Sunday, December 2, 2007

Connecting....SKYPE Style.

Last week, Adam Dugger, (a colleague and TEAM-mate) Karen Kliegman (my research co-teacher and one of our TEAM mentors) and I had an incredible experience using SKYPE to connect with a class in South Carolina. Adam's 4th grade class is involved with a Native American research project that has participants from across the country. I took this opportunity to use SKYPE to connect with one of the other classes participating in the project. The ultimate use of SKYPE is to have a vehicle for our students to share what they learned with another class and then to compare how the Native Americans in our region may be similar or different to the Native Americans in another region. We decided to test it out before hand with a little "meet and greet" for the students on both ends.

Prior to the video conference, JoNelle, the computer teacher of the other school, and I spoke several times, making sure the equipment worked. All that was necessary was a webcam, microphone and a computer with Internet access. Karen and I prepped the students by having them brainstorm what they wanted to know about the other students. We also discussed video conferencing etiquette, such as keeping their bodies calm and their voices quiet, unless they were asking or answering a question.

At last, the morning arrived and with the exception of a video delay on their side, all went fabulously! I am looking forward to creating more opportunities for the students in my school to connect with others, whether it be in the school down road or across the world. The possibilities are endless!

Friday, October 12, 2007

When is a Cell Phone not a Cell Phone?

Tonight, I prepared for my workshop on podcasting and vodcasting at Heckscher Park tomorrow. After signing up for Gabcast, a website that allows people to use their cell phones to record and then publish audio recordings, I gave it a spin. Here is my first episode. What is this good for? On the spot recordings is one use. Whether it be for school, or to capture those little moments in life that are precious, but forgotten easily, here is a tool that is always within reach.

Gabcast! Heckscher Park Exhibit #1

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Google Video

To prepare for Marratech this morning, my 2 year old and I practiced using the webcam on my computer. After we finished, I was able to upload the video to Google Video for storage and sharing. I was also able to embed the video in a website and/or blog. Here was my first attempt!

Monday, October 1, 2007


Before I left for class today, my four year old son sat on the floor and asked, "Mommy, why do you have to go to school? Your a teacher, not a student!" I don't know why I found it hard to answer him, but I stumbled on an explanation, using phrases like, "life long learner." He doesn't understand what that means. In his frame of reference, students are kids, like himself. Thanks to Bette, I now have a response.....

"The word student means learner."

Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Than Just Fireworks...

A few days ago, I attended a workshop on the basics of Fireworks. Whenever I learn something new, I walk away from the experience with not only new knowledge, but with a reminder of how my students might feel when they are about to learn something for the first time. It also reminds me of what it takes for students to retain what they've learned.

The first few minutes were filled with anticipation and a little anxiety. Am I going to be able to learn this? Will it be to confusing? Will I be lost?

Once I was able to see how similar Fireworks was to a program I already knew, I could feel my shoulders start to drop and my anxiety turned to excitement. This reminded me that prior knowledge is so important in new learning. Students need something to "attach" new information to. For me, it was my experiences with Photoshop, the tools, the layers... It was so similar. I could then apply my knowledge to this new program and the creativity started to take off. My fears were gone and it was uphill from there.

Usually after I learn something new, I need to play with it very soon afterwards. The reinforcement and repetition helps me to remember what I did. I wasn't able to do that with Fireworks. As time goes by, I will forget small things. I need to find the time to play, not just time to get the assignments done. Still trying to figure that one out. Students need the same repetition to hold onto skills. They need the information presented in ways that hit the different modalities. The idea of "spiraling" where topics are not just covered in one grade, but touched upon in the different grades helps with retention.

I am going to attempt to attach my "product" of the Fireworks workshop to this post. Though it may not appear to be much, it will act as a reminder of the experience I had that night. That is something I don't want to forget.

Friday, September 14, 2007


I am excited and anxious about this new adventure. Although I look forward to becoming more skilled and confident in what I do, I fear where my 8 hours will come from and what is going to give. It will all work itself out, but I can help but feel guilty as I hear my boys upstairs with my husband laughing and running round. (Currently, there is a bit of crying, so I'm kind of glad I am in the basement right now!)

Our first class was a little overwhelming. Once we are involved with a project, I know it will be fun. After working a full day, the key will be lots of snacks and coffee to keep on the right track. I enjoy being around people who share the same excitement for new technologies. This program will force me to make the time to explore and practice, something I hadn't allowed myself to do in the past. You get stale and outdated in a profession such technology education quickly if you don't make the time to "play."