Friday, July 10, 2015

Remembering What is Most Important...

The past eight weeks have been a whirlwind.   My grad classes kept me very busy, and at times, too busy.  I can definitely say my family was neglected... A LOT.  My kids are not little (one is almost 16 and the other is 18), so I don't need to constantly be there to dress, feed, and put them to bed.  But, after thinking about it more, I really DO need to be there.  Not to help them dress or make their meals, but to talk with them and listen to what is going on in their lives.  My daughter is 15 1/2, so she desperately wants to practice driving.  She has a new boyfriend, and he is her first "love."  My son graduated from high school and is trying to figure out what classes to take at Cornell University in the fall.  For each of them, these are important times in their lives.  They need someone to talk to, someone who will listen, someone who will give them guidance and support.  For the past few weeks, that hasn't been me.  My laptop has actually become part of my lap.  I am ALWAYS on the computer working on homework or work-related projects.  But now that my classes are almost done, I need to remember what is most important.  Of course, work and school are important aspects of my life, but family should always come first.  I am looking forward to reconnecting with my family, helping my son prepare for the next chapter of his life in college, being a co-pilot for my daughter as she learns how to drive, providing support to my husband whose staff is currently struggling with three cancer-related illnesses and deaths.  I really haven't forgotten what is important... I guess I just needed to be reminded.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wrapping It Up... With a Bow on Top

The summer semester is coming to an end.  Over the weekend, I finished my podcast and instructional app for the Instructional Apps of the Internet course, so I would have most of Monday and Tuesday to finalize my research proposal for the Qualitative Research in Education class.  Late last night, I finally submitted the research proposal.  It was a paper I started over 4 weeks ago, and it felt great to click the submit button for that major assignment.  The main assignments for both classes are done, and only a few collaborative assignments still linger.  It has been a very educational, yet challenging, semester for me, and I got a lot out of both of my class.  They pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and that is where I actually learn the most. But, I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to the end.  Life has been truly chaotic and at times overwhelming since my Qualitative Research class started in mid-May.  Taking two doctoral classes is difficult enough, but throw in a high school graduation, a party for 700, and a vacation with 29 other people, and well, you have a very stressful life.  I am ready to wrap this semester up, take a little break, and be ready to start a new semester of teaching and learning in the fall...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Podcasts CAN Be Fun!

I finished my podcast today, and I am pleased with the final product.  I did find that Audacity is one of those applications where you can continuously tweak your project for hours, but in the end, not really be able to tell the difference from where you started.  It is also a time sucker, an application where hours of your life can easily be lost.  But, I do have to say that the time spent was enjoyable.  Prior to this project, I had only used Audacity for voice files.  So I was excited to use Audacity with music files and blending/modifying tracks because it made the application more interesting and fun.   I created a podcast that defines the 8 things that GREAT English teachers do, and it will be shared with my undergraduate education students who will be student teaching in an English/Language Arts this year.  Now, I am ready to create the second podcast in my series!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Creating My App with Yapp!

During my instructional app development, I researched and tried several different app builders, including Appy Pie, Appsbar, ZohoCreator, and App Inventor 2. With each one, I would get to a certain point during development and would unfortunately discover that the resource would not give me the options I was looking for or had too many limitations to work around. So I decided to try Yapp, and it is working well for me. There are definitely some limitations (for example, you can't create custom pages), but it is very easy to learn and navigate. What I really like about Yapp is the fact I can preview my new app on my iPhone and actually see a "live" version! As I make changes to my app on the Yapp site, I can publish the changes, so I can immediately load the newest version on my phone to see how the app looks with the recent modifications. Very neat feature!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's All Work Wiggio!

I searched and searched for a collaboration site that I would actually want to use with my students.  Many of the free online sites were geared toward businesses and didn't fit the needs of students and/or teachers.  After reading several review sites, I finally found one I really liked:  Wiggio.  First of all, the name is super cool.  And second, the site was beta-tested at Cornell University, which is where my son is going in the fall. Those two reasons pushed me to investigate Wiggio further, and I am glad I did.  

Wiggio has a basic and intuitive structure that allows even the least-techy person to be immediately productive in the site.  Wiggio has a lot of similar features to other collaboration sites, but there are several unique features I found that definitely set Wiggio apart from the rest.  One such feature is the To-Do List. Students can create a to-do list, set due dates for each item on the list, and then assign tasks to group members.  Group members even received notifications (email and/or texts) when they have been assigned a task as well as reminders about the due dates for their tasks.  My students often complain about assigning tasks to group members and keeping track of those assignments.  Wiggio would be a great tool for this!  I also really liked the fact that Wiggio continuously keeps group members in the loop through emails and text messages, so everyone knows about group meetings, due dates, and when information is added to the group space in Wiggio.  Since students don't check emails as frequently as they do texts, I like the idea of using texting as the main communication tool, and Wiggio offers this.    

Learn more about Wiggio:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I'm Loving It! Technology, That Is...

On Monday, I finished my WebQuest.  This was my first experience working with WebQuests, and my son and daughter had no previous experience with them either.  With this in mind, I didn't know what to expect.  But, I have to say that I really like the concept.  I felt like I was building an online module for a class (something I actually do have experience with), so the students can work on their own to complete a project.  I like the idea of the student taking an active role in the learning process and working through steps at their own pace to complete an assignment.  I also like the fact that the students are given some choice and flexibility during the WebQuest as they progress through the steps/guidelines to create an end product that is unique in some way.

On Wednesday, I finished my Mobile App Design.  At first, I wasn't even sure where to begin.  I definitely had used a lot of apps, but never thought of creating one.  I had an idea in my mind (which can be a scary place to be), but I wasn't sure how to take my concept and put into a visual form for others to understand.  I decided to use Excel, and it worked perfectly for me.  After adding lots of features and tweaking the capabilities of the app over multiple days, I can honestly say I love it.  It is definitely an app I would purchase and use if it was actually available.   Now, onto the next new tool... the podcast.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It Will All Be Worth It... Trust Me.

It's 11:00 PM on Father's Day, and I have been diligently working on my homework for my two grad classes for most of the day.  Today is suppose to be a holiday.  A day to spend with my husband and kids.  But, the homework must get done, and procrastination is definitely not helping.  It will all be worth it, right?  I often get that nagging question in the back of my mind when I am up late at night or missing a fun event with family or friends to study for a test, write a paper, or complete a project.  I want to answer that question with a resounding "YES!" but I sometimes wonder what I am missing out on while on this educational journey.  Will I miss an important memory with my family?  Will my friends stop inviting me out because I am often too busy with homework?  I may never know the answers to these questions, but I do know this degree is important to me, so I will continue on.  I know sacrifices must be made... and, in the end, it will be worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wikis! Let's All Work Together...

In my Instructional Applications class, I have been collaboratively working with other classmates on a Google Apps wiki.  This is my first experience with wikis, and I am starting to see the many benefits they provide.  Students have an opportunity to work together in an online environment to develop, modify, and finalize a project.   Students can digitally chat to discuss options, pose questions, and provide assistance to one another.  In the past, I have had my students use Google Docs for collaborative projects, but I am definitely starting to move over to the wiki side of the room.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

You're a Know-It-All! I Wish...

I have been working in technology for over 25 years.  After I graduated from college in 1993, I started teaching computer applications class for a software training company.  I was required to learn all of the current computer applications from the basics to the most advanced features, and as a trainer, you needed to know it all.  After I earned my Master's Degree in Instructional Technology, I transitioned into a Technology Integration Specialist position in my district.  I trained teachers on how to use technology in their classrooms.  And once again, I really had to know my stuff to be prepared to provide the training needed by teachers who taught a variety of subjects and grade levels.  Now, I am in higher education, and I am working hard to help future educators get the tech skills they will need in their own classrooms.  But, can we will really know it all?  There are so many digital resources out there that can be used for educational purposes that I believe it is impossible.  I am constantly researching new instructional tools, but I am often introduced to new resources by colleagues and students, as well.  And, the Instructional Applications course has already exposed me to some resources that I didn't know existed.  Maybe the best solution is to select a few resources that really work for you, find fun, effective, and innovated ways to use them, and don't worry about the ones you might be missing out on.  When you are ready to freshen up your lessons with a new tech idea, there will always be a new program or app waiting for you.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Am I a Blogger Now?

This is my first blog post.  I have read many blogs (usually sports or entertainment related), but I have not taken the initiative to post to an existing blog, let alone create my own.  So, can I consider myself a "blogger" now that I have created a blog and officially posted to it?  I hope so.  I am looking forward to introducing myself at the next social gathering and saying, "Yeah, I blog..."  That would be cool...