Archive | April, 2013

Technology can make research projects enjoyable…who would have thought??!

28 Apr

Working with students is the reason I decided to pursue a career in education. The one thing that I hated while attending school was having teachers design typical, “Traditional” teaching assignments. Learning should be fun and something new where the students are engaged and come to class not to learn but to have fun. Designing lesson plans to get students excited about learning is something that I strive for in ever lesson I create and this past project is an example of me doing just that:

I have a student who I am tutoring that is concerned with the STAAR testing, more specific the writing portion of the test. What I am doing is designing lesson plans so the student can learn reading comprehension skills while finding an apprehension for reading and writing.

I presented him with the opportunity of doing a research project over anything that he wanted to do, I love giving students this option because they always feel that they need to answer with an educational topic. The first topic the student chose was over the Alamo. While this is a good strong, topic I wanted him to do something he would actual enjoy doing research over and something that he can show off his knowledge of later in life. The student ended up deciding to do a research project over “The History of Dubstep.” Which addressed a number of TEKS. We came up with two unit questions  Since this is such a new topic of study in music we went to the internet to do our research. As the student looked on the internet I too was on the computer looking for information as well, manly to help produce Inquiry Based Questions to ask the student to help expand his KWL chart.

Towards the end of our lesson I informed my student that I would be creating a blog for him and that next week he would give me an oral presentation of what he had learned and we would record it on a Podcast, this would be so he could have something that he could show to his family and friends on what he had learned and he could show off the steps it took for him to get to the end result. This was a concept that he absolutely fell in love with. He does not have a computer at home so the only access the student has to the internet is at the local library or at school. So this was something that was new and exciting for him. At the end of the session I showed the student his blog and asked him to give a summary of what we had done for that session as he told me I would write what he said and after I would have him go back and edit the summary so it would grammatically make sense.

Since our project was about the history of a certain type of music genre we decided that a podcast would be the best way to show the different types of music and it would be something that students never think they can do. Videos are all around students but radio is something that is fading about from our society so bring something that they have no idea about is something that students will always remember.

As we went though the research process I was having the student number on his KWL chart how he would want to arrange his topics. This was something that is very helpful for students when using this strategy because if you have a good unit question then it will bring new questions up throughout the research process and a student can become lost in his thoughts when it comes time to move the thoughts to a final project. We orally went through how the format to the podcast would go before we started. Once we felt that we were ready we did our first recording. The funny thing about doing a radio interview is that you feel that it is not to difficult since you are only talking but once you start, everything that you wanted to say is lost and it isn’t until after you are finished that you remember what you wanted to say. This is especially turn if you are recording radio, it really takes a few tries to get the format you want down. After listing to the first one it was the students suggestion to rerecord a second interview  I noticed that there were a few topics that the student could elaborate more on. So, I asked the student some more questions like “what are some accomplishments that the artist has had?” “Now, that we have gone through our first draft do you think there is a new way you want me to ask you the questions?”

Here is the link to the students blog. In the blog is where you can see what the student did for that day, his KWL chart as well as our podcast. Hopefully this gives you some suggestions when working with students and assigning them with a resource project. Making a podcast is something that is fast, east, requires no prior knowledge, and something that is in fun for you and the student. Enjoy!! Continue reading


Assistive Technology

24 Apr

This post, just like my last one about copyright, is something that every educator, not even educator but anyone that deals with individuals that have special needs should have booked marked. I have included videos over everything that assistive technology has to offer as well as a google document that has a short description of the different products.

Hearing aids are not always covered by insurance.

Comfort Contego FM System


UbiDuo Communicators

Echo Smart pen

Perkins Brailler

Jaws ScreenReader

Victor streams daisy player

Zoomtext Magnifier Software

Dragon Naturally Speaking

Kenisgnton Expert Mouse

Smartview 360 CCTV

Audio Notetaker Software

Kurzweil 3000

Adjustable Standing desk

Copyright Knowledge in Education

23 Apr

Copyright is something that every educator has to worry about at least once in their educational career. It is important for you to know what you can and can not do in your classroom. Many times educators think that just because they are using something as an educational tool that they do not have to worry about copyright but in actuality they can get in big trouble for showing or using something that is copyrighted.

  • Everything that you post on the internet is copyrighted!!!
  • You can show an entire film in the classroom but only if the school has paid for it. However if you show a video in an alternative classroom you can show the movie in its entirety
  • A lot of times whenever you write a paper and the paper gets published the author ends up loosing the copyrights to there paper. This happens a lot because people do not know that they are signing their rights away.
  • you can photocopy a page out of something but you can’t copy a whole book
  • Google images has a link where you can go to advanced search and you can specify the usages rights that you want Google to bring up.
  • Amount of the work – has to be a small amount . amount a 10th of the work.
  • if you need to copy the whole book. you need to ask for copyright privilege, normally have to pay amount
  • Does this affect the revenue stream?
  • Does this affect the market?


Purpose Of The Use

Nature of the use

Something that every educator should have saved in their favorites bar is a list of resources they can use regarding copyright. The Library of Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi has set up a perfect guide for anyone curious about what they can and can do just only in a classroom but regarding anything copyright related. They also have a book Smart Copyright Compliance for Educators  find out what you can do with copyrighted material. Where to go if you want to get something you write copyrighted

Fair use – gives educators some leeway when using copyright material in your leaching – fair use checklist   

A website that every body that uses someone else material in their classroom should print out it the Know Your Rights What You Can Do  designed by the Association of Research Libraries


Everybody wants to be Batman

8 Apr

This was a fun project to work on. One of the joys of working on a movie is working with the people that are going to be involved in the movie making process and this project was no exception. I decided to partner up with a fellow classmate to work together on the storyboard, filming and editing process. If you remember from my past post that we were going to be making a movie about a young girl who is inspired by Batman coming to her school and talking to them about how beneficial it is to eating healthy and exercising. 

Now, I had previously worked on movies before; from designing storyboards, to scouting locations, to filming to the editing process. But, that was a while ago and to say that we were able to jump into MovieMaker and start editing and trimming the movie would be a lie, thank you for YouTube for all the helpful videos. Listen if you want to make a movie and not pull out your hair in the process due yourself a favor, buy a mac, install iMovie and make your movie on this program. Microsoft is horrible and is not user friendly, AT ALL, so go with iMovie and save yourself some trouble, plus children love working with apple products, they feel cool. Anywho. One thing that because a problem and something that we should have looked over before we left shooting was how annoying wind can be especially when you think there isn’t any. Once we were in the editing room we realized that wind was a problem and that we couldn’t hear what our Robin was saying at some times so we had to use some voice over in editing to make the project work. 

This lesson was a lot of fun but I think I would want to use this a lot more for creating social stories for students while working in my special education classes. 

Hit Jump to see our finish project.  Continue reading

Oh no, not spreadsheets again..

4 Apr

Spreadsheets have a bad name for itself. Whenever I hear that we are going to be using spreadsheets in the classroom I immediately tone out and pay attention to something else. Nothing good comes from spreadsheets but  spreadsheets are no longer just for math there are endless possibilities for using a spreadsheet in the classroom.

Spreadsheets are a good example of teachers spending hours and hours designing lessons only to have the student say in five minutes time “Mr. Gonzalez, I’m finished.” …

Well crap, what am I going to do for the rest of the class now? I thought that was going to take them at least two days.

This is something that every teacher has said to themselves at least once during their career.

In order to teach spreadsheets to your students you do not need to over think it. Students do not like figuring how how many boxes the warehouse has. That’s just busy work. Assignments do not need to necessary be educational challenging just exciting enough to grab the students interest and hold it there till the assignment is over and give the student a good base of enjoyment in learning something new.

The best way to design a spreadsheet is to take something that the children are all interested in and have them design Inquiry based questions and have the students fill out what they want to know; how many people got this, how low with this. etc etc.

Technology makes this a lot easier. Children learn by doing and creating. If you have a Google account you can design spreadsheets about something that all the students are  interested in and have the whole class participate in putting in their own information.

Using this will help with sharing and teaching students how to collaborate on something.



hit the Jump button to see the sample spreadsheets that I made as well as the movie that I used to learn how to use simple excel functions Continue reading