need to make sure they put their name on it. They must type their story problem on a Google doc.  Then go to the class “Fraction Story Problem”.  Next, they need to copy and paste their story problem on their wiki page.

5.  When they are done, they need to choose two classmates’ story problems on the wiki page to solve.  They need to write the solution and some sentences describing why they think their answer is correct in the comment box under the problem.  They should post them with their name on each one.  

6. The teacher will invite students to comment on each others’ answers to their problems, telling them if they have the solved their problem correctly or not. and giving any mathematical feedback they want to share in the comment.

7.  Finally, when all of the posts are complete, the teacher and students will look at the questions and solutions and discuss how the fraction story problems met the requirements and were successful or how any could be improved.  The students will correct the mistakes together as the discussion is carried out.

1.  The teacher will use a rubric or scoring system to determine if students include all of the parts of a math story problem (important information and question); if the story problem incorporates the concept of fractions correctly; and if the students solve the fraction problems accurately.   If they complete all three of these successfully then they are showing they meet the requirements of understanding fraction story problems.

2.  The teacher will assess the need to do more practice fraction story problems together as a whole group in terms of writing them or solving them based on the performance shown in this project.  She will also assess if she needs to do more of the aforementioned practice with only particular students who did not show accuracy in their performance.

3.   In addition, she will evaluate the types of problems they  the students created to determine if she needs to give them more practice with other types of problems.  For example, they may need to practice more problems involving fractions of shapes or more involving fractions of number. She may put more of these problems on the class wiki for additional practice to do in school or for homework.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Seven Days of Photos

This week I chose to take photos of things that make me smile.  I thought it would be nice, at the end of the week, to look through the photos and see that everyday something made me smile.  It was actually challenging to choose one thing.  There were two days, Wednesday and Sunday, when I had not remembered to take my photo until the day was almost over.  I purposely chose not to put photos of people because I didn't want them to have to have their picture in my blog if they didn't want to be, especially, students at school.  The one picture with a person in it, is on Saturday, and that was at a parade.  I figured that since many people were taking photos at the parade, including the newspaper, it would be alright to have her picture taken.  

This was technically easy because I was able to take the photo using my phone each day and then open the Blogger app on my phone to add a picture and a caption to my post each day.  It was kind of fun to think about something to take a photo of that would be something that makes me smile.  Now that all of the pictures are posted, it is nice to look back at some of the simple things that made me smile during the week.  It is interesting that four of the seven pictures are of something that is outdoors.  I wonder if the same would be true if it was a different season.  I think it might still be the case in other seasons too.  I guess it shows me how important it is to me to see beautiful scenes outside.  It also shows that I am fortunate to live in an area that has so much pretty scenery.  These photos were taken in Putney, VT, West Dover, VT, Hinsdale, NH and Brattleboro, VT.  

My final thought is that it would be very challenging to do this project for 365 days only because I think I would forget to do it on some days.  However, I think it would a fun challenge that would allow some valuable reflection on the year.  

Here are my seven photos from this past week:

Monday - Morning coffee...brings the day's first smile.

Wednesday - The sun setting on the river after boating with friends brings me a smile to have had such a nice afternoon with them.

Tuesday - The morning sun in the yard brings me a smile because it is such a pretty day.

Thursday - Watching and listening to the  brook in my backyard makes me smile.

Friday - Reading the Secret Garden to the second graders makes me smile.

Saturday - Being at the "Strolling of the Heifers" parade in Brattleboro, VT, watching one little calf who did NOT want to stroll up the parade route, made me smile.  It was too cute!  They ended up putting him in a truck because he was holding up the whole parade!

Sunday - Getting into bed, after a weekend full of activities, with a good book, makes me smile.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cell Phone Digital Story

Creating a digital story on my cell phone is turning into a serious challenge for me.  One issue is that I have only owned an iPhone since November.  I use it to do many things but I have never made a digital story on it.  My first step was to create a story and find pictures to illustrate it.  I used pictures I already had on my phone and I went to Creative Commons on Flikr to search for specific photos.  I made screenshots of the Flikr pictures so they went into my camera roll on the phone.  Next, I had to find an app to install on my phone that could let me put the story together.  I thought this would be pretty easy, but it was more challenging than I thought.

I searched the App Store for “digital story” and found a lot of children’s stories, templates or created stories that were being shared.   I tried My Movie Maker but it allowed very little text and only one free background and song.  My next strategy was to look for apps of digital story makers I have used on the computer.  I tried WeVideo first.  It allowed me to grab pictures and that was all.  There were no tools to put the story together.  Then I searched for Photo Story.  Looking at the details of it I didn’t notice any audio capabilities so I didn’t install it.  I next sent a message to my tech teacher for advice.  He suggested The Digital Story.  I installed that and then found that it was just a collection of created stories to view.  I searched some more and found the Story Creator Pro app.  The details noted it used photos, video, audio and text.  That was what I installed and used.  It was pretty easy to make.  I just typed the text on each page and added pictures from my camera roll.  However, t would not allow me to add video, which was disappointing.  I was able to record my voice, but it didn’t have any background music.  The text font that I was choosing for each page would sometimes switch to the font I wanted and sometimes it would not.  I tried over and over to get them all the same, but it would not change on some of the pages.  I also noted that the words are highlighted, one at a time, when it is played, to aid readers.  This is a nice feature, However, I didn’t record my voice at the right pace, so the word being spoken doesn’t match the word being highlighted.  That is another feature I need to play with some more to get it in sync.  Other than that, creating it was easy.  

After It was done, another challenge ensued.  It had an option to upload it, to share it on Facebook or to email it.  I emailed it to myself and I uploaded it.  After the upload was done, I didn’t know where it went.  I also used my USB cord and tried uploading it again to my computer, but once again it was nowhere to be found.  So I emailed the app creator Alligator Apps to ask how to upload the Story Creator story I created.  The reply was that it can only be opened on an iOS device.  So I can not open it on my computer and I can only open it on my iPhone by opening up the Story Creator app.

To view the digital story I created I was instructed by Story Creator to follow these instructions:

1. Download the Story Creator app from the App Store from the link below

2. Click on the link below to view my story

If you already have the Story Creator app installed, skip step 1
and just click on the second link to view my story.

You may not be able to open my story so with help from my school technology coordinator I will try to make another one using another app.   I am going to investigate the Photo Story app and Animoto.  I may also see if there is a Photo Peach app.  I hope to add another completed digital story that everyone can open asap.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Today I used an app called Story Kit to create a whole new digital story on my phone. It allowed photos, text and audio recording.

Friday, May 31, 2013

u04a1 Cell Phone Interview

This week's task was to interview an educator who has used mobiles in the classroom about using them with students.   I really had no idea if I would find many teachers who do use them.   My strategy was to ask my colleagues and friends for help.  So I put out an email to all of the teachers, the administrator and the technology teacher at my elementary school, to our district technology coordinator and to a friend who teaches English at a high school in another district.  My plea was for them to lead me to any educator they might know who uses cell phones in the classroom.  I thought I could possibly get a lot of people referred to me.  However, that was not the case at all.  There were two elementary teachers referred who use their own cell phones for class work such as maintaining a blog or a behavior system, but generally the students do not use them. Fortunately, my friend, the high school English teacher, came through.
She has her students use cell phones to enhance student learning activities they do with her in the classroom. She did not have a particular project to share with me but she described the ways she has students use cell phones.  She said that she allows her students to use their cell phones in place of a computer when they are not on a computer and need information.  She and her class use cell phones to look up “impromptu information” that the students want to find out such as, “How did Shakespeare die?”.  Another activity is to use the cell phone to look up the proper way to pronounce a given word or to find the definition of a word.  She also asks them questions related to the literary text they are studying, to find answers on the cell phone.  An example is, “Who can tell me where Port Elizabeth is?”  In addition to using it to look up information, she also has her students check homework emails that she has sent to them or to look for their grades on a program her school uses called “Power School”.
She described her school’s policy regarding cell phone use by students and teachers in the classroom.  She said that at the high school level, it is impossible to tell students not to bring their phones to school.  With that said, their policy is that phones are to be left in their backpacks but may be used during a morning break (9:45 - 10:00) and lunch, unless the teacher permits their use in the classroom.   If students are using them at times not permissible, then teachers have the ability to confiscate the phones.
As far as parent involvement with the use of cell phones in the classroom, she said they are not too involved.  There are no requirements placed on parents.  I asked her if parents were asked to provide cell phones for students and she said they were not.  She has many students who do not have a cell phone and the parents are not obliged to buy them one.  The most notable way parents are connected for her to cell phone use is when she needs to contact them via their cell phones.
I asked her if parents are typically agreeable with cell phone use in the classroom and what feedback she has gotten from parents about using them in school.  She explained that most parents are fine with the policy and they like that their child is able to have the phone in school because it makes after school contacting and planning easier.  It is especially helpful with athletic schedules.  She said they are also accepting of the times policy and they understand if the phone is confiscated.  Typically, they will place the responsibility on the student.  So whether a teacher confiscates a phone for the class block or all day (to be picked up in the office at the end of the day), parents are “okay” with it.
She described some of the challenges cell phone use has caused in her school.  She said that originally they had a “No cell phone” policy but it became too difficult to monitor and enforce.  So this is how they turned to the  “Acceptable during certain times” policy.  This too is proving to be difficult to enforce.  For example when a student signs out to go to the bathroom he/she will often bring the phone and text down the hall or in the bathroom.  Students have been sneaky by wearing a hoodie sweatshirt and texting during class from the front pocket of the hoodie.  Teachers have had to change testing policies so that students are not texting during a test to get answers from someone outside the classroom.  The majority of issues are with texting more than calling on the phone.  Also when phones are used as ipods, listening to music with an earbud has been a challenge.  The policy stays the same, not allowed unless given permission, but it is tough to catch them.
Another problem has been parents texting their child throughout the day.  She has had to email parents asking them not to text their child during class because of the distraction it causes.  Students feel they need to answer a parent right away, and the parent expects the child to do so.  She presents them with the times to text or call and explains that the in-class text or call causes a distraction. She adds that she finds that the students don’t like the constant contact with parents.  They want school to be their time with friends and to be in the classroom, not a time to have parents check up on them.  
The final challenge she described was consistency in enforcing the policy.  Some teachers at her school are stricter than others with it.  Some teachers themselves text during class, so it is hard for them to come down on a student about texting.  The policy has become too tough to enforce.   Generally she feels that many teachers are "turning a blind eye" if the phone usage is not interfering with the learning going on in the classroom.
To finish up the interview I asked her what she has learned from her experience of using cell phones in her classroom.  She explained that what she has learned most is to embrace cell phone usage on different levels.  Depending on her class activity she has students put their phones on the corner of their desks.  This way she knows where they are and her students know that she knows.  She has learned to allow students to listen to music via their phones if they are doing a writing task because for many, it helps block out any distractions in the room.  She also learned to let the cell phones engage her students in the content she is delivering.  For instance, if a question comes up in class, she will yell out, “Who can find the answer the fastest?”  Her students love this and it becomes a fun contest.  After they talk about the various answers they find and see if one or two students need to dig deeper to find more information.  She has learned to use it for pronunciation and vocabulary.  When a word looks odd to a student they may ask to use the phone to get a pronunciation of the word.  She supports their use of the cell phone to build their vocabulary.  She has learned to let them use it to find out information about an unfamiliar person or event in their reading.  The images especially help students make connections with concepts.  
She has also learned to let the students use their cell phones to be more efficient and organized.  As mentioned, her high school is connected with Power School, an online grading system.  During their academic lab (study hall), she has students check their grades to see what assignments are missing or what work they could be doing.  Students also ask to check this during her class when she is talking about grades.  She has learned to have fun with her students and cell phones.  In her advisory, she often plays “What’s the Word” off of students’ phones.  They all work together to figure out a word someone is stuck on.  She says the game leads to great conversations such as discussing how images work together, considering the colors or perspectives in the image, and figuring out how the final word relates to the pictures and then looking up the definition.  
Her final thoughts on the use of cell phones in school is that, ultimately, students are learning through the use of this technology.  Therefore, as teachers, who want to keep students engaged in the learning process, we need to use their tools.
After interviewing my friend about how she uses cell phones with her students, I have an understanding of how their use can be managed.  She has explained that they do not need to be banned, but they can be used in a positive way to help students be better learners.  She describes a system that is efficient and useful and she has set up an environment where cell phones are not distracting but they are aiding her teaching and her students’ learning.  The same philosophy can be used with any new technology we bring into our classrooms.  This interview has taught me that tools students use need to have a clear, documented purposes with rules and expectations for their proper use.