For my first blog review post, I explored Richard Byrne’s blog at http://www.freetech4teachers.com/. One aspect that makes Byrne’s educational blog site stand out among the others is the various educational avenues he provides for teachers. As mentioned in the first blog post, Byrne provides information on a different app, website, or gadget every week that can be used and incorporated in the classroom. He provides video links, website links, tutorial links, and so much more. By providing these diverse and unique teaching sources, he is providing the opportunity for teachers to use them in order to serve various learning styles and abilities. For example, the ESL students could use the video links to become more familiar with site words, songs, and stories that we will be discussing at some point during the lesson unit. The academically gifted students could explore an area of interest within the lesson unit we are currently working on and create their own blog post using the student-friendly blog links he provides to display his/her exploration findings. We could also use these links as whole class discussions and have them displayed on the interactive white board for the students to actively participate during the lesson. Needless to say, the opportunities to use the links and sources he provides are endless! It is important to remember that all students have something to bring to the table, and these resources allow their strengths to shine in the classroom.
I spent a great amount of time exploring the http://edjudo.com/web-2-0-teaching-tools-links site. The first program I chose to explore was the Zimmer Twins site. This site provides free access to creating movies and animated stories, either from scratch or using pre-existing unfinished stories. The site provides examples of stories that teachers and students have made it the past, as well as tutorials about how to make an animated story. It is classroom-friendly, meaning it allows teachers to have class account and allow access to up to 40 students per class (however a downfall to this feature is that the user must purchase the tool before allowing the class access to it). After exploring the site for less than 5 minutes, I had already figured out how to make an account and create an animated story. The only other drawback I found when exploring this site is that (as far as I can tell) you cannot send the story as a mass email; it asks you to share it with individual email accounts, which could be a hassle if you want to share it with other teachers, parents, or even the students. Even still, the site seems like a great tool to use to create fun and creative animated stories for the students to view and create their own.
The second program I chose to explore was the Jing site. This site allows the user to capture an screenshot image of what is displayed on the computer screen, record what is on the screen along with what is said during the recording, and easily share the images and videos through email and other social media. I immediately thought about how useful this site could be when a teacher flips a classroom; the video could be used as a tutorial and could be easily shared on the class website or through email to allow the students to view it before they come to class. The only downfall that I found when exploring the site is that the videos have a five minute limit; however, this could simply be a part of the flipped classroom video when the teacher wants the students to see a document or learn how to use a specific website or another technological tool that appears blurry or unclear when using a regular video camera. The 5 minute limit also, according to the website, is limited for instant, focused communication. You get to the point and share what is needed to be shared in a timely fashion.
Since my last blog post, I have gained experience creating a Storybird animated story, a digital story using Microsoft Photo Story 3, and a Kidspiration interactive activity. These are three technological tools that I had no previous experience with; therefore I learned a great amount from each of these assignments. I found the digital story using Photo Story to be the least difficult assignment of the three. Once I researched and found what area of internet safety I wanted to focus on, I enjoyed writing a short story, taking pictures, adding audio, and watching the finished product. After completing the assignment, I definitely believe that Photo Story is a great tool that I will definitely use in the classroom when teaching a unit or content that may otherwise require the traditional standing-in-front-of-the-class-lecturing teaching strategy. It makes the teaching even more exciting/fun for me, and the students will love it, too! I found Storybird to be the most difficult assignment of the three, simply because I felt I was limited to using the pictures that the artists on the sites provided. It took me much longer to create a story using Storybird, because not only did I have to think of a story topic that I wanted to focus on, I then had to find pictures that matched that topic and that could be used throughout a short story. Once I viewed my completed product I was happy with what had been created, but the creating process was not the best experience for me individually. Nevertheless, I am grateful for these experiences and will remember these helpful and creative resources when I have my own classroom and am looking for creative and exciting ways to teach lesson units.