Monday, March 19, 2012

Tool 11

What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.
We've all heard, "Oh, there are some great apps for teaching"; however, they are especially hard to find for the upper-level, advanced-placement English work that we do!  Yet, I am particularly impressed with GoogleDocs.  While not revolutionary (some of you more experienced techies are rolling your eyes, thinking "How 2.0!"), it does seem to have the most immediate practical application for classroom use. 

2. How have you transformed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom? How has your vision for your classroom changed? Are you going to need to make any changes to your classroom to accommodate the 21st Century learner?
I've always considered myself a fairly progressive teacher, but the 11 tools initiative challenges that perception.  I'm afraid that the biggest change I need to make is within myself, being more open to the possibilities of technology applications. 

3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Maybe this is irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but I was surprised by my students' response to the ipads in the classroom.  I thought they would be all gung-ho about them, but their collective disdain for the cost of the ipads and safes in which to store them really shocked me.  One young man quipped that he would rather have bathroom doors than ipads.  I tried to explain that the money comes from different sources, etc, but I'm afraid I ended up sounding like an aging beaurocrat defending a dying institutuion.  I always thought that kids would do anything if it involved a computer, but it seems like comfort and security win every time!

Tool 10

Discuss at least three things you would want to make sure your students understand about being good digital citizens.
1.   I want my students to be aware of the dangers of the internet -- not just lurkers, pedophiles, and bullies -- but the dangers of misinformation. 
2.  I want my students to understand that the internet is not a true/false proposition.  They can't just trust some piece of information because they found it in cyberspace.  As quoted from the "Cool Cat Teacher" blog:  Stephen Downes says, "Indeed, a person who reads a website and concludes that it's true, no matter what it says, is dangerously illiterate."
3.  I want my students to appreciate that illiteracy (or having just enough knowledge to be dangerous), is no better than having no knowledge at all. 
2. Share at least one of the resources mentioned above or on the Ed Tech website that you plan to use instructionally.
Though I can't get it to copy/paste into this blog post, I would present CoolCat Teacher's matrix of digital citizenship to my students, disussing the different aspects and areas.  Cetainly, personal safety would be a starting place; however, I want my students to understand the other important aspects (literacy, ettiquette, learning strategies) of the topic.
3.  To combat those ills, I plan on following the advice of David Warlick, who wrote: "Instead of starting with a web page, displayed on the whiteboard, they [teachers] should start with Google, demonstrate how they found the page, the considerations and decisions they applied to select that page, and include in the presentation, the evidence that what's being presented is valuable...When we model authority, we shouldn't be surprised when students look for authority in every piece of information."  For one of the Library2play initiatives, I made a video detailing how to search for and examine credible sources.  I'll try to post a link to it...


4. Explain briefly how you plan to share the idea of digital citizenship with your parents. That's a good question!  I think that parents, like their children, hae been lulled into thiking that the greatest dangers of the internet involve people who would compromise the safety of their children; however, I can't think of a greater danger than allowing someone or something unlimited access to my child's impressionable mind. 
Remember the Alan November presentation when he taught us how to back check the owner of a website?  Something like  We were all shocked to see a Martin Luther King website operated by a facist hate group that could potentially color our children's perceptions of a man and his legacy!  I think that parents would be suprpised by the responsibilities of the internet beyond the basic safety issues!  Yeah, they've heard of, but there are greater dangers than urban myths lurking out in cyberspace!

Tool 9

Why do you think it is important to tie the technology to the objective?
Okay, this is a question that I struggle with!  I don't question it to be militant -- I'm not "mad" like some of my peers--,and I'm not some Luddite who shuns technology, but why do we need to tie technology to our educational objectives?  The dinosaur inside of me aks, "Didn't we teach for hundred of years without the benefit of (insert your favorite Idevice here)?"; however, the more contemporary part of my brain recognizes that technology is not just a fad that will pass, that our world becomes more integrated and interconnected each and every day, and that advancement has a place in my classroom.  I guess that my frustration (perhaps better said, fear), is that I don't know enough about said technological advances to purposefully and appropriately utilize them in my classroom! 

Tool 8

After watching the videos/tutorials, list two to three things you learned about the device(s) that will be in your classroom this fall.
From watching the videos, I learned about the basics of setting up an Itunes account for district use, etc., but more importantly, I learned about multitasking, about creating shortcuts, keyboard layouts, shortcuts, having airplay enabled, and about the "find my ipad" feature.   I would like to add though, as a nod to our technology department, that the Ipad training was much better - much more informative-- than watching the videos.  The videos are expedient, but I still like to be taught by a human. 

How do you plan to manage the device(s) in your classroom? Do you have ideas/suggestions that others may find useful?
As far as managing the devices, I'd like to talk to some folks who are currently using the ipads in their classrooms.  The experience of others is invaluable, I think.  Along those same lines, I am reminded of the very wise words of one of MHS's former teachers, who encouraged me to give students the freedom to choose, to participate in decision making, etc.  Maybe the class could establish guidelines for fair and acceptable use? 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tool #7

Although he doesn't know it yet, the author/blogger over at "Pirates can Happen to Anyone" and I are going to collaborate on a project involving our study of Frankenstein. Normally, we have the kids find pieces of criticism from the library's website and bring them to class for a Socratic discussion; however, I thought it would be interesting to have the kids try this through a collaborative online forum. Will it work? is it practical, feasible, or an appropriate substitute for the original assignment? Who knows...
  1. About the details of the project:
    1. Goal: Using a Google Documents form posted on the teacher's website, students will analyze and compare critical responses to Frankenstein.
    2. Possible implementation date - Week of January 30.
    3. Tools/Supplies needed - Access to databases through Library Resources page, selected criticism, access to teachers' websites through MHS Homepage, Google form posted therein.
    4. Brief description of the project:  
    • Students will use the databases available on the Library Resources page to research and select a piece of criticism related to the novel studied.
    • Students will read, analyze, and evaluate the argument presented and its overall effectiveness.
    • Once the previous item is completed, students will post their responses on the Google form available on their teacher's website.
    • Although I've not figured out how, the next step will be to post the responses so that students can use it as a way of finding other selections that match their needs and interests, compare different perspectives, etc.
  2. Any thoughts from my fellow bloggers on how to proceed?  What ideas did you all come up with?

Tool # 6 - Wallwisher and TodaysMeet

Both of these tools are really cool, and I could definitely see real-life (if the classroom is real-life -- you may take issue with that notion...) application for both. I used both Wallwisher and Todaysmeet to create opportunities for kids to participate, one even in real time. 

Wallwisher provides an opportunity for kids to share and comment on each other's ideas.  For example, I made a wall dedicated to the developing subplots in A Tale of Two Cities - - there are so many!  My thought is that kids could go online and keep track of the different story strands and comment on their peer's observations.  The sample,  both in URL and screenshot, is included below.  This is a super easy tool to use, and one that I would highly suggest for those who are intimidated by the sound of this assignment.   

The second, Todaysmeet provides a neat opportunity for kids to interact with their instructor while a lesson is ongoing.  I think of my quiet students -- those who are reticent to either ask questions or make comments.  Wouldn't it be awesome for them to have a platform for participation?  And I think the kids would love the opportunity to text in class!  (Okay, yeah, that could be a problem, but don't we have to encourage kids to use technology responsibly?  And don't we have to figure out how to manage the possibilities?)  Anyway, what I haven't figured out yet is how I could use the platform in conjunction with my activboard.  I'll have to do a trial run.  All in all, this is a tool for the adventurous, but an adventure that might be well considered! 

As far as learning from my PLN, I hope that my peers will find some time to complete the activities and post about them:  I'd really like to see what people in my own content area create.  I was very impressed with the one completed model that I have seen thus far, and I look forward to seeing what others will build. 

Todaysmeet and The World is too Much with Us

Tool 5

For this assignment, I used Wordle and the Hockneyizer feature from Big Huge Labs. I did try to use something new, as both were familiar to me; however, the creative juices just weren't flowing and I retreated to something known. More importantly, I think they are both tools that have credible application in the classroom and could go beyond a "cute idea."  

For the Wordle, I took a chunk of text from A Tale of Two Cities and by mixing it with the Wordle tools, I was able to see which words gained emphasis. Stone, for example, is repeated throughout the text, and the software picked up on and emphasized its prominence, something kids might miss in their casual reading. I also like how you can change the font and color to capture the tone of the scene. Something more lighthearted would have called for a different font and style; however, given the dark nature of this passage, the blockish black and white text seemed most appropriate. 

I had to think a bit about the Big Huge Lab features: although they instantly fed my creativity, I wasn't sure how I would actually use it in the classroom beyond the dreaded "cute" factor. I finally decided that the kids should do something that accurately depicts the author, something that moves him/her out of the one-dimensional textbook depiction and into something more indicative of his/her writing style. Because Dickens is humorous (even though my students often miss the humor), I chose the caricature as my starting place, and then used the Hockneyizer to add different colors and attitudes to represent his wide range of styles and personalities. 

What do you think: Is this stretching the boundaries too far?