Pearltree is to the internet as a Disneyland Visa is to credit cards

Question of the week: How can I use Pearltrees to differentiate content in the classroom?

I have spent the last day and part of my dreams wracking my brain as to how Pearltree can help me in the classroom. I have come up blank. It’s not because I don’t understand how it operates, haven’t consulted my PLN, or am just being stubborn because I am not happy about having to sign up for one more site.* I truly cannot find any reason to use it in my classroom.

I suppose an educator could have students get on a computer and add their own pearls on a given topic. I teach first graders. Enough said. I suppose I could form a pearl so that the other five first grade teachers at my school and I could add ideas to it. However, we already have a spot for that when brilliance is in the air. I suppose a teacher could sit in front of a computer and search pearls in order to find ideas. However, I do not go home, after working 9-10 hours at school, and turn on the computer to view¬†teaching websites. I would rather walk, play the violin, sew, shoot arrows, check on my tomato plants, write letters, read real books about bees and chickens, or anything else that does to have to do with technology and teaching. It is important that I have my free time to do what interests me and to get a break from school. It’s called balance and I need it.

You are probably wondering what in the world I mean with my title. I will do my best to clarify. I know that having to sign into internet sites is not going to go away. However, just because that is a reality, that doesn’t mean that it has to be my reality. The best analogy I could think of was credit cards. There are many types of credit cards that a person could choose to sign up for. However, that doesn’t mean that we have to sign up for every one (although they all would want us to). If we choose to sign up, we need to pick the one that works the best for us and won’t lead us to the debt collectors. Just because one card is the best for me, doesn’t mean that everyone else HAS to sign up for it. They need to be free to pick and choose what works best for them. Pearltree is like a credit card. Some people sign up for it and get lots of “shopping points” out of it. In fact they may even sign up for a bunch more depending on what they want to (l)earn. Others find no use for a plethora of cards or sites. I am among the latter. I do not wish to be inundated. I only need a couple and will use them until I find another need, which may be never, for something else. Therefore, Pearltree and Disneyland have no place in my life at this time. Hats off to the people who can use them and thank you for allowing me to choose. Happy typing and swiping.

*Do not be ashamed if a sudden image of Sharon with her ears back, heels digging in, and braying loudly in front of the word “technology” comes to mind because that is mostly the truth.

Week 8: How might video games enhance my students’ learning?

It is very hard for me to type about “video games” that I should allow in the classroom on a regular basis. I don’t believe that they have a permanent place in a first grade classroom. It is much more important for them to learn together and work on their social skills then have their face in a screen. However, I did learn on twitter and talking with people about some that my be useful on a limited basis in the classroom or when the students are home and it is dark and cold outside.
The first site is known as ixl. The site seems to provide engaging ways to help a child learn different math concepts. If a child gets an answer incorrect, it provides immediate feedback and a way for them to look up and or learn the answer. It seems that this site would help most children learn the skills that are targeted in the content area they are practicing.
The second site is Raz-Kids. This is a reading site that also helps a student work on vocabulary and comprehension. Most students enjoy having the option to do this in the classroom. The books they listen to, read, and then answer questions about are at their independent level. The teacher also has the option of turning on Raz Rocket. The students earn points for reading and answering the quiz correctly. They can then buy items for their rocket and planet.
The last site is Sheppard Software. This site also provides different games for math concepts. The child receives immediate feedback if they calculated the incorrect answer. It can be very easy for the child to just click answers until they get the correct one though. For some children, this might work well though because they will recall the next time which was the correct answer. I think that most children would stay engaged with the content. The nice thing about this website is that there are quite a few concepts that a child could use for practice.

Week 7

What tool did you learn this week to assist you in differentiating the learning process for students?

The Promethean Board is a great tool in the classroom since it projects what is on my computer. I like this tool for several reasons. The screen is very big and available for those visual learns. I love to show short concept videos from BrainPopJr because the students hear and see a concept in a different way than what I just talked to them about or we practiced. When we come across a new word or something they don’t see in their everyday lives, I can show them a picture from my personal travel collection or from google. This is especially helpful for my English Language Learners. ¬†For instance, we had a story that talked about a Baobab Tree in it. I was able to show them one from a trip to Africa. I have also used google to find pictures. I would caution teachers to turn off the screen while searching. One time I wanted to show them what lace looked like. Fortunately, I turned off the Promethean screen while I searched on my computer. I am glad that I did. I am not sure that I would still have a certificate if I hadn’t.

I tried to upload to pictures. One is using of the Promethean Board and the other is the book where I got the material. I can’t figure out where the pictures went or if they even attached.