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Monthly Archives: December 2013

When Useful Tools Get Blocked

It has happened ….again.

One of the easiest tools for teachers that are just beginning to jump into the web-page building world, is Weebly.  It is easy to use, it looks good, the beginning stages are free, and they can post pictures!  That pretty much covers the basic needs of beginners.  And now we have been told by our district IT department that Weebly is now blocked.  Why?  Because there is inappropriate content on Weebly.  Not that our students can access it, or that it has broken through our filters – but because it is a site that can host inappropriate content.  We have been informed that individual subdomain sites cannot be unblocked, and that any level of unblocking would be a violation of our state statutes and endanger our state funding and e-rate monies.  While we could spend hours debating the details, logistics, usefulness, appropriateness, long-term consequences, etc, etc, etc of that decision – the bottom line for teachers is that one more tool is taken away.  And replaced with what?  Even our district itself has had trouble finding a tool where our teachers and students can easily create public accessible web sites.  Google sites is also blocked for our students – as well as almost all blogging sites.  So, time to reach out to the power of a global learning community!  Any ideas or suggestions for our students or teachers?  We need a tool to create websites that won’t get blocked!  Then, after our websites are up, let’s dedicate a page to discussing how these decisions are made, who makes them, and how we can find more workable solutions besides blocking useful tools.

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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

1st Grade Roaring Rocket Success!

Whew!  It has been a crazy start to the school year!  After teaching 2nd and 3rd grade at the same school for 21 years, this year I made a change…a big change.  I moved to a new STEM school that opened in our district, and I moved to 1st grade.  Our school is the Barbara Morgan STEM Academy and we are the “Roaring Rockets!”  Let me be the first to tell you that there is a WORLD of difference between a 2nd grader and a 1st grader!  It felt like it took me the first 2 months just to get my feet on the ground and moving forward at a steady pace.  October was exciting for our class, we won a grant for 6 iPads, and a second grant for $5000 of digital courseware.  Until this year my students have had minimal technology exposure.  We spent the next 4 weeks muddling through introducing them to apps, online tools, and usernames & passwords, and usernames & passwords, and more usernames & passwords.  When you are 6 years old and barely reading, even a list of your usernames and passwords can be a mountain of a challenge.  Once November came, I began to notice a change in my students.  Some were really beginning to fly with reading, and some were finally able to log onto computers, get on the internet, and find our class web site….all on their own!  🙂  Primary teachers will understand what a milestone this is.  And now, as December is flying by, I have most of my class logging onto computers, our class website, Edmodo, Math programs, Reading programs, and Discovery Education – daily!  We are Skyping regularly, and they made their first digital book this week in small groups using our iPads, AND without adult help!  They can take pictures, and video and audio record.  Every day I watch them gain confidence and skills.  Watching young children discover reading is amazing.  Earlier this week, one of my most academically struggling and shy students, came back from Thanksgiving break and couldn’t wait to share a song with the class he had written.  He stood up in front of all 22 students, and sang his new song…after requesting that it be video taped for kids in other schools to also see.  🙂  To see the confidence of a 6 year old who knows that he has something valuable to share with the world – is truly magical.  Houston…we have lift off!!

I can’t wait to see where my 1st Grade Roaring Rockets will be next month!

The Thanksgiving Song

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2013 in Uncategorized