Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Friday, December 17, 2010

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Digital Literacy News 12-17-10

Mount Vernon Digital Literacy News

December 17, 2010
Digital Literacy Workshop

January is posing some challenges for scheduling Digital Literacy Workshop.  With these challenges, I have decided to offer a series of Digital Literacy Workshop podcasts for the weeks we will not be able to meet face to face.  

So, join us, digitally, for workshops on January 3, 10, and 17. More info on this soon.

Join us on Monday, January 24 for a live session and open lab.  Our session will be about using Mapping applications across the curriculum.

See a schedule for the year.

Open Lab: 2:30 - 5:00

Resource Instruction: 3:15 - 4:00               
Monday Afternoons, District Office Tech Lab.

Clock  Hours are available.

Links to Explore

A Few Fun Holiday Links:

Enjoy your break!

Make a Snowflake:  Fun way to create digital snowflakes.  

JibJab Holiday:  Create fun videos starring you.  Fun to send at the holidays.  

Create Holiday Slideshows with Animoto  for longer videos, be sure to go to and sign up for an educator account.

Resources for Using Handhelds in the Classroom:

Learning in Hand : Using handheld devices in the classroom.

26 Ways to Use the IPod Touch in the Classroom

How Should Schools Handle CyberBullying? New York Times Article

Apple Learning Tour Resources:   Resources from the event I attended this week.

Think Outside the Box

iPodtourphoto © 2010 Marco Raaphorst | more info (via: Wylio)
iPods, iPads and more... Oh the possibilities!!!  This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Apple Learning Tour in Seattle.  As those in our district know, right now we are primarily a PC district so I wasn’t sure what I would get out of this fact finding mission except envy.  And yes, I was a little disappointed when I left without an iPad as a give away, but I did gain some understanding about how education is exploring and moving beyond just desktop computers when thinking of student access to technology.  With very deep budget cuts coming our way, I am not thinking that we will have a windfall of money anytime soon to purchase class sets of laptops, iPods or iPads.  But, with the ideas I saw, and the conversations I had with others, I did start thinking about how we can maximize not only our learning, but possibly even our budget by looking beyond the desktop computer as we move forward.  

Probably the most promising use of handheld devices they reported during the event was the success of using iPod Touches for fluency practice with ELL and low achieving students.  Reports out of Escondido, California and Canby, Oregon are showing amazing results as students are using these devices to practice fluency.  What they are finding is that with using these tools, student are far more likely to self correct.  Test scores showed dramatic improvement in reading scores for the students with access to this technology.  And, even though the iPods were purchased to be used as a reading tool, they threw in some math apps as well.  Students were able to “play” these math games during transition times extending their learning.  With just the availability of these math apps at opportune times, they had a surprising rise in math scores as well.  I love my iPod Touch and I see great power in having all the abilities of the Touch (internet access, research, educational apps) available to students, I also know that the fluency piece could be done using lower end technology with, perhaps similar results.  The tools would do the trick, but perhaps you would lose out on some buy in.  Our district is in the beginning stages of learning how to incorporate such tools into our system.  As more and more of us have these tools at our fingertips, we are going to want to use them in our classrooms.  For now, the wireless piece and the support of the device are probably not an option in our district, hopefully that will be changing.  But as we witnessed at the Apple Learning Tour, there was a lot of power in using these tools even without wireless access.  

With both the iPods and the iPads, I saw a lot of strong, but not necessarily new teaching strategies being used with this technology.  Students already read books, highlight, take notes, bookmark, etc.  Students use flashcards to practice facts, etc.  But, the beauty of these devices is that it makes all of things more accessible to students.  One stop shopping so to speak.  And, beyond these basics, there are worlds of possibilities for both students and teachers to discover and use that could really transform learning in classrooms. The possibilities are endless.  I get excited just writing about it.  

Although Apple is a cool and sleek choice there are many other similar devices, or maybe even better devices just on their heels.  So this is really not a push for Apple products in our schools.  It is a challenge to start thinking how we can harness the power of hand held devices in our classrooms.  What possibilities can you think of.

And while you are dreaming or before you give up because of the question of funding, I want to put in a plug for  I know of two teachers in our district who have successfully written mini grants and have been able to acquire a few iPod Touches for their classrooms.  I also know of teachers with EETT competitive grants who have been able to use their funds to go in this direction.  Donors Choose takes only a few minutes to set up and it has been a successful way for teachers to get projects funded in our district.

Video of the Week

Tech Triumphs

Last week I had the opportunity to visit with Kevin Schwitter and his Lego Robotics team at Washington.  They were fresh back from their regional win in the research category.  These young engineers  were on their way to the State Finals the next weekend.  Kevin has a group of 10, 5th and 6th graders with a few middle school helpers.  They meet after school and the selection of students was based solely on first come, first serve.  This is exciting, because many times, this rich type of enrichment is reserved for only our high academic achievers.  Kevin shared with me that one of the students really struggles in other areas of school.  This same student took me to the computer and showed me how they program the robots to perform the task.  This student has found a niche.  He has found something that he does well and can be successful at.  This confidence is sure to spill over into other areas of his school life.  At this time, Washington is the only school in the district with a robotics program.  Students participating in this program at the high school level have great opportunities for scholarships.  Would love to be able to see the kids from Washington be able to feed into programs at the middle schools and high schools.  Would also love to see other elementary schools in our district take on this project.

Digital Citizenship

This last Monday, we had a great discussion about Online Safety during Digital Literacy Workshop.  You can check out the resources here.  

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1 comment:

Jessica said...

It sounded like a great conference. Since I have a newcomer, I will look into donorschoose, because I just don't have pre-K materials for her. The lego robotics sounds cool.