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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tool 11- Finished!

I feel a great sense of accomplishment having finished 11 Tools.  I made a 90 on the Atomic Learning Assessment, so very pleased with that!

1.  What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.

I have used Dropbox regularly- we use it in the office to share and to collaborate on documents.  Additionally, I have used it personally to share pictures with friends and family.  I love it when they join dropbox and I get more space!

Additionally, I have enjoyed using Blogger.  I definitely want to move college-going counseling into the 21st century, so am planning to use a blog and a facebook page for getting information to more students next school year.

2.  How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?
As I get more comfortable with different technology resources, I am definitely more likely to incorporate it into the guidance and counseling services we offer at Westchester.  I'm hopeful that this will help us work smarter.  The difficulty will be finding time to implement things such as a Facebook page or a blog and then maintaining it.  I plan to make these things a priority in the 2012-13 school year, believing it will help to position our students even better in the college application process.

3.  Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?

I think what surprised me most (and probably those who know me best) is that I actually finished (and I made a 90 on the test!).  I refer to myself as a 20th Century Girl- I do not see myself as terribly technologically minded.  Yet, I was able to complete the tools on my own.  I really liked learning about some of the resources available to me professionally (and personally), and I look forward to incorporating them at work and at home.

Tool 10- Digital Citizenship

1.  Discuss at least three things you would want to make sure your students understand about being good digital citizens.

I think it is critical that students understand their "digital footprint" and are mindful of the image they are building online.  Students can often be short-sighted about the future, and do not always consider that pictures, posts, etc. can later impact whether they receive admittance to a university, a job, a scholarship, and more.  In the past I've had former students who were applying for internships connected with high security areas, and the background check was very thorough, including interviewing me- even though I had not worked with the students in a few years.  I'm fairly confident that in addition to checking in on their high school reputation, their digital reputations were also thoroughly examined.

A second area of digital citizenship that is critical for students is simply safety- protecting themselves and protecting their property.  Students need to be aware of how their information can be used and how to protect themselves from predators.  At the same time, students shouldn't be fearful, but should be aware and cautious. 

Finally, students need to know how to find trustworthy sources, and not believe that just because it is on the internet, it is true and accurate.  I'm reminded of Alan November's example of the website, martinlutherking.com which is actually published by a white supremacist group, and filled with hatred and lies.  Students need the skills to identify what sites are appropriate for research and offer safeguards for their readers.

2.  Share at least one of the resources mentioned above or on the Ed Tech website that you plan to use instructionally.

I like the digizen.org site, and it has many resources available to parents, educators and students.  I'm particularly interested in the social networking information, including information on cyberbullying.  I think it would be a good idea to use these resources in guidance lessons on bullying and on digital safety. 

3.  Explain briefly how you would "teach" the idea of digital citizenship to your students.

In my role as a counselor working with students on the college going process, I would focus on the "digital footprint" and share examples of what not to post and why.  I would enlist the help of college admissions representatives who could speak specifically as to how sites such as facebook and twitter factor into their admissions decisions.  Additionally, I would enlist students.  Recently, I've had students talk about how they picked their roommate for college after "stalking" their facebook pages.  I think they could share good insights on how digital impressions matter.

4.  Explain briefly how you plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with your parents.

With parents, I would want to share the same resources that I would share with our students.  With our older students (juniors and seniors) the emphasis would be on their "digital footprint."  With our younger students (especially middle school), the emphasis would be on safety and cyber-bullying.  This could be done in parent presentations (we do talk about cyber-bullying in our middle school sessions, but I think we should also share some of the online resources for parents) and through handouts and informational emails.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Tool 9: Incorporating the Technology

1.  Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?

Technology should be incorporated into the classroom lessons- not just be something cool for the students to use.  Since the objective drives the classroom lesson, the technology aspect should be part of that objective- otherwise you run the risk of losing the value of adding technology to the classroom, thus it just is something fun to do but not applicable to real-world situations. 

2.  Why should we hold students accountable for the stations/centers?

Each station should add something different to the lesson- maybe a different skill, a different application, a way to differentiate the learning, etc.  Therefore, each station should contribute to the whole objective.  Therefore, if students are not held accountable, they miss out on key pieces of the lesson, the learning, and/or the content.

3.  Visit 2 of the applicable links to interactive websites for your content/grade level. Which sites did you like. How could you use them as stations? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

Thinkfinity seems to have lots of different kinds of tools, depending on the classroom.  Since I do not have a classroom, I was drawn to the essay writing activity to see if it would be a good way for students to work on their college essays.  Although it seemed a bit "young" for juniors and seniors in high school, I think it could be an effective tool for younger learners.  Depending on the content, you could use this site for many things- as part of a station where students get initial information about a specific topic (i.e. The Spanish-American War) or as a way to practice a skill that has been taught (i.e. figuring percents).  Additionally, the site could be used to re-teach a particular topic or to differentiate for gifted and talented students.

I also checked out the SBISD database- a great way to see all the different tools available to teachers. 

4.  List two to three apps you found for the iPod Touch/iPad that you can use in your classroom. What do you see that station looking like? How can you hold the students accountable for their time in these stations?

I was particularly interested in the apps that allowed students to create a product, such as Bit Strips, Create a Graph, and DoInk.  The accountability is built in if students must create a product- they have something to show for their time.  Apps such as BBC, History Buff and Geo Cube are tools that could be used for initial learning and research. 

5.  What about other ways to use the iPod Touch/iPad? Share another way you can see your students using the device as a station.

Students can connect with those not in their classroom and work collabortively on projects, communicate about their learning, and learn more about the topic at hand using IPads and IPod Touches.  By designing specific tasks and using rubrics, students can grow as independent learners.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tool 8: Technology Tools

As mentioned before, I don't have a classroom equipped with netbooks, IPads, IPods, etc.  However, as a school we are able to access these items through our library and in the classroom.

Some ways that I have incorporated the use of technology with students is through advisory.  Often, we have topics to be discussed that are best taught through web resources.  It is great to be able to have our teachers group their students and let each group of 2 or 3 have a netbook and be able to explore.  We have done this with Career Cruising, college-going resources, and service learning projects.  Additionally, I have created a Google Doc survey for our seniors to complete about where they are with their financial aid.  Students can use the netbook to complete the survey, giving me accurate information as far as whether they have completed FAFSA, applied for scholarships, etc.

Additionally, we are making a shift this month with our AP Spanish testing.  Rather than use outdated tape recorders, we are going to use Audacity software on the netbooks for recording the oral portion of the AP Spanish test.  I'm a bit nervous about the shift, especially since we are testing 45 students, but I am working with our tech support team and our Spanish teachers to make sure all goes smoothly. 

As far as managing the devices, I believe our teachers have put standards into practice to insure that the equipment is used and cared for. 

Tool 7- Reaching outside the Classroom

While I don't have a classroom, it is very exciting to hear about teachers using these tools to connect with classrooms around the world.  Such great learning can take place as students from different countries study the same content, and then are able to discuss via Skype, blogs, etc. their impressions and their learning.  I see this particularly applicable to the International Baccalaureate curriculum, where students are studying identical curricula across the world.

One idea I have is to use tools such as Blogger, Skype, and Wikispaces where our current students could connect with students who are currently in college to get advice and help as they go through the college application process.  This could also be a way to develop a system of support on different college campuses where our students are in attendance.  As our seniors decide where they will be attending college, they can connect virtually before even starting class.  I believe this could help students settle in more quickly and give them a solid foundation that will allow them to be successful at university.  As we look forward to the district's next five year plan, this would be a great way to help students complete college, not just enroll.

I also like the idea of collaborating with other professionals in my field- across our school district, across our state, across our country, and across the world.  I can see using tools such as blogger or a wiki where college counseling professionals could collaborate on best practices for teaching essay writing, resume writing, financial aid, and more. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tool 6: Web 2.0 Tools

I chose to create a Twitter Account and set up a Wall Wisher bulletin board for Tool 6.


I can use Twitter to send out short reminders to students and parents about upcoming deadlines, scholarship opportunities, and school reminders.

Wall Wisher-

I liked creating the bulletin board, and I can see using this on my web page or encourage students to the website to see updates and post questions.  The website for the bulletin board is- http://www.wallwisher.com/wall/waiscounseling

As far as other tools on the list, I use Google Docs regularly with co-workers, but have not yet used it much with students.  I think it would be a good way for students to send their College Essays to me to edit.  I've also played around with the idea of using the survey function with students.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tool 5- Web 2.0

I have enjoyed working with many of the Web 2.0 applications.  I have used Animoto many times for presentations and celebrations.  I decided to choose two that I was unfamiliar with- the first is Make Beliefs Comix.  In my work, I'm not sure how much I could use a comic strip, other than to add levity and to generate interest in different counseling and college topics.  The comic strip I created was about FAFSA.

One difficulty I had was that the comic strip is not saved, and I accidentally navigated away from the page after completing it the first time, and had to re-create it.  Also, I would prefer to have the image imbedded in my blog, but since you can't save the image, I only know to add the link.

Second, I worked in Mixbook.  This looks to be a great way to advertise things like college field trips and other events.  The mistake I made was to download a huge number of photos all at once, which made the download time very long.  Unfortunately, I could not delete any photos or move on until all were uploaded. So waiting....

I had a lot of difficulty uploading the mixbook into my blog- in fact, I could not manage to upload it into the body of the blog at all- after watching the help video about 5 times and working on just that one piece for over an hour.  I finally gave up and just uploaded it to to the top of my blog...the best I can do.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tool 4- In the Clouds

My exposure to Google Docs has been somewhat limited.  I've had documents shared, but I had not created a document until working on Tool 4.  I decided to create a survey we could use with parents and students who come in for a tour, something our team had already discussed.  I was surprised at how easy it was to work with the program, and was able to easily create survey.  One difficulty I had was that when I shared the survey with my team, what opened was the spreadsheet showing the results of the survey, not the form itself.  I then sent the survey to them for them to see, and then also sent directions on how to get to the form from the spreadsheet.  That part seemed a bit cumbersome.

I also created a fun survey to share with my 2 co-workers who are also completing 11 Tools.  I'm looking forward to getting the results of their surveys!

I am very interested in using the Google Form with students.  Each year we conduct a senior survey, that has traditionally been on paper.  I will make it a goal to try to complete the survey electronically this year.  Additionally, I think using a blog might be a good way to get information to students about scholarships, events, and deadlines.  I would also like to spend more time with Picasa to see how this might be helpful in working with pictures I've taken at Westchester.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tool 3: Videos and Images

1.  As I checked out the various sites, You Tube seemed to have the most resources connected to Guidance and Counseling.  In the past, we've used You Tube videos in advisory lessons focusing on bullying and teen dating violence.  As I searched different topics connected to my work, I was surprised to see so many different kinds of videos that would be good for additional advisory topics, as well as student and parent presentations.  When checking out Teacher Tube, I wondered if that might be a better way to distribute our morning announcements.  That way, teachers would have the flexibility to show announcements at the time that best fits in the class, rather than always at the same time each day.  Additionally, students who miss announcements might have the opportunity to watch them at a later time.

2.  Here are a couple of the videos I found that I believe would be useful to use in student and parent presentations.  This first one is a bit long, so using the tools to edit parts would be best in order to focus on the specific topic at hand. 

I also searched for videos connected to financial aid and FAFSA, something our seniors are currently working on.  I wanted to make sure the videos were produced by reputable organizations, so that eliminated a large number.  Additionally, I wanted the information to be current.  The video below is a fair description of financial aid- unfortunately, I did not find one that is super engaging, up to date, and accurate.

3.  As far as copyright and fair use policies, I've always just assumed you could not use materials that did not belong to you .  I was surprised to read the summary that within a secure posting, anything goes, so to speak.  I was not aware that there were specific guidelines for educators, and did not know that some exceptions existed for education that are not allowed for the general public.  I found the "Exceptions for Educators" tool very useful with its real life examples.

4.  I'm very excited to know about Dropbox!  For years, I have been emailing documents to me at home if I needed to work on something on the weekend or in the evening.  Dropbox will keep me from having to do that.  I not only loaded it onto my work computer, but have also loaded it onto my personal computer.  I also anticipate this being a great way to save our school recruitment presentations.  Currently, they are saved on the server.  However, if we ever have issues accessing the server, we can also have them available on the internet.  I'm also eager to work with Picasa.  I take lots of photos at work, but download them on my home computer.  Picasa will allow me to have access to the pictures at work without having to burn a disc or email them.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Tool 2: Building Community

As a counselor and just in general, I much prefer face to face, or, at the very least, voice to voice, conversation.  The idea of building community electronically is foreign to me.  My experiences with Facebook are limited, email is a chore, and I hate to text!  Stepping into the world of blogging is huge, and a bit intimidating.  I really resonated with the statistic that 90% of online community users are lurkers- I definitely fall into that category!  But, here goes!  I enjoyed checking out the other blogs in our community, and tried to make an original comment on the blogs I read.  Knowing that those comments are available for all to see definitely caused me to think twice about what I was writing, and to double-check spelling and grammar!  I'm hopeful that as I progress through the 11 Tools, I will become more comfortable with the idea of an electronic community.

In searching for blogs connected to my role as a high school http://hscounselorweek.com/counselor, I came across a couple of interesting sites that I believe will be helpful to me in my profession.   High School Counselor Week- http://hscounselorweek.com/ collects resources from a variety of different blogs and websites and reposts them here for quick access. It mostly focuses on content regarding finding, applying and appealing to the right college, which is a main focus of my work.  Admitted-http://www.nacacnet.org/PublicationsResources/Admitted/default.aspx- the blog for NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling), an organization to which I belong, will also be a great source of information about the college admissions process.

Overall, I think completing the 11 Tools will stretch me and show me ways to use technology to not only connect with other education professionals, but also to connect with my students.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tool 1- Creating a Blog

Wow!  That was easy!  No trouble at all creating a blog and an Avatar!