Thursday, November 6, 2008

Video Review & Critique - EDLD 5363 - Assignment 6

I watched several videos from this site. They were all very good. I can see why they had so many runner-ups! The three I chose to 'critique' are below. My suggestion is to watch these videos for yourself and see what you think. I am just amazed at what students can do when they have the tools necessary for success at their disposal!
Make Me a Digital Learner
I enjoyed this video. It did a great compare/contrast of learning with and without technology. The video was created with text, images, and music. Students and teachers created an impressionable work that accomplished the goal that was set forth.
21st Century Tools
This video is very appropriate for elementary students. It is cute, warm and funny. It presents the message that students want and yearn for more technology in the classroom!
Your Future…..Fearful or Hopeful
This video has an interesting theme and is also unique in the way the students portray their fears and hopes. When they are talking about the things that they are fearful of, (not knowing enough technology for the future) they talk about their ideas at a table and the film is in color. They show examples of what they said they were fearful of, it is in black and white. They show the hopeful/positive things having to do with learning technology and their future in color. I liked the way they used text as well as video with audio. They also had appropriate music. Overall I would say this is a good video.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Edutopia Video Review

Mary Scroggs Elementary School: A Wired Education -

This video touched a personal place in my heart – being an elementary teacher. The students broadcast the morning announcements every day. Students from all grade levels are permitted to try out and participate. The 5th grade students are the ‘film crew’ and stage crew. Each classroom has 4-5 computers for student use. The school also has several wireless laptop carts for student/classroom use. They use students that have more experience using computers as tutors to those students that do not have as much experience. They allow students that are low socio-economic to be able to have a computer to use at home and help them to have low fees for internet access. Each teacher has their own office and telephone. The video states that the teachers feel more like professionals because they have this for their use. They also use this to have more effective parent communication.

As an elementary teacher that has access to only one computer in my classroom and no mobile laptop cart, this sounds like a dream. Several years ago I was fortunate enough to be in a district that had a tremendous amount of technology available – wireless laptop carts, Alphasmarts, and Danas just to name a few! I wish I had known then what I know now about technology integration! I only wish I had an ‘inth’ of this to work with now. I am lucky in that I do have a data projector, a document camera, and a desktop computer. I realize that some teachers do not have this much to work with. My class starts a biweekly ‘required’ rotation in the computer lab this Friday. I can’t wait until we complete the ‘required’ activities and I can start using some of my own ideas in technology with my students. The downside of this is that they may only get to go every two weeks. I think to myself, what can I accomplish going only once every two weeks? I guess this is better than no lab time at all.

The only negative I can think of that might possibly be affected by having this much opportunity for technology use and integration is test scores. Will they be affected? I want to believe that scores would only increase with the types of project learning that generally goes with technology integration. The highest hurdle to overcome would be to convince administration and board members that this would be an effective way of teaching the whole student and not just teaching how to pass a test.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tech.Coor. Chap. 6 Budget and Planning

It was interesting to get the 'take' on the Tech. Coor.'s responsibilities. I feel that my district employs the concept that 'simply placing (minimal) technology tools in the classroom leads to exciting results and improved student learning' as stated on pg. 125. I have one desktop computer that I am the primary user of because it has access to my grade book and student records. I have one laptop that I let students use and they primarily use it to take Accelerated Reader tests on. I also use it in class as tool such that we 'journaled' science notes during class. When we were doing class research, students took turns using it as well as my desktop in a pinch to find out information about their topic. I have a projector and document camera in order to project images on the wall. That is the limit of the technology that has been assigned to me in my classroom. I also feel that my district lacks not only valuable but ongoing staff development. I am sure the service center offers some technology courses but when you teach a grade that has TAKS, you cannot afford too many days away from your students. The days you can afford are usually for training in your subject area. I am not sure if this is just lack of insight on the administrations part or lack of funds. There may also be a lack of interest in different types of technology. There are many very experienced teachers that just have not jumped on the technology train yet. I think I will plan on trying to find out what the technology budget at my district and my school looks like in the very near future.

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Tech High

This would be an awesome place to go to high school! A one-to-one ratio of computers to students? At the high school I attended (way back in the 80's), the teachers did not have a desktop in the classroom. I used a typewriter to type the articles for the annual. We had to manually crop pictures with a cropping tool and a grease pencil, set up layouts by hand, you get the picture! Or maybe not, if you have only known software that does all that for you. I vaguely remember taking a BASIC programming class my senior year but that the only option we had. I checked out the application for admission. I liked the essay prompt about the time machine and what you imagine you might be doing in 10 years and how you got there. I would love to read the responses to that one! I really see very few similarities and very many differences. Technology has made major leaps and bounds in the past 20 years! Where might we be in 20 more? I can't wait to experience it.

Tech. Coordinator Chapter 2, Teaching and Learning

It was interesting to read about the different functions of a technology coordinator. I saw some similarities with the way my district runs things and some great ideas as well. Our district utilizes technology training district wide during the first week of inservices right before school starts. This year we got to choose six sessions out of about 12 potential. We actually had some interesting things to choose from that I felt were more appropriate for classroom integration. In the past, there have been sessions that I attended where I walked away feeling that I got nothing out of it because I did not learn anything new. Last year the entire district was required to attend a session about new web pages and we did not even start using the program until February. We had to re-learn what we had forgotten from August.
At the Elem. campus, we have grade level teachers that are responsible for making sure their fellow grade level members keep the updates regular and virus scans run on the classroom computers. The 'tech' person on our campus is the teacher that runs the computer lab. Each student has 30 minutes of computer time at least 3 days a week. They use a reading, math, and typing program on a rotating basis. This teacher has not had any experience teaching in 'regular' classroom.
Our district coordinator is housed at the high school campus and I sometimes feel that things that are planned are geared more towards upper level instead of elementary level. She has had classroom experience at the high school level.
I also can understand where a database of educational software might be extremely helpful to teachers and administrators in choosing the right software. I am not aware that my district has this.
Overall, I guess my district does the best they can considering we are a small district without any major industry to increase our tax base. We are trying to improve and I see little things here and there and teachers that are trying to do things as well.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Web Mastering - Ch 3-6

WOW! That's how this blog must begin. The process of creating a web page is really cool. I just wish I had endless hours to play with it and get to know the software better. Maybe someday soon! There are so many little things that are involved in creating a good page that you never even think of. Here are some specific examples from each chapter that made me think:
Ch. 3
Indent - who thought a simple move away from the edge would be that noticeable?
Background colors - Once I finally found the command to do this, I tried several different backgrounds before I settled on one.
Links - I learned that it is VERY important to know what kind of link you are trying to create.
Layers - They can really make your project interesting.
Ch. 4
Absolutely the most important thing is being organized and naming things correctly. Folders are important for placing your files and images in and not changing the names or your links will not work.
Ch. 5
The difference between print and web was very interesting. The concepts seem to be the opposite of what you think. However, if you actually think about it, it makes sense.
Ch. 6
I never thought that alignment could make such a big difference. I do, however, disagree with one of the examples in the book - pg. 115. I prefer the look of the top page rather than the bottom. To me, that one looks more appealing. This entire chapter is a prime example of how things we think are trivial when just reading about them really have quite an impact on the page when you look at good/bad examples. Repetition, contrast, paragraph vs. break; all of these, when used correctly, make your page look so much more professional.

I have never thought that much about how web pages are made. I have just taken the process for granted. The basic process, when using the Dreamweaver software, that is, is not as complicated as I originally thought it might be. The most frustrating thing is that I am not familiar with the commands and the package as whole. In time, as well as with lots of trial and error, I just might be able to build a nice web page that at least my friends and family will enjoy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Technology Coordinator

I think that a Technology Coordinator at the district level and the campus level are very similar. Basically, the major difference is that a campus coordinator is assigned to that campus and the needs of that campus specifically. They would 'answer' to the district coordinator. The district coordinator is responsible all technology aspects of the entire district, all campuses as well as administration. In a large district, he/she would supervise campus coordinators, technicians, network administrators, etc.

Monday, July 21, 2008

November Learning

Unfortunately I was unable to watch the entire video presentation of Alan November's. However, what I was able to get through, was very exciting. This was due to computer difficulties, not lack of interest in the speaker or the subject! I so want to be able to watch and listen to it in it's entirety because he has so very many wonderful ideas. It was not a shock that the answers to the questions near the beginning of the presentation were what they were. Sometimes we do feel as though our hands are tied and we cannot do some of the things we want to do or teach our children things they need to know because of restraints our school districts have placed on the Internet. His presentation was enlightening as well as disheartening. Our children have so much opportunity yet they are still far behind some other students with far less than they have.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Technology Integration

Technology integration is necessary for the advancement of our students as well as our schools. Having valuable experiences with technology is paramount for success. In order to achieve successful integration of technology, educators and administrators must be able to effectively evaluate the technology that is being used or that might be used. There are many ways to evaluate software and equipment. Some companies offer free trials so that you can try out their product to see if it will meet the needs of your students/staff. With rising costs of almost everything to do with living as well as teaching, it is imperative that schools purchase technology that they will use and will have an impact on teaching and learning. If a product is not going to be used, why spend the money on it? Also, if you can buy something that will be integrated in various subjects and grade level, it would be much more cost effective.
There are many valuable things that technology can and does bring to education. There are so many ways that students can gain knowledge through using the Internet and collaborating with other students, not only in their school but around the world. There are projects that students can create and participate in and use wiki spaces or blogs to save their information or journal. Some of these sites are free or the cost is minimal.
The main concern is getting educators that are not comfortable with technology to venture out of their comfort zone and try some of these things so that when technology is there to be integrated, it is used and used effectively.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Strategies for Integrating Technology into Teaching - Response

I agree with so much of this section! I believe it is imperative that teachers have the required training in order to integrate technology into their lessons. I think that some districts fall short at this. They have purchased many different software programs and technology items but do not give teachers enough training or support after training to make them feel comfortable using the technology with their students. On a personal level, I have experienced this. There are some programs that I would love to use, but because I do not have enough 'free' time to 'play' with them in order to familiarize myself, I choose not to use them with my students because I don't think I would be doing the program or my students justice by muddling through. My plan for this summer is to MAKE some time to become familiar with several different technology tools so that I can start using them at the beginning of the next school year. I think technology is so valuable to teachers as well as students. It is my responsibility as a teacher to integrate technology into my lessons as much as possible. It can only benefit not only my students but myself as well.

Frank McCourt Lecture

“We can all have 2nd Acts, 3rd Acts…” Dr. Lowery-Moore used this quote from Mr. McCourt in her introduction of him. I found this to be a very poignant statement. He made this statement because he feels that he has had several acts during his lifetime. He was a teacher for 30 years and now a Pulitzer Prize winning author. He wants to let others know that it IS possible to start new chapters in your life at any age.
I enjoyed the comedy in the stories that Mr. McCourt told about his early days teaching. It is so very true that the college you attend does not teach you about the things that sometimes happen in our classrooms. The fighting, the throwing of things, and the myriad of other things that happen even in the most disciplined classroom. I agree that you learn so very much your first year, no, your first day as a teacher than all the field experiences you might have had added together! I found that his experiences were much like every other new teacher, including myself.
Mr. McCourt also told an interesting tale about being a boy growing up in a Catholic school in Limerick, Ireland. He told tales of being a boy and learning things from observing the mistakes of others as well as making his own mistakes. His stories are so full of life and the way he tells them, you can picture yourself there.
As he was closing his lecture, he made what I feel is a very important statement about teachers. As teachers, we must go into a classroom having a sense of humor and be compassionate versus acting like a dictator. In my minimal experience, I have found this to be a difficult task at times. You have to find the right balance between these things in order to be really effective. I have been told by seasoned teachers that it is easier to let up later on than it is to try to reel them in after they have been let loose for too long.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Technology Standards - Communications

This 4th and final blog for Technology Standards is about Communication. The TEKS I chose 10c - students will be able to use data collected in spreadsheets to produce graphs and charts for information or presentations.

I discovered two interesting web sites that not only give examples and instructions for this individual task but many others as well.

The first site is eHow is a site that gives a vast amount of instruction on just about anything from food to weddings and everything in between. The slogan on the site is "How To Do Just About Everything". The particular article that I read gave step-by-step instructions for creating a spreadsheet in excel and using the data to create the graph of your choice. This would be beneficial if a student was doing a presentation about weather trends. If the student put the data on high/low temperatures in a an excel document over a period of time, they could use this data to create different graphs to show trends in the weather. This is just one example of how a spreadsheet could be used to store data and then turn it into a table or graph.

The second site I found is This site also lists steps in creating graphs from an excel spreadsheet. It goes a step further by using pictures to show what you should be looking for on your screen - the pages and menus from excel itself uploaded into the instructions! How much easier this makes it for some students! This is extremely important to some students as well as teachers because a student could go by this information to make sure they are doing things right. The teacher is left to tend to other students who are having trouble doing other things because he/she does not have to check and make sure the student is on the right page or doing the right thing. This site also has an abundance of information that can be used to do other things as well as what I described.
I think both of these web sites are worthy of being added to your 'favorites.' I have added them to mine and will definitely be visiting them many more times.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Chapter 5 Blog

Why are digital media and educational software applications important for education?
Hmmm…how to answer this question….Well, I think that with our student population today, the more stimulating an activity, the more the student enjoys and thereby remembers it. I feel that we are really at a turning point in education. If we do not rise to the occasion and meet the needs of our digital native students, they will suffer. Why not integrate digital media and software apps in your classroom? It is interesting and exciting to me as a teacher to be learning about all that is out there. I knew there was a tremendous amount of information out there but maybe not to the extent that it really is. There are so many things I want to try and do with my students eventually. I have been trying to incorporate different things as I go along to ‘test’ them out and see how the students respond. Most of the response is positive with the only negative being that only one student at a time gets to use the computer. I think that children are so affected by video games and multi-tasking that if we challenge them to do this in a classroom, the majority might just surprise us and meet and even exceed our challenge. So many of our students thrive on video games and other interactive activities. I wanted to do something different with my students when we were talking about animals and habitats. I ran across a lesson plan on the Internet that incorporated the CD-ROM Zoo Tycoon. My students loved the idea! I had more than a few convince their parents to buy the game for their home use. Those students then showed me how to use it! The only drawback was that I only have it loaded on 1 computer and only 1 student at a time could ‘build’ in the zoo. I have also used other online sources while teaching life science. The students really enjoy the United Streaming videos from Discovery Network. I use them quite often to introduce or reinforce a concept. I know I am just touching the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of what is out there and what I could be using. I plan on continuing to learn and to keep on keeping on when it comes to technology in my classroom.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Technology Standards - Working in Problem Solving

My 3rd Blog on Technology Standards is about creating PowerPoint presentations. I found a very kid-friendly website, This website is interactive and gives very good instructions on not only creating a basic power point presentation but instructions on how to ‘tweak.’ It shows how to add sound, motion, charts and images. It gives pointers for timing and rehearsing and tells how to save the document and be able to take it somewhere. This site is very informative and quizzes the viewers as they maneuver through the steps. I think this is an excellent website to show students how to build and polish a presentation but also shows different options for publishing it.

Another site that would be useful in adding additional graphics and other options to your power point presentation is This site has an abundance of free templates and other things to use to add variety to presentations.

Microsoft Office Online also has a great deal of valuable information. They have templates, help and how- to, downloads, examples and tons of other information for all of the Microsoft Office products.

I am positive there are many more sites available to help with presentations but the websites I stated above really stood out to me. If I have the opportunity, I will definitely use them in my classes with my students in order to help them create a power point presentation.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Assignment 8 - Chapter 1 - Comparison

In comparing my school to the school I read about in the textbook, I do not find many similarities. Our district has recently upgraded our website and webpages. We also have online grade books and do attendance online. We implemented this last school year. We are piloting the parent portal for the grade book currently with students of employees. We will be up and running with our parent portal during the next school year. We have a technology team at each campus but our technology coordinator is located at the high school campus and she serves all campuses. There is a contact at each campus but that contact also is responsible for teaching as well.
We are also in the process of implementing a databank for our school secretary in order for her to be able to call substitutes for teachers when they are going to be out of their classroom.
At the elementary level, I am sure there are several teachers who integrate technology into their lessons. I personally use a few things daily – but not to the extent I wish that I could. I have 2 computers in my classroom, 1 designated student computer. The students are able to take AR tests on this computer and do other things as needed. We have a lab that is available at times but because of travel time and changing classes, it is not always feasible to go to the lab to do projects.
We are a small district without an over abundance of funding. We are slowly but surely trying to get just a few steps behind instead of miles behind the times. We have technology training every year, although it is not always what one would wish for. There are things that we have learned that would be interesting to do but we do not have the proper equipment in order to use it in our classrooms.
The district talked about in the text seems to be a dream situation as far as technology is concerned. There is always room for improvement because it seems that technology improves and/or changes at lightning speed these days. With the emphasis there is on technology in the workforce today, I see the future of all schools to be getting closer to where they need to be but the missing part is generally funding.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Technology Standards - Information Acquisition: Search Engines

My second blog is about students using search engines. There are many kid-friendly search engines available. I found several that I prefer.

As a science teacher, I have frequently used (previously yahooligans). This site has lots of information about animals for us to research when we are working on life science and talking about animals. It also has a reference tab and encyclopedia source. The copyright on the pages I viewed was 2007 Yahoo! Inc.

Another interesting site I found was This is the kid version of the Ask Jeeves site. This site opens up to a very kid-friendly page and has a stack of books to the right of the search request line that you can click on to be subject specific.

The Google kid-friendly search engine is found at It is filtered automatically by Google.

The sites listed are just a few of the many sites for children found when doing a general search for 'search engines for kids'. Most of the sites I visited use bright, vivid, colors and some even have cartoon characters to welcome children. The Google site did not have an outstanding opening page like the others but was much like the regular Google search page.

I think that with the abundance of sites that are geared toward searching the WWW and also toward children, students should not have a problem finding valid and valuable information on the 'net.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Technology Standards - Foundations

The web site I evaluated was This web site is an educational web site and is sponsored by the International Reading Association (, the National Council of Teachers of English ( and the Verizon Foundation ( The web site has 4 main topics of interest: Lessons, Standards, Web Resources, and Student Materials.

I searched the site and found a lesson plan that met one of the foundations TEKS that I think is very important. The TEKS met is 3b from the Grades 3-5 TEKS. This TEKS basically states that students will know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. The activity was designed to help students with research. It involved Social Studies which is a subject that I teach. The student is expected to research a state symbol then create a report on the symbol based on the research they acquired via the WWW. They would learn how to summarize information found and put it in their own words, avoiding plagiarism. The majority of the activity is done via computer so it greatly integrates technology into teaching Social Studies.

The web site was neatly organized and visually appealling to me. I did not find it hard to navigate through the web site and found all links that I encountered to be available. The site has a great number of lesson plans and even on-line interactive activities that can be completed either whole class, small group, or individually. There are lessons in several disciplines as well as multiple grade levels.

Overall, I gave this site a 34 out of 36 points. The site appears to be a reading/writing site but upon further investigation, technology is integrated in most lessons. I could not determine when the last update had been other than the copyright of 2002-2007.