Check out this great video review of Storybird.com created by Shanna Osinski, a fellow member of my Master's of EdTech Program at APU.  Storybird is a unique and beautiful way to enhance writing in your classroom while incorporating technology.


Enhance Your Curriculum

Creating a class web site with Weebly is a great place to start when we talk about getting non-techy teachers to start integrating tech into their classroom.  The thing about Weebly is that it's a drag-and-drop web application.  The simplicity of this is perfect for a first web site for many teachers.  Go check out the Weebly I created teaching teachers how to publish their own!


Fantastic Ida

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons from 3:00 to 4:00 you can find me tutoring a lovely 4th grade girl.  Her parents hired me to work with her on math and reading, but specifically on reading comprehension.  To be honest, I had never given much thought to how an internet resource might help her until an assignment came up in my Master’s course which asked me to teach a web2.0 lesson.
My 4th grade friend, lets call her Paige, does not like reading.  She especially does not like to read chapter books for “fun.”  However, she does tolerate reading pictures books for her required 20 minutes a day.
Remember these?!

Paige was extremely sick as a young child and had severe hearing loss.  Although she has since had several surgeries to help restore her hearing, she has been diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder second to hearing loss which may explain her difficulties in fluency.

To Paige, the shorter the better which is why Choose Your Own Adventure stories came to mind.  I discovered an internet resource called The Never Ending Tale which is a more interactive version of the classic Choose Your Own Adventure tales.  At each step in the story you can make a choice that is listed or you can choose to “add a path” where you essentially get to write the next page in the story.

Paige loved this idea.  We decided to read “Fantastic Ida” which is a story appropriate for elementary age children.  Because each page had only two or three paragraphs of reading before making a choice, she wasn’t intimidated.

After reading for a little while, I explained that she could add her own path, if she wanted.  The answer of course was, “Yes!”  We talked about how to fill out the form, and what an appropriate page would look like.  She thought it was really exciting that the page she created would stay in the book forever, and understood that it was important to be grammatically correct because this would be published on the internet for anyone to read.

Together we wrote several new pages, and then went back and re-read the story through to her new pages.  I have never seen her so excited to read before.  I think it was a combination of several factors like reading on the computer, using the internet, and being personally invested in the story.

The lesson I learned was that technology can be integrated even into subjects like reading where it may seem out of the box.  Taking the time to find the right resources that will spark an interest in your students is worth the effort!


Kinder Tales!

A little background: The school I am working in is on the island of Dominica.  It is a developing country, but the school does have internet access and several desktop computers for student use.

What made the assignment of using an internet resource or web2.0 resource in class difficult was not the fact that I’m in Dominica, but rather that I would be working with a class of kindergarteners and junior-kindergarteners.

At 4 and 5 years old, are students ready for web interaction?  Yes and no.  Amazingly, these students know how to use a mouse, a keyboard, and basic computer navigation.  The 4 year olds (who aren’t reading yet) still need help with entering web addresses but the 5 year olds have learned how to find Starfall all on their own.

gabbyTo speed things along, while the little ones were at recess I went ahead and opened a browser with the 2 webpages we would be using that day.  When the students came in, I took a few minutes and gave them a preview of what we would be doing before sending them over to the computers.  The students understood that they would first be coloring the X-ray, then coloring the xylophone, and finally interacting with the Starfall Letter X lesson.

Can you tell what we learned in language arts that day? That’s right! The letter X.

The two coloring pages went over really well with the kindergarteners.  For most of the students at this age having the motor dexterity to move a mouse and click in the small spaces is a skill all of it’s own.

With kindergarteners, web2.0 is possible, but much harder to implement.  What is tricky about using web2.0 with younger students is that most of them are just learning to read and write, so posting to the Read and Write Web is a stretch.  Ideas for web2.0 integration that I have for this age group include: blogging (one sentence at a time) and using Wordle to have students create a graphic of site words they know.

jackAfter they were finished coloring, the students clicked on the Starfall tab and went through the “X” lesson.  Having used Starfall before, the students were familiar with where and when to click to keep the flash movie progressing.

What I like about Starfall is the use of repetition, video, and audio to keep the students interested while learning.  For example, every time a student clicks on the letter X a “kss” sound is played.

Even children with autism, like the boy above, can successfully interact with this excellent online resource.  Starfall is his favorite website, and it has helped him immensely with learning his letters, colors, and sounds.

After completing the 3 assignments, at their own pace, the students were allowed to play any Starfall “game” they wanted.  They all successfully navigated to another game they enjoyed.

The lesson I learned from the day is that Kindergarteners are absolutely old enough to use interactive websites.  Even those who cannot read are able to navigate and play learning games online.  Does anyone else have any tales of Kindergarten technology integration?


Welcome to Priceless Tech

Starting an educational technology blog has been rolling around in my mind for months now.  As a teacher and student of the Web, I hope to share ideas and dialogue with the educational community around me.