Sunday, December 13, 2009


The podcast project is complete. We unveiled the podcasts on Friday, and most of the students enjoyed showing off the results of their hard work. A few groups spent a little too much time goofing around, so they were less pleased with their results. However, they know next time that they need to put maximum effort into their assignments on a daily basis. Especially when projects will be shared with their classmates. We had several visitors in the classroom to watch the podcasts, including our principal, a reporter from the local newspaper (the kids think they will be famous), our school counselor, our school literacy lead, and our district's superintendent. Overall, the project was well worth the time that we put into it and I think the kids will walk away with skills they will be able to use in the future.

In addition, another teacher has been asking about the podcasts and he has already begun to use them with students in his science class. Eventually I will have a few groups share their experience with the staff and hope that other teachers are inspired as well.

I am really proud of what they have accomplished! I am really glad it is done too!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


The podcasting project is beginning to take shape in the classroom. Students have chosen their groups. I have allowed them to work in groups of up to six, and they get to choose their partners. I am doing this with my AVID class, so I have the luxury of being able to plan time to work on the project during both the AVID period and the social studies period. Most of the students are excited, although a few of them have yet to comprehend what their final product could look like. Tomorrow I will show them a few sample video podcasts that were created by high school students. I decided that I wanted the podcasts to also include pictures. A few coworkers have been kind enough to pitch in, and students will be able to take laptops to their rooms (they have first period prep) to record. After seeing sample podcasts, I think the students will be more excited about this project. In addition, I am meeting with one group a day at lunch to discuss the project and the student's progress (I buy pizza, which is more exciting than the school work). I will continue to meet with them throughout the time we are working on this. It gives me an opportunity to monitor their progress and just continue to work on rapport with them in smaller groups. Hope everything works out well, and look forward to sharing the finished products with coworkers.

Friday, October 30, 2009

One down, many to go

The "Critical Issues" paper is done!!!! At least the draft of it is done. Now there is much sleep to be caught up on. Although I did not find the research to be surprising, I did find it to be quite interesting. The "digital divide" is still a major problem in this country. I find the research interesting because I get to experience it first hand. Greenfield is certainly a high poverty area, with over 80 percent of students on free and/or reduced lunch. Our school has a nice computer lab with one computer for each student. Yet we do not have a computer teacher, no students are enrolled in a computer elective, classrooms do not really have computers that students can use. Research has shown that if we want students to use the computers to find information, computers with internet access must be placed in the classroom.

On the project, it is beginning to take shape. Students have selected their groups, by Monday they will have selected their topics, and script writing will begin shortly after that. I have already enlisted the help of a few other teachers where students can record their podcasts in peace. However, there is much work to be done on my end that needs to be done in terms of learning the ends and outs of garage band software.

Happy computing everybody!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I have to keep this short. I just wrote 941 words on the reading reflection, re-read the email, and forgot that we have to do the webpage review also. Anyways, I found Gorski's articles to be the most thought provoking. It is funny how we applaud the increase of computers and internet access in the classroom, and how quickly we forget that unless used properly, they really are just "digital flashcards" (dont remember who said that in one of the readings). These readings have really made me rethink my approach to technology, as I am really the only person who uses technology on a daily basis in my classroom, while the students sit there quietly admiring my greatness. Time to get them actively involved.

Have a great week everybody

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22

Ah, fall is coming. That means Back to School Night and Parent teacher conferences. Back to School Night was last week, and I had a record turnout...53 parents (at least four times more than I have ever had before)...So the "great leader" (Superintendent) stops by the classroom. Despite the fact that I have put the SMART board to use everyday, I did not have it turned on for Back to School Night. Of course she notices, reminds me of how fantastic the SMART board is (darn, I forgot to bow down and remind her of her greatness for approving the purchase of a piece of technology that I have been waiting for for two years), and then mentions that other teachers have theirs turned on (I tried to do something more personal, like communicate with parents). Well, you never have seen a person get the board and his computer turned on so quickly to show off the Powerpoint presentation the class had used earlier in the day. All was right with the world again.

The latest challenge is to find at least one new trick a week that the SMART board can do. This week was embedding a link to a video on the internet into the presentation on notes. Great, success... it was actually quite easy and the class took a break from taking notes to watch a quick introductory video on Mesopotamia. Coming soon to a sixth grade classroom far from interactive game where students can put the board to use.

Happy Technology Use!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hello people...A quick update from the land of SMART boards...The new SMART board has definitely been a source of excitement in the classroom (and a source of jealousy from other staff members; I am one of the "chosen few" or a "golden child" or whatever other classification that they give me as they walk back to their rooms with their simple chalkboards or completely boring dry erase boards). Everyday that I walk through my door, I am blinded by the heavenly glow of its greatness (are those angels I hear singing in the background?).

We did a short unit on latitude and and longitude. Can you just see a classroom of sixth graders jumping up and down with excitement when I introduced this unit? With the new board, I can project maps onto the board for practice, students can give the location of cities, and we can save to the computer what they have written on the board to be used the next day (I swear I am not receiving any money from SMART technologies). We could check precise measurements on Google Earth, which quickly replaced me as the coolest thing in the classroom, although most students wanted to use it to see their houses. A few students got a chance to write on it, and when I called for volunteers, every hand went up, which usually only happens when I ask, "Who Wants Ice Cream?"

Now the frustrating part: The district loans every teacher a laptop. The laptops are loaded with so much security software that it makes surfing the internet on a 1992 modem seem fast. In addition, you cannot download software from the internet, which is of course where you can find the tools needed to run the SMART board. We go to plan B, which is to install from disc, but no, the disc has mysteriously disappeared. Besides that, there is a "secret password", known only to our district's tech person (who will be referred to in all posts as "Yoda", because he is all knowing and much smarter than all of our teachers)

that is required to install from a disk. I sent an email to the great Yoda before the school year started asking him to install the software the next time he was on campus. He told me he was extremely busy and asked me to fill out the necessary "IT Request". Well, that was more than two weeks ago, so I have had to use my personal laptop, the precious Macbook, which will soon be knocked onto the floor by a clumsy middle school student. I predicted that the install would take a month, so I guess he is still ahead of schedule.

Anyways, looking forward to sharing what I have learned. Hopefully you are still awake as you reach the end of this post.

P.S. Fingers are still clean, no dry erase pens. Shirts have no chalk dust!!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Hello people

This is my initial voyage into the world of blogging. This blog was created to detail my semester of technological education, so I will be sharing my many adventures in learning. As are students become more and more immersed in the use of technology, it is extremely important that teachers attempt to keep pace, or at least attempt to make a valiant effort to keep pace.

Over the summer, my classroom was equipped with an interactive white board, which for now the students think is the the greatest thing ever (and they get even more joy watching their teacher fumble around with it), so much of my writing will deal with the time spent learning how to use this wonderful machine (and to think, just last year, I was writing on a...... what's that called again? Oh yeah, a chalkboard). I feel like I have barely stored 1% of the knowledge needed to effectively run the board, my hands and shirts are cleaner than they ever have been before (no chalk dust on the hands, no pen marks all over my hands!!!)

Anyways, I hope you enjoy my ramblings, or at least use them as a cure for that nagging insomnia. Thanks to the tens of people who will actually be reading (or glancing quickly) at this blog.