Friday, August 7, 2009

Thing #11.5: Evaluation or What am I going to do next summer?

1. What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey? I liked Jing. I will make use of that if I'm ever back in the SS world. It will be nice to be able to spend less time showing how to get somewhere or do something on the computer. Of course, I'll quickly find out how well I give directions and who can follow directions. I also liked the iTouch. If I could keep my use of it to...maybe...75% professional/25% recreational, I'll think about it. 

2. How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals? I have found that the immediacy of technology spoils me. I used to enjoy getting lost, but now I can't help but know where I am all the time thanks to my phone, or how far I ran with my Garmin, or being entertained constantly with my MP3. However, it is amazing how information can be accessed so easily. It's nice to be out there armed with everything we've learned the last two summers. I hope I'll be the person I want to be and turn it all off and go back to being out there with just he wife and kids. I'd like to enjoy not knowing what day it is again, but it's also fun to see who's being traded in the English Premier League while I sit at a campsite with WiFi.

3. Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you? I still use my RSS feeds and podcasts from last year. 

4. What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept? Maybe options can be put in for different disciplines. A science 23 things, or a LA version. 

Thing #11: Digital Citizenship

I love to use the internet in my lessons and in my discussions I have with my classes. Because of the spontaneity of the moment, I have to constantly watch out for inappropriate material that comes across while we are looking for whatever it is we are looking for. I try to think out loud as I look for things, and I always spout the personal responsibility I must exercise while I use the internet with them. Whenever I say, "Nope, not appropriate," there's always that one kid who says something like, "I can do whatever I want," or "My parents don't care." I'm sure their parents do care, but unfortunately like many other issues in the world, it falls to the teachers to have to create the foundation of responsible decision making. 
One lesson, and as far as I'm concerned it is the best lesson I have ever learned or taught, is the Registers of Language. Only we would use the Registers to discuss and guide our internet activity. If you're not familiar with the registers, here's a quick rundown:
There are 5 Registers of spoken english language. Some languages, like Chinese have six. 
Frozen (Language that never changes like prayers, pledges, etc." 
Formal (Language used to inform, one speaker everyone else listens)
Consultative (Exchanges of information between two people)
Casual (Language used between friends, insider language)
Intimate (language between lovers)
Everything that comes out of our mouths, from prayers to profanity, fits in a register. The gist of the lesson is to teach the kids that they need to appropriate register for the given situation. 
When using language for whatever reason, a person can go up or down 1 register without offending someone. If that person skips a register, they've committed a social and sometimes serious faux pas. 
These same registers can be used to determine appropriate use of the internet. Like school, their use should be formal or consultative. If they use it for casual reasons, that wouldn't be so bad, but not appropriate. However, if they sunk to the intimate register, they're in trouble. 
It's amazing how quickly students pick up on these registers, and I think it would work for computer use as well. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thing #10: Virtual Worlds

After wondering around the SL universe, aimlessly at that, I can't say that I would be willing to use it in the classroom. There's too much temptation to go look at other stuff. I could be the good virtual parent and take the kids right to the spot we were there to see, but I don't see the advantages to going through SL. I'm sure anything we can see on SL we can see somewhere else on the internet. Also, there's no guarantee that the internet will be working up to speed when I would want to do it. As a former gamer, I wasn't too impressed with what I could do. It reminded me of GTA (Grand Theft Auto: a somewhat misunderstood/poorly marketed game that gets a bad rap). If it was more interactive, and maybe it is, I just didn't want to waste any more time than I already did, it would be, to me, at the most, entertaining. 

Thing #9: Slideshare

If students have access to highspeed internet, Slideshare would be a great thing to turn them on to. Getting a chance to see well produced slideshows or the the slideshow that was used in class would help with retention and enrichment. This is great stuff for those who are afraid of technology or not web savvy. Someone else has done the leg work. Also it would be great to allow others to add their expertise to my shows. Being a yearbook adviser for a while I learned that everyone borrows from everyone else. Sites like this just make it easier. 

Thing #8: Screencasts

I've always wondered how these websites did these how-to's and now I know. This was simple, although I made mine using Jing on our Mac. The Mrs. used her PC, but couldn't get it to load. Maybe we should all get Macs instead...anyway, here's my jing about the summer reading list. In the future I will hire the man who does the narration for Frontline on PBS. I still can't stand the sound of my own voice. 
This is great. I can see the benefits for computer lit classes, and just about any class where numbers of kids will be working on the computer. If this can be used to walk kids through story maker or any other application, I will definitely use it. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Thing #7: Video Resources

My original thought for using videos was to find books that have been made into movies. I'd find key scenes in the movies and then find the text in the novel. We would read the text first, this after mindnumbingly countless lessons of imagery and setting and mood, etc. Then we'd would watch the scene from the movie and see if it lived up to their personal mental images of the scene. My only problem is finding movies of books they would appreciate. I don't think most of my favorites would work. Maybe scenes from Gone with the Wind...but I can't find the parts of GWW I want. I guess I'll have to learn how to pull from DVD's. Would Jing work on a DVD I watched on my laptop. I'll have to experiment...

So then I thought about mash ups. They could take central premises of their books and use bits and pieces of one movie to illustrate their book. That Ten Commandments one on the video for this Thing was hilarious. 

Finally I decided to use non fiction since that is one thing our kids struggle with on TAKS. Instead of read for information, they look up something they're interested in, appropriate for school of course, and do the following assignment:
1. What was the author's purpose
2. Was the author biased or neutral? If biased, was the author for or against the topic? 
3. List five good facts you learned from this video.
4. How will you apply the information you learned to school or your personal life? 
Just about any type of nonfiction video should work for this assignment. I chose the two below. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thing #6: I Touch Applications

After doing this Thing, I'm fighting myself from going out and buying an I Touch. The $75 dollar monthly fee for an I Phone discourages me enough, but the I Touch is a one time buy, I think.

I think I'm interpreting the question correctly. It sounds like students will be able to use an I Touch in the library and I'm supposed to think of a list of things they could use it for, yes? I hope...

1. I saw the app that looks up books in libraries. Don't know if SBISD libraries are on there, but it would help students find books without having to walk back and forth to the computers.

2. Study Flashcards: Teachers could make these online and students could practice on the I Touch.

3. Open Culture: This app is for the Open Culture website. FREE educational videos and podcasts from all over the educational world, mostly universities. I looked at the site and it's good stuff.

4. Instant Interactive Math: This app is a tutorial for math. It tracks progress, has tests, and provides helpful hints for the one being tuted.