Friday, December 4, 2009

Semester is almost Done

This semester has simply flown by. Only a couple of more weeks and we are done with the class. This also means that we have a lot to get done before that point. Tonight I will be giving my presentation. I have already typed up my other two papers so only have to do a final review before turning the reports. My students are done with their project too. They had a lot of fun with this project and have really enjoyed exploring what Adobe Photo Shop can do. It also taught them a valuable lesson this past week. They were being very loud in their talking, and asking questions. The Yearbook Advisor, was trying to get some of this work done during this time and asked the students to be quiet. They were for about two minutes and then started up again. I told them they had to shut down what they were doing and that we were leaving. We did this, and when we got back to our class I had a long, strong discussion on how to behave when we are visitors to someone else's classroom. They were all told to write apology letters to the advisor. They were also told to write thank you notes to him for letting us use the room. This was great writing practice for them as well as social skills lesson. I don't think they will be so rude in the future.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Final Look

This week it was time for the students to get a chance to see each others work. I put all the photos on a power point presentation and hooked up the projector so we could all see the great pictures. It was a lot of fun to hear the different students shout out “That ones mine!” It really showed how proud they were of their pictures and the work they were able to do on their own. Another of their remarks were to make sure that they all receive copies of their photographs printed out so that they can take them home and share them with their families. Since this was one of the main focuses, it definitely will happen. In fact the teacher of the yearbook, who has been kind enough to let us use his computers and classroom during his prep period, has volunteered the use of his printer for the photographs. He has also invited us back into his classroom so he can take photos of my students at work on the adobe photo shop. We are going in next Tuesday. We also have planned one more outing before winter break and the end of the semester. We are going to go to Candy Cane Lane in Pacific Grove to see all the lights and we will be bringing our cameras with us on the trip. It should make for some great shots but will be too late for the project for my MAE638 class. That is what is so wonderful about this particular project, it can and will continue on after this class is long over. My students will get the opportunity to adjust photos that they take on our field trips and we can make our own album to display for back to school and open house nights.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I am not going to talk about my project this week as it is going very well and we are almost finished. Instead, I want to talk about my new toy. I just got an Iphone for my birthday. Since I have been fighting with a very old laptop for the past couple of years, and had such a frustrating time while on a conference, my husband bought me the phone. If you remember a previous blog about not being able to get online while at a conference, you can understand what I mean. This was not a one time event, but has become a common occurrence. The new Iphone is fantastic! I can access my email anytime, talk on the phone, text message show up on my screen without my even unlocking the keypad, and I can check out any website necessary. I haven't even checked out any of the applications that they have yet. It is a little tricky trying to open up items with just a touch but I am learning quickly. Now I will have to find out which applications I think I will use and the ones that would just be a waste of time. I also have to take the time to load up songs for the Ipod portion of the phone. Not really my favorite thing to do but always worth it after it is done. The pictures that can be sent via email are great too. I have had friends send me pictures before and they always are good quality. I can save them onto my computer easily too because it is in email form. It doesn’t cost me extra like it did if I emailed a picture from my old phone. I have unlimited time online with my plan. That means I no longer have to bring my old laptop on trips, but can access and read material right off my phone. Sorry to keep going on but it is such a wonderful concept to me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our Fifty Minutes

It is another Tuesday, and another chance for my students to work with the Adobe Photoshop, even if we only are able to access the computers weekly for this project. It is getting better, but there are still a lot of questions in how to get on the program. How do I bring a picture up on my screen? How do I change the filter? How do I write on the picture? How come I can’t write on this page? They have forgotten about the layers. So far we have about three photographs that have been altered for each student. The frustration is not from the student’s questions. The more we repeat the process the more likely they will remember it in the future when I am not there to answer their questions. The frustrations are in how slow the computers are. We must lose 15 minutes of valuable computer time in just turning the computer on and booting them up. Plus the time lost waiting for the computer to complete a command. We only have 50 minutes once a week to work with the computers. Since these aren’t our computers we have to take time to save our work on a jump drive for the next week, and upload our previous work to the computer when we start. Even with these frustrations it is well worth the time to give the students the chance to work with a different type of software program. One most do not have access to at home at the present time. It gives them a look at different possibilities in technology. So far my students have had experience with word, powerpoint, publisher, a literacy program Start to Finish, and now Adobe Photoshop. The present goal for my students is to have an album of photographs for each student to give as a gift to their parents for Christmas. We have done our own photographs, photos online, and next it will be to find photos to be scanned from home.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Computer Frustration!!!

Technology can be such a blessing until it doesn't work. Sent to a Lindamood - Bell workshop this past week was great. I learned new programs to help student tackle the job of reading, met a wonderful set of people, and truly became frustrated when my lap top refused to work. I knew I would have to come back to my room each evening and get to work on my computer while I was at the learning center. I double checked with the inn that I was to stay to make sure that they did have internet access. I was all set, or so I thought. Monday, after getting up at 4:30 leaving Salinas at 5:30 to arrive in San Luis Obispo in time for an eight hour session of "Seeing Stars", I am snuggled away in my cozy room. My laptop plugged in and on my lap. I begin to try to hook up to the internet system. My computer says it cannot do this without going on line to repair. I couldn't get on line without the repair so there I was, in a virtual circle unable to do my assignments, my emails, read my articles or any other online purpose. As they say the best laid plans... I was so frustrated and tired after the day I had I admit I just gave up and went to bed. Next night after another full day of learning, I decided since I couldn’t get online I would just go ahead and type up my blog, at least some of my report from the previous week’s reading, and work on a couple of IEPs. I would still be able to get a lot of my work done and just finish everything up on Friday night after my return to Salinas. That way until my power cord kept shorting out on my laptop. It shut off once while I was typing up and IEP and it destroyed my IEP program. Now I couldn’t even work on my IEPs. I could either cry or just pack it away. Although the thought of crying was tempting, I just packed away my notebooks and laptop and called it a night. So you wonder if Wednesday I tried again. No way, I finally decided to stop and just enjoy a night in San Luis Obispo with a nice group of women I had met at the workshop. It was relaxing. Thursday, I awoke with sinus headache. Set through the workshop and jumped into my car to head back to home. I truly felt cut off from my life without the use of the internet. Now I have to do double time to read the articles, write two essays, post my blog, and then play catch up with my emails from my job, school, and work. I want a new computer and I think next week that is what I will be looking to purchase.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Computer Time

Every Wednesday during our 5th period English class we go to the Library computers. It is one of the few times my students get to use the computers at school. They would rather be on “you tube” or surfing the web, but we are limited to our reading program. Since my students have difficulty with reading, I did some research last year and came across the “Start to Finish” program that is put together with hi/lo reading material. When requesting the Librarian to purchase a set, I happily became aware that the library already has one. This is a great program. The program allows for the students to interact with the computer. They can read the story from the book directly or can read from the computer screen. The best part of the program is that the cd that accompanies it allows the student to read with the computer, they use earphones and the program will actually read the book to the student while it displays the script. The students also have the opportunity to read most of the book by themselves while being able to check the words they do not recognize by clicking on them. This allows students to read at a speed that is comfortable for them. Hopefully, this makes it easier for the student to comprehend and retain the story line. This is great by itself, but it also has test at the end of each chapter so you can see how well the student comprehends the story. Another feature is the ability to check the student’s reading fluency. Unfortunately, we don’t have the microphones that are required for this portion so we are unable to take advantage of this step. It lets the students see their progress as it will display the test scores on a graph after each chapter test. The students have learned how to use this program which is very simple. They have also learned how to install this program on the computers because we are forced to upload the program each time we use it due to the district’s freeze on software programs installed on site. My students really seem to like to read books using this program, and since my main focus, besides raising the reading levels, is to get the students to enjoy reading I am a happy camper too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Going Digital!

It isn't my week to post, but I would like to document this trial and error proposal as I go. This class has made me think of ways my students can use technology. I would like for my students to be able to learn something that they will definitely be able to use in their future. Since my students are not planning on a college career, that tool should be one that can be used in everyone’s home. That is why I have come up with the idea of photographs. We all take them, we all love them. So if my students can learn how to take digital photographs, how to modify them in a computer program, and how to print them out, it will be useful their whole lives. So the plan is to take my students to the park on Thursday afternoon armed with at least two or more digital cameras. There will have to be a lot of sharing, but the idea is for them to take photos of nature. Nature can consist of plants, and animals. It should be interesting to see what kinds of "nature" they choose to shoot. I want to be able to help them to use their photographs in photo shop in the school computer lab next week. I will be learning how to do the different changes this weekend, and will be teaching them as I learn. The end result will hopefully be a nice photo book for them to give to their parents, or a friend. It would be great if some of our pictures actually ended up in this year’s yearbook. I will be talking to the yearbook advisor about this after I see what type of photos we come back with. Wish me luck, this could be tricky. Their idea of nature could be each other.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Technology in my classroom today!

My students had the use of the school’s computer lab this morning. Our main focus was to learn about organelles and to use power point to make a presentation for the entire class. The first plan of action was to find internet sites from which the students could obtain information. As I watched them, I noticed that they just went directly down the page that appeared on the screen from the search engine. This gave me thought as to how to teach them about finding reliable information on the internet. I would need to be able to teach them how to tell if a site was a good source or not. With this thought still in my mind, I checked with our librarian on possible software we have available to offer our students. I mentioned how my students didn’t know how to determine whether a site was reliable or not. She referred me to a handout that she had made from another librarian’s website, with permission of course. She than gave me her permission to use the new format she had designed to help teach my students. This brought up the idea of teaching my students about plagiarism too. They have no idea what this word means, or that it is illegal to use someone else’s work as their own. References and citations are foreign to my students. Plagiarism and citing references are both possibilities for future lessons too.

When we came back to the original issue of available technology, she referred immediately to Power Point, Excel, Word, and Publisher. I asked if we had any additional technology my students could learn. It was then suggested to use such literary learning aids such as Start to Finish. This is a great system for helping students with literacy, but only requires the student to read, and then answer appropriate questions regarding comprehension of the section just read. I asked her if she had any other systems that I could possible teach the students that would help them beyond their high school education. She suggested teaching them how to use databases to research topics. Since these databases are used in public libraries, and college libraries, it will benefit them through out their lives. I will give these some serious consideration as whether or not to use it for my proposal on technology. The main point I learned today was our school is really technologically challenged.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Just Starting Out

Tonight is the first time I have ever done a blog. It should be interesting to see how much it grows through out this semester. I would really like to be able to teach my students how to use this type of blog so they can keep in touch with each other even after they leave high school. Unfortunately, most of my students do not have access to computers at home but there is still the public library!