Friday, July 30, 2010

Google Presenter

Prior to this assignment, I have used Google Presenter for a few school projects, as well as in my classroom during my student teaching internship. During some of my teacher education courses, I used Google Presenter when collaborating with colleagues on group assignments. One of the obvious benefits of Google Presenter, is the ability to have multiple people working on a project at one time, without having to be in the same place. Also, during my student teaching internship, I would often create PowerPoints to use in the classroom when I was teaching, on my laptop at home. Thus, in order to show them on the computer at school, I would have to save them to a flash drive, or send them to myself via e-mail. This quickly proved to be a hassle as I would go through multiple flash drives and/or the PowerPoints were too big to send via e-mail. Two other issues I encountered, were transferring PowerPoints from my Mac to a PC, as well as the issue of dealing with two different versions of PowerPoint (2004 vs. 2008). I would often have to spend at least 10-15 minutes revamping my PowerPoints once I transferred them to the school computer, because the templates, fonts, and pictures would not transfer well. Using Google Presenter alleviated both the problem of having to transfer my PowerPoints from one computer to another, as well as worrying about the quality of my PowerPoints once they were transferred.

The functions I like most about Google Presenter are its similarities with PowerPoint, it’s user friendliness, the fact it can be edited by multiple people from different locations, you can import actual PowerPoint files into Google Presenter, and that it can be accessed anywhere you have an internet connection. While it’s simplicity makes it very user friendly, it was also one PowerPoint, it has very limited theme selections, it does not have a clip art selection, nor can you add slide transitions or animations as you can in PowerPoint.

To use this software in the classroom, students would need to be able to read, they would need to have basic typing skills, experience with some type of word processing program would also probably be beneficial. Students would need to know knowledge of how to import pictures or clip art from other sources (the Web, their computers, etc.). Students would need to know how to insert and utilize text boxes, how to insert new slides, how to sequence slides, etc. Overall, I feel this software would be best utilized by students in grades second and up. I feel they would be old enough to properly use a program like this to create and share presentations.

You can share the products you create with this application in multiple ways. First of all, you can share it in it’s true form, via the internet. If you have an internet connection, you can pull up your presentation online and share it. Also using an internet connection, you can invite people to view or collaborate on your project. Secondly, you can download it to your computer and save it for use. This way you have it on your computer, can transfer it to a USB drive, etc. Another way you can share the products you create with this application is via e-mail.

I used this type of application multiple times during my student teaching internship. For example, during our social studies on economics, I used it to make presentations on community helpers, the marketplace, and money. This way, I could combine text, images, and videos, to help student better understand these concepts. I used this application during word work activities, to teach students about onset and rime, and syllable counting. I think an application like this is very versatile and can be used across all subject matter in many creative ways.

One thing a teacher could do to help students collaborate using this application, would be to assign every group member a role. For example, one student could be in charge of the slide layout, one could be in charge on inserting the text, one could be in charge of finding videos to insert, one could be in charge of finding the images for the presentation, etc. Another way, could be to have every student in charge of creating a certain number of slides in the presentation. Again, this program allows multiple people to be working on the same project as once, so it easily lends itself to collaborative projects.

In terms of organization and managerial considerations, one would be how students are collaborating on the projects; partner, small group, whole group, etc. Also, do the students pick their own groups, are they assigned groups, etc.?  Another would be the topic the students’ are focusing on for the project; are all groups doing the same topic, does each group pick their own topic, are they assigned topic, etc.? If the students are expected to work on the project on their own time, another consideration would be if all students have access to a computer.

Overall, I think this application would work wonderfully in the classroom. It’s simplicity makes it incredibly user friendly, especially for young users. It could serve as a helpful introduction to a more complicated program, like PowerPoint. Also, the ability to have multiple people working on a project at once, makes it very easy to do collaborative projects in the classroom using this application.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I think blogs can be very useful in the classroom, when used effectively. As I teach first grade, I am struggling to think of ways to use it with my students, as many are still struggling readers. Although, I have been considering having a classroom blog, where the students rotate making simple posts regarding what we're working on in class. This way, I could help my students further develop their typing and technology skills. I could also make this blog available on the classroom website for my students' parents to view and comment on. This way, the students could take pride in the blog and receive positive reinforcement for their work, from their families. Mostly, I see blogs being utilized in language arts. Ideally, I would have each student create their own blog to use and comment on their peers blogs. I think blogs would be an excellent way to showcase students' writing, as well as receive feedback from myself, their families, and their peers. I also like the idea of using a blog for students' writing because it allows students to go back and edit, revise, and publish. I do realize, however, this may be a bit too advanced for first graders. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

While I really like the concept of blogs, I also feel their uses can be very limited, especially in the classroom. To me, a blog still seems like an online journal and I have a hard time "thinking outside of the box" in terms of how else to utilize a blog. This is something I want to do more research and exploring on, to find multiple ways to utilize this Web 2.0 tool in my classroom, across all subject matter.

Wikis and Wikipedia

When I searched Wikipedia for my school, it lead me to a page for all of East Lansing Public Schools. The page included information about each one of the schools in ELPS, so I added information for Donley Elementary School. I added the name of our principal (Marcy Kinzer), and a link to the school's webpage. Below is a screen shot of what the Wikipedia page now looks like.

In terms of my Wiki, since I have used Wikispaces quite a few time through my course work for MSU, I decided to try out a different program, PB Works. It was fairly easy to use, a bit more confusing than Wikispaces, but not bad. I added a slideshow of pictures from my student teaching experience. It was the first time I had used, and I have to say, it was a fun program to use. I also made a sidebar with links to other sites I have created throughout this course. I am still not exactly sure what I would want to use a Wiki for. Perhaps to collaborate with the other first grade teachers I work with this year. You can access my Wiki by clicking here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Computer-Based Instructional Objects

I have to say, I really learned a lot from this week's session, and I certainly found a lot of computer-based instructional objects I will use in my classroom this upcoming year. As a new teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to make learning engaging for my students, and that's what I love about these CEP courses. After only two weeks, I feel like I am walking away with an abundance of new ideas. For example, the StAIR projects and WebQuests. I feel technologies such as these, could be wonderfully integrated into my classroom, if done right.

While I do feel computer-based instructional objects can be very beneficial, I also feel there are many considerations to be made when using them in the classroom. For example, the very first obstacle I came to when creating my StAIR project was the young age of my students, their lack of technology knowledge, and their lack of literacy skills. Thus, all of these aspects had to be taken into consideration, before I could proceed with my project. I had to be very careful with how I designed it, in order to make sure it was as basic and "child-friendly" as possible. I also came to the conclusion I would have to narrate the majority of it, due to my students' limited and varying literacy abilities. I do feel, however, if done properly, the StAIR project could be very beneficial when doing my economic unit with my students this upcoming year.

In terms of the WebQuests, while I do feel they could be very powerful, the majority of the ones I came across were outdated and didn't work properly. Furthermore, many of the WebQuests didn't credit their sources, making them somewhat unreliable. I did, however, come across a few WebQuests I may use in my classroom. This WebQuest for example, is one where students have to come-up with their own physical activity game to play, and would fit perfectly as part of our Healthy Me! science unit. Another WebQuest I came across, incorporated literacy learning and science, as it centered around Eric Carle's book, The Grouchy Ladybug, and incorporated a variety of hands-on activities, perfect for young students. I liked both of these WebQuests because they related to content I will be covering this upcoming year, seem easy enough for most of my students to use (with minimal help), and appear to use credible sources.

Overall, I am very excited to use both the StAIR projects and WebQuests this upcoming school year.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Difference between Blogs and Traditional Websites

I feel the biggest difference between blogs and traditional website, is the personal element blogs have. I feel blogs are a personal way for people to freely express their thoughts and ideas, where as traditional websites are usually more formally written. Also, blogs are often times about a wide variety of topics, where as I feel traditional websites usually serve a more specific purpose. One of the things I love most about blogs is how easy they are to use and how they can be as customized as desired. Traditional websites, on the other hand, are usually open to everyone. Overall, I feel blogs are a great, informal way to share ideas and information with others.