For our second class in Teaching with Technology, we focused on communication. What resources do we use for communication with colleagues, students, and parents? What benefits do each of the tools have? What communication happens in my classroom everyday?
We spent most of the class experimenting with the program, OfficeMix, which was a lot of fun. We were in teams of two or three people, given 2 vocabulary words, and asked to write a short spooky story using both vocabulary words twice to show their meaning. Then, we created a simple powerpoint with images to illustrate what was happening in our story. Next, we created an OfficeMix powerpoint by adding voice recording to each slide. We told our story, narrating each image. We also used the “quiz question” feature to add two comprehension questions at the end of our story. Viewers were given multiple choice quiz questions to assess whether or not they learned the meaning of the vocabulary words used in the story. We viewed the other groups’ Mixes and enjoyed trying out their quiz questions. I think we all needed a good laugh, so this was a perfect activity for Week 2; highly engaging and fun.
We spent the next portion of class going into our Twitter accounts, following each other, and posting our first tweet. We were shown how to view the twitter chat schedule and how to join a chat. I am beginning to see just how much information is on twitter everyday.
This week’s work definitely relates to all of us because we ALL communicate with multiple stakeholders on a regular basis. Communicating with colleagues on a regular basis is a necessity for me because I’m constantly wanting to know what teachers are focusing on in their classrooms so that I can align. Also, I need to communicate the progress I am seeing in intervention group to colleagues and parents that often is not noticeable in the general education classroom. Personally, communicating with families is one of my areas I want to improve on this year. As a specialist, I don’t receive as much communication from parents as classroom teachers. Generally, classroom teachers are the first recipient of any news about a student coming from the parents. Often, teachers will forward emails to me regarding a student absence, something happening in the student’s life, or a request from a parent. This year, I am making an effort to try and reach out more often to parents in order to be a stronger presence. I want them to know I am available, too.
I see the value in automating as much communication as possible to save time, however in my case, many of my students don’t have access to computers at home. I cannot yet rely on Haiku or email, for example, as a sole communication method with parents. Often the parents who I want to become more involved are the same parents who are not able to respond via email and who may not have access to Haiku at home. For curriculum night this year, our Safety Net team and ELL team worked together to plan a great powerpoint presentation, with embedded videos explaining our curricula we use. We got very positive feedback from parents who attended. They felt they had a much clearer understanding of how Safety Net works, and that was our goal!
For OfficeMix, I can see some great applications for my older students. I am hesitant with younger students because they have not had much experience with powerpoint as it is, so creating their own powerpoint could take a lot of time. Also, I don’t have access to netbooks, so it will take some planning to coordinate with classroom teachers to see who isn’t using them that day. Students would bring them down during Safety Net class. I wonder – is there a way that I could create a template on powerpoint that my students could easily follow? How would I share that with them if I created it on my activeboard? Or, if we made one together, could they be searching for images to add and post them somewhere like our OneNote collaboration space? I love the voice recording option. With reading fluency, this would be a great way to have students hear their own voice and be creative with the story by adding images (like we did). I have two groups doing readers theater, so I have been using powerpoint to create scenery. They act in front of the activboard. I would love to have students create their own next time.
As I come up with ideas for how to use more technology in creative ways in my classroom, I am continually struggling with ways to make it feasible with the limited amount of time I have to work with each group.