I love “in plain english” videos!

22 04 2010

During my internship I had my students blog and I also created a wiki for them using WetPaint. I just wanted to share a few of my favourite Common Craft “in plain english” videos that I showed my students to help them better understand the programs we would be working with. There are tons of these videos and they also can create custom videos for people on specific topics. The prices are a little steep if you want to buy the videos, but you can find some on YouTube that are very helpful in the classroom.

Common Craft also posts updates of their videos on their blog and on twitter if you would like to keep up with them.

Think of the potential in the classroom. They are quick, get to the point, and full of information. I really think they are a great tool to use as educators to help students understand certain concepts or tools they they will be working with. Here are a few examples of the videos:

Blogs in plain english:

Wikis in plain english:

Google Docs in plain english:

Social Networking in plain english:


Collaborative Project- The finish line!

19 04 2010

We have reached the finish line!

…well almost!

Here is my  final post on our collaborative project with a Computer Literacy 8 class out of Melville. We have started the evaluation process and it has turned out to be quite interesting.


As we have been trying to mark student’s glogs, we have encountered many problems. The biggest issue is the links not working. We told the students that they could use Tikatok, but you cannot publish your story on the site unless you pay for it. What we told students they could do is send us their username and password via email, we would mark them and then they could change their password. For many students, this worked well and their stories in Tikatok were wonderful. For others, they did not read or pay attention to the instructions and either posted their username and password on their glogs or did not send us the information at all.

Another thing that has been frustrating is student accountability. Students sent us their glogs on the due date, but a majority of them did not check their glogs to see if their links even worked. Also, some students did not send us anything at all. We wrote our cooperating teacher, Don Wihak an email explaining who has not even emailed us and sent in their work and he said that he will talk to them for us. I sent each student an email explaining what they still need to send us and how to share their links so that they work. What is wonderful is that today I received emails back from all of those students with the fixed links. I am glad that we had Don to tell them to check their emails today because they do not have class again with him until tomorrow and we want to get their marks to them already.

My last frustration is that I feel you can’t beat face to face when it comes to something like this. Although it has been nice to have emails sent to my phone, sometimes I am in class or at work and I cannot reply instantly. Also, some students have the same questions, so instead of emailing each back individually, I could have given a demonstration in front of the whole class on how to solve the problem. I know that there are ways around this using technology, but at times when I felt overwhelmed with questions, it would have been nice to be in front of the class answering questions.

What I really enjoyed…

The stories! A majority of the stories created by the students are very well done. It is evident that they put a lot of time and effort into their work.

I also enjoyed the feedback we received from Don. Here are some things he said in some of our back and forth emails…

“Kayla, the timeline is awesome, and will keep the kids on task. It is also helpful for those kids who miss class for illness or an appointment of some kind. You guys have done an awesome job, and I will make sure to tell Dean how well prepared you are.”

“The kids are enjoying the project, and what I have seen in class from them is pretty good so far.”

“I am anxious to see the finished projects of many of the students, as I know the work some of them have put into it so far.  Thanks to you and Amy for crafting an excellent project, which I am not embarrassed to say that I have stolen liberally from for the other grade 8 class.”

It was nice to hear that the teacher we were working with was happy with our work and was using it with his other students.

We also sent each student an email saying:

“Just wondering how things are going with your digital storytelling tools. Which ones are you working with? Have you started with your second tool yet? Are you having any difficulties?

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us and we can help you!”

Almost all of them responded letting us know where they were at. Here are a couple responses we received:

“it’s going really good, I have finished both of mine already and i am working on the Glog now. i’m working with ToonDoo and TikaTok. no difficulties as of now.”

“Hey Miss Hanson and Miss Adams, I’m just letting you know that I think I am pretty much finished with my first tool which was Tikatok, and I am going to start on my second one, but I’m not sure what to use. I was looking at the scrapblog tool, but i wasn’t sure if that would be similar to Tikatok. So I was just wondering if you had any suggestions or anything.”

I also enjoyed the way in which Amy and I collaborated. As I mentioned in another post, through emailing and using google docs, we have not had to meet face to face which has been great because we both have extremely busy schedules.

Google docs has been a wonderful tool as we have begun our evaluation. We go in and assess, indicating why each mark was given, we can talk about the marks, if they need to be adjusted, which students we still need work from, which students whose links do not work, etc. It has been a great tool in keeping us organized.

What I would change for next time…

I guess the hard part about teaching online is that you do not know what types of problems the students will encounter or what types of questions they have. Perhaps we should have been more specific on each tool on how to “share” their stories because that is the biggest issue we are encountering right now. Many are posting the link right after they save their work and it will not open when we are trying to view them.

I also think that because we have never done this before, we did not know what type of time frame we would be working with. I have worked with these students before and if students that usually stay on task and work during class time cannot finish within the time frame we had given, then we did not give them enough time. The nice thing was that Don was open to extending the time students were given to complete the assignment. We gave them an extra week and they were very relieved.

Here are my prior posts about this collaborative project:

Collaborative project…the end is near

Frustrations and Concerns

Update on collaborative project

Collaborative Project

Here is our blog that contains the assignment and tools that students could work with. Keep note that we have pages at the top that contain information on evaluation, creating glogs, and all of their stories. We have locked the stories with a password because their names are on the work. We want students to be able to go in and check out each other’s work, so we will share the password with them once everyone has sent in their work.

Overall, I am very content with how the project ended up. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the students and doing a digital storytelling assignment with them. Now that the students have the links sorted out we are going to finish up our marking tomorrow and email them their marks with feedback. I am going to sub in Melville in May and June, so I am looking forward to seeing these students again. I loved that we were able to create something and see it through to the end. Although we had some road bumps on the way, I feel that I learned a lot from doing this collaborative project, and I hope the students learned a lot from us as well!

What I Have Learned

15 04 2010

I used VoiceThread to help show some of what I have learned this semester. I could have went on and on because I feel that I have learned so much, but I tried to pick out the most important things that I will take with me.

Here it is:

My VoiceThread

Collaborative Project- The End is Near…

13 04 2010

Thursday, April 15th is our final deadline for the Computer Literacy 8 students to hand in their glogs for marking. The glogs will include both of their digital stories that they have been working on. I would just like to say that I really enjoyed working on this project. I felt so happy when I received emails from the students during their Easter break asking questions. Many of them worked on their stories and are almost done. I think this is a true sign of engagement, when they work on something when they don’t need to be.

I know the students that we are working with because they are a class I taught in my internship. I felt that this aided my ability to help them because I knew what level each student is at, which ones might struggle at bit more, and which ones needed motivation. Amy posted her frustrations with this a little while ago and I agree that it would have been more difficult to assess their work had I not taught them before.

One thing I found extremely beneficial as we have been getting into the marking is Google Docs. Amy set us up with everything and we have both been going in and collaborating about the marks we are giving the students. This has shown me that even with team teaching, assessment can be done online.

One other aspect of this collaborative project that I enjoyed was working with Amy and our cooperating teacher, Don Wihak. Don let us go where we wanted with the assignment and it was nice to see something that we created fall into place and work. Also, the emails that Don has sent us saying how much the students are enjoying the project makes me feel excited and think of the possibilities of what I can do with my students once I get into the teaching world. Amy has also been a pleasure to work with for this collaborative project. We met in person one time to get everything organized and from there we have done all of our collaboration online. We have sent numerous emails to one another to make sure we are both on the same page and are both excited to see the end results of the student’s work.

I will write another post after the students have emailed us their glog links to let you know how their stories turn out!

Which tools are you going to use?

12 04 2010

I know that the end of the semester is rolling around and everyone is busy, but I want to ask a quick question to all of you that are going out into the teaching world, or even those that are interning in the fall…

Which online tools are you going to use?

After ECMP 355, I went into my internship and used:  Wikis, WebQuests, BlogsWordle, and Jing. I loved using these tools and thought they were engaging and fun for the students.

After ECMP 455, I plan to start a class Ning, use Glogster as a teaching tool and have students make glogs for assignments, start using VoiceThread,  get my butt in gear on tagging bookmarks in Diigo, create a blogfolio, try to use cellphones in the classroom,  and take a look at many of the tools you have shared with me in the March Teach Us sessions.

I am looking forward to graduating and getting to use these tools in my own classroom. I also plan to maintain this blog and let my readers know how the tools are working for myself and my students in the classroom.

This isn’t my final reflection post, but I just want to know which tools stuck out the most to you. Which ones do you think you will definitely use in your classroom?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

March Teach Us

7 04 2010

A great online teaching experience…

Last week Ellyse and I presented about Glogster and EDU Glogster for our March Teach Us session. I have to admit that although we had a couple of road bumps during the presentation, I thought it went really well.

First, what I thought was great was that Ellyse came to my house and we presented together. We didn’t want the hassle of trying to share the mic and I am glad that we decided to do this. We wrote out an itinerary of who would be saying what and when, which kept us very organized throughout the presentation.

A second aspect that I thought went really well was how well prepared we were. We had gotten together a few days before the presentation and wrote out a list of what we wanted to accomplish. We wanted to emphasize its use for teachers and students, so we showed many examples of how we have used it. I thought it was great how we made a glog about glogs. Also, we wanted people to see how the program worked, but because it is such an easy program to work in, we only briefly covered how to make a glog.

Something else that we thought was important to share was the special features EDU glogster had for teachers. As I learned about glogster, I realized how much more useful EDU Glogster was for me. The fact that you can keep all of your student’s organized and that the site is so education based, makes it a great online tool for any teacher.

The first problem we encountered during the presentation was just getting our PowerPoint onto Elluminate. We could not figure out how to do it. I found this strange because the last time I presented I had slides and I was easily able to upload them. I guess it shows that everything is not always going to work. Thank you Dean for letting us send them to you and getting them up there for us. The second issue we had was people unable to get into the link of the glog we created. We thought we would just be able to copy it from the slide and paste it into the chat for everyone to see, but we couldn’t. Someone copied the link for us, but people could not get into the link to view it. We moved on and a few minutes later found out that it was a type-o. Once everyone could see the glog, it was smooth sailing from there. After we were done, we were very happy with how it went. We were both excited to talk about this tool and felt that it was evident during our presentation.

Here is the PowerPoint that we used in our presentation:

I will use Glogster when I get out into the teaching world. As I have explored it, I really have seen its potential in the classroom. I know that I can use it to present information to my students and my students can use it to present their learning to me. It is fun, easy to work in, and the possibilities of it are endless.

Here are some of my other posts on Glogster and EDU Glogster if you want to check out what I have learned the past couple of months of working in it.

Just getting started with Glogter

Discovering EDU Glogster

Strengths and Weaknesses

From this experience, I feel that I have grown to understand the capabilities of online teaching. I took ECMP 355 and thought it was wonderful that I could sit at home and listen to my teacher speak and bring in guest speakers from all around the world. Another thing that is great is the fact that it is not just a teacher talking. You can add videos, PowerPoints, screen sharing, links, people, etc into the class to make it engaging for the students. What I also like about Elluminate is the fact that it can be recorded and you can go back and watch it later. I think that this has worked wonderfully for myself in ECMP 455 because I have a very busy schedule. When I do have time I go back and listen to what happened and don’t miss out on anything. It puts accountability on students, but when you are interested in the topics that are being covered, you don’t want to miss it. My only worry would be students not paying attention because I wouldn’t be able to see what they are doing at home. I think that in order to make sure this isn’t happening, is to use a variety of strategies when teaching online. Although I do think that face to face teaching is important, I would not be afraid to try online teaching with my students. I think it could be a cool, engaging way to teach and that they might really enjoy it. I don’t know how to do it in a K-12 setting, but I sure want to try!

My Sister

6 04 2010

I just wanted to put up a quick post about my sister who I love very much. She is a very talented figure skater and this past weekend I helped her make an audition video showcasing her skating skills. She is planning on taking the Fall semester off of university and is applying to do a touring ice show through Europe or the U.S. I really hope she gets hired because she would have an amazing experience doing it.

She and I both skated for many years, but she took the competitive route a few years ago. She has competed all over Canada and was a member of the provincial skating team before she graduated from high school. She works hard, is unbelievably good at what she does and makes me extremely proud! Here is her audition video.