Reflections from the Week

This has been an amazing week! There are many, many ideas to take back and implement. First, the SAMR model will be the basis for my plans and my goal is to work with the teachers to encourage them to focus on learning as the goal with technology as the tool – not to use technology only because it’s “cool.”

What I would like to focus on in the coming year would be digital storytelling. I’ve used PhotoStory 3 in the lab but there are so many uses that would be beneficial to students in the classroom. However, when we move to Windows 7, PhotoStory won’t work.  I plan to do more using VoiceThread. What I like about VT is the collaborative nature. Last year we focused on just creating a VT but we didn’t really discuss appropriate comments. This is the year to take it a step further and have the students work collaboratively.

Podcasting is another tool that I want to learn more about. I can see numerous uses in grades K-4.

We were also given suggestions for iPad apps along with ideas on using a single iPad in the classroom. I can’t wait to get my hands on an iPad when we return.

A huge thanks to Leah for the wonderful ideas, for working us hard, and giving us the opportunities to explore and create. Having this conference at ASL has been awesome! Everyone has been wonderful; we have been well-fed too!! As an alum, I found it exciting to return to attend the Learning Institute.

Reflections on Digital Storytelling

We’ve been discussing digital storytelling and it is a fabulous method to use in the class. There are SO many uses across the curriculum. I worked in PowerPoint to create Rules for the Computer Lab. The hardest part was searching for and deciding which pictures to use. I was trying to take a shortcut, though. I had a rough idea of what to say but didn’t write the script; instead I spent too much time looking for pictures. This is what some of the students do so I can now say that there truly is a reason for following steps in order to create a digital story. When I create a digital story, I tend to use PhotoStory 3 or VoiceThread. This time I chose VT but unfortunately, I was unable to record my story because I wasn’t able to get the mic on my computer to work.

My goal is to help our lower school teachers find effective ways to incorporate digital storytelling into their curriculum. Just thinking off the top of my head, here are some ideas that teachers are already doing that could be transformed digitally:

  • Did You Know facts
  • Book Reviews/Reports
  • Biographies
  • Self-portraits using I Am poems or bio-poems
  • Junior Great book reflections
  • Teachers can create short presentations to introduce content to students.

VoiceThread is excellent for collaboration as others can leave feedback through comments (by voice or type). Students are sharing with a real audience. This is also a good way to share with parents so that they can get a snapshot of what is happening in the classroom.

Surviving and Thriving

We are attending a fabulous course, called Surviving and Thriving, taught by Leah Treesh at the American School in London’s Learning Institute. The course is designed to guide us in incorporating technology into our curriculum with the premise of: Technology is the Tool and Learning is the Goal.

Leah gave us a wonderful resource called the SAMR Model. There are 4 levels to the model (with the top one being the ultimate goal for integrating technology). This  gives a good description of each level and why we want to move toward redefinition.

  • Redefinition
  • Modification
  • Augmentation
  • Substitution

Here are a couple of links to blogs that discuss the SAMR model:


Scratch, developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, is a programming language created for children ages 8 and up. After working with 4th graders for the past few weeks, I’ve decided that children’s brains are much more capable of learning Scratch than mine is! However, after watching the collaboration and problem-solving that occurs when students use this program, I know Scratch is worth teaching. So, I have to try to stay a step ahead. Look on the Web 2.0 page to find links to some very helpful Scratch sites.

Here are some photos taken at the MIT Media Lab when I attended an Introduction to Scratch workshop last July.                                                                  

Lego Scratch Cat

Mitch ResnickLifelong Kindergarten Group

Awesome 2nd Graders

I was so proud of my 2nd graders today in the computer lab!! The students have started working on a Heritage Project that they create for Grandparents’ Day. The families collect photos of grandparents, great grandparents, etc. and these are uploaded into PhotoStory 3. Students record their narration then it’s made into a windows media video. Today, the kids created their title and closing slides in PowerPoint. Normally I save the slides as JPEGs so they can be uploaded to PhotoStory but I decided to let the students do this today. Every single child was able to do the saving as JPEGs!! I told them that many adults haven’t ever done that. They were thrilled with themselves! This lets me know that, even though something might be hard, it’s worth letting the kids give it a try.

Welcome to the Web

One of the best sites I’ve found for helping students learn their way around the web is the Welcome to the Web webquest. Mark Warner, a primary teacher in Kent, U.K. created the webquest to help students explore the following areas:

  • Getting Started Online
  • Staying Safe
  • Using Your Browser
  • Searching Online
  • Trying Top Tricks

As students work through each section, they answer questions that help them understand various aspects of the world wide web. Secret codes are gathered to be used in the Challenge, where students problem-solve to determine who is trying to unleash a computer virus.

This is the third year that I’ve used this with 4th graders and they love it! Students have asked to stay in from recess so that they can work on the webquest!

Mark Warner also maintains a site called Teaching Ideas. It contains a wealth of information!