Monday, August 20, 2007

A New Year Just Begun ...

Well it has been an eventful summer. Time to start getting back to the daily grind of helping teachers with their technology needs. I always look forward to a new year with hope and optimism that we will be able to tackle the challenges which lay before us. This year we are focusing our efforts on students with special needs. Our test scores for students in that area are pretty low. I'm optimistic that I will be able to work with the Special Educators in the building to build a customized instructional technology intervention plan for our special education students. This is greatly dependent on many outside factors, but I am confident that we will make strides.

I really enjoy inspirational videos to get me pumped for a big task. This year is a BIG task. So I went on TeacherTube and located one of my favorite tech videos. It really shows how daunting the challenge is to education children in this rapidly changing world. But it is also very exciting. So I'm sharing it here with you so that it may provide you some inspiration as well. Then if you're interested, you can read on about my ideas about using technology for this school year.

I believe that using appropriate educational technologies with students who receive special education will bear many fruits. Our newly upgraded network now has Windows XP - yes, now that Vista is out it means we upgrade to XP. We need to take advantage of the technologies that existed 4 years ago to help our students today. With the text to speech and speech to text capabilities built into XP and Office 2003, many of our students will find reading and writing a little less intimidating. Confidence goes a long way. Students who believe they can accomplish a task often do. Wow! What a concept! With our new versions of Inspiration® software, Audacity, and VlogIt we can begin to put together lessons that students find engaging and motivating.

I have yet to explore Inspiration but I am excited to see that you can embed video directly into the diagram. How cool would it be to download a video segment from United Streaming so students can watch the video and fill out an organizer, pop it into outline form, and create a PowerPoint or Photo Story show? I wonder how many 8th graders will prefer that over writing a 5 point paragraph about the causes of the Civil War?

Audacity is now on every computer at our school and I am ready to start cranking out some TJPodcasts. With VlogIt now on the approved list I believe we can put many of our creative works to good use. Perhaps even an iTunes page? Dare to dream!

So here are the grand plan for the year. I'm hoping to work most all of the topics into lessons in a one-on-one training session throughout the year.

Technology Topics for 2007-2008

  • ExamView
  • Inspiration
  • United Streaming
  • Audacity

Suggested Topics for consideration:

  • Using Wiki pages for cooperative learning activities
  • Creating Podcast and VideoCast projects (goes with Audacity)
  • Text to Speech and Speech to Text features of XP and Office 2003
  • Improving communication with parents through the use of a teacher web site using Moodle (our ELC software).
  • Adapting Assignments for differentiated instruction and incorporating educational technology.
  • Proper formatting of a Word document
  • Using Excel spreadsheets to collect, analyze, and display data
  • Blogging ... it's a lot of fun!

Read more!