Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Podcasting: Resource for the Classroom

In this day and age, podcasting can be an important tool to use in the classroom. Students can create their own and even listen to podcasts relevant to what they are learning in school. While I was browsing Podcast Pickle, I came across a Podcaster named "The Drug Guy." This name itself made me click to see what types of podcasts he made. The main emphasis of his podcasts was information on drugs that teens should know. A podcast that I found interesting and thought could be used in the classroom was titled "Energy Drinks - What Are the Risks?"

"Energy Drinks - What Are the Risks?" could be used in a high school drug and health class or a science class. This podcast simply outlines how energy drinks are not only unhealthy due to their sugar content and how they often dehydrate rather than rehydrate, but it also goes into further details on how it contains the drug caffeine, and the effects this drug has on the body.

There are a variety of ways to use this podcast in the classroom. One way I would use it would be to help students to realize that caffeine actually is a drug. From this podcast, students could learn just what caffeine can do and how energy drinks contain this drug, which can be very harmful. A follow-up activity for a science class would be to present students with a variety of brands of energy drinks. They would then be given the task to analyze the ingredients (how much sugar, how much caffeine) of each brand of energy drink. Students would then have to draw conclusions on which energy drink was the most harmful (had the most sugar/caffeine) and which energy drink was the least harmful (has the least amount of sugar/caffeine). This podcast and lesson activity would serve not only to inform, but also would engage students as many high school students drink these beverages. To further integrate technology and podcasting, students could then create their own podcasts of their results and post them online.

To view the "Energy Drinks - What Are the Risks?" Podcast, click below:

To view more podcasts by "The Drug Guy," view the link below:

To view and browse additional podcasts, visit Podcast Pickle:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Global Collaboration Projects Using Internet Tools in the Classroom

As discussed in the pervious blog, global collaboration is a wonderful way to integrate technology in the classroom as well as help students work with other students from around the world. Through doing this, students can learn to work with students from other cultures and countries as well as learn about the differences and similiarities they share. One way to enhance global collaboration is to do so through a project and even through integrating one of the many tools that they internet now has to offer.

One project that I feel would be valuable in a regular education classroom in the United States would be to communicate with a classroom in another country, such as in China. A valuable project would be to learn the Chinese language or at least some common phrases. This could be done through connecting with a classroom in China (possibly older as high school students in China do speak English) on Epals and through using the Internet tools of Skype and WiziQ.

The Set up: After finding a classroom to connect with, the teacher could have students view an introductory lesson on the Chinese language on WiziQ, which is an education forum with tutorials and classes on a variety of subject matters. Students could learn the basics and then connect with their penpal from China via Skype. This internet tool can allow for a video conference so that the Chinese students can teach the classroom new words and help the students in the US classroom practice whatever they learned. Such a collaboration project can be temporary or even go on for the entire school year.

Overall, I think this would be a vauble project to implement in the classroom. Not only would it teach a second language to the students, but it would also increase exposure to another culture, to the internet, and to various internet tools that students may not have explored before.

To explore the websites/tools mentioned above, visit the links below.




Global Collaboration

Global Cooperation is a great way to integrate technology in the classroom as well as expose students to different cultures and ways of life. While viewing different Global Collaboration sites, I came across two that I looked at more indepth. These were Center for Innovation in Science and Engineering Education and Epals. While these sites were created on the basis of collaboration worldwide, they have many similiarities and differences.

  • Both include projects that classes from around the world can join.
  • Outside resources are included for teachers.
  • Projects can be alligned with curriculum as standards are listed for all of them.
  • Collaboration can occur across a variety of grades and ages.


Center for Innovation in Science and Engineering Education

  • Collaboration strictly through projects listed on the site's webpage.
  • Projects are designed only by the authors of the webpage.
  • Projects are based on science and engineering only.
  • Detailed teacher resources are included.
  • Navigation is limited to only a few specific main links on the webpage.


  • Collaboration can be through projects or can be found via country (such as a penpal system).
  • Projects on the webpage are both created by the authors as well as through various teachers and their classrooms.
  • Projects encompass a variety of subject matter.
  • Resources are provided not only for the teacher, but also for students and parents to explain the collaboration project.
  • Student work can be uploaded.
  • A variety of links for navigation throughout the site.

Both of these collaboration websites can easily be implemented in the classroom. The Center for Innovation in Science and Engineering Education could be used in a science classroom (K-12 and even higher education) to work on a long-term science project. This can be used to further emphasize the principles of science such as examining, hypothesizing, sharing/analyzing data, and drawing conclusions. Having other students from around the world to share with can further enhance this online project. Epals could be used for something as simple as a penpal experiement. The teacher and/or students can select an equivalent age group and country to communicate with online. Discussions with such "epals" could be structured, such as having students discuss a typical school day or forms of transportation, or could be unstructured as well. Overall, global collaboration in the classroom is a great way to use technology. In addition, it can help open the eyes of students to differing cultures, values, and beliefs.

To visit the Global Collaboration websites described above, visit the links below!

Center for Innovation in Science and Engineering Education


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Videos in the Classroom

Incorporating technology into the classroom is important, and using videos is one easy way that educators can do this. Through viewing various video sites such as You Tube, Teacher Tube, and Videojug, educators can select videos that they can learn from themselves and also find videos that they can present to their students.

While looking online at video sites, I came across science experiements on Videojug. One such science experiement was "How to Suck an Egg into a Bottle." This had a video that demonstrated the science experiement as well as written directions that outlined the materials needed and the steps to follow to implement this experiement effectively. Such an experiement could be performed in the elementary or special education classroom. If I were to use this video, I would show it to students and then have them perform the experiement themselves using the steps in the directions. There are also many other experiements listed, and these videos could be shown as well followed by the teacher having the students perform the experiement by themselves. The great thing is that most of the science experiements on Videojug are accompanied with directions, so a teacher can easily have students perform this experiement in the classroom!

Reasons Why to Love Being a Teacher!

While adding new blogs to my Bloglines account, I decided to read over the blog "So You Want to Teach?" As I scanned through this blog, I came upon a past blog entry that piqued my interest. It was entitled "50 Reasons to Love Your Job as a Teacher." This was a wonderful entry as it can be read by both the new teacher and the experienced teacher and provide inspiration.

Below are some of the reasons that I liked the most:

  • The ability to help children achieve their best
  • The thrill of a good and well thought out lesson is incomparable
  • I enjoy all of the funny stories that my job provides, my job is never ever boring
  • I get to work with books, which I love
  • I honestly and truly believe that teaching is what I was born to do; maybe God really does plan our lives and if we follow that plan we will be very happy with our lives
  • I get to explore stories and try new ideas and encourage others to do the same
  • I love sharing the excitement of a good book — when I introduce it and start talking about it with excitement, the students can’t wait for me to start reading; when it’s time to stop reading and begin our next lesson, they beg me to read “just a little more”
  • Watching the students grow year after year

Touching the lives of others is so rewarding, and teaching does just that!!

To view this blog article, click here:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Social Networking - Ning!

Social Networking opens up many doors to allow users to learn from others and share information in many different areas of interest. Today, I explored the Ning social networking system, signed up, and even joined a community forum. The group that I found to be of professional interest was the English Companion.

The English Companion is designed to help English Teachers and even has specific forums that teachers can join, such as teaching writing, new teachers, and journalism, to name a few. Because I have an invested interest in Creative Writing and hope to teach this subject one day, I joined the Creative Writing Forum. When I perused this social network, I found a teacher wanted to motivate her students to write by providing them with opportunities to become published. She was unsure of how to do this, and many members offered some great advice on sites and publishing grups/companies that she could use for her students. I thought this would be a great idea as students who are proud of their work would want to share it with others.

In the future, I could use the English Companion if I did have any questions regarding how to teach a certain component of the English Curriculum, how to motivate students, and even how to make a boring topic more interesting. With thousands of members and hundred belonging to each specific group, I will be sure to receive at least some help!

Visit Ning and explore a social network that might interest you:

-Or- Visit the English Companion and see how helpful it might be for you!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Learner of Today

A learner is like a social being that connects with others in order to gain knoweldge and insight.

Through his article "Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age" as well as through his online short videos, George Siemens describes the learner today in accordance with technology and networking. The analogy above encompasses the point that he tries to make throughout his article and videos with regards to how someone in this day and age learns. Learning, as he states in his article, "can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing." This, in a nutshell, means that while we learn on our own, branching out and networking by sharing ideas with others also helps us learn in many different ways.
In his video entitled, "The Changing Nature of Knowledge," Siemens describes how we gain knowledge through the use of technology. He illustrates this through saying that we learn both internally as well as externally. When we "make connections with others" our learning is external. The whole social element of learning and thus gaining knoweldge through staying current and connected is further emphasized in his remaining videos: "The Conflict of Learning Theories with Human Nature," "The Impact of Social Media on Learning," and "The Network is the Learning."
Social elements are important for learning, and Siemens firmly believes that we have a need to communicate with others to share our thoughts and to connect. Networking helps us to achieve this as well as helps us to learn from others through what Siemens calls the "distributive method." Not only does our need to communicate and learn from others result from networking, but when we share our thoughts, we may gain more of an understanding of our own ideas or even look at an idea in another light. Networking, Siemens feels, is the learning. As a learner, though, it is up to us to take the information we gain, add to it, revise it, and keep it current. Siemens states in his video "The Network is the Learning": "What we know today is not as important as our ability to stay current." This is an important concept as it is up to us as induviduals to gain knowledge as well as use the tools technology provides to us to apply the old to the new, and stay on top of new, important information.
Overall, when i say that a learner is like a social being that connects with others in order to gain knowledge and insight, I quite literally mean that learning is a social process. While many parts of learning do occur on a cognitive level, it is through others that we truly learn. By listening to what others think and in turn sharing our own opinions, we learn. Technology, through the networking process, helps us to keep our learning current in a very social way!

To read George Siemens' article "Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age," follow this link - http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

His videos can also be found below:
The Changing Nature of Knowledge

The Conflict of Learning Theories with Human Nature
The Impact of Social Media on Learning
The Network is the Learning

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Top Three Ways to Use Blogs in the Classroom

There are many great ways to use blogs in the classroom for students of all ages. Not only does a blog increase a student's access to the internet and current technology, but it also has the ability to increase both communication and learning. Of the many ways to incorporate the blog into the classroom, below are three ways I feel would be effective ways to do so.

1. Basic Communication With Students and Parents: Being able to communicate with both students and parents is an important responsibility of the teacher. Through creating a blog that reaches out to both audiences at once, the teacher has made the first step in accomplishing this goal. A blog with the intent in communication would be something as basic as providing a brief entry each day reviewing with both students and parents the content that was reviewed and anything special that might have happened that day. This would allow for the parents to see what was going on in the classroom and would also allow the students to ask any questions about the material covered as well as post comments on what they liked or even didn't like about the material. Homework, upcoming tests, and other important information could also be posted. This way students would have a nice review, and parents would be kept in the loop!

2. Interactive Student Portfolios: In many classes, students are expected to collect pieces of work and compile such pieces into a comprehensive portfolio which shows their ongoing growth and achievement. Through the use of blogs, students could post all of their assignments online for the teacher to observe as well as for other students to read and comment on. For example, in a Language Arts class, students could post their best poems and short stories on their blog for other students in the class to see. The students, as well as the teacher, could then offer suggestions, make positive comments, and ask questions about the works. The student author of the blog would then respond to the students and teacher by making changes to the work and posting it again. This would allow the student as well as the teacher to view the effort and progression of each piece of work.

3. Additional Help: Many students may not understand a concept but are simply too shy or unsure of how to ask for help. A teacher could create a blog that would provide additional help and activities to ensure that students truly understand concepts from class. Such a blog could include a review of material, vocabulary words with definitions, tricks/nemonic devices to remember material, or quizzes. The teacher could also provide links to web sites that may explain the material differently or in simplier terms, provide a game or activity to test the student's knowledge, or even provide some sort of visual for the student, such as a youtube video explaining the doppler effect. In additional, students could post questions or even answer each other's questions, thus encouraging not only additional help but communication from teacher to student and from student to student.