Deborah Kelleher

Parents Night

2008 Getting Started
Free Tools for Universal Design for Learning in Literacy

Overview of Free Tools article
Presented ideas and supported reasons why technology support is important to students. Specifically 2 students were presented with the challenges they faced and how the technology tools had a positive impact on their learning process. Although several of the ideas were interesting 2 tools that were presented were of particular interest to me; Google notebook and Glogster. Below I describe what I found when I looked into both tools.

Glogster Experience(click link to see personal page)
As I signed on to Glogser I realized I could set up a classroom page with student IDs that will be for private use in our classroom, security is always a key concern. I started by setting a page for myself; click on Glogster Experience to check out my personal page. I think this would be a great way to kick off the school year as the students are getting to know each other, they could create and review personal pages. In addition to using this tool for introductions to their classmates, this is a great tool for class projects to display their research results on specific topics. This is an easy way to enhance the learning experience.

When you click on my page you will see that I added audio to the page in two different formats. First, is a song that automatically begins to play when the page opens. Second, I set a link to my recorded personal message about myself using audacity. There is also a link to a website about Chicago, which is where I was born. In my recorded audio I referenced all states with the exception of one city I am going to use this as an inconsistency for students to identify.

Google Notebook
This tool is no longer supported by Google. When I went to create a notebook they stated for exisitng users they will still allow access to Notebook but recommended that new users check out Google Documents or Google bookmarks. I am sure both of those suggestions are good, but I am a bit disappointed notebook is no longer available. Based on the explanation in the article it seemed like a great tool.

2008 Prove It
We Like our Blogging Buddies "The Write Stuff With Blogging Mentors"
This was a description of an interesting blogging situation that involved first graders and pre-service teachers in a class at the local university. Each student in first grade was assigned a blogging buddy that was taking the class at the university. The first grader had to submit writings that the universtity student would critique. The impact on both classes were positive and significant.
The first graders were much more enthusiastic about their writing assignments because they knew someone was going to read and comment on them. The teacher of the first graders noticed her students were more diligent to focus on mistakes previously made to make sure their blogging buddy would not have to comment on the same mistake. Overall, she felt this blogging experiece had a positvie impact on the first graders as they developed their writing skills.

The university students got hands-on insight into the development of a first graders writing skills. In addition, they had to learn how to encourage the students while identifying their errors. These university students were graded on this skill of "conscientious critiquing". I found this to be an interesting experience that benefited all of the participants. The teacher of the university students agreed the experience was positive for his students. They were more diligent correcting the students work, because they knew the first graders were reading their comments very carefully. This was a great experience for everyone involved.
I will keep my ears open for a possible connection like this within or outside of our school to benefit both younger and older students. I could see this working well between our 8th graders (the highest grade in MS) and 5th graders (the lowest grade in our MS). A great way for the 8th graders to review English grammar rules that are initially taught in 5th grade.

Prove It
Throwing The Box Way

The project that was desribed was very exciting. It was a combined effort of teachers throughout Pinellas County in Florida. This project involved students and teachers in Elementary, Middle and High Schools. There goals were to increase:
  • Student learning
  • Sudent and teacher technological skills and awareness
  • A better understanding of the curriculum development throughout the various levels of schools within Pinellas County

They began with a high quality professional development for the teachers which displayed to the teachers the level of comitment to this project by the administration. The teacher training and development gave them time to review the available technology and analyze the curriculum. They mapped curriculum to get topics aligned across the grades and identified gaps to ensure a progression of curriculum that would support the project. They identified areas/topics in the curriculum that consistently presented problems for their students. Then they were ready to bring all the information together. They wanted to use this project to develop a better understanding of those topics that were difficult for their students to understand. Although everyone was a bit skeptical and overwhelmed initially, it was noticed they soon began to show their enthusiasm and worked out a program which would meet all of their goals, for all level of their students. Some of the topics that they settled on consisted of the following:
  • Living relationships
  • Weather
  • Habitat
  • Ecology

Although she did not expand on the details of the material covered by each of the topics she explained the enthusiasm experienced by both teachers and students. As they developed their projects cross-curriculum they included additional technology and interaction with other students. Taking the learning outside the walls of their individual classrooms made it more exciting for everyone involved. Signs of success included the new excitement displayed by both teachers and students for old topics, teachers continued to collaborate with other classes as they develop their curriculum (beyond the initial project time), and they have continued to maintain websites which document their learning experiences and increased student interaction.
I went on-line to look up the Pinellas Park Elementary School to get some background on why this school would participate in this project. I found something that may have served to encourage the development and execution of they project; they struggled in 2008 to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). I felt this project was a great solution to address their struggle and may have encouraged students and teachers to think outside the box and renew their commitment to education. This project would require the focus and time comitment of their teachers to enhance the learning of their students. It was great to hear how this project brought new excitement to learning for their students. Click on the following link to check out Pinellas Park Elementary School.
Currently, although less formally than outlined in this project, I do pick topics covered my student's core classes to practice technology skills during computer class. As an example, when they are learning Inspiration they develop diagrams for the current chapter studied in their History classes. I will have to explore more involvement with the teachers and timing of their topics covered to coordinate teaching technology skills to be used in their core classes not just using core information in my technology classes.

Kicking It Up A Notch
Monsters Bloom in Our Wiki
IPod Video (14:16 Run Time; mp4, XXMB)

This was a great project with lots of details available on how and why they created it, even helpful tips on developing the wiki page. What I liked best about this project was the way it successfully combined the instruction of specific skills while encouraging the students critical thinking skills. In addition, it provided the students with the opportunity to develop their creativity. Although this project was planned for 2nd graders, I had lots of ideas in my mind as to how to adapt it to a lesson for my 5th and 6th grade students.

I notice frequently that 5th and 6th graders have a difficult time following written directions, and I feel this project could be created to develop these skills, because they will have to read very carefully to successfully complete their assignment.
Each student would create a top down diagram in Inspiration that would have "Great Words" for their main idea and they would have to have 2 nouns, then 4 adjectives off each noun to describe it. A group of nouns would be provided for students to choose 2 nouns at random for their diagram. Once their diagram was completed they would write a story that would explain one of their nouns without stating the noun. Their partner would then read the story and have to guess what noun they were describing in their story. As the reader spotted the adjectives in the story they would highlight those items. The reader would write a brief summary explaining why they picked the noun as a possible solution and if they found the description: crystal clear, a bit foggy or unrecognizable.

Reading and writing is great!

2008 Getting Started
"What Did You Do in School Yesterday, Today and Three Years Ago?"
By: H Songhai

This presentation was a focus on "portable learning" with our students. He shared personal experiences as to how he used digital gadgets to document information, places and learning as it occurred in his life. His focus was on documenting your experiences to make it easy to share with others. On a college tour with high school students, after watching students using cell phones for idle chatter, he took the opportunity to show them how their "gadgets" could be helpful learning tools. He introduced to the students how they could use their phones to document their college visits and collect data. He suggested they take pictures of campuses and important documentation as they received it. He also suggested they use the voice recording feature on their phones to record special facts/deadlines pertaining to each college as they toured the campus. His emphasis is on using the digital tools which are readily available for learning and not just idle chatter.
As an example, in his classroom he takes pictures of the print media that contains information that he wants to share with his students. He does it when they are around so they can witness how he records, categorizes and archives information he wants to share. He wants the students to realize their "gadgets" can be an important tool in their learning. He also listed key sites that are free and available on the internet to use with your students to encourage digital archiving.

I found all of his emphasis on encouraging students to recognize the learning potential of digital gadgets very interesting. I would like to give my students the assignment to record an important facts/items/homework they want to remember over 1 month. I think they would be surprised at the end of the month of the key items they recorded throughout the month. This would allow them to evaluate what they considered important as well as introduce this as learning tool. It would allow them to explore the idea of categorizing the items into logical groups.

Using Voice Threads
View Full Screen Voice Thread

Overview (click on link below for personal voice thread)

There were 3 main questions presented after the above presentation with comments recorded using voice threads which allowed others to comment on the questions. I found this interesting and wanted to explore how to set a Voice thread up. I clicked on the link and found a voice thread set up to present a brief and basic explanation of how to add voice threads and drawing to images that you upload. You can allow others to comment in a variety of methods on your pictures as well. This was very creative and gave me ideas on more ways to engage the students.

Application Initially, I would present a series of pictures and see if students could identify what event in history the pictures were representing. They would have to find a fact on each historical event and record a comment. I would have this created in The topics would include major events which would be easy to recognize but serve as an introduction to

To try out this tool I created a brief slide show entitled "A Day of Vacation". This gave me the opportunity to set up an account on It was a lot of fun, and I can see students using this to create presentations on a variety of topics or to use it as a study guide for an upcoming test. After students are familiar with this tool I will have the students choose a topic/chapter from their history book, download/upload pictures from the internet and record a comment containing 2 facts that pertain to each picture that are key points mentioned in their history class and stressed as important for their test. This could be a great study guide. Just another way to make studying more memorable!
Click on the following link to check out my voice thread about my vacation pictures

2008 Leading the Change
There's Something Going On Here You Need to Know About...

This presentation focused on the following 5 key points as it presented 3 stories describing the impact of technology tools.

  • Web 2.0 tools
  • Learning
  • Collaboration
  • Sharing
  • Invention
The first story focused on the initial exposure of Dennis Richards, Superintendent in Massachusetts, to web 2.0 tools. He was impacted by web 2.0 conference, Building Learning Conference. He saw new approaches to teaching including RRS, Skype, twitter, blogs, Utube, etc.
He presented the information to his teachers and then got committed to learning more, and he was surprised at how meaningful, engaging and fun it was to learn with these new tools. However, he also recognized there were negatives for the teachers asoociated with these tools such as, risky, abundant options and unsettling at times. He then comitted to co-moderate a conference focusing on web 2.0 which encouraged him to learn even more about these tools. He admits these 2 conferences changed his professional life.

The second story, "Learning Beyond Boundaries" described how Dennis began to focus on spreading his new knowledge about these amazing technology tools with collegues. He was very excited about the technology tools and as he attended the ASCD conference and immediately noticed out of 500 sessions only 27 sessions focused on technology and only 5 of those focused on web 2.0 content. This confirmed the overall negative attitude that many teachers have about technology in education. This provided the encouragement he needed to commit to introduce the web tools in a more widespread forum to teachers at future ASCD conferences. He got teachers and administrators to sign up to volunteer to present this information at future ASCD conference in 2009. The guiding questions for the presenters for the ASCD 2009 conference were perfect for presenting web 2.0 pedagogies. He was pleasantly surprised by the way his proposal to bring this information to ASCD conference was received by the President of ASCD. Although he had limited experience he knew this information was key to engaging students in learning and was committed to spreading the word.

The third story explained how Dennis and collegues developed a project called Global Change Institue. This project was developed to address the curriculum criteria while using a variety of web 2.0 tools; blogs, wikis, podcasts, skype, flickr. It was a success and they got funding to develop the project. This project although risky at times was worth it when Dennis saw the active, engaged learning that was experienced by the students.

The end wrapped up with Dennis stressing the importance of teachers becoming learners again; explore, discover and learn. He listed several key web 2.0 tools and encouraged teachers to explore the tools and sites presented if they were not familiar with them. The list included tools I have explored and want to increase implementation in my lessons. One thing he stressed throughout the presentation was although the tools are great, it is risky to implement something new in the classroom. I think that is the key to why all of our teachers are not exploring these new learning tools. I have to continue to take on these challenges and explore, discover and learn new things with my students. I believe these tools definetly enhance the learning experience for the students. I did recognize the tools he referenced, but I have to continue to bring those tools into the classroom while presented key curriculum. In addition, to increasing my use of the tools this served as an encouragement to keep me sharing these tools with my co-workers. I agree these tools are key to our students learning. The importance of developing 21st learning in our classrooms is critical.

2008 Leading The Change
Teaching Web 2.0: Everything You Need in One Place
By Wendy Drexel

She has taught at all level of the K-12 education environment and currently is teaching at the High School level. She consistently explores new web 2.0 tools with her students and at times the exploration goes more "smoothly" than other experiences. Admittedly, she said there are times her students feel like "guinea pigs" as they explore, but overall they find it very rewarding. She feels the positive experiences surpass any negative experiences they have encountered. Her presentation was informative, encouraging and interesting. She began by discussing the importance of teachers preparing themselves for 21st Century teaching/learning. It is about preparing our students to learn for the future and the web 2.0 tools enhance this learning.

She focused on a site which is set up for teachers. This was very interesting and offered lots of great ideas for using new and older tools. This site is developed by teachers for teachers. Teachers document their experience as they are using the tools, and it is a great resource to share and gain information as you take the risk and explore the tools with your students.

A new tool list is on the site and one she pointed out was Museum Box. It allows you to create a box with a different picture/text on each side of the box. I explored this tool because it sounded like it would be a great way to enhance learning in the classroom. As I created my box about US buildings I found it frustrating, because of the layers to the box. However, I will have my students explore this site during free time during class to develop a cube about our school and see if they find it frustrating or engaging. My Museum Box was on buildings in the United States.

Wendy challenged everyone to make a contribution to the web 2.0 learning site. She stressed the importance that as we learn we have to forget the old way of learning which was passive and become an active learner by adding/sharing your experiences on the teachweb2 site. That resource is off to a good start but will only improve if people are active learners and share their experiences. I will make sure to add my experience when I take my students to and explore the tricks about Museum Box.

2008 Leading The Change
Telling the New Story: Leverage Points for Inspiring Change Orientation
David Warlick

First I have to say, I was excited to see David Warlick had a presentation on this site because typically he is interesting and practical in his approach to learning. This presentation once again supported this approach. He started his presentation with an Avitar telling the story, very clever way to capture your interest. He stressed the importance of changing our teaching methods and tools. Too often we have many 21st century students learning in 19th century classrooms. It is important that the classrooms develop into engines which allow our students to move forward preparing themselves for a future that will be unlike our pasts. We know that we have to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in our classrooms, but we must also stress the creative learning. Stressing creative learning is important because our students will face a job market that will be very different than the highly structured, highly supervised positions that were the core of previous job markets. The future job market is unknown and ever changing but will require creativity and independence as they advance in their careers.
The difference between sites with web 1.0 tools (NY Times website) and web 2.0 tools (Dig news) is creativity. The NY times web site presents news that the is deemed important by a group of people located in the New York Times offices. However web 2.0 is interactive as in "dig news" people post stories that they think are important. Web 2.0 tools and their interaction is critical to the development of our students.
In summary David said, Web 1.0 learning was defined by its limits where as web 2.0 is defined by its lack of limits.
This presentation stressed the critical importance of the teachers ability to change their classrooms to ensure effective learning for the 21st Century. It is hard to give up old habits of methods used in the classroom for the last 20 years, but our 21st century learners require interactive learning and new methods. It is hard to prepare our students for a future that is not fully understood but we must prepare them to think for themselves and give them the necessary resources by presenting web 2.0 tools. Each week in my 6th grade classes I will list a new tool that will be explored in class and see where it takes us. I will present questions to be answered/explored and then discuss the tool at the end of the week. Each student will create a document with links brief descriptions of the site/tool and then their personal comments.

2008 Getting Started
"Traveling Through the Dark"
Steve Kimmi

Last but NOT Least. Another clever presentation with lots of practical application. He opens by introducing and analyzing the poem "Traveling Throught the Dark" by William Stafford. It is about a man driving along a windy, narrow road when he encounters a heap in the rode which is a deer. After careful inspection he realizes the deer is a pregnant doe and the baby is alive inside the doe. This driver is faced with a big decision, should he stay and help the deer or push it over to the side so he can continue on his way. Certainly there are several things for him to consider as he makes his decision; will he get hit by other cars or does he have the capability to deliver this baby dear. Steve ends the analysis there which left me very curious and I had to go find the poem to read the ending; click on the link to read the poem. This was a great introduction to a motivational message for teachers.

Steve ties the poems decision to the decisions we are faced with as educators. We have to make decisions about our teaching methods and often times we take the easy way and remain consistent in our appoach. We avoid venturing into the darkness and choosing the path into the darkness because it seems too "risky". Teachers often pick the familiar path because it is safe, but what will happen if we never venture off the familiar path and explore other options. The result is education will become irrelevant for our students, and they will not be prepared to go into the world. How important is it to venture into the darkness; critical.

He described how he began evaluating his teaching experience. It resulted in a realization that his students were not engaged in learning. Although they had all passed the standardized tests, he did not feel satisfied with those results. He wanted to adust his teaching style. His new challenge was how to integrate technology while continuing to meet the required standards. He reached out to other teachers to see how others were finding an effective way to accomplish this goal within his classroom. is a site that he highly recommended because of the information and encouragement it gave to him. On this site you will find teachers teaching teachers. As a result of watching the presentations on Edtechtalk he has learned new methods, ideas and gotten motivated to keep trying new things as he ventures into the darkness.

I found this presentation addressed struggles I face in my classroom; how to balance introducing new fun technologies while teaching the basics. I would agree with Steve that often times the old ways are easier but not as rewarding or effective. Throughout this year when I am tempted to go back to the old ways I will visit again to get me back into the darkness. The dialogue I listened to on Edtechtalk was Teachers Teaching Teachers # 158 07-01-09. This was a teacher presenting the actual conversation that went on between students from different schools regarding the Obama election. It was interesting and a great way for students to experience and share different view points.

I have also shared this presentation with my Principal to be used at one of our monthly faculty meetings. I found this a great analogy of venturing into the darkness to explore new teaching tools. I think the teachers will be encouraged to explore the darkness.
I created an introduction using to kick off the above presentation for our teachers.