Thursday, April 21, 2011

Prezi Pitch for Classroom Technology

As promised in my last post, here is my prezi. Circumstances changed my need from a presentation that included my presence, to one that did not, thus it was made into a video presentation. If you watch this, I would really appreciate you filling out my survey. Thanks!

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Like Rosetta C, I am also using Prezi to present the RILS project to my target audience, my administration.   I am hoping that, among other things, my use of this Web 2.0 tool will excite them enough to make them interested in allowing their teachers and students to use other Web 2.0 tools and digital tools, and to be so impressed that they redirect a set of laptops to my classroom.

Prezi is a cloud-based presentation tool that is based off of a canvas rather than slides, as PowerPoint and Keynote are.  The best Prezis present a whole picture while zooming in to see the details of the project, and incorporate visual data.  Prezi allows its users to embed a video into a presentation, provided it is in the correct format.  I understand there is a free online video conversion tool called Zamzar that allows you to upload video or pull a link from the web, choosing the format you wish it to be converted into. Although cloud-based, a created prezi can be downloaded to a computer or a flash drive for an off-line presentation. 

Below is a snapshop of the title of my prezi.  Check back for a link to the entire prezi.


Searching for a way to teach my students to visually (and digitally) organize their thought process about reading texts, I came across Kidspiration 3.   It is organized into two age groups: K-2 and 3-5.  There is a sound button that enables a mechanized female voice to read any moused over word.   She is annoying enough to increase any child’s motivation to read on his/her own.  With a little practice (and pre-built templates) students can build graphic organizers by combining pictures, texts, and spoken words to represent thoughts and information.   There is a library of over 3,000 symbols and images for students to use, as well as a symbol maker that allows students to create their own.  The interface is colorful and engaging to elementary age students.   At first glance, the program appears to be very user-friendly, with written and verbal directions for each concept map's use.  However, it seems young students will still need significant demonstration and coaching to utilize this tool.   Yet, once understood, students could easily create Venn diagrams, cause and effect relationship maps, character maps, storyboards, and many other concept maps.   Although as yet unexplored by me, there is also an impressive math, science and social studies section.    The sample lessons included in the download are helpful to both spur ideas and to cut down on the time intensive task of creating the concept map you may want your students to use.

Although the program allows for some teacher editing, it is not easily done, and there is not a good system for interactive sharing with another student.   The pricing is rather high.  A single license is about $70, and a 20-computer license runs about $700.  

I am making tentative plans to use Kidspiration 3 in my classroom, although I would much prefer a program that allowed students to interact about their project with other students and the teacher.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


A commercial about Schoology. Enjoy!


Jonnie Williams (no relation) introduced me to Little Bird Tales.  Follow this link to my comment on her page.


As mentioned in earlier posts, I am following the research of Rick Osborne and hope to incorporate some aspects of his video sharing in my classroom.  Follow this link to my comment on his blog.


Finding ways to update my classroom to meet the needs of the 21st century learner is very exciting, but also presents some challenges. Although there are a myriad of ways to display and discuss videos and other student digitally created work, very few of them provide the ease of use and privacy controls needed in a primary classroom. Additionally, teachers in my school district are allowed to use only “district-sanctioned Web-based services” that are “hosted on District servers behind the District firewall.” Currently my school district provides Moodle as the internal networking site. This has not been well utilized and they are hoping to change to a different site in the near future. As a part of my research I found Schoology, a social networking tool with an incorporated learning management system for administrators, teachers, parents and students. 

Basic accounts are free and can be used on an individual teacher basis (there is a verification process). However accounts with greater design features, greater support and more extensive upload capacity (100mb available with the free service) are available for a premium paid institutional access (pricing was unavailable). The interface design is familiar (similar to facebook). 

Teachers can use Schoology to manage class blogs, upload assignments, communicate with students and create discussion boards. All course profiles have privacy settings, and there is a homework drop box. Additionally teachers can create custom tests/quizzes which students can take online. One of the features I like most about Schoology is that the program is growing to fit the needs of teachers who integrate technology into their classes, with frequent updates.  For me, use of this will depend upon district approval.
Look for a review of Blackboard here soon.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


The iMovie trailers will be an excellent way to introduce students to iMovie. They will need some basic preliminary information that will be easily incorporated into the first couple introductory weeks of school.

Either allowing students to collect video footage with an inexpensive or old video recorder during recess and/or taking random footage of students throughout the first days of school will provide ample opportunities for initial video capture. The first week of third grade involves, among many other things, a review of literature “genres”. Seamlessly, we can incorporate a lesson on movie genres. This introductory week also includes an introduction to writing. Incorporating “storyboarding” into these first couple introductory writing lessons will increase student motivation to write and create. Another vital part of the first week of school is to establish the reason for being in school, and in particular, third grade. In the past, I have done this in the form of a written contract, which we then refer to later in the year, when learning becomes difficult and everyone needs a reminder as to why we are in school. However, brainstorming and storyboarding our ideas as a group then allowing each student to create an iMovie trailer about their own reason for being in school will be an even better way to do this. Always modeling first, students will help me create a trailer that will serve as the class contract!’s iMovie essential training helped me understand the logistics of doing this. Garrick Chow demonstrated in the segment on “Moving a project to another Mac”, how to post an uploaded event to another hard drive, provided the hard drive is formatted correctly.

Ideally this hard drive will be connected wirelessly to all student computers. Students will then be able to choose their movie genre and begin storyboarding their reason for being in school. One of the great things about the iMovie trailers is that they are short and look impressive even with extensive user error, as is inevitable with 20 eight year olds creating movies for the first time. Posting and sharing these videos is still a dilemma, but one which I have a few months to solve. Here is an example.

Friday, April 8, 2011


A potentially time saving and helpful feature of iMovie ’11 for educators is the “rating clips”, “favorites”, and “keywords” features. Using the advanced selection-sweeping clip makes the selection and rating process quick and easy. This feature allows the unusable and potential footage to be separated easily. Additionally, educators can tag segments with subject areas, unit names or student names as footage is imported. This will help save time, keep movie clips organized and make future image ciphering and viewing a more entertaining adventure. I envision that, after a bit of training, a student helper, the “videographer” of the day, would be charge of rating and tagging clips imported to a central hard drive.


One of the plethora of engaging tools that are a part of Apple’s iLife software suite is iMovie.  In order to fully understand the full scope of features available in iMovie ‘11, I completed the iMovie ’11 Essential Training on this week.  As “proof”, view my certificate:

Over the past few months I used iMovie and saw its educational potential.   Reading about Rick’s video sharing project with his students, that vision grew.  Watching the training, I further imagined many educational uses for iMovie in the daily routine of my classroom.  The privacy and time-constraint problems associated with video-capture of young students will have to be explored and resolved before these visions can be realized.  These dilemmas are worth solving, however, because the potential for learning is significant.

The “capturing live action” segment presented quick possibilities for observational assessment and self-reflection.   Best practices continually assert that bringing the students’ focus back to the purpose of the lesson should always conclude a lesson.  Rather than having the teacher “state” it (yet again) or having students write down the 2 things they learned or discuss the main theme of the lesson, each student or group of students could create a short video summary or analysis.  This could be replayed as a quick review before the start of the next lesson, and a snippet compilation of the unit’s main ideas could be replayed at the end of a unit, for both students and their parents.   What a great alternative to the “nothing” answer many parents receive when asking their children what they learned in school.