Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dig In & Get Your Hands Dirty: My First Day of Student Teaching

Today was my first day of student teaching in a third grade class. When I woke up this morning, I expected to feel really nervous but I felt really calm. When I pulled up to the front of the building, I felt that like I had always been there. I lucked out that two colleagues in my seminar are also student teaching at the same school so it was nice to see familiar faces when I walked into the building. The school staff was so welcoming and they were so excited to chat with me and give me advice. I didn't expect the students to be so excited to see me! I have never heard my name said so many times in one day. They were so eager to show me their drawings or the books they were reading. It was hard to feel nervous when the students were so welcoming. As I saw the kids off at the end of the day, the kids were so excited to have me come back tomorrow. Today was not about simply observing; I quickly dove in and got my hands dirty. I passed out papers, graded quizzes, decorated the classroom and conducted the student's time tests. I even attended a third grade staff meeting which opened my eyes to the realities of teachers trying to teach and serve their students in an age of high-stakes testing. I am amazed that I learned so much on just my first day and how natural it felt to jump in and get started.

Looking forward to new adventures tomorrow!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Countdown to the Classroom

Image by LizMarie_AK

Next week I will be entering a third grade classroom to begin my student teaching. While I'm a little nervous, I am excited to take everything that I have learned and put it into practice in the field. I have learned so theories, ideas and best practices in my classes and through my PLN, which I greatly value, but without testing it for myself I cannot evaluate the reality of implementing them in the classroom.

More importantly, I want my student teaching experience to be a connected one where other student teachers and I share our experiences with each other instead of feeling separated and isolated. I see student teaching as a learning experience about my own teaching but also to expand my classroom ideas from the succeses and failures of my peers. I would also love to hear suggestions from veteran teachers who have likely been where I've been or gave me ideas I might not thought of. I believe and practice connected learning and I believe that it should apply to teaching and classroom practices as well.

Over the next couple of weeks I will do my best to share my journey of learning here and welcome comments, ideas and feedback!

Monday, January 9, 2012

uTales - E-books for Kids

uTales is an online tool for kids to make and sell their own digital picture books. Students can add their own text and images as well as sound effects and animations to create the pages of their story. Completed e-books can be viewed on a laptop as well as viewed on an iPad or iPhone with the free uTales app. The finished interactive e-book looks and flips like a real book. After the book is completed, the creator sets the price of their book and they can keep their profit or donate it to Pencils for Promise, an organization that builds schools in developing countries. uTales includes an extensive library of books from authors all over the world. The stories in the library are approved before they are added so they are age-appropriate and the highest quality.

uTales in the classroom: uTales is a great tool to allow students to create their own digital stories. Picture books can be created on a variety of subjects and content areas. With the ability to add collaborators, children can work collaboratively on their stories. Students can share their stories with other students around the world. Extending the assignment beyond the classroom, a class can create stories to raise money to support education in developing countries.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Timekiwi - Timeline Creation Tool

Timekiwi is an online tool for creating timelines or kiwis. Timekiwi creates a timeline of the user's tweets, photos and blogs. Timekiwi currently supports Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Instagram and Flickr. Users can control how much they want to share by hiding the items they wish to keep private. Timekiwi allows a user to tell a story through their social media. Kiwis can serve as a narrative of one's learning and aids reflection in professional development. Timekiwi is similar to the new Facebook timeline but it extends beyond Facebook to include one's other interests as well as photography.

Timekiwi in the classroom: Timekiwi would serve well in a classroom to chart a class' activity over the course of a school year. Classes with Facebook pages, Flickr accounts and their own blog can create their own timeline. Timelines can be shared with parents so they get a clearer picture of what is happening in their child's classroom. Having students select what they will share on the timeline opens an opportunity to discuss responsibility in using social media and creating an online identity.

Here is the timeline I created using Timekiwi