Monthly Archives: April 2009

21st Century Learners – Are we really preparing them?

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Here’s another youTube video on the same theme as the one at the beginning of this blog. It’s one of the reasons I’m going to continue with this blog. If I can motivate even one person to get a step closer to the next level of using technology with their students it’s worth it. We really need to always be thinking about what gadgets, toys and Web 2.0 tools today’s kids are using if we want to have an impact on their education and motivate them to be the best they can be. If a 50 (almost 60) something like me can be excited about technology there’s no excuse for anyone!

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More photo editing – Picnik

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Here’s another great online place for editing photos – Picnik – You can fix photos, add frames, text, and other special effects. dani You can get a premium version but there’s enough there to use that you can even get by without registering.  I made a Jing tutorial on how to use Picnik if you’d like to watch it.  You’ll get a good idea on how easy it is to use.  It allowed me to “fix” a 25 year old photo and add a few extra touches.  If you want to view the tutorial click HERE.

Neat Photo effects – Dumpr

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It’s a rather strange name – Dumpr – but it’s a great place to do some very special effects to your photos. cubedog3 What kid wouldn’t like to see their face on a Rubik’s cube for instance!  Dumpr is one of many sites that are popping up that let you upload a photo, work on it and save it back to museumdogyour computer all without having to buy a piece of software.  Give it a try for some mind boggling effects.  You can even hang yourself on the wall in an art museum!

Insects in 2nd Grade

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I like to try to coordinate what I do in the computer lab with the kids with what is going on in the classroom.  That helps the classroom teachers see a way that they can integrate technology after my job is gone.  That is my real goal.  Second grade is starting with the creepy crawlies again and I have to say that (as a 2nd grade teacher last year) I am not really missing the little critters. But I can still do a lot to tie in technology in a fun and productive way for the kids.  We’ll be using Kidspiration 3 to make a web of the things they know about insects.  This will be on going and they’ll add to this web and resave each class time.  We’ll be using Tux Paint to draw an insect and label the body parts.  We’ll then take the picture into Comic Life and make a one page final project.  Voila! I’ve integrated technology with the arts and science theme of our magnet school. And it ties into what’s being done in the classroom and could be a good evaluation piece for the classroom teachers.  I’ve also found quite a group of safe web sites for the 2nd graders to use and have them on the school’s web site for easy access.  I’ll even link to the page for you here . Scroll down when you get there.

Learning to Read

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When we become adults it’s hard to imagine that one day quite a long time ago we might not have been able to read. Reading always came easy for me.  I was devouring books by the hundreds each year of my elementary years. And my elementary years were during what I call sarcastically, the dark ages.  I never struggled with reading.  In fact I don’t even remember being in reading groups though I’m sure I was in the “bluebirds” and not the “crows”.  Reading instruction has changed a lot since I was in school and so much for the better.  There are good books for kids at all levels and so many better strategies.  But there are still kids who struggle with reading, the letters in a word just don’t come together and make sense or reading English text is difficult because it’s not the language they speak at home. 

If you walked by my class when I was teaching reading you might see one or two kids sitting at the computer while the rest of the class was enjoying independent reading or a book discussion with me.  The kids at the computer  were still “reading” but they were seeing, hearing and doing reading. At the beginning of this year I used one of my very favorite sites for reading with Kindergarteners when they came to me for technology class, Starfall. starfall1 Kindergarten lab time is limited so I needed something engaging as well as educational.  For their first couple of class times they didn’t even touch the computers.  Instead they sat in front of the Smartboard taking turns interacting with the Starfall site.  Starfall is the perfect site for whole class at an interactive board and just as perfect for the K-1st grader that needs review and engaging play and practice with letter sounds.  I even have 3rd graders that will ocassionally go to some of the activities on Starfall.  But for the younger kids it’s a place for them to be when the regular teaching strategies are causing frustration and they just don’t get it.  We don’t want any child to end up hating reading!

I am starting to add different reading links as a subpage to my Language Arts page so please check it out!