Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The first video podcast that I watched was called the Edible Schoolyard. This was really neat to see that there is a school that is able to create this type of learning program for students. For a lot of students, the outdoors are not some place that they go. They only know that food comes from the store, and this program gives them a sense of where food actually comes from. This interested me so much that I decided to see if there were more programs like this in other areas. I found three others. One is at San Francisco Boys & Girls Club, Willie Mays Clubhouse, Hunters Point, you can view the website here. Another one is in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Greensboro Children's Museum, and you can explore that website by going here. the last one I found was really close to home. It is in New Orleans at Samuel J Green Charter School,located in the Orleans Parish. The website is located here. This one is a bit different from the school in Berkeley. It has an Open Garden the second Saturday every month where the entire community is welcome to help cultivate and harvest the garden. This establishes a sense of community, and after Katrina the city really needs this. Following another link on the website, I found another website dedicated to the garden, and you can see it here.

The next video I watched was about the Global Village. It was very interesting. Children were separated into groups ad given different "countries" to live in for the night. Each group had somethings, but no one group had everything. One group were refugees in a refugee camp and they had nothing, not even the same language. Each group had to learn to cooperate with each other and the other groups to get everything they needed. This taught them to work together and also gave them a sense of what is was like to live in a different culture without all the things they were used to having. At the end of the video there were some brief interviews with some of the students. One girl said she now understands why she needs to take action in her community. There is a part of the Heifer International website for educators that tells you how you can help and educate your students about world hunger. It may not be possible for every school to stay over night in one of the Global Village sites, but this website can help them learn things about the way others live and what others sometimes have to go without. There are lesson plans, classroom activities, and a resource library. It is worth checking out, and if you are interesting in helping further, you can go to the website Heifer International to get involved. You can also follow them on Twitter.

iTunes University

Apple iTunes U is a service to everyone, not just students, that has lessons in languages, lectures, podcasts, and audio books that can be downloaded for free. These things come from various places such as universities, PBS, museums, and cultural institutions around the world. This content could be used in any classroom, from early elementary up through college. As teachers this can also be used for ourselves because we should never stop learning and enhancing the content we teach our students. An overview of this program can be found here. There are also two reviews of the research paper "iTunes University and the classroom: Can pod casts replace Professors?" that can be found here, and here.

As a student I find this part of iTunes fascinating. Just looking at the first page that comes up I see many things I want to check into. The Research Channel looks really neat and the Michael C Carlos Museum at Emory has an exhibit on King Tut! These are things that I am interested in just for myself. The research Channel has two on top, Orphans Preferred: The Pony Express and Perspectives on U.S. History. Both of these would be interesting on a personal basis, but would also be good for the classroom as a teacher.

According to a couple of different articles I read, students who listened to podcasts and took notes scored higher then the students who went to class. Does this mean an end to professors? I do not believe that it does, but using iTunes U in addition to class would be beneficial to most students. The value to older students is priceless. In this article I read, click here, a 62 year old truck driver is going back to school without having to sit in class with kids. This will help many older, non-traditional students who want to continue to learn, but don't want to go to class with a bunch of kids the ages of their own kids and grand kids, many of whom place little importance on the classes they are taking.

Using iPods in the classroom

Upon hearing about iPods in the classroom, my first thought was that it was not a good idea. However, after reading some of the things that have been written about it my mind is beginning to change. Duke University in Durham, NC began an initiative in the year 2004. Incoming freshman enrolled in specific classes were loaned an iPod to use in their classes. Tracy Futhey, VP for information technology and chief information officer at Duke, said, "Until this project, iPods were mostly considered to be an entertainment device, but no one had explored their untapped potential for education. The idea behind this project was to put an incredibly easy to use, highly mobile and versatile device into the hands of our creative faculty and students to find out what kinds of academic uses they would discover." I think that the iPods do have a wide range of ways to be used in the classroom, but should be used with supervision in the younger students. According to one student at Duke, not many freshmen were using the iPods as intended. This student felt that it made Duke look "rich and silly" for loaning out the iPods to students who did not use them properly for educational purposes.

For elementary and secondary classrooms, the ideas would be the same. Teachers could create content on their iPod and then sync with the iPods that the students are using. They students could also download content from iTunes and other approved sites to enhance their learning. One site I found was Podcasts for Teaching and Learning, click here. There is a list of sites that would be helpful for content on an iPod. I did come across a blog entry that warned about copyright infringement. A teacher can not just record herself reading a book and then distribute the recording to her students via iPod. This is against the law, although from reading the blog, more teachers than not do this. There are many books that you can find on iTunes and other sites to download and distribute for free. You could try these sites, Storynory, click here, an about.com page,click here, and LibriVox, click here. There are many more out there, you just have to look.

I think that iPods in the classroom are a great idea in theory, however to be practical we have to realize that not every child can afford an iPod, nor can every school afford to give or loan iPods to every child. So, while this program is great in theory, it will be a long time if ever that it is implemented for every school.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dr. Alice Christie and Geocaching in the Classroom

I found this part of Dr. Christie's site very interesting. I had never thought about using a GPS system in a classroom, but after exploring this part of the site I can see it now. At first I wondered if it would be applicable in a 1st or 2nd grade classroom. As I continued to explore, I realized that if a teacher wanted to use this type of technology, she could make it work with any age. The only difference is the amount of time spent on instruction and teacher involvement. By teacher involvement I mean that with the younger ones, the teacher might have to be part of the group that is looking for the geocaches instead of letting them do it alone as you might an older group. If there is an interest in this technology, I believe it is possible with any age group.

It could also be used as a collaborative teaching project with another class. It would not have to be a class of the same grade, it could be any other class that the teacher is willing to learn new technology with you. If you have younger students and pair with an older class, it gives the younger ones an opportunity to learn from the older ones and gives the older ones the opportunity to teach and help the younger ones understand the project. These type of collaborative projects benefit everyone involved.

As interested as I was in this part of Dr. Christie's site, I was very disappointed that the curriculum examples for elementary classes were unavailable on the site. I hope this is a temporary thing because I am very interested in seeing what she has to offer the younger grades.

Another part of the site that I want to mention is the photography part. Her pictures are wonderful. I enjoyed the different perspectives in her self-portrait (Found Here). There are many ways of looking at and seeing yourself and she shows us many facets of herself. However, my favorite picture is found in "A Colorful Morning st Flagstaff Farmers' Market". It is a picture of toes...baby toes. I happen to love baby feet and so it is my favorite. It is the third picture from the end. You can see it here.