Thursday, February 24, 2011

Skype for Educators!

Hi everyone, this week we had to respond to an "outside" edublog.  After looking through multiple blogs, I came across "The Innovative Educator" written by a teacher in NYC.  One of her posts that stood out was "Skype in the Classroom: Using Skype to Bring Education to Life - Sign Up Now!"  I am sure you are all familiar with Skype and all that it offers but now it has a specific application for teachers!!  Take a look at all it has to offer and what I wrote in response.  Let me know what you think about the topic!  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Facebook App Increasing Schools' Retention Rates?

While doing some work this week, I came across this article "Can Social Networking Keep Students in School" and was quickly interested in the topic.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $2 million dollars to Inigral which is a company “trying to build virtual college communities by creating school-based Facebook sites” in order to help decrease college drop out rates.  It’s called the School App.  At first I thought this was similar to Facebook’s newly accepted student groups that are usually created by students and anyone could join it.  However, the School App only allows current and future students to join the page.  Their aim is to create a virtual community for new students before they step foot on campus. Students create a quick profile of their likes and interests and then search using interests to meet new friends. Groups and organizations can also use the School App to advertise their information and upcoming meetings and events.  The School App provides students with connections before the big move-in to ease the transition of going away to school. 

To me, they are not reinventing the wheel.  They are taking existing ideas from Facebook and making it better to meet students’ needs.  I personally love the idea because I remember joining those newly accepted student groups and felt so lost with all the students who joined.  And for most college students, Facebook is how a lot of students communicate with each other.  During my undergrad, I was constantly on Facebook.  It was where I connected with friends, posted pictures, shared news articles, or just went on to take a break from school.  For my Digital Media class, my professor used Facebook as if it was blackboard.   She posted the syllabus, zips files of the week’s work, and even messaged us our grades.  It was awesome!  And I really wish more teachers would incorporate Facebook in education. 

So what do you all think?  Check out Inigral’s website and see how it is being used on college campuses.  It will be hard to prove that it is improving schools’ retention rate because when students leave, they usually leave for multiple reason, not just for social reasons.  Do you think it has the potential to improve schools retention’s rates?  And also what do you think of incorporating Facebook in the classroom?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Digital Storytelling

For this week's free post I am going to discuss digital storytelling.  Currently I am a graduate assistant for a professor that teaches a social studies methods class.  Some of her research this semester consists of using student narratives as a powerful way to teach pre-service teachers.  One form of narratives that I am helping her research is digital storytelling.  This form of storytelling as the University of Houston defines it as, "The practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories. As with traditional storytelling, most digital stories focus on a specific topic and contain a particular point of view. However, as the name implies, digital stories usually contain some mixture of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips and/or music" (

Often times digital storytelling is used to tell a personal story of a student that is related to what is being taught in the classroom.  A great example of this is having students present their family history using pictures and videos while narrating their past as it relates to history.  A great website that shows digital storytelling is  This website contains an assortment of personal stories told through digital storytelling to motivate and inspire people.  Please check it our and maybe you can find something to use in your classroom.

When I was student teaching, I had my students create podcast interview of a famous abolitionists from the mid nineteenth century.  For the most part, my students created great and insightful podcasts.  A couple of my students, however, decided to go above and beyond and create a digital story.  They added images of their abolitionist, put in symbols, and even put in multi-media.  It was very engaging and fun to watch.  After seeing some of my students create a digital story, I realized the potential of using this kind of assessment in all classrooms.  When presenting a science project, students can introduce their topic with a quick digital story of work done outside the classroom.  There is a lot that can be done and I will let you all know the cool things I find out throughout my research this semester!  

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Enriching Our Classrooms Through Blogging

We live in an interconnected world where we receive instant information from just about anywhere and anyone.  It is a type of world where we can voice our opinions about modern revolutions, like in Egypt, while sitting in the comfort of our home.  It’s absolutely incredible and blogging is part of this interconnected world.  As I write people are writing about everything from education to politics to what happened on the Jersey Shore this week!  Blogging helps give a voice to billions of people all over the globe making our world just a little bit smaller. 

Teachers across the country have been using blogs in their classroom from elementary to high school in numerous ways.  Some teachers use blogs to inform parents what is happening in their children’s classroom, where other teachers are making their students contributors to the blog to voice their opinions about what they are learning.  Blogging has the potential to change the traditional classroom into a classroom in the 21st century. Research has proven that students are more likely to engage in school when they feel they are actively contributing to the classroom and blogging provides that opportunity. Instead of having students who are normally too shy to speak in class, they can use blogs to share their opinions and reveal another side of themselves. 

When I was student teaching, I created a blog for my 11th grade United States History students.  At that point I was fairly new to the blogging world, therefore I solely created my blog to provide further information on the topics we were learning in the classroom.  Often times I would post interactive websites for my students to check out and extra credit opportunities. To see what I created, please take a look at my United States History and Government Blog!  In the future I would use a blog as an extension of the classroom, very similar to what Ms. Baker did in the Extreme Biology Blog.  In the blog, Ms. Baker and her students’ posted articles related to biology or something they are learning in class.  Blogging helps bring alive the material students are learning in class and in essence it should be an enriching tool in the classroom.