Friday, April 23, 2010

Flat Stanley Does Haiti Relief

Flat Stanley Does Haiti Relief is an inspirational video by Carol Claypool that she made after her last trip to Haiti. Carol, who is a first grade teacher at my school, created this video so that her students could gain a better understanding of the needs and lives of the Haitians she has come to love. From watching the video her students also see pictures of the actual families their teacher and friends are helping. All of our K-5 students now see where the school's donations go and more importantly, how desperately help is still needed.

This six (6) minute video is ready to translate into other languages on dotSUB. dotSUB is a web based system used to upload and view videos, create subtitles, translate into other languages and share on websites. It is easy to translate the subtitles from the video transcriptions.

Flat Stanley Does Haiti Relief - now on dotSUB is ready to share, view, translate and even embed on your site. Please consider translating the subtitles and forwarding this request so that more students, educators and parents can see for themselves too.

For those unfamiliar with Flat Stanley, here is a synopsis of Flat Stanley's original story and projects at Dale Hubert's The Official Flat Stanley Project .

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Igniting Student Creativity Through Digital Storytelling

Check out this SlideShare Presentation. You will recognize some of your favorite tools and learn about new ones.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The BEST Reason to Skype

Today I told my favorite teacher about using Skype in our classroom. Since she has been out of the classroom for many years, she was really astonished that our computers are used to talk to someone outside of our building - especially for the reason I was telling her. Everyone needs to be doing this - she insisted - you need to tell them. Although I know of others who indeed do, I promised that I would give it a try.

We have many classroom conversations on the web using Skype. In the past years my technology classes have had many good reasons to hold conversations on the web: Native American studies, water conservation, weather, goals for the future, insects, our state, other states, another country, our schools, field trips, animals, poems, and a variety of books. With kindergarten through fifth grades we have had many ideas to share, and plenty of questions to ask.

This year is different. We have a goal of connecting all of our classes through technology. To integrate technology such as web conferences, videos, podcasting, wikis and blogs - I have busied myself with finding contacts, comparing topics, researching standards, adjusting plans, and scheduling conversations with other educators. But this year is different.

It started being different last month. A fellow teacher came to me with a request from a parent. They wanted to know if we could use Skype to keep one of our students connected to school. The family had set up Skype at home for their child. This precious student will be at home much of this year. He will be in the hospital too. With cancer treatments some days are better than others. For now he cannot physically come to school. But this year is different - he can come to school virtually - thanks to a little bit of technology and encouraging classmates.

We immediately set up the best reason for Skype for his classroom teacher. A few students in our school use Skype at home and others have been in our Technology class video conference sessions. This was our first time to use video conferencing with a classmate who is at home. Everyone was excited.

During his first classroom session, our virtual student learned from his classmates and with his classmates. New and old friends warmly greeted him and then two students gave him a tour of the classroom. They explained the routines of the day and described the special learning areas in the room. Others showed close-up environment models on camera for all to learn about a new social studies project. With his supportive mother by his side, our virtual student shared his time and his smiles with us.

When it was over, we all agreed it was a success and made plans for more. His guidance counselor and I are also ready for more sessions so he can join our class times, and learn with more of his friends. Our virtual student has the option of joining us by video and/or audio. He can turn his camera and sound on and off as needed. Although it was fun for the star of the day, his image can also be on a computer monitor in our room instead of the huge SMARTBoard display.

We are always learning more about teaching with technology. 1) Take turns. Since schools need to be concerned about bandwidth, we all understand that we must keep informed about each other's web conferences. 2) Be nice. Talk with all of the stakeholders about safety, privacy, and etiquette on and off of the web. 3) Be flexible - you may be pleasantly surprised. Sometimes the best laid plans must change, so plan for change. We also found out that our document camera and sound system work very well as a webcam (surprise!). 4) Be clear. Video conferences help us all practice better communication skills.

Students and teachers are still learning together...wherever they are.

PS: Here's to our first favorite teachers - our moms.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Google Voice

Google keeps the new tools coming. Since one of my New Year's goals is to try more of them, I waited patiently for my Google Voice invitation and number. Thanks to good friends, I am learning more about the benefits of Google Voice. Start here if Google Voice is totally new to you.

Many setting options allow you to tailor it to your changing needs. For your incoming calls you can screen calls and/or listen in to the message. From your computer you can text message, connect other numbers to your chosen phone, personalize greetings, forward phones, share voicemail, and much more. Google offers many ways to learn how you can benefit from its features.

I have sent my Google Voice number to friends to try out what they offer. One feature that has my curiosity is the voicemail transcript. Callers leave a voicemail, and Google attempts to transcribe it. Fortunately, the audio recording is there too. When you listen to the recording, the transcript follows it word for word by underlining the words as it goes. Pretty neat. Great for ESL (English as Second Language) and many others. With so many dialects to decipher, I imagine (hope) that the more calls I receive, the better it will work.

Feel free to help me try out features. Today I found a call widget to embed in your website. Find it at the top of this message and leave a voicemail for me if you are are interested in collaborating on a project with any of my K-5 Technology classes. I'll probably leave the widget here for a while and see how it goes.

Oh! I just discovered another surprise feature. If - okay when- you misplace your cellphone, you can call your own phone from your computer and listen for the ring. Gotta love that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Free: Convert Your Presentations with SlideShare

Convert you PowerPoint presentation with SlideShare. Easily embed in your blog or wiki. Instantly post on Twitter and Facebook. You can edit your presentation at any time. Many other file types are accepted. Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

On the Road to the Windy City and the Oprah Show!

Mom's Choice Award winning author, Ginger Hodge, took her own mom on a road trip to the Windy City. They had two destinations in mind: the Valedictorian and the the Oprah Show. While I kept in touch with the author of When Donkeys Fly via Skype, others were old school cell phone communicators.
This trip is theirs to tell on here When Donkeys Fly to Oprah and take a peek here:
Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Windy City Trip
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox scrapbook

Our students love to keep up with where the donkey flies and what the donkey finds to do next. Elementary classes interested in projects about Ginger Hodge's book, When Donkeys Fly, see activities and contacts here . Contact us to collaborate with SURFFers (Students Ready for the Future).