Thursday, August 15, 2013

Quizlet Tutorial

Quizlet is a fantastic resource for teachers and students.  It allows individuals the ability to create online study cards for any subject or topic.  In addition, there are a variety of study cards available for users to view and utilize.  Quizlet Tutorial

I have also created a lesson plan for a math class to use Quizlet.  Although it is for a math class, it can easily be used for other subjects.  Quizlet Lesson Plan - Math Specific

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Networked Learning Project - Final Presentation

Thank goodness I was assigned the Networked Learning Project.  I would never have spent the time learning how to use the modes on my digital camera that I have been wanting to use for years.  It was such an educational experience for me and it taught me a lot about researching this topic and resources that are available.

In order to capture what I learned from the NLP, I decided to try Stupeflix to create a movie that would demonstrate the modes I used and some sample photos that I took using each of the modes.  I really liked using Stupeflix and they give you one free movie download for the first movie you create.  It was very easy to create the video and I think it is a great representation of what I learned through the project.

Please enjoy the video and let me know if there are any questions.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Module 5 - In what ways could you leverage the power of the Internet to expand work process and product by students?

Throughout the 5 modules I have been constantly thinking about how I could leverage the power of the Internet to expand my students' work process and product.  Each time I think about a different resource or tool that they can use, I immediately begin thinking about how I would teach the students the tool and how I would assess them to determine if they fully understood how to use it.  With that thought in mind, I am starting to really fall for the idea of badges.

As it was stated in the Connected Learning TV - Erin Knights and Open Badges discussion, badges are being seen more in the STEM fields.  

Luckily I teach at a magnet school that focuses on STEM and our math department in our district is all about STEM!  I think my administration would see the badges as a way to increase our students' understanding of STEM, specifically the technology piece, but it would also be a way to expand their work process and product on the Internet.  Badges could be used to develop students' online skills in an academic setting and it would also provide teachers with a form of "assessment" to determine their knowledge of the online resources that they are using.

In her blog post, Marsha Ratzel mentioned how she sees badges as a way to promote students to independently work outside of school to gain knowledge and understanding of the Internet.  Her blog post started with a comment about online digital identity and I too think that the badges could provide an excellent guideline for helping students establish and refine their digital footprint.  As a teacher I sometimes think that my students do not want to learn when they go home, but then I remember how many of my students talk about watching Animal Planet or Discovery Channel.  Kids do like learning when they leave school, as long as it is something they are interested in.  Why not give them something like badges to get them interested in learning about the Internet?  I bet they will be more likely to learn a new skill if it interests them.

The more our students are producing academic work and using the Internet to do so, the more likely it is that their digital footprint will be more of academic based.  I fear that most of my students' digital footprint now is more social and through the IT&DML program, I am learning more each day on how I can provide them with guidance in creating a digital footprint that is a better representation of who they want the world to see them as, rather than how the Internet sees them as.  If that makes any sense at all.

In conclusion, I see myself investigating the possibility of creating or finding badges that the students could use to gain skills that will assist them with expanding their work and product using the Internet.  I am afraid that there are a number of teachers who try to integrate the use of the Internet into their classrooms without thinking of a student's digital footprint.  In my opinion, it is very important that all teachers should educate their students on using the Internet properly to produce work.  Instead of limiting student access to the Internet though, which some teachers may do because they are afraid of digital footprints, teachers should encourage students to use tutorials, guidelines or badges to learn the skills necessary to continually produce work online.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

NLP Blog #4 - Action/Sports Mode and Kid Mode

Initially I was going to use my dog to master the action/sports mode on my digital camera.  Since he prefers to sunbath instead of run around outside recently, I have had to change my subject to my son.  Fortunately he did not have to be prompted to be active, since he is active every waking moment of his life.

What I learned using this mode was that you really needed to anticipate the action you are trying to capture.  My face was glued to my camera pretty much the entire time just trying to get a picture of my son in action and in focus.   By using a sequence of pictures taken while my son was driving his jeep you can tell the movement of the jeep by the position the background is in reference to him.

Initially I was moving with him while I took the first couple of action shots, but I could not really tell they were action photos when I looked at them on the computer.  I researched best practices of action pictures and they a few references mentioned staying in one spot and taking a series of pictures in a row.  I apologize in advance for the transition of the photos, I tried to find the best program to use to have the slides transition quickly to demonstrate the action in the photos.

I also took this photo of my son running with his lawn mower to capture his action.  Trust me when I tell you that I would never be able to get him to stand on one leg ever.  He is always moving!

I also tried to capture one more picture of him running down the driveway with a kite.

I did find that a lot of my action pictures were blurry or at least the image of my son was blurry.  As I mentioned before, I had my face planted to the camera and constantly trying to keep my son in focus.  I read many photography blogs and tutorials that stated that if you wanted to get a good action photo you really needed luck and to be at the right time, right place.

The kid mode on the camera is very similar to the portrait mode except I have seen that the colors are more vivid in the kid mode and the background stays a little blurry to accentuate the main subject.

Below is a list of some references I used to help with mastering these two modes.  I have especially found a lot of information from the Digital Photography School website.  I would highly recommend using this website if you need information on improving your digital photo taking skills.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What challenges occur when students are empowered to create online "text" and share globally with others?

I think there are a variety of challenges that exists when we try to get our students to create online "text".  The first challenge is ensuring the students and teachers have the proper training and professional development to take part in the online creation.  As teachers, we should be looking for opportunities for ourselves and our students to become equip with the knowledge and skills to create proper online materials.  This would include understanding the multimodality of text and how we want the text to be represented to the outside world.  Gunther Press provides a great description of the meaning of text and how even changing one word can give the readers a different impression of what the text represents.  Gunther Kress

While providing training and professional development we must also consider guiding our students to appropriate venues to create this text.  I was so inspired to read the blog article from Eric Williams on promoting student engagement: Eric Williams  It made me immediately go to Discovery Education and see what other grants/programs were available to introduce students to areas where they could create and produce content information online for others to learn from.  Programs such as this are wonderful because they provide students with an outlet and a place to put their creations. Finding such outlets though is a challenge, but if a teacher is dedicated enough to get their students online and creating "text" then they will find opportunities such as the one provided by Discovery Education.

When I think about my students and what role they play in creating online "text" right now, I would say that the majority of them are mainly consumers of technology.  The producing and creating that they take part in online is primarily through social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  The videos from this module talked a lot about the minority group of students who were going home and producing and creating online outside of the realm of social media.

Both Henry Jenkins and Mimi Ito mentioned the need for educators to reach these type of students and bridge the gap between what was happening in school and incorporate it to what they were creating outside of school.  Teachers should not just be reaching out to the minority group of students of course, but to all students.  I think it would be a challenge to find an interest that all or most students would be motivated to create online "text" about.  I know most of my students would not be interested in creating video games like the one video showed on the ten year old.  If there was a way to take a lesson and provide students with a variety of online "text" options, I think it would open up more interest and willingness of all students to begin producing content online.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Networked Learning Project - Blog 3

My primary focus this last week was to master the action mode and kids mode on the digital camera.  I like that I am using my PLNs to gather the information that I want to find out about digital cameras.  Pinterest has a nice category about photography, but you really need to search exactly what you are looking for to filter out information that does not apply to your interest.  Here is an image of a small piece of what I found when using Pinterest to help with this project:

I also watched a great video from YouTube about the action mode on my camera.  Although it is from the website, I do not feel like a dummy!

I hit a few hurdles this week though with my progress.  First, my subjects were not cooperative, i.e. my dog and son.  At first my son thought it was great that I was trying to take his picture, but then he wanted his own camera and tried bossing me around the room and taking pictures of me.  Of course he is two, so his finger was over the shutter most of the time.  I was actually worried he would take better pictures than me.  Then I would have felt like a dummy!

I did manage to get a few pictures of him with the kids mode, but I want to practice more before I publish any.  What I learned is that the kids mode is very similar to the portrait mode on my camera, except it accentuates the colors a bit more since kids are usually in more vibrant clothing and around brighter backgrounds.  Initially when I saw a kids mode I thought it was more of an action type of mode, but after researching it, I found that although my son is constantly active, the mode is not made for action shots!

My second hurdle was my action pictures.  I still have not mastered the timing with my shots.  Timing is almost everything with the action mode and I need to keep in mind my shutter lag and try to almost figure out when the perfect shot is going to happen second before it actually happens.  If I can do that I think I will be able to capture a few great nice action shots of either one or both of my subjects.

Wish me luck and hopefully in my final product you will see these two more modes mastered!

Have you ever been fooled by information you read online? You bet I have!

I will admit that I like to shop online.  Actually I love to shop online!  If there is a something I am going to buy I will always look at the product reviews to help determine if I will make the final purchase.  I use the term to help determine, because of the circumstance when I was fooled by what I read online.

A few years ago my husband and I wanted to purchase an exercise bike.  We went to a few sporting good stores in the area and then went online to compare the brands with their product reviews.  There were two brands that we were deciding between, but ended up going with one that actually had in their product reviews that the pedals did not stick.  The other bike had one review that mentioned sticking pedals.  Of course when we got the bike and put it together, you guessed it, the pedals began sticking after a week of use.  I immediately went online to look at the review I read about the pedals not sticking.  As I was reading through all of the reviews on the website, I noticed that there was not a single negative review about the bike.  All of the reviews were positive and almost seemed to contradict the negative reviews of other top brand bikes.

This situation made me look further into product reviews.  Of course I was a little naive to think that all product reviews were made by actual consumers.  When researching product reviews I found that a lot of companies actually post their own reviews on the products and use it to help influence buyers.  Boy did they fool me!

With that being said, I now use reviews to help determine if I will buy the product, but it is not my final deciding factor.  After the bike incident my husband and I signed up for consumer reports and use it to help with our decision of big product purchases.  And now when we look at product reviews we remember that they could either be written by a person who actually used the product or by a person in the marketing department of the company who just wants to sell more items.

This is a good lesson for me to teach my students.  You cannot always believe everything you read on the Internet, whether it is a product review or information that is posted on any website.  The following article by Kevin Hodgson from the UNC School of Education talked about the importance of teaching students about the validity of domains:  Strategies for online reading.  I think this is a very important skill that students can use to help with researching and identifying areas on the Internet that may be more valid than others.  This has helped me in the past with research papers.   I use my previous experiences in my college classes to teach my students the best domains to find legitimate information.

Friday, August 2, 2013

It is now okay for me to be on Pinterest all night long! Thank you PLNs!

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are great ways for educators and individuals with common interest to share ideas.  I love Pinterest!  I am on it constantly to look up ideas for my classroom, recipes, kid activities, basically anything you can think of.  As we continue through this course, I find that I have been only a consumer of technology and not a producer or curator.

I have to admit that I do feel guilty, very guilty for always taking and using things from PLNs, but never contributing to them.   In accordance to the Getting Smart article by Dr. Mark Wagner on PLNs: Getting Smart PLNs, educators need to not only connect with others on PLNs, but they need to contribute to the network.  Educators can use blogs, twitter, Google+, and many other avenues to produce and contribute their own information to their network.

With that being said, I want to become a real member of a personal learning network for educators.  My goal is to try and contribute something for everything that I use from someone else.  I know of course this will be difficult, so maybe I will start with 5 for 1, for every five things I use, I will contribute one thing to my PLN.

My motivation stems from watching Will Richardson's video about PLNs.  This was not the video that we were assigned, but another one very similar, but a little bit longer, that he presented at TEDxMelbourne.  He started his presentation with one of my favorite quotes by Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."  I love how he used this quote to compare it to what education is today with regard to technology.

Here is a link to the video if you want to listen to Will Richardson again:  Education Leadership: Will Richardson TEDxMelbourne  I always find him very interesting and this is just another video I will use to help encourage my fellow teachers to use more technology in their classrooms.

I want to be a better educator for my students and model the type of behavior that I want our students to use with regard to technology and PLNs.  If I can create and become a better role model in my own Personal Learning Networks, I can use my experiences to help my students use and create their own PLNs as well.

What we can do as curators....Glogster style!

As I was completing my readings and watching the YouTube videos from this week's assignments, the discussions about all of us being curators really made me think of my role as an educator.  My students have such a wide variety of resources available to them to help with lessons and content information.  After they leave my classroom and go home to complete homework, they can search on the Internet for extra help on some of the problems.  This of course is wonderful that there are a number of resources available for our students, but how can I as an educator help them determine which resource is the best?

Glogster is one website that I find very interesting for curating information for my students.  If you are not familiar with Glogster, I would highly recommend checking it out.  Of course if you are like me, I think I played with it for four hours straight one night, so be careful!

I want to create resources for my students so that when they go home to do their homework they can immediately go to my website to find a list of resources or videos that could be helpful for the topic we are covering in class.  I like Glogster, because as a curator, I can filter the information that my students use as resources.  This filtering idea comes from Steven Rosenbaum's speech from 2011.

What I want to be able to do is find a topic that my students are studying and compile resources in one area so it is easy for them to find the help.  I don't want them simply going into Google and typing in the topic, because it can be very overwhelming.  If I can filter out information and guide them to what I feel are the best resources on the web for them, then they will spend less time figuring out which websites are better than others.

To test out Glogster, I picked the topic of Pythagorean Theorem.  I went onto YouTube and found videos showing examples of the Pythagorean Theorem and a little history on the topic.  Unfortunately I did not have any videos of my own, but for future topics I plan on including at least one video of myself showing an example of the topic.  I think this will help the students remember the class discussion on the topic.

Here is an example of my Pythagorean Theorem Glogster:  Pythagorean Theorem Ferry

I also think that Glogster will be helpful for students to create their own projects too.  I can offer extra credit to students for completing a Glogster project for review topics before tests and then those projects can be used by other students as well.  In addition, this website could be great for other subject areas such as Language Arts and History.  Teachers can assign students a specific character or historical figure and they can create a resume for that individual.  This will encourage students to be curators and it will help them learn the topic in a new and creative way.  Also, if I or another teacher does not cover the topic in a way the student can easily understand it, maybe another Glogster project or video can help the students better understand the information.