Congratulations! You did it!

Today is the last day of class!  You made it.  I hope you feel that you learned a lot and that this class was worthwhile.  I have seen a lot of growth in each one of you, and I hope you have too.  I had fun getting to know you, and will be sad I won’t be seeing you three times a week anymore.   Good luck in all you do, and I hope you all have safety, happiness, and success in life.

Final Showcase

We’ll divide the class in half and everyone will have about 10-12 minutes to mingle and visit the various stations. If there’s something you’re really proud of, let us know as we visit. You all have worked hard! Show off! Visitors, if you’re curious about something, feel free to ask questions or click around. Be nosy! Learn something new!

When time is up, we’ll switch.


Take care of your self and have a fun summer!

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The End is Near

Course Evaluations
Most of you have taken evaluations for your other courses and I would appreciate it if you would fill one out for this class now. Student feedback is used for hiring and promotion decisions, course planning, and teacher support. It’s really taken very seriously at this university, so please answer each question. (Also make sure you’re selecting the answers you intend! One year, the scale was reversed and let’s just say scores were a little out of whack).

Access the course evaluation here.

If you need help with anything on your website, now is the time to ask! Websites should be complete and ready to roll at the beginning of class Friday. Bring earphones Friday morning if you’d like visitors to listen to things on your site. You may also want to decorate your computer area (not required).  If you were not here Wednesday, talk to another student to get the rubric for the showcase grade.

If you have not emailed me about missing or incomplete assignments, your grade will be what I show you today.  Unless you make arrangements otherwise you have to turn in your incomplete or re-do assignments today Simply updating them on your website is not enough.  You have to to email me to tell me what you changed.  I will be submitting your grades on Friday after class is over (I leave the next day to Montreal for a conference, and will not be able to make changes after that).

Also, just to be clear (in case you’ve been in a cave) Friday is the last day of class.  We do not have class Monday.  Good luck as you prepare for your finals!

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The final stretch!

As a reminder, today is a work day. We’re putting our final touches on TLAT #3 which is due by 11:59 p.m. tonight. I have most of your grades done up to this point.  I’ll try to talk to you about them in class. If you made any changes to any earlier assignments, you MUST email me to let me know.  Otherwise, I’ll have no idea.  Tell me what you changed, and which assignment.  

I’ll try to have all make up work (No more late work will be accepted.  Last Friday was the last day for late assignments!!!!), and TLAT #3 grade by Wednesday.  You should have a pretty good idea of your final grade in the class by Wednesday.  If you have any questions, talk to me in person.  We only have 5 more days until I want to have all grading done, so any problems need to be resolved by Friday.

Here are the directions for embedding your work:

  • Log into Google Sites and create a page called TLAT #3
    • Choose Insert. Then choose Document.
    • Find your Design Guide and select it.
  • Log into Google Docs and locate your copy of your lesson design guide.
    • Change the sharing settings to Public (anyone on the web can see it).
    • Make sure you do NOT change the editing settings. You don’t want anyone to edit your work but you.
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What’s your problem?!?

What does your book say about problem solving?
Here are a few takeaways:

“Students apply critical and creative thinking skills to prior knowledge during the problem solving process. The end result of problem solving is typically some kind of a decision: choosing a solution and then evaluating it.” (p 155)

“Problem-based learning (PBL) is a teaching approach that combines critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and inquiry as students explore real-world problems. It is based on unstructured, complex, and authentic problems that are often presented as part of a project.” (p 156)

A few characteristics of effective technology-enhanced problem-based learning tasks:

  1. Give students control of their learning
  2. Include communication and collaboration
  3. Emphasize the process and the content
  4. Lead to additional content learning
  5. Have a measurable, although not necessarily correct, outcome

You all did some great brainstorming as we talked about designing and building roller coasters as an authentic, complex problem that required lots of information to solve.

We also talked a bit about critical thinking, but what is it? What does it involve? Let’s look at this Prezi to find out more.

WebQuests are a teaching tool that use web-based resources and other sources to support students as they work through an inquiry or problem-based activity. They are web-based lesson plans written for the students that support and scaffold student understanding of a set of curriculum standards. Generally, students are asked to work collaboratively to answer a question or solve a problem and then present the answer or solution in a technology-supported format.

You can find many examples of WebQuests at the WebQuest page maintained by Dr. Bernie Dodge from San Diego State University. Dr. Dodge is the creator of WebQuests and WebQuests have been around for over 10 years. We’ll spend some time looking at example WebQuests by searching the QuestGarden. Here are a couple I found by trying the different search options. Primary mathematics; Middle school interdisciplinary unit; High school economics. Take a couple of minutes and find a WebQuest in an area of interest. Share your findings with someone nearby.

Problem-Solving Software
Tom Snyder Software is a well-known software company that creates many K12 software based activities that promote critical thinking and problem solving. You’ll likely find that the various software packages also support content learning, communication, collaboration, and creativity. A couple weeks ago we looked at a software activity called “Science Court” and we looked at how this tool can support critical thinking and problem solving. Here’s some additional software for 5th-8th graders that looks really interesting for science lessons.

Lagniappe (Louisiana French for “something extra”)
You may also want to check out these extra project-based learning resources on Edutopia.

We won’t have time to get very far, but it’s time to begin the last TLAT. (you need to make a copy of this and save it to your google docs). I’ve been grading your last ones, and some of them are very good. Just remember to explain your thoughts clearly and in detail and you will do well.

You’ll want to choose a partner that can help you review your TLAT.  Put your name and your partner’s name at the top of the form.  This TLAT is a little different.  It doesn’t have nearly as many directions.  This is because you have done this two other times, and now we’re removing your training wheels.  It’s called “scaffolding” and it’s a good teaching technique. 🙂

This is a chance for you to do what you would do as a teacher.  You determine how you will analyze your context, find and choose your activities, describe the activity and reflect on it.  Refer back to your TLAT #1 and #2 for help if you get stuck.  Also, work with a partner and make sure you both are clear on what you should do.  Don’t guess!  If you have questions, ask me first, so you don’t end up re-doing it because you did it wrong.

Here’s our schedule on this one:

  • Wednesday, April 20 – TLAT Section 1 and 2
  • Friday, April 22 – TLAT Section 3 and 4 (No class)
  • Monday, April 25 – TLAT Section 5. Try to finish this in class.  It is due at 11:59pm.  I’ll try and have your grades to this point to show you on Monday.

And here’s our schedule for the rest of the semester:

  • Wednesday April 27 – Prep for Showcase and Course Evaluation
  • Friday April 29 – Final Showcase
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Like peas in a pod(cast)

I hope you had a great weekend looking for educational apps that you could use in your teaching or other work.  Now is your chance to apply what we learned earlier in the year about audio and video editing.  You will make a podcast or vodcast (it can be just audio if you want) about as many of the apps as you would like.  It could focus on your favorite one, or perhaps list your top 5.  That’s up to you.  For example, this website has vodcasts (video podcasts) of reviewing one app per day.  You could do something like that. Or you could do like David Pogue does in this episode where he reviews several apps based on one idea.  He’s a great technology writer for the NY Times, and he’s really good, and quite funny.  Or there’s more….

When you are done creating your podcast (it should be about 3 minutes long and have some music somewhere in it (preferably at the beginning and end), follow the directions from Wednesday’s blogpost to see how to add it to your website.  Please have this completed by Wednesday, since we’ll be starting the last TLAT (and the last assignment) on that day.

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Wise app(le)s

I hope you had a great weekend.  I learned a lot in New Orleans from some of the brightest education researchers alive.

Today we are going to finish working on your Summer Enrichment Kits.  They are due at the end of the day.

Since I’ll be out of town on Friday (that means no class Friday!) I’ll introduce you to the next assignment.  This is the last assignment for learning about new tools.  We’ll have one last TLAT, and then the showcase, and then we’re done for the semester!

For this assignment, you will have a chance to search for three apps for your ipad, iphone, android, etc. that you can use for creativity, communication/collaboration or critical thinking/problem solving.  These can either be apps that you would use as a teacher, or that your students could use.  For instance, here is a list of ipad apps for kids. You can search your favorite app store, or if you don’t know where to go, check out this great overview of app stores.

  1. On Friday you will use the time we would have met in class to find 5-7 apps and provide a short reviews of each.
  2. Then on Monday, we’ll use the skills we learned with Audacity to create a podcast that describes your recommendations to another teacher, speech therapist, etc. explaining your short reviews. This should be around 2-5 minutes.
  3. Make sure you use a good microphone.  If you don’t have one, get one from the OIT on the second floor of Aderhold.  If you need a quiet place to work, you can get a key to the Editorium.  This is a suite of soundproof editing studios on the 6th floor of Aderhold Hall.  You can get the key with your student ID in the OIT.
  4. Make sure your podcast has intro and exit music that fades in and out appropriately.
  5. Create a new page on your website.  You can call it Mobile App Podcast, or something similar.
  6. Upload your podcast to this page as an attachment (or if you can convert it to MP3, we can look at ways of embedding into your site on Monday)
  7. Write a short summary on your website, listing the apps you chose, links to where you can download them, and your short reviews on a new page.

This project will be due Wednesday April 20th.

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Summer is almost here

Part One: Exploring Thinkfinity

One of the uses of technology that I’m sure you are very familiar with is the use of online resources for research activities. This task will help you to locate online resources to use in your grade/content area. This first section will have you preview several reliable educational resources. I recommend looking back through the Georgia Performance Standards for your subject/grade level before moving on with this task (it will make it easier in the long run). If you’ve  had trouble developing TLAT lessons for your content/subject area, this might be a great time to try a new one!

There are many online resources that teachers use to collect tools and information for K-12 students. One cool one is Thinkfinity. Thinkfinity has resources for all content areas and all grade levels. So everyone in our class should be able to find something they can use.

1. Watch this overview of Thinkfinity. (Click on the red “take a tour” button in the bottom right corner – it’s a bit commercial and cheesy – but it’s a good overview). Then watch a detailed tutorial. This detailed tutorial really explains how to incorporate web resources in K12 classrooms. There’s so much more on the web than just lesson plans and long pages of text on Wikipedia. (You can skip the last minute that talks about how to do the survey – which you don’t need to do).

2. Use what you learned from the video to explore the resources within Thinkfinity. Set a timer for 15 minutes (seriously – really do this) and just explore the site to see what you can find. Try and focus on student interactive materials like the ones demonstrated in the detailed tutorial.

Part Two: Creating an Enrichment Kit
One big problem in education (and there are many) is the issue of “summer learning loss” Read this article to prepare for this next task. As a teacher, parents will look to you for ideas on how to prevent this “learning loss.” To help solve this problem, your task is to locate 8-10 exceptional web-based resources that a student from your grade/content area could use over the summer to enrich (NOT remediate) what they have learned in your class during the school year. You can focus on one topic or a multitude of topics. If you are focusing on elementary grades – you can focus on multiple subjects. These resources should include games and other interactive resources. Your resources should not be a set of webpages that contain only text. The Thinkfinity site is a great place to find interactive activities for any subject or grade level. (Hint – on any of the partner sites – look for words like “student interactive”).

As you locate your resources, you will add them to a new webpage called “Summer Tool Kit” or something a bit more creative. For each resource you find you will provide the title of the resource, the web link, and a short description of how this tool can be used (make sure to decide if your audience for your descriptions is students or parents).

Once you have finished collecting your resources, write a 2-3 paragraph letter to parents describing the summer enrichment kit that you have developed. Give them highlights of what they will find in the kit, suggestions for how they might use it, and a link to your Summer ToolKit webpage. (If you are teaching high school students you might want to talk to them in the letter instead of parents). You should attach the letter to the webpage. Here’s an example for an elementary Spanish student. (The parent letter is attached at the bottom of the linked page).

Here is an example of the same assignment for elementary language arts. In this example, the Maymester student used delicious to collect and organize her resources – then, of course, she attached the parent letter to the bottom of the page.

Delicious is a great site for organizing and sharing your website bookmarks.  Another good place for collecting websites into an online 3-ring binder of sorts is livebinder. You can use either for this assignment if you want.

Here’s an example of one Gretchen made for her daughter last summer also using delicious (no parent letter, though). **Hint: She found most of these resources by searching on the Thinkfinity site. She searched for “writing” and limited search results to grades K-2. She also did a Google search and used key terms like “reading games,” “summer reading activities,” “summer writing activities,” etc. So – use the Thinkfinity website as a resource and be smart about the search strategies you use.
Your completed tool kit and letter are due at the end of the day Wednesday.


  • Finish the Chapter 4 reading guide (This is the last one! Due Wednesday, 04/13).
  • Finish your tool kit/parent letter (due Wednesday, 04/13). On Wednesday we will be starting a new assignment, so it would be best if you get you tool kit before class.
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