Instant Messaging

What is instant messaging and what does it have to do with teaching and learning?

As Jeffrey Branzburg, from techLearning, stated Instant Messaging, “in its simplest form, allows users to have instant, live, text-based “chats” with others over the Internet.”  In order for IM to operate, all parties need to be on the service in order to communicate with each other.  But when this is possible, this is a great service to have instant communication when calling on the phone is a problem, inconvenient, or not appropriate. 

I am very familiar with IM’ing.  I have used it for several years now to keep in touch with friends when we all went away to college.  It would allow me to have conversations with several people at a time, which was a convenient way to multitask.  If I talked to each one of those people on the phone it would have taken hours, but IM allowed me to accomplish the same thing all at once.

I have also had IM included as a requirement for some of my undergraduate courses.  One of my professors required us to have chat room sessions every couple weeks out of class with our group.  It was a very convenient way to talk about a topic without going to meet everyone in person.  I have also used it for group meetings to begin to talk about a group project.  IM’ing greatly helps with group communication.  I would much rather send someone in my group an IM than call them up on the phone.  And when everyone is online, it is much quicker than email.  One of my professors created a SN to allow us to communicate with her on certain nights if we ever had any questions.  Almost like extended office hours.  It was really great because I was able to get real time answers to my questions and I was able to clarify any misunderstandings easier. 

I think IM’ing is very helpful in teaching.  It might be a little more beneficial for a high school or college professor to communicate with students or students to communicate with each other for class.  But I will keep it in mind for use in elementary school, but parents must supervise their children to alleviate any cyber bullying.  But IM’ing could be used for parent teacher conferences or questions, clarifying misunderstandings, or for group projects.  With so many people having internet access on their phones they can almost have an internet connection enabled all the time.  This could be very helpful for teachers who use this set-up like extended office hours.  They can move about freely, instead of being attached to their computers for questions.  IM is a great service that can be used in a variety of ways in education.  There are some downfalls with security, but there are also ways to have internal networks.  I think this is something to consider and keep in mind when teaching.  Especially with technology being on the rise, the possibilities are endless.


Branzburg, J. (November 15, 2002).  Using Instant Messenger Services. TechLearning.  Retrieved April 12, 2009 from:

Published in: |on April 12th, 2009 |Comments Off on Instant Messaging

Visuals and Image Editing

Originals on Left - Edited Version on Right

Originals on Left - Edited Version on Right

I tried almost all of the resources this week.  I quickly looked at them to see which one I wanted to explore more in depth.  The resource I chose to look into further was Photoshop Express.  Overall, I like this tool and think it has great potential for use in the classroom.  You can view the album I created here:  In this album, I have used my own artwork or photos I have taken and manipulated them for different results.


What I did:

The first is the “See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil” Monkeys.  In its manipulation, I used saturation and other color enhancements to enrich the colors.  Then I started to play with sketching and distortion techniques, which changed the whole idea behind the picture.  Finally, I added a few decorative elements into the picture.  It was suppose to be glasses on the middle monkey, a tube of paint in the bottom left hand corner, and a feather in the lower right hand corner.  However, I didn’t realize that they would get incorporated into the distortion where I placed it, but it ended up having a cool effect anyway.

The second is “After the Storm.”  In this picture, I already drew in a distortion effect when I originally made it, so I did not add any more to this but instead played more with the saturation, highlighting, tint, and sketching.  I like the photo manipulated picture more than my original! 

The last one I played with is “Geese on Green.”  This is a picture I took at one of my brother’s golf matches.  The original picture is green, but with the photo editing, I changed the season to autumn.  In this one I wanted to keep is kind of realistic, so I only played with color effects, pop color, saturation, and tint. 


Implementation in the Classroom:

In all of my pictures, with a little photo manipulation I changed the entire context and feel for these pictures.  I think each new picture stirs up different ideas than the original.  I think this could come in really handy in a classroom setting.  Maybe students could choose a famous photo of someone they are studying or of a place or time in history, and then they have to reflect that person’s personality or mood of the time within the photo by manipulating it.  I really think students would get creative with this and enjoy playing with the computer.  But they still have to think about what they have learned and why they are putting these elements into the picture. 

Photoshop Express is a free and simple program to use, but it is limited in what it can do.  I would have liked the program to have a little bit more.  With a slightly advanced photo manipulation program, students can cut something from one picture and fuse it together with another.  That could really make some interesting pictures.  I do like that Photoshop Express is browser based and you do not have to download anything.  I also like that it connects to a Flickr account.  If a school already had a Flickr account then the students already have a tremendous amount of photos to choose from and manipulate.  However, I don’t like how limited it is in what it can do and it also takes awhile to save.

On my computer I have, Microsoft Digital Image Pro 10, which I got a few years ago but it still works well.  With my program, I can even edit photos or include elements from others.  My avatar for Photoshop Express, I made in less than two minutes with my program.  Something like this is really simple to do once you get the hang of it.  I really like the idea of using this in the classroom.  I can manipulate photos and then use them as prompts for students to write about a particular topic.  Or the students and I can collaborate on creating a picture to help them remember a particular idea to use as a study tool.  I think this has a lot of potential in the classroom and can be incorporated naturally into a program.  Particularly with greater technology use in the classroom students will get use to these kinds of activities.   


Published in: |on April 3rd, 2009 |Comments Off on Visuals and Image Editing

Tapped-in Session II: Cyber-Safety

Transcript of Tappedin Session


I attended the “Cyber-ethics, Cyber-safety, Cyber-security” session for the Cyber3_Grp back on March 2, but have not posted it until now.  I felt this topic went well with ITEC 501 so I wanted to attend this session.  This was around the time we had the really bad snow storm, so our guest speaker was having technical difficulties getting and staying online.  She never actually made it, however, I was able to see how they are still able to have a good session even when it doesn’t go exactly as planned. 

            The host was BjB, who headed up the Tappedin Tips and Tricks session for me, so I have already met her.  I also got to meet JeffC who BjB pulled in to discuss this topic with us once we realized our guest speaker couldn’t come.  But I still feel that I got a lot of information from this session.  BjB explained a few of the sites and posts on the discussion boards and referred us back to look at them.  She also linked us a couple of sites in the chat.  JeffC also gave us a few good sites to check out.  Both BjB and JeffC have a lot of experience and insight on this topic and teaching in general.  We talked about Cyber-bullying and how we as teachers can stop it, but also, how students can learn to police themselves.  Teachers won’t be there all the time to hold their hands through the internet.  However, we can give them the tools to evaluate sites and situations.  So once students go home and start surfing the web, or posting comments on sites, they can use their brain and think about what they are posting.  This is a new type of bullying and safety issues concerning the internet, so we need to have open communication with students about it.  But it is also very important to include parents and inform them about watching their student’s safety at home.  I also think it is important for the school to establish where someone should go when there is cyber-bullying, instead of the parents taking it into their own hands.  I have heard stories about this, where some parents end up getting in more trouble, than if they dealt with it directly through the school. 

            Overall, I enjoyed the session, I wish the speaker could have come, but I think she will be there next time.  I really want to try and go to a K-3 Session Discussion; however, it is on the night that I have class now.  So, I think that I will keep up with this site and refer back to it over the summer and see what other possible sessions I can attend.  I think this is great for sharing and getting new ideas!

Published in: |on March 31st, 2009 |Comments Off on Tapped-in Session II: Cyber-Safety

Interactivity and Visual Design

When I first saw the topic for this week I was really excited to read the sites.  My initial thought when I read “visual design” was “I hope and wonder if it has to do with Graphic Art.”  Probably because this is a topic that I am highly interested in and would most likely be my career if I didn’t decide to go into teaching.  This initial idea isn’t too far off from how I have understood visual design after reading the documents. 

For me visual design, is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it also has an impact on the learning outcomes.  David Kirsh describes that it also “effects the usability, simplicity, and clarity of content.”  It helps people process information better if it is a logical, organized, step by step format to follow.  A good visual design, has been developed so that people can see exactly what he has to do next and how much there is to go until he is complete.  It supports a good work-flow.  This also helps the thought process because he can see exactly what is next and what is coming up to focus on.  Interactivity, goes right along with visual design.  A good visual design will also allow the user to easily interact with his environment.  Diagrams and links are clear with what they are referring to.  I think Interactivity also has to do with thinking about and analyzing your ideas and the ideas around you.  To critically think about your surrounding environment and not passively sit and watch it go by.  Many of the charts and activities at the “Visible Thinking”site allow people to actively construct and re-construct their ideas using these different ideas.  The creators wanted students to learn critical thinking by using types of manipulatives and practices that highlight these ideas. 

I think both of these can be incorporated into my regular curriculum rather easily.  Especially how the “Visible Thinking” site has described its ideas.  Teachers do no have to take special time out to go over critical thinking, but instead it is used as a tool to help process information better.  So many of those activities can be used as starters to a unit or to help tie it up.  Or used to explore a viewpoint or idea more in-depth or from a different perspective.  I love how the site includes real examples along with printable versions of every different activity.  When I start teaching, this will be an easy way to incorporate critical thinking in an easy to follow format for students.

In regards to my Web Based Lesson, I want to try and incorporate some of the activities from the “Visible Thinking” site to help students process and keep track of this large amount of information which they will be sifting through.  I found that “Peel the Fruit”would be very helpful to help students keep track of their information while also sorting through all their ideas.  I am still sifting through other activities on the site to possibly incorporate more.

I also looked at different Databases this week to possibly incorporate into my Web Based Lesson.  I found the Animal Diversity Web Database might be helpful to students when figuring out what a particular animal eats.  I don’t think I will require them to use it; however, I will let them use it as a reference.  I am still looking to find ones that really focus on what the animals eat and maybe one a little more kid friendly.  But I think this is a possible start.

Published in: |on March 26th, 2009 |Comments Off on Interactivity and Visual Design

Creativity and Innovation

Okay so I am getting all of my assignments up a lot later than I normally do this week.  Trying to juggle classes and the practicum was hard.  And I am amazed by anyone who teaches full time while also attending school.  It must be really tough to do.  I was wiped after these two weeks. 

Interactive Power Point –

My PowerPoint that I did now was for Kindergarten to practice recognizing words, letters and farm animals.  This was a lot of fun to do and this is definitely not how I normally make PowerPoint’s.  I actually had about 17 slides for my PowerPoint but the file size was three times the allotted size that Google allows.  I found a video through United Streaming about Farm Animals and had each segment of the video embedded into my PowerPoint.  I was really excited about this end product, but I had to pare it down to the 7 slides that I have now.  When using this in a classroom setting I would have to put this on a CD and directly put it onto the computers.  But I’m also going to try and play with the videos and try and compress each one farther.  I need to download and get some different software I think to be able to do that.  But as my power point stands now I have the idea of how to make it interactive.  I think this is a great idea and I would love to do this in the future with my PowerPoint’s.  I think this is a great way for students to explore this topic themselves rather than sitting through a lecture and talking notes.  It could also be an interesting study guide for students as a way to review for tests. 

Photo Story –

I think the photo story was great.  I loved making it!  The pictures I chose were all my own artwork.  In high school, I had to do a series on something and my theme was a “Day in the Life of Angelina.”  She is my cousin who is now 6 years old, and when I drew the pictures, she was about 2-3 years old.  For the photo story I tried to make it a little fun and put it to the Shania Twain song “Honey, I’m Home.”  I think this can be used in schools as a way to tell a story about a historical event.  Or as a way to explain a scientific process.  Or a way to create a story to share with the class.  Or to introduce themselves to their classmates at the beginning of the year.  I think this is yet another tool that I will keep in my bag of tricks when I start teaching. –

My topic about me is a vast array of my artwork.  I am very proud of all of my art and people don’t really get to see it anymore.  So this was the first idea that popped into my head so I can let people see it again.  : )  This site reminds me of the other photo-sharing sites like photo-bucket.  I think this could again be a good way for a teacher to share historical pictures or for students to show pictures that describe themselves at the beginning of the year.  The only problem with letting students use this site is that it would have to be monitored closely to make sure they are not putting inappropriate things up on the site.  So for this site I would lean to having teachers use it for mass storage of pictures for classes from year to year.  Or to possibly store pictures of other student’s projects from year to year instead of keeping track of all the papers.  But I think that this site has some possibilities too. 

Published in: |on March 15th, 2009 |Comments Off on Creativity and Innovation

Podcasting in the Classroom

Link to my Podcast

Click picture to listen to my Podcast

 ***Podcast Transcript***

I think it is definitely possible to incorporate podcasts into my classroom.  The only problem that keeps coming to my mind with any of these projects is that I hope students have access to these technologies at home.  I think if teachers are going to be using technology at home then a survey should go home to the parents at the beginning of the school year seeing who has access to what and what accommodations need to be made if any. 

            I had a little trouble at first recording my podcast on pod-o-matic because my input turned out to be too loud.  But then I decided to download and try Audacity.  That made it much much easier!  There is a huge difference in the sound quality and I was able to edit and add a few features to my recording.  The uploading went very smoothly, the only problem was that the file was very big and took a little bit to upload.  But in all I enjoyed creating the podcast. 

            I was thinking to use the podcast to help students read “The Book of the Week” at home.  Students need to practice and read as much as possible to get better.  However, sometimes they don’t have anyone to read to at home.  So I thought if they at least had access to read with their teacher then this would help.  This will help the student with fluency and expression because the teacher is modeling these two skills.  Also, at the end I added a few comprehension questions so they can think about the story and work on those skills.  Maybe if they understand the story better then they can read it better. 

            Lastly, I think this can be utilized in other ways as well.  Students can create their own shows for a project and then relay it to the rest of the class.  Maybe students can tape a reader’s theater in smaller groups if they are too shy about getting up in front of the rest of the class.  Of they can create a review song and then record it on a podcast for an upcoming test.  I think teachers can also use it to relay information to students.  Or give a lesson to students who are not at school.  With the website the podcasts upload to, students can watch and/or listen to it right on the computer.  Putting it on the iPod just makes it more convenient.  Podcasting has a lot of potential in a classroom.  The teachers and students just need to keep their minds open!

Published in: |on February 27th, 2009 |2 Comments »

Tapped In Tips and Tricks Reflection

The Tapped In Tips and Tricks session was informative and interesting.  It definitely helped me to become a little more familiar and comfortable with using the site.  There are a lot of features to use on the site and I didn’t understand before how to utilize them all.  I probably would have figured it out eventually with trial and error, but this helped so I didn’t have to worry about that.  In the Tips and Tricks session I learned how to create a profile, an office, and how to hop around the Tapped In Campus.  That was my biggest question was navigating around the site.  Now I feel much more comfortable with it.  The only problem I had was the extra talk in the session.  Now I understand the Web Etiquette that Dr. Coffman posted.  I tried to minimize what I said in chat and only added when asked or if I had a question.  I feel the extra “me too” and “okay” from 6 people at once scrolled my screen up really fast.  Maybe this session was a little more relax, but I definitely cannot wait until I can go to a topic session! :)

I’m not sure if we were to post this transcript also… but if so here’s the file: tapped-in-tips-and-tricks-session-transcript

Published in: |on February 22nd, 2009 |Comments Off on Tapped In Tips and Tricks Reflection


**Click on the picture to go to my Excel Screencast*

I had the greatest time making my screen cast this week!  It was a lot of fun to do and use once I got familiar with the process.  For this assignment, I showed students how to create, edit, save and print a story map in excel.  In a classroom environment, the teacher could use this to explain step by step a process that students can individually review at their own pace.  Or this can be referred to at home if students still have questions.  Anything that you can put on a computer screen can be captured, which I think is marvelous and the possibilities are endless!  It can be used in combination with Web Quests.  It could be used to communicate with distance learners.  Or explain complex tasks that need step by step directions.  This can go on a classroom website so parents can refer to in order to help out their children at home.  Maybe there are a few students in the class absent or one student that has been very sick and hasn’t been to school in a while.  This screen cast could be used for the teacher to still communicate with the student.  The teacher can create a power point, .pdf file, or a drawing program to write and explain ideas to the students. 

            I think students can use this too once they become familiar with the program.  I really think they will enjoy the idea of capturing all of the movements they make on the screen.  I just really think this is a great idea!  And the screecast-o-matic site makes it easily available to everyone.  Students can create their own tutorials or PowerPoints or comic strips to share with other students.  I think when students explain something to others it takes them to a higher level of understanding because they have to synthesize the information in order to explain it back. 

            On a side note, I have showed this screen cast site to my family and friends.  I feel like I have just discovered white bread!  My dad plans to use this with videos and demonstrations he puts up online.  My bother is planning to use it in an upcoming project for his computer class.  And one of my friends is going to use it to show how to capture and edit videos and pictures.  This is just a really fantastic tool that I am excited to try and incorporate into my classroom.  I think it would help students think about what they are doing and become more familiar with the programs they use on a computer.  They might need to decide the best program to use to get their point across and then think about how to actually show it.  This is something that I will keep in mind to utilize in my lessons once I start teaching. 

Published in: |on February 20th, 2009 |1 Comment »

Critical Thinking

What does critical thinking look like (or will look like) in your classroom?

            I believe critical thinking starts when students are allowed to explore, synthesize, and analyze information that they have received.  I think critical thinking goes along with the ideas of constructivism and inquiry learning.  Students will be exploring and asking their own questions, but then also trying to find their own answers.  When critical thinking is “happening,” I’d want the students working in groups, talking to one another, or sitting and thinking to themselves.  It should be whatever works best for them.  I don’t want to have rules in place that hinder that.  Maybe two students will think “more critically” when explaining and analyzing information with each other than alone.  However, another student could just listen to a conversation and think critically by figuring out how it relates to what he already knows. 

            I liked the eduscapes site, where is had a listing of all the different actions that relate to Bloom’s Taxonomy.  This site points out that when referring to “higher order thinking skills” it refers to the top three brackets of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which are: analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.  When looking at the words that describe each of these brackets there are actual physical actions (along with some internal-personal actions) that can take place.  For example:

In Analysis, students can arrange, connect, diagram, illustrate, divide.

In Synthesis, students can create, combine, collaborate, rewrite, design.

In Evaluation, students can compare, explain, persuade, justify, measure.

All of these words above have physical actions that can go with them that you can “see” students thinking critically.  Now I understand why my government teacher liked to hold “Mock Trials” back in high school.  He was trying to get us to think critically about the subject by explaining and justifying our reasoning to the “jury” in order to persuade them in their verdict.  We had to make charts and diagrams to illustrate our points.  We also needed to collaborate with our team members in order to come up with a strategy.  Thinking back, this was an activity where we used what we knew, asked questions, and researched answers in order to come up with a coherent defense or argument. 

            In my classroom, I would hope to do the same kind of things except with a greater emphasis on technology.  Students working on computers, researching, tinkering with educational software to further their understanding.  In my classroom, I want students to always be thinking and asking questions, but also to ask questions that can’t be answered right away with a simple answer.  I think that’s where the point to “higher order thinking” starts.  Then we could have a full group/class project where students figure out and come up with answers. 

How does technology play a role in getting your students to look critically at their own learning?

            Technology gives teachers the ability to have students go farther than they use to with their imaginations and ideas.  The NCREL points out that in a recent study that, “71 percent of online teens said they relied mostly on Internet sources for the last big project they did for school.”  That is a huge number of students using the internet.  But we need to teach students how to critically evaluate websites to make sure they are getting the correct information off of these sites.  We cannot just use computers as “a medium for learning,” but rather as “tools that support further learning” (NCREL).  Therefore, when thinking of technologies we must recognize and consider “the way in which computers are used” (NCREL). 

            There are various technologies available to students today, such as, cell phones, i-Pods, lap tops, distance learning, etc.  These technologies directly affect students in two ways:

The first being that students can learn “from” computers.  This allows for technology to be used as a “tutor and serves to increase basic skills and knowledge” (NCREL).

The second being that students learn “with” computers.  This allows for technology to be “applied to a variety of goals in the learning process and can serve as a resource to help develop higher order thinking, creativity and research skills” (NCREL).

I think it is important for teachers to incorporate both of these ways in their lesson plans to help students to think critically about their learning.  Activities such as web quests and podcasts would help students to develop skills to analyze their learning. 



Johnson, L. & Annette, L. (2007). Critical and Creative Thinking – Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Retrieved February 12, 2009 from 


(2005).  Critical Issue: Using Technology to improve student achievement.  North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.  Retrieved February 12, 2009 from





Published in: |on February 13th, 2009 |2 Comments »