Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rethink Reflection on Using Productivity Tools Effectively

For me, this was a good course and thanks to David, our instructor, for making it so. During this course I got more practice with collaborative learning with my partner Kristy. We used both synchronous and asynchronous methods to complete our assignments. Perhaps we'd meet for a bit to talk about what to do, then work independently on a shared doc and then come back together to discuss what we had and refine it together. Sometimes we didn't use voice while together but just typed messages. All in all I feel much better about having collaborative experience for helping both teachers and students in the future.

I didn't really learn very many new software tricks since I am an intermediate / advanced user for most of the software we used. I used on-line versions more and am getting more comfortable with them and their limitations. When I start a new job/position, I'll be using either Google or Zoho for my documents more and depending on where I work and what I do, I'll try promoting these services within for in-house documents.

For me, the content of some of the course seemed almost opposing and contradictory. On the one hand, the stress on standards and measurable output and getting those matched up in the lesson plans was on one end of the spectrum. On the other end was the call for less measurable things like creativity and critical thinking. I guess great teachers are able to marry the two and the outcomes will live happily ever after.

One thing I got from this course was the exposure to a lot more resources that I didn't know about. Can't remember if I've bookmarked them all. If I did, then I have to remember what tags I used.

I think the biggest thing I got was help on integrating technology into the current curriculum which is what I think a lot of this degree/program/job is or will be about. I've always had this on my mind since I started my job 4 1/2 years ago but it never almost never worked out that way fro reasons I won't get into here. This is what I'd really like to do, integrate the technology into the every-day learning in schools.

End Note / Suggestion:

One thing I just thought of for introducing teachers and staff to some of the new technology and tools we have been using  would be to begin holding occasional teacher/staff meetings on-line instead of at the usual meeting place. The time s already set aside for the meetings and chances are that many teachers have a computer (hopefully mics and earphones as well) in their room. Teachers could be paired up so that newbies and gurus work together in the meeting. Just a thought that came to me. This would give them the exposure and hopefully the same confidence we have gained in using these tools.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My Teaching Future

It's always been kind of difficult for me to answer questions or talk in class about what we are doing in this class and what we are doing in our schools/teaching. To keep it simple, my situation at work is much less than desirable. Things that can be even loosely called normal in other schools are way out of the ball park in my school and I will not be working there in the fall. Anyone need me?

How does what we are studying affect me and my work? Hard to say at this point. We'll have to see what I find.

About this week's Google Sites assignment? I wouldn't mind making something that I could actually use but I'm not inclined to make much of it because I know that once this program is done I will no longer have access to it/my wolfmail account. As of now to my knowledge, there is no simple one click method to download or change ownership to a different Google account for any of the wolfmail/Google services / documents. In regular Google accounts you can transfer ownership of documents and sites but with a Google Apps account like Wolfmail, you can only transfer ownership to someone in the same domain.

This brings me to think about the future. I see coming up a few courses down the road we will be creating an ePortfolio (I've already found the template). Here is an excerpt from a discussion/homework post I did on the subject from last week about ePortfolios in case you didn't read that post.

"There are a multitude of options for creating ePortfolios and learning to create them can address many technology learning standards. For elementary through middle grades the creation of ePortfolios may be created and published in a closed system such as a dedicated school portal, eLearning system or the like where teachers may have a bit more control over the process, technology and content. However, for high school students, it is recommended that they create an ePortfolio independent of a closed system. The reasons for this is that if a student changes schools, her/his portfolio will not be lost since the portfolio is not on a system they will no longer have access to but has been created using the web 2.0/cloud tools of choice. And for the same reason, when a student graduates from high school they will still have access to it and can control who has access to it (or parts of it) for future employment and/or education."

Will we be able to create these ePortfolios using a service of our choice? I don't even mind using Google sites but I'd rather do it with my personal account. I won't feel like putting in the 110% making if I know that once my Wolfmail is gone, I won't be able to access it or have others be able to access it for it's intended purpose.

I've already started/played around with an online ePortfoilio at VisualCV because it may prove useful for my current job search. VisualCV is a pretty straightforward resume site that also lets you add portfolio and other items in a sidebar.  

When this program is done, I'd like to be able to use the ePortfolio we will be creating for this program for real. I've already emailed a message to Louis a message similar to this asking about this. 

As the textbook says, allow your students choices in how they may complete a given task/project.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Real Player-In Time Video(no time video): Student News Broadcasts

The first thing I did before I started this assignment is do a search for "is Real Player dead", and got some amusing results. I've never been a fan of Real Player. Well, it is certainly dead on my computer. I happened to be on my Win 7 (64 bit) boot so I installed it. Searched for a video and found one about "Producing a Daily News Broadcast" for middle school students. The page opens in Firefox and the player is there, but the video never plays. Chrome doesn't work either.

Fast forward to my Linux Mint boot. Get the .deb installer - wrong architecture (32 bit). Found a fix, installed some other libraries and stuff. Installed with command line and force architecture. Does it ... Nope! Player is there but nothing plays, Firefox or Chrome.

Real Player is dead for me.

The information provided in the lesson (sans video) included a lot of useful information about what can and does go on with the teacher's ongoing news production such as skills learned and standards addressed. However, it is not a lesson plan in the sense that it lays out processes and procedures for someone doing this for the first time could follow and be successful.  For a better lesson plan to begin such a project use this from the Media Awareness Network about video production of a newscast. (The Media Awareness website has a lot of great resources and lessons.)

Since I was interested in the student news broadcast I did a search and found some interesting stuff. Fox News in Connecticut has FOX CT Student News. FOX TV news professionals work with middle & high school students to produce news shorts (50 seconds max) and the best are aired on TV. The website has great guidelines and materials for the news production.

Sample: Bishop Gorman Weekly Student Newscast

I've always thought it would be interesting and fun to work with creating student produced news. The news stories produced by FOX TV are stories for, by and about the students. It's relevant, engaging, has a real audience, practices real skills and obviously involves a lot of technology.

I'd love to work somewhere where I could do this.

More resources and student produced news programs: