Thing 5: Digital Storytelling and Presentation Tools

This has been a fun week for Cool Tools For School. It was good to see many familiar Web 2.0 tools. Prezi for student lectures, Animoto for events at schools, Voki on the library’s website and Storify for tweets from conferences.

HaikuDeck was one tool that sparked my interest. I have heard of this tool before, but never used it. After looking at the site and watching the how-to videos, I want to try this tool for my next professional presentation instead of Prezi or Google Presenter.

I’ve wanted to make a digital-safety presentation with the Tech Club, and I like the way HaikuDeck presents itself. It appears user-friendly, and has a simplistic and innovative look.

At school, we have tried a few of the items on the list. We have used Animoto to highlight events that happen at the library. We have used Voki for student introductions. We have used Prezi to showcase research projects. I would like to use Voki or VoiceThread more.

This year, students have learned that research and citations are important, but how the information is presented matters, too. We only have one chance to impress with a presentation, and it’s vital students have the tools necessary to showcase research or projects with innovation, creativity and imagination. Tools like these on Thing 5 make a topic exciting; it invites listeners and helps visual learners.

This week at Granby, second-graders participated in two videoconferences with classes from different schools. One school was located in Central New York, and another located in New Jersey. We read The Mitten by Jan Brett, made mitten crafts, research animals using PebbleGo and videoconferenced our info/projects with the schools. During the events, we took pictures to upload into an Animoto.

Thing 4: RSS, Personal Home Pages and Feed Readers

I first heard of RSS during a contemporary issues journalism class in undergrad at Brockport. Most of my classmates did not use this tool, but we started to collaborate as how RSS feeders could be beneficial from a journalistic side. We could add RSS feeders for our student newspaper’s webpage, but would students use the tool? I knew of RSS feeders, but did not use them often then.

From 2005-2009 (my undergrad career), mobile-device usage was not too popular for social networks. Sure, students had laptops and old-fashioned flip phones in 2005. Eventually, social-media usage became more popular, as well as the usage of tablets and smartphones.

When I first read the post for Thing 4, I was a bit skeptical about using another social tool when I have accounts for so many others. But after completing the activities for this week’s lesson, I have realized the advantages of an RSS feed.

I am an avid Twitter user. I started to click links I found interesting on tweets. Once on that website, I subscribed to the RSS feed. I completed this step for more sites and blogs I follow. 

It has proved to save time searching through Twitter and clicking links from my favorites on Chrome. Instead of sifting through hundreds of tweets or links, I go to my RSS feed to discover if there is any new content or interesting updated links.

I do not see myself using RSS feeds as a personal tool, but rather a professional tool. I plan to add an RSS feed to my school library’s blog for parents, the community and students to use to learn about updates and events, as well as my professional site for new blog posts. I also noticed that I used the RSS feed more with my iPhone and iPad, rather than my library’s computer.

Don’t Undererstimate Anything; You Might Be Surprised

This first year as a teacher-librarian has been trial-and-error. Some lessons work; some lessons don’t. Each class has a different vibe, a different personality. What work for one class might not work for another. Those are excellent lessons to learn as a novice educator. Yet, there has been one big lesson I have learned: Do not underestimate the students. They are capable of more than I know.

It was challenging the first few months last year. I did not know what my students knew and what they did not. I was a bit nervous to try many new things with them, especially with technology. Boy, was I wrong. A lot of it was a big leap of faith, and a lot was the actual students wanting for more tech-related items.

Almost sixth months later, I have a different outlook with my students. I have the courage to believe in them, the confidence to trust them. If we do not get something right the first time, we would try again or try a different method. They continue to amaze me with growth every day.

As adults, we do not like to make mistakes. But if you think about it, teachers are students, too. We learn new things; we try; we make mistakes; we learn; we achieve.

Now, my sixth-graders are making websites about their Ancient India research. Fourth-graders are blogging. My Kindergartners know how to log onto a computer and open Microsoft Word.

When I tell people they do these things, they had the same reaction I had back in August: “They can do that? How? I don’t know they even know they could do something like that?” I now say to these people: Believe in your kids; they can do so much if we only give them the opportunity and support.

Socrative as an Assessment Tool Part 2

We used Socrative during library special for the first time this past week. Using any new tool is a challenge. I wonder if the students will be engaged? Will they understand how to use it after directions are explained? Can our technology and servers handle the tool? Is this the best type of tech tool for this activity?

Socrative was used as part of a unit collaboration. Students will research and learn about Ancient India in the classroom, then make a website with key points. We will use Weebly for our website builder. But first, students needed to learn about web design.

I made a Prezi to go over best tips, storyboards and aesthetics of design. To make sure students understood the lesson from the Prezi, I made a Socrative assessment. A simple assessment of short answer and multiple choice. Students could answer at their own pace. When students completed the questions, Socrative pulled the data into a report. Immediately, I could see what questions students got right and what ones were wrong. This immediate data let me quickly reteach concepts that we’re not understood.

Here are the answers to my questions about Socrative from my last post:

–What browsers are most or least effective with Socrative? We tried two browsers. Internet Explorer was the worst and Google Chrome was the best.

–Will students understand the concept and how to use it (it has been user-friendly on the teacher side, but the student side is another ballgame)? Students easily logged on with simple directions. The site was user-friendly and flowed nicely from logging on to accessing the assessment.

–Will our network handle this technology? Yes and no. Using Internet Explorer, sites did not load. Using Google Chrome, everything was effective and efficient.

Socrative as an Assessment Tool For Library Special

I first heard of Socrative at a conference in November. Socrative is a smart, student-response system that allows students to answer questions using computers, tablets or mobile devices. After the students complete the questions, the teacher pulls reports to look at data. Our speaker had us use this for some open-ended and fun questions to demonstrate the tool. I was hooked, and I am going to use this tool as an assessment piece this week during library special.

With the new Common Core and evaluation system for our district, assessment is always around the corner. It has been a challenge to discover how to assess students for lessons in technology, information-literacy and digital skills. I only see my students 40 minutes per week, and 10 minutes of that time is book exchange. We need to fit in compartments of a lesson plus assessments to ensure key concepts are understood.

Instead of a paper test, I’m hoping this method will engage my students. They love to use computers, and it’s like a game. I can pull the live results on my Whiteboard, and students can chart progress and what questions have been answered. Plus, Socrative seems like an efficient, effective tool that will not require more time out of the schedule to use for assessments. It looks like it could even save time-I hope. 

So far, Socrative has been intuitive and admin-friendly on the teacher side to create assessments. It looks that way on the student side with test runs. No usernames or passwords, except a room code are required. The sign-on is simple on the student side.

There are a few more questions I have about this tool:

  • What browsers are most or least effective with Socrative?
  • Will students understand the concept and how to use it (it has been user-friendly on the teacher side, but the student side is another ballgame)?
  • Can our network handle this technology? Our network can be slow or responsive

More to follow next week after we have used this tool. Fingers-crossed!