How can I use tools “in the cloud” to easily manage and deliver feedback to my students?
Once again, the word “can” jumped out at me to offer endless possibilities. Before I could begin to delve into these endless possibilities, however, I needed to be sure I truly understood what was meant by “the cloud.” It was all made crystal clear with a simple infographic found at the following site:
The cloud as I learned is essentially a network of servers. When we use the cloud, our computer, ipad, kindle, or phone communicates with a network of servers. Some servers are used for storage whereas others are used for apps. When we get onto the cloud we are able to check our email, collaborate with others, store files, make notes, and create videos to name a few things. We more commonly think of “the cloud” as the internet. Whether we use it for business, communication, information, or a means of fighting off boredom, we are active participants in “the cloud.”
Now back to the question at hand. There are many answers, depending on what grade level is taught. I teach kindergarten, so the answer is a bit more complex. Funny to think that at kindergarten this answer could be complex. But teaching students how to have interactions with technology tools can be a task that is more daunting than most imagine. I have learned to never assume that kindergarten students already understand how to do a “simple” task. Rather, I have learned to act as if they know nothing and to teach things step by step. Teaching technology to them is no different. With two computers in my classroom we have learned to use the mouse, to navigate with the mouse, to open applications on the computer, and to log in to sites such as Reading Eggs. But beyond this we have not yet ventured out into other applications for creating, viewing, and meeting about student work.
As stated above, technology is a bit intimidating in kindergarten; at least it is to me at times. Up until last week’s twitter chat I wasn’t so sure of applications I could use for interaction with my students. The two applications suggested for use with kindergarten during this chat were Evernote and Voicethread. I had heard of the two prior to the chat, but had not considered their uses for my own classroom. Up until this point I had not considered many technologies to implement into my classroom for interactions with my students.
Evernote, as I found with further research, can be thought of as a binder without the bulge. When first becoming acquainted with Evernote it is helpful to learn the terminology. The first term to learn is notebook. A notebook in Evernote is a tabbed section. Within these tabbed sections can be other notebooks. This is called stacking. There are numerous ways to organize the notebooks. For example, they can be organized by student, school year, subject, etc. Included within these tabbed sections are notes. Notes are student papers, data, audio clips, forms, surveys, information, and anything else that the teacher might want to keep in the binder. This as I found could then be used in kindergarten as a form of e-portfolio for the students. A notebook could be set up for each student, keeping track of their portfolio of work throughout the school year. Their work could then be shared with them to show progress. Further than this, alongside students, their work could be shared at conferences with parents.
Voice thread was the other application that I researched this week. Through Voicethread students can create, upload, share and discuss documents, presentations, images, audio files, and videos. Not only can students upload files and documents, but they can also comment on such files and documents. The methods of commenting include the use of microphone, webcam, text, phone, and audio file. Beyond commenting it can then be decided if the file will be shared or not. It can be shared with a select group of people or opened up to the public through various sites. There are so many possibilities for even a kindergarten class of students through Voicethread.
Once again, these two applications demonstrate what is possible even at the kindergarten level. It is something I plan to try out with my students this year and to refine next year. Through these applications I hope to increase and improve managing and providing feedback to students. It will be a learning curve for both students and me, but it is one that I feel could be beneficial to the learning environment.
Through communication with others in this course I have learned of the various uses for applications such as Evernote and Voicethread in the kindergarten classroom. The twitter chats, wiki groups, diigo resources, and blogs of others have kept me informed of the various resources, applications, and new trends in technology in the classroom. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning alongside others and discussing frustrations, successes, and “aha” moments.