Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Aghh, the Iphone (sigh). I love this product!! I just received my phone yesterday and I think it is wonderful. I haven’t had much chance to play with it yet, but I am already hooked.

This list could be endless!! It has an application for almost anything you would want!! The phone has so many functions. My favorite so far are: Itunes, Maps (which I haven’t used yet, but I know I will this summer on road trips) and synch to MobileMe. I love that it synchs to my mac computer. This will be so beneficial for school and keeping up on all my work.

It doesn’t come with a book or instruction guide. I could not figure out how to get my SIM card into the phone. I had to go online and watch a video tutorial on the proper way to eject the SIM card holder. Secondly, it is a little pricey to have a monthly media plan. Other than that I have no other complaints at this point.

Answers to the disadvantages:
The media plan is pricey, but it helps you avoid a huge bill. The IPhone constantly updates, so monthly bills would be huge without the media plan. Instruction guides are available online to view at apple and there are many tutorials available. Many times I view information about my phone online over the use of my paper copy, so that idea works for me.

Art Education Application:
I downloaded a very interesting application last night. The application includes many famous artists, information about those artists, and a quiz over the information. This could come in handy as I am an art teacher. You never know when you might need some extra information or an idea.

Conclusion: I would recommend the Iphone to anyone who has a mac computer and wants to stay connected, no matter where you are at. (I am sure there are advantages for PC users as well- anyone have any comments on PC users?)

P.S. I am having trouble uploading my ical- my email works fine for my mobile me any ideas anyone?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Online School for High School Students

The YouTube video: National Education Report provides interesting information about a new way to use technology for the classroom. In the program, outlined in the above YouTube video, students have online classes,much like college. Students and parents do have the option to go to school 1-2 days a week to meet with teachers in person. As, outlined in the video this type of learning is ideal for students with unordinary schedules or life styles such as singers, athletes, etc.

Student involvement
Students are completely engaged and involved in their learning-they have to be or they do not learn the material. I love this concept of putting the learning back into the students' hands. It makes them responsible for their own learning and places a higher value on their education. When students actually learn the information by doing or being involved it means more and they retain the information.
Parent Involvement
Parents can follow students progress on the internet, and by meeting with the teachers in person on their office days. Parents are a huge part of this program. Parents must motivate, encourage and teach students time management. I also love the involvement of parents in this program. Many times at the public school level parents are not involved in their student's learning and this program is focused on the parent and school as partners. A problem that would arise here is if the parents are not fully committed the students could easily become behind.
Teacher involvement
First, the teacher actually gets to teach in this program. Discipline and other classroom management issues are not a problem with this program, so teachers can focus on teaching and helping their students. Sometimes I know I get bogged down with the paperwork and discipline issues related to education, so this program really interests me!! I am sure there are downsides as well, but another fact of this program is that the teachers work from home 80% of the time, and that is really appealing, especially for raising children.
All in all this program has many positive factors that seem to outweigh the negative ones.

National education report. (2009, April 21). Video posted to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmfKzgaMZGw

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Easy Photo Editing for Non-editors
Picasa is an easy to use free program that can be downloaded from the internet. The program allows the user to alter photos in basic ways. Options include:
Color photos can be changed to sepia or black and white
Tint can be applied to the photo with various colors
Photos can also be adjusted to have clear areas and fuzzy areas as well as blackened edges
Photo saturation can be changed
Photos can be cropped
Red eye can be fixed
Text can be added
Photo can be sharpened

I have my students use this site at school. It is a really easy way to allow them to use the computer to alter photos. It takes less knowledge than PhotoShop to use, but also has many limitations. Items can only be altered to a certain extent, but works for computers that do not have PhotoShop available. This program is one touch altering, but you can only alter photos from a chosen list of options.

*Note: Brandi Martin mentioned in Wimba class today that there is Photoshop program that works with Picasa- I would be really interested to see what other options this gives the editor.

Martin, B. (2009, April 21). [Wimba Session discussion]: http://fullsail.wimba.com/

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Motivating Students

As the end of school approaches, it becomes extremely important to motivate yourself and your students. Especially after MAP Testing it seems that many students check out for the year, yet we still have four weeks of school to go. How do we motivate our students to continue learning right through to the very last day of school?
The above YouTube video titled Just for Teachers: Motivating Your Students Through a Supportive Environment houses five ways to motivate yourself and students.
First, be excited about your material and your area!!! When you are excited it rubs off on the students. They will not always love the content or assignments, but many times they can get on board when the teacher is excited. Secondly, teachers must always be respectful. We expect students to respect us, so we must expect the same thing of ourselves. Next, effective teachers use humor. Now, I agree with this to a certain extent, humor can be a teaching tool in many classrooms, but I also feel some classrooms can not handle humor. I believe the teacher must evaluate each class and decide whether or not to use humor as a motivator. Clear expectations are another must have in the classroom. Students do not respond well to unclear expectations. Students will become defensive about grades and behavior issues if the teacher does not have clear expectations. I learned this the hard way my first year of teaching. A teacher must explain clearly what is expected and stick to those expectations throughout the year. I now use rubrics that specifically line out the expectations of each assignment. This has cut down on much defensiveness from students and parents. Finally, teachers should focus on learning, not just grades and teaching to tests. If students develop the love of learning (not love of getting A's- this doesn't hurt either) early they will most likely carry that with them as they enter what I like to call the "real world." If students just learned the information to get by, most likely this is a pattern they will keep as well. Don't we want our students to succeed in life? So, we need to instill our passion for learning in them.
I also have a few pointers for motivation as the school year nears its end.
1. Allow for time off. It is ok to take a day off here an there to give the students and yourself a break. Add in a fun activity that goes with the lesson. I usually allow the students to play pictionary as a group, because I teach art.
2. Ignore Complainers. Complainers bring other down with them. Be upbeat yourself and voice your enthusiasm, and most likely the complainers (whether students or other teachers) will find someone else to complain to.
3. Keep your area nice and tidy. Ok- this may be just for me, but I feel better about my work and myself when me work area is clean. Do some spring cleaning. Get rid of things that are just taking up space and gathering dust literally. You would be surprised what this can do for your spirit.

Dubguy1988. (2008, December 5). Just for Teachers: Motivating Your Students Through a Supportive Environment. Video retrieved from the YouTube website: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1R0HTbeUIg

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cartoon Creator

A site that I have recently found, allows students to create electronic comics that can be printed out. The first step is to type a name and author for the cartoon. Next, the creator chooses 1-6 comic boxes. To start creating the comic a background is chosen from a list of eight backgrounds, which range from blank backgrounds to cityscapes. Next, a character must be chosen from the list of seventeen characters. Humans and animals are included in the character list. Next, captions can be added in two ways. First, there is a caption tab that can be typed in, and it will appear under the comic when printed. Secondly, there are caption bubbles that can be added so it seems your characters are speaking. There are some pre-typed captions available as well. Props can also be added to the cartoons. There are many to choose from, but some of my favorites include: trees, castles and clouds.

This site does have some limitations. First, the characters are limited. Initially, I wanted my students to create the same cartoons that they drew on a comic strip earlier in the week, but that was not possible with the character limitations. Secondly, the cartoons print small on the paper, so there is not mush room for captions. Too much writing would not be readable. Next, the cartoons only print in black and white ( I had my students color theirs after they printed them). Finally, the cartoons can not be saved. They must be printed or the creator has the option to start over, so time management is important here.

I would recommend this site to use within the classroom!!!


Cartoon Creator Website:http://www.readwritethink.org/MATERIALS/COMIC/

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Classroom Management isn't what it used to be.

What can technology do for your classroom management?


Technology can help you get organized. Technology can be used to help in planning lessons, keeping grades, creating inventory lists, and creating rubrics. Being organized is a must for a teacher. When we are disorganized our students are also disorganized. We must model what we want our students to be and do in our classrooms.


Seven Simple Secrets states that one key to an effective teacher is planning and over planning (Breaux, p. 2, 2006). A variety of software can be used to create lesson plans. The internet can also be used to search for lesson ideas. Computers can also be used for enrichment. It is sometimes hard to create enrichment for specific projects, the internet can help solve this problem. Generic research questions can be created in a worksheet format and could be used for any topic area.


Technology can also be useful for discipline. Primarily technology can be used to take a proactive approach to discipline. The proactive approach is the first step of discipline as stated in the book Seven Simple Secrets (Breaux, p. 36, 2006). Secondly, technology can be used to create lists or posters of the rules and procedures that should be in place in every teachers’classroom. Maybe this process could be a class activity. Each student could be given a specific topic and come up with the procedures that he or she feels need to be in place for the topic area. They could be printed out and discussed by the group before the final copy was approved for printing. Lastly, there are many different software packages available that are used to track discipline. Usually, the teacher enters the discipline in the computer and the principal is able to view the discipline and take further action if necessary.

What problems arise due to technology and how do we fix them?

There are a few new problems that arise with the use of technology. First, there is a large amount of inappropriate material on the internet. The answer to this is supervision. Filters usually do their job, but students are smart and can maneuver around them, so this leaves supervision. Teachers must walk around the classroom and check on what the students are doing at all times. A second problem comes in the form of electronic devices that can transfer information, these devices can be used by the students to cheat on tests. The answer to this issue is the same as the first issue, supervision. One option is to have students place all bags and purses at the front or back of the room on testing days. The final problem is time. The use of technology can mean more planning time, especially for new teachers. Now, the answer to this problem is to keep on planning. The next time you teach the lesson or skill it will be easier, and less planning will be needed. The answers to the problems that come up with technology can usually be answered by the same methods used for problems within the classroom without technology.

Breaux, A., Whitaker, T. (2006). Seven simple secrets: What the best teachers know and do. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Social Communities

A social community is a site where people can connect with others. Many times social networks have a theme where people with similar ideas can connect and share. I have worked with two social communities throughout my master's program with Full Sail University.
The first social community I have experienced is Facebook. Now, I did have a Facebook page before the start of my master's program, but I have been more active on the network due to my classes. Facebook began as a site for college students. When I first signed up for Facebook a person had to to have a college or university email address. In three short years, Facebook has changed tremendously. Now, any person with an email account can create their own Facebook site. I have thought long and hard about whether it is a good or bad thing that there are no longer restrictions on who can join Facebook. My conclusion is that the lax restrictions are both a good thing and a bad thing. First, I like that now many of my family members, younger and older, are on Facebook. Sometimes this is the only way I communicate with my very busy sister. On the other hand, recently I have discovered it can be a bad thing as well. I had one of my students try to add me on Facebook to her friend list. Now some people might not think this is a bad thing, but I try to keep my personal and professional life separate and I felt it was not appropriate for a junior high student to ask me to be her friend on Facebook. Furthermore, in a staff meeting our principal and superintendent stressed how important it was for us to not have these types of sites, because some teachers were having lawsuits brought against them due to students changing information on their sites and taking their photos off of Facebook and altering them to show precarious situations.
The second social community I have experienced is Ning. When using Ning, the creator chooses everything from the layout to what videos and photos will be posted. The Ning site can be customized from the original layout chosen. Ning members can join in one of two ways. First, members can be invited by other members or the creator of the community. Secondly, they can sign up for the site. When invited, each member created his or her own page that cannot be changed by other members. Videos and photos can be uploaded to the group page or the individual's page. Discussion Forums can be added or posted to by any group member. There is also an event tab where events can be announced. The Ning Community members also have the ability to add links to Google-docs and weblogs. The possibilities are amazing.

Comparing Facebook and Ning
There are advantages and disadvantages to both social communities, personal preferences play a big role in determining which site is best. Facebook offers an easier way of connection as compared to Ning. There are thousands, maybe even millions, of people on Facebook. It is easy to find people that you have lost contact with, by just simple typing in their name. Ning does not offer this feature. Ning's searches are more geared toward content, not people.
Nest, there are many more choices for the creator on Ning as compared to Facebook. Ning has many different layout options and each layout can be customized with new colors and pictures. Facebook does not offer any choice on the layout or colors of your page. Both sites offer applications that can de added to your page. Facebook allows friends to send invites to new applications, which can sometimes cover your how page with invites. Ning does not have invites like Facebook. Finally, both sites offer group pages. Facebook has group links on individual pages and Ning has an individual page for each group you have joined that matches the layout of the group. Both sites are useful in different ways.