COOL TOOLS REVIEW

When I registered for this seminar, I was not sure exactly what to expect. As a graduate student, I expected the seminar to mirror a short version of class. I was wrong! This is one of the best seminars (classes, workshops) I have ever attended! I entered the seminar a neophyte to the existing technologies, and I was apprehensive about embracing their use. The cool tools portion of this workshop has not only transformed my way of thinking, it has motivated me to rid myself of the shackles I placed on myself. As a result, I am motivated and more excited than ever to complete my student teaching so that I can incorporate technology in my classroom.

The cool tool sessions were all informative and preparatory, prompting me (of all people) to delve immediately into using them.The following is a brief synopsis of the cool tools sessions I attended.

IPAD- I do not own an IPAD. However, I signed up for this session because I hear so much about them. I had never touch an IPAD, prior to this session, so I was able to learn basic navigational techniques. One application, ToonPaint, really piqued my interest. Before this session, I had never heard of the app. I liked it so much, I came home and taught a mini instructional lesson to my children to use during the upcoming school year. Even though we do not own an IPAd, both of my children located the app on their IPOD Touch systems. The class was rushed because several of the IPADS were not connected to the keyboards; but, at least I learned about this great application.

Duffle-UP - This was a great presentation by Jonathan. Duffle up involves using a travel site to collect bits of information. I will most definitely use this tool in my social studies classroom. I already have a project in mind when the students begin their unit study on Africa and genocide. Duffle is a creative, interactive site my students will use to document an imaginative journey covering places around the world. I have been playing around with the site and duffle up is an unusual, fun way to learn.

Video and Multi-media - This outstanding presentation by Dr. Hiller Spires reached me on many levels. This session emphasized three ways to incorporate video into content learning.

a. Collaborative Video Inquiry - this technique is used to make a short video with a small number of students. Students use a flip camera to make a video after completing research on a topic. Dr. Spires used hands-on instruction to teach this tool which built my confidence and reinforced the simplicity involved with making a video. Our group researched the earthquake in Haiti emphasizing the US response for assistance. As a result of this session, I can operate a flip camera and know how to assimilate short group videos to compile one.

b. Cinema Veriteen - With this tool, students partner, do inquiry, and create a documentary. This tool is great for middle students and involves using media and images to create a short 5 minute documentary. What a fun way to work with a partner. I believe the class will be more interesting and the students will engage in the topic covered just because they will connect to making the video.

c. Animoto - This cool tool involves using pictures and/or visual images to tell a story. Students are able to select music and can upload images they take to express their story.

VoiceThread - Voice thread involves using images and audio to tell a story. Students respond very well with audio and pictures. Another benefit is that a teacher can create one large account for her students. Bethany did a wonderful job explaining how to get videos from FlickR and other sites. She went around to each individual student to give hands-on instruction in using voicethread to demonstrate how voicethread produces a great product. I have already used it and believe this will be a cool tool frequently utilized by me in the classroom.

Web Identity - First, I learned that anyone who publishes on-line has an on-line identity a publizan. There really is no way to hide. In this cool tool session, I realize that it is important to be aware that you are being watched, so over exposure of yourself on line is not a prudent idea. Also, inappropriate use of social media can be a hurdle when seeking employment opportunities. Background checks include some employers hiring companies to review your social history so be careful. In the end, employers still seek employees that exhibit integrity and character for the workplace. Lastly, my google search of myself indicate that I only showed up on mylife.com. I had never heard of the company, and I am unaware how they secured my personal data. This reinforced what Carl discussed in the session.

Global Collaboration - This cool tool session increased my awareness global literacies - a subject I was not privy to. The concept of global literacies simply put is that each and every person has the ability to gain knowledge. It is the knowledge that people had to "do", and it involves recognition and understanding applicable to our relationships. In other words, people do not just have knowledge, we understand it. Most of this knowledge revolves around the concept of expanding our horizons.

Glogster - This cool tool session give making a poster for a book report entirely new meaning! I heard a student speak of glogster last semester. Andrea informed us how to use this on-line poster making tool to make any presentation look cool.

Prezi - This cool tool is the "hip-hop new version of power point" according to Manning. Prezi is not only visually appealing; it make presentation more personal and interactive. It was so easy to use, I actually created a Prezi as part of my second technology project. Prezi is user-friendly, and even techie "dummie' like myself can create an interesting presentation.

All of the cool tools sessions equipped me to incorporate technology in the classroom. Most importantly, these sessions helped me rid myself of an inner fear to try these tools.

C. Bryant