This school year has been one of tremendous growth in my teaching and in my use of technology in the classroom. In previous years I used technology consistently and came up with some great projects, but this year I tried everything. I integrate technology into every unit, and I tried to engage and enhance learning with technology. Below are the tools I’ve used this year, what worked well, and what I want to do next year:
1) Smartboard – This was my first complete year with an IWB. I used it every day, almost every lesson. Everything from the morning handwriting to the end of the day select a job list was posted. I started to develop entire hyperlinked units on Smart Notebook. My big project is developing Smart notebook lessons for each of the outcomes for the new Alberta Gr. 5 math curriculum, and I’m almost done! What I’ve done has been posted to the district moodle site for all of the grade 5 teachers to use, and to hopefully make better and repost.
2) Moodle – I’m working on a paperless unit in Language Arts using Moodle. It has an icon based, graphic user interface – I’ve blogged more detailed information here. I’ve used moodle to guide the students through resources, websites, flash activities, and quizzes about extreme weather. I used moodle to post photostories that the students created. Each photostory has its own forum for the students to leave comments about each story.
3) Wikis – I’ve used wikis in several ways this year. I worked on a collaborative writing wiki, with two other schools in the district. The kids had fun with this, and it was a great way for kids to see writing of other kids and have to fit their style to match with someone else. We have a wetlands wiki, where the students are going to use Glogs to create posters for a wetland creature or plant to post to the wiki. The content on the wiki right now is from last year and will be updated over the last month of school, you have to leave something for June!
4) Blogs – I’ve had the students contributing to a class blog all about Canadian Identity. We’ve had external contributions from a class in Florida, a class in Coalhurst, and a few of my twitter friends! The students are making posts on all different topics about Canada using edublogs. I’m using 21 classes to have the students develop individual poetry blogs.
5) Videoconferencing/Skype – Using a webcam and microphone, I’ve been trying to “flatten the walls” of my classroom by connecting with experts and other classes regularly. My grade 5 students connected with a meteorologist from the Biosphere in Montreal during the weather unit, we met with a class from St. Louis to compare and contrast Canadian and American culture, and we’ve met on a weekly basis with a class from Hamilton to discuss Canadian culture, differences across Canada, technology and change, and we are going to learn more about ancient civilizations next week!
6) Podcasting – the students recorded summary podcasts of the videoconferences we’ve taken part in. It was a great way to summarize and review what we’ve learned. They are currently in the process of learning audacity and planning to record their own podcasts.
7) Video – The students used Flip video cameras throughout the year to record fun events. We took video of fun science experiments and each time we went geocaching. It is a great way to collect and review events and concepts. The flip cameras are simple and easy to use. We use windows movie maker to put clips together and make a longer video.
8 ) Jog the Web/Google Docs – These are two great stand alone tools, but they are even better together. I can send the students on a guided webquest with jog the web, then at the end there is a google form the need to fill in to reflect on the sites they visited. These tools are a great way to guide students through a website to maximize the learning, instead of a quick glance.
9) GPS – This has been my pet project of the year. The students are using handheld GPS receivers to find hidden caches with clues to solve a problem, math puzzles, or other fun projects. Expect many more blog posts on the project, this was the first.
10) Facebook – We create profiles of the characters from the novel Holes. The students had to fill in profile information as the character, then they joined a Camp Green Lake Group and IM’d in character. The level of understanding of the characters in the novel went way up, and the students had a great time digging deeper into the book.
11) Other Web 2.0 – Wordle, Voki, Doppleme, Elf Yourself, Interactive Game Sites – I love Wordle to illustrate a concept in words. We created vokis out of novel study characters. Doppleme is my favourite site to create avatars so the students aren’t tempted to upload their own photos for a blog or wiki avatar. Elf Yourself was a fun Christmas activity doing some simple photo editing.
12) Google Earth – I had to put this one last because it is probably my favourite. I’m a geography nut – Dad was an SS teacher for 32 years and the history geography stuff really rubbed off on me. Grade 5 in Alberta is all about Canada and Google Earth is open almost every single SS class to make a connection, comparison, or just show the kids what Canada really looks like. I found a great KML file for Underground to Canada to show the route taken in the book, and I use if for Math to show real world examples. We found 90 angles all over the world last week!