Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Journal 6 - Google+: The complete guide/Educators - Google Plus is for you

Parr, B. (2011, July 16). Google+: The complete guide. Retrieved from
The article  Google+: The complete guide, by Ben Parr gives a thorough description and explanation of Google+ and how it works.  The author starts off by stating that he the article is not meant to promote Google+, but merely to answer the question, "why would anyone want to use Google+."  Parr does just that.  Much of the article is comparing Google+ features to Facebook features, which is appropriate enough since just about everyone has a Facebook and is using it as a benchmark anyway.  Parr goes on to breakdown the different aspects of Google+ and describe their purpose, what makes them unique, and how one would go about using them.  For example, he explains the concept of "circles," one of the defining features of Google+.  He compares this feature to following someone on Twitter (in that following someone doesn't require them to follow back) as well as Facebook (in that streams of information are shared with and received from one's circles).  The article is very detailed, and would be useful to anyone who is new to Google+ and not familiar with its ways of functioning. 

Q - How might Google+ be a better educational tool than some of the other popular social media networks?
A - One aspect that could make Google+ more educator-friendly is the ability to separate one's various social circles in the same account.  Educators often describe having to have more than one Facebook or Twitter account: one for their personal use and one they can share with the students and co-workers.  With Google+ those different groups can be easily separated without having to create a separate account.  With "circles," one can group certain people together (business associates, family, students, friends, ect.) and share information with only the desired circles.  This could allow educators to better connect with his or her students by having all of his or her contacts in one place. 

Brogan, C. (2011, Sept 30). Educators – Google Plus is for you. Retrieved from

The article Educators – Google Plus is for you, by Chris Brogan is written specifically for teachers and educators, and explains why Google+ is a great tool to use in the classroom.  In a step-by-step fashion, Brogan explains how to use the "circles" feature on Google+.  He also elaborates on the "hangout" feature of Google+, which is similar to a video-chat room, without the need for a specific invitation.  Brogan describes several different uses for "hangouts," such as virtual class time and accessibility to other educators on Google+ who can add to a class' educational experience.  With this article, Brogan clearly endorses the use of Google+ in the classroom, and encourages teachers and educators to utilize the tools it has to offer. 

Q - Could Google+ allow parents to be more involved in their children's classes and education?

A - Since Google+ is free, teachers could easily encourage parents to create accounts and be involved in the online portion of their children's classes.  Posting homework assignments and lessons online could give parents the opportunity to be more aware of what their child should be doing at home, and even make them better prepared to help their child.  


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Journal 4 - It's In The Bag (NETS-T 2)

Basham, J. D., Perry, E., & Meyer, H. (2011). It's in the bag. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(2), 24-27. Retrieved from

In the article It's In The Bag, by James Basham, Ernest Perry, and Helen Meyer, the concept of a "digital backpack" is explained. The authors explain that the University of Cincinnati partnered with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Apple to design a toolkit which features digital tools for students to use in their classes. These digital backpacks are based on a UDL (Universal Design for Learning), which allows students with a range of academic abilities and technological experiences to utilize their digital tools as they need. The backpacks are also equipped with specific educational frameworks for the teacher to incorporate into their curriculum.  The article goes on to describe field testing of the backpacks with different grade levels, as well as tips for educators wanting to create their own digital backpacks for their students.

Q - How can a school that has been impacted by budget cuts utilize the concept of a digital backpack in its classrooms?

A - Teachers and principals could look for online tools, many of which are free, to use in the classroom.  Most schools have access to at least at few computers, so being aware of what resources are available for educators and students to use will make it easier to implement digital tools into the curriculum. 

Q - How can digital backpacks encourage students to participate in lifelong learning?

A - The tools and skills that the students learn utilizing their digital backpack will be generalizable to future grade levels and assignments.  Also, becoming acquainted with these digital tools serves as a building block to future technology learning.  If students become familiar with technology at a younger age, then they will be more likely to continue using technology throughout their educational careers and into their adult lives.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Journal 3 - Students Dig Up Dirt (NETS-T 4)

Morehouse, J. (2011). Students dig up dirt to learn about internet safety. Learning and Leading with Technology, 39(2), 34-35. Retrieved from

The article Students Dig Up Dirt To Learn About Internet Safety, by Jesse Morehouse, describes one of the ways in which technology students can learn about internet safety and appropriate internet behavior.  Morehouse, a high school technology teacher, explains that he always spends a portion of his class teaching about internet safety, but that in the past he struggled to get the students engaged.  Morehouse came up with a lesson plan that involves "data mining," which involves seeking out public information about a specific person based on what information they provide about themselves online.  Morehouse explains that his students are always shocked by how much they can find out about a person based on a very limited amount of know information.  This hands on approach helps students realize how much other people can find out about them, and hopefully prompts them to take a second look at the information they provide on their Facebooks, or other social media networks.

Q - Why is it important for teachers to instruct students in the area of internet safety instead of leaving it up to parents?

A - Since technology is a quickly growing field, and many students are already more technology savvy than their teachers, many schools have decided to incorporate technology into the classroom and lesson plans.  If teachers are bringing technology into the lives of his or her students, then they must also instruct those students on how to utilize that technology safely.  Of course, in an ideal world the parent would talk to their children about all the things they will encounter growing up, but this is just not the case.  Many parents are not aware of the technology their children are using, or how to use it themselves.  Therefore, it is important for teachers to supplement what their students are learning at home about internet safety. 

Q -Some may argue that acknowledging that students have Facebooks and helping them monitor the information made available on them will send the message that Facebook is an appropriate activity for the classroom.  How can teachers teach about safely using Facebook without condoning its use in the school?

A - Teachers can generalize these safety protocols to many tools and networks that can be found on the internet, including educational chat rooms and discussion forums, therefore the tips for being safe on the internet are not exclusive to Facebook.  Even so, the fact that most teenagers and young adults have a Facebook is common knowledge, and explaining the most important do-s and don't-s of internet safety in terms of Facebook will help make the information relevant for the students, increasing the probability that they will be interested and engaged.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Journal 2 - Join the Flock/Enhance Your Twitter Experience (NETS-T 1)

Ferguson, H. (2010). Join the flock. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(8), 12-15. Retrieved from

The article Join the Flock, by Hadley Furguson, introduces readers to Twitter, a social media tool, and describes its functionality in the context of education and the classroom. In the article, Furguson describes her own experience with getting involved with Twitter, and how it impacted her career as a teacher. Furguson gives the reader step-by-step instruction on how to create a Twitter account, how to best present oneself to the Twitter population, and how to become exposed to specific kinds of information made available by other members of Twitter. She describes the different levels of visibility and exposure, and the benefits of each level. Furguson goes on to explain the various way in which Twitter has benefited her as a teacher and her classroom.

Q - How can Twitter help new teachers be better equipped to effectively teach their students?

A - New teachers are perhaps the best candidates for all of the resources Twitter has to offer. New teachers have neither the experience nor the confidence to know where to seek out useful resources or how to ask questions when they are unsure of themselves. Twitter would allow new and prospective teachers to tap into streams of educational resources without ever having to ask a question or feel embarrassed. New teachers could find ideas for their lesson plans, online resources for their students, and ideas for issues that may arise such as classroom management and student-teacher connections.

McClintock, S. (2010). Enhance your twitter experience. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(8), 14-17. Retrieved from

The article Enhance You Twitter Experience , by Shannon McClintock Miller, discusses how Twitter can enrich an educator's experiences in their career by introducing them to other educators around the world and to many new resources simply through common interests. Miller describes some of the many tools that can help someone who is new to Twitter organize their account and feeds such as TweetDeck and HootSuite. She also defines much of the terminology that has evolved in the Twitter world.

Q - How can Twitter help an educator teacher his or her students about appropriate internet behavior?

A - One concept that has evolved in the Twitter community is "Twittiquette," the idea of appropriate behavior while utilizing Twitter. A teacher who incorporates Twitter into his or her lesson plans and classroom also has the opportunity to teach children what is considered appropriate behavior on Twitter and other social media networks. Using appropriate language, protecting one's identity, and being aware of the information made available to one's online network are all important internet-safety topics that can be addressed with the help of Twitter.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Technology Self-Assessment: School 2.0

NETS-T V:  This technology self-assessment gauges ones digital competency as a teacher in the classroom and provides resources for improving deficient areas.  This activity engages teachers in professional growth and leadership by asking them to analyze their technological abilities and to research ways in which they can improve themselves.

About this Resource!

In order to improve my performance on the "NETS-T (I) Module: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity," School 2.0 recommended that I check out an article called "Top 10 Web 2.0 Tools for Young Learners."  This article provides and describes ten online tools for younger students to engage in in the classroom and at home.  Many of them are introduced as game-like, making them very "kid friendly" and easy for students to use on their own.  This area was of great interest to me because I feel that a child's desire to learn must be fostered very early on and developed as they get older.  The earlier we teach our students that learning can be fun and give them ways to learn that they enjoy, the more likely that this interest in learning will continue into their future grade levels.  Personally, I know that the efforts my parents put into finding resources for me that I would use and enjoy had a huge impact on my education as I grew up.  My parents forced me to read when I was young, but it did not take long for me to forget that I "hated reading" and to begin getting lost in my book.  The same goes for most subject areas.  Today, technology can have a huge impact on how children learn.  Being aware of resources that are age appropriate and fun for students is very important to me, as I think it will make me an overall better teacher.