EXPERIMENTING IS OVER – TIME TO START USING IT!

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

Summer is going by far too quickly!  My summer actually ends around August 16th, when my school has their Technology training start and that Thursday & Friday is new teacher orientation (which I plan to take part in, to see what I should have known last year when I started in October).
With less than a month before school starts for me, it is time to shut down my experimentation mode of different applications/software to see what worked and what I liked.  It is time to decide which things I will actually use and learn the applications more in-depth. Oh I know I will still play around with some, but the below are what I plan to focus on for now.Google Apps: I know that my students are going to be using Google Apps a lot this year.  gDocs played a big role last year in my class and I see it becoming even more so this year.  gCalendar now that we have access to it, I want to integrate it into what I do in class (it is a real life skill/tool my students need to use) and I hope to have my class Site ready by the start of the year and maybe by the end of the year students will have their own – we will see on the last one.

We use a different email client than Google’s mail, that doesn’t play nicely with Google Apps, so that will be a bit of a challenge, but we will have fun making it all work, that is the great part of learning and teaching – trying to figure out a solution to those kind of problems.

Image representing Google Docs as depicted in ...
Image via CrunchBase

Google Docs and Word. I will probably use gDocs for about 90-95% of the class related stuff – I move between 3-4 different computers throughout the day.  I do find doing tables easier in Word and all of my Special Education paperwork will be done on Word, due to the formatting issues of the forms themselves that I have discussed in the past.  I went without M/S Word from the end of school until July 20th and didn’t miss it a bit and I have used Word since it came out and relieve very heavily on it.  I was able to do everything that I needed in gDocs or if I needed to “jazz” something up a little more, I used Page’s maybe 2-3 times.

Firefox wordmark
Image via Wikipedia

Browser: I will be using Firefox primarily and Safari a little bit (if Firefox continues to not render the Infinite Campus grade book correctly). I loved Chrome and would use it for my primary browser (it did everything that I wanted and more), but the “ah snap” screen showed up way too many times for my liking, when they fix those issues I will re-look at using it.  Firefox and Safari both made huge improvements to their browsers this summer and either would work well, I just am more comfortable with Firefox right now.

Image representing Diigo as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Bookmarking: I tried out a lot of different bookmarking systems this summer and found that I really needed one that was independent of the browser, for when I use a different one on whatever type of machine I am running. When I figured that out, my choices came down to Delicious and Diigo; I have used both successfully in the past, but decided to go with Diigo because it was a little more feature rich.

Twitter logo initial
Image via Wikipedia

Twitter: It is where my PLN lives.  I know that many don’t like that acronym, but it fits and I plan to continue to use it.  Between TweetDeck and Tweetgrid and a little bit of minimizing of the apps things work well.  Facebook is blocked and unlikely to be unblocked for a while.

Wallwisher – This is a very “new to me” application, I can see several uses for it in the classroom and want to play with it some more before I commit to it in the classroom, very, very intriguing.

Review: Jing Pro video recording app
Image by Ivan Walsh via Flickr

Jing – I read last winter (I am sorry can’t remember the post) where they graded papers using Jing and then emailed the feedback to the student with their grade.  I got to play with Jing quite a bit this summer and really like it a lot, so I will pay for the pro version this or next week.

Student Blogging: I get to do a presentation on Blogging, on August 16th, so I will have a lot more answers on this issue soon; like know which platforms can be used and a bunch of other technical questions that need to be answered before I can really start.

I know, I know none of these are earth shattering or really cutting edge, but I  have to go slowly and stay within my District’s current requirements on software and web apps that I use in the classroom.

My philosophy is instead of whining and complaining about the lack of something or how it doesn’t work the way you want it to – is to problem solve, there are solutions out there if you look or work hard enough to find them – sometimes we just have to think outside of the box.  No matter where you go or where you work, software and applications are not exactly what you want, so to teach students to learn how to use what is available and make it work for them, is a critical skill.

Most of our students and our own communication takes place electronically today and I believe that we need to use and teach as many tools, web applications, or software in our classrooms as we are allowed too.  It doesn’t really matter which ones we choose or use today, because we all will be using something different in the future.  As long as we teach our students to transfer their current knowledge of how to use a certain application to a different one when they need too.  We should not be worrying so much about the individual software or application that we want to use.

That was a quick review of the tools that I want to focus on using in my classroom this year.  Is there anything that I absolutely should be using this year in your opinion, that I missed and why you think so?