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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Guest Blogger: Web 2.0

My current class has a HUGE focus on technology (in case ya didn't notice).  I have actually been surprised by what is considered technology and what isn't. Did you know a CD is technology? Totally does not fit my definition!

This more accurately portrays my vision of the new web. It is a tool we use as a global society to interact and communicate with one another. What is your definition?

A friend of mine, Eve Pearce, sent me an email and asked if I would post one of her latest articles. She is trying to break into the freelance writer profession and desperate for room for her voice. So I agreed to share my blog with her today. I hope you enjoy her information below....

As the world witnesses more and more advances in technology, educational possibilities will continue to grow. Arguably one of the most important technological innovations of the last decade is ‘web 2.0’, which is a term used to describe websites that utilize technology beyond the static pages that were previously used. 

This technology has allowed teachers to engage pupils using podcasts, phone apps and other computer-related media. It has enabled them to teach maths, science, English and various other subjects in a way that is both fun and effective. 

Research conducted in 2011 cited by computer chip manufacturer Intel concludes that almost fifty percent of teachers who use web 2.0 technology in the classroom find that their students experience increased levels of motivation as a result. Thirty-nine percent of the teachers also stated that using this technology increased pupils’ academic engagement.

Improving Motivation at Every Level

This study is not the only piece of research that has demonstrated the motivational power of web 2.0 technology in recent years. A survey aimed at measuring the educational impact of this technology upon pupils in western Massachusetts found that the overwhelming majority of teachers in the area believed it to have improved the motivation of the children in their classes. 

Seventy-six percent of the teachers reported that it had made low achieving pupils more motivated, seventy-three percent believed that it had made medium achieving pupils more motivated and fifty-nine percent stated that it had increased the learning motivation of high achieving pupils.

Active Learning

As well as increasing students’ motivation to passively absorb information, studies also suggest that web 2.0 technology can improve their motivation for carrying out specific tasks to the best of their ability. A study carried out by Savilla Banister of Bowling Green State University published in the International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning concluded that podcasting book readings and reports that children perform can increase the degree to which they are motivated to exhibit attention to detail when carrying out these tasks, as it enables them to perform to larger audiences.

Another report published in the journal entitled ‘Unexpected Outcomes: Web 2.0 in the Secondary School Classroom’ states that integrating web 2.0 technology into lessons can also improve pupils’ motivation to perform tasks related to maths and science. 

This research was based on a study conducted in schools in Great Britain. It implies that teaching staff should perhaps be hired based upon their familiarity with the latest computer technology in addition to their overall teaching skills. It is therefore not surprising that many recruitment agencies specializing in teaching staff are listing ‘strong IT skills’ amongst the other criteria that are required for this role. 

At some point in the future it is likely that a knowledge of web 2.0 technology will become a necessity for anybody wishing to gain employment in this area.

Possible Explanations

A report by Kaylene Williams of California State University and Caroline Williams of the University of Wisconsin published in the Research in Higher Education Journal states that a possible reason for the ability of web 2.0 technology to increase pupils’ motivation to learn is that it draws upon their experience and language base. It is becoming increasingly ‘cool’ for young people to know about the latest technology, meaning that pupils are likely to already be familiar with the terminology and jargon associated with the internet and are liable to have at least some experience of browsing the web. 

This means that they are likely to be motivated by the fact that they already possess knowledge in this area, which will make them feel as if they are not going into a subject blind.

A simpler explanation is that the use of web 2.0 technology allows for more interactive and varied methods of learning that tap into pupils’ need for new and innovative methods for being taught information. 

A child is more likely to be enthusiastic about a task that involves an app or a computer program than he or she will be in one that relies solely upon a pen and paper, as technologically advanced media tend to be more captivating and exciting. They facilitate increased pupil participation, as opposed to children sitting and passively listening to their teachers explain the ins and outs of a subject, and are a useful tool for making learning fun.

What are your thoughts? Do we need technology in the classroom? What are your favorite resources?

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Capturing Memories

One of the best projects I have ever done, was created  a personal family recipe book.

I have SO many cookbooks but I only use a handful of recipes from each one. There was no need for me to keep them all and it became more of a hassle to guess where each recipe was.

I went to Zazzle and searched for kitchen binders. If you have never been to Zazzle you need to go and check them out! If you are looking for a personalized gift... this is where to get it! There are thousands of choices (these are just 2 of them).

After I did that, I purchased white dividers for my cookbook. The areas I created for my binder are breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, parties, edible projects, desserts, and drinks. As you can see I broke it down into when we eat particular foods. This makes it easier for my kids.

Lastly, I typed up the recipes and placed each one into a page protector in the right section of the book. It is an ongoing work in progress but so much fun and so worth the time and effort it took to create. I notated who the recipe came from and any special memories tied to it.

This would make such a fun project for families to work on together over the winter break. Make a copy and purchase an extra binder to give as a gift.

Since I am baking galore for the holidays, I thought I would share my favorite cookie recipes with all of you. Just click on the picture above to get your free copy!!

Capturing kitchen memories is a Zebra Quest for my students. Each month I create a family style Zebra Quest for my students to complete. The November quest was to collect at least 5 recipes from various family members and then try them! Students then brought in a copy to share with the class.

Once all the recipes have been completed, I created a recipe book for my class and sent home a copy of the recipes collected. It was a lot of fun and a great way to involve students and parents. I saved the recipe book and can add to it again next year.

Each recipe includes the student's name, grade, date, and which family member they collected the recipe from. The recipe and a picture are included. Reviews of the dishes are discussed with the family and not included.

In case you missed my St. Patrick's Day Green Pie Tradition. 
This is a great dessert for the holidays as well.

I am always looking for new cookie recipes to add to my personal collection. Please feel free to share your favorite recipe on your blog and leave me a comment with the link OR just leave the recipe in the comments. 

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Teacher Gift Ideas

"Never get tired of doing little things for others. For sometimes, 
those little things occupy the biggest part of their heart." 
~ Ida Azhari

I love this quote! I am one of those people who LOVE to give! I find it so hard to answer the question "what do you want for Christmas?" as truly I do not know. I rather give something to someone than get something. 

I was trying to figure out the other day what to get my son's teachers for the holidays but it is so hard to come up with a good gift! I could do gift cards but that is so over done. What I would like to do is get them something they would never think of buying for themselves. So I thought I would share with you some of my favorite things for teachers!

There are lots of teacher earrings in a variety of styles
So cute! 

Every teacher needs this for the day she forgets to wear
clothing with pockets. (GUILTY!)

This is perfect for the days when you need to bring more
than will fit in your school bag. I am also always losing my
waterbottle. Now I would know which is mine. 

You know this has to be on the list!
Teacher's Store, Starbucks, Target, Dollar Tree, and Visa.
I avoid restaurants unless you know their favorite!

Love mine! I have the keychain version and it is connected to
my lanyard along with my whistle and a bunch of other stuff. 

Now these ideas are amazing but I think they are out of the price range for most parents. Perhaps you can use these ideas for your best teacher buddy or relative who is a teacher. These are all things teachers would never buy themselves but love. 

Love these new matching sets!
I am still waiting for them to make a black & red version!!

OH! OH! OH! Be still my heart! 
Todd did it! He really did! 
He made created a red and black version.

Goodbye old blue friend...!
You will be replaced with one of these. 
Who wants my old one?? 

This comes in so many fun shapes. 
It is on my wish list for my classroom.

Smelly markers. Love my scentos!

Okay... so what would you add to my ideas for teachers? I know this list is no where close to being complete but I thought I would share some of my ideas. And yes... they come in other colors than red and black but I couldn't resist sharing them in my favorite colors. 

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Sale

Today is the big day! The winter sale is here! Thanks to Second Grade Math Maniacs for setting up this amazingly fun blog hop.  Join in the fun below!

Merry almost Christmas!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Professional Development Kagan Scholarships!

I learned about various Kagan Philosophies while completing some practicum hours awhile back. I truly love the ideas and think it will make me an even better teacher. I love how they combine whole brain teaching theories into their philosophy. It also works well with Love & Logic and Conscious Discipline.

Imagine my excitement when I saw this!

Both teachers and student teachers can apply. It only covers the workshop costs not lodging, transportation, or food but every little bit helps. This years workshop is held at Walt Disney World in Florida. Must apply by March 15, 2013.

In light of all that happened, I think it is important that we move forward by continuing to invest in ourselves and our students. We deserve to be the best teacher we possibly can. Now, more than ever before, the importance of making a difference today and everyday has been brought forward.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

They are O-U-R-S!

The events of last week have left its scars. We are moving forward but we have not forgotten. The tragedy cannot be done; Heaven has received some amazing new angels.

I am always amazed at the judgments made during this time, the things that people focus on but I choose to focus on building a better future. I do not wish to argue over whether or not teachers are heroes or just doing their job. Whether gun reform would have stopped the issue. Who or why the situation occurred. I want to simply focus on how to move forward and plan on a better tomorrow.

On my classroom website, I have information for parents that I feel is important for them to know. I included this poem and thought it would be appropriate to share this with all of you as well.

As many of you know, my classroom website is a work in progress. It is part of my thesis, that thankfully I have an extension on completion. Maybe someday it will be completely DONE! Click on the picture to download your own copy.

A student is someone's baby. For a little while we are blessed to share them with their parents. As we mourn this week, as parents and teachers bury angels returned too soon I think it is time that we come together and remember that each student is ours. A shared love and joy that will never be forgotten.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Helping kids cope with books

I LOVE books a many of you know. I think that this is an appropriate time to introduce our students to some new stories to help them understand the loss of their friends and teachers.

I was first introduced to this book when a friend's daughter was dying of cancer. We used it again to help my children deal with the loss of an aunt to cancer as well. It talks about the cycle of birth and death and the ability to live in between.


This one is written for younger kids and has the same concepts as above. Each of the pictures above is linked back to Amazon as it has the "Look Inside" feature so you can preview the books and see if they are appropriate for your class/situation.

This one is obviously religious and should be used with caution. I have read this many times along with the Lifetimes book above.

This is a great book about dealing with separation. I think it may help to know that the string can reach to Heaven.

The rest of these books I have not ever read but perhaps they will help you. Do you have a favorite book for helping children deal with death, violence, or tragedy?

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Coping with Tragedy

Like many of you, I spent yesterday in silence. Honoring and remembering the angels and heroes who left our world all too soon. I hugged my children tighter, loved them a little more, and thanked God that they were among the ones still left here on earth.

It feels wrong to be thankful to be able to love my children when so many are unable to do so today. I struggle with how to make sense of it all and how to explain it to my children. I found some great resources on the internet to help prepare our children for returning to school.

I hope these resources will help some of you as well. 

I have found that with my son that giving him the truth helps. We read some stories on the news (I avoided the videos as I think that would be harder for him) and looked at some pictures. We talked about how his teacher has a plan if anything bad happens. We gave him a plan for staying safe and calm. We talked about the fun the kids must be having in Heaven and how they don't have to brush their teeth after consuming large quantities of sugar any more (his add to the conversation). 

He slept alone last night and only had woke up once. I am not sure how today at school will go but since it is a short, fun week.... I am hoping and praying he does well. I hugged him a little longer, kissed him a little more, and reminded him that I loved him and will miss him today. 

I walked him to school, holding his hand, and tried to be brave as I silently prayed he would be returned to me tonight. Then I walked home with tears in my eyes wondering if he would come back to me at the end of the day. Its funny, its a thought I never had before and now I believe it will be with me every day for the rest of my life. 

I foolishly assumed that an event like this could only occur in a high school. Never in an elementary school and that is one of the reasons why I choose to become an elementary teacher. I wondered at the importance of lock down drills at this age and now I am grateful for them. 

I love this photo!
It says it all... its a day we will never forget. 

Our hearts are broken ~ Our spirits are strong!

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Songs before the Silence

Music has always been soothing to my soul. I know nothing will heal our pain, diminish the heartache, or answer the screams of why. We can only try to cope the best we know how.

Please join me tomorrow in a day of silence to honor 
the heroes and children of Sandy Hook Elementary. 

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