Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tool #11 - Self Assessing and Reflecting

I've always viewed technology as a tool. a means to an end, and I consider myself well-versed in technology as I use it extensively both in and out of the classroom.  In addition, I have completed a couple of other online summer courses offered by SBISD,  so I must admit there wasn't really anything in the Eleven Tools program that surprised me.  It was, however, a practical, timely and effective review of alternatives and possibilities available through technology.

My favorite tools are always the graphic image manipulation and video/slideshow sites (see Tools 3 and 5) because they lend themselves to such creativity and endless possibilities. I'm going to use the Trading Card Maker on Big Huge Labs for a Theatre project in which students will research playwrights and create trading cards with facts they learned in their research.

All in all, my classroom is already largely adapted for the 21st Century learner and the additional technology devices we are scheduled to receive.  The broadcast studio will serve nicely for additional stations for the new devices as will the counter running the length of the north wall in the room. I am looking forward to implementing new projects and my pre-existing altered projects that will be made possible with the additional technology.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Tool #10 - Underneath it All - Digital Citizenship

Technology is so prevalent and so commonplace today that most students take it for granted as a part of their daily lives. Still, it is important for students to understand proper online etiquette and safety precautions both at home and at school. Three of the most important things students should understand about being good digital citizens are:

  1. Make wise decisions to stay safe, like not sharing personal information and visiting only appropriate sites. Also if a site makes you feel uncomfortable or if you feel a site is inappropriate in any way, stay away from it.
  2. Always post only appropriate comments and respect others on the Internet. Cyber-bullying is real and hurtful; there are consequences for cyber-bullies, and victims should report it.
  3. Remember that once you post something, it's permanent. Be wise and cautious about your posts and comments, because you may think you've deleted something, but it's still out there floating around in Cyberspace.
One of the best resources I found on the SBISD Ed Tech site was a link to a site called Digital Citizenship. This site has some useful "contracts" for both students and parents that outline precautions, guidelines, and expectations for student use of technology in the classroom.  These would be useful as part my syllabus packet that I send home with students at the beginning of each semester.  With students, I would "teach" the idea of digital citizenship by using the Child Pledge for Digital Citizenship I found on the Digital Citizenship site, and to share this idea with parents I would use the Parent Pledge for Digital Citizenship found on the same site. Having both parents and students sign "contracts" would emphasize the importance of digital citizenship, and later on the contracts could be used as reminders should some students stray from the contracts' explicit expectations.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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

The first two questions in this tool seem rather obvious to me; they drew from me a kind of "duh" response. Don't all good teachers plan lessons according to objectives? Shouldn't all good teachers hold students accountable for their assignments? Of course the technology used in a lesson should be tied to the lesson's objective(s) so that the class period isn't just play time. In fact technology shouldn't be used just because it's technology, but because it benefits the lesson's objective(s). In the same vein, absolutely students should be held accountable for the assignments using technology. Otherwise, at least in middle school, the lessons won't be taken seriously.

I visited several of the links offered in this tool, and sadly discovered that very few of the sites were applicable to my courses. After extensive searching, I finally found an interactive "game" on Thinkfinity called "Fractured Fairy Tales" that lends itself well to a unit I often use in my Theatre classes. In the past, we have read fractured fairy tales, and even watched a few on DVD from the old animated television show, before creating our own fractured fairy tale scripts to be played out in short scenes. Using Thinkfinity's interactive "Fractured Fairy Tales" would offer students a useful guide for writing their scripts.

Also in the SBISD Interactive Database, I found "Animation Creator Lite" which creates comics. Communication Applications students would have fun using this to create graphics to enhance their presentations. As I mentioned before, Animoto would also be useful in student presentations.

Finally, I found in the SBISD Interactive Database some fun apps. for iPod Touches and iPads that apply to my courses . Sometimes in Theatre I teach a unit using "Mad Libs." Using the "Mad Libs" app. would really streamline this unit. In addition, the "Idea Sketch" app., could be a useful tool for students in Comm. Apps. when planning speeches. We finally could begin moving away from paper outlines and plans.

Like I've mentioned before, I'm very excited about getting these new devices. I've always wanted to create a unit in which students create a "soundtrack" for an original skit or movie. Perhaps when I get the iPod Touch and iPad, I will load suitable music on them using iTunes and allow students to use this music for their soundtracks. I'm sure once I have the devices to play with, I'll think of countless uses applicable to my courses.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tool #8: Taking a Look at the Tools

I can't wait to get the iPod Touch and iPad!!!  So much potential for new opportunities and FUN!

Three things I learned:
  1. How to connect WiFi
  2. How to manipulate touch screens
  3. How to obtain apps
One concern:  I have an extensive iTunes library on my school laptop, but it's under my Yahoo email account.  What is the easiest way to transfer that library when I open an account under my school email account?  I would love feedback on this.....

At first anyway, I'll keep tight controls on my new devices and will probably check them out myself.  After we all (students and me) get used to having and using the devices, I'll probably put my "Assistant Director" in charge of managing and distributing the devices.

Tool #7: Reaching Outside your Classroom: Online Digital Projects

First, as a side note, using animated avatar versions of real people who have developed global learning techniques to discuss their project with other potential project developers (as was done in the video provided in this tool) is NOT a step forward.  It is silly.  With the advances in technology available to us today, a collaborative video presentation of the two ladies discussing their experiences would have been much more interesting and useful. .....Just sayin' (as our students say).

My first attempt at "digitally reaching outside my classroom" will cover Greek Theatre History:
  1. Objective:  The students will explore and analyze various aspects of Ancient Greek Theatre.
  2. Implementation:  Fall 2012
  3. Tools: First, both my 1st and 7th period Theatre class will collaborate on this project using Google Docs and in-class project materials.  We will use digital photography and videos to record project results, then we'll post video slideshows and videos to You Tube to share with other classrooms, and Poll Everywhere to determine student's prior knowledge.
  4. Project Description:   Each class will divide into four groups and will each be assigned four different topics:  Greek plays and playwrights, Greek Theatre of Dionysus (on of the first known amphitheaters), Greek masks, and Greek mythology depicted through drama.  Each group will collaborative research and record their findings on their topics, and will then collaboratively develop physical products to illustrate their topics: perform an excerpt from "Antigone," produce a physical labeled model of Theatre of Dionysus, construct a Greek mask, and write and perform a skit using a mythological-like story to explain the physical world (how did the scorpion get its sting?). Each product will be recorded through photography/video and posted to You Tube.  
  5. Networking Opportunity:  We will share our project results via You Tube with 6th grade classes (English and Social Studies) when they study Greek mythology and history.  We could first use Poll Everywhere to determine the 6th graders knowledge of Ancient Greek Theatre, and then we can have a joint discussion afterward using Skype.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tool #6: Using Web Tools to Promote Discussion in and out of the Classroom

I am familiar with several of the web tools listed.  Here's my take on a few of them:

My kids have been using Skype for awhile to stay in touch with some of their international friends, so this one isn't very new to me. My favorite ideas for application in the classroom are: guest lecturers, visits with museum curators, and sharing class productions. There are of course many more applications depending on the subject taught.

I have a Twitter account, and I am unimpressed with it, especially as a tool to use with students.  I think a securely protected Face Book page would be much more effective for teacher/student and student/student interaction.  Probably even more effective than Face Book, would be Blogger.  Teachers and students could have a secure and fee discussion exchange with a teacher directed blog - IF all students have access to the technology.

Finally, there is Google Docs.  I've mentioned my dislike for Google Docs before, but it the interest of completing this assignment, I decided to use it.  Now I can confidently say, "I HATE Google Docs!"  The re-formatting drove me crazy, and Google Images has such poor clip art, that my document is left dull and and unimaginative.  The document below is designed to be used in my Group Communication unit.  After several days of studying and experiencing group dynamics, the class breaks into four or five groups, and each group is assigned a school issue to become experts on and to present in a panel discussion format. The group plans a persuasive speech and selects one person in the group to make the presentation.  The entire group works together to coach the selected speaker. After each presentation, the discussion is open to the entire class for questions to the "experts."  By using the document below, students within each group could work collaboratively from home to complete the best speech plan possible.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tool #5: Producing with Web 2.0 Tools

Now, we're talking. This is the kind of techy thing I LOVE! You can probably tell I had a difficult time stopping!  So much fun! This kind of thing is right up my alley. I tried a bunch of them (and spent way too much time playing ), and some of my favorites were Comic Strip Generator, Dumpr, and Wordle. Text to Picture also offers endless possibilities as does Big Huge Labs, which I love.  I'm thinking of using some of these graphic image sites to do a theatre project on publicity posters, etc. I've used Wordl for posters in my classroom, and I've even made rather evil word banks for students to use on vocabulary tests. WordSift is more left-brainish, so not as appealing to me, however I can see students making use of the suggested links.
"Because I said so!"

Glogster is a fun site, and students love photo manipulation, so this is a very useful alternative to traditional posters. Yes, students need to be a bit more organized to turn in their posters online, but most students are capable of using this technology. Some students may still prefer to use printed projects from Glogster on traditional poster board to create a kind of collage effect which can be very cool. 

Animoto is cool, but it reminds me of Windows Movie Maker but with fewer options. Windows Movie Maker allows you to create videos of any length with more ways to manipulate pictures and music. Animoto could be a nice alternative to Power Points for student presentations. Another cool presentation tool for students is Prezi.  I've seen my own kids use this for school projects, and it's a perfect fit for Social Studies and English classes, maybe even for Science presentations.  Check out my Animoto movie at the bottom of this post. I could spend all day doing this kind of thing.

"Rocky Mountain High"

Tool #4: Moving Up to the Clouds

I've tried using Google Docs before,  I just played with it some more, and I've got to say, I'm not a fan.  I don't like the formatting; I don't like the way documents are re-formatted (or un-formatted as the case may be) when I try pasting an original document into Google Docs, and I don't like that clip art and pictures do not copy to Google Docs.  How can I make my documents cute with out clip art? All in all, I'd say Google Docs isn't worth the time unless a whole group of people is working on the document to be created. In addition, as a one-person department, I didn't find the form creator in Google Docs particularly useful.  I prefer personal emails to parents when it's necessary to discuss students' progress, or lack there of.

I do like the calendar app. in Google Docs.  If I didn't already have a teacher web page with a calendar to keep up with, I might use the Google calendar to help students keep up with projects and due dates, etc.

Finally, I'm not particularly excited about using Google Apps with my students, mainly because not all of my students have access to the technology necessary to utilize Google Docs, etc. outside of school. In a perfect world where all students have personal laptops and iPads, students could collaborate on documents via Google Docs, and could use teacher-made templates to work on assignments at home.  Until we achieve that utopia, however, implementing technology via Google Docs, will be spotty at best.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tool #3: Finding Online Video and Image Resources

I could spend hours exploring YouTube, and it lends itself to the performance/presentation classes I teach.  Teacher Tube, however, probably has more truly educational applications. Also, as a performance teacher, I'm well acquainted with copyright and fair use. I wanted to embed a project I put together for September 11th this year, but while I was comfortable using it in the classroom, I wasn't comfortable with the idea of putting it on the Internet since I don't legally have rights to all of the photos and music I used. Here are two videos I found on You Tube that would be useful to show my students.

Pilobolus Dance Company - Example of Group Movement/Mime

 Example of a BAD Presentation - This REALLY Happens!

I tried to access Picasa Web Albums several times, but repeatedly got an error message, so I uploaded some of my daughter's photos.  She uses Picasa for photo storage and often edits her photos on Picasa.  Some of her photos are also Common Use.  I was sad, though, that I didn't get to try out the remix filter.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tool #2: Building Community in the Online Environment

I've used RSS to follow blogs for a few years now, so there wasn't much new to me in this tool.  I visited several colleagues sites, and I even commented on one. Frankly, I'm not particularly fascinated by educational sites.  I'd rather banter with friends on FB.  (LOL)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tool #1: Getting Started - Creating your blog!

11 Tools, huh?  Are we sure we won't need 12 Steps to get over the addictions begun in this program?  Setting up the blog and creating the Avatar was easy and fun, but one could certainly spend hours tweaking the creative process. Now on to acquiring tools!