Finally the Final Project

As I am posting this final project, I am watching a CNN special on Malala. Wow!  What an inspirational young women. Everyone should know about her strength.  I can’t wait to see what else she does in her life.  I hope she   What an inspiration.

Anyways, on to the main attraction… course one final project.  Being an integrator on maternity leave, I wanted to develop a lesson that would help one of the grade levels I service.  I browsed through Atlas Rubicon, the program we use to document our curriculum, and found a 7th grade unit about Historical Fiction that was in need of some love.  Click here to check out the un-techy version.

Historical fiction is my favorite fiction reading genre.  I love reading a story that teaches me about history and I love the idea of introducing this genre to students.  I added a blog and timeline project to the unit as well as a Quizlet vocabulary component.  I hope the 7th grade teachers are open to integrating this technology when the teach this unit at the end of the year.


Click here to view the lesson.


Setting the Mood

As I have said before, I have an angel baby.  He is such a good baby and barely cries.  We have however, been using a few tricks of the trade such as swaddling, a pacifier and white noise.  I’ve been reading this awesome blog “The Troublesome Tot.” and feel much more educated as a new parent.  Thank god for the bloggers who post all this new parent info, or I would be totally lost.  So lately, I have downloaded quite a few ambient/ white noise apps to my iPhone and they work like magic with the baby.  I think even I have been sleeping better.

Today my husband enlightened me with a strategy he has used in recent  business meetings and I thought it was pretty genius.  He puts on the white noise app we use for the baby at a low volume during meetings and he swears it sets the tone of the meeting and creates a more relaxed environment.  If these ambient/ white noise apps can soothe babies and make high pressure business meeting more relaxed, why aren’t we using them in the classroom.

Though the studies I have found on the Internet have had inconclusive results when measuring the benefits of listening to ambient noise during work or creative tasks, I point to the fact that listening to this type of noise has an undeniable relaxing effect.  And in a noisy raucous classroom when you want your students to concentrate on a task, I think adding relaxing sounds can’t hurt.

Here are some links to studies:

Here are some apps I have been using for the baby.  Why not try these out in your classroom and see how they work?

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OmVana (the best one in my opinion, but it’s not free).  This is actually a music player.  You can download different tracks and mix them.  There is a huge variety of music and sounds to choose from.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 8.55.27 PM Relaxing Melodies We have been falling asleep to the cricket sounds on this app.  It works wonders with the baby.

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Sleep Pillow – I have the free version of this that is a bit limited; however, it does have some nice whale sounds.

Google+ for Team Communication

Since one unit of this course is about Twitter and Google+, I thought I would share how the IT Department at AISC is using Google+.  Each member of our team joined Google+ and created an IT Team circle.  Every time we help someone, resolve an issue, figure out something or want to share a resource, we post it to the IT Team circle on Google+.  Since all of us have smart phones, we are updated throughout the day about what issues are being resolved and what team members are working on.  This is really working out well for keeping everyone in the loop.  It’s also kind of nice for me on maternity leave because I feel like I’m still staying updated while staying at home.

I think other teams at our school would greatly benefit from using Google+ in this way with their teams.  They could share ideas, resources and and classroom events with each other.  We could also use Google+ in the classroom with students and parents; however, students must be 13+ to sign up for the service.  It would be so nice if Google would trust school domains to manage their own user services like Google+ so that even the elementary students could use this with supervision of their teachers or with restricted accounts.  Maybe one day…

Here is also an blog I found on 12 creative ways for businesses to use Google+.  I’m excited to explore Google hangouts more.  Does anyone have ideas of how to use Google Hangouts creatively in the classroom?

Geeking Out for a Better World

I thought I’d get another blog post up while I sit here on the couch hanging out with my 2 1/2 week old son.  I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful baby.  He hardly cries and almost sleeps through the night already.  It’s so nice to sit here, read my Feedly feed and the COETAIL readings and look over at him in his basket next to me, fast asleep.

So as I was reading the “Geeking Out” section about Fansubbing in the report Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project” pg. 28 – 34, and it reminded me of this online game I heard about called Phylo.  McGill University developed this game to get people online to help map out genetic codes.  Here’s a YouTube movie that gives the directions to the game.  Middle school and high school  students could definitely learn how to play this game and it might be a neat actvity to do when teaching about genetics.


Fansubbing and people creating game guides for video games all sound like a pretty admirable communities but imagine if we could get kids involved in solving problems that really do make the world a better place.  If more games could be created to tap into our collective brain power as a human race, the possibilities could be endless.

So as I was “Geeking Out” on this idea, I followed a couple links on Wikipedia “]” and  Listed here are a bunch of citizen science projects especially animal classification projects that take advantage of the fact that almost everyone now has a cell phone that can take pictures.  What kinds of projects and problem solving would kids come up with if we introduced them to this collaborative concept?  In our classrooms we could start small and have students work on real world problems that matter to them.  After a project idea takes off in the classroom, we could them share it out to the world and ask for other’s help.  We could even take this idea and start a database of UBD lessons that we develop for this course.  We could invite others to post other UBD lessons on a site that we create.

How are my thoughts changing…

Two weeks ago, I woke up around 4am to discover my water had broken.  I had just finished my last day of work the day before and I was looking forward to attending the COETAIL start-up weekend that very morning with Dana Watts; however my plans had apparently changed.

That evening on September 21st, at 8:03pm, I welcomed William Dakota Blair into the world, a beautiful healthy boy.  And since that day my thoughts have revolved around him; what is he thinking, what will he grow up to be, what kind of world will he live in, what kind of technologies will he be using in the classroom and in his daily life, how can I best prepare him for this ever changing world…

So as I start on my journey into parenthood, I also start on my COETAIL adventure. Exploring new technologies, new ways of teaching, and discovering better ways to communicate, collaborate and create all while learning how to change diapers, this is no doubt going to be an exciting time.

The readings for this week [New] Bloom’s Taxonomy Digitally by Andrew Churches, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens, and Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project – “Messing Around” pg. 20 – 28 drive home one unifying message; technology is transforming the way we learn whether we like it or not.  Like Jeff Utecht mentions in his book Reach “No longer are there consumers and producers.  We have all become prosumers.  Creating knowledge as we consume.”  Teaching ourselves things by “Messing Around online.”

I really relate with this excerpt from Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project – “Messing Around” pg. 24

“Basically, I had to self-teach myself, even though I was going to school for digital media . . . school’s more valuable for me to have . . . a time frame where I could learn on my own.” Similarly, Allison, a 15-year-old white girl from Georgia, describes how she learned to use video tools:  

Trial and error, I guess. It’s like any—whenever I learn anything with computers, I’ve taught myself how to use computers, and I consider myself very knowledgeable about them, but I just—I learn everything on my own, just figure it out, and the same with cameras. It’s like a cell phone. I just figure out how to do it, and it’s pretty quick and easy” (Patricia Lange, YouTube and Video Bloggers).

because this is exactly how I learn new technologies.  I figure them out, read up and research about them and then start using them.  Most everything you could ever want to know is already online, it’s just finding that information, understanding it and trying it out for yourself.  Most of the knowledge I have gained as a technology integrator has been from searching the web, reading blogs, forums and help files and spending some time experimenting with the new tools.  Kids are doing this already.  If you show them how to search and evaluate information, most other things they can figure out by themselves.

The teacher needs to step back and become more of a facilitator than an information resource.  The article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens talks about the “Rapidly diminishing knowledge life.”  In other words  “Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months” and there is no possible way to keep up with all this information.  In my opinion, the best way to stay current as a teacher is to stay abreast of new technologies, and new ways of finding and searching information so that you can pass these valuable skills to your students.


Hope and Goals for COETAIL

Ten years ago after finishing my undergrad in Elementary Education, I started the Educational Technology graduate program at the University of Central Florida.  Unfortunately, I only finished half the program before moving to Hawaii.  That year of graduate work; however, significantly shaped my career in education and for the last 8 years I have held a technology support position in the schools I have worked in.

I’ve really wanted to finish up my graduate degree and I am excited to do this with the COETAIL cohort at AISC.  I hope that COETAIL will give me opportunities to connect with other educational technology professionals and help me become a better Middle School Tech Coordinator.  I also see it as a way to develop my digital presence and share what I learn with a much wider audience.