Archive for May, 2009

End of the Year Projects

Posted on May 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Fran Mauney

By nature, the month of May is an exciting time for students, teachers, and administrators.  It is a time to review the standards one last time, a time to analyze portfolios for signs of growth, and it is a time to reflect upon one’s own personal and professional experiences.  In many schools, students have been creating End of the Year Projects that they will cherish for years to come.  5th grade students at Grove Elementary were able to create videos for the 4th grade class sharing tips about “How to Survive 5th Grade”.  Students also made a “5th Grade Memories” video, “The Best Thing About 5th Grade” video, and “Diary of a 5th Grade Student” video for online sharing. Students were able to write their own scripts and practice public speaking skills by using the Flip Video Camera to record their ideas.  Their videos are now posted on TeacherTube so they can share their ideas with others from all over the world!

Students at Armstrong Elementary have enjoyed reading Junie B. Jones books and The Magic Treehouse Books as they listened to the stories using MP3 Players and the Overdrive Console program.  Students (and teachers) from Greenville County have free access to an online library at greenville.lib.overdrive.com.  *Check with your media specialist to see how to download the software needed to listen to books using your interactive board, laptop computer or MP3 player.

The second graders at Armstrong were thrilled to be able to listen to an entire book as they followed along with their own copy of the book. They reported that “it really felt good to finish a whole book in one day.”  They also stated that it “helped them with comprehension and vocabulary” as they listened and followed along in their books.

Students at Monaview Elementary have been reviewing standards using the Activexpressions and Activotes.  They have presented their knowledge about the Civil War, Capacity, analog clocks, Fairy Tales and money using Promethean Board software and the student response systems.  The level of excitement in the classes is sky high.  The students can’t wait for their turn to use these devices. Several students stated that using the Activexpressions was the best thing that happened to them all year.

The reason that these students (over 600) have been able to engage, collaborate, problem solve and think imaginatively is because teachers have asked an experienced teacher, who specializes in technology projects, to come into their classrooms and model how to incorporate digital learning into their grade level standards. Teachers opened up their classrooms so they could see MP3 players used effectively, Promethean lessons that are interactive, Activexpressions and Activotes used for formative assessment, and Flip videos used for recording stories.  Teachers, like their students, were willing to take the risk, dive in and learn a new set of skills and collaborate with an expert to make learning for the students the best it can be. 

Teachers are hungry for help and are willing to try new technology if they can see it in action first.  Colleges and universities can hardly keep up with the technology our schools are using, that is why it is imperative that we seek teachers who are willing to model lessons, that we attend conferences with the most up to date research, take risks and use the technology that motivates students to learn. 

Enjoy the rest of May and dive into a technology filled summer!

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Make Believe Today, Reality Tomorrow!

Posted on May 8, 2009. Filed under: General |

Jeff McCoy

I don’t know about you, but technology impacts every part of my life. There are days I curse it because it fails to do anything it’s suppose to do and then there are days where I can’t imagine my life not being surrounded by it!! I don’t usually consider myself a geek when it comes to technology because I’m not really technical. I really don’t care how it works as long as it works. Don’t bore me with the details. But, on the other hand, if you walk into my house, it is filled with all the technology gadgets I can get my hands on. My friends from time to time get annoyed with me because every time I see new technology, I immediately began brainstorming how I could see it being used in the classroom. I guess the teacher in me is never really gone. There are so many new and exciting technologies on the verge of being released that will have a profound impact on education today.

I always love seeing new movies because the technology always seems so futuristic. Many times it is, but realistically, the reality is usually not that far off from the fiction. As I travel around doing consulting work from time to time, district administrators always ask me what the newest thing is going to be. That’s always a hard question to answer because who would have thought we would be where we are today in such a short amount of time. I’m not sure any of us really predicted where we would be in 2009.  However, you can be sure of one thing, if you want to know what is coming, look to the movies. Hollywood has a knack for creating technology that seems to turn into a reality just a few years.

You might guess that thinking blocks sounds like something right out of a science fiction movie, but it is not.  A new invention by David Merrill called Siftables has the potential to change the way teachers define manipulatives. According to David Merrill, an MIT grad, Siftables are “computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too”. Wow, toys that actually do math, talk to each other, and change based on the interaction with other Siftables? It would be well worth your time to watch this seven minute demonstration on the new Siftables. It is exciting as an educator to think about the potential this technology might have in education. Students can literally have intelligent manipulatives in their hands. This technology is new, but I have no doubt that in a year or two, it will be in classrooms and being used in great ways to educate children. The exciting thing about technology innovation today is that it continues to take children to the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. With Siftables, students are not only learning, but creating content as well.

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