Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thing 23: Reflections

I think 23 things is a great thing. I would definitely do it again. I would love to learn the next 23 things. It really has not changed my opinion about Web 2.0 tools, but it made me really experiment with them. I really enjoyed and I learned so much that I am integrating into my own teaching. It is definitely the way of the future. Some of my favorite tools were blogging, mashups, netvibes, flickr, and podcasting. To me it is a miracle I even found this self-paced exercise. I have learned so much. Please let me know if you add to the 23 things. I think it will help us all be better teachers in the 21st century.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Thing 22: Your Turn

I am working with a teacher on how to integrate Voicethread in the classroom. She has really enjoyed it and will continue to use it. Her class has been working on biographies of people that have contributed to our great country. They each have to create a page that represents the person they have chosen to study. Their classmates have to comment on their peers' page either by typing or leaving an audio message.

I have also been looking for a powerful Web 2.0 tool for a time line. I think I may have found one, but I need to peruse it more. It is XTimeLine. It is a collaborative time line. You can actually collaborate with other teachers or students anywhere at any time. You can upload photos, videos, web links, and text. You can invite others, like maybe an expert, to discuss, add, or comment to the time line. I think this is an excellent Web 2.0 tool for a history/social studies lesson. I looked at many of the Web 2.0 tools at the hot links, and I think it is endless what we can do now as teachers. There are so many ways to support our students. I think it is also very necessary for the teachers that enjoy the new tools to share and support the teachers that are afraid of the new tools.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thing 21: Twitter, Tweets, and Retweets

I have been on Twitter for about a year. My name on twitter is ceceliaoconnell The main thing that I do is follow people. I realize that I need to get myself out there, but I don't even know what I would say. I do read a lot of good articles on teaching and technology and web 2.0 tools to integrate into the classroom. I guess I could start with that. I have found a plethora of information on Twitter. That is where I discovered this 23 things. At this point, I am basically reading the posts. I did do hashtags today for the first time, and I need to experiment with retweet soon. To me twitter is a great way to collaborate with other professionals. I am sure if I asked an educational question I would receive answers within a few seconds. I think it is a place for professionals to have stimulating conversations. There are always great links to see. I use Twitter in my professional life to learn more as a teacher. It is becoming part of my professional learning network. I need to post more. I do have tweetdeck, and I think it is neat how it organizes everything. Sometimes it gets annoying because it makes a sound every time someone tweets. I also have Twit Pro on my iphone. It is very basic, but it is easy to use. After reading about Tweetie, I am thinking about switching over. The bottom line is I use Twitter in my professional life but not in my personal life. I feel like I am following a great group and learning a lot. Soon I will be posting myself!

Thing 20: Slideshare

I have used Slideshare before when I was in grad school. I used it to present a PowerPoint presentation I had made. It worked out great! I have also used Slideboom, which is very similar to Slideshare. I really don't use Slideshare in the classroom unless there is a particular Slideshare I want to share with them. If I have made a PowerPoint to present to them, I just show the PowerPoint on my Promethean Board. I did find some great Slideshares to show my class. The library has really grown since the last time I used it, and it is easy to search.

I chose the Slideshare "Go West." It was pretty good, and it also gave me an idea to create one of my own on Western Expansion. I will show this to my class and see what they think. Maybe as a class we can create one of our own. Here it is:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thing 19: Podcasting

I really do enjoy making podcasts in my classroom. We recently made podcasts in the classroom. We just finished studying Texas Indians. My class was separated in tribes and they become the experts on that particular tribe. They then wrote a script together to podcast. They added jingles and pictures. They really enjoyed this. We also started to edit them and delete any audio where they may have made a mistake. It was a great learning curve for all of us.

I found itunes to be the easiest to work with. On Educational Podcast Network, I found it very hard to download. When I tried to add it to my Start Page, I had a very difficult time doing it as well. I did download some podcasts and have been listening to them.

These are the ones I downloaded to my itunes.
English through Stories
Tech Chick Tips
Grammar Girl
Math Dude
Princeton Review Vocabulary Minute
Joel Osteen

I really enjoy Tech Chick Tips. I find them funny and motivational. I also enjoy Grammar Girls and Math Dude. They are both very practical. I also enjoy Joel Olsteen because he is so positive. I have really enjoyed this assignment because I have never downloaded podcasts before. I know that I will enjoy listening to them and learning!

Thing 18: Work with a Wiki

I enjoyed playing around on the wiki. I thought it was very easy. I then did the medium assignment. I signed up to join Wikipedia. I added a little to the school article, but I am not sure that it went into the right place. I am going to research this more when I have more time. I read some other articles that interested me, and I edited one for a grammar mistake. I then went to the medium to hard assignment. I really enjoyed Wikia. It looked like people were writing about their passions. I loved the one on recipes, because I enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes. I did not sign up for an account yet, but I probably will. I just want to peruse it a little more before I do.

I think it was easy to contribute, but I just wanted to make sure that I was doing it correctly. I thought about that later and realized that if I added something that was not correct someone could edit it for me. When I was in Grad school, we used a moddle a few times for discussions and to upload our work. I really don't see how the wiki and the moodle are alike. People did not go and edit my work on the moodle. It was more of a discussion forum that we had to contribute to. I think if you taught older students you could have them edit wikis for an assignment, or they couldlook for information that is not correct through their research. I use Wikipedia in my classroom when we are doing a quick research. I do like the idea that wiki are open for collaboration.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thing 17: What is a Wiki?

I really enjoy using Wikis because I think they are a great place to collaborate with others. I like the fact that a Wiki is not necessarily about adding new content daily or weekly, but improving the existing content over time by people adding to it. The biggest difference of a blog and a wiki to me is that a blog is usually maintained by one person. A wiki is more of a platform that anyone can add to or update at anytime. I think it is easier to access archived information on Wikis and update that information. Blogs can get confusing at times because the entries are in reverse chronological order. I found some great Wiki ideas from the ones I perused. There was one on Western Expansion that was awesome. I think I am going to model my own Wiki after that one. As I have mentioned in earlier posts my team is starting a new unit on Western Expansion, and I was planning on creating a wiki for this unit. This has really spurred me on. Another wiki I enjoyed was one called "Welcome to the Webster Class Wiki." It was a Wiki that consisted of second and third graders. They had lessons and comments from the students in each discipline. It also spurred my thinking. I also loved Greetings from Around the World where the students used Gloster to share about their home countries. Last but not least, I really enjoyed the Kindergarten Counting Book. All of these wikis are very motivating.

I also looked at Wikihow, and I really enjoyed it. I never knew about that Wiki before. I think you can learn just about anything from that Wiki. I thought the Simpson Wiki was pretty funny if you are into the Simpsons. There are some great Wikis out there! I enjoy learning from them.

Thng 16: Widgets

I thought adding gadgets was fun. I added a picture from my iphoto and a slide show of beautiful sunsets. I did both of these form the blogger gadgets. I then went to Google gadgets and added one on useful Houston, Texas, links. It is a collection of Houston links from sports to weather to movies that are playing. I think it is really neat gadget for people who live in Houston or are visiting Houston. I have noticed widgets on other people's blogs and I usually don't find them distracting unless there are too many.

Houston, Texas

Helpful Information if you live in Houston or if you are visiting.

Thing 15: Screencasts

I did not think that Screen-O-Matic was hard to use for the first time. I did do something very simple, and I plan to go back and try some more difficult things until I feel comfortable using it. I think my students would enjoy using it to explain how to do something. I know when I was in grad school one of my teachers used Camtasia a lot to explain how to do things. I think it could be very beneficial for a teacher to use. My audio was not great. I think next time I will use my snowball to record. I also moved my mouse around too much. We can only learn from our mistakes. I did enjoy learning how to do it and plan to go back and use it again. Here it is:

Friday, March 19, 2010


Book Review for Gabriel's Horses

Thing Fourteen: Voicethead

I absolutely love Voicethread, and I have been using it since this time last year. There are endless possibilities with Voicethread. The most important thing about Voicethead is that it is safe. Students can create and collaborate with other students anywhere in the world at any time. Voicethread is basically digital storytelling in a very easy format.

It is a secure place to upload documents, presentations, videos, images... for the objective of collaboration. I have used it for favorite poems during April, (poetry month)book reviews, solving math problems, group work for a class project... With the poems, my students illustrated what they thought would be a good representation of the poem. We then exported their illustrations into a jpeg and uploaded them onto Voicethread. They then recited their poem and peers, parents, other teachers... made comments. Parents and grandparents can be a part of the classroom by viewing their child/grandchild's online work and make comments. Voicethread allows students who may not like to participate in class discussion feel more comfortable with sharing their ideas. The different commenting styles allow students to participate in the discussion in whatever manner they are most comfortable.

I have used Voicethreading for two specific purposes in my class so far. We first used Voicethreading as a book review. This was a book that I read to my class as a “read aloud.” The title of the book was Gabriel’s Horses. I have also used it specifically for poetry. I have included the two voicethreads. I encourage anyone to try it. The kids love it, and it gets them excited about learning.

Thing Thirteen: YouTube

I am a huge fan of Youtube. It is a great motivational source to incorporate in our lessons. We have just started a unit on Westward Expansion, and our kids are going to be keeping a journal. I just found the perfect video to introduce this to my students.

YouTube has a lot of great short clips to inspire students, and it is a great way for kids to make a deeper connection and have longer recall of what they are learning. One sight on YouTube is Khan Academy, which is a not-for-profit with a mission of providing a high quality education to anyone, anywhere. Salman Khan has upoaded 1000+ videos teaching everything from SAT Prep to algebra to finance on YouTube. They are free and fantastic tutorials for kids struggling in math, economics, or science. I personally think that YouTube is a treasure trove of teaching videos. Yes, we have to preview the videos, but it is worth it. There is also youtube.com/edu for educators that have videos uploaded with education in mind. YouTube is a great tool if we find videos that compliment our learning objectives. It is a way for teachers to help one another.

I think United Streaming is another good place to find videos. They do not have as many as YouTube, but they are adding daily. It does come with good lesson plans that you can get ideas from, and lots of curriculum ideas about the video. It also comes with student activities. I usually do not use these, but sometimes they can jump start you to something more creative.

Thing Twelve: Web 2.0 Tools

I really enjoyed playing with the different tools. One of my favorites was BeFunky. I thought it was fun to add the different effects to your pictures. Here is one I did with my family.
I am not really sure how I would hook this to a lesson, but it is neat. Another site that I like was JigZone. I enjoyed the puzzles; however, I could not make a puzzle from one of my own pictures. I could get them uploaded, but when I opened the file it was empty. Any suggestion?
Here is one puzzle I enjoyed making.
Sunset Palm Jigsaw PuzzleSunset Palm Jigsaw Puzzle
I am also not sure how I would hook that into a lesson either. To me it is just fun to do. I do think puzzles promote higher level thinking skills. I really enjoyed Mix Book, and I thought it would be cool to use with our Western Expansion unit. Each child could add pictures and important events that happened on our journey out West. I use Wordle and Quizlet on a regular basis. They are both great ways to study vocabulary, spelling, and Spanish. One Web 2.o tool that I love and was not mentioned is the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. It is a library of interactive web-based virtual manipulatives for K-12 math learning. It meets all the NCTM standards. It is great to use on your interactive white board if you have one. It is also great to use as a center to support whatever unit you are working on. The Web 2.0 tools are great teaching tools to support the children's learning.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thing Eleven: Delicious

I joined Delicious about a year ago. I find myself using it in spurts and then getting out of the habit for awhile and then getting back into it. I really do enjoy it when I use it, and I love the fact that I can get to my bookmarks from any computer. It is also easy to find what I have bookmarked, and I am not looking all over my computer. It is a great way to organize my bookmarks, and because they are public I love how I can read what others have tagged. When I get into doing that and reading others' tags, time really flies by and all the sudden I realize an hour has gone by. It has been very useful to find great sites from other people.

I think the biggest advantage of using Delicious is that you no longer need to use the browser that is running on your own computer to find your bookmarks. I like the fact that all the information is in one place and it comes to you. It really makes it so much easier to research and find information. I like how you can easily access the most recent and popular items. I definitely use it for my professional life. I have found wonderful ideas for my classroom, and I have also found great ways to integrate technology into a lesson to make it better. I definitely think Delicious is a good thing for teachers and the education world!

Thing Ten Mashups:

I think using a varirety of Mashups is very effective in the classroom. I really have never heard the word "mashup" before, but I realize that I have been using them for a long time. For example, I have been using Google Earth with my students when we Skype with other classrooms. I also am starting to use Google lit trips, which are awesome! You can literally take your kids are on a virtual trip while you are reading to them. My students enjoy Webowords, which is a really cool visual vocabulary site that offers illustrations and a little cartoon description of a vocabulary word daily. Students can also go back and review previous vocabulary words. I like to put the word of the day on my Promethean Board for my kids to see each morning when they walk in.

Another mashup my kids enjoy is Shahi, which is a visual dictionary to get students to look up words. It presents several visual representations of the word using Flickr. One more of my students' favorite mashup is Scribble Map. This is where they can zoom in to an area and type in the text box, draw, doodle etc. They can take notes on the maps or make a timeline... They can then email it to themselves. It is a great resource. I think it is pretty awesome how they are combining data sources to make something new and better.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Originally uploaded by ceceliaoconnell1
This is a picture of the Rio Grande River. The sun is starting to set! There is so much violence on the border, yet this seems so peaceful! What do you think?

Thing Nine!

I have always heard about Flickr and knew what Flickr was (sorta), but I have really enjoyed getting to know it better. I want to find out more about it because I think it has so much to offer. It would be a great place to photo blog. I am looking forward to learning more. I uploaded some pictures and put on a post. I can't wait to see if it worked.

Thing Eight

I really enjoyed creating a Netvibes starter page. I looked at both Page Flakes and Netvibes. To me, Netvibes seemed more user friendly. I do think older students would enjoy this a lot. They could have different teacher blogs on their page along with their favorite gadgets and feeds. I personally added various news feeds, weather, maps, and some 21st century learning blogs I am following. I also added my facebook. I find it very useful because you can at one glance peruse everything that is important to you and decide what to read and what to summarize. I have not added my twitter account or my email account. I will probably do this, but I just want to understand it slowly and feel comfortable instead of feeling overwhelmed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thing Seven

I really like RSS and Google Reader because the information is coming in to me. I don't have to go out and search for it. This keeps me up to date with the technology or information that I want to know or find important at my fingertips. I do find it overwhelming to keep up with all this information and keep up with my life. I could be on the computer 24/7 if I wanted to, but that is not going to make me a better teacher, parent, or person. I need to have a balance with all aspects of my life! I can use this technology because I am recieving the cutting edge of what is out there in education. One site I love is

Whether you want to be a teacher, principal or even an educational policy-maker, learning all you can about the field and how to be a more powerful leader while you’re still in college is essential. These blogs will fill you in on the latest news, provide inspiration, and ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest educational technologies so you can be the best education leader you can be.

Education News

Read through these sites for great updates on education.

  1. DetentionSlip.org: Visit this blog to get daily updates about what’s going on in the world of education.
  2. Educated Nation Higher Education Blog: Get higher education news and ideas through this helpful blog.
  3. Eduwonk: This blog doesn’t just contain news, but commentary and analysis on it as well.
  4. Open Education: If open courseware is something you have an interest in, you can keep up with the latest developments here.
  5. The Gradebook: Find out more about educational problems and successes through this blog.
  6. Edwise: On this blog you’ll find a good deal of news as well as opinions on this news.

Subject Specific

These blogs focus on subjects like math, writing and language arts.

  1. The Exponential Curve: This blog presents some great ideas for high school math teachers hoping to assist their below-level students.
  2. Division by Zero: Here you’ll find a math-focused blog with some ideas on teaching and using academic technology.
  3. Two Writing Teachers: Get inspired by this blog about two writing teachers who are using their skills to help students in different parts of the US.
  4. Langwitches Blog: While focused mostly on writing and reading, this blog also offers some great general information for all educators.
  5. Best Practices for Legal Education: This blog focuses on improving the way lawyers are educated in this country.

Inspiration and Innovation

Get inspired and discover new ideas through the help of these bloggers and teachers.

  1. Cool Cat Teacher Blog: Use this blog to get a better idea of how to implement and use technology in the classroom.
  2. The Innovative Educator: This blog is a great place to look for fresh ideas on how to teach students course material.
  3. The Next Generation of Educational Leadership: Here you can read about and connect with other educational leaders.
  4. 2 Cents Worth: Check out this blog for some thoughts on the process of learning at large. It could influence how you teach.
  5. Education Innovation: This blog offers some ways to improve education through creativity and innovation.
  6. Ozge Karaoglu’s Blog: Full of tech tools that can help in the classroom and ruminations on educational issues, this blog can be a great read for teachers of all kinds.
  7. Teaching Ideas and Resources: Find some great tips and tools for improving your classroom performance on this blog.
  8. Teacher Reboot Camp: Visit this site to find ways you can continually challenge and push yourself to be a better teacher and leader.
  9. Free Resources for Education: See what kind of useful resources are out there for teaching and helping your students learn through this blog.
  10. Andrew B. Watt’s Blog: On this blog you’ll find a discussion of lots of technological resources that could work well in the classroom.
  11. Thumann Resources: Blogger Lisa Thumann shares her ideas on how to bring education into the 21st century in this blog.
  12. Darcy Moore’s Blog: Bookmark this site to get updates on using Web 2.0 in the classroom.

Educational Policy

These blogs take an in-depth and sometimes unforgiving look at current educational policy.

  1. Thoughts on Education Policy: PhD student Corey Bower shares her insights into educational policy on this blog.
  2. Education Policy Blog: Learn ways that educational groups can change educational policy here.
  3. Bridging Difference: With women who are often at odds on educational policy sharing this blog, it’s a great place to go to see both sides of the debate.
  4. Educational Equity, Politics & Policy in Texas: While this blog may contain information specific to Texas, many of the issues are problems nationwide.
  5. The Quick and the Ed: A variety of policy analysts work together to write this incredibly informative blog.
  6. Edpresso: This blog is home to news and commentary on proposed and real educational reforms.
  7. What’s Working in Schools Blog: Get ideas on reforms that are working in other schools and ways that you can improve your own performance from this blog.
  8. Brian McCall’s Economics of Education Blog: Check out this blog to learn about the economic issues that sometimes cloud educational policy.
  9. Teacher Beat: Visit this blog often to keep up with the latest teacher and education related policy changes.

Educational Technology

Visit these great blogs to learn about ways you can integrate technology into your courses.

  1. Weblogg-ed: On this site you’ll get a number of great ideas on using the web as a learning tool.
  2. Gate’s Computer Tips: Educational professional Jim Gates offers his tips on making the best use of computers on this blog.
  3. NCS-Tech: Visit this site for K-8 educational technology resources, commentary and lesson ideas.
  4. Nik’s Learning Technology Blog: If you teach EFL or ESL, you’ll find some good ideas on using technology to aid your teaching here.
  5. Edgalaxy: Nerdy teachers of all subjects can find great tech-based solutions to classroom issues on this site.
  6. Emerging Ed Tech: Read through this blog to see some of the technologies that are or will be aiding the teachers of the future.
  7. Moving at the Speed of Creativity: Find news on the ways technology is shaping communication and the classroom on this blog.
  8. Open Culture: This blog will save you the trouble of searching for the best educational and cultural resources on the web as they’ve already compiled and reported on them here.
  9. Learning with ‘e’s: Here, one teacher shares her thoughts on learning technologies and the digital revolution.
  10. Box of Tricks: Technology and education is the focus of this image- and video-filled site.
  11. Dangerously Irrelevant: This blog focuses on technology, leadership and, of course, education in our nation’s schools.
  12. Digital Education: Check out this site for the latest news on how technology is being used in the K-12 classroom.

E-Learning and Online Education

On these sites you’ll find advice, tips and tools for online learning.

  1. E-Learning Queen: This blog covers numerous aspects on online learning from distance training to instructional design.
  2. eLearning Technology: Dr. Tony Karrer is the CEO/CTO of TechEmpower and is considered one of the leading educational technologists, so check out his blog for news and advice.
  3. The Rapid eLearning Blog: This blog will help you learn to better navigate the world and resources out there for e-learning.
  4. Jane’s E-Learning Pick of the Day: Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies writes about a different e-learning topic each day on this blog.
  5. openthinking: Find more information on open education on this blog, as well as plentiful commentary and insight.
  6. 21st Century Teaching and Learning: Here, blogger Michelle Pacansky-Brock shares her thoughts on using technology in higher learning and online colleges.