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Monday, February 18, 2013

How to Teach Fourth Grade: Technology in Today's Classroom

This is a guest post from Barry Mernin.
When Free Technology for Teachers founder, Richard Byrne, sent a shout out for guest bloggers, I needed to reply. Byrne is an amazing resource in my 4th grade classroom and I’ve sent more than a few colleagues his way.

For me, Educational Technology has changed everything. I am constantly striving to improve a bit each day. Ed Tech helps me go forward in my career. I'm pretty convinced that education rituals will continue to radically change in the next five years or so. Specifically, online or distance learning will grow exponentially, I believe. Master teacher-leaders will be compensated well, I imagine.

Hopefully, this will shift schools' leadership arrangement. Perhaps, excellent teachers will bypass the political firestorms and create online versions of "schools" on their own. That said, most teachers are still confined to brick and mortar institutions.

The following is a body of thought upon my current practices with educational technology. Everything that I  highlight  is being used currently in my classroom. I want to share what I am using right now to exemplify that Ed Tech is constantly evolving and the fact that today's master teacher needs to constantly evolve, as well.

TodaysMeet.com is used for my reflections of learning. I use a visualizer to so that students can see their thoughts published on a giant screen. This tool really helps with developing a community of learners and gives hesitant speakers a voice.
Garageband: Garageband is used primarily for my podcast interviews. Soon my children will be creating book trailers.
Instagram: Used to promote exemplar thinking in my classroom. I instantly send photos of student work to teacher friends around the planet.
Twitter: Simply, the best professional development for educators.
Wordpress: An amazing tool. Its software actually improves my writing by highlighting my passive verbs and complex expressions.
Brainpop: The kids love the animated videos. I love that each is habitually excellent and end with a touch of humor.
Evernote: Great cloud device for saving URLs of note. Very user-friendly.
Confer: I am hoping to use this soon along with Dragon Dictation to save conversation notes with my student readers and writers.
iPhone: Incredible for documenting evidence of learning.
Keynote and Keynote Remote: Stylish, easy to make presentations. I embed exemplar writings and student thinking. I routinely embed excellence using iPhone videos.
Skype: Great for connecting with experts. I have used them also for connecting with students that have moved overseas.
Stickies: I currently have over thirty "virtual stickies" reminding me of things to do.
Bamboo Web Tablet: Used for creating online tutorials in mathematics. Helps to increase the math conversations outside of the classroom.
Smartboard Notebook: Simplifies my day-to-day math lessons. Smartboard took me a very long time to master. I had given up on Smartboard a numerous amount of times.
Excel: Used to organize my blizzard of Everyday Math Assessment data.
Google search (safety mode) Teach the kids to use advanced search only and to search smartly.
Pages: Not as easy to use as WordDocuments but it helps me create a more stylish document.
Google Drive: My students love the fact that they can collaborate online using GD. I hope to use this as my primary teaching tool for Writers' Workshop. Sadly, no more anchor charts will be posted in my classroom. Student and teacher thinking will be documented and posted primarily on line thanks to the good people of Google.
Screencastomatic: Super easy, free tool that helps me create online tutorials.
WolframAlpha: An unbelievable resource that is perhaps, over my students' heads. Still, I try to promote this site whenever possible.
Citationmachine: Helps my kids learn the habit of citing research at a very early age. I am hearing Easybib is a pretty good resource as well.
Google Alerts: Great for staying updated on trends in education. I currently receive news from around the world regarding start up online education companies.
Poetryfoundation.org: I use this site for they have a children's poem of the day. I hyperlink a poem each day and my students analyze a new poem each day after daily devotions.
Google Sites: Easy access to homework announcements and storing PDFs for students to have access to HW. No more excuses need for forgotten homework, although I normally do not care if students choose to avoid homework worksheets.
Polleverywhere: Teacher friendly site that makes for a quick resource bank of student thoughts.
Google forms: Outstanding data gathering tool for the classroom.
Gmail: I send useful hyperlinks easily using my student Gmail addresses.
Google presentations: Does not work as well as Keynote but is great for the kids can collaborate outside of the classroom. Students love its usefulness.
YouTube and Vimeo: I regularly show relevant Bill Nye the Science Guy on Friday afternoons before holidays.
ted.com: Inspirational and thoughtful talks that keep me hopeful.

I welcome your comments, thoughts and help in allowing me to grow as a fourth grade teacher. Feel free to contact me @ merninbar@gmail.com or check out my blog, barrymernin.wordpress.com

Take care, have fun and good luck!

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