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?

Tool 4

1.   I created a traditional paper/pen pop quiz for Chapter 9 of A Tale of Two Cities  and sent it to my teammates.  A screen shot of that document is included below.  I've not heard any responses, but I know that it took me a day or two to respond to the request I received, so... 

The traditional quiz is something that they could use, modify, or delete if they chose, but (answer to question #3, for those of you counting) on a larger scale I can see Google Docs as a good way to collaborate on the creation of documents, especially tests.  We get so many copies of documents flying around e-mail that we sometimes lose track of the most current incarnation. 

2. I created a five question online quiz using the form on Google Docs and sent it to the same teammates.  I hope they do not hate me for it!  I'm anxious to see how the results are returned -- that would most directly influence my decision of whether or not I would use it in class.  I tried to include a screenshot of the quiz, too; however, I can only call up the spreadsheet version into which the answers would be saved. Has anyone else had this problem?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tool #3

For your Tool #3 Assignment:
  1. I have used both Discovery Education and U tube before, and though U tube requires a good deal more of searching, editing, etc. to make clips suitable for classroom use, I find that it is much faster and easier to tailor to my needs than Discovery Education and the other "for education" sites.  My sister teaches 5th grade science and is always raving about videos and clips she downloaded and used; however, the videos I find seem a little corny and juvenile for use with high school students.  I wonder if anyone else has faced similar difficulties?
  2. I did find two and post two videos from Discovery Education that provide background information on Frankenstein.  I was impressed by the mature and sophisticated nature of the videos, and I think the kids will like the interview from director Robert Zemeckis, a name they will know doubt recognize. 
  3. Although the Fair Use video was really corny and reminded me of the School House Rock cartoons that used to play on Saturday mornings - "I'm just a bill, sitting on Capitol Hill..." - I really did learn something from it!  And, though, I might debate the word "Transformativeness," it did capture the idea and provide a foundation for the subtopics of adding value and repurposing material, topics key to understanding fair use and copyright discussions.  
  4.   I did not play around with Dropbox, but instead stuck with the more familiar Picasa images.  There are tons of images available, perhaps even too many.  I think I would be more inclined to use Google images than Picasa, honestly.   

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Tool 2 -

Since I am not officially added to the blogroll yet, I had to do a bit of searching to find my fellow bloggers, but find them I did.  I made a few comments - mainly encouragement at this early stage, but it seems that is what some people need!  There is a lot of cyberangst out there! Encouragement is easy, but I look forward to leaving more pointed comments once the bloggers get further into the program.  I've made further comments about commenting below, but following Renae's advice, I have edited this post to answer the questions more directly. 

As for as social networking, I belong to Facebook; however, I don't use that professionally.  I know that some teachers do, but I'm just not sure that I want to enter thosee waters.  I kind of like my boundaries...  As far as following goes, I did add a digg reader on my blog to keep me up to breast with current events, and I think that is kind of fun. 

My first post, the one that doesn't specifically answer each prescribed question, is below:

Only 1 out of 100 people will comment on my blog?  Really?  Only 1 %?  As we teachers know, there is nothing more dispiriting than an apathetic (or nonexistent) audience, and since I have no shame, I'll  follow the advice shared by Darren Rowse in his article,  "10 Ways to Increase Comment Numbers on Your Blog."

1. Invite Comments – Please comment!  I invite you to!  Tell me what you found interesting, intriguing, compelling, irrational, whatever!
2. Ask Questions – What would you like to know more about?  Do you really want me to directly address the questions posed by Administration, or is there something more you would like to read?
3. Be Open Ended - Tell me your opinions - mine are not the only ones that count, and more than likely they will be obvious.
4. Interact with comments left - I love to talk, so I will respond, I promise!
5. Set Boundaries - I'm not sure about boundaries yet.  I've never had a blogger leave anything more inappropriate than an advertisement for Viagra, so we'll have to wait on that issue.
6. Be humble – I am human, so be nice.
7. Be gracious – I'll be nice in return
8. Be controversial? - Yes!  There is nothing I love more than a good old-fashioned debate
9. ‘Reward’ Comments – Sorry - I don't even use this feature on progress reports and report cards!
10. Make it Easy to Comment - I'm going to try to turn off the verification feature of my blog, and I hope others will do so as well.  It will make it easier for all...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Welcome to Wordwork, my blog for the 11 Tools initiative. Setting up the blog, creating the voki, and creating the avatar all came easily -- all were requirements of the Library2Play programs that I completed over the last three summers, so I had some past experience with them. I did have to noodle around with the settings, reminding myself how to insert code, etc., but it only took a moment. Now I just need to e-mail Renae with my name and url, and I will be ready for step (tool?) number 2.

I understand that the second assignment has to do with establishing a community, something I will appreciate. One of the drawbacks of the L2P program was a lack of followers and commenters -- if my sister hadn't been participating, cybespace could have been a lonely place!

Anyway, onward...