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#NTchat & the history of iLearn Technology

Yesterday I was the guest moderator for #NTchat on Twitter.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, #NTchat is a chat held on Twitter.  The chat happens weekly on Wednesdays and is geared toward New Teachers.  To participate in the chat, anyone who wants to join in uses the hash tag #NTchat at the end of their tweet.  @teachingwthsoul asked me to talk about how new teachers could utilize iLearn Technology.  You can see the archive of the chat here.   As I started tweeting, I realized that many of my readers probably don’t know the history of iLearn Technology.  For those of you who are interested, this is how it all started… Out of college, I taught in a second grade classroom.  As a new teacher I had very few resources (no file cabinets full of lesson plans and activity ideas), very few learning games, few books in my classroom library, and as a newly wed out of college, very few funds with which to purchase said items.  I was also frustrated, it wasn’t fair for students in my classroom to have fewer resources available to them just because I was a new teacher.  In college, I stumbled upon abc Teach and Teach-nology.  That first year of teaching, I frequented both sites regularly for printables, games, and lesson ideas.  A few months into the year, I read my students Jan Brett’s The Mitten.  They were enamored with the book and I wanted to take advantage of it.  I didn’t have any resources to accompany the book so I wandered online to see what I could scrounge up.  I found Jan Brett’s website and couldn’t believe what I found.  She had SO many printables for the classroom, from bulletin boards to flash cards, and calendars.  She also had a teacher’s kit and sent my students monthly postcards about new projects she was working on. I quickly realized that the Internet had a lot of resources that could help me through my first year.  One night I was on the hunt for some additional phonics resources that I could print out and use with my students.  A Google search introduced me to Starfall.  I was gobsmacked.  I couldn’t believe the printables, activities, games, and online stories available.  It was truly like finding a treasure trove!  Back in the day, Starfall would send their work journals and cut-up books for FREE along with Starfall pencils and stickers.  I ordered enough journals and books so that every student could have their own. My students really enjoyed the print materials from Starfall, I knew they would love the online books and activities as well.   I was lucky enough to have two computers in my classroom.  They were old and didn’t do much outside of run a word processor, but they were connected to the Internet.  I couldn’t wait to show my students Starfall.  I wish that I could have bottled up their excitement over Starfall.  They were thrilled to be using the computers and loved the fun stories and activities on Starfall.  My students that were struggling with phonics seemed to suddenly get it, Starfall made it click. This was the beginning of my addiction to the Internet.  After seeing what Starfall did for my students, I was eager to find more sites that could make learning fun and engaging.  I found Gamegoo and Book Adventure and soon had my students cycling through those two computer centers throughout the day.  My students were eager for literacy every day and couldn’t wait for their rotation through the computer center.  As the year progressed, I added a few new learning sites each month as a center in my classroom.  I saw the impact that technology made on student learning.  I saw how excited my students were about learning. The following year, I took a position as a computer teacher at a local private school.  They were desperate for a computer teacher, and I was eager to learn more.  I spent my summer creating a scope and sequence (there was no computer curriculum), writing lesson plans, and searching for resources.  I had a handful of ideas based on what I had done with my students the previous year but knew it wouldn’t carry me through the whole school year.  As I was searching for online resources, I discovered that there were excellent lists of websites that could be used with kids.  The problem was that they were literally just lists of links to sites.  There was no description, no organization, it was cumbersome and took a long time to find the really good sites.  I started collecting sites in iKeep Bookmarks, writing detailed descriptions and ideas I had for using the resource with students.  It was my husband who suggested that I start a blog of all the sites and ideas for their use.  If I couldn’t find one comprehensive collection that was well-organized and had clear descriptions, chances were that others had run into the same.  I didn’t really think anyone outside of myself and maybe a colleague would ever use the site.  It really was a place where I could keep track of everything for myself.  Several thousand resources later and here we are If you are looking for a resource that will fit your specific needs, you can search iLearn Technology in a few ways.  The first is by using the search tool bar in the header.  Enter any subject or keyword related to your needs.  I try to tag each post with keywords that I would search if I were looking for the resource.  The second is to use the multi category search in my sidebar on the right.  You can choose a category from each drop down or choose from only a few categories.  For example you might be looking for a science resource for your 2nd grade students.  You could choose “science” from the subject drop down and “Primary Elementary” from the Grade Level drop down.  Every resource on iLearn Technology that matches that search criteria will be displayed. If you aren’t currently involved in Twitter education chats, I recommend you choose one to participate in.  They are always a source of great conversation, thinking, and camaraderie.  Check out @Cybraryman1′s Twitter Chat list here.  Find one of interest and join in the conversation!

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International Childrens Digital Library

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Foreign Language, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 30-12-2008

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What it is:  The International Childrens Digital Library (also known as ICDL) is an online digital library for children of all ages.  The mission of ICDL is to “ excite and inspire the world’s children to become members of the global community – children who understand the value of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages and ideas — by making the best in children’s literature available online.”  When students visit the ICDL website they are brought to a simple search area where they can choose different options for finding a book.  They can narrow down results by age (3-13), fiction or non-fiction, book length, award winners, language, picture or chapter books, subject matter, and even what colors that cover has in it.  When students choose a book they can read the book in its entirety online.  I learned about this site in the iTunes store, they have a free iPod Touch and iPhone application for downloading books from the ICDL in addition to their online content.  So neat!

 

How to integrate ICDL into the classroom:   The ICDL website reminds me a lot of LookyBook.  The search options are extremely user friendly and allow even the youngest readers to find a book they are sure to love.  Students can register for the library (free) and then leave an online review of the book.  I like the idea of digital libraries for students because it opens up a number of books to them that they may not otherwise have access to.  If a story is started during school, students can finish the story when they get home from any Internet connected computer.  The ICDL is nice for reading groups.  All students can be reading the same book from school and from home without setting aside a large budget for group sets.  The search is a wonderful way for students to discover what types of literature they enjoy.  Many of the books featured are from different cultures and languages, these would be perfect to bring into a foreign language classroom.  ICDL books provide a fun way for students to gain global awareness.  Books in other languages could also be used as a starting point for student created stories.  Students can do picture walks through the online books and then compose their own story to accompany the pictures.  ICDL is a great way to read with the whole class.  Connect your computer with a projector and students can read the story along with you, everyone will be able to see the pictures as you discuss the story!  

 

Tips:  One thing that I really appreciate about ICDL is the ability to view the books full screen and zoom in and out of the pages.  The site is easy to navigate and this feature makes it even more user friendly.  

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using ICDL  in your classroom.

Comments (1)

Thank you for your tireless blogging. I have been more inspired by your website than any other this year, and I visit a great deal of websites. I feel indebted to you and look forward to your new posts. You have contributed a great deal to the lives of my students and other teachers in our district as a result of what you regularly share. Please keep posting and thank you!
David

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