Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Info What?....Infographics!

What is an infographic?

So, I decided to take on a project with my 7th-8th tech students where each student is asked to create an infographic on a theme relating to Digital Citizenship.  Even though there is not an overabundance of resources online about walking students through the process of creating an infographic, I wanted to pioneer this unit.  I want to be brave and give it a try, because I feel that it has the potential to be a really fantastic unit blending research literacy skills with digital citizenship (both ed. tech state standards where I live).

So far, my students have stepped up to the challenge by researching their topic centered around Digital Citizenship.  My next steps will be for them to create two possible layouts (designs) for their infographic, and then make a plan to actually create it using an online infographic creator.  I'm thinking easel.ly will be our tool of choice!

You can follow the process we taking here:

Our unit is a work in progress, but I'm very anxious to see what my students' final projects look like.

Do you have expertise in infographics or teaching a similar unit?  Please share your ideas in a comment below!

Thanks techies!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

New Year, New Tech Projects!

Well, I'm happy to report that I have the first week of school now under my belt.  It was so great to once again, come back to so many familiar faces.  My new group of incoming 6th graders really seem wonderful and eager to be in my tech class.

Once again, I'll be blogging about all of the different projects we undertake.  This year I'll be developing year two of my technology curriculum for my classes (basically for 7th graders).

Let's just say that the first project will center around infographics.  What are infographics?  Stay tuned for more.....

~TTT :-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Computer programming....for kids?!?

First of all, shame on me for not posting in quite a while!  Let's just say that the "end of school year craziness" has definitely been taking over my spare time.  I am really looking forward to blogging a little more regularly this summer.

My students have been busy this quarter using a computer programing tool called Scratch to create their own computer game.  We started with learning some basics of programming and then we really took off from there!  It's amazing how Scratch takes such a complicated idea like computer programming and really brakes it down for students to understand and learn.  Scratch is a type of freeware that can be downloaded to any MAC or PC.  Scratch has a website, wiki, video tutorials, and much more for students who are looking for extra resources.  I love how Scratch really made my middle school classes problem-solve each stage of their game.  The entire project was trial and error.  My students were quite pleased when they would get some part of their game to work the way they wanted it to.

In the end, it was such a cool experience when we held our "game testers" day and students got to test play each others' games and offer feedback and praise.  Even though I did not have experience with Scratch before this year, I'm so glad I decided to dig in and give it a try.  I hope my students did, too. :-)

P.S. There are other great computer programming tools available  (Alice.org and Kodu) that I have not yet had the opportunity to explore, but would be anxious to see how they compare to Scratch.  If you have comments about this, feel free to drop one below!

My Scratch Unit

Until next time, (which is hopefully sooner than later) ;-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Woo! StudyBlue!

This week I would like to speak about a great new start-up site called StudyBlue.  StudyBlue helps students create online study tools such as flashcards, practice tests, study guides, etc.  It is very easy to use and students catch on very quick!  StudyBlue has also just recently made improvements to the functionality of their site, making it even better!  About a week ago, they asked to feature me on their blog, and ask how I utilize their site in my technology classroom.  If you are looking for an easy site to use with students as a study aide, this may be just what you are looking for.  What I love about this company is that they love to hear from teachers, like you and I, to keep improving their product.  Check it out!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Google Tours

I recently discovered a great new way to use Google Earth in the classroom....Google Tours!  A Google Tour is a series or collection of placemarks streamed together like a tour and saved as a file.  You can create tours on a variety of topics and places.  My students are currently planning a dream vacation anywhere on Earth!  Their vacation must include 10 placemarks or "stops" that includes a short description, web link, and/or photo for each stop.  I am also excited to know that the newest version of Google Earth also allows for audio narration, so that music or voices can be added to the background.  This is something I plan on experimenting with in my 8th grade classes.

Google Tours can be integrated into a variety of content areas as well.  Students could create Google Tours on the setting of a particular book in a Language Arts class or traking battles of a war in a Social Studies class.  Below are some websites that I have found particularily useful when getting started with Google Tours.  I hope this inspires you to check it out for yourself! 

My website Google Tours page
Creating Google Tours
Adding narration

'Til next time!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Write On!!!

I have to share a fabulous resource for writing!  It was featured on the ilearntechnology blog a few weeks ago, but was first tweeted by @johntspencer.  This website http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/ is a tumblr webpage where students can go daily for new, quick picture writing prompts.  The pictures and topics are geared for middle school grades, however, some could be adapted for upper elementary grades as well.

                                           (example writing prompt)

I love the fact that students can quickly go to the website, (either using 1-1 computing or by having the teacher display the site on a projector or IWB) find their creative writing inspiration, and write away!  If students have 1-1 computers, why not have the students blog their responses instead?!?  If students do not have a blog account a simple writing notebook would suffice.  The pictures and topics are really wonderful and can inspire the most reluctant of writers in your classrooms.  I hope you find this website as inspiring as I did!!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Geek Speak: Let the kids teach!

Is it really already October?!?  I was amazed to see this on my calendar this morning.  The first few months of school always seem to fly by.

Recently, I had to create a student achievement goal for this school year that is linked to my performance pay for the year.  Because so many of the ed tech state standards are performance based and hard to measure with quick assessments, my asst. principal and I thought it would be best to stick with something easier to assess (at least for my first year as a tech teacher).  So it ends up that my student achievement goal is linked to my 6th graders knowing various content technology vocabulary.  After choosing various words, I knew that there would be certain words on my list that would not be covered teaching my project-based units.  I had to come up with an idea to cover them all.  Then after doing a little searching and some help from Ask A Tech Teacher, my "Geek Speak" project/vocab. wall was born!

What is "Geek Speak?"  Geek Speak is just a funny coined phrase you can use instead of "technology vocabulary."  Something that middle schoolers might buy into more as well.  I chose a bunch of technology vocabulary that would act as my "geek speak" words and posted them on one of my walls in my tech lab (see image above).  (I currently just finished hanging this up.)  Next, I am going to have each student in all of my classes choose a word from the wall.  They will then have to come up with a 2-3 minute presentation on their chosen word.  You can set different parameters for their presentation, like have them try a new Web 2.0 tool to present, have them create a visual representation of the word, use powerpoint/prezi, etc.  How you want them to present is really up to you!  After each student presents (I plan on having 2-3 students present at the beginning of class each day) have the class record the word and definition in a log (either online or paper/pencil) to keep track of vocab. meanings.  All words will be covered by the end of presentations and students will have more ownership of their learning!  I am really excited to try this out...AND of course let you know how it goes.:-)

Until next time....