Friday, May 7, 2010

Pecha Kucha about Shakespeare

Yes- I am enough of an English nerd that I did a presentation about my buddy Willy Shakespeare in a class that had nothing to do with English. (Well, we did speak English...). And, yes, I am a dork enough that I enjoyed creating the presentation. The presentation was created in the Pecha Kucha format. This format resolves one of the big problem powerpoints have: too much text! Rather than trying to read the slides, and listen to the speaker, the slides are just there to further your point. Another important aspect of the Pecha Kucha format is that it is timed- each slide stays onthe screen for 20 seconds only- and there are only 20 slides. The entire presentation lasts only 6 min and 40 seconds. Now, before you start timing the slides below- google docs only offer a 15 second delay- so this presentation is really a lighning presentation!

Without Further ado:

Monday, May 3, 2010

To the left! To the left! To the right! To the right! And do the tootsie roll!

This K12 Online Video about resolutions to 2nd Life orientation problems was hosted by Alan Hudson, an e-learning professor at London Metropolitan University. Hudson found that using the 2nd life program as a teaching tool was sometimes problematic because students had to learn how to use the system before they could use it as a learning format. He then described the trial and error process he has used to try to combat initial user's confusion with the 2nd life program. He initially created a handout with instructions, but quickly found that students were too overwhelmed by the information on the screen to read it. Hudson also created an orientation space, but found that it had too much information, and as there was no set path to go on they could easily miss information.
Hudson then introduced a company of volunteers that they work with, called Virtual Link. Virtual link created an orientation space that was familiar to most Londoners because it was modeled after Hyde Park (which is London's Central Park). New users can then speak with volunteer avatars, or walk the park paths to view instrucional signs. Virtual Link's theory was that users who are in a "familiar" space are more likely to have better orientation with the system. Hudson also introduced a grad student who also worked on the learning issue. Hudson also introduced a grad student who tried a different, more visually appealing, handout. When it didn't succeed, he tried to pare it down. He then turned to a differnt type of orientation space. His orientation space is self-led, and is very similar to the initial stages video-games use. This process assures that students do not miss any information because there is only one path to take.
I feel that no matter which method is used, there are pros and cons, but the best is the grad students work. The reason is that it in effect combines the best of all three options. While the "place" may not be familiar, the format is. Even as a person who does not play video games, I am familiar with the orientation method they use. BUT! What really matters is that there are options for all learning types. As a teacher, that is what is important. Knowing that through trial and error I have done the best I can to reach each and every one of my students.

I am Sam; Sam I am!

I enjoyed this Edutopia video about a 13-year-old girl named Sam. First of all- I remember being a 13-year-old girl- and I did not have nearly the amount of confidence that Sam has! Her passion for technology has really been a positive thing for her self image. One thing that worries me though is that Sam spends SO MUCH TIME on the internet! Sam said that on school days she spends approximately 2 hours on the internet, and on weekend days she can spend as much as 12 hours! That is a total of 34 hours a week. Add a school schedule, including homework- When does she go outside? And is it healthy for a person her age, no matter how well adjusted, to spend so much time face-to-computer rather than face-to-face? Though the time she spends on the internet is partly time on social networking sites, and partially completing homework- it still worries me a bit. My worry is based on my own experiences. I have friends, and a ex-boyfriend of 3 1/2 years, who spend so much time on the internet that they are unable to connect in person. I also feel that I was heartened by the section of time she spent making a video with her friends. She and the other two girls seemed to have a good face-to-face connection.

Collaborative Learning

This K12 Online Video entitled Parallel Play or Collaboration–Leveraging the Wiki Platform for High Quality Work was presented by Paula White. Her main questions were: What is collaboration? What is engagement? and How do we combine teaching frameworks? To answer he first question White defined collaboration as a way for students to work together. White related engagement to John Antonetti's learning cube. I found the cube very interesting. It is a clear illustration of aspects that are needed to engage students in the learning process. White's last question about combining teaching frameworks was also very interesting. White believes that Wikis are a powerful classroom collaboration tool when used properly. She mentioned several reasons why. The main reason is that wikis are motivating to students. Students get excited about the prospect of having an audience, someone other than the teacher to read the information. In turn they work harder on the projects. Many of White's students were even willing to work through their breaks! Another main reason was that wikis give the student a way to share their passion. Any time a student is passionate about something they will also work harder on the project, and retain more information from it as well. I felt that White's post was very imformative, and easily applicable to the mainstream classroom. In fact, it helped inspire my decisions for my lesson plan assignment.

Don't get lost in the poppy field along the way

This K12 Online Confernce video by Joyce Valencia, entitled The Wizard Of Apps was a very creative parody of the movie adaptation of Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. While I feel at nearly an hour the video was too long to keep a viewer's attention (I had trouble staying engaged) it was done in a very creative format. Each of the actors in the video played a character from the original story. I was very impressed at the song adaptations the students wrote and acted out. Each one was sung as an introduction to a new section of website refernces.
Of the many websites Valencia offered, I was most interested in the websites that tracked your digital footprint. I tracked my own footprint on both pipl and 123people. After seeing my search I realized that my footprint was much larger than I thought. It was actually a little scary how much information was listed- including almost every address I have ever lived at. As a result I also deleted posts from my myspace page that I posted in my early 20s (that makes me sound old...I am only 26 now) that I realize now are inappropriate. Valencia also suggested many websites that could be used in the classroom. One in particular I thought could be used was Bitstrip. I thought it would be a fun way for students to present biographies or autobiographies. Though I had trouble finding the site, google mind-mapping was also promising. Not only could it be used to brainstorm, but it could also be used to do a plot-line map.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Digicitizen: A member of the great state of the WWW

This K12 Online Conference video about digital citizenship profiled a North Carolina High School's continued project to teach younger students about how to be a model digital citizen. The students used the idea of project based learning to learn about the different aspects. Each group chose a different area of study for their project. At the end they gave a presentation to explain what they learned. The presentations were in several different formats. Some of the presentations were videos, and some were powerpoints. No matter how they were presented the information given was very useful to everyday life, and life in the classroom. One presesntation was about "DWT" Driving While Texting. Because the problem has been in the news so much lately I was aware that more people die per year in accidents caused by DWT than DUIs, and that the level of impairment is the same. But, it was presented in such a way that the statistics made more of an impact on me than they have in the past. The short section on stealing identities online was also presented very well. I was also very impressed with the Digiteen Island, and the information on Digital Literacy.

If you would like additional information the teacher and class maintain a website:

Reaching the Multiple Intelligences

The idea of project based learning is one that I have seen quite a bit about lately. During the PBS special DIRT! The Movie they showed how effective the strategy can be with any age group. They featured an inner city school that started a garden to teach the students about all of the parts of a garden. They also featured a New York Prison that started a garden program for the inmates. The inmates in the program are also able to later enroll in a program to help beautify the streets of New York by planting trees. The narrator pointed out that the prisoners that enroll in the garnden program have a better re-assimilation rate and are less likely to be repeat offenders when they leave the Department of Corrections.

Edutopia's video, Project Learning: An Overview, made a strong case for project based learning. The main idea of prject based learning is to learn by doing. Throughout the video they gave several examples of different types of projects that have been worked on in the classroom- both in and out of the tradiditonal classroom. During the video they interviewed a man named Seymour Papert. Papert is an educator that believes that all classrooms should be project based. One of his quotes stuck out to me, "Standardization is a guarantee of low standards." He continued to say that "the standard I would like to see is thinking differently, and the individual having the right to pursue individual interests." I completely agree with him!
The video also mentioned John Dewey's progressive movement because it is very similar to the project based learning system. As an inexperienced educator I am still unsure about HOW I will be able to integrate these ideas in the classroom. I fully believe that the methods will be able to reach students with all of the three primary learning styles- auditory, visual, and kinesthetic- as well as the all of the other multiple intelligences, but, I am concerned with the fact that it is almost impossible to asses a students true progress when using the ideas of progressivism. Naturally the next question is- do standardized test truly asses a students progress?