Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tech Tuesday #2...a day later

I had started blogging the following "Tech Tuesday" post yesterday (Tuesday, June 24), but family and summer fun got ahold of me.  My two sons and I took a little trip to Hampton, Iowa with my friend Heather and her adorable daughter Landry to buy Scratch Cupcakes from Scratch Curbside!  If you have had Scratch cupcakes, then you know Scratch cupcakes are indeed a sweet treat and worth a trip!  If you haven't had a Scratch Cupcake, make sure to go to Cedar Falls, Waterloo, West Des Moines Jordan Creek Mall, or Coralville to get your sweet fill of these yummy cupcakes!

Here are my two sons, Levi and Jacob, enjoying their Scratch cupcakes yesterday!

So, here is my Tech Tuesday blog post, a day later!  Better late than never, right?!  Also, by finishing this up today, Wednesday, June 25, it allowed me to add a few finishing touches to enhance this blog post from its original! ;)

A week ago, I wrote a blog post about how I plan on making every Tuesday "a Tech Tuesday" on my blog!  You can click here to read my 1st Tech Tuesday blog post!  Last week, I had indicated that I planned on sharing something I have known about, but haven't had the chance to further explore.  By blogging every Tuesday about a tech tool, this holds me accountable to move beyond my knowledge about various tech tools, and move towards becoming "a tech samurai" (can use and implement technology), instead of "a tech ninja" (has knowledge about technology but hasn't actually used and implemented).

On my "to-explore tech list," I want to get into MinecraftEdu, Aurasma, and Code Academy, just to name a few!  My plan was going to further explore one of these three tech resources and blog about one of them for this 2nd Tech Tuesday.  Well, I am going to save my original plan to blog about either Minecraft, Aurasma, or Coding!

Instead, I am going to blog about something that I learned yesterday, Tuesday, June 24, which is very timely, in my opinion.

Special thank you shout-out goes to my colleague, Ben Feight, a 4th grade teacher at Harding Elementary (also currently working on his master's degree in educational technology), for sharing this YouTube tutorial video on how to send emails from a Google Sheet with me yesterday.  By the way, you should check out his blog "Tech in a Sec for Classrooms!" ;)

Ben shared this YouTube tutorial video via a Facebook wall-to-wall message!  Love how co-workers and I stayed connected over the summer to share and teach each other!

After watching the YouTube tutorial video on how to send emails from a Google Sheet, I couldn't resist making this my 2nd Tech Tuesday blog post!  Not only is it "mind-blowing," but it also supports my excitement and passion for Google Apps for Education (GAFE)!  I've already blogged about "Going Google Drive in 3rd and 4th Grade" and "gClassFolders and Doctopus," so today's blog post is a perfect addition!

So, how do you sending emails from a Google Sheet?!

Check out this YouTube tutorial video on how to send emails from a Google Sheet!

As I watched this tutorial video, I had tons of ideas of how this could be used with colleagues and students!

  • Colleagues could send emails from a Google Sheet during a PLC/PLN/Data Team meeting, a social planning meeting, etc..
  • Grade level teachers could send emails from a Google Sheet to students who have Google accounts for a project, assignment, etc..
  • Students could send emails from a Google Sheet when meeting to organize a group project, group assignment, etc.
  • Students could send emails from a Google Sheet as a form of a literature circle
Those are just a few of the ideas that came to my mind!  I am sure there are many other ideas!

As you watch the YouTube tutorial video, what ideas come to your mind?!  Please share in the comments section! :)

Stayed tuned for Tech Tuesday #3, next Tuesday, July 1!  You are in for a treat, as I will be returning from a two day Tech Integration K-12 (TI12) professional development at AEA267 on June 27th and July 1st!  I am sure there will be tons of tech resources I learn about from TI12 that I will be eager to share for the next tech Tuesday blog post! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Welcome to 1st Tech Tuesday of Many Tech Tuesdays to Come!

School has been out for a week and I can fully admit that summer break has kicked in by now!  I can't believe I just wrote my 50th blog entry earlier today (click here to read how Kindergarten students got "keyboard happy" for my 50th blog entry)!  When I first started blogging, I was a little worried if I would be able to come up with topics to blog about.  Well, it isn't the topics that is the challenging part, it is more like finding the time to write about everything I want to write about.  This summer will bring a hodge podge of topics, but I plan on writing a blog post on Tuesdays called "Tech Tuesday!"  By starting Tech Tuesdays during summer, this will hopefully develop a habit that will continue into the school year!

Tech Tuesday blog posts will allow me to...

  • share technology tools and resources that I have been using for quite sometime that will hopefully inspire others to try out and implement!
  • further explore technology tools and resources that I have heard about and will allow me to actually try it out and share!
  • discover new tech tools and resources!
So, I would like to start off my 1st Tech Tuesday blog by sharing my three of many favorite tech resources...
  • Symbaloo - a great tool to bookmark websites
  • Class DoJo - a great classroom management tool
  • Google Drive - Doctopus and gClassFolders - a quick, efficient, and easy way to manage a classroom of students using Google Drive!
While there are many more I can easily add to my list of favorite tech resources, I want to highlight these three tech resources in my first Tech Tuesday blog post because I have actually blogged about them this school year, and thought it would be a good time to review how awesome these websites are!  Click here to read about Symbaloo, click here to read about Class DoJo, and click here for Google Drive's Doctopus and gClassFolders!

The following YouTube Channels I highly recommend to subscribe to learn about...


Class DoJo

I recommend the following YouTube video tutorial to learn about Doctopus

Stay tuned for the next Tech Tuesday blog post when I blog about a tech tool I have heard about but never had the chance to "play with" until now!

Kindergarten Students Get "Keyboard Happy" instead of "Mouse Click Happy"

Students and staff in Mason City Community School District have now been on summer break for one week.  Students' last day was June 9, while a majority of the staff were done June 10.

Today I noticed that I still have a blog post "in the cue," waiting to be written and published.  Despite school is out for summer (hope you don't mind the Alice Cooper song reference), I still want to blog about the Harding Elementary Kindergarten students and what I discovered about their computer skills in April and May.  I think my discovery is one that should be discussed, pondered, debated, and "food for thought," even if school is out for summer!

In April, the students and I celebrated National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day.  There are tons of different forms of poetry, but I decided that I would have students in grades K-4 write an acrostic poem.  Of course, next year I plan on expanding to book spine poetry, shape poems, and hopefully many more forms!  You can read about how we celebrated National Poetry Month and Poem in Your Pocket Day by clicking here.

All students in grades K-4 wrote an acrostic name poem.  By having students writing a poem about themselves, not only are they learning about a form of poetry, but they are also getting a chance to express themselves, be creative, and develop positive relationships.

Despite all grades writing an acrostic name poem, I had students use different forms of media to write his/her own acrostic name poem.

  • Students in grades K-2 wrote it on a paper form I created.  Then the K-2 students transferred their work to ReadWriteThink interactive acrostic poem webpage that provides a format to write an acrostic poem.
  • Students in grades 3-4 used their own Google Drive accounts to write an acrostic name poem, as this allowed third and fourth grade students to practice logging into their Google Drive accounts, use Google Docs with a purpose, and practice their keyboarding skills.

So, what is so special about the kindergarten students that I am highlighting them in this blog post?!

Well,  as kindergarten students were transferring their acrostic name poem from paper to the Read WriteThink interactive acrostic poem webpage, I discovered something that I had predicted might happen; students had a difficult time finding the letters on the keyboard!  Kindergarten students have become so "mouse click happy" that they weren't aware of the keyboard!  Largely due to the websites for that grade level and lack of proactivity on my part, these students have become so accustom to the mouse, that they weren't even aware of the keyboard!

As a cycle passed of watching kindergarten students having trouble finding letters on the keyboard, I pondered the following...

  • How can I help kindergarten students become better acclimated to the keyboard?
  • Should I stop my mini-unit on acrostic poems and switch over to some sort of keyboarding instruction for kindergarten students?  Should I also include students in first and second grades in keyboarding instruction, especially so late in the school year?
  • Am I better off re-thinking keyboarding instruction in the fall with all grade levels, so the entire school year they improve and become more affluent using the keyboard?

I have always known that keyboarding skills don't just start at third grade, when formal keyboarding instruction begins, particularly in our school district, but they should begin keyboarding skills at a much younger age.  There is a HUGE ongoing discussion, debate, questioning, etc. of when should formal keyboarding skills be taught, how it should be taught, etc..  I come across many questions, thoughts, and discussions regarding keyboarding skills via SLIK-12 (UNI school library email list serv I belong to), Twitter, Facebook, blogs, conferences, and face-to-face discussions.

So, what did I do to resolve the kindergarten students' lack of keyboarding skills?

Kindergarten students finished their acrostic name poems (that cycle I discovered their struggle to find letters on the keyboard), so it was perfect timing to switch to a keyboarding mini-unit!

Now the following questions arose...

  • How do I teach keyboarding skills to this age group?
  • How should I introduce it?
  • How do I keep them captivated and attentive?
  • What website(s) should I use?
I decided to use ABC Ya Alphabet Zoo and ABC Ya Typing Rocket Junior with the kindergarten students.

And, what was the result of teaching kindergarten students how to locate letters on the keyboard?  Kindergarten students were captivated and excited about using the two websites to locate letters!  I observed a HUGE improvement in locating letters!  Students became more at ease and fluent when locating letters!  The best part was when students were given the option for "free choice" during the last week of school, students chose to use these two websites!

Obviously, by identifying a "teachable moment," pondering how to help students, and implementing an entirely new unit in kindergarten, a positive outcome arose.  In fact, this will lead to many more positive outcomes in many grade levels!

Now I know that definitely the next step is to introduce keyboarding skills to all grade levels K-4 at the start of the school year, while also continuing to teach students the traditional start of year skills (i.e. using a shelf-marker, taking care of books, identifying parts of a book, identifying Caldecott Award-winning books, identifying fiction and non-fiction books, using the card catalog, logging into Google Drive, etc.), so they can be successful for the rest of the school year!

Check out the following pictures of kindergarten students getting "keyboard happy!"