Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Google Reader

Google Reader is a wonderful resource that can be used by anyone to keep track of websites and blogs that are constantly being updated. By keeping track of it, the Google Reader user can access all of their links and updates to read all in one place. Not only that, but it also can be used to share a user's compilation of resources and links with other users as well.

A great and easy way that you can subscribe to certain blogs is if the website contains an RSS Feed button. This allows you to click once and add the website to your reader. Then, instead of constantly checking individual websites to see if updates have been made, you only have to go to Google Reader to see what websites have been updated. Then, you can read it right there on the spot!

It doesn't get much easier than that!

As a frequent blog reader, I have a Google Reader account. This really adds ease to locating what all is new in the blog world. Otherwise, I would spend half my night going from website to website just to find that some have not been updated.

I strongly recommend that you use it! You will definitely be impressed and find it extremely useful.

This can really come in handy when you're following blogs that are educational and are from teachers that blog on a weekly basis. It allows you to use the suggested ideas that can follow the same curriculum that you are teaching, as well as to provide some monthly ideas that are usually incorporated into elementary education.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Some Great Web 2.0 Recommendations for the Classroom

When I first saw statements in our assignment about Web 2.0, I'll be honest that I had no idea what it was referring to. Little did I know that I was using these websites basically on a daily basis!

After viewing several of these websites, I have a couple of websites that I know I can make a good recommendation on because, like I said, I use these every day almost!

Recommendation #1: Blogger

I cannot express my love for Blogger since I am a blogging addict! I have my own blog {aside from this one} AND I read blogs every single day. Blogger makes it so easy for you to follow other blogs that you find, so that you can continue reading. It's very easy to use for the person who knows nothing about the ins and outs of it. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can definitely use Blogger.

Of course, if you want to get a bit more advanced, with a little research you can add so many things to your blog to make it your own. Take my personal blog for instance. It hasn't always looked like that, but with a little research on the World Wide Web, it has now evolved to what it is today. I hope it doesn't end there though. My goal is for it to be professionally developed to make it even more user-friendly for readers.

What's great about blogger is that it is an excellent outlet to communicate with others. As educators, you can use Blogger as a resource to keep parents involved. Each week you can make a post about what all your students have been doing, and you can even take some photos of their work to include. When parents know what's going on, they will really appreciate the hard work that we teachers truly put in.

Recommendation #2: Pinterest

Pinterest on the other hand makes me want to shout from the roof tops! I swear that if you ever get started on this bookmarking/cataloging website, that you will be officially addicted. I visit this website at least once per day. Just when the day starts to get overwhelming, I can go to this website and find inspirational photos that make everything all better.

So, let me tell you a little about the website. You have to have an invitation. You can request an invitation on the website, or someone who has an account can invite you. Once you get an account, you can add the bookmarking tool to your favorites bar. When you come to a picture that you want to remember, you can "pin" the picture to your boards that keep all of your pins organized.

Seriously...go get an invite! I promise you want be disappointed!

An Easy Choice of Multimedia

I think the easiest form of multimedia to incorporate into any classroom is the always reliable, PowerPoint, a type of presentation software. It can be especially great for many reasons, and I'm going to include some ways to show you how I use the PowerPoint to its fullest potential in my classroom.

If I can find a way to use a PowerPoint with kindergarteners, you will surely be able to find a way to use it with other grades. Now that I'm moving up to 2nd grade, PowerPoints and I are becoming good friends.

I think the best way to tackle this is bullet style, so here it goes!

  • When you're teaching vocabulary words, students need something concrete to see this abstract idea. The best way to do this is to either provide a graphic that the students can relate the word to. OR, you can even link up a video clip to further explain the word.

  • On top of explaining vocabulary words, you can also practice the usage of words with your students by setting up sentences with blanks. By becoming familiar with all of the options PowerPoint provides, a teacher can set up the animations where words will only appear when the slide is clicked on in the order the teacher wants.

  • I also use PowerPoints to just guide my general whole class instruction. It is a great organizational tool to make sure you stay on track. The students enjoy it because I can incorporate extra graphics, audio, as well as links to websites that offer further information about what we're talking about. I especially love to incorporate videos!

  • Furthermore, PowerPoints can be set up at computer centers for the kids to practice skills that were taught earlier. they can review what was taught. Then, at the end of the PowerPoint, the last few slides can include questions for the kids to answer on a given sheet of paper.

  • Last, but not least, PowerPoints can help in intervention instruction for the struggling students. Instead of having to spend money on paper or index cards, a teacher can form a PowerPoint where the students can practice reading words or sentences.

  • Just when I thought that was going to be the last point, I thought of something else! The PowerPoints that were used for instruction can be put on a classroom website or emailed to students for use outside of school. If a particular student needs more scaffolding, the PowerPoint can be editted to fit the needs of the student and add more help to the presentation, then the PowerPoint can be emailed to that particular student. Then, that student will not feel like they were pointed out in the class. Instead, it can be done without any of the other students having to know.
A great website for videos to incorporate into your instruction is from:
discoveryeducation.com .

If you use Reading Street by Scott Foresman, Waltke's Web is an excellent resource full of PowerPoints, activities, and reinforcement.

I hope some of you can use some of my tips!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Great Uses for Technology in the Classroom

Over the past couple of weeks, lots of focus has been put on various types of software that can be used for various reasons in the classroom. Those types of software include drill and practice, tutorial, simulation, instructional games, problem solving, and integrated learning systems.

Below, you'll be able to find an example of each type of software that I would like to use in my classroom, and hopefully you will, too.

Time to explore...


This particular software is for math, and it offers a set of five skill programs. What I loved about this software is how child friendly it is. The menus are very easy to understand, and I personally like the fact that there are very few buttons for the children to click on, which will prevent any confusion while using the program.

What I also love about this software is that it provides instruction, then practice, and it finally asseses the student on the particular skill taught. In addition to this, it also provides audio for those students who are emerging readers. Students can also pick up where they left off.

If I had this software in my classroom, I would use this as a math center opportunity. Or, I would also use this software as an opportunity to introduce a new skill to the students. The students could first be taught with this software by using a mobile lab in the classroom. Then, the students could practice and print their quiz results for my assessment to know which students need further instruction.

The picture above is actually from one of the programs. If you would like to find out more, click on the photo to be led to the link.


Smart Tutor is an excellent software choice for elementary students in reading, as it provides individualized instruction. We, as teachers, know that some students really excel in some areas, but struggle in others. Therefore, there is no need in wasting time in an area that the student does not need further instruction in. Instead, it is necessary to focus further and more intensely on the skills that are being struggled with.

Therefore, I would use this software in my computer center at school. Different students are at these centers each day, as I rotate centers each day. To make sure the students are using their time wisely and most effectively, I would use this software so that their most needed skills would be chosen for the student to work on to strengthen them in those concepts.


Celestia is an excellent simulation software to use in allowing students to explore space right from their seat! Since in our elementary school, science is integrated into the reading curriculum, I find this a very innovative way to get students interested further in what is being taught. They would have the chance to experience space instead of just learning about it from a book.

I would use the mobile lab to have students explore space on their own. After using the software, I would have students write about what all they saw. What was space like? The students could even use what they saw in the simulation to display their learning using art. If students get a chance to see what space is really like, their learning is deeper and so will their work.


The Mia Collection

For the instructional game that I chose, I would incorporate this into the classrom as a reward. On Fridays, students have more time to explore various opportunities while I assess the students in different areas such as oral reading fluency. To keep students learning, but giving them the opportunity for fun, I would allow particular students who did exceptionally well during the week use the program.

Click on the picture to be taken to the website!


ALEKS for K-12: Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces

Can I just say that I love this software? It's amazing the capabilities it has! This software is very interactive and depends on authentic learning by the student. Guessing a multiple choice answer is not an option in this software since it doesn't use them. Instead, it soley depends on what the student is applying and retaining. It produces problems that the student can apply in real world situations.

If I had to use this software, I would find this to be a great asset to my students who need extra help, but are not getting one-on-one instruction on that particular day. Or, I could have my students use this software while I am working with a small group. Because it allows me to track my student progress, I can see just how my students are doing. Plus, it does not give every student the same thing. It assesses students and gives them individualized instruction to needed areas. In addition to this, it also correlates with each state's standards! A simply amazing tool in the classroom!


This looks like some software that I will purchasing for my new 2nd grade classroom. It's interactive. It forces children to use problem solving skills and critical thinking skills. Plus, it focuses on the important concepts that are taught in 1st and 2nd grade.

I believe I could also use this in a reading/computer center. It would be a great way to change the pace of things every now and then. After all, the students wouldn't want to do the same thing every single time they get a chance to go to the computer center.

Not only does it look like software I could use in a center, but it also looks like software I could use in a whole group setting. When extra time is to be had, I could pull this software up for the entire class to see. Then, we could solve the problems as a class.


I hope you all find the software ideas I provided helpful! Enjoy your week!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Where We Are Today!

After reading just the first few pages of chapter one, I began to realize just how far technology has come in the 23 years I have been on this planet. It's amazing to think back now of what technology was used in the classroom when I first started school and how instruction was given by my teachers versus how I give instruction today.

Just as an example, I remember using the one Apple green screened computer that we had in my kindergarten classroom. The learning games were a blast to me, but I feel sure if my students today were presented with it that they would have no idea on what to even do with it.

In my own kindergarten classroom though, there are two computers in there with various types of software that is interactive with the students. On top of that, instruction is always incorporated with technology via a projector connected with a computer. Their worksheets can be seen on the screen, and I can write on the screen using my Mobi board. It's insane the huge differences!

As I was reading, I could really relate with two of the issues that are shaping the role of technology in education. To begin, economic conditions are a huge factor in technology in the schools. As a Title I school, our school receives funds, but those funds have drastically been reduced this year. This means that funds that could be allocated towards technology are no longer there. As a result, the computers that are in the classrooms that desperately need to be replaced with more updated ones will have to fall to the wayside. It also means that interactive software, that comes at a price, will also fall to the wayside. Only the absolutely necessary ones will be acquired this year, which includes Math Facts in a Flash, Accelerated Reader, and Lexia.

On the flip side though, more virtual K-12 courses are being provided, or should I say offered, to students all over the United States. Not only are courses offered to students in elementary through high school, we are all here due to courses being provided to us through this form of technology. Amazing, isn't it? I must say that because of this change in education, I have been able to get my degree in undergrad, and I will be getting my master's degree without having huge financial debt. This opportunity that technology has provided me has enabled me to further my education without the trouble of traveling at strange hours of the night and without the expense of traveling elsewhere.

If there is one thing that we have learned from history that has helped shape technology today and in the future, I would say it would be that technology is not a cure for education. Instead, it is a helpful resource. In fact, technology sometimes can make education a bit more difficult as it changes so frequently and offers so many options. It enables some to use it in ways it is not intended for like in plagiarism and cheating.

Once again, distance learning is a great example. Because of plagiarism, software is developed to protect against it. Because of some not doing their own work, technological resources like the Remote Procter have been created.

Technology has its perks and its downside, but overall I feel like it has opened up many areas of the universe that we may have never experienced without. Because of it, we are much more knowledge about many different subjects.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Hello everyone!

My name is Brenna, and I teach Kindergarten at W.S. Neal Elementary in Brewton, Alabama. For those of you who don't know where that is, we are basically 10 minutes away from the Alabama-Florida line.

In my spare time, I work on projects around the house and maintain my own personal blog about life in general, By God's Southern Grace. Those two things in itself keep my pretty busy.

This is not my first experience with online classes, and I am pretty interested to see the difference between the two online programs that I have seen and am seeing. I went to school at the University of West Florida before, but I have heard such great things about the program at UWA that I figured it would benefit me to receive my master's degree from here.

The great thing about an online degree is that it allows me to continue working while still achieving the educational goals I have set for myself. It also benefits me financially since I do not live in close proximity to a school that I could attend without having to travel a great distance.

At the school I teach at, funds are not plentiful, but I feel that we are very blessed to have some of the technology resources that we do. My favorite resource in technology that I have been able to use is our Mobi boards. These boards allow us to move around the room while teaching my kids. I can check their work and help them without having to be stuck by a computer.

I can't wait to get to know everyone in the class!