Podcasts havpodcaste been around for a while. They are currently being used in the classroom to help students learn. The great thing is that it is no longer only used by teachers. We are seeing that students are also creating their podcasts so that they can show what they have learned and teach their peers.

I personally have not used podcasts as part of my instructional delivery or as an option for my students to show what they have learned. However, after reading more about podcasts and their use in the classroom I am excited to try it out this year.

I currently teach Science and Social Studies in Spanish to third grade students. What would like to do is to create podcasts in Spanish that my students can listen to in the content area that my lesson is based on. I think it will be an alternate way for my students to listen to a lesson. In addition, I know my students will find it very interesting to use podcasts to show me what they have learned and to use it as a tool to share information.

Recently, I visited TL Talk Radio at www.tltalkradio.org. It is an online radio show that helps us learn more about the digital world around us and also helps us understand our leadership roles within the educational system. Many guests visit the show to share they views on various topics.

I listened to Season 2: Episode 3-Technology: Using or Integrating Podcast. It was very helpful to listen to this podcast and really understand the difference between just using technology and integrating technology in the classroom. Listening to this podcast helped me understand the difference between the two. Sometimes we think that by having students work on a computer for 30 mins we are integrating technology in our class however, that is not simply the case. Additionally, I now understand that even though I might use technology for instructional delivery that also does not mean that I am not integrating technology in my classroom. I invite you to listen to this podcast and reflect on how you use technology in your class.



Creating a TedEd lesson

For my TedEd lesson I decided to go with a very interesting topic for my third graders. Tornados! My students absolutely love science and I believe TedEd is a perfect tool to encourage their engagement and participation. However, this was not my opinion when I was first introduced to TedEd.

The first time I created a TedEd lesson I wasn’t really sure on what I was hoping to accomplish with this tool. It was an assignment given to me during one my graduate courses and I made the lesson wanting to complete the assignment. However, as time has passed I am learning how to incorporate TedEd into my classroom more efficiently.

What has really helped me get better at using TedEd is seeing how students interact with the lesson. Usually I will have them complete the lesson in class because many of them do not have access to technology at home. For each class, I teach I modify the lesson based on the level of my students. It is fun to see they look at the video and sometimes go back to the video to answer questions.

TedED is pretty easy to use. You can also take a look at other TedEd lesson to get an idea of how you can use it in the classroom. It can be used with any content area. In addition, I love that TedEd can be used with so many grade levels. What can change is the type of questions and the videos that are used to create the lesson. Below is a lesson I plan to use with my incoming third graders in the fall.


Inclusive Practices in an Online Learning Environment

As a teacher in a brick-and-mortar type of school I face challenges when it comes to teaching students with disabilities or students in an inclusive classroom. I want to make sure that they have the opportunity as the rest of the students in my class so that the may also be successful and may also reach their educational goals. One way in which I can address this challenge is by building a relationship with my student and getting to know my student as a learner. I can begin to explore my student’s strengths and weaknesses so that I am better equipped to teach him or her.

Using this same train of thought I am able to then apply the same concept to teaching an inclusive classroom online. Although, I may not see my students face-to-face I am still able to assess their strengths and weaknesses. I am able to get to them to know them as learners and build relationships that will help me teach them.

When we think of inclusive practices in a brick-and-mortar type of school we think of small groups, the use of audio and visual instead of just written information, alternate forms of assessment, accommodations, following IEPs or 504 plans, differentiation, and or peer mentors. These are all practices that can help a student with a disability be successful in a general education class. We want them to have accessibility to the same information as regular education students. What would this look like in and online or blended learning environment?

  • Small groups/Peer mentors-even when students are taking a class online, the teacher can pair up students in small groups or with a peer mentor to help them through the coursework. Although, they won’t meet face-to-face like in a classroom through various apps an online tools they can speak or see each other online to meet. They can use Skype, Google Hangout, Voxer, or any other app that they chat with each other or see each other face-to-face.
  • Audio/Visual – online learning definitely has to include audio and visual information that can help all learners. One thing to remember is that all videos should accompany captions to meet ADA compliance. Currently there various online tools that can help add captions to videos that may not have them. One example that Packansky-Brock mentions in her book is Wistia. Using this online tool you can add captions to your videos (p. 71, 2012). This tool can also help English Language Learners (ELLs) because they are able to see the words at the bottom while listening to the audio and viewing the pictures.
  • IEPs and 504 plans have to also be followed in an online/blended-learning environment. As a teacher we are responsible for following them and meeting state and federal guidelines designed to help our special education students similar how we follow them in the classroom.
  • Differentiation/Accomodations-when we think of differentiation there are three main categories that we should take into consideration. We use the same three categories when teaching in a classroom. This will help us reach or learners in an inclusive classroom. They are:
  • Content-What are students expected to learn?
  • Process-How will students learn? Explicit instruction, small groups, modeling, etc.
  • Product-How can students show what they have learned?

Additionally, we must remember that sometimes students may need accommodations such as extra time to complete an assignment. This is similar to what we can do in the classroom.

  • ESL/ELL students-One of the tools I use in my classroom now is Quizlet. I like using Quizlet because it helps the students who are learning Spanish and the students who learning English. I am able to show vocabulary words in two different languages. They are able to see and hear the words.
  • Other tools-another tool that can be useful for online students is speech to text applications. Students are able to speak and the application writes what the students say. This would be great for students who may not be able to type on a keyboard. One app that can be used with Apple products is Dragon Dictation. Android has a similar product called Dragon mobile. Both apps allow a student to dictate what the want written on the computer.

Although, online teaching can be a little more challenging that in a classroom, we can still  use inclusive practices to teach all learners.

Reflecting On Inquiry Group Project

Recently, I completed my first inquiry group project using Google Hangout and Voxer. This assignment is part of a graduate online class I am currently taking at Moravian College this summer. Although, I have completed inquiry group projects before this one was a little different.

At first it seemed that it would be easy to meet and complete the assignment because we all had a somewhat flexible schedule to complete it. I was happy because two of the ladies in my group had class with me before so I felt comfortable with them.

We ended up meeting two times. First we met on Voxer and then we used Google hangout to complete a face-to-face meeting. The first time we met there was some confusion as to where we would meet and how we were to complete our assignment. Some of us had experiences with Inquiry group from previous classes so we had a feel for how we wanted to complete the assignment. Although, it was a little difficult at first, we were able to come together and work as a team to complete the assignment.

At first I was confused and a little concerned that would not be able to find a common ground to complete the assignment. That quickly changed when we all came together and each of us took on a role. After that everything else became natural. Since we are all educators once we knew are role we were able to carry it out efficiently. During our group hangout I was in charge of using Twitter. For me this was where I felt comfortable so I asked if I could take on this role for this first meeting.

This assignment made me think of my own students and the experiences that may go through when they work in groups. Even though we all came together and read the brain self assesssame assignment we all had different ideas on how it should be completed. Thankfully, we worked throughout together. However, sometimes our students do not have the necessary skills to work through the same situation and successfully complete a group project. As teaches it is our job to teach them those skills and use our own examples to show them that we may also go through similar situations therefore, showing them real-life experiences and making those real-life connections. Being a student again has really helped me focus more on my students because I am constantly seeing things as a student myself.

For our next assignment our group will be more prepared to complete the inquiry group project. Since we have already met I think we are more comfortable with each other. This time we can all take on different roles so that each of us has an opportunity to do something different.


My Favorite Content Creation Tool

Finding tools for content creation can sometimes be a challenge especially when it comes to using it in a third grade classroom. You have to find something that is engaging to them and that they can also use themselves. Thankfully, through my use of Twitter and Edmodo I have been able to connect to other educators and have found tools that I currently use in my classroom. One of these tools is Prezi, an online presentation tool

Prezi has been a great tool in so many different ways. At first, I used PPT and taught my students how to use PPT to make presentations about their projects. The problem that I sometimes encountered was that students couldn’t always have the same computers. We used flash drives, which kind of solved the problem. However, then we ran into a second problem. Some students wanted to be able to work on their slides at home. That is when someone introduced me to Prezi. I was able to signup for an account and my students were able to go on and make their own Prezis. There were also able to work on them in any place where they had access to the Internet. For some it meant at home, and for others it meant at the library. No matter what Prezi made much easier for my students to create slides and work on them even when they were not in school.

The best part is that there are so many different slides to choose from. My students really enjoyed picking different themes that were somewhat related to their research. For example, one student made a presentation on the planet Jupiter. Therefore, he chose a theme that resembled the night sky.

Additionally, since Prezi is online it you can share it with others and you can also present it anywhere you go because it is online. One of my students wanted to be prepared for her presentation so she looked up her Prezi online and presented it to her family before she presented in class. She did an awesome job once she presented in class.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 9.00.12 AM.png          I also use Prezi to introduce my students to new units of study or content. They enjoy the way that the slides move from one place to another. They like to guess which slide template I will use in connection to what we are studying. Press is a great tool for a teacher as well as a student. It was easy to teach them how to use it. If you haven’t tried Prezi yet, go ahead and give it a try. You will not regret it!



How can educators effectively incorporate 21st century skills in the classroom while still teaching to the state standards?

21st Century skills are needed for our students to succeed in the future. We can still teach them the content they need to learn while still incorporating these very important skills. 21st Century skills will allow me to integrate projects in my classroom that will allow my students to learn specific state standards in Science. I will be able to allow my students to collaborate and communicate with one another so that they can use these skills to complete their assignment. Therefore, they will be able to use 21st Century skills and also learn the content that they need to learn for 4th grade.

In a recent inquiry project my students learned about weather. They were able to follow a meteorologist on a Twitter and learn more about weather patterns and how predictions are made about the weather. Additionally, they collaborated with one another using Google Docs to present information they learned to another 4th grade class. They used critical thinking skills to look at weather maps around the United States and predict what kind of weather they thought a certain state or city would have in the next couple of days.

At the end of their inquiry project they were able to use their creativity to showcase everything they knew about weather and clouds. They used Prezi, PowerPoint and Glogster to present everything they had learned. This is an example of how my students were able to learn content based on the state standards and were also able to use 21st Century skills to complete their project.

When I first learned about 21st Century skills I was worried that maybe I wasn’t allowing my students time to sharpen these skills. However, as times went on and I continued to learn more, I realized that even though it was a little I was giving my students opportunities to use these skills.

Now that I know about 21st Century skills I will continue to provide those opportunities in class so that my students can leave the classroom prepared for the challenges they will face in the next grade and in the outside world. We have to also think that part of our job includes preparing our students for the next grade. I say this because we sometimes focus so much on the “outside world” or the “real world” that we forget to mention the next grade. I usually tell my students that I am trying to prepare them for the next grade, for middle school, for high school and then eventually college. I share with them what I do in my graduate courses so that they can see how many of these skills will transfer from one grade to another until they are ready to work in the real world.

So in conclusion we can continue teaching to the state standards while still integrating 21st Century skills. All we need to do is provide the opportunities during our lessons were our students can use these skills to learn and overcome the challenges they face when learning new concepts and ideas.

Assessing 21st Century Skills

What are the 21st century skills and how can they be assessed?

Before this class I had no idea what 21st Century skills were. Therefore, if I didn’t know what they were how could I assess my student’s 21st Century skills? As I began to explore and learn more about 21st Century skills I began to realize how important it is for all educators to understand the importance of teaching these skills to our students.

Often times when we talk about these skills we refer to the 4 Cs. These 4 Cs are Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration. Students as well as teachers need to be able to think critically, communicate effectively through many different means, collaborate with others and think creatively. Students have to be able to apply these skills to different situations that they will see themselves in the real world.

In my class my students complete multiple projects where they need to collaborate and communicate with each other. I have been able to teach them how to collaborate with one another and different ways that they can communicate ideas with each other so that they can complete their assignments. However, I am excited to introduce what it means to collaborate with others outside of our classroom.

For example, my students recently made presentation about Hispanic historical figures. One of my students chose to learn more about Sonia Sotomayor. If I were to have her do the assignment again I would encourage her to reach out to Sonia Sotomayor and see if she could interact with through social media to learn more about her. It would be engaging for her and will also allow her to develop communication skills with other outside of the classroom.

We also completed projects about different Hispanic countries. Next year I would love to setup a Skype session so that we can communicate with people from these different countries. It would be amazing to communicate with students in Spain when we learn about Spain. They can teach us more about their country and we can teach them about ours. In the process we learn more about the United States and Spain.

While learning about 21st Century skills I have also learned about the importance of Global Awareness. Our students need a greater awareness about other countries. Teaching another language is a great way to introduce them to other countries and cultures.

My students sometimes complain about learning another language. They fail to see the connection to the real world. I have made it my mission to teach them the benefits of learning another language. In addition, I have been able to introduce cultures and customs of different Hispanic countries in South and Central America.   All along I have been teaching them about global awareness without even knowing it.

Now that I am more aware of what 21st Century Skills are I can begin to think about how I can assess these skills. The members of my inquiry group and I decided that there a few ways that we can assess and evaluate these essential skills in the classroom. Below are three ways in which I will be assessing 21st Century skills.

  • Rubrics-When using rubrics we can incorporate the four Cs in the rubric (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration)
  • Conferences-Conferencing with students can allow a teacher to see if students are thinking critically. We can ask questions to dig deeper and see just how much a student has used critical thinking skills to complete and assignment or project.
  • Self-assessment- I will be teaching students how they can self-assess themselves. I can teach them how to identify their strengths and weaknesses. They will be able to self-reflect and improve in areas they conclude they need to work on. Students will not grade themselves they will self-assess to revise their work and improve their work before it is turned in to me for grading.

During conferences and self-assessment I will require students to provide evidence of what they tell me. For example, if a student tells me that they did a great job collaborating with others, I will ask them to provide an example. This will allow students to make concrete connections and will teach them to provide evidence of their learning and growth.

21st Century skills are skills that are needed in today’s world. I remember reading an article that mentioned that students need to be ready to work in jobs that have not yet been created. As teachers we need to teach and assess these skills so that they can be successful in the real world.