Instructional Tools Spotlight: Resources & Technology Available in the Library Media Center

Mrs. Rounding spent this year working on an APPR project in which she explored, researched, practiced and learned about various new technologies and resources available for teachers to utilize on the internet.  Below is a summary of a few of the programs and resources she explore.  If any of these appeal to you, connect with Emily about possibly integrating them into your instructional plan for next year.

iPods and Reading – One of our reading specialists recorded various non-fiction, high interest articles for her reading students on the 10 iPods we use here for podcasting. The hope with this technology was that students would improve their reading fluency by listening to an article read by their teacher while silently reading it to themselves. Reading growth was also measured by the reading specialist conducting a miscue analysis while students read their articles back to her. This strategy was utilized several times in a class of 12 reading students. The reading teacher reported an increase in fluency and an improvement in miscues for 9 out of the 12 students. For a few of her students this was not the best strategy as they had trouble listening independently to the iPods. However, in general we felt this was an effective strategy to be used again with future classes.

NoodleTools – NoodleTools is an online citation/note taking program that we have subscribed to the past few years. Students are able to create bibliographies online, and then save/print/email that document to their teacher. I have worked with 8 different teachers this year introducing the concept of NoodleTools to their students. In analyzing several sets of papers this year where the program was utilized, minor errors in citations were significantly reduced. NoodleTools is web-based, and teachers and students alike enjoy the fact that their work is saved within the program itself. Last month alone (March, 2012), 92 new bibliographies were created with NoodleTools.

Opposing Viewpoints – We focused more heavily this year on one of our newest databases, Opposing Viewpoints, which features content rich articles, essays, multi-media, and photos on the most current social and political issues. In our continued efforts to encourage students to utilize these resources as opposed to aimlessly searching online for various websites related to their projects, our user statistics were up significantly this year for this particular resource. From September 1st through April 30th of this year, our statistics show 2,542 full-text retrievals for this database alone. This is a significant increase from just over 1,900 full-text retrievals last year during our first year purchasing Opposing Viewpoints.

Prezi (http://www.prezi.com) – Prezi allows users to present ideas and information in a cloud-based software program. I began introducing our high school students to this program as an alternative to PowerPoint; especially effective when students want to insert short video clips to highlight their topic. Several of our ELA, Social Studies, and ESOL classes have utilized this tool and students have been successful in presenting their information in a clear, concise manner. Student engagement while using this program has been strong, and teachers like the fact that it is web-based and projects are automatically saved. This saves a lot of trouble if students forget a flash drive, or forget to save in general. A small percentage of students found the editing layout too confusing, but in general the feedback was positive. Examples demonstrating student learning are posted on the WIKI.

Reading and Online Vocabulary Games – In addition to the iPod use, students in the reading support classes made use of the vocabulary games at SuperTeacherTools.com to build their vocabulary in a more unique way. Students or teachers can create their own games at this site, and we noticed an increase in student engagement and a 90% completion rate among the students who were assigned to use this. A link to one of the teacher project pages showcasing these games is posted on the WIKI.

Soundzabound & Audacity – This school year the use of Soundzabound increased quite a bit as more teachers became aware that Soundzabound offers royalty free music that meets the licensing requirements for students to use these songs within their projects without any copyright infringement concerns. Combined with Audacity, students can manipulate their songs and music to suit their needs. Positives of these programs include the ease of use at home as Audacity is a free download, and Soundzabound is web-based from our library homepage. Negatives include the fact that Audacity can be tricky to learn at first with lots of little details to remember. Examples demonstrating student learning using these two programs are posted on the WIKI.

Voice Thread (http://www.voicethread.com/) – This tool is designed as a way for users to combine their photos and voices as a way of introducing a topic, while also allowing them to “friend” other people who also have Voice Thread accounts. Participants may then leave comments on each other’s threads. We used this program with a Spanish class interested in presenting information from a project to their class members, while allowing their teacher and class members to view their product and leave feedback. Unfortunately Voice Thread did not work well with multiple users logged in at once as photos and voice were not uploading smoothly. Approximately 30% of students completed the project using Voice Thread, while the remaining switched back to our older program, PhotoStory. Examples demonstrating student learning are posted on the WIKI.

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