Monday, December 12, 2016

I blinked and December was here!

I did it, I really did it!  Those are my initial thoughts as this graduate technology course comes to an end.  Looking back at my first few blogs posts, I have to smile.  I was nervous, not sure what to expect, and also unsure about how much I was ready to step out of my comfort zone.  I have learned about so much technology (simple and more involved) over the course of this semester.  Some of them (i.e. smore, word clouds, weebly, Twitter, iMovie) were easier to grasp then others, but overall what a great course.  It has pushed me to think outside of the box about engaging ways to include technology during my therapy sessions. Given the challenges with each assignment (including writing a blog!), I made myself look at all of the options and choose as many as I could, that I felt would carryover into my everyday world (i.e. my job).

In today's world and in the field of education, the use of technology continues to grow. Taking this course exposed me to many of the resources that are out there.  It has been eye opening, to say the least.  I will continue to explore the different "tech tools" and use them when appropriate.  Like Smore, the online tool to create flyers and share them, when needed (i.e. with parents and staff).  It would be great to have a "go to" site of created flyers that I can refer to and share, instead of handwriting them out when asked.  I also like Blabberize, although I wish it would record for more then 30 seconds (maybe a minute?).  The students really enjoyed that tool as well as the parents.  It was a fun way to show a snapshot of what we work on in therapy.  I definitely feel that my knowledge of technology has grown and that I am more familiar with so many more tools that are out there.  

That all goes without saying, having great colleagues and friends take this course with me helped too!  It was nice to be able to bounce ideas off of each other and to talk about the different parts of the tech world.  The teacher is VERY knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions you have.  (Thanks Nicole!)  

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Talking Images

Making an image talk, now this was interesting!  I was intrigued at how students would react to watching an image and hearing their own voices.  I have to say, the students were definitely engaged!  I used Blabberize, an online website where you can upload an image and then make it "talk".  I let the students choose what image they wanted to make "talk", searched for the image (through creative commons Google images), and then uploaded it.  The students then practiced saying their words, while the site recorded it.  (Make sure you have the volume turned up on your computer!).  Once the students were done, or the 30 second time limit was up, I saved the creation and let the students listen to it.  It was helpful for the students to hear how they sound, saying their target words, and they also enjoyed watching the image "talk".  (You do need to create an account beforehand, but once you have that set up, you can save your talking images to replay at any time.)  I liked that you have the option to share the completed "talking image", which I did, with the parents of the students I worked with for this project.  The parents enjoyed listening to their child, and they were also able to reinforce the correct sound production at home.  

(For some reason the Blabberize images are not embedding correctly, so I also included the links to two of the images I created).

Smore - it's not what you think!

No I am not going to talk about how to make chocolate-y deliciousness using graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows (although that does sound good!)  Instead, I want to tell you about this online tool to make a flyer/poster using website Smore.  Once I created a free account, I had access to many different templates and layouts.  The online templates are very user friendly, so when you pick the one you want to use, the program takes you step by step through each of the components, so you can edit and make it your own.  I was able to edit the title, text, and add pictures with minimal difficulty.  When you are finished creating your flyer, you can save it to your account, and use it whenever you want.  You are also given the option to send it via email as well.

I definitely think this would be a tool that I could use, to make handouts and references for parents.  I typically write out homework, with descriptions for parents, but instead I could send home my pre-created flyers.  I could make different flyers about each sound, how to produce it (with visuals and step by step instructions), and ways to practice at home as well as ways to target vocabulary, asking/answering wh - questions, and boost language skills.  It would cut down on the time I use to write out these tools for home, since I would be able to refer to them, and either print or e-mail them directly to parents.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A cloud of words

Tech Tac Toe #1
I have to say that it took me awhile to decide what 3 technology tools to choose for this project.  I viewed many of the options and started with Word Clouds.  First, I went to Tagul, a website to create word clouds.  I clicked on the "create now" link and it sent me to the page where I was able to make my own word cloud.  (I did not have to create an account to have access to the site).  While working with one of my articulation students, I typed in the target words, as they practiced saying each of them out loud.  (The two samples I chose were the initial "R" and "K" sounds in words.)  It took a bit of multitasking on my part, as I had to input/type the words as the student was saying them and listen to the correct production of the targeted sound.  (If the student said the sound incorrectly, I then worked with the student before moving on to the next word.) Once we got through the list of words, the student was then able to pick out the shape of their cloud.  (I encouraged the students to pick a shape that represented their sound as well, hence the "rain drop" and "car".)  Once that was complete, the student picked the color they wanted and we created their word cloud.  I printed out the clouds and let the students take them home.  The students liked this because it was not just a list of words for them to practice, but rather an eye catching "cloud" of words for them to talk to their parents about (and practice of course).  I was able to save the word clouds to my computer, so I also have a hard copy of what was sent home.  

These clouds were fun to make with the students, and I think they would be a great tool to use with them.  I am not sure that I would be able to create these clouds when working with a group of 2-3 students, but when working with a student or two, I may be able to handle the task (or maybe have the student type the words in themselves).  It is a simple, easy tool, and could be used in a variety of ways, i.e. when targeting vocabulary, wh- questions, describing characters in a story.  It would just depend on the make up of the groups and what their objectives are.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Evolution of Technology

This week's topic was to review the current research regarding educational technology.  Wow there is a lot out there!  After sorting through quite a few articles, I found one titled "From Pixel to Print: The role of videos, games, animations, and simulations within K - 12 education" by Project Tomorrow's Speak Up.  This research article caught my interest based on the title and the first few lines, about how education has migrated from word of mouth (which was popular in ancient Greece, where Socrates emphasized the importance of the oral tradition), to written texts/resources (first made popular by Plato, Socrates' student), to the now ever present use of technology.  
Socrates - Image Source
Plato - Image Source



Given the information and research that is presented in this article, I think that it would be beneficial for teachers, and people in the field of education, to read the current statistics about how technology is impacting teaching.  There are many references to previous years and how the percentage of technology has drastically increased in the classroom (via videos, game based learning, online curriculum, self created videos, etc.).  I found it interesting that when principals were asked about the benefits of using technology during the school day, the key words that stood out were increasing student engagement, extending learning (beyond the standard school day), personalizing instruction for students, increasing the relevancy and quality of teaching, and improving the teachers skills (with technology).  Helping students stay actively engaged and extending their learning beyond the school day, seemed to be a reoccurring theme.  
MacBook Air - Image Source
Technology is not going away, instead it is improving and expanding everywhere, so making sure teachers stay up to date on this topic and current information is very beneficial, so that they are able to stay abreast to all that is out there.  That being said, it is also important for teachers and staff to continue to receive the appropriate professional development and training, with the new technology, so that they are able to use it the best way possible, to enhance their teachings and challenge the students.  

I would hope that school districts read the current research, to find out the benefits of various technology, before purchasing it for the district and/or asking teachers to implement it in their classrooms.  From my experience, and from information that is given to us by our technology department, the staff look into all aspects of possible technology.   What is also just as important, is also continuing to monitor and keep up to date on the best way to maintain student privacy.  In today's world of hackers and malware, school districts do not want to put any of the students, or staff, at risk when information is posted online.  Overall, I think that given the amount of technology that is available to use, it is important for educators to read about the current research, in order to be familiar with the new information, and also to determine the best way to incorporate it with their students.    

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Digital Tattoos - A permanent stamp in the digital world

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What a world we live in!  People used to have to search through telephone books, go to the library, or send paper mail (i.e.  snail mail), in order to find out information on someone...  But not anymore!  Now all of this information is at the touch of your fingertips!  Just a few clicks and there it is, data on people you want to know more about... or maybe not.

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Digital Tattoos relate to the material that can be found on an individual, that means almost anyone, on the internet.  There are many search engines, quite a few that are free, where you can search for just about anything you want.  I knew that a lot of information was floating around the world wide web, but after learning more about Digital Tattoos, and what sites you can go to, to easily search for details, I was pretty surprised!  I am one of those people who has "Googled" myself, to see what popped up.  I was able to find out what sites my name was listed under, what information came up right away, and even if there were more people with the same name (which there are!)  I find that personal research interesting, so I know what others can find out about me, at the click of a button.

When I was in elementary school, all the way through high school, the online world was around, but it did not have such an impact on individuals, that it does now.  Being linked to pictures on social media, or even through a quick online search, was not something I had to worry about.  Now, however, exposing children to the digital world and teaching them about digital tattoos is an important topic to discuss. Letting them know that early on in their lives, their digital footprint was established, and that it was probably by their parents!  I do not think think the digital world is something to be afraid of, or shy away from, but rather students should know about it, so they can make well - informed decisions about what to post (or share) on the internet.  Technology and the internet are not going anywhere anytime soon, so it is always better to educate children so they have the right tools to make smart decisions.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Digital Storytelling

Pictures, pictures, and more pictures....  That's what I have!  I have always been "that person", the one who has to stop and take pictures.  I love to take pictures, as a way to remember many things, like a trip somewhere, a family outing, or even a delicious meal!  I feel like one can never have too many pictures.  My friends and family know that I love to take pictures, and are usually pretty patient with me.  
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Creating a digital story was very appealing to me!  When asked to make one, I was overwhelmed at first.  It was not because I had to use iMovie, 
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an application I had never used before, it was moreso the fact that I had to decide what the topic of my story should be! So much fun, but also too much thinking!  I went back and forth about a few topics, ranging from a kitchen model (that was just completed), to my nephew (who tells me I talk too much), to my Mom's cancer journey.  Given it is the month of October, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I chose to create the story about my mom and how it has affected our family.  

Using iMovie was great!  It was user friendly, and once I played around with the different options (i.e. transitions, fading music), I was comfortable putting it all together.  I also liked that iMovie saved the project as I was creating it, so I did not have to worry about losing the work I was doing.  The only "minor" tech. issue I had was getting the volume right, balancing my narration with the music.  Overall though, I was happy using the program and can see myself using it again!  Here is the Story of Theresa's Trotters:

As far as using this application with the students I work with, I would have to think about how to incorporate this into therapy.  When targeting articulation (speech sound production), I could possibly have the students read a story and create a movie along with it.  Then the students could share it with their parents (and family) to hear how they are doing with the therapy objectives.  Or maybe when students are working on vocabulary, they could come up with pictures and descriptions of the vocabulary word(s), and then create a story using iMovie.  Given the confidentiality of the students I work with, these projects would have to be made private and I would also have to get permission from their parents/ guardians to do so.  I like the idea of using iMovie, as a way of targeting goals, but I would have to think about the logistics of how to implement it in therapy.