Postcards


The Fat Lady Is Singing!

posted May 27, 2011, 2:25 PM by Kit McCormick   [ updated May 27, 2011, 2:55 PM ]

Wow, I can't believe this is my final post for the Nevada Pathway Project.  Like many of my fellow travelers on the Pathway, I have such mixed feelings!  On one hand, of course, it's a relief that I will not have to work as hard as I have over the last two years to fulfill the requirements of the Project.  On the other hand, I will miss the amazing things I have been learning about how to integrate technology into my instruction.

What would I tell a new Pathway Project teacher?  Hold on to your hat:  this is a whirlwind of learning that will move so fast you can't keep up.  But the benefits of equipment and professional development are worth the work.  There was so much knowledge that was presented that I did not even have a chance to incorporate into my instruction.  I will probably spend a lot of time this summer designing curriculum maps that include technology.   The request to "be creative" with this assignment created typical angst I felt with NPP.  I would love to be creative, but I don't have time, and I am burned out.  I have felt this way a lot during the last two years.  However, I have been recognized as a leader in technology at my school.  My colleagues appreciate my knowledge and (when we have the opportunity to collaborate) they look to me for expertise.

Integrating technology into your teaching?  Good luck!  Find a mentor who does not mind spending A LOT of time with you.  It's hard to do on your own.   Take it one small step at a time.  And plan on spending A LOT of time exploring resources on your own.  Much of my time with NPP was making sure I understood what I was doing before I introduced it to my students.

If I could have designed the Pathway modules, I don't think I would have done anything differently, except to maybe spread it out over three years instead of two.  The learning was amazing, but it came at me too quickly.  I missed so much; I hope to go back and pick up a lot of it, but I know it will take a lot of strength to do it on my own.

All that being said, thank you NPP, Terra, and Sara, for the amazing technology and learning you have given us all over the last two years.  I wish all of us continued success in the important job of bringing 21st Century learning into the lives of the students of Nevada. 

Data Collection

posted May 27, 2011, 1:42 PM by Kit McCormick   [ updated May 29, 2011, 8:23 AM ]

The data are very interesting.  I created a Student Survey (posted in Google Docs) and compiled the data in a Google Spreadsheet.  The survey asked about usage and attitudes about technology that resulted from my learning in the Nevada Pathway Project.  Questions were about hardware, software, and online learning.   Following is a brief summary of the data I collected.  Please click on the links to see the details of the Student Survey and the complete compilation of data. 
  • My spreadsheet is divided into two sheets:  one for my core math and science classes and one for my elective ICT classes, because I wanted to compare the two groups.  A total of about 110 students were surveyed. 
  • In both groups, well over 90% of the students strongly agreed or agreed that they had met the goal of using "technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate, and communicate information by giving 2 different presentations that include various ways to express their knowledge" (as stated in my SMART goal).
  • In my core Math and Science group, 87% strongly agreed or agreed that they were more comfortable using technology for school projects.  In my ICT group, that percentage was 98%!
  • In my core group, 82% of the students strongly agreed or agreed that learning with iPods was more engaging than traditional methods of learning.  In my ICT group, the percentage was exactly the same!
  • In my core group, 54% of the students strongly agreed or agreed that learning with iPods was as effective as traditional methods of learning.  My ICT group thought the same with 64%.
  • In my core group, 64% strongly agreed or agreed that learning with iPods was more effective than learning with traditional methods.  The ICT percentage for this question was 62%.
  • Given more time, it would be very interesting to provide a detailed narrative of all the results, including student comments about their learning.

Invention Convention LiveBinder

posted May 27, 2011, 12:28 PM by Kit McCormick   [ updated May 27, 2011, 2:30 PM ]

I put together a Livebinder for the 1st Annual Depoali Middle School Invention Convention (which debuted very successfully  last night with great student and parent attendance).  I put together the LiveBinder  (click here to see it) very quickly over the period of one weekend, and this is probably the LiveBinder of which I am most proud, for a couple of reasons.  First, it is really the perfect combination of resources created and uploaded by me; second, even though I had presented to my staff about LiveBinders, I think this is the first time my colleagues have not only seen the advantage of using this resources, but they have also begun to create LiveBinders of their own.  In just three short weeks, the Livebinder has had almost 1,200 views!

On a side note, I have emailed for support from LiveBinders enough times that I have developed a first-name basis relationship with Barbara Talent (I guess LiveBinders is her baby).  She is so supportive and helpful!  I still think this is almost my favorite resource that we have learned about in the Pathway Project.

Games in the Classroom

posted Apr 25, 2011, 5:10 PM by Kit McCormick

I read “Video Games in the Middle School Classroom” in the Middle School Journal.  I was struck by the descriptions of the characteristics of today’s learners: “on demand,” “twitch speed,” “graphics first,”  “trial and error,” and “collaboration.”  What followed was an explanation of how certain video games are excellent teaching tools, with consideration to setting expectations and having structure and support to keep the students on task. 

With this article in mind, I sped through “Science Pirate,” and I loved it.  The game was designed by the University of New Mexico (I have used technology from them before, notably “Pearl Diver” for the iPod and “Math Snacks” online).  “Science Pirate” teaches the scientific method.  (They say it takes two hours to play, and it probably took me a little less.)  For structure, I envision a notetaker for students to reflect on what they are learning about the scientific method as they go through the game.  I plan to use it as an end-of-the-year enrichment project, as well as next year as an introduction to the scientific method.  It was wonderful!

Some other sites/games seemed inappropriate for my students.  However, the following were useful for my students:  CoolMath (my students already know and love it), PBS Math Active (the format of “Look, See, Try, Show” is the same for all activities), and Illuminations from NCTM.

I think games are both excellent remediation and enrichment for classroom lessons.  I am fortunate to have the equipment to support this endeavor, but I know this is not possible for all teachers.  Some sites required membership (even fees), and that always presents a problem.

Several of these sites are now in my LiveBinders (a resource used routinely by me and my students), so I can explore them further in the future. 

iMovie!

posted Apr 14, 2011, 12:12 PM by Kit McCormick

I spent some time doing some video editing with iMovie.  It was really quite easy and pretty fun.  My students will be working with it after Spring Break to create a movie about the ground source heat pumps used to heat and cool our school.  I figured I ought to learn the basics of the software first.

A few weeks ago I also spent time  with Movie Maker, the Windows software for video editing.  It was fairly simple as well, and mimicked programs I already use a lot, like Word and PowerPoint.   However, my students don't have that software available on the PCs at school.

So...let's hear it for the MACs and iMovie!  Thank you, Pathway Project!

Click, click, click

posted Apr 13, 2011, 4:28 PM by Kit McCormick   [ updated Apr 14, 2011, 12:11 PM ]

I was working on my PC but could not figure out how to sign in to this google website.  It just appeared with I opened it on my mac, but I'm not sure why.  Another of the many frustrations with this project.  So...to upload student artifacts to my website, I guess I will have to use my mac.

How do I get all these options to show up on my pc?  Well, I went back to my pc and clicked a lot, and suddenly I could edit.  No rhyme or reason.

I have never been happy with the google website.  I want to create a different website for myself when this project is over.

I Love Glogster

posted Mar 30, 2011, 6:08 PM by Kit McCormick

I don't know why, but for some reason I got lucky:  Glogster asked me to take a survey, which I did, and they rewarded me with a one-year premium subscription.  That means I can manage up to 200 students who have access to extra options like the drawing program and video recording. 

I love it, and my students do, too!  So far, over 100 of my students have created glogs.  They are using it for their other classes as well.  I asked my principal to observe when we had a "museum walk" of the student glogs.  She loved their work and promised to help me continue with the premium subscription next year.  Yay!

Hello, Website!

posted Mar 30, 2011, 6:07 PM by Kit McCormick

It has been a while since I have visited!  Goodbye CRTs!  Now that testing is over, it'w way more fun to teach.

Today I presented to my staff on LiveBinders.  Whoa, it was scary!  I have presented nationally and MANY times locally, but it still made me nervous.  My admin, my whole staff...but it went WELL.  I remembered why I enjoyed presenting.  It was only 15 minutes, but I think the staff learned from me and was appreciative.

One more assignment checked off the list!

Bummer!

posted Dec 28, 2010, 7:05 PM by Kit McCormick   [ updated Jan 6, 2011, 5:57 PM ]

I have spent a lot of time developing models and ideas for using Glogster and Wallwishers in my classroom.  Then I went to school today...(cue sad music...)...neither of these sites are allowed through our firewall.  They are considered "social networking."  This makes me wonder about Museum Box and Evernote.
All of these sites encourage creativity, collaboration, communication, digital citizenship, and more.  How can we develop 21st century skills if we can only use 20th century tools?  Is anyone else having this problem?

General Thoughts (from the General Store)

posted Dec 26, 2010, 5:14 PM by Kit McCormick   [ updated Dec 26, 2010, 5:29 PM ]

In addition to the specific blog responses I made about exploring sites from the general store, here are some that I liked and want to spend more time visiting in the future.

Kidblog looks great—I like that, unlike other blogs (including edublog), it is totally private and includes no advertising.  If I weren’t already using edmodo, I would consider Kidblog.

Ipoddery:  had trouble with these sites.  Some links did not work.  Much was blogging, and difficult for me to follow or focus.  However, it was good to know that other teachers are using iPods in much the same way that I am. 

Amazing Web 2.0 projects:  he should have published this as a book.  Can’t believe all that info is free, and all the links are wonderful.  Saved it in diigo and in livebinders.

Kathy Schrock:  always helpful material for educators.

Professor Garfield:  Great Information.  It appears to be for younger students, but I bet my 6th graders would enjoy and learn from it.

Museum Box:  I really wanted this to be a site I could use, but I had trouble navigating it.    It was difficult to search for other museum boxes.  And the last date on published resource for teachers was 2008.  It looks like you have to register as a school to use this site.  Not good.  This looks like a valuable resource that I might check into later.

Evernote:  Looks like something I would like to personally use.  I’m fascinated by those “clouds” in cyberspace that store information for us.  However, WCSD has blocked one of my favorite “clouds”: Dropbox.  That has made my communication between school and home more complicated. 

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