Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Podcasting and Audio Tools

A few weeks ago I attended a presentation about podcasting and audio tools.  The presentation, led by my peers, addressed a variety of tools that teachers can use to promote learning and engagement in the classroom.  I found this presentation to be eye opening because I was introduced to familiar tools, such as Google Voice, in an unfamiliar way.  I found the presentation useful because it gave me ideas for how to use these tools in my classroom. 

The first idea the group presented was using podcasting as an instructional tool.  I have never really sat down and listened to a podcast so I learned a lot about what they are, their history, and how they can be used in the classroom.  Originally, iPods were built for podcasts so there is a multitude of resources available on iTunes with topics ranging from current events to scientific studies.  I enjoyed learning about podcasts because I like the idea of having another representation of information to give to my students.  Some students may be auditory learners and listening to a podcast may be able to reinforce concepts that I have gone over in class.  Additionally, podcasts can be used to introduce a lesson as homework.  The only issue I see with this tool is that all students may not be able to access podcasts outside of school.  If this is the case, I could attempt to incorporate podcasts into instructional time if I feel the information is relayed in an effective way. I look forward to experimenting with podcasting in my teaching. 

The second idea the group presented was audio and voice recording tools.  Specifically, I enjoyed hearing about Google Voice because I already have a Google account.  There are so many things you can do with Google Voice that I was unaware of before the presentation.  For example, you can set up a phone number that is only connected to your email address.  This way, students can communicate with you outside of school without calling your main phone line.  Additionally, I saw this as a great way to spread access to contact with the teacher.  If a student does not have access to the internet at home, he or she may not be able to email a teacher outside of school.  However, many students do have cell phones and these can be utilized to communicate with instructors for additional help or any other concerns.  As a beginning teacher, I will be interested to see how I can incorporate both of these tools into my instruction.  I think one place to start would be to assess the access students have to technology outside of school.  Once this is quantified I think I will be able to incorporate these tools, or ones like them, into my teaching.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tech in My Placement

As I sat down with my mentor teacher to fill out the tech in my placement survey, I was surprised to find out about all of the resources available to students at DSA.  Within my mentor's classroom, technology is seldom used and if it is, it is often the teacher that is in charge of it.  There are instances where students are permitted to use their netbooks during class, but technology is often seen in the form of a projector where the teacher is guiding students through a lecture.  I was surprised to find out about all of the resources that can be checked out of the library, such as digital cameras, camcorders, laptop carts, headphones, scanners, and smartboards, because I do not interact with them much in my classroom.  I am wondering if many teachers in the building take advantage of these resources.  Perhaps they are not utilized because they are not readily available in a classroom, or perhaps it is because technology is simply not integrated into curriculum in a way that garners frequent use.

Throughout this process, I was also surprised to find out about the differences in resources between individual classrooms at DSA.  There are four other teaching interns at DSA and we all seemed to have a different list of technology that was available in our classrooms.  Some had smartboards and projectors while others did not.  Additionally, we all seemed to have television sets in the classroom, yet some worked and others did not.  I wonder if the discrepancy between available technology is based on content area (math vs. science), or if it is simply a matter of not replacing items once they are broken.

I found it interesting that the technology students interacted with most is in their own hands.  Students at DSA are able to check out their own netbook at the beginning of the year and are responsible for it throughout the school year.  Not all students choose to check out a netbook and I wonder what the motivation is to obtain one.  We have used the netbooks for instructional purposes a few times in my classroom, yet some students use them for inappropriate purposes such as online shopping during class. I hope to incorporate the use of technology into my teaching so that students will be more motivated to use these devices for instructional purposes than for distractions.  There are many resources at my school that I have yet to tap into.  I hope I can take advantage of what is available to me and my students as I start to take over more classes this year.