New Technologies

04 Nov

I was really interested by the Sixth Sense Technology presented in the TedTalk video. It reminded me a lot of the SmartBoard technology: the idea that technology should be integrated seamlessly with everyday movements. I think students today would love this type of technology; anytime they can get information right at their fingertips, they seem more interested and engaged. I was especially interested in the book functions of this technology; the ability for students to have information about whatever book they are looking at, available right away. This would definitely be helpful for projects and lessons on novels in the classroom. I think students would respond well to having the book be interactive, with extra video and audio clips built in.

The virtual environment is also an interesting idea for an English classroom. The novels read in high school take place in different environments than the classroom. Some students might benefit from having a visual if they are having trouble picturing the environment in their heads. It gives them something to explore, and could really help to differentiate learning. I do have mixed feelings about this, I know some students could benefit from it, but I also believe that individual imagination is not something that can be replaced. I was interested by the assertion that “Research suggests that educational MUVEs should not focus solely on the virtual environment; learners still require and do best when they have ongoing support from the teacher and built-in time (and obligations) for self reflection” (Solomon & Schrum, 2013, p. 122). I like the idea that virtual environments can also be an outlet for student reflection.

Resources:

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2013).Web 2.0: how-to for educators. (1st ed.). Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education.

Mini-Projects: Part Deux

28 Oct

For my mini-projects this time I chose to look at Google Lit Trips and TimeToast, one of the timeline sites. All three timeline sites were listed in our book, and Solomon and Schrum described Timetoast as, “an online interactive timeline creation tool with which you can design your own or search for others’ timelines on many topics. You can also publish these timelines on Twitter or other social networking sites” (Solomon & Schrum, 2013, p. 261). I liked Timetoast because it was very user-friendly- it was very easy to add and edit text along with pictures. While I think a timeline could be more useful for a history class, sometimes it is helpful for students in an English class to place events in a novel on a timeline, especially if the novel includes flashbacks. I was frustrated by the fact that the timeline required the time to be recorded in days, not hours or minutes. For example. I was using the events from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” but these events take place over one day. In order to put these events in chronological order, I had to list them as happening on different days. It’s a small issue, but it would have been helpful to have more choices about the time for the timeline.

Google Lit Trips was a bit more work than the other mini-projects I’ve done, but it also seemed to be a rewarding project. Solomon & Schrum say, with regards to Google Earth, that it may be “…limited in scope, yet [it] provide[s] capabilities that really make a difference in classrooms” (Solomon & Schrum, 2013, p. 13). There is a specific purpose for using Google Lit Trips, but I really think it would be useful, especially in a high school setting.

I used Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love because I knew the plot featured many different places around the world, which students may not be familiar with. These places in Indonesia, India and Rome are integral to the plot but also not popular destinations for today’s high schoolers. I liked that Google Lit Trips allow the teacher to add relevant websites, questions, information, etc. I think I would definitely use this in my classroom, especially for novels that take place in foreign countries. This is a great way connect the students to the novels they are reading.

 

Resources:

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2013).Web 2.0: how-to for educators. (1st ed.). Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education.

Mini-Projects: Comic Life and Wordle

21 Oct

My first mini-project was with Comic Life. I created a comic about two students talking about the meaning of setting, conflict and resolution in novels. I liked this way of presenting the material to the students, because it’s informative but interesting at the same time. I could see teachers using this tool in the classroom to relate their topics to the students, but I can also see the students using this program to create their own projects. I think this would also be a great for the students to use to teach other students about topics being taught in class. I could see myself splitting students up into groups and having them create an informative comic aimed at a certain demographic or age group (maybe their peers, maybe younger students).

Wordle was incredibly simple to use; really it’s just a plug-and-chug kind of website. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I thought this site was interesting and would be really helpful for students who are visual learners. I think this would definitely be a great starter activity for a larger unit, but I see myself having trouble stretching it out into a longer activity. I do like the fact that students can submit their own words and see the words that come from their classmates; I think this is a great way to spread a feeling of classroom community and to allow students to check in with their peers.

Wallwisher

14 Oct

http://wallwisher.com/wall/wahoorach

I liked this tool- I am a sticky-note person and I use them to remember small bits and pieces of information I know I will need later on. I like that other people can add to the wall, creating a community of post-it notes. I think students would respond positively to this- the design is easy to use and it’s a good outlet for their ideas.

I think this would work especially well in an English classroom, where students need to learn how to share opinions orally and through the written word. I was a little irritated with the character limit, but just like with Twitter, this forces students to be concise and to only say what they mean. Solomon and Schrum address this issue with Twitter by saying, “People have generated shortcuts to communicate well beyond text messaging codes…” (Solomon & Schrum, 2013, p. 34). Today’s students are used to using Twitter and other sites that force them to become creative in their communication strategies. It is just as important to be able to express oneself in a direct way in the real world as it is in the academic world, and I think Wallwisher is a great way to help students practice this skill.

Resources:

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2013).Web 2.0: how-to for educators. (1st ed.). Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education

 

 

Flipping the Classroom

07 Oct

I have mixed feelings about the Flipped classroom. I know that for me, as a student, I really respond to human interaction when trying to learn new concepts. I like the freedom that the Flipped classroom offers, in terms of being able to do activities in class, but my worry is that valuable teacher-student conversations would suffer. The Flipped Student Infographic did say, “After students watch lessons, they write down any questions they have. Teachers review those questions with students individually” (“The flipped classroom,” 2012). This only works if the students actually write down the questions. There is also the distraction variable: will students be committed to watching (and paying attention) to the lecture while at home? The lecture video will be competing with even more distractions at home than in the classroom.

The examples of flipped classrooms mostly had to do with math/science classrooms, so I am unsure as to how this would work in an English classroom. On the one hand, having classtime to read novels might actually ensure that students do the reading, whereas they might blow it off at home. On the other hand, there’s really no reason for the teacher to be present while students are reading (unless they are ELL students, or students who need extra help with reading). Would this be a waste of class time? Discussions are so important to an English classroom, and while some of this can be done in online forums, there is no substitute for the ability to express oneself in a face-to-face situation.

Despite my reservations, the statistics do not lie. The Flipped Classroom Infographic states that before the flip 50% of freshmen students failed English, and after the flip only 19% of freshmen failed English (“The flipped classroom”, 2012). This means something about this method must be working, right? I think I might use aspects of the Flipped classroom, maybe for certain lessons, but I’m still skeptical about fully converting my classroom into a flipped one.

 

Works Cited:

The flipped classroom infographic. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.knewton.com/flipped-classroom/

Professional Learning Network

30 Sep

Having had some previous experience with a personal Twitter, I was interested to see how it could be used in the classroom. I especially liked the links Dr. Coffman gave us to the Twitter pages specialized to our content area. I was not aware that those existed, and they would be great resources for the students. Solomon and Schrum say, “…for pupils, there will be familiarity with a style of interacting and inquiry that arises from browsing within these spaces, even when the young learner has not been an active producer” (Solomon & Schrum, 2010, p. 85). I think students will really respond to learning from an application they use everyday.

I also previously had set up a Linkedin for personal use, although after connecting with a few classmates, I never did anything else with it. I didn’t know about the groups on Linkedin, so I’m excited to try those out and figure out what information I can glean from them.

I do find that having all these resources is a little overwhelming. It seems like some of them overlap their uses. I know the point of this class is to get exposed to as many resources as possible and to be able to weed through and pick out the ones we find most useful. I just feel myself getting bogged down right now, trying to remember which site provides me with which information.

Animoto looks much simpler than Scratch, which I had a really hard time with. I liked the idea that this could be almost like a teaser-trailer for the lesson. Not the main event, but something to get the kids interested and invested. I’m excited to get started with this software and potentially use it in my classroom one day!

Resources:

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2010). Web 2.0: how-to for educators. (1st ed.). Eugene, Oregon: International Society for Technology in Education

 

Computer Programming with Scratch

23 Sep

In seventh grade I was taught the Hamburger method to writing essays. The idea is that the buns represent your intro and conclusion paragraphs, while the meat, lettuce and tomato represent your three main idea paragraphs. I think I liked this method because it was visual and as a 13 year old, I could easily see how it related to the paper I was writing. Because of the visual nature of this lesson, I decided to use it as my first foray into the world of Scratch.

This was difficult for me, I’ll admit. I’m both immensely proud of the final product (because, I did it) but at the same time embarrassed because it is nothing beyond crude. Part of my problem is that I’m impatient, and I would rather play around with the program than watch the tutorials (which I would NOT advise to my students!)

Watching other finished Scratches made me want to become better at this technology, but now I find myself a bit frustrated at my lack of competency. I see why students would find this technology engaging to watch, and it makes me wish I had taken more programming courses before now.

I think this is a great tool to use for students who are visual learners, and a way to incorporate their interests and a little fun into the lesson plan. It seems (and maybe this is because I am a new user) that the length of time it takes to create a Scratch may outweigh the eventual classroom benefits. Playing around with this software made me think of how much more I prefer prezi and even bubbl, which I feel are more user-friendly and make more sense (to me, at least).

Entering the Blogosphere

23 Sep

My five blog searches for the day (via Technorati):

1. Literary Movie Adaptations

As a future English teacher, the topic of made-into-movie books fascinates me. This didn’t yield quite the results I was looking for, so I changed to “Literary film adaptations” with a bit more luck. This led me to this gem of a website, http://www.flavorwire.com/, which can fuel my compulsory need to keep up with pop culture.

2. English Education

Next I searched for English Education, coming up with this interesting site, http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog, a bit long-winded, but very cool if you’re interested in the origin of many words common today.

A specifically interesting post from this website was entitled “Lettering in Sports” and discussed the origin of the verb usage of the word “letter” (i.e. he lettered in football). The post dated the first known usage back to 1922 (http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2012/08/lettering-in-sports.html). Also notable is the post discussing whether or not “they” should be used as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun (http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2009/07/on-language-all-purpose-pronoun.html). I sent in a comment voicing my opinion that we should not, in fact, use “they” as a singular pronoun, even if Merriam-Webster has amended the rule on the word.

3. High School English Teachers

I am endlessly excited to get advice from current teachers, there is just so much to learn! This blog has some great pieces of advice for English teachers and I will definitely be looking to it in the coming months. http://msblovesbooks.blogspot.com/

4. Broadway

I’m always interested with what is going on in the world of theatre, and I was excited when this blog popped up in my search, http://dctheatrescene.com/, this would be a great site to use to keep up with current productions going on in the dc area- for my own personal interest but also for incorporating into lessons later down the road. Field trip to see “Macbeth”? Writing reviews on “Death of a Salesman”?

 

5. Books to Film

Still not quite satisfied with the results of my first search, I tried again. This time I came up with this website, http://www.basedonthebook.com/, which was more along the lines of what I was looking for. The site lists movies based on books, and also gives the genre, reviews, and plot summaries. I think it’s fascinating to compare movies to their literary counterparts and a site like this could definitely be used in the classroom to help students make those connections.

I love technorati, I think I could spend hours on here looking up blogs to fit my lifestyle and my educational preferences.

References:

http://www.basedonthebook.com/

http://dctheatrescene.com

http://www.flavorwire.com/

http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog

http://msblovesbooks.blogspot.com/

Copyright and the Classroom

16 Sep

Here is my “amusing” cat, which I found on http://www.public-domain-image.com/, by clicking on the “animals” category and then “cats and kittens.” According to the website, all the pictures have been placed in the public domain, so they can be used for either personal or commercial use.

Copyright for online information has become just as important as citing books and “hard” copies of material in this digital age. As teachers, we must teach by example, so it is important for us to know how to properly cite and give credit to the sources from which we get our information. Soloman and Schum assert that in the future “….we see…the integration of tools for greater transparency and ease of use…anytime learning and more equitable access” (Soloman & Schum, 2010, p. 14). The illegal use of information on the internet is common and easy now, but if the future is heading towards a more “transparent” world- with information even easier accessed than today, without a population well skilled in the rights and ideas behind copyright, intellectual property faces a dangerous future.

Students should understand why and how intellectual property is protected- and that the same protection could one day help them as well. Just as it is important to share this information with students, it is important to practice this as well. I’ve frequently used pictures off of the internet in my powerpoints without a second thought, but it’s good to have these other websites as resources geared towards the fair use of pictures. Chances are, students may not know about these websites either, but may be more likely to use them once they do- knowledge is power.

Resources:

Cat picture retrieved from:
<a href=”http://www.public-domain-image.com/fauna-animals-public-domain-images-pictures/cats-and-kittens-public-domain-images-pictures/cat-in-a-tube.jpg.html” title=”Cat in a tube”>Cat in a tube</a> on <a href=”http://www.public-domain-image.com” title=”Public Domain Images”>Public Domain Images</a>

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2012). Web 2.0 how to for educators. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Content v. 21st Century Skills

09 Sep

I most strongly agree with the 21st Century Pedagogy and 21st Century Skills sites. My personal philosophy combines both ideas from Progressivism and Perennialism. As a (future) English teacher, I believe there are great works of literature that hold lasting lessons for students, but I also believe that there is no way to create a list of all the great works of literature in the world- the Canon is never fully complete. A piece of literature is not less valuable because it has been published in the 21st century instead of the 18th. I also agree with one of the main ideas of the 21st Century Pedagogy site, that, “How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into…” (Churches, 2012). What good is education if it doesn’t prepare students for the world they must inhabit?

I agree with Ken Kay, the proponent for 21st Century Skills when he says, “…our kids need world class skills and world class content” (Toppo, 2009). While I understand the argument put forth by Hirsch, I don’t fully believe that teaching students 21st Century Skills is an “ineffectual use of school time” (Toppo, 2009). Sure, there are ways to improve the effectuality of teaching these skills, but this doesn’t mean we should throw out this part of education altogether. Preparing to teach English, I certainly am in favor of content- but I’m also in favor of students being able to apply that content creatively, to synthesize and to explore- this is my idea of effective education.

The Core Knowledge website also suggests that when teachers follow their specific curriculum, “instead of spending hours trying to identify and plan what to teach, they are freed to think more creatively about how to teach” (“Teachers”, 2012). I think this would give America homogenous citizens, not the creative thinking, problem-solving, globally-aware members we desire. Why should the freedom of what to teach be taken away from  teachers? The Core Knowledge program goes even one step further than the SOLs, micromanaging content. Maybe teachers would be inspired to become creative with their lesson plans simply because they have nothing left to do, but I would prefer to believe that teachers would be more inspired to be creative with lesson plans about content that they have chosen and believe is important.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills defines the 4 C’s as “communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity” (“Above and beyond:,” 2011). The same four benefits (and then some) are listed in Chapter 1 of “Web 2.0” in conjunction with blogging. Technology seems to be a great way to foster this independent, problem-solving education presented by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. These same values are found in “Inquiry-based learning”. Coffman asserts that, “When educators talk about twenty-first century skills and preparing students for the world outside of a school’s traditional four walls, the emphasis is on developing creative thinkers and self-directed risk takers who are able to ask thoughtful questions” (Coffman, 2009). These are the very students that could not be created simply through content-based learning, as suggested by Hirsch and proponents of the Core Knowledge Curriculum. Education is something bigger than the summary of facts, and an important part of these other skills can be found through technology and technological literacy.

 

Resources:

Above and beyond: the story of the 4 c’s. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/tools-and-resources/abovebeyond4cs

Churches, A. (2012). 21st Century Pedagogy. Retrieved from http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/21st Century Pedagogy

Coffman, T. (2009). Engaging students through inquiry-oriented learning and technology. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2012). Web 2.0 how to for educators. Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.

Teachers. (2012). Retrieved from http://coreknowledge.org/teachers

Toppo, G. (2009, March 05). What to learn. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-03-04-core-knowledge_N.htm

 

 

 

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