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Artifact #1 - Blog

Reflection:  If two heads are better than one, communication is the key, and technology is the future, then blogs are an ideal medium to combine all three factors.  Nicole Ellison of Michigan State University conducted an empirical study of using blogs in the classroom and created a screencast discussing her findings.  Based on her study, Ellison claims that blogging in a classroom leads to a reduction in plagarism becaues students have to evaluate the writing of others and respond to it.  This process pushes students to develop their analytical and critical thinking skills.  If this research is to be beleived, more teachers and school districts need to join the push for integrating tools such as blogs into their curriculum in meaninful ways because it not only allows for content knowledge development, but it also helps develop real world technology skills which are marketable in the workforce. 

Artifact#2 - Delicious Account

Reflection:  Social bookmarking sites such as are the new wave of bookmarking your favorite internet resources.  As part of the Web 2.0 phenomenon that allows users to read as well as write and share on the internet, this bookmarking site allows users to access a list of their favorite websites from any computer with internet access.  Not only are they able to access the list, but according to John Thompson in his article Don't be Afraid to Explore Web 2.0, many educators and students are finding ways to incorporate this feature of Web 2.0 into the classroom.  Teachers are able to build a account, customise the tags, create a specific resource list and share the resources with not only other teachers but with their students.  Many teachers are also using to create a list of web resources for specific projects in their classes.  The convenience and functionality of the idea allows itself to be adapted to many different uses in education.  The ability to collaborate, share and communicate from any computer makes a valuable tool to add to educators' skillsets.

Artifact #3 - Google Pages

Reflection:  Risa Blair and Lyndon Godsall, educators in a South Florida, have composed an article based on their findings in a study of using e-portfolios in a high school setting.  According to Blair, not only did the students creating the e-portfolios learn content material, but they also developed numerous technology skills in th process.  One child from the study even used her extensive e-portfolio on a chosen author to obtain a position as an intern at her local Fox network affiliate.  Findings such as these help reiterate the fact that teaching students skills such as building web pages, blogs, Wikis, electronic publications and the like, can be done in such a way that the students are learning on multiple levels.  Content knowledge such as math, science, history, writing, etc. should be embedded in the assignments that also require technology skill development.

Artifact #4 - September 2008 Newsletter.htm

Reflection:  In an article published in The Reading Teacher, Deborah Jensen extols the benefits of using newsletters to communicate with both parents and students.  According to Jensen, the newsletters should not be viewed as a one-way form of communication, but should be used as an interactive form of communication.  The newsletter from a teacher or librarian should offer stratgies, tips, and resources that will allow parents and students to become engaged with the curriculum as well as participate in school events and programs.  Newsletters are a great way to help parents stay informed and contribute to their child's education in a variety of ways.  According to Jensen, the interaction and development of two-way communication through newsletters helps to foster stronger relationships between parents and teachers and demonstrates to the students the importance that both their parents and their teachers place on education.  Going forward, teachers, librarians and administrators should keep these thoughts in mind when developing a newsletter.  It should not be a quick document thrown together just to put out the upcoming calendar, but should be used as an interactive medium to get parents involved and participating in their child's education.

Artifact #5 - Book Club Wiki

Reflection:  Yoany Beldarrain, Instructional Leader at a virtual school in Florida, conducted a study focusing on integrating new technology to foster student interaction and collaboration.  In the article , Beldarrain points out that in the real world workplace people are expected to work together and collaborate in a real time method.  If we are to provide our students the skills they need to succeed in the real world, we need to also provide them the appropriate tools.  In this study, Beldarrain advocated for the use of tools such as Wikis in education.  She points out the uses and benefits for distance education in particular.  Wikis are real time, and they allow students and teachers to again focus on content in a way that is interactive, allows for collaboration, while at the same time provides the learner with marketable real world skills.  Educators and administrators need to evaluate and explore the many ways that forums such as Wikis can be incorpirated into their curriculum.

Artifact #6 -  Interactive Technology PowerPoint.pps

Reflection:  In Tom Schrand's article Tapping Into Active Learning and Multiple Intelligences With Interactive Multimedia, he points out that it is not a very far stretch for educators already familiar with PowerPoint to go one step further to incorporate interactive features such as Flash videos and animations into their presentations.  Simple animation, graphics and sound can greatly enhace the presentation and further engage multiple learning styles in the classroom.  Schrand advocates the use of interactive presentations in order to facilitate active learning where the students are fully engaged and can to some degree control the technology.  These active and hands-on learning methods are only available when the lesson and the technology are designed accordingly.  By either building their own interactive PowerPoints, borrowing from lesson plan sites, or using the ancillary material that accompanies their curriculum, teachers can present lectures and lessons in a forum that allows students every opportunity to engage with the content material and hopefully foster greater learning.