A Whole New World

Eight weeks ago I started on a journey I did not think I needed much. I thought of myself as someone who was not cutting edge, but who certainly was not behind the times. I had no idea I was missing out on so many digital tools to support education until taking this SLM graduate class. I am embarrassed to list all of the tools I had never prior to starting this class. I started the journey learning about blogs. I have read them here and there, but did not follow anyone in particular, nor did I consider blogging myself nor having my students blog. I now use Skype frequently especially to collaborate with peers in my graduate classes. I can see using it to network with other PE teachers locally or even globally. I plan to use it in my PE/Health lessons to allow students communicate with famous athletes, doctors, scientists, or students in other countries. Now that I am using iGoogle, I am checking my Twitter account, Google Reader and Gmail all in one place. Twitter has allowed me to find many resources quickly to enhance my lessons. I have also been saving web resources with my Diigolet bookmarking. All of these tools have helped me get organized and build my professional learning network. I have already received a great deal of inspiration from other professionals such as Jarrod Robinson, author of the PEGeek blog and Bonnie Mohnsen author of Using Technology in Physical Education eNewsletter. Between understanding the NETs-T, digital storytelling, Web 2.0 tools, and social media, I cannot express how much I have learned.

My final journey brings me to the last module of my technology class where I was assigned the task of designing a digital learning experience for my students. This was a rewarding and challenging experience because I needed to synthesize and apply my new knowledge to my lesson plans. I decided to focus my assignment on a fitness unit for middle school physical education. After navigating around initial roadblocks, I hope I came up with an authentic and effective instructional unit. I started the lesson by showing a video on the heart and circulatory system, something that is not done frequently in PE classes. The students will be learning about different types of heart rates, how to calculate them and how to graph the data with Google Spreadsheets. I incorporated Google Docs, Wikispaces, and Skype to encourage student collaboration and engagement. Overall, I enjoyed bringing the technology into a traditional physical education lesson. I now know what it means to be a 21st century teacher and I plan to be one!

This is the link to my fitness unit in my PEHealthforus wiki.


Learning log- Wondering with Wikis

I have been contemplating what I want to include in my class wiki.

On my quest to learn more about Wikis, I came across several that gave me ideas to use in my physical/health education classroom. While I was not able to find the perfect example of a robust class wiki to model for my classes, I have collected elements and resources to inspire me.

Connecting Web 2.0 with Physical Education: call it PE 2.0!  This wiki was created by Helena Baert who has a Doctor of Philosophy in Kinesiology Pedagogy with a specialty in technology. In fact,  her dissertation was on The integration of technology in Physical Education Teacher Education programs; therefore,  I was thrilled when I discovered her wiki.  The wiki has information on adapted PE, lesson ideas, technology and PE resources, research and articles.  Within each section are separate pages for professional collaboration.  My favorite section was a link to a group wiki, the Exergame Network.   This wiki is dedicated to people interested in exergaming (Active gaming) which is a hot new way to exercise and appears to be her most active.  The wiki is intended to be an open distribution of ideas and expertise among educators.    Another section managed by Ms. Baert was for the PE students at the University of Arkansas called UA PHED Home Page.   This wiki was created by and for the college students for collaboration on PE resources, lesson plans, and reflection.  Ms. Baert’s wikis provide me with valuable professional development resources and tools, but also give me ideas of how to set up my own wiki for students. Ideas I learned from her wiki pages are student group collaborative projects, posting PE websites and curriculum content, or as a place to display online portfolios.   

I next reviewed Sun West Physical education wiki.  This page was created by Mr. Bennett to assist Physical Education teachers at all grade levels, particularly in Sun West School Division in Saskatchewan, Canada.  The wiki had pages for elementary, middle and high school as well as pages by topic.  The topics include fitness, warm up games, stretching, assessment and web links.  Many of the pages had links to other resources and powerpoint presentations.  I like the layout of this wiki with the colorful buttons that link to different topics and grade level resources.  This wiki is a good example of teacher collaboration, but unfortunately, not designed for students.

Many of the class wikis started by physical educators appear to become inactive after first year and become quickly out of date.  I found one example of a class wiki that has some elements that can help me develop one for my students.  I reviewed PE with Mr. T that was developed by Mr. Trent for his classes at New Designs Charter School, in Los Angeles CA.  Mr. Tran has included in his wiki the course syllabus, lesson units, brief autobiography, and links to resources. He discusses why PE is important and has a few inspirational quotes.  I like how he has a note to parents reinforcing an open door policy.  The wiki appears to be a tool for class information but not for student collaboration. While I like some of what Mr. Tran included on his wiki, I was hoping to find more student involvement.

The best example of a class wiki I found one was for health Education.  Mrs. Rice’s Health Class Wiki is an active page that includes photographs of class activities, notes and presentations.  She includes announcements for assignments, quizzes, tests and units of study.  The wiki contains all of her  lesson power points which is helpful  for students who are absent or need to review.  The wiki has PDF documents and links to additional web resources.  This wiki includes many resources to help students be successful in her classes.


Social and Collaborative Media

Please view my VoiceThread on Social and Collaborative Media.

VoiceThread is a social and collaborative media tool to add interest, engagement and group discussion to any presentation. The primary feature in a VoiceThread  is the ability for the presenter to easily add narration to the slides. Also, the presenter and participants can discuss and collaborate in the VoiceThread by way of voice, text, audio, video and doodling comments.

Use of this tool meets the following NETs:

1a. Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
1b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
2a. Design and adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

VoiceThread can be used in any instructional setting to enhance learning through collaboration. Using this product in education can extend student learning beyond the classroom while encouraging reading, writing and information literacy skills. It can be used to engage students in any content area.

Learning Log- Goodreads

My Goodread bookshelf: Emotions

I created a Goodreads bookshelf entitled, “Emotions. ” This bookshelf could be use for Health education for intermediate elementary grades. I would incorporate this digital resource into the emotions unit and use it in a variety of ways. The first way I would use my “Emotions” bookshelf with students would be to select one book I found on Goodreads to serve as an introduction to the unit such as Mood Swings: Show “Em How You’re Feeling! by Borgman. (2001). This book is a flip chart with 30 facial expressions that would be a great visual tool for a warm up activity. Secondly, I would use a specific chapter or section of a book that would work to well for a full lesson with pre, during,and post reading activities. One book on my list that would work well is Understanding Myself: A Kid’s Guide to Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings by Lamia (2010). The third way I would use the bookshelf  for the Emotions unit would be to have an assignment where students would choose one of the books to read on their own. They could also recommend other books so the selection would grow. The students would  write a summary and personal reflection of the book.

In addition to supporting the Emotions Unit, I would share my Goodreads’ bookshelves with parents and colleagues. Often times, parents welcome ideas to reinforce learning at home and by sharing my bookshelves with them, they can foster reading  and find resources to help with a particular concern such as bullying or anxiety.

To enhance my professional network and development with Goodreads, I can  make book recommendations, write book reviews, join groups, and stay organized by what I have read, currently reading and plan to read. The website has a section, “Voice,” that provides users with information about new books, interviews with authors, and blog posts. I also like the bookmarklet that is now on my toolbar that allows me to add books to my bookshelves from Amazon.com. I have never used a social cataloging site before and have discovered the many benefits of Goodreads.

My oogle at iGoogle Learning Log

Wow, iGoogle is the organized teacher’s best friend!  I absolutely hate feeling disorganized and distracted by too many things at once.  I function better if I feel in control and have order to things.  iGoogle puts all of my new digital tools in one site just for me.  I like how you can customize the theme and move the gadgets for the best personal layout.  Instead of remembering to go to different websites to check in on posts, iGoogle has it all right there at once place.  I have to confess that since I made my Twitter account, I rarely went to look at it. What good is it going to do me if I forget to review the Tweets?

VoiceThread: Media, Body Image and Physical Activity

To discuss the media’s impact on body image and physical activity, 8th grade students will view the following VoiceThread presentation, complete a written assignment, and post comments on the VoiceThread.

VoiceThread:  Media, Body Image and Physical Activity

Objective: Students will analyze how the media impacts attitudes toward body image and physical activity.


  • Maryland PE Curriculum, Standard IV G1. Exercise Physiology, Media and Physical Activity
  • 1a. Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
  • 1b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
  • 1c. Promote student reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify student’s conceptual understanding and thinking, planning and creative processes.
  • 2a. Design and adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

My intention is that students will view this in a blog either at home or at the computer lab.  The VoiceThread is to enhance the written assignment by providing more interesting visual introduction to the assignment, as well as provide a tool for discussion.  This type of discussion is not normally possible in a physical education class.   Please see my VoiceThread Screencast blog post  for more details on how to use this product.

My VoiceThread Screencast

View my screencast tutorial for VoiceThread:

VoiceThread is a web based multimedia presentation program with many added features for collaboration including narration of any media and the capability of other people leaving voice, text, and doodling comments. Use of this tool meets the following NETs:

1a. Promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness.
1b. Engage students in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources.
2a. Design and adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity.

You can use VoiceThread in any instructional setting to enhance learning through collaboration. Students can individualize an assignment based on the media, interests,or learning styles.

Learning Log- Flickr Slide Shows

I created a Flickr slide show to introduce a lesson for intermediate elementary physical education for Standard VA1. Physical Activity, Aerobic Fitness.  The student objectives are to analyze individual cardio-respiratory fitness by participating in track and field events and to compare and perform various aerobic and anaerobic activities.  I would incorporate the  slide show into the lesson by reviewing cardio-repiratory fitness, and explaining aerobic and anaerobic activities.  At the end of class, 4 photos could be shown (2 showing aerobic and 2 showing anaerobic) while the students completed an exit ticket asking them to list one aerobic and one anaerobic activity they learned about in class.  The slide show would provide students with examples of different activities and provide a  visual tool to enhance learning.

Here is my slide show on Track and Field, aerobic and anaerobic activities.  

Learning Log Flickr Galleries

Prior to my graduate technology class, I have not used Flickr.  For my personal photography, I have used other photo sharing websites. Now that I am exploring sharing photographs and slide shows in the classroom, Flickr has a lot to offer. After reading two helpful articles,  How to Use Flickr in Your Classroom and Using Flickr in the Classroom by David Jakes I began thinking of countless ideas of how to use Flickr when teaching.  As Mr. Jakes stated in his article, Flickr can be used anywhere visual images are needed for presentation.  Teachers use some form of presentation of information to students every day, yet how content is presented varies greatly.  Instead of the traditional overhead transparencies, slide shows can be made for any topic. With 100 million photographs at your finger tips, a teacher would never run out of material.  Recently, I have begun using a lap top to show very brief clips of videos to students to enhance their background knowledge and interest different PE lessons.  Below are some of my ideas I am anxious to try.

Ideas for using Flickr in PE:

  • virtual field trips (geography and cultures related to sports)
  • motivation for a unit
  • background information about a sport, physical activity or health issue
  • student digital portfolios
  • demonstration of a skill or activity
  • explaining biomechanics, exercise physiology, or sport injuries
  • Introducing vocabulary words

The list is growing as get more experience with the tool.

I created a gallery that includes photographs of track and field events. I want to use this gallery to introduce students to track and field as a sport. I would use the gallery in my introductory lesson to create  a visual impact to motivate students and as examples of some of the activities they will be participating in.  My hope would be that the  students see the images of the athletes working  hard and lead to future discussions on effort and improvement.

What do you think? Do you think images make our message more powerful?

More on Blogs for Educators

The second educator blog I review is the Education Week blog for teachers.

This is a very comprehensive blog for current issues and trends in education managed by the Education Week, Teacher. Teacher is an online resource that offers news, blogs, webinars and book clubs for teachers. According to the website, “Education Week, Teacher’s take on the latest news, ideas, and resources for teacher leaders. Coverage runs the gamut from the inspirational to the infuriating, from practical classroom tips to raging policy debates, and from “news you can use” to “news of the weird”.” (works cited: blogs.edweek.org)

Unlike the classroom blogs, this one has more of a feel of a professional journal. The scope of this blog is large and less personal. An example of a blog post is “Do Students Still Need Encyclopedias?”

This blog post summaries the recent discontinuation of the print version of Britannica encyclopedia. The conversation centered around what reference resources educators are using in the classroom and teaching to students. The question offered for comment was “How do you teach the craft of research in this ever-changing, sometimes overwhelming information environment?” Some of the comments were interesting too and reminded me of our conversation on our technology class discussion board.

The last Educator Blog I reviewed is Education News.

This blog is written to be all inclusive of educational news worldwide. The blog includes media publications, commentaries, and reports on education from different political views. According to the website, EducationNews.org is challenged with less coverage of educational issues by news organizations, yet striving to keep the public aware of current information. The blog is subdivided into  seven sub-blogs that include Education Policy, Technology, Higher Education, Online Schools, Parenting, International/UK and K-12. For my review, I focused on the K-12 blog.
The blog reads  like a newspaper. It is designed for readers to look over the large list of topics and selectively read posts that are of a personal interest to them. I guess some people with a great deal of time on their hands may read all of the articles, but that is unlikely.  One of the posts that caught my eye was New Science Curriculum to Address Climate Change Controversy. This post discusses the new science standards being drafted to include the impact of humans on global warming. and cites a recent Wall Street Journal Article about the topic.  Readers of the blog left comments that challenged those claims leading to an interesting discussion of the subject.

The value in this blog for me is that if you do not have time to search the web for up-to-date education news articles, you could go to a blog like this and get summaries of many hot education topics around the US and the globe.

Why I am sharing these blogs?

Following blogs like the ones I reviewed  will help  generate ideas for my blog.  Reading educational news is always important to keep current about what is going on  in the US and world.   Just like reading professional journals, the value of blogs for teachers lies in connecting with a broader network of support and information.  By doing so, teachers can create rich learning environments for their students.