Sunday, June 12, 2011

A New Technology in the Classroom

 One new technology that I have learned about that I can use in my classroom is Blogger. This is the first time that I have experienced blogging and I think it is a great way to share ideas and communicate with others.
One way I could use it in my classroom is to allow my 5th graders to blog about books that they are reading, instead of just having them write about their books on paper. This way more of their peers can see what they are reading and maybe become interested in other types of books. Another way I would use blogging as an educational tool is to have my students blog answers to reading group questions. This is an activity that my students could do before reading group and we could discuss what they wrote on their blogs together during our group time.
My experience with blogging has been positive and I think it would be a very beneficial tool to use in my classroom.

Image used with permission from

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Software Evaluation

While searching for software that I could use in my classroom to support student learning, I found a great program called Comic Life. Comic Life is an easy to use program where you add your own pictures. Then it allows you to add captions and text to go with your pictures in the form of a comic. It costs $19.95 for a single license and can be used on Mac and Windows operating systems. 

This is an example from the Comic Life website
to show how you could use it with science topics.

Image used with permission from
Comic Life can be used to motivate struggling writers and can also be used to challenge talented and gifted students to express their creativity. The website for this piece of software offers a variety of information to teachers about the program.  It even gives tips for teachers and specific examples of ways students can use the program. Also, the website has reviews from teachers about how wonderful the program is to use in the classroom.

After researching more about Comic Life and reviewing the two evaluation forms as guidelines, I think this piece of software would be very beneficial to use in my classroom. I think it would inspire my students to write more and be able to show their originality. I also like how it can be used to integrate writing into any subject area.
To find out more about Comic Life go to and click on the educational resources tab to find out all the ways you could use it in your own classroom.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Assistive Technology

From the research and video on assistive technology, I found a lot of resources that I already use for my students and new resources that I will be able use with my students in the future. When I first hear the word assistive technology, I thought it had to be something high-tech, but I learned that it does not necessarily have to be high-tech and it can be any item used to help to meet the needs of your students. I learned that I already use simple assistive technologies in my classroom just by allowing my students to listen to stories on tape, letting students use the computer to write their assignments, and displaying pictures from Boardmaker to show students the daily activities they need to complete. Next year I will have more students in my classroom with special needs and I now feel like I have more resources to use to help these students to learn to their full advantage.
New Applications
The first application I found is called Clicker 5.0. It is actually computer software that allows for you to write with whole words, phrases, and even pictures. It is a talking processor that has a Clicker Grid that allows you to hear words before and after you write. It is a great program for people who have difficulty using a mouse/keyboard to use and it also has a range of other options for students to use that struggle with writing. I really think I would be able to use this program in my classroom and think it would be beneficial for younger students who are beginning to learn how to write on computers. Go to Clicker 5.0 to learn more about how you could use this program in your classroom.

  The second application that I found is a talking calculator. This calculator looks like a normal calculator, but it provides speech output with complete number speech or digit-by-digit number speech. I think this would help some of my students who still struggle with place value and it would help younger students with number recognition. For more information about the talking calculator and other math assistive technologies go to

The third application that I found is called BIGtrack, which is a computer mouse with a bigger trackball and separate left and right click buttons. It is helpful for those students who struggle with fine motor control. It would be great for students who are also just learning how to use the computer. A second mouse can be connected to the BIGtrack so another person can participate at the same time. Click on BIGtrack to learn more about this application.

New Locations
While researching, I found two new locations that can be used to learn more about assistive technologies and they also allow you to buy the tools. The website, AbleNet, has many different products that could easily be used in the classroom. One of my favorite products on this website was the battery operated scissors. The other resource, Enabling Devices, also has a wide range of products that you can buy to help meet the needs of your students.

Images used with permission from and 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wikipedia and the Future of the Written Word

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With my 5th grade students I would allow them to use Wikipedia to help them start to find information about a topic, but I would have them check with other resources to make sure the information is credible. I really like the way Mr. Franklin, the teacher from the Literacy 2.0 textbook, modeled a lesson with using Wikipedia to show students how to check if the information is accurate and reliable. This is a lesson that I would probably use in my classroom. As for the way Margaret Santori uses Wikipedia in her classroom, I think her idea of using it to show how people communicate their disagreements is very interesting. I never thought of using Wikipedia in that way in the classroom, but can see how it would be very beneficial for my students to see how people discuss issues in a civil way even if they do not agree with the other people.  When searching for information about using Wikipedia in the classroom, I found Wikipedia: Schools/Teachers’ Guide that is actually on a Wikipedia webpage.

The Future of the Written Word:
I believe that three dimensional reading and writing is very motivating and allows for students to engage in the activities in a more creative way. I can even see three dimensional reading and writing replacing the written word more and more every day, but I do not think it will ever replace it completely. I know many people who prefer to read the hard copies of books and sometimes prefer to hand write their assignments. However, I can see us using less of the written word as more technology is being integrated into the classrooms.

2011-2012 AEA Resources

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There are many good resources that will be available from the AEA website for next school year. The one resource that I could really use in my classroom next year is the Kids InfoBits.This website is for kindergarten through 5th grade students. It contains a safe and reliable place for students to research a variety of topics in the areas of math, science, social studies and more. It also includes articles from age-appropriate magazines and newspapers. Kids InfoBits even contains and elementary dictionary and has worksheets that teachers can print off and use with their students.

I can see how my students could use Kids InfoBits all the time. They could use the maps for their geography lessons. My students would love to read the magazines and newspapers articles to find information for their research projects. I also think the dictionary on this website would be beneficial for my students when trying to find the meanings of new vocabulary words. I would even be able to have a new resource to use when trying to find worksheets.
I am so glad that the AEA will have Kids InfoBits and many other useful resources available for me to use in my classroom next year!
Go to Kids InfoBits to learn more about this great resource.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Using Cell Phones in Class

Should cell phones be used in class? This is certainly a controversial topic and many teachers may only see the negative sides to allow cell phone use in the classroom. However, I believe that there are many good ways that cell phones can be used to enhance student learning if they are used appropriately. I also think cell phones might help motivate more students to learn.
The website I found,, talks about how teachers are now beginning to incorporate cell phones into class lessons. I really like the part from the article on how many schools may not be able to provide computers to all students, but most students have cell phones and this would be a way to integrate technology for the schools that cannot afford access to it.
Even though I can see all the positive sides to using cell phones in the classroom, I am not sure that I would use them in my classroom. A lot more of my 5th graders have cell phones, but I still think this may be a little young for them to use them responsibly without constant supervision. I feel like the students really would need to be educated on the proper use of the phones and how to use them safely. I think cell phone use would be suitable for middle school and high school students. No matter the grade level, the students would still need to be educated on how to use the phones appropriately.