Kindergarten Teacher

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Write About This App 101 Video

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Write About This ($3.99) is a great app for writing and storytelling. Please add questions or concerns in the comments.

You can find my other app 101 videos here

 

 

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Weebly: Simple and Free Way To Create A Class Website

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Quick intro to setting up a FREE Weebly site in the video below. Please note the last step which I failed to mention is pressing the orange publish button on the top right

For my Master’s course we were required to work with tools that could be used to create and e-portfolio. I picked Weebly mainly because it was a tool that I had not worked with before. I have used Google Sites, Wiki’s, Blogs and other tools in the past but Weebly was something I never got around to trying. The main benefit of Weebly is the simplicity of the process in creating a website or blog. The interface uses simple drag and drop functions that are laid out nicely and the process is fairly intuitive. Teachers that are looking for a way to have an online presence for their classroom (class website or blog) should give this tool a try.

The site allows for a lot more customization than other options which is an important feature for giving the creator ownership of their design. The other tools I mentioned before allow for customization but none of them do it is a simple way like Weebly. Of course Weebly is not as powerful a tool as WordPress as far as customization but WordPress is also not as user-friendly. Weebly is a great tool to use to introduce students to e-portfolios and to begin the process of creating one. The site has options to upload all the standard media a student might use in their portfolio such as video, audio, documents, pictures and text. For students new to the process Weebly is the perfect tool to start with but I think it is important that we give students autonomy in choosing the tool they want to use. My main concern would be the ease in exporting the content from Weebly. Technology and the tools available are changing fast and the ability to move seamlessly from one tool another is an important feature. Another aspect of Weebly that is a benefit is it shows the process of creating a website in a visual way. Of course creating a website requires a much deeper understanding but Weebly does begin that process of showing how websites are created. My hope would be that some students would take that basic knowledge and look for other options as they want to customize and add features. Weebly seems to be a good “gateway” into creating and designing online spaces.

The website created in the video can be found here if you want to see the product

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Blogging in Kindergarten

This is an assignment from my Masters course with TAMU commerce

Describing student work that you might design using blogs. Use the TPACK Model to identify each aspect of the work. 

For the past two years I have used Blogger as a classroom blog in my Kindergarten class. You can read about the purpose of the class blog HERE and see example posts HERE. This year I am taking the next step and will let my kids have individual blogs with KidBlog. My first goal is to have each child share their daily journal on the blog once a week. As the kids become proficient in blogging I hope to expand the opportunities they have including blogging about other content areas. The main purpose of the individual blogs in terms of content will be growth in their writing and vocabulary. We will focus on sight words, writing conventions, vocabulary words and other writing skills. I plan to let the kids decide what to write about and how they want to share their information (constructivist pedagogy) because giving kids as much autonomy as possible is important for the success of the initiative. Current blogging sites offer a lot of accordances on how the kids will be able to “blog” in my classroom. They can type a post as is traditional or they can upload a picture of a journal page, record audio, use apps to create video or embed books for various apps and websites. The flexibility in what the kids can post will an important part of the autonomy of the project in my classroom. As I look past the initial goal of having kids use the blog for their writing journal I hope to move towards allowing the kids to blog any time they feel motivated to share their learning. In addition, the blog could be used for the kids to make connections with students that have similar interest or to ask questions of experts to further learning on topics. As with any new technology there are always drawbacks to consider before beginning. My main concern with student blogging is keeping them safe. KidBlog itself has many features that will help with this concern and it will be important for me to understand and consider all the settings in regards to visibility and security on our blogs. There is always a risk involved when allowing kids to connect and share online but I feel the benefits far outweigh the potential negatives. Digital citizenship is something that kids need learn by being part of the process in a controlled settings or environment.

As I begin the process of using KidBlog I will share posts on how I decided to set up the blogs, how I managed the project and any tips, success or failures that might help others in the process. If you are already using student blogs and have links, suggestions or comments please share!

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Capstone Video: ETEC 561

This is an assignment from my Masters course with TAMU commerce. Responses are reflections from reading Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology – Reiser and Dempsey

Quick 5 min video highlighting my learning this semester in my Masters course.

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New Directions in Instructional Design and Technology

This is an assignment from my Masters course with TAMU commerce. Responses are reflections from reading Section 7 of Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology – Reiser and Dempsey

This section of the textbook addresses new directions and emerging technologies for IDT. Reflect on how you might apply each of the following in your current or future position in the IDT field:
Distributed or e-learning environments
E-learning is a major part of my growth and development at this time in my career. I participate it webinars, listen to podcasts, facilitate twitter chats and much more to continue to work toward my goals. In future positions I feel e-learning will be a significant part of the process of educating teachers in the use educational technology field. The main reason for this will be budget concerns. As districts look to save money e-learning offers an effective way to reach many teachers on a limited budget. Another reason is for this is the benefit of learning in a social environment. Providing rich learning environments that promote networking and creative thinking will not only be cost-effective but also more productive than traditional training approaches. The key factor when designing these e-learning opportunities is to keep the focus on the learning and not the technology. In addition it will be important to allow for autonomy in the technology teachers use to connect and learn from each other and to offer support for the various tools available to them.
Reusable design or learning objects
The crucial aspect of reusable design is “the ability to use the same resource multiple times in multiple ways and in multiple contexts.” This model of instructional design will be very important as school looks to do more with less money. Another key aspect learning objects provides is the ability to differentiate instruction to better meet the needs of all learners. In my future positions I know learning objects will be an important part of the instructional design process. As I read the chapter it seemed that being organized and having the ability to search and find learning objects will be important to using them successfully. A thorough knowledge of the students who are using the objects as well as deep understanding of the intended outcomes will also factor into the success of using learning objects.
Rich media
Rich media is defined as “instructional programs that incorporate high-end media such as video, animation and audio.” It was noted that it is important to use a learner-centered approach rather than a technology-centered approach. This is something that I often see as an underlying issue when teachers look to incorporate any technology in learning. I have written about keeping the focus on the learning on my blog (see here.) With rich media I was surprised to read that the research supports a more simple model of media versus a complex one. Thinking through how people learn using short and long-term memory it does make sense that a learner could be overwhelmed with rich media. As I look forward in my career this chapter will be an important reminder that sometimes simple is better and that novices tend to learn more from visual instruction. I do feel that rich media has a place in IDT but after reading the chapter that importance has diminished some.
Emerging instructional technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cybernetics, Web 2.0, virtual worlds, electronic games, etc.

Web 2.0 has had a significant impact on me as classroom teacher and for my students in the class. As a professional these tools have provided countless avenues for me to learn and grow in my field. I use Diigo, Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds, Blogs and more to keep up to date on technology and best teaching practices. Regardless my position in the education field I know these tools will continue to provide value to me in my learning process. In my classroom web 2.0 tools have opened up new ways to give my students a voice in their learning and provide for ways for them to share that learning with the world. My kindergarten class has a blog for updating parents about our learning (see here) and we also use twitter to connect with other classes around the world (see here). Both of those examples provide opportunities for my class to not only share their learning, but also to collaborate and enhance their learning in a meaningful way. Web 2.0 has also had a significant impact on creativity in the classroom. Web 2.0 tools like Little Bird Tales, Educreations, Popplet, Padlet, YouTube, Vimeo etc give my students the ability to create in new ways. Augmented reality is another new technology that is making a big splash in the education field. I feel AR will continue to grow in use as the capabilities are expanded (example here). These technologies are exciting, engaging and productive and their use will continue to grow in the education field. Despite this, I know as I look forward it will be important to keep the focus on the learning and not get caught up in the tools themselves.

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Professional Goals: Looking Forward

This is an assignment from my Masters course with TAMU commerce. Responses are reflections from reading Section 6 of Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology – Reiser and Dempsey

This section of your textbook focuses on jobs in the profession of instructional design and technology: lessons and tips on how to get one and organizations that can support the job search and continued learning in the IDT field. Many of you already have a job in the field or in a related field; however, based on this week’s readings, you’ll reflect on where you are, where you want to go, and what you need to learn or do to get there.

I am currently a Kindergarten teacher. This is my 14th year teaching Kindergarten. I am enrolled in the Educational Technology Leadership program at TAMC. My reasoning for joining the program is to give myself opportunities down the road in the educational technology field. My long-term goal is to work towards a Director of Technology position for a school district or similar position with an Education Service Center. I do not have any immediate plans when I graduate, but I have started the process of looking for the perfect opportunity in case it presents itself.
It is important that I continue to learn more about the IDT process so that I can be in a position to make the big decisions required of a Director of Technology. To get to that level of understanding, I need more experience supporting teachers and districts in the use of technology. I believe the next step for me will be working as an educational technology specialist for a school district. My hope is to work with teachers at the district level (or broader) to be more effective in using technology to enhance learning. I speak often about the importance of relationships in success and I know I need to continue to grow in my ability to build those relationships with colleagues. To do this I hope to learn more about motivation, support and human performance technology.
What organizations would best support your continued learning after you graduate? Do you think you would benefit from joining those organizations before graduating? 
Currently I am a member of ISTE and TCEA. I believe these organizations are important to my continued growth in the field. However, it takes more than just being a member of these organizations to get the full benefit they offer. It is important to also read their publications, attend the conferences and submit proposals to present. This past year I presented at ISTE and also was part of the leadership team for the Early Learning and Technology special interest group. For the upcoming year I have three proposals accepted to present at 2014 TCEA annual conference. The main benefit I see from these organizations is the network of professionals I have had the privilege of connecting with. These connections will be valuable as I move into new positions in the future. In addition, I have put a lot of time and effort into building my online presence on Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and LinkedIn. These social networks have provided me with support, inspiration and opportunities. I know the network that I have created will continue to provide value as I move forward.
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