A Web of Reflections and App Picks

In reflecting upon this past year, we went be back to last year’s end of year reflection post.  We still find all of the tools discussed in that post useful—from email to smartphones.  We challenged ourselves to explore a few new avenues of tech.  Here are some of the results that seem to be a related web of events.       
Continued blogging in class:  We both blogged with our classes to various degrees this year.  We worked together during the summer when we blogged with 180 high school students.  The benefits of blogging are numerous!

Presentations:  Blogging and exploring tech on this site also led to co-presenting.  You can view our Keeping Writing Alive with Web 2.0 Tools  EERC presentation and our Blogs as a Springboard presentation.   Cheridy also guest posted and explored Jing on the Teacher Challenge blog.

Twitter:  Last year’s end of the year reflection post inspired us to give Twitter a whirl. We both see its advantages as one form of a PLN.   Here are a few links to get you started if you are new to Twitter.  Cybrary Man has a wealth of resources.  The Langwitches Blog has a nice Guide to Twitter in the K-8 Classroom.   This is a list of some popular educational hashtags by November Learning.  Just following these will give you a taste of Twitter.

Google +:  Seeing the potential in Twitter encouraged us try Google +.  We are both still in the process of contemplating its uses in education.  We are accessible on Twitter and Google + via the links on the right of this blog.

iPad/tablets:   We mentioned the iPad in our post last year as being new to us.  It has so much potential that it still feels new.   It’s possible to do all of the above on it.  Numerous apps and more choices in tablets are making these mobile devices a more viable option in education.  Cheridy’s kiddo has taken over hers, so she finds herself using it to find educational apps for her kid.  There are quality apps for everything from art to writing.  Kacey uses the iPad for consuming information. There are some amazing aggregators that are wonderful on the iPad. She calls the iPad her “toaster” as it is always right there and easy to use.

Apps we frequently use:  While we are on the topic of apps, here are a few more we like. 

Cheridy’s picksReadIt Later is useful for quickly marking sites and reading them later either on a computer or mobile device.  Evernote  and Dropbox are convenient organizational apps that sync to your computer.   Voicethread, Animoto, and ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard each have a lot of potential for students to display creativity as they synthesize and create. 

Kacey’s picks: Flipboard is a “personalized magazine” available for free on iPad and iPhone that allows you to add self selected content from different sources. You can add social media (Facebook and Twitter), magazines like Fast Company, aggregators such as Fancy, or RSS feeds via your Google Reader account. (If you still have not used an RSS reader, check out The Complete Educators’ Guide to Using Google Reader from The Edublogger). Flipboard makes everything look like a beautiful magazine. If you want to read a longer article, send it to Instapaper. This app is great for reading offline content. If you purchase the iOS version, you will have seamless updates to all your gadgets. Scrabble has an app that lets you play “online.” (Imagine if we had this app for our interactive white boards!) And you can’t pass 2011 without checking out Spotify for all your music needs. 

App Slappy and iPad Today are two podcasts full of good app suggestions.  Appy Hours 4 U with Lisa Johnson & Yolanda Barker is a good resource for finding apps and descriptions of ways to use them in education.   (These are just a few of our favs, so we forsee an upcoming post on this topic :-)

Topics we plan on keeping our eyes on this year:  Ways to apply technology meaningfully will continue to be a focus.  Cheridy attended a conference this year on immersive education and would like to explore it more.  She would also like to continue to learn about online instruction and instructional design.  Kacey continues to seek websites and apps that go beyond “flashcard” learning. Additionally, now that VoiceThread is available for the iPad she wants to capture student learning there. You can check out Bob Sprankle’s BLC 2010 VoiceThread for Beginners presentation slides and his blog post What’s Your Favorite Transformative Tool of 2011? where he posted BookCasts that he created with 3rd and 4th grade students. 

Future of Tech for Two Teachers Exploring:  We will continue to explore and make fits with technology that are useful to our given teaching situations.  We return to last year’s conclusion.  It really is about technology as a tool.  Sometimes the best tool is high tech, while other times it is no tech and good old fashioned sitting in a circle discussion.  Having the knowledge of the tools available to us and the ability to bridge the gap and put them to use in meaningful ways is important, so we will keep exploring.  We welcome you to continue the journey with us!

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