Thursday, May 6, 2010

Journal 9: Playing with Skype (NETS-T V)

skype.png (512×512)

Weller, J. Travis (2010) Playing with Skype. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(6), 28-29. Retrieved April 21st  2010, from

This article described an excellent example of how to use the new free internet based communication device called Skype. The author Travis Weller was able to successfully connect high school band students to the composers whose music they played. In the first Skype session with a composer the students learned first hand from a free lance composer about the business end of creating music. Later the teacher organized to have the composers “Skyped-in” at a live concert to introduce their pieces that the students would then play. Weller felt that the time it took to learn and set up the Skype technology was well worth the enriching benefits. Access to this type of technology is not cost prohibitive. Not only is the Skype program over the internet with webcam options free all that is needed to set up a system is two internet capable computers and webcams.

How does this technology change the classroom?

The use of Skype in the classroom to gain access to experts in the field goes beyond the classroom setting and allows for opportunities that may never be able to occur at the school or even on a field trip. The use of this technology can make the world that they have access to bigger and be an enriching learning experience for them.

What is another example of how this technology could be used?

The Skype technology for classrooms has many possible applications. To further the ideas for music students could Skype with other music classrooms and bands and perform for each other in a sort of “music-pal” sort of way. This would give the students a real and critical peer audience to practice for and could lead to exchange of ideas about the meaning of different pieces.

Skype could provide science teachers many opportunities to introduce experts in various fields to the classroom for interviews and primary source information. Students for example could interview scientist in Antarctica or in tropical forest field stations. All of these experiences would provide students with more intriguing material as well as introduce them to people in various career fields.

Journal 8: Navigate the Digital Rapids (NETS-T V)

Lindsay, Julie and Vicki Davis (2010). Navigate the Digital Rapids. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(5), 12-15. Retrieved April 20th 2010, from

The main points of this article can be summarized by the two analogies that the authors used: 1, navigating a classroom through the digital world is like navigating through rapids and 2, Digital citizenship is like driving the more you know the safer you can be. Navigating a classroom full of students through digital citizenship or the rapids includes a few steep learning curves at first but the most important thing for teachers to remember is that they are not alone. Many teachers have come before us and can show us where the knarly rapids may lie and how to steer clear or come out alive.

Educating kids about responsible and safe internet practices is like teaching a person to drive. We do not know the power of a vehicle when we first get behind the wheel and that is why we are required to have driver training. We require this in the hopes of having safer roads  for everyone. The same applies to the internet. The more people who know how to safely navigate and use the internet makes it that much more safe.  

How can teachers guide appropriate internet behavior?

Teachers can help guide appropriate behavior by providing clear guidelines. Teachers should also model this behavior for their students. Providing opportunities for students to interact over the internet in monitored settings can be like training wheels for the students and if problems occur they can be reported and proper action taken. Having class and student blogs that students and the teacher can post comments on provides a way for students to learn online etiquette and appropriate behavior. Other platforms for online communication that can be monitored are wiki's, collaborative google docs, class twitter accounts, and online presentations. 

What does it mean to “flatten” a classroom?

Flattening a classroom simply that classrooms are connected and work in collaboration with each other over the internet through Ning networks, wikis and blogging. This allows for freer exchange of ideas amongst a larger group of peers. Flattening classrooms have the advantage of showing students the interconnectedness of their leaning.

Journal 7: Beginner’s Guide to Interactive Virtual Field Trips (NETS-T V)

Zanetis, Jan (2010) The Beginner’s Guide to Interactive Virtual Field Trips. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37 (6), 20-23. Retrieved April 14th 2010, from

The biggest advantage of Virtual Field Trips (VFTs), as author Jan Zanetis describes, is that they allow for students to experience places that they might not otherwise be afforded the opportunity to go. With difficult budget decisions filed trips are often one of the first things a school may have to let go. VFTs offer the opportunity for students to engage in interacting and exploring destinations with minimal to no cost to the students and school. A VFT can be asynchronous meaning they are available as pre-prepared video, pictures, text, and audio files through websites. These can be helpful in exploring museums and can be used as a supplement to lessons (Check out the links to helpful VFT aggregator sites below)

The other kind of VFT's are synchronous.  They are interactive in real time. They can be used, for example, to connect students with professional lab tech's that will take the students through a lab that they might not have the resources for at their school. Synchronous VFTs require the use of h.323 video-conferencing technology. These are fairly expensive systems to set up but they are a one time expense that can greatly enrich a schools learning atmosphere. Zanetis notes that research has shown that 30% of U.S. schools have video conferencing equipment.  For schools who do not have the equipment there are possibilities of requesting a demo of the technology. If funds for the equipment is an issue than funding may be matched through certain companies or grants written to pursue funds.

  1. How does this technology benefit students?

By providing students with the opportunity to interact with talented educators and experience places that would not be feasible to travel to like across state borders or even to Australia. The options are endless for videoconferencing to enrich the students learning.

  1. What would be an example of how video conferencing could enrich curriculum standards?
Many video conferencing programs are based on National Standards. In a science class students could start a laboratory section on the study of the human heart with a distance learning program taught by a physician from the Adventures in Medicine and Science Program at St. Louis University. After the interactive section the students could dissect animal hearts. This option would provide the students a chance to pose questions about hearts to an expert in that exact field.

           Other Aggregate VFT resources:

           E-Field Trips:
           Access Excellence Resource Center:
          Gail Lovely Virtual Field Trip Sites:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Playing with Google Earth (NETS-T I, II, V)

In trying to learn how Google Earth works I created a tour of My Peace Corps Service. I am still learning the technology and this is a first draft. After I went through it a couple of times I learned that I can add text, audio and pictures to each place that I went. This would be a powerful tool to bring real world issues into the classroom and into context. I look forward to exploring further the opportunities for learning that Google Earth can provide.

Click here to view a draft of my tour of service or copy and past the link below:
   ***For best results in viewing the presentation  un-select all layers except for Borders and Terrain before starting the tour.

*** Follow along with the tour and read more about the different places that I visited. 

This is my Peace Corps Service Tour of Morocco

I started my journey in San Diego.

I flew to Philadelphia for Staging. I met my fellow volunteers in training for the first time. In Philadelphia we covered the many rules of Peace Corps and the hard ships we may endure. We were given one last chance to jump ship if we felt this was not for us.



From Philadelphia we flew to Casablanca the economic capital of Morocco.

From the airport we took a bus immediately to Rabat the political capital of Morocco. In Rabat we started reviewing the in country rules of our service and protocols for safety. We were also given with what seemed like every vaccination under the sun. We stayed in Rabat for 3 days before getting in a bus and traveling 12 hours south to the desert oasis city of Ouarzazate.

In Ouarzazate we set up camp at a hotel. This would be one of our temporary homes for the next 3 months of training. In Ouarzazate we met each week for a couple of days to cover more Peace Corps Rules,  community development and participation philosophies and of course to get more vaccinations.

During the rest of the week we would stay in a small village called a douar out side of the small city of Kelata M’gouna. There we would live with a host family and practice the native language of Tamazight. We would study daily with our teacher and put to practice many of the need assessment activities we had learned with our host village.

Back to Ouarzazate we graduated from Peace Corps Training and then it was off to our new homes for the next two years. 

On the way to my new home of we stopped in Errachidia to meet with my counterparts of the ministry of water and forest.

From Errachidia we traveled to Rissani which would be my souk or market town and internet site

M’cissi is located half way between the two market towns of Rissani and Alnif along a long desert road. There I studied Tamazight and worked primarily with the community association in gathering ideas for community development. I also worked with the ministry of water and forest putting together protocols for monitoring the vegetation on the new gazelle reserve.

My service in M’cissi came to an end after 8months of service because of unsafe transportation issues.

I was moved to a new site in the Middle Atlas Mountains outside of the small city of Azrou. 

The small village of Ben Smim was my new home. It is located 10 minutes away by grand taxi ride outside of Azrou. There I worked with a Women’s Medicinal and Aromatic Plant cooperative and with youth on capacity building activities.

I finished my Peace Corps service in June of 2007 after spending two years in the country off Morocco it feels like a second home.

Qimas G Alman (Stay in Peace, Tamazight)

Ed Tech Profile (NETS-T III)

This is my Ed Tech Profile score from the Assesment Test taken at the beginning of the semester. This chart shows where I needed to improve my knowledge and understanding of computers and technology. 

Comparison Chart

 Category01/28/2010 (baseline)01/28/2010Chart
1.Computer Knowledge and Skills2.142.14View Chart
2.CCTC Program Standard 9: Using Technology in the Classroom0.790.79View Chart
3.CCTC Program Standard 16: Using Technology to Support Student Learning1.071.07View Chart

JCCS Internet Safety (NETS-T IV, V)

This is a resource for teachers, students, and parents about the various issues of internet safety. This document was collaboratively created by a myself and fellow classmates using the online program Google Doc's.

JCCS Internet Safety

Interactive Crossword (NETS-T I, II)

DNA Replication Crossword II

This crossword was created using Microsoft Excel program. On excel the first letter of each word was coded to show up green if it was entered correct and red if it was entered incorrect. The clues were given on a separate worksheet and can be viewed on the second page in the embeded crossword. Creating a crossword puzzle with clues  to trade with peers would be an excellent assignment for students in a high school biology class.