May 16, 2013
Students are wrapping up their presentations for the Biography project this week. Yesterday in class I demonstrated something in each person's slide show that could be improved. I stressed to them the importance of visuals in a presentation, and that words used on a slide should only be key words and not sentences. If the audience has all of the text the speaker is saying on the slide, why do we need the speaker? So some students needed to work on using the available space on the slide to enlarge their images. Others needed to insert or correct the image credit. They should have a link to the page where the image is found, and not just a link to the image itself. The page URL shows the context in which the image was used and also the ownership of the image. I also stressed large font size when presenting to a group. For the fourth quarter technology grade, students will be evaluated on completion of the slide show (which was actually done in Google Presentations rather than MS PowerPoint in order to facilitate access outside of school, and also their set up of the citation page for the information resources used.
bio tiles.JPG

April 15, 2013

This past Wednesday we used an online citation maker to begin a Google doc to contain resources used in the biography project. The citation maker is a green tile on the cougartechwebmix. Something new that I was not aware had been added was a feature to allow the citation maker to actually create the initial Google doc and put the citations right into the document. There were some rough spots as we found title, author, publisher, date, and place of publication. Mrs. Smith would like all the students references to be listed in this Google doc. We will work on that next week as well as strategies for research.

The checklist papers from the state glog project were sent home. They do not need to be returned. I uploaded every single image that I could locate in order to fix the broken links. If a student did not have the image in the first place, I could not upload a replacement. The glog is embedded in the students' blog pages. I will be giving them a score for following directions with that procedure, although we basically did everything together in class. Please write a comment for your child on his/her blog post or even on those of other students and remark on some feature of their glogs. They always love to see comments. When commenting, do not use your last name in order to maintain the student's privacy. You can sign "Mrs. J. " or "Mom" or "Grandpa" or "Aunt Mary", etc. All comments come to me before they go live on the blog and I click to approve them.

March 28, 2013
Yesterday I finally received a response from EDUGlogster about our image dilemma and it is very discouraging. Here is the text of the response:

Thanks for your patience in waiting for this reply - I needed to discuss the issue with one of our managers and our programming team. It is not that we are not worried, or concerned, about the Classic glog issues. The situation is that the newer versions of flash player that have been released by Adobe no longer support the version of programming language that the Classic glog is based upon. This resulted in the linked image and video issues. Unfortunately as much as we would like to fix it - it is not now something that can be resolved. We do understand the disappointment of students and sincerely apologize - we will be removing the Classic glog as an option for new glogs to prevent the situation being repeated. While the updates have been beyond our control we take responsibility for the fact that it is in using Glogster Edu that the students and yourselves have been disappointed and would like to extend your license period coverage by 2 months to 29th October 2013 as a gesture of apology.
The fact that the EDUGlogster program has been Flash based for years and Adobe has been updating their Flash player frequently over the years indicates to me that the company has made a conscious decision to no longer update their platform to be compatible with Flash. This says that they are choosing not to invest the dollars in development of their Classic Glog platform. Flash is "on the way out" but still necessary in a number of circumstances. They seem to be doing what is best for their bottom line and education takes a back seat, and even though they have call themselves EDU, students are not their primary focus. This decision to not offer the Flash-based Classic glog should have been one that was phased out by sending a message months ahead of time that after a certain date the Classic glog would no longer be supported as they will be moving away from Flash in glogs. Many other companies have changed their offerings or decided to no longer offer support but a date was given so that users could adequately prepare. To not provide any warning to educators and to cut off support mid-school year is really unfair to students and teachers. I had tried the "next-gen" version of the glog when it came out and found it to have many bugs and be unpredictable. It was quite disappointing. Now they have disappointed again.

I have updated several of the student glogs for the state project by re-doing their images myself, but it is a time-consuming task. I showed them during Wednesday's class how to do this themselves and how to see in the image library if the image was linked or uploaded. I will go back here and there over the short Easter break and try to do a few more. It would be great if they had time to do a few of the images themselves but I did not say they had to do that, of course. And anything I would suggest they do would lose out to First in Math anyway. The sad thing is that the students whose glogs have been embedded from previous years, and even the fourth grade glog earlier this year, are now "broken" with big gaps where images had been. They will not be able to look back at their previous work and be proud of their accomplishments.

We have embedded the current glog into a post to share but the post will be published after we add one more thing, a hyperlink. That will occur during the next class period.

Have a wonderful, if slightly shorter, Easter break!

March 23, 2013
frustration.gifI just needed to post an update regarding some problems that have recently occurred with EDUGlogster and the state glog project. Over the past couple weeks there has been a student now and then who said an image wasn't appearing that had been appearing previously. Sometimes we reloaded the image URL, sometimes it appeared on one browser and not another, and sometimes we couldn't find the solution and so another image was inserted instead. Suddenly last week, the image situation went haywire and most of the images were not appearing at all. In some cases the images would appear in the thumbnail view but when opened, the pink disks would spin as if the image were being loaded from the web location, but then the space remained blank. I was in contact on Friday, March 22, with tech support for this site. Their first thought was that our flash player was out of date, but we are running the current version. When given a student account to log into, the tech support person experienced the same issue with images not appearing, so it seems the problem is not occurring at our end. I was assured that their programmers would be looking into it. Also, in looking back at glogs that were created last year and that had been posted online for a long time, even those images are not displaying. The only images that appear are graphics that came from within the Glogster graphics or images that were uploaded from the computer rather than inserted via web URL. I spent some time re-doing one student's images, based on the ones that appeared in that student's image files, and uploading rather than pasting a link. This did work, but would be a monumental task for me to re-do that for every student. I am going to hold out hope for a resolution to this issue on Monday or Tuesday. They have my email and cell phone number. Let's hope they are able to determine the cause of this issue. In the meantime, no stress. Students should have completed the two text boxes for agriculture and industry, and if any other images are still being worked on they should be uploaded rather than linked. (Meaning download the image from the web, and then upload into the glog image bank.) No one needs to re-do anything that was already completed. Stay tuned.

March 15, 2013

We are approaching the end of the third quarter and students have been going over checklists to make sure all parts of the state glog are completed. I printed out a page where they could check off item by item for the first three checkpoints, and then I actually scored those three checkpoints and returned the pages with comments. They then used another sheet with each item listed for checkpoints 4,5, and 6, and had to check item by item for completion of each of these steps. There are a number of students who have not checked off all items on checkpoints 4,5, and 6. (Note: There is no Checkpoint 6 tile on the webmix because that was inserting a link to the project resource page which we did together step by step in class. Everyone should have that completed even if they are still working on Checkpoints 5 and 6.) The individual checkpoint scores are being entered into PowerSchool. I have been working with them for many weeks and giving suggestions and pointing out items that need correcting, therefore the scores are likely to be high for this first time they receive actual project grades in fourth grade. Keep that in mind that I have been holding their hands through this procedure but gradually began letting go as we got to the end.
The next step for us will be to embed the state glog into the student blog page so it is visible to the world and can be shared with classmates and others. We can do the embedding step even if the glog is not completely finished, and the updates will appear.

January 28, 2013

iowa glog.JPGFourth grade has spent the second quarter working on their state glog projects. This may seem like a lot of time spent but it was actually just a few classes between days lost for holidays and also a missed class because confessions took place during our class time. This second marking period just ended is the last time that students will be graded on participation only. Starting in quarter 3, their work will be evaluated for completion and accuracy. This will involve looking at the various checkpoints of the state glog, which we will be finishing up, and other projects in the quarter. The students have access to their state glog project both in and out of school. They can access the site via the pink tile with the white G, or simply log in at edu.glogster.com. Please note: There is a glogster.com site but it is not the education site. Students should not try to log in to that location. In addition to following the directions on the checklist they are also learning to work with images. I have provided resources for them to gather their facts, but I have also allowed them, and encouraged them, to use Wikipedia for image collection. This is because the images found on Wikipedia articles are either in the public domain or are under a Creative Commons license, meaning they are not copyrighted and are safe to use in student projects. Please visit the cougartech webmix and view the 4 checkpoints at the bottom left of the grade 4 tab. If a student is not finishing up the steps of checkpoint 4 at this time, then they are behind in the project and need to put in some additional time. I had 2 lunch recess sessions for 4th graders before exams, and I will try to do it again in the coming days, but scheduling 4th grade at lunchtime is a little more difficult for me. The last areas we will be adding to the state glog will be some facts about agriculture and industry in the state, and a link to project resources. Here is a link to a sample Iowa glog which is pictured at the left. This was made last year showing the layout of the project sections. This year we are asking students to feature one attraction from a state or national park rather than 3 different attractions.

December 20, 2012

Throughout the first half of the year students have been working on becoming comfortable with their individual online identities and saving work to their designated network space. We began using tools in EDUGlogster to create a glog on the theme from International Dot Day. Those glogs will be embedded into a blog post in the new year. We have then applied the glog tools to a new project, creating a digital poster on an assigned state. There is a definite sequence of events and definite requirements for each part of the poster. These are broken down into "checkpoints" and the checkpoints are on the 4th grade tab of the cougartech webmix. The glog tools are now familiar and so students can concentrate on using the provided resource list to search for the key facts on their state. This will also be embedded on the blog as well as shared during Catholic Schools Week. The glog account is completely accessible from home and students are encouraged to get caught up if they have fallen behind. At this point they should have completed all of Checkpoint 1, which is putting in the state name, nickname, capital, and map of the state location. In Checkpoint 2 they worked on adding state symbols: flag, tree, bird, flower using images and text labels. Most students have finished or are close to finishing that section. Some were ready to move onto Checkpoint 3, and so that video was shared in class this week. In Checkpoint 3 they are finding
christmas+vector+background+graphics+26 copy.png
some specific facts for their states such as population, area, time zone, etc.

The videos that accompany each checkpoint were created by me for last year's project. Although the project has been tweaked a bit by Mrs. Smith and myself, the basics of the video are still applicable to this year's project. Students may watch those videos anytime they need a refresh in how to do a part of the project.

Starting in the new year, I will begin to evaluate/score student work so that for quarters 3 and 4 students will have a report card grade that reflects the level of completion of their assigned projects. At this point they are still receiving G for their class effort but will soon take on the responsibility of earning their report card grade based on how well they follow the assignment directions.

Please continue to encourage keyboarding skills at home. If you have not yet downloaded the Type to Learn 4 program (see download info) please do so and allow your child to work on this skills in spare moments.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

September 12, 2012

Today in fourth grade technology we finished our first blog post of the year, titled "Back to School". In it students followed the writing prompt of "My best summer memory is..." and "This year in fourth grade I am looking forward to..." They should have at least one sentence on each thought. We used a technique we had used near the end of third grade to spell check writing before sending it to be published. Students copied the text in the blog article and pasted it into MS Word and then saw what corrections needed to be made. It was a good way to review the spell check feature in Word and what the different colored lines mean. When they were satisfied with their changes the post was sent to me for publishing. All posts they write will come through me first as well as all comments made my others. Please encourage your child's writing by submitting a comment on posts they write. Since they are learning to protect their privacy online, if your child is John Smith and goes by the initials JS on the blog, please sign Mrs. S or Mom or Grandmom or Aunt Mary, etc. If you are commenting on the posts of other students, feel free to include your last name, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Wilson, etc.

dot day.JPGWe also viewed the book trailer on The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds in honor of International Dot Day celebrated on September 15-ish. The premise is to believe in yourself, try your best. and let your creativity shine. You will be surprised how much you can achieve. Next week we will use digital tools to create a dot and write something on that theme.

I hope in the near future to be distributing signature forms for our acceptable use policy and electronics policy. Once Mr. Reese has given final approval and the website is updated you will receive those forms.

August 30, 2012

I turned my back for a second, so it seems, and another school year has begun. Welcome to our fourth graders and families.

We had our first technology class on Wednesday, August 29, and we are off to a good start. Some big changes occur in fourth grade tech. This is the first time students will be signing into the school network with their own unique username and password, and also having their own folder on the network for projects. They will save to this folder not only in technology class but also in work that is done in the fourth grade classroom with Mrs. Smith. It was a lot to get used to on the first day, and on top of that they also learned another password that would be used with their Web2.0 accounts (such as blog, glog, wikispaces, etc.) This password stays consistent among all their other digital accounts but is different from the network password. We discussed the importance of not sharing a password (although parents can always have passwords) and to think of your password like your toothbrush. We don't share our toothbrush, and likewise don't share our password. Students used their Web2.0 password to access their individual blog page. toothbrush.JPG

Next week students will be receiving information regarding our school's acceptable use policy and other tech information to share with you. Going through the new log on procedure and testing the new Web2.0 password by logging into the blog account was as much as we could manage for the first class.

Please contact me at any time with any questions you may have via the link at the top of the fourth grade tech schoolnotes page. All fourth grade info will appear on this site but I will use that schoolnotes page to post a message that there is a link to updated info here so feel free to sign up for update notifications on the fourth grade page. The wikispace page is much more suited to the types of information I post. You can also easily visit the students' blog pages and other frequently used websites as well as assignment information on the fourth grade tab of the cougartech webmix.

One final thought: A portion of the new network password required students to use their house numbers. Quite a few didn't remember what their house number was, or confused it with a zip code. For safety reasons, you may want to review this information at home.

April 16, 2012

Looking back at quarter 3:
Most of third quarter involved finishing up the state glog. We had a few class periods where we played the "Who's Still Standing?" game, where I brought the checklist up on the board and each student could remain standing as long as they had that item in their completed glog. It was interesting to see how many students who were sure they had done everything found themselves sitting down after we went item by item through the checklist. For quarter 3 I scored checkpoints 1, 2, 3, and 6. The glogs really shaped up at the end and I am happy with the effort that students put into them. I am not sure if all have had a chance yet to present for the whole class, but they are very proud of their work. I will score the remaining checkpoints and include those in the quarter 4 grade.

from Southern Wells Raider Report
from Southern Wells Raider Report
We have also spent some time talking about bullying and cyberbullying and watched a series of short videos on various aspects of that topic. We will continue with other Internet Safety topics in the 4th quarter as well, as possibly write a blog post to summarize important reminders if we have time.

On to quarter 4:
As we begin quarter 4 students are just getting started on the biography project assigned by Mrs. Smith. They will be making a presentation to the class on their assigned person using PowerPoint slides. Last week I introduced them to different views in PowerPoint and how to create slides and change backgrounds. We will continue with this over the next few weeks and develop a script to accompany the presentation. We will focus on using images and just a few words or phrases so that they begin to learn not to subject an audience to "death by PowerPoint". No student should come into class with a flash drive containing their PowerPoint slides. All work is done in class on that. I will discuss with Mrs. Smith whether she would like to use only the notecards or possible use space on the fourth grade wiki for students to add notes and resources found at home. Stay tuned on that topic.

February 20, 2012

glog_hwy.JPGI have finished posting scores for Checkpoint 1 for the state glog. We have been working on this glog for some time both in the computer lab and in the classroom. I was away at a conference last week but the class period before that students were reminded to go over the steps of Checkpoint 1 carefully, including watching the videos I created, to be sure they had done all the necessary steps before proceeding. This is the first assignment to receive a numerical score, and as I mentioned in my previous post, we are working up to the kind of assignments they will tackle in fifth grade. Some students are still having difficulty understanding the concept of a "heading" and that it is set off from the rest of the text in some way and is a type of marker or signpost for a section of information. The students will be reminded this Wednesday to look over the scoresheet I placed into their network folder and make necessary corrections before proceeding. I will work with any students who had less than a satisfactory score to punch up the project before they move on.

I hope to be able to review the second checkpoint by the end of the week, but I will check with Mrs. Smith regarding expected completion of the project. Some students have been saying yes, they are completely finished, but I am not sure what set of directions some have been following. I have created two sample projects, one being done step by step via instructional video. Between video demonstration and written directions, they should be able to pull it together. I will be looking for the state symbols to be entered and labeled according to the directions listed in Checkpoint 2. You can click on the Glog Highway image at the right to visit the full set of directions. The glog is also available on the Cougartech webmix. Expectations will be reviewed and guidance given during out next class period, though I am not sure at this point of the schedule due to Mass on Ash Wednesday.


January 29, 2012

Second Quarter Wrap Up

During the second quarter students were introduced to two new digital spaces, EduGlogster and Wikispaces, both of which are easily accessible from the class webmix. To make it easier for logging in, they have the same username and password for both sites. Their usernames begin with 2016olph and include their initials at the end. The password is the same word/number combination used on the blog.

eduglogster.JPGWe began by experimenting with the tools on EDUGlogster, a site which allows students to create digital posters. They began learning to use the tools and we did some step by step activities on how to embed images into the poster. They experimented by creating a Christmas glog and then we embedded an image of either Abe Lincoln or Robert E. Lee on a practice glog. Then it was time to become familiar with the class wikispace, which we have set as a private space visible only to members of the wiki, which would be students and their teachers. On their I created a list of resources for a state glog project assigned by Mrs. Smith, as well as a llink to their own workspace for taking notes and putting in links to their resources. I created a sample chart on Pennsylvania.

If you visited the fourth grade classroom during open house on Sunday you may have seen their state glog in its early stages. I created a project template with the headings they would need, but it is up to them to decide how best to display their information in an easy to read and attractive design. I have also created a Pennsylvania glog to guide them with an idea of a finished product. We will continue to work on this and fine tune their posters, concentrating on giving accurate information and inserting hyperlinks. They will have a rubric to follow. This will be the first project for which I give an actual technology grade based on more than just effort. This will help to get them ready for graded projects in fifth grade, though there will be much guidance along the way as they develop their skills with these tools.

If you ever have a question about the tools or they have trouble logging in, please feel free to contact me. I will also make some instructional videos available to help with this process for any work they do at home. Students are welcome to create glogs in their account at any time and have fun and be creative with the tools, as long as they treat the space as a classroom space and choose their topics accordingly. The same is true of their blogs as well. I encourage them to write about any topics that interest them. All posts will come to me for approval before going live.

First Quarter Wrap Up

The quarter ended on November 4th. I have been meaning to get back here and provide an overview of what we have accomplished in fourth grade technology. The time goes by so quickly!

external image Network-Folder.pngA major focus of the quarter was learning to navigate network spaces. This year each student in fourth grade has his or her own network folder. All of their projects are saved to that folder, and finding the correct location can sometimes be a challenge. Many times students will be upset that they have completed a document and then it is nowhere to be found. So saving to a network space is something that needs to be mastered in fourth grade.

What have we saved to our network space? The first activity was saving a Word document that contained name, address, and phone number, as well as two sentences. We used spell check to look for errors in spelling and formatting. As I mentioned in my previous post, some students were having an issue coming up with their full address. This is important for them to know.

We then created another document, again saved to the network folder, in which they wrote two sentences. The first sentence was to tell something they have learned so far in fourth grade, and the second was to tell something they are excited about or looking forward to this year. Again, using the Word tools to check for errors was important. We followed that activity up with writing our first blog post of the year and typing in the corrected sentences from the document. These first posts are published and available for you to read online. You can visit our class blog or navigate directly to the student page on the class webmix for grade four. Students each have a tile that links directly to their page. If you would like to comment on a post, you are welcome and encouraged to do so. Although students are anonymous, adults should not be, except in the case of a parent who should sign Mom or Dad. This does not give your last name and compromise the anonymity of the child. All posts and comments come to me for approval before publication.

dime.PNGOur third activity was again using Microsoft Word, this time practicing using the snip tool, a great feature in Windows 7. We snipped images of coins from the US Mint for kids website and saved those images to the network folder. We then inserted them into a document and learned how to format the images so that they could be moved freely on the page. Some students had time to begin pasting some information about each coin next to the image.

Last week students used the laptops in the classroom and we went through various browser settings and desktop shortcuts to facilitate use of the laptops during year.

At this point the students are not receiving formal grades for their projects. Most students receive a G because of their effort and willingness to complete each activity. Some will need some extra guidance, and others will sail along and even do a little extra. Most of the projects we work on in grade four technology will be directly tied into the fourth grade curriculum and support activities done in class with Mrs. Smith. As we get into the second half of the school year, there will be more accountability and specific checklists for assignments. This will get them ready for graded technology assignments in fifth grade. We definitely need to work on following directions and staying on task!

We also spent a little time on keyboarding and will do more throughout the year, but once a week is not enough to master this skill. I encourage students to practice at home whenever possible. Use the typing sites listed on the fourth grade webmix or purchase a program if desired. I will continue to remind them of correct form as we work on our projects throughout the year.

Welcome to Fourth Grade Technology Class!

external image manga.PNGOur first class was Thursday, September 14. We are starting a week late due to extra time needed for the set up of the new computer lab with all new equipment! During this class fourth graders had their first experience with having an individual log on for the school network. There were some frustrations as part of their log in information included a house number, and there were quite a few who were not sure of their address, or confused house number and zip code. This would be a great thing to review and be sure they are comfortable with that information in case of emergency. I explained the use of this olph-technology wikispace site to replace schoolnotes, though schoolnotes will still be the "jumping off point" and you can still use schoolnotes to contact me.

We also took a look at the Cougartech webmix. I am in the process of completing the fourth grade webmix which I hope will allow for greater ease in accessing frequently used sites and saving us some class time. Feel free to bookmark this for home use as well.

Students received a form to be signed indicating parental permission for use of Internet resources at school, and they circled the Choose one option area as this often gets returned with no choice being made. I apologize that the reverse side was too close to the edge of the copier and some words were cut off. Here is a Google Doc version of the same. The reverse side deals with the fact that in addition to using our own school network and applications such as Microsoft Office, we will also be using a variety of education sites to enhance the curriculum. This site makes you aware of a variety of sites and Web2.0 tools (such as Discovery Streaming, wikispaces, blogs, etc.) The email requested is for Discovery Streaming to notify you that your child (under the age of 13) as access to the videos on their site. This would be used by teachers to create assignments and for review of topics presented in class. There is no publicly posted information about students anywhere on the site.

Both sides have places for signatures by parents and students and should be returned to the homeroom teacher. All forms must be in before our next class on Thursday, Sept. 21. PLEASE don't forget to check your permission for Internet access. I get so many forms back with neither option checked and then must return them.