Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Digital Writing Project

And so it is done...or not really, but I guess it's always a work in progress, right?
I have to admit-when I first heard "Digital Writing Project" or even that our class was on digital writing, I was skeptical. Hmmm...I'm not really technologically savvy, but I'm not afraid of trying new things. How interesting was this class really going to be? Well, let me tell you-I was hooked after the first class.

As I started to think about my Digital Writing Project, I thought about a lot of different things. I thought about VoiceThread after we had learned about that. I thought about Photostory, but then decided against that since I can't use the (FREE!) download with Windows Vista (ugh). I had posted once to my family blog...if you can even call it that. In then end, that's what I went with. Like many people who always have good intentions of starting a journal with their kids, I never did. I have no recollection of when they said their first word, when they had pizza for the first time, or when they started calling their grandmas and grandpas Mamma and Papa. So, what better way to preserve the memories from here on out than using a blog?

I love recording and writing using my blog. I find that for the most part I'm not over thinking about what I should write or how long the posts should be. I am frustrated with the fact that I can't make it look exactly like I want it to, but maybe I need to talk to other bloggers to see how they overcame that obstacle. I'm beginning to write a little bit more for me than only for my memories of my kids. It makes me wonder what the blog will turn into, but I find that I enjoy reading other blogs that are thoughtful and insightful and make me think (not that that's what's happening in my blog, but it could!).

I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity to create and dive into this blog as my project. I love that it was a choice to be able to pick what would work best for you. My hope is to continue trying other things like Glogster and Photostory and embed those projects within my blog. The possibilities are definitely endless!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Winners Are...

So here I am going through my own blog postings, and it's hard! How do you pick your best when that's not what we really are conditioned to do? Usually we are told to do the opposite. It's not often that we are told to seek out the best-it usually goes, "Find something you can improve on." So, here it goes...
I liked this post on digital searches where I made reference to some of the readings that we had done as well as posting some resources to go along with the post. I also like it because it "sounds" most professional. I don't know if it is, but it seems like it to me in some ways.
For creativity, the award goes to...Role Play! I don't think there was a lot of creativity in piecing it together, but I feel like the content leads to creativity, and that's why I picked it.
Hmmm...I think all of my posts are pretty much the same. The only thing I played around with was where the photos went within each post. Perhaps it could be this one on Digital Storytelling, just in the way that I presented it with my voice and using a sort of "comeback line" of "Overwhelming." I'm not sure if that really goes into design, but that's what I'm going with for now.
Like I said, it is very hard to go through these posts and find the good in all of them because I'm usually so critical when it comes to finding the good in something I'm trying for the first time. I would have to agree with many of the posts I've read through, in that design and creativity are coming through more through my own family blog.
Now, do I really have to pick just one blog that I think is the best? Hmmm...
Well, there are a few I would choose, and they are mostly for their voice and the enjoyment I had while reading them. So I pick Kelsey and Debi. For me, these are the easiest to read and easiest to relate to. The way they designed their blogs was easy to follow. They both have clean looks and things I understand. So much of their blogs was just "them!" I felt as if I got to know them better through their posts and their projects. So thanks, girls, for the opportunity to get a glimpse of you through this class. It was great fun!
I also want to thank Candance for giving us this "assignment." It's one of the best I've ever had with any class I've taken. I have taken risks with digital writing I wouldn't otherwise know about with this class and blog. You've given us an opportunity to explore each other's blogs and learn so much from each other. What an authentic way to learn!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wikis for me? I've tried them, but...

...not for my kids in my classroom. I'm not so sure about them. My first experience with wikis was when PB Wiki was the "buzz" in our school. All of us teachers seemed to used them that year for things related to the classroom, but only for parent use. I used them for signing up for volunteering, signing up to donate something...things like that. I found that the parents were able to use them pretty easily for the most part. Then PB Wiki changed their settings and required people to be invited. Although that doesn't seem too daunting, it was to me, so I stopped using it after using a wiki for 2 years. Then I moved into Google and Google docs this year. I have found that (for the most part) these have worked relatively easy. There is no password required and they are fairly easy to edit. Beach mentioned the use of Google docs briefly in the chapter, but focused mainly on wikis.
Hmmm...again, where do I go with this with my first graders? I'm not quite sure. I can see how using a wiki would be beneficial in upper grades, but using wikis, like blogs, is a little daunting for first grade. Yikes! What kind of feedback would I get from parents? Again, I see the value in using collaborative writing online using a wiki for upper grades. I can see how this page would be valuable when in high school. It would really allow for people to work together. It seems as though a teacher has placed the bold headings for each part they want a post in. Then the students are able to post as they find information to write and share.
I did find what seemed to be an elementary example which I thought could be useful for an upper grade. I really liked how the students posted student 21 or student 8 instead of posting with their name. This could really save on some of the parent comments about security that came with blogging. I suppose since they are invited to the wiki, they are able to post anonymous.
I don't know that this will be something I will try, but I would love to see/hear of success stories where teachers were able to use it in a productive way and not "just to use technology-" one of the things I continue to struggle with when we speak of technology in the classroom.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homework-on my birthday?!

I had to post one more thing before the night ends...
This is a lesson to me: On your birthday, do not save posting on your blog for later in the evening. One should never have to do homework on their birthday.
But, if you're like me, you do all of the thought-gathering ealier in the week, only to realize that you never actually posted those thoughts. Ooops! And that's how my birthday night ends...

I don't think I'm a digital storyteller, but...

When I think of digital storytelling, I don't think of me. I think of others, not me! I don't know "how" to do digital storytelling. I don't even have Photostory on my computer. My Voicethread didn't work like it was supposed to. I don't know how to upload a video to my blog (nor have I tried yet) or to YouTube (haven't tried that either). Maybe I need to ask for help! I was going to last class, but I had to go home because, well, read here. There are just so many unknowns, that it is hard for me to wrap my brain around it! For example, in the digital storytelling we did as a group last week, I was completely floored by the group that did the Photostory (I think) with the pictures, text, and music. Now how in the world do I do that???


That's how I feel about digital storytelling. Now I know I did it with Voicethread, sort of, but the thought of putting words, pictures, sounds, and text all together in a multi-modal version is a daunting task to me. As of right now, I'm looking at doing a family blog, which I've started. I need to learn how to upload video and move things around. But as I think about what I would like to do for my own kids, too, I think a Photostory would be lovely as well. What to do...


That's still how I feel about digital storytelling when I think of my first graders doing digital storytelling. But wouldn't it be great to have a parent or two come into the room to help with a project? To push the buttons, say, "Talk now!," help my first graders with where to put a picture or what music to choose for their part of the story...I think it could be done. The task is, again, daunting! I found this example of a first grader and their digital story, so I know it can be done, but it is all about the time it takes for a project like this. Maybe I could spread it out across the entire year without feeling like I have to do it within a month. Hmmm...something to ponder.

Either way I look at it, digital storytelling is an awesome way to tell a story. It is a neat way to capture a voice, pictures-really everything altogether. Multi-modal! Jenkins says, "All artists work within traditions; they all also violate conventions. School disclosure, however, focuses on one over the other." I do think it is important for kids of all ages to have exposure to the many pieces of digital storytelling, not worrying about how storytelling has "always been done." It's time to think outside the box!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I know you've all been anxiously waiting...drumroll, please!
My VoiceThread is ready! We tried a couple more things today and we finally have success. I got a new microphone and that worked today. I'm not sure why the other one didn't work, but this one does and I'm done! You'll notice that I also have some typed comments. This is because I didn't know if I would get the voice part done in time, so I typed my comments just to be safe.
It is always nice to try these things first, before diving into a project with your students because you never know what might happen. I'm just glad I got it done because it really was driving me crazy.
Ok, deep breath...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I can't even express to you how frustrated I am right now!!! Ugh! I have tried and tried and tried to complete my VoiceThread. But, to no avail. I tried Saturday and again on Sunday with no luck. Then I brought a microphone home from school yesterday to finish it at home, but my lovely laptop wouldn't do anything with it. I worked with it for about an hour before finally giving up. For whatever reason my laptop will not recognize the microphone when it is attached to my computer. I get nothing-absolutely nothing!

Then, I tried doing it at school today and nothing again! Nothing! I even had our tech support person (thanks Cindy!) try to figure it out during my entire prep time, but even she couldn't figure it out! So then we wondered if it was the microphone. So we tested it with Photostory. It worked with that, so we knew it wasn't the microphone. Then I tried it again with VoiceThread, and nothing!

Cindy even tried emailing the VoiceThread helpdesk to figure it out after school. She went through the tutorial that I did last night and still nothing. Really, I am so frustrated, because I was so excited to do this project! I've viewed so many of your VoiceThreads...they are beautiful! I only wish I had something to show for it. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow and see if something clicks. Ugh...technology-it's a love/hate relationship!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Voice Thread...I need to get a microphone!

This is just a quick update on my voice thread...

I tried to finish my Cabo VoiceThread yesterday. I put in my phone number and VoiceThread called me, so I was ready to record! I re-recorded my first picture, then used the automatic feature to "turn the page" to the next picture. I finished recording that one and then it said, "I'm sorry. You have used up all of your minutes." So I went to my VoiceThread and tried to do the calling option again, and it says you can pay $10 for 1 hour of time. Well, I guess I'm waiting until I get to school to try and finish, because I don't really want to pay the $10. Call me cheap...

Oh well! I guess I know now that I'll be investing in a microphone!

Look for my finished product tomorrow night! I hope!
I was also searching the VoiceThread website to see what other things have been posted. I found one called "Four Images that More or Less Represent Katherine." This is an interesting one that I would actually like to do for myself. I think it would be interesting to do it now and one in a few years and so on to see if anything changes. I think this could be useful for upper grades in some capacity (not sure exactly how it would tie in). One other VoiceThread I found that I would like to use with my class is one called "Picture Writing." This one is a third grade class that recites their poems corresponding with their pictures. I think this would be a really easy way to share students' poetry with each other and with family and friends. I am REALLY excited to use this with my first graders and my own kiddos too!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


In the past few posts I have forgotten to include my resource links. Oops! So, here I am as I reflect on things I have come across while looking online or while doing reading for this class... While doing the choice reading for week 2, I came across this classroom blog page for a first grade class. It was amazing to me to look at the different things she had done then and what she has done now with her class. I look at the posts and think, When does she have the time and energy to do this?! But, I suppose with anything, it's all about what you get used to doing, and it ends up being just another part of your day.

One of the most interesting videos I came across while doing my research as a part of my Ning role play really shed light on what I've been thinking as we've been in this digital writing course. I really wonder at what point the teachers will catch up with the kids. I think this probably comes across more strongly in the secondary grades. I know that when it comes to texting-just a small piece of technology-I am much further behind than many kids! I suppose there will always be some sort of gap because the technology continues to change more rapidly than what schools can keep up with. I'll have to go back to the Ning, because I know there was a posting about the continuing gap in new technology and when it "arrives" in schools. I'll connect the link when I find that.

I will be adding to these resources, but this is what I have for now!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rebecca Brewster, now reporting

Well, as I end my first role play experience, I can tell you that this was a lot more difficult than I had first anticipated. I was thinking that my role as a media person would be easier than taking sides on an issue. In fact, the opposite was true.

I found myself wanting to weigh in on many different discussions, but was unable to do so based on my position as "media." I wanted to stay as neutral as possible, but really wanted to make my opinions known, whether it be for or against a particular viewpoint.

I also found it difficult to post different stories, because I felt like I was pulling things out of the blue. Not knowing what direction to go with my forum posts, I kind of tried to think of the things I was wondering about. Then I found it a funny feeling if people didn't post a reply to a post. It was kind of that personal piece even though it was totally annonymous.

I would love to do another role play with a different topic and take a different stance on the topic-definitely not neutral like I did this time. That was a safe play on my part.

More to come later...now it is time for Rebecca to sign off!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Role Play...Why Not?

So I have to start with this picture-it is of my own kids and some of their friends, playing in their very own "role play."

It is these moments that make me wish I could be a kid again. I always hear my son coming home, talking about what they "played" at school, and usually it is about the dramatic play center. This week they are changing it from a regular kitchen to a grocery store. I cannot think of a better thing to have for kids to do than play with real things and pretend they are "real" people that are in our community. Talk about learning things while doing...

In the classroom I see role play being an important piece for my first graders. Do I do it like I should? No. Am I sure about how to go about it? No. I think all it would take is some creative thinking on my part. Instead of looking at the curriculum as it is given, why not take a different approach? I could see doing book reviews in a role play situation: the author, the illustrator, the publisher, a few kids, parents, etc. Coming up with the list of players doesn't take to long. Maybe this is something I could do now! This week or next! Online...that's a different story, but at least they would have the experience to grow from if and when they are asked to participate online.

Meet Rebecca Brewster!

Hi everyone-

Click here to meet Rebecca Brewster, one of my favorite friends. Check back there often to find out more about what Becky is doing!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Digital Searches...How do you narrow it down?

When I first looked through the information in this week's reading, I thought to myself, "What do I know about searching online with my kids?" The answer is, "Not much!" I think that's a result of not having branched out on my own searching. My end-all-be-all: Google. I've become a Google Junkie, having done so much work through Google this summer. I can't recall a time when I haven't used Google to do my searching online.

As I was reading about using online search engines, I realized I don't know much information about them. Being a primary teacher, there are very few times when my kids even go on the internet. We do use a few search tools, but not very often at all. Most times these are done in large group settings since you have to be very specific with the language in some search engines.

For me, I can see how many different options would be beneficial in different searching situations. The only thing would be to determine how to figure out what information is legitimate. I liked how the reading pointed to the unpredictability of general online searches, instead suggesting that going to a database: "Given the difficulties with search engines, librarians suggst that students are better off going directly to database collections..." (Jenkins, 27). If I were doing online research or had students doing online research, I think I would try to direct that research in the direction of databases with creditable resources. Not to say that Google and Wikipedia aren't creditable...maybe just not as such.

Overwhelming is the last word I would leave with in regards to searching online. How do you narrow it down? I'm not quite sure...I have yet to figure that out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My first picture!

I just had to try this out...I know it's not really professionally related, but I thought I would be successful here and then know how to do it for my own personal blog. Thanks!

To blog or not to blog, that is the question

So I know the answer for me...yes! To blog for me is a good thing! I'm loving the possibility of "recording" my family's life in digital form and having it for however long my blog is able to be around. As many of us have mentioned, I too will be doing a blog for my digital writing project. I have even set it up already! (and I bravely link it here) I know, I know...ahead of this game with that one. It's a first, really...I usually procrastinate to the end. Anyway-very excited to get that started! As I continue to appreciate reading others' blogs and their style of writing, I only hope my writing is as interesting as some of your writing.

To blog or not to blog in the classroom...not to blog, at least for now. Our first grade team tried this 2 years ago and it was a disaster. It was when we had the Web 2.0 guy speak at the back to school workshop-we were very excited about it and all tried it out. The parents that I had come back at me with the "Whys" and the justification I had to make for doing the blogging was very wearing. I just don't know if I'm ready to try that again. Hmmm...

To end today's post, I have to share a favorite blog of mine for personal reading: http://www.mattlogelin.com/ It is raw emotion of a native Minnesotan who now lives in California and his real-life emotion after becoming a dad and losing his wife within 27 hours of each other. If you ever have time-the writing is incredible and so very real.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First "Real" Post

So, as I sit here, trying to do my reading, my attention goes to the computer. Isn't it funny how that didn't used to be the case? I don't ever go one evening without sitting down, turning on the computer, and reading my email. I've also started reading the paper online and following other blogs. Now this would not have been the case even one year ago, when we didn't have the laptop. Mobility makes all the difference. I am excited to learn more about how digital literacy really has value in a primary classroom. What can I do for my kiddos that will really make a difference in their learning? That's the question I have and ask the most as newer technology comes out. Will 6 and 7 year olds really get it? Or is it just for me to say, "My kids did this with this technology."? That's what I don't want. Hopefully some of those questions will be answered, or if not answered, helped.

As I finish this post and thing about digital writing as a writer, I find that I love it! Never in any other aspect of my life do I get to sit and get this much information and thought out on screen. :) I know I will be starting my own personal blog for my familiy (wishing I would have done it earlier). As a teacher of writing, it still puzzles me as to how I can fit it in with my kids. We will see!

...a resource I use for my own enjoyment (not sure if this is a connection-if not, I'll do another one) and hope to use for my own writing inspiration on my own blog: mycharmingkids.net

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Day of Digital Literacy

Today was our first day of our Digital Literacy class. I think I'll enjoy learning more about how to use digital writing in my own classroom. I think there will be many different things I could use in my classroom, but the key is how to impliment them with first graders. I will be able to use so many things for my personal use, too. Just like this! Thanks, Candace for a great first class!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello World!

Today I'm at Tech Camp learning lots of exciting things. Fun!