Category Archives: technology

Educational Technology…

          Over the past nine months I had the opportunity to explore the use of Educational Technology. I have rediscovered the importance of its use in today’s society. We live in a technological age where children are using technology day and night. As educators we must match what they are doing or lose them in the classroom. There are a huge variety of tools out there. My one regret is that most of them are geared for upper elementary or older. Some of them are able to be used by students in the lower grades, but from practical experience it is difficult.

           I have decided to incorporate many of the tools into my teaching, including blogging, Glogster and Prezi.. Also, I am beginning to bring tools that I taught in certain grades down a grade. For example, Google Docs used to be taught in 6th grade, I now plan on teaching it in 5th. Many students are already using it. I also plan on having the children create their own Vokis, because they already create their own avatars on the Wii and Play Stations. For these reasons we need to be ahead of the technology lest we fall behind.

           However, all this being said, I still believe there are times that going “low tech” is better. Every teacher needs to remember that the technology should support the curriculum not the other way around.

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Google Forms

I just learned about Google Forms. You can create your own forms or surveys and have all the information immediately downloaded into a spreadsheet in Google Docs. I have had some experience with Survey Monkey. I like this even better. For one thing, it’s free. Second it is simple and easily editable. Once you create a survey you can email it out anyone you wish.

The possibilities are endless in your classroom. You can have each student show what they learned about a topic by creating a survey for the class. You can also have them create a survey to gather information from the class. Create a survey that will allow the students to vote for which party in the Knesset they would like to win the election.

A years ago I created a survey with InspireData that allowed the students to choose the president. We had our election via the SMART Board.  I think if I create a survey with Google Forms it would be nicer and easier to work with.

To get to Google Forms, open up Google Docs and click on “Create New” then click “Form”.  Follow directions and enjoy. Here is a sample that I created, hope you enjoy it.

https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?hl=en_US&formkey=dFk2WGZIdXppdU5LdWpuU0xBZVBFaGc6MQ#gid=0

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60 Tools in 60 Minutes

As part of  a class I am taking on Educational Technology, I watched a session from ISTE 2011. I decided to watch a session a session called “60 in 60”. The presenter, Brandon Lutz, shared 60 web tools in 60 minutes. I want to share a few of them with you.

http://www.freerice.com/

A simple question and answer site with various categories. For every question you get correct 10 grains of rice is donated to the hungry. A few minutes of learning  can make a meal.

http://www.aviaryeducation.com/

 

A site that allows you to create and edit, music, audio, pictures etc. I find it to be a fun site to play with. I spent most of my time trying out the music and audio sections of the site. I am going to hold my judgement of the educational benefits because I am not musically inclined.

http://www.glogster.com/

 

I have  tried this site with my classes and experienced mixed results. Most of my students do not have email accounts, so it can be difficult to save them. I think that this is a wonderful tool for older students. I might try it again with my 5th grade and see what happens.

http://www.qwiki.com/

After looking at this site, I find it an OK site that will reference many different topics. I need to research it more to see exactly how reliable the information is, but it is a start.

 

There are a lot more sources that you can use, try them at https://60in60.wikispaces.com/ISTE2011.  Some maybe good for you, some may not. That one is one thing that i like about this. Nothing is perfect for everyone, it just has a lot of stuff so somethings should be good for you.

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Check out my Wiki!

Check out my new wiki.  It is intended for everyone to use to share different topics and resources in Educational Technology.

http://morehmichaelsedtech.wikispaces.com/

Please join and share your own resources.  This is a Work in Progress – so please be kind.

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Wiki’s as a Primary Source

Every year in the fifth grade at my school they do a research paper on a particular state.  It is called the State Report. Part of my responsibilities in this assignment is teaching the students how to do better research . Inevitably someone brings up Wikipedia and such begins my explanation of wiki’s – the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Wiki’s allow students (or other users) to collaborate on a website or project. A group of students can work on a Hagaddah.  The teacher will be able to see who gave their input (based on their screen names) and who did not.  It therefore fosters individual  accountability on a group project.  Students can also edit each other’s parts to ensure a better outcome.

The Bad

Wikis are editable. Unfortunately, there are people who will wrongly edit a wiki, either by accident or on purpose and some people may not even know. In the past few years, Wikipedia has gotten better at reviewing changes and making sure that they are correct. But not all wikis are that aware of changes. I tell my students that Wikipedia is a good secondary source. They cannot use it alone, they need to corroborate the info with another source.

The Ugly

Not so much ugly. Wiki’s are a good and useful tool that many teacher’s currently use and more should use.

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Is Second Life As Good As Your First Life?

My grandmother’s favorite expression was, “Every pot has a cover.” She was usually referring to people and to the people they marry. I feel it is appropriate now as well. It means that everyone has different views and opinions and needs that fit them and not others. Well, I am not a big fan of Second Life. I appreciate it more than I do Twtter, because I can see a useful purpose for it.

With Second Life it allows you to navigate through another world, as yourself or someone else, and see things in a way that you may not be able to before in this life. The possibilities are endless when it come to education. You can create a world such as the wilderness B’nai Yisrael went through 3000 years ago and have them explore all that is there. Let them see the Mishkan. You can have them go into the Beis Hamikdash and see what it is like. Although that would require someone to actually spend all that time and probably money to create those worlds.

You could navigate through different areas such as the inside of a computer and see what parts are inside. You could also go under the sea and swim in awe of all the fish and marine life there.

My problem with Second life was that it was not easy to navigate through. I kept going to far to the right and kept walking into walls (or through them) and into places I did not want to be in. It very well could be that since I am not a regular video game player I am not very good at it and I need more practice. Children today are more familiar and play more of these virtual games.

So I feel the same way about Second Life that I do about Barney – I am not crazy about him, but i see the educational value in the purple dinosaur.

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Jing

Ever try to explain how to do something on the computer? Did you every have to explain it over and over and over again. The answer to that is to use Jing. Jing is a screen capture tool that will record your moves on the computer while you voice over directions.

The applications for this is endless. There are many times that I have had to explain things and my students need to use a specific skill while at home. Some specific skills that can be taught are inserting pictures into a Word document, animating objects in PowerPoint or creating a formula in Excel.

I plan on creating a series of tutorials using Jing (if my mic works properly) on how to use specific skills with the SMART Board. If you have any thoughts on tutorials you would like me to do let me know.

http://www.techsmith.com/jing/

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Who Should I Friend?

Facebook is a wonderful tool. I have been on it for a few years now and I find it very useful. I have found friends from college that I have not heard from in twenty years, I have even had two apologies from people about the way they treated me in high school and I even found a way to get rid of Silly Putty from my couch. I share photos with my family who are across the country as well as friends who live down the block who I don’t get to see very often.

I currently have 478 friends and yes I know them all. I have friends that have over 2000 “friends” . The problem with that is that, if you are not careful, all of your “friends” can see your info, pictures and everything else. Even if you do set proper privacy settings Facebook routinely changes them and they get changed.

Is Facebook wrong to use? No. Can it be used with students? Yes – Carefully!  If you are going to use it be careful. My suggestion is that you create a separate account. Do NOT friend any students on your personal account. Do NOT link your personal account to one that you are creating to work with students.  I have known many people who have gotten into trouble because of their Facebook account.

In my school we had a teacher that did many wonderful activities and lessons on Facebook. It allowed her students to write and get descriptive about topics that they normally would not have done if she did it through conventional matters. As I have stated elsewhere, a great activity in Jewish Education would be to create a Facebook page for Anne Frank or Oscar Schindler and have the students update their statuses about what is going on. It would be the “New Diary of Anne Frank”.

In the end my answer is friend, but friend carefully and if you do friend students (I would only for a special project) then create a separate Facebook account.

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Google Docs…Should I or Shouldn’t I?

I am pretty sure that I know the answer to my own question. Yes! Why then am I asking about it. Historically, Google Docs was an app that was introduced and taught in 6th grade in my school. This year I had a 5th grade teacher ask me to teach her class about it. I thought about it. At first I said it is done in 6th grade and I do not want to mess with the curriculum in the Middle School, but then I thought about it.

Google Docs is a productivity tool that is AWESOME. It allows students to work collectively and corroboratively. It also allows students to work without having the fear of duplicating files and work more efficiently.

This year I found myself teaching programs and applications to earlier grades. I also found myself adding new things into the curriculum that I did not do before. So why not Google Docs? My only reservation at this time is that you need an email address to use it. I work in an elementary school where some parents have made a decision not to allow their children to have email accounts. This came up late in the year, so I did not do anything with it.

To alleviate that problem, I think that next year I will create a generic email account so students can login using that one. This hopefully should solve the problem.

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Podcasts – The New Frontier

Podcasts are an extremely useful tool in education. They have broken the barriers that have long been set by time, distance and money. A class studying the Great Wall of China can now see it and hear first hand what it is like, how big it is and how it was created. Until now that was not able to be done because of the three factors I mentioned before and more. It has opened up a “New Frontier”.

A science class that wants to conduct an experiment and does not have the funds to create the actual experiment watch it on a vodcast. They can actually feel like they are the ones there. Additionally, a class creating an experiment can chronologize it periodically showing how it changes day by day or week by week.

In Jewish education, again there are number things that can be done with podcasts, either creating them or viewing them. Even though you can listen to shiurim on them (children will find that BORING), I think there are better uses for them. The music video created recently by the Macabeats around Chanukah could also be used (in a sense) to tell about the story of Chanukah. Children can act out the parsha each week instead of writing a d’var Torah.

As part of a group children can teach a topic from the torah, history or holidays. They can be put together to form a group of podcasts that will inform everyone about the entire topic or main idea.

 In the past, I have not really used podcasts. After thinking about them and reviewing their usefulness, I am a believer and will try to use them more in the future.

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