Monday, November 30, 2015

All Good Things Must Come to an End: A Reflection

It is hard to believe that my fall semester of my junior year is coming to an end. When I first began my IT 365 course, I felt a little intimidated by what was expected. I remember wondering to myself, how am I ever going to learn this? Now that it has ended, however, I can give myself a pat on the back for learning everything that I have.

I have learned standards for what teachers are expected to know and reside to as a teacher. I have learned how to create and save a concept map to teach my students a creative and fun way to come up with a flow chart. I have also learned that there are a variety of tools online for students to use, and most importantly there are so many free sites out there that allow teachers to use their products to enhance students' learning all for free!

My strong points include being able to research and teach myself how to complete a project. I also find myself very resourceful in finding the best-of-the-best sites and resources to use. I think of this as my strong point simply because I was a blogger prior to going back to school full-time. I would research and promote different companies, and that took a lot of time and effort on my part.

A weakness that I have is being confident in my ability to create something meaningful for my students. I have to constantly remind myself that as long as I work hard and put forth my best effort, my students will benefit from me and my knowledge of technology. I recognize this as a weakness because it is something I battle internally with every class and every day decision making in my life.

My future learning goal to improve on this weakness is to build my self-confidence and continue with exploring everything that the Internet has to offer. I want to find teacher blogs that have incredible resources, and find teachers whole styles complement my own. I feel if I surround myself with positive resources and ideas, that I will succeed and be even better for it which each passing day.

I plan on using technology in my classroom; that is a must! My favorite idea is to create a classroom blog for my parents. I struggle with keeping paper reminders, and think that if I also incorporate a digital website, that my classroom parents will enjoy that. I miss seeing my children every day, and really enjoy being able to see my children in their classroom element. By providing pictures (with faces/identities kept safe and private), class updates, what we are learning, a calendar, and spelling guides, that I will benefiting not only the parents, but also my students.

I enjoyed this course very much. I learned so much more than I already knew about technology in the classroom. I am confident that I will benefit all of my future students with fun and exciting ways to learn.

Assisting with Assistive Technology

In today's classroom, students all work together inclusively. What does this mean exactly? This means that a student is not singled out to a separate classroom for a learning disorder. Classrooms are now considered all-inclusive to include every student regardless if there is a learning disorder.

With the all-inclusive classroom comes preparing future teachers for teaching students that may have a learning disability. With the PowerPoint presentation below, I have given many examples of ways that a teacher may teach a student who may need assistance in a particular area. This can include eyesight, hearing, and restricted use of a hand or an arm.

Some ways that I found to assist my students was by listing a variety of free photo websites and free sound file websites. These websites were all visited by me to ensure that they were what they said they were, and I hand picked my top three for each category.

I also screen captured what to do for a student who is visually impaired. Perhaps they were a low vision computer user; I took a screenshot as to what this should look like for the student, and also for teachers to know exactly what it should look like for that student.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Teacher's Best Friend

Teachers are realizing that technology can be a blessing in the classroom and especially as a way to communicate with parents and guardians. There have been many times that I remember one of my children losing their calendar, or perhaps I deleted an email from my daughter's teacher that I should not have deleted.

Enter Google Sites. Google Sites is free (yay for free!) and it allows someone to build and totally customize their own website. I was able to find a free background for my blog via an online scrapbooking website to spruce my site up a little. I added in an about me section, created a calendar,

Here is a screenshot of my website, Mrs. Garza's Fabulous First Graders:

I had a lot of fun creating this website and really wish that my daughters' teachers would use a free website. I feel that I already did a lot of the legwork in designing it and creating it, now I will update it once I have my own classroom full of students. I can include my class calendar for homework, field trips, and special dates; a school calendar; an about me page; as well as a list of important and valuable online resources for my parents to use with their children at home.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Google Groups

Google is truly a one-stop shop for so many things. A great way for teachers to create a group assignment in older students is Google Groups. Google Groups is a way for a group of students to work together online. All the student needs is an email address and access to a computer.

For my IT class we created a fiction story on Google Docs. From Google Docs I created a few paragraphs to begin our project. It was titled An Unlikely Love Story. It was about a bird and squirrel that fell in love, although very unlikely.

Below is the snippet that I created:

There once were two animals that ended up falling in love. It wasn’t always a harmonious connection, you see. These two animals were more different than night and day. You see, one was a bird and one was a squirrel. Their story began one cold October morning.
The wind was blowing hard and the acorns were falling from the tree faster than Scotty the squirrel could gather them. With his arms full, acorns were dropping left and right as he ran up the giant oak tree where he has lived for years.
“Ouch!” cried a voice down below.
Scotty stopped what he was doing and peered down below between the bare branches. Not seeing anything he ran back up the tree, dropping acorns as he went on his merry way.
“Ouch!” cried the voice again.
Scotty stopped and peeked once again. This time he saw the most beautiful bird he had ever seen.
“Are you okay?” he asked the beautiful bird.
“No,” huffed the bird as her feathers shook off the acorn remnants. “I am NOT okay.”(Karen Garza)

My group members then added their own paragraphs until we had a complete story. I loved this assignment!

Another great Google Groups idea is to create a slide presentation. I created a lesson about learning contractions. I was then able to share this with my group members via email. I loved seeing everything that they created!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Web Tools 2.0

There will be times that I will need worksheet ideas for my students. I am thinking ahead to the future to when I have students who may need extra guidance and assistance when learning new ideas. Maybe I will have a parent request extra practice sheets for his or her child. There may even be times that I have a parent that is wanting to have a list of handy websites for his or her child for those long holiday and summer breaks.

Enter ABCteach. ABCteach is an excellent resource to have on hand for spelling, math, handwriting, and more. Below is my worksheet that I used for my future students.

I also have an answer key for my worksheet that I can pass along to any parent that requests it.

Another fun learning resource for students is creating a crossword puzzle for my students. I remember using crossword puzzles as a way to study when I was back in school. allows you to put in clues, and then create a crossword with the answers. Crosswords are a fun way for students to learn, but they don't feel like it is tedious homework. It can also be used for class parties as a way to fill the time.

How many times have you tried to study for an exam only to not know which study method works best for you? Enter Quizlet. With Quizlet a student (or teacher) can create a way that works for them to study. I created a multiple choice test to study. I found this method to be one of my favorites; especially with so much learning being online now. Technology is improving daily and I feel like this will be beneficial to our future students.

Why Be Boring?

There have been many times that I have visited an office, a classroom, or even a home, where the decor is a little less eye-catching. As a future teacher it is extremely important to me to have a classroom that my students want to come into every day. I want colors that make them feel safe, I want ideas posted on my walls to make them feel inspired, and I want learning centers that make them feel the need to learn.

A project that fits all of these descriptions is from the website, Wordle. This website has a variety of ways for a teacher to inspire his or her students by creating pictures with words.

For this project I had my main topic be adjectives. Wordle made that word all capital letters. I then came up with a list of adjectives to surround my main topic. I love this topic for this project for many reasons. The first being that I can print this and frame it at any size in my classroom. If I am teaching my students about adjectives, what better way to inspire them than to have a creative picture showcasing different adjectives. Writing doesn't come naturally for all students; I want to have the ability to inspire them even when I am not there talking to them. Wordle has made that possible. 

I would like to do other parts of a sentence for a future Wordle project. Nouns, verbs, and adverbs would all be a lot of fun to create, print, and hang up on a wall of inspiration for my students. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

New Title: Movie Producer

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to make my own movie. In my mind I would be sitting in a director's chair yelling out, "Cut!" and rewriting scenes as we went. I recently got the chance to make my own movie, and let me tell you, it was an incredible experience. Okay, it wasn't quite the movie producing dream that I have had my sights set on, but it was a fun experience and one that will be a great skill to have and use in my classroom.

My movie was based on my family. I have a husband and four children, and my husband was deployed for two of the four pregnancies. To say my life has been blessed is an understatement. I loved going back in time to those moments that I realized I was pregnant, and to those sacred moments after my babies were born.

The movie was created in Movie Maker. This program allowed me to 100% customize my film, from the photos, music, font, colors, to the transitions and speed of each slide. The final copy blew my mind, and I'm not going to lie, it made me tear up.

All in all, this was a great project to use and there are many ways that I can incorporate this into my future classrooms.