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Tag Archives: technology

Reading Rainbow

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I was excited to hear that Reading Rainbow was developing an IPad app but nervous to see if it could meet my expectations. I downloaded the app because it’s free and began checking it out. It is truly excellent and I am really pleased with it. However, you should note that to get access to all the books will cost you 9.99/month but that would be well worth it. As a parent you get access to a website that tracks your child’s reading time and number of books, there is also a section with tips and ideas to enhance the time you spend reading with your child. The app has different topic islands that the child can visit. Each island has at least fifty books right now with the promise of more. As well there are videos showing real life content that ties into those topics hosted by Levar Burton. Each book has the option of being read to the child by a narrator, or to read themselves. There is also fun surprises hidden on the pages to touch and animate the illustrations. In addition most books include a game like matching. For teachers, they are developing a website section that should launch by fall but the app itself is a great tool. I can see using it within guided reading groups as a fun listen to books option. This truly is one of the best educational apps I’ve checked out and if they keep developing content the way they promise it will just get better.

Where’s Ms.Ginther been?

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Okay it’s the last week of semester and yep I’ve been MIA off my blog for the last few days.  I apologize but it seems no matter how well I try to plan ahead the last week before the end of classes is really busy.  I’ve been writing papers and finalizing projects for what feels like 30 classes (but it’s actually only 3 they tell me).  As well I’ve been longing for my family in Alberta it’s been a long time since I’ve seen my cute nephew.  Tonight I have the first of my projects to share, a complete 40 item booklist of great classroom reads.  Booklist just click this link and you should be able to access the pdf version of my list.  Some of these books I’ve featured already on my weekly lists but there are a more great picks here for you.  Since summer is a great time to search for booksales and do some reading I thought I’d add a few titles to your lists.

Coming up a post on what I’ve learned in my educational computers class (hopefully a fun interactive slideshow), a summary of learning and the final post in my inclusive education series 🙂 whew a busy week!


What have I been learning

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Well it’s been a long haul but I’m about halfway through this semester so I think it’s time to talk about what I’ve been learning.  I’ve been listening in on a lot of great conversations on twitter and I have found that twitter is a great way to get “in the know” about new ideas.  I’ve gone from a twitter avoider to someone that really enjoys it.  I do wonder about the boundaries between professional and personal that seem to get blended on twitter.  I find it hard to keep a professional relationship with people after you’ve read their drunk twitters, however that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps its a softening of the boss/teacher as god perspective that has reigned for a long time into a more approachable co-learner/leader perspective.  

Remind 101 is awesome, but I doubt I’ll be using it in kindergarten but if I was teaching older students I would totally use it as a tool to safely incorporate cell technology into a classroom.  I like that theirs a way to enter into the students world without needing to compromise their information privacy or yours.  Combined with the cool cell poll/clicker technology I’ve seen it makes a strong argument to include cells into your classroom.  The only reason I doubt I’d use it is that most kindergarteners don’t have their own cell phone however, that being said it could be a way to send reminders to parents about upcoming events and classroom requirements.  So never say never 🙂 maybe I will use it.  

That I am a google aficionado.  I listened to Michael’s talk and while I found it really interesting most of it wasn’t shocking to me.  I think that’s because I’ve been beta testing for google for a while so I’ve fallen down that rabbit hole.  I love a lot of google tools.  Google calendar I swear it saved my marriage, my late husband and I could both access our calendar, make changes and see what’s going on….brilliant! I know a friend who is divorced and remarried with step kids and all the parents share a google calendar to keep track of the kids schedules in a way that everyone can see and she swears it helps keep everything running smoother for the kids.  I love google docs and was excited by the ways Michael shared that I can use it with kids in the classroom I actually hadn’t really thought through how to use it in a class setting so that pretty much blew my mind.  Picasa is amazing! I use it when I travel to upload my photos and share them with my family back home all I need is an internet cafe.  It was great to be in India and be able to quickly upload my photos, know that they were safe and that my family could see my adventures.  I could go on for pages about the ways I use google but I think that would get boring.  However, what I appreciate the most about google products is how easy they are to use.  It’s obvious that they put a lot of time into their development and how people will use it.  I guess the most useful tool I follow is the google labs where I find out about new products.  

That students need someone to guide them in technology because it is not intuitive.  No matter how comfortable with technology a student or teacher appears their is always new things to learn and ethics to think about.  So as a teacher I need to teach my students how to think through new technology and lead the way in learning.  I can choose to stay in the comfortable area but if I push myself outside of that box my students will benefit and their learning will be increased.  

Some Days Technology SUCKS!!

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Today was one of those days where technology humbles me.  Lately quite a few friends have been complimenting me on my tech skills and I’ve been helping people out but before anyone starts to think I’m a guru just listen to my story.  Last night I get a phone call from my bank and discover that somewhere somehow my debit card and pin got skimmed and were now being used in Quebec. So I spent all morning today filing fraud reports with my bank and changing all my account pin’s.  I’ll get my money back but they don’t know how long and while I was happy they only got 600.00 apparently that’s a fairly major haul.  Apparently I missed seeing the skimmer on the terminal so I’m not as observant as I thought.  

Then I went to the mac dealer to see if they could fix the weird wi-fi problem I’ve been having.  For the last week I’ve sat in class trying to access the internet via my iPad or macbook, everyone else in the room is getting on no problem. however my devices can see the networks (have used them before) but just won’t connect.  They won’t even connect to my iPhone hotspot.  Then I get home and there is no problem.  This same problem has happened mostly at the university but also at a coffee shop.  So I figure after researching my problem through numerous apple discussion boards and getting nothing I’ll bring an expert in.  So I walk into the computer place, they try to connect to their network…viola everything works….I’m standing there looking crazy with a perfectly working macbook and iPad.  So tonight we’ll see if I can get on the network at the university, if not them I’m going into university IT department for more help.  If anyone has any ideas about what I can do to fix this problem I’d be grateful because I’m giving a presentation tomorrow which requires both my laptop and internet to work at the university.  

So I spent the whole day dealing with technology gone wrong issues and have nothing but a blog post to show for it.  The moral of my story is that no one knows everything about technology and there is always going to be that problem that frustrates you so just keep searching! 

Welcome to the Twitterverse

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Well I took the plunge into twitter last night because of my ECMP class.  I can immediately see the appeal and how you can get a lot of information but I’m feeling almost overwhelmed with the in

formation.  It’s like being at a party with 300 conversations going on around you.  So far I feel like I’m only getting little snippets and not a whole conversation.  I think this is why I resisted for so long because I like more depth to my conversation, perhaps fewer people but longer posts.  I think that’s why blogging has always appealed more to me.  I am glad to be pushed into trying something new.  I do have a couple questions that I’m asking for help with

Help me Notes and Questions!!

I’m very confused by the chat thing on twitter.  I just don’t get it so if anyone has some helpful info or tips about how chat works that would be really great.  Tonight I’ll go digging for some information on chatting and try to figure that out.

Also if I’m at a restaurant would I write “@starbucks” or “at #starbucks”?  Just curious how the grammar thing works.

It’s easy to become complacent and comfortable in a technology rut so I’m glad I’m trying something new. I have a lot of friends that barely email, technology is their enemy and they refuse to learn or join. I don’t understand this technophobia they have I mean I don’t jump on every new technology but if it’s worth exploring new technology.

For a course I took a long time ago I read a book called “Technopoly” by Neil Postman and it’s basic premise was that culture is no longer shaping technology but technology is shaping our culture. Although he offered a compromise he basically set out two extremes that you either submit to technology or resist technology. I think this argument is dated in some ways but that he had some excellent points.  Technology is here to stay so you either learn to use it to your benefit or you ignore it to your detriment.  I think by ignoring technology until you have to use it means that technology manages you.  If you are exploring and open to new technologies you can look for the positives and negatives of the technology and adapt your world accordingly.

I love the way technology makes it easier to connect and share my ideas with more people than I could ever have imagined.  Three years ago when my husband died I tried going to a grief support group for widows but I was the youngest there by a good 30 years.  Online I found other young women who were going through the same thing, I also began blogging at that time as a way to share my thoughts and feelings that were too intense for face to face conversations for me.  Technology literally was a lifeline for me.  Now I live 8 hours away from my family but I get weekly photos and videos of my young nephew via text messages, these photos and videos seamlessly upload to my tv and now form my tv screensaver. This technology connects me to my nephew and brings my family right into my home and my daily life.  By updating my blog and Facebook pages my parents know what’s going on in my life. They have more awareness now of my beliefs and activities than when I lived under the same roof with them.  All these changes in technology that I have embraced were a little overwhelming at the start but now I couldn’t imagine my life without them.  Maybe twitter will make the cut, maybe not but I’ll try it out explore it’s possibilities and then make a decision.  At least I can say that I made a thoughtful decision about my participation or not in this technology.

Digital Natives?

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While I was perusing my reader feed yesterday I came across a new post from a favourite blog of mine “for the love of learning” by Joe Brower.  I’m embedding the post here for ease of reading and discussion but Joe’s blog is worth checking out as he discusses a lot of issues around education.

Digital Native myth

by Joe Bower
The idea that children are digital natives is at best inaccurate and at worst a lie.

It’s weird how the glitz and glamour of technology can hypnotize even the sharpest people into believing silly ideas. If someone came out and tried to sell the idea that some children are literacy natives, we would scoff at them because we know that the ability to read and write, like all learning, is constructed from the inside out while interacting with our environment.

And yet, as soon as we start talking about smart phones, tablets, texting and other technologies, we get bamboozled into thinking that digital natives exist.

Children who have access to technology and are encouraged to use it in a playful and informal manner grow up to be adults who feel comfortable and competent around technology.

Children who have little to no access to technology and are discouraged from using it (usually out of fear and ignorance on behalf of the adults) grow up to be adults who feel uncomfortable and incompetent around technology.

All this has nothing to do with their DNA and everything to do with opportunity and affluence.

I think that Joe is right often we assume that children are naturals at using technology and therefore as teachers we don’t put the same emphasis on teaching technology as we do on teaching things like reading.  Yes, because we live in a affluent and technological society means that kids are very familiar with technology.  However, there are huge gaps between the types of technologies children have access to at home depending on parental beliefs, socio-economic status and the child’s own interests.  As well, children that may have lots of access to technology may not understand how technology can be used to enhance their education.  A big example of this is running a simple web search, many adults much less children do not know how to judge web sources and how to tell which biases different sources carry.  Most people can’t explain why wikipedia isn’t considered an authentic source when compared to the online version of encyclopedia britannica.   This is the big gap where teachers need to enter in, helping ensure that all students have access to technology and can use it responsibly and to it’s full potential.