Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tool #11: Self Assessing and Reflecting

Some of my favorite tools include Cover It Live, Ning, Blogger, VoiceThread, Twitter, Liquidchart, and Doceri.  I have used all of these with my students except for Liquidchart and Twitter.  I am most eager to use Twitter's back channel chatting capabilities to conduct/moderate regular chats for students in 2-3 different classrooms.  The chats could be focused on content and concepts being studied.

This experience has reinforced my thinking about learning and my vision for the classroom.  Although I do not have my own classroom anymore,  I am looking forward to collaborating with those teachers with whom I will be co-teaching, and working with them in achieving their new or reinforced vision for their 21st century classrooms.

The most unexpected outcome was my score on the Atomic Learning assessment:(  I failed to read carefully and missed the "select all that apply" instructions in certain questions.  UGH!!!  Not happy with myself!

Tool #10: Underneath it All-Digital Citizenship

Three things I want my students to understand about being a good digital citizen are:

1. The importance of giving credit to sources and the seriousness of plagiarism. I think a good example for teaching about plagiarism would the the recent punishments incurred by CNN and Time contributor Fareed Zakaria. It seems that he risked his career and his reputation as a journalist by failing to site a source.

2. The importance of using proper netiquette. The absence of face-to-face interaction and body language creates the possibility for online communications to be misinterpreted. Manners and etiquette are as important in the digital world as they are in the real world, and students need to be able to apply netiquette skills habitually.

3. The importance of protecting one's personal information. One's personal life should be just that, personal and separate from one's professional life. Students need to understand that putting personal information on the Internet can be dangerous. They also need to understand that comments, photos, and information they post/publish can have a negative impact on college admissions and future employment opportunities.

I like the Brain Pop resources on Digital Citizenship. They are very easy to understand and include captions (optional). Digital citizenship lessons seem to be most effective when real world examples and experiences are included in lessons. There are many examples of people who have experienced harassment, assaults, job loss, and career difficulties as a result of being a poor digital citizen or being uniformed of the impact of being a poor digital citizen can have on one's livelihood . In regards to sharing the topic with parents, I would provide them with resources such as the i-Safe Fact Sheet and TEA's Internet Safety web address.

Tool #9: Incorporating Classroom-Based Devices as Tools for Learning

It is important to tie technology to the objective because students need to find personal value in their school experiences. It seems that teachers and students view school and its purpose through different lenses and, generally, it seems that these lenses are out of sync with each other. One way of making school experiences valuable to students is to do as much as possible to make school mirror the real world, and technology is a large part of the day to day function of real world. I recently visited a public library in a predominantly low SES part of town and was shocked by the line of people waiting to access the libraries 10 computers. It was about noon, and the people using and waiting for computers appeared to be adults that were down on their luck. This was eye opening in regards to the role of technology in our lives! I think doing all we can as educators to incorporate positive student values such as being tech savvy into school experiences could result increased motivation to engage in the learning process.

Students should be held accountable for their work in stations because they need to know that what they think and learn matters! Sure some students are intrinsically motivated to learn everything in all classes, but many are not. I think some of the disinterest in school is perpetuated by their belief that what they are learning is not important or of value to them or anyone else besides the teacher, i.e. the only person who will judge their work and maybe give feedback is the teacher. Students need to understand that when they invest time in learning activities something about them or their brain should change, and when that does happen it is important to share that in some manner with as many people as possible. Additionally, for those students who are not motivated to learn and will gladly do the minimum necessary, peer accountability is significantly more motivating that teacher accountability. I have found that many students' confidence and self esteem improves when they have to post evidence of learning on a blog and other students make positive comments about their abilities, ideas/thoughts, and grammar/spelling. Students need to know that their thoughts and abilities matter.

I like Thinkfinity and Gooru (Google Apps). Both of these can be used in centers. Students can complete each site's activities as assigned by the teacher and then post responses to 1-2 open ended questions that require using specific details/evidence from Thinkfinity or Gooru to support their responses on a class blog.

Two apps from the list that I found interesting and seemingly useful for high school were Discover Art History-Art Collector and DK- The Human Body app. I am not sure what subject areas I will be working with next year, but both of these could be used to create centers. The art history app could be used in World History and the human body app could be used in Biology. Again, the students could post responses on a blog. They could also work in pairs and present new learning to the class. The art history app keeps a score which could be another form of accountability.

Tool # 8: Taking a Look at the Tools

I have been very fortunate to have had these devices (netbook and iPad) in my classroom for a few years now and am very familiar with their functionality. I hope to be of use to those teacher with whom I will be co-teaching in regards to troubleshooting technology problems quickly and collaborating on new ways to use the devices.

I will not have my own classroom, but I did do quite a bit to manage the devices in my classroom. The devices were all numbered and each student was assigned a specific number, i.e., that student was responsible for all things that happened to and on that number. This caused students to protect their number or be device police which made device management one less thing I had to worry about at the start of class. At the end of class, I always counted the devices in a very overt and loud manner just to communicate that I was checking and serious about all the threats I made regarding device damage and theft. Although it took a lot of energy on my part, I think these behaviors were worthwhile and effective. In the three years that my students used the devices (nearly every single day) not one device was stolen or purposely damaged. Again, I hope to useful to those teachers with whom I co-teach in developing a system for managing their classroom's devices.

Tool #7: Reaching Outside Your Classroom: Online Digital Products

Online Digital Products Proposal

Content objective: The high school student will use technology and critical thinking skills to participate in a twitter chat on a topic related to a concept they are learning.

When you plan to implement: Hopefully this school year!

What tool(s) you plan to use: Twitter and Storify

A brief description of the project (plan - two or three sentences): Ideally two Fridays per month (realistically one Friday per month), students in 2-3 different classrooms in the same grade level studying the same subject will participate in a 40 minute twitter chat on a topic related to a concept of study. The participating teachers would work together to create a unique hashtag for the chats, develop topics for discussion, create discussion provoking questions, and take turns moderating the chats. Topics could be related to current events that parallel historical events or topics being studied in the classroom. I think focusing the chats on current events or events from recent history because students need to be able to draw on personal experience, environmental observations, and newly learned content when participating in the chat. After each chat, the chat feed can be archived in Storify and used as a springboard for an extension activity in each classroom.

If you need to find another classroom - We can begin networking with other classrooms right here: I will be co-teaching this year and am not sure who or what subject for just yet. Hopefully, we will be able to work together to get some kids thinking and learning via the twitter chat experience!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tool #6: Using Web 2.0 Tools to Promote Discussion In and Out of the Classroom

Cover It Live: This tool requires a little bit of playing with to get used to, but once it is figured out it is very useful. I particularly like the amount of control it gives the moderator in terms of pre-screening participant posts before comments end up on the discussion board. This is great in the classroom to moderate live discussions especially if the the teacher has an iPad. The iPad allows the moderator to moderate from wherever they are standing as opposed to having to be tied to a desk top or carrying around a cumbersome laptop or netbook. Freedom to move among students while they are participating is important to the success and effectiveness of this type of classroom discussion. Additionally, this tool is great getting a group of unfamiliar students to participate in a discussion. I used Cover It Live to conduct the advisory lesson on cafeteria cleanliness and behavior. I posted the guiding questions from the powerpoint as they came up in the presentation and had the students respond to the questions. The students were focused, engaged, and were all held accountable for participating by peer pressure rather than teacher pressure. They all want to read what each other thought and began connecting with students they realized shared similar points of view.

The advisory Cover It Live session is embedded in the left side bar.

VoiceThread: I like VoiceThread because it increase the level of concern in students because of the "voice" requirement. Often they repeat/recorded their dialogue, change their script, look up new words to use in their script, edit down their script because of length restraints, and do not seem to realize they are learning via planning and creating. I have found that 99% of students complain about the voice piece, but 100% record their voice and seem to feel a sense of accomplishment when they hear them selves reciting a script they created in a professional looking product. A tremendous amount of preparation is funneled into a 1-3 minute long product. The VoiceThread product is literally the tip of the iceberg!  I have had students use a teacher created account in the past, but students creating their own accounts is less complicated.

Below is a VoiceThread two sophomore boys wrote the script for and created on the Holocaust.

Tool #5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

Stupeflix Studio:   I really like this free tool, but have found that its positive and negatives are equal in weight.  Let's start with the positive.  Stupeflix makes it extremely easy to create a product that is very professional and seemingly complex in appearance.  Also, it is similar to Animoto except its pace is less likely to induce seizures while viewing!  The video below only took about 15 minutes to create.  Most of the time was used on finding images and selecting music from Stupeflix's music library.  One of the negatives of this tool is that it only allows white font :(  This requires a bit of strategy when selecting images.  Images with too much white in them cancel the texts appearance (see video below).  Also, the video is edited by the program so the creator has no control over the appearance of the final product.  If one does not like the generated video, they can regenerate it until the tool produces a video that resembles the creators vision, but it will probably never be exactly what was desired.

Wordle:  On Fridays at 11 am and 6 pm, the Texas Association of Gifted and Talented hosts #gtchat for 1 hour.  These chats are based on a single GT related topic and are a great way to learn, gain resources, and connect with educators and parents.  I created a Wordle from the tweets from two of the chats to use as a reflection or focal snapshot.  It seems that when learning something new it is easy to get wrapped up in all the details and specifics of the new subject, and in doing so, sometimes one can lose sight of the purpose of the new learning.  Creating this Wordle helped me to focus on the reason I spend two hours of my Friday on the be an effective educator for the gifted or highly able.

I think Wordle can be used in the classroom for a similar purpose.  If students participate in a blog or post their learning products or reflections on a classroom forum, the teacher could copy/paste their posted text and some content text into a Wordle to use in closure activities such as reflective writing or assessment reviews to reinforce new learning.