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The final tools that I have chosen are www.surveymonkey.com and Microsoft Excel. I have chosen to combine the two because the lesson I was teaching warranted it. The two tools can work together to create a cohesive project.
The first tool Survey Monkey is a tool that is used to create online surveys that can be accessed by anyone, or assigned to a group of people. I had never used this tool before, but it was very simple. One of my fifth grade students helped me create the survey. The process to create the surveys is very user friendly and takes you through step by step. For this purpose we created a survey that only had one question, but the students could answer with multiple responses. The question asked was “What was your favorite 5th grade technology class topic?” The responses were the following: Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Typing, Blogging, Taking Tests on the Computers, Internet, Research, Science Fair Projects. All of the fifth grade students took the survey. Survey Monkey has the ability to compile the results and graph them, but I like for my students to learn how to make graphs with another program as well. This is where my second tool came in, Microsoft Excel.
Microsoft Excel can be used for many things, including spreadsheets, lists, and what we used it for this time graphs. I had my students create their graphs based on what they thought best represented the data. They made different types of graphs then we discussed why they are or are not the best ways to present this data. Here are examples that two of the students made in Excel. One is a pie chart and the other is a bar graph.
The tool that I am presenting in this post is called Storybird. It can be found at the www.storybird.com site. I used this tool recently with some of my classes to make writing more interesting and enjoyable to them. They are constantly complaining about writing being boring, but this tool makes it more interesting and it has spell check, which is even better with my students!
In an online environment students can use this tool to create stories about any topic. The illustrations are already completed and therefore allows the focus to be more on the writing than the drawing. With elementary students, like mine, these stories can be works in progress. I showed this video from www.schooltube.com and allowed the students to take their creativity and topics wherever they wanted to. Teachers can also use this tool to allow students to give feedback to their classmates on their works.
The teacher must create an administrative account. From here the teacher can create class lists (one or multiple) with unique usernames and passwords. I suggest using the same password for every student, but the administrator can change the passwords if necessary. The teacher can create assignments or allow students creative license to create what they choose. The students then log on and create their own Storybird. They choose the theme or art then start creating their story.
I really think that this tool is great for inspiring students and gets them into writing by using art as inspiration. This tool can be used for creative works, like I said earlier, or it can be used for thematic units. It is a very user friendly site and saves automatically when the students are working.
Here are some examples of working products that my students have worked on (Please remember that these are not complete, but works in progress):
Have fun with Storybird!
The tool that I have discovered is Kidblog.org. I especially find this site useful in the elementary school classroom because the students do not need an e-mail address. Many sites require students to have an e-mail address to use the sites. This is the blog that one of my fifth grade technology classes made. Their assignment was to create an original Spring Poem. I chose to use an easy assignment in order for the students to become familiar with Blogging. It is a safe site and they each have their own unique username and password. My username is swee5th and the password is fifth. I was able to create the blog for one of my fifth grade classes and manage all of the information. The students had fun learning how to post, change colors, and create their poems. The setup is very user friendly and my students had fun creating their poems and making them appear unique. They have the option to change fonts and colors. They can also add pictures. One of my students will be adding a picture that she illustrated. I did not allow students to post pictures from the internet, they could only post a picture that they took or drew.
Overall, this website was easy to use and an effective site for learning in general. More specifically, in a distance learning environment, this site can be used as a place for students to communicate with each other. It can also be used to post assignments and give each other feedback. I plan to use this tool again to teach all of my classes the value of constructive criticism. This site is great for this because the administrator has to approve comments before they are visible to the original poster and other classmates. This is very important in the elementary classroom because the comments are not always helpful to the original poster. Teachers can use this site as a productive collaborative environment for all age levels; from children to adults. Teachers can also start their own classroom Kidblogs to work on thematic units or single assignments. Click Here to start your own KidBlog at KidBlog.org.
Google Earth is a fun and exciting way to look at the Earth, moon and planets for students. I began using Google Earth when I noticed how much interest my students had in it and how much fun they would have when exploring with it. I first began by having students get familiar with the program by just exploring it on their own, without a purpose or assignment. This allows the students to get a feel for the program and they learn how to use it on their own or in groups.
The one way that I have used this is to reinforce mapping skills. The lesson went with a unit on mapping latitude and longitude. I reviewed the concepts of latitude and longitude with my classes. Because they had already seen this in their own classrooms most of the students were able to make a connection between paper maps, globes and Google Earth. I used the Crack the Code activity from National Geographic found here. I read the students the story then set them free to work on the activity. The students were given a sheet of paper with coordinates on it that their groups had to find and write down the name of the City that the coordinates matched with. All of the beginning letters of each answer then spelled out a word that the students had to unscramble to Crack the Code. This provided a sense of healthy competition in the classroom to be the first group to finish with all of the correct answers. The students enjoyed this activity in the 5th grade classes at my school. I plan to use this activity again.
The following is the sheet of paper that the students were given to record their answers and crack the code:
The students were expected to use the coordinates at the bottom of the Google Earth screen in order to find the places. They were not taught how to type them into the “Fly To” bar. Here is a screen capture of what this activity looked like as I walked around the room.
Down here at the bottom is where the students would watch for the coordinates. The first City is Salamanca.
Although, this is how I have used Google Earth in the past there are many other mapping uses for this program. Students can see where earthquakes have occurred (and their size), they can measure distances, they can study endangered animals, they can see live weather, or explore photos of places that they would like to visit. Google Earth can also be a very interactive program and students can create tours around the world. This program is great and I have yet to experience everything that it has to offer, but I look forward to using it again in my classroom and I encourage you to use it in your classroom as well.
The tool that I am presenting this week is called Voki. What is Voki, you ask? Well, when I first looked it up I was completely at a loss too. It is an avatar-type tool that allows students to make a character and type, record (by phone or microphone), or upload voice to go with their character. The website is www.voki.com and it is full of resources on how to use Voki as an educator. There are lesson plans and tutorials available. One drawback to this tool is that students either have to have an e-mail account or the school needs to get the upgraded version that costs. The cost is not much for the “Voki Classroom” version, 29.95 a year. Another drawback is that there is a time limit on the amount that can be recorded to the Voki.
The way that I have used this tool is to help my fifth grade students with their spelling list for the week. They were each required to create their spelling words as a Voki. The only requirement that I gave them was to include the whole word and then the spelling of the word. I wanted to record their voices reading the words and spelling them, but the microphone component was blocked on the Santa Fe Public School District’s computers. We compromised and they used the typing tool. The spelling list, with links, is as follows:
The students had a great time creating these Vokis while practicing all of their spelling words. It is great for studying because they have to type their spelling words at least three times each. They also had to listen to their creation at least twice. This gave them exposure to the words at least five times each. They got to type, hear and read their words all in this one activity. I gave the links to their teachers as well to use as a studying tool. I suggested to them that they have the students listen to the Voki and write the spelling words on paper as they heard them.
Other uses for Voki are endless. This would be a great way to have students introduce themselves at the beginning of the year. This is a great tool for a quick assessment on what students have learned from a lesson. This tool can be used for many activities and subjects and is a fun technology tool.
The following video shows how to create a Voki:
The first tool that I am posting for the semester is a technology tool that I am familiar with, Voicethread. Voicethread is a tool where a slide presentation can be uploaded and created in a whole new and exciting way. The presenter can talk over their slides or photos. I have used this in one of my own distance learning classes and it is very simple to use and produces great results. You also have the ability to add comments to your presentations and go back and re-record over the slides where necessary. The way that I have used it in the past is to put my voice over a PowerPoint presentation for a class project. There was only one negative about this tool, for me, and that was when I uploaded my presentation some of the slides that I designed in PowerPoint did not look exactly the same as they did in PowerPoint. I am sure this is something that I could fix if I used the tool more and became more familiar with it.
This could be use in an elementary education setting in a similar way to the way I used it to present my material in my online course. I would ask the students to create a presentation and to make it more relevant and interesting I would have them put their comments over their slides. This is beneficial in a distance setting because the teachers can learn how to use Voicethread from the website that I linked to above. Voicethread just makes PowerPoint a better tool than it is on its own.Teachers could also use this technology tool to have the students present photos about any topic with explanations of what the photos are about; this is better than having stand alone photos on a topic because the photos can be explained.