Creative Technologies – Do they enhance creativity?

I think Creative Technologies such as websites designed for children definetely give children another medium to express themselves and so enhance creativity to a certain degree. The sites we looked at in class were:

Kerpoof is a site that allows children to create their own movies, stories, pictures and drawings. The children can choose from a number of layouts and pictures to use which may inhibit creativity. I chose a beach scene and the site gave me pictures in a pirate theme. I could not get any other pictures other than those ones so if a child wanted to write a story about aliens invading a beach they basically couldn’t because the pictures are not available with a beach scene. So in this way I think it limits creativity but other than that I think it is a great educational site that I would let children in my classroom use.

Kidipiks is a site where children can make their own comic strips using pictures and captions. This would be a great website to use if children were given the oppurtunity to take photos specifically for their comic strip. Otherwise they can use the search feature and get pictures from Flickr. I would recommend this site for older children because it may be a bit technical for the younger ones. But it is a great way of introducing children to this text type and allowing them to be creative.

Finally fotoll is a website that allows children to create their own polls. They can then see the results once people have voted on their question. This is a great way for kids to gather information from people other than their peers or family and it gives children a worldwide audience which can make the learning experience much more meaningful. I would use this in mathematics so that children could use the numbers involved to do activities in chance and data.

Does any one else have other great educational websites?

Sarah =]


Google Earth – A new and exciting way of looking at the world!

Google Earth is a great innovation. It allows you to see the world from the comfort of your computer chair. You can visit the Egyptian Pyramids, the Effiel Tower, Buckingham Palace and even the Colloseum. It also has a cmmunity feature which permits users to submit information about landmarks or countries, this information can then be accessed by other users and so people from all over the world are sharing their experiences and knowledge.

I would definitely use Google Earth in my classroom. I could take the children on a tour of the world with groups of children being tour guides for each place we visit. They could research their chosen landmark, write a report about it and then submit it on Google Earth for other users to see. They would also present the information to the class taking them on a tour of the landmark. I think this would be really fun for children to do and it would be exciting to pretend we are in a plane flying all over the world. Yes I am just a big kid! =] You can also see stars, constellations and planets on Google Earth. This is great because children can study the stars during the day and see the different constellations without the need for expensive microscopes and night time visits to school.

The one thing I am unsure about is the fact that anyone can put information on this site. So it may not necessarily be factual information that the children are accessing. For older children this could be used as a learning experience because they could read the information and assess whether it is valid. But I am going to become and early childhood teacher so this aspect of the site is not ideal. However by giving children access to information that is factual as well as the information on the site this should not be too problematic.

Does anyone else have ideas about how Google Earth could be used in the classroom? Or has anyone had any problems with it in the classroom?

Sarah =]


Online Resources and Search Engines – Who says what is appropriate and inappropriate?

The presentations on online resources and search engines was great. I did not know that there were search engines designed specifically for kids so it was helpful to get to know some of these search engines and resources.

The first search engine we looked at was Zoeybot and I personally did not like this search engine as there were a lot of things on their that would distract children such as the ‘Chat to Zoey’ feature. When searching for the term ‘nutrition’ it only gave me two results and the articles it gave me were written for adults and so included many big words. In terms of early childhood this would not be ideal.

There are a number of different search engines designed for children which filter out material deemed inappropriate. These are useful for children who are starting to learn how to search for information. I think many schools automatically block inappropriate sites so using normal search engines such as google is relatively safe providing you monitor the children’s use of the computer and set up some consequences for children who do choose to do the wrong thing on the computer.

The online resources were quite interesting. Some of them were really great, they were colourful and interesting and offered many different activities for children to do. Some sites found under the students tab in WEB2.0 were not very appropriate for any child. This shows how important it is for teachers to thoroughly check any online resources they are planning on using to ensure they are appropriate.

In my classroom I would use online resources but I would compile a list of the sites that I had checked. I would write this list on word and save it so that the children could open it up and go to the sites from there. This would eliminate the chance of children stumbling across a site that is not appropriate.

Some of the sites I found that would be great for the classroom are:

Does anyone have other sites that are great for kids?

Sarah =]

P.S I do not know what the font has gone small for this last part???

Clickers – Can children click their way through tests and still learn?

I think clickers are great. They are fun to use. You see the results immediately which can be a catalyst for excellent discussion. I think that children would love using clickers because it is a different way of completing a test or answering questions and it is great for teachers to quickly collect information about the students.

It can be used in tests so that the results are sent to the teachers computer and this can lessen the marking workload for teachers. It should not however replace other forms of testing. Clickers can be used to add variety to lessons and it can help those students who are too shy to answer out loud in class.

I would definitely use this innovation in my classroom if I had access to a class set of clickers. I would use it as a way of finding out what students know about a topic, to complete mental computation, multiple choice tests or for answering questions on an excursion.

Any other suggestions for how clickers could be used?

Sarah =]

Online Photo Sharing – Great for keeping photo memories safe but can it be used in the classroom?

Online photo sharing websites such as Photobucket and Flickr are great for people who like to upload their photographs to the net for other people to enjoy or as a way of keeping photos safe from the risk of fire or flood. Many proffessional or aspiring photographers use the sites to get feedback on their work others like to make their holiday photographs available on the net so that the family can see them in one easy location. I personally use Photobucket to upload photos and then get the html code so that I can embed the photos on other websites.

But how can online photo sharing sites be used in the classroom?

One way that I would use this innovation in my classroom would be to post photos of a class excursion, for example if we went to an aquarium the students might each have a turn at taking a photo and then these photos of fish could be posted on an online photo sharing website. I would then invite other classes within the school to view the photos and make comments on them so that they children could see another form of communication at work. This feedback on the photos would empower children and make them feel good about their work.

Children could also view other peoples photographs, of course they would have to be monitored on the site because there could be some inappropriate photos. Children could choose a photo to analyse and talk about in class. This would address the outcome in the arts learning are about children appreciating others art work.

Online photo sharing websites are also useful as a teaching resource because teachers can find photos to share and discuss with the class.

Online photo sharing websites are great for the purpose of which they are designed and they do have some uses in the classroom so I would look to this innovation in my future teaching career.

Any other ideas on how it could be used in the classroom?

Sarah =]

MP3/iPod – Portable music player or valuable learning device?

Who knew the humble iPod was a valuable learning tool in disguise?

Most of us have an iPod or MP3 player of our own which we put music or videos onto to watch or listen to whenever we feel like it. These devices have a vast number of different functions which is amazing for something that is often very small. I myself use an iPod and I overlooked its potential and simply viewed it as something I use to chill out.

It is an amazing device that can provide a whole new way of learning for students across many year levels. An iPod with video capabilities can:

  • Show flashcards
  • Recorded lessons from the smartboard
  • Photostories
  • Animations
  • Video podcasts

Audio capabilities allow iPods to:

  • Give instructions
  • Language lessons
  • Stories for comprehension activities
  • Tour guides for excursions
  • Audio podcasts

If a class could get a set of iPods the possibilities are endless. They would provide an excellent way of giving variety to lessons, a great motivational tool and a learning device that is portable. It would be very useful in the classroom and so I would use this innovation in my classroom if i had access to a set of class iPods.

Children could listen to a story and answer questions about it, this would be great if you had different ability groups because you could sync the different stories to the iPods and the children could complete the same task at the same time. It would also be beneficial because the children could still sit together rather than being divided which would eliminate the occurence of children feeling left out because they know they are given different work. You could also put instructions on the iPod and watch the child to see how they carry out the instructions to assess the way children follow instructions, complete a task and listen.

Has anyone had any experience using iPods in a classroom?

Sarah =]

Smartboards – They really do live up to their name!

Smartboards are aweinspiring. Being shown all of the different features and uses of the smartboard made my head explode with all the great interactive lessons that could be created.

  • Morning welcomes to the classroom
  • Word making
  • Sentence making
  • Mental computation
  • Interactive fractions learning
  • Shapes
  • Recording lessons for future reference
  • Story telling
  • Motivational tool
  • Demonstrations

And the list could continue for a very long time. There are so many ready made resources included in the notebook software including pictures, backgrounds and interactive applications that could create many different and interesting lessons. They were made to be used in the classroom and so their classroom applications are endless. I think that children would respond well to their use in the classroom and it would be a great way of adding variety to lessons because there are so many different things you can do with them.

Of course there are some things that are sometimes inconvenient such as the calibration changing which means when you touch the screen it does not respond. Also having to replace the pens and eraser to do anything other than writing can be seen as a good feature because it can prevent the loss of these items but if they do get lost it is quite a problem.

Even so these small problems do not detract from the value of this innovation. I really hope I have one of these available in the school that I work in in the future. I definitely think they are a valuable resource for the classroom. I can not imagine anyone else thinking otherwise but is there anyone that thinks this is not beneficial for the classroom?

Sarah =]

Should children be getting into ‘Myspace’ and reading ‘Facebook’?

Myspace and Facebook are two innovations that I personally use on a daily basis. It is a great way for me to keep in touch with new and old friends and let people know what is going on in my life. They are both great social networking tools that are very popular these days. BUT

Are they suitable for use in the classroom?

There are some ways that children could use this in the classroom, the example given in the presentation suggested using Myspace or Facebook to create a profile for a character from a book. This is a great idea! Children can consider all aspects of the characters life – from friends to interests and personality. However to accomplish this task do we need the help of Facebook and Myspace? Should we go through the process of signing up to get an account for each of the children so that they can create this character profile?

The answers to these questions of course rely on the individual teacher – I would sign up each child if I was going to use the profiles on an ongoing basis. It would definitely save the children from keeping their work together and trying to find it each time they want to use it again and it gives children great practice with typing and using the computer. But I do not think I would bother for one or two lessons. The same thing can be achieved by writing a character profile in word.

However I am thinking from the perspective of an early childhood teacher. If I were to teach older students I might consider the use of these sites however it would involve parent permission and in many instances these sites are blocked on school computers because they are deemed inappropriate for school use. Therefore I feel that Myspace and Facebook are not suitable sites for children to use in the classroom because of their purpose and also because of the restrictions placed on them on school computers.

I do however feel they could be a valuable resource for teachers. On Facebook in particular there are many teaching groups online where teachers share information and resources by writing on the wall and posting links. Teachers could create a group for their school and this could provide an informal place to communicate with colleagues.

Does anyone have any other ideas about how students could use these sites? I am struggling to think of classroom applications so input would be great!

Bye for now

Sarah =]

Google Docs – To use or not to use in the classroom?

The presentation on Google Docs was quite enlightening. The presenters spoke in terms of their own experience using the innovation as they built their entire presentation on Google Docs; a great way of getting to know the innovation. They presented both the advantages and disadvantages of the innovation and provided me with the needed information to make an informed decision about whether this innovation would be useful in the classroom.

I think at the moment it would present more problems than benefits at this point of development. I do agree that the idea of children being able to share documents online and thus being able to work on them simultaneously and connect with students from all over the world is a very nice idea. However this innovation seems to be at a point where it is only just workable. The presenters had many problems using the innovation which makes me think that students would not find it any easier to use at this point in time.

But in saying this I will be a teacher in 2 years time. By this time Google Docs may be more refined and much easier to use and if this is the case I would definetly use it in my classroom if I had older children. I think that it would make group work much easier and it would encourage collaboration and discussion amongst students.

So at the moment I would choose NOT to use Google Docs in my classroom but in the future when the innovation is more user friendly I would definetly choose TO use this in my classroom because I think it has a lot of potential and would definitely enhance students learning.

Anybody agree or disagree?

Sarah =]

Online videos – Do they have a place in the classroom?

The answer to this question is YES!

This was made abundantly clear by Simon and Mathieu when they gave their presentation on this innovation. They drew particular attention to the websites Youtube, Teachertv and Keepvid – all of which were very valid and useful websites. Ones that I have now stored as a valuable teaching resource in my favourites list in my internet browser.

There is a vast number of videos on the internet, these videos either entertain viewers or inform them on a number of different subjects. Both of these purposes are useful in the classroom. In my opinion suitable entertainment videos could be used as a reward for students who complete work early or who have earnt free time some other way. Educational videos could also be used for the same purpose; to increase motivation during a lesson and add some variety to lesson delivery. I will definetly be looking at online videos when thinking of introductions to lessons. I think they could also be used in comprehension activities to assess children’s viewing skills where children view a video and then answer questions about it or as examples so that children can make their own videos if possible.

There is one problem when it comes to online video viewing and that is censorship. There are some videos that are very innappropriate for children on sites like youtube and if children are given free reign of the computer on sites like these it is very easy for them to find inappropriate material.  But I think with proper supervision and management of children’s actions on the computer this can be avoided. For example I personally would make a links page that allows children to click on the links which take them directly to the videos and then monitor their use of the computer to ensure they do not naviagate away from that page. Another way is to embed the video on something like powerpoint or you can use keepvid to download videos from a website and put them in the shared student drive for students to open in media player or quicktime.

So overall I think online videos are a great resource that is very accessible for both teachers and students. They are also very effective way of enhance a presentation or a lesson and increase the understanding of the viewers as can be seen by the number of presentations in Ed 458 Using Computers in the Classroom which have used videos for these purposes. So YES online videos do have a place in the classroom and as students have now become digital learners it is a good idea to employ them in the classroom to enhance learning and make it interesting and fun!

Does anyone else have thoughts on how they can be used?

Bye for now =]