Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Leaping into the Global Read Aloud

Next week marks the beginning of a world-wide read aloud initiative known as the Global Read Aloud.  Between October 6 and November 14, participating teachers from all over the world will choose from one of four books to read aloud to their students.  During the six designated weeks, classrooms from all over the world will collaborate with one another through various electronic means to discuss their chosen books and share their excitement for reading.

This year Mrs. Pritchard's 5th grade students will be participating in the project.  Each week we will Skype with a partner school to talk about our chosen book, The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm.  

Today, Mrs. Pritchard's students had a chance to meet students from our partner school through a Mystery Skype.  During the Mystery Skype, students took turns asking yes/no questions to narrow down the location of the partner school with the goal of figuring out exactly where in the world they are located.  To make the questioning and guessing easier, students used Google Maps to zoom in on and pinpoint specific locations.

While it was a challenge guessing the specific city where our partners live, with a little hint from them, we were able to figure out that our partners are from Duxbury, MA!  

We were so excited to meet them, but we are even more excited to begin collaborating with them beginning next week to discuss our reactions to The Fourteenth Goldfish.  We look forward to our next Skype with Mrs. Burns' class of 5th graders.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Digital footprints: how does what you post today affect your future?

What is a digital footprint?  Why is it important?  How can my digital footprint affect me in the future?  These are all important questions that students in Integrated Technology have been exploring this past week.  After watching several videos and reading several articles explaining the idea of a digital footprint, students formed production companies and had to make a decision about which host to hire for a new TV show in development. Students had to make this decision solely after reading the online profiles found for the two candidates being considered for the job.  The profiles were found through an online search of social networking sites, newspaper articles, and blog posts.

Within their production companies, students carefully scanned the candidates' profiles for any information that suggested that he or she would not be an ideal hire.  For example, they looked for discrepancies in information, analyzed uploaded photos, and made judgments about what type of worker the candidates might be based on how they presented themselves online.

After carefully reviewing the profiles, students had to make a decision as a team about which candidate they should hire and why.  This decision was a tough one and created great debate among team members.  One candidate appeared to come across as more favorable than the other, but questions such as "Is it fair to judge someone for something that happened years ago?" and "What if this person has changed?" created great -and very real-world- conversations.

Finally, each production company had to make a presentation to the entire class about which candidate would make the best hire and why.  Once again, debate followed as the entire class shared their different thoughts about what they discovered.

Ultimately, the class agreed that NEITHER candidate would make a good hire.  While one candidate appeared to present herself more favorably online, both included information and photos that made us question their credibility.  Was it fair to judge someone based on what they posted online?  Some students didn't think that it was since they argued people change, and they should not be judged based on their past mistakes.  Most students, though, thought that is was fair and believed that a person's digital footprint could help employers learn more about a person than what can be gleaned from an interview. 

This full lesson entitled "Trillion Dollar Footprint" is one of Common Sense Media's fantastic lessons.  This lesson gives students the opportunity to not only work in teams and understand the process of hiring someone in the 21st century, but students also really learn how important it is to carefully consider how they present themselves online.  Our digital footprints stay with us forever, and they can have a huge impact on how others view us. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting to know one another AND students from our partner school in Kansas

Students in Integrated Technology have been busy, busy, busy.  We are ready to begin our first digital partnership with Mr. Kessler's 5th graders at Morse Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas.  During this quarter, we will be using Edmodo to converse about ourselves, our digital lives, and what we are learning in the core curriculum.  In addition, IT students will have the opportunity to practice what they are learning about digital citizenship in our face-to-face class sessions by talking virtually with a remote group of students.

To get our collaboration started, and learn new things about one another, IT students used the iPads and the app Adobe Voice to create a video about themselves.  They were able to add images, text, and record their voices by using this app.  Students posted their videos to Edmodo to help students in New London and Overland Park get to know them a little better.  Check out some of our highlights.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New year, new students, new LIBRARY!

Welcome back!  We have had an extremely busy first two weeks.  It has been exciting to get to know the new 5th graders. This past week I have been giving all 5th grade classes a library orientation to help familiarize them with where materials and located and the digital resources available to them.  During orientation, students used the iPads to complete a QR code scavenger hunt.  Working in teams, they had to use Destiny, library materials, and search the library stacks to locate different items.  It was awesome to see the teamwork they displayed and their excitement over using a technology that is new to most of them.

We also changed the entire look of the library.  We are excited that we were able to use profits from last year's book fair to purchase new sofas and loveseats!  Your book fair purchases have really helped us modernize the look and feel of the library.  In addition, we extended the computer lab and added a "genius bar" or charging station.  Bring in your devices and plug them in during the day.

We look forward to seeing you in the library often this year.  We are just getting started, but so many exciting things are already happening.