Saturday, February 23, 2013

PLN (Professional Learning Network)

They say "A journey begins with a single step."  At a stretch, I am at step number two in the PLN trip. Finding the time to browse the thousands, if not millions, of sites is my biggest problem. I suppose it is a generational thing, but it takes me way longer to surf the internet than than it does my younger colleagues. Weeding through the mass of information takes time, be it time well spent sometimes. Honestly, reading what the other ETrainers have posted has been informative and I have already looked at a few of their suggestions and favorites. An SBISD blog by grade level, sharing best practices and exciting creations, would spread the wealth of knowledge that is right here in our own backyard.

Tools Come and Go

Because there are so many "tools" at our disposal, one cannot help but feel overwhelmed! The answer for this is to "just do it" and see what happens. As long as you are somewhat prepared for students to give it a go, you can journey together. Though my toolbox is minimally stocked, it is open to additions at any time. I have had great success with GoAnimate. The children love making movies showcasing their knowledge and take great pride in sharing the final product. It does, however, have its limitations and complexities and I much prefer more user friendly XtrNormal, which unfortunately costs to publish beyond an introductory offer. Edmodo, the vehicle for GoAnimate, has its own great features for responding, collaborating and communicating among groups. Odyssey and Learning.com, both similar in their format and educational scope, are fun for kids and awesome  in their reporting of results and learning paths for many subjects, though I use them particularly for Math and Science. BrainPop and BrainPopJr cannot be beat for engaging and easy to understand concept introduction or review. YouTube is usually short and to the point. iPad apps for skill practice and internet research is a favorite with students, but without Flash, some programs are not effective. What hasn't worked for me is Dojo and Manga High. Dojo is too visible to the class and requires constant access to record throughout the day and Manga High, though it says it is appropriate for 3rd grade, is too difficult and frustrating for this age. I have tried a class blog, for the purpose of keeping parents informed and involving students in discussion and activities. Parents pretty much did not read it and preferred the weekly newsletter that was emailed to them. Perhaps another year it will be better received.