Monday, July 25, 2011

Nook Color an Alternative to iPad in Schools?

I have been doing quite a bit of research on Nook Color and how it can be used in the classroom.  I see several advantages.  Here are the main things I like about it so far:

1. Low cost - Nooks cost about $250.  That is about half as much as iPad.  That means twice as many students can have daily access to one.
2. Nooks have a web browser with WiFi access.  And they have Flash.  This means that students can access all Web 2.0 tools including twitter, blogs, wiki's, survey monkey, google docs, email, web-based applications, and online textbooks.
3. And of course, you have the ability to download eBooks.  Barnes and Noble is a huge supplier of eBooks and they are sharable (or so I've read).  Nice easy way to do literature groups.
4. There is a limited app store available.  Not sure how applicable this would be to education.  I've seen a drawing app that looked very good.

So what do you give up?

1. Video and photo usage.  This could be a big thing... Unless you have access to separate digital cameras.
2. What else???

If you have a Nook Color or iPad and can add to this list on either the pro or con side, I'd love to hear about it.  Also if you know of any schools using the Nooks, let me know!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One-One Portable Device Possibility

The idea was posed to me today that Nooks could be a useful tool in upper elementary classrooms.  After doing some basic research tonight here is what I have come up with.

Pros:
Books have ebooks (through Barnes and Noble) and an internet browser with WiFi capability.  And they are way cheaper than iPads - by a lot!  There are some 100 apps available from their SHOP, some of those are categorized as learning,  but I am not convinced those will be really helpful to us.

Cons:
On the downside, there is not camera or video recording capability and I am a big fan of multimedia, podcasting, and screencasting.  I like the idea of getting iPads instead, but I know that not having Flash affects teachers who like to use glogster and prezi.

I've got a Xoom and an iPhone at home, so I'm familiar with the usage of both Apple and Android apps. I know that there are things I have on my iPhone that I want for my Xoom that just aren't available for my version of android and that is very frustrating.  I expect that same problem would occur with the Nook as well.

I am looking for your feedback, experiences, and thoughts about using Nooks, iPads, or other portable 1-1 devices, either for personal or educational use.  If you know of any classrooms that are currently using iPads, please let me know.

Thanks!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Global Read Aloud Project

I am privileged to be a part of the Global Read Aloud Project this year!  This project is created by Pernille Ripp, an amazing teacher I've been following on twitter for a couple of months.  I hope she doesn't mind me saying this, but she is an inspiration to people who have never met her!  This is her baby, and I am thrilled to be along for the ride.

For those who may be interested in joining, the GRA project really desires a GLOBAL audience.  Right now there are over 200 participants signed up but there is always room for more.  The idea is simple...  A read aloud book can connect children and schools together and give them a chance to reach beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Via Edmodo, Wikispaces, Blogs, and Skype, classrooms all over the world will be discussing two books.  One is Tuck Everlasting , the other is Flat Stanley.

In preparation for this event, I've already read the book, searched the Internet for resources, and joined in the planning process (well, I am just watching for the most part, but loving every minute of the dialogue!).  I am so excited for the school year to start and I'm only three weeks into summer break.  This feels like the biggest thing I've ever done, and I can't wait to take a group of kids on this adventure! It's hard not to be excited when there are 10 emails to read from the planning group when I get up each morning.  I am inspired by this project and hope that I will be able to connect with several classrooms during the course of this project.

When I first started teaching, this was my Educational Philosophy. I constructed it in my credential program.  I have always believed it but didn't quite know how to achieve it.  Thanks to the Internet, this project, and the amazing PLN I am building on twitter, I finally feel like I have all the tools to impact students like never before.  When you read this, you may understand why I am so taken with educational technology...

"It is my belief that the purpose of education is to develop and refine the skills necessary for children to grow up to be successful, productive, and affective adult members of a global society.  In addition to subject matter, students should learn logic and reasoning, critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills.  Students should be exposed to diverse multi-cultural and gender perspectives.  They should also have the opportunity to develop responsibility, self-regulation of behavior, and an awareness of the meaning of social justice, democracy, citizenship and integrity."


Thanks, Global Read Aloud Project!  



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back from SDE Conference

I just got back from the SDE Conference in Las Vegas and my head is swimming with all the new ideas!  I can't wait to get back to work this fall, incorporating all the things I have learned.  In order to share all the information with a wider audience (i.e. the rest of my school and the readers of this blog), I started a wiki.  I hope this collaborative project of notes and ideas compiled by myself and my colleagues will be a wonderful resource for those who could not attend.  It is a work in progress so it is incomplete right now, however I hope to add my notes from each of the classes I went to.

Feel free to check it out!  http://sdeconferencenotes2011.wikispaces.com/

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Getting Ready for SDE Conference 2011

Tomorrow I head off to Las Vegas for the SDE Power Up & Singapore Math Conference with several of my colleagues.  I am especially looking forward to attending the Power Up pre-conference on Monday.  This will be a great opportunity to get new ideas about how others are integrating technology into their classrooms and make some connections with other teachers from around the country who are like-minded and inspired by technology and teaching.  I hope that my colleagues will also be inspired and get some ideas of how they would like to use technology in their classrooms next year.

The conference is at the Venetian this year.  Last year it was at the Riviera.  That is one of the oldest hotels I have ever stayed at.  I've never seen a casino so empty at 2 AM as it was at the Riviera.  Although I expect I may play a little bit of blackjack - I don't mind contributing to what I call the "entertainment fee" in Vegas, I think we are also going to try to see the Blue Man Group.  I haven't seen them before, so that would be a great show!  Then of course there is the shopping, too. And the Singapore Math strategies are exciting too!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Web Tools for Language Arts Integration

This is a list composed during the USC Differentiated Curriculum training I went to presented on Integrating Technology into Language Arts by Julia Nyberg.  Some of these are favorites; others were new to me.  I believe all are free.

www.mindmeister.com - mind mapping software
www.eduglogster.com - create a poster with video, audio, and art.
www.voicethread.com - video sharing and collaboration
www.makebeliefscomix.com - drag a setting and characters into a comic strip that students can then narrate
www.wordle.net - creates word clouds using text you provide
www.readingrockets.org -  video archive interviews with some famous authors
www.teacher.scholastic.com/activities/swyar - reviews of books by students
www.speakaboos.com - read aloud books to students
www.storybird.com - students can create online books
www.polleverwhere.com - can create a simple online poll. Students can text their answer using mobile devices.

USC Differentiated Curriculum Training

I learned many new things as a result of attending the USC Differentiated Curriculum class.  First, I did not know there were actually GATE standards.  Well, there are!  Basically, they outline what opportunities gifted students need to have  (in several areas) to MEET and EXCEED the state standards.  The training I went to provided me with an understanding of how to differentiate by acceleration, depth, complexity, and novelty.  It was very inspiring!  Sandra Kaplan is amazing, too!  The overall positive message was that gifted learning is beneficial to all students - not just gifted. This article in UrbanEd magazine is a great overview of Sandra's work.  The two day seminar focused on strategies that can be used when designing curriculum.

Some key points from my lecture notes:

Critical Thinking Skills - these are higher levels of thinking skills.
Prove with Evidence
Judge with Criteria
Determine the Relevance
Note Ambiguity

Basic Thinking Skills - basic skills that make up the critical thinking skills above.
Sequence
Classify
Compare/Contrast
Ask Questions
Make Connections
Visualize
Summarize
Predict
Clarify
Draw Conclusions
Make Inferences

Creative Thinking Skills - how to provide the novelty component to diff. instruction
Substitute
Combine
Adapt
Modify
Put to other uses
Eliminate
Rearrange

Depth and Complexity Prompts - used to diff. curriculum

Think Like a Disciplinarian - used to establish a motive for learning. Check out the blank graphic organizer  for defining a discipline.