April 21, 2013 Voice Thread

Throughout Module 3, I have been creating a Voice Thread on the subject of digital health and safety.   While exploring this topic I came across some very interesting articles about “sexting”, online predators, and cyberbullying.  There is a wealth of information online that talks about how to deal with such problems and to practice safe  internet use.  I am posing the link to my Voice Thread below so that others  can listen to my presentation and learn some of the information I absorbed.

https://voicethread.com/?#u3695281.b4452568.i22674824

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April 7, Screen Cast Review

During this module, I was charged with the task of creating a screen cast on Web 2.0 tools.  I found this to be a very challenging yet enjoyable task.  The main tool I reviewed for this assignment was Slide Roll.   Slide Roll is an online  application that allows one to make a presentation like one would do on Microsoft Power Point.  It has special options for videos, pictures, music, slide shows etc.  It is a truly a unique program that makes instructional learning inside the classroom to be more engaging and fun.  As I used this tool, I tried to demonstrate in my screen cast how this application could be used to teach a Social Studies class, per  my content area.  In an effort to make an example, I made a mini presentation on Poland during WWII.  I think that the features on slide roll really brought this to life. I took the black text boxes, moved them to down to the time line and added some catchy music to the slide show.  It made learning that much more enjoyable.  I can see now how I will incorporate such elements into the 21st century classroom.

During this project there were three steps: First, reviewing three tools, creating a” how to”  screen cast, and then incorporating instructional and curriculum materials inside the presentation.  For students with  special needs, I went to the Maryland Teacher Improvement website which has a wealth of information about rules and regulations pertaining to students with disabilities. To demonstrate proper adherence to the curriculum requirements, I went to the MD Common Core Website to view standards for Social Studies content.  I found this to be a quite easy way to incorporate bureaucratic apparatuses to my presentation.  It was a very difficult presentation to create, and I must have re-recorded myself about 15 times till I was satisfied with my presentation.  However, I am a better man for it.

I look forward to doing more work with screen-o-matic in the future.  It is a very fun tool use even for entertainment purposes.  I found numerous uses for it during this module.  In closing I would like to say that I am very proud of the work I accomplished during this module.  Below I am inscribing a link to my screen cast: http://www.screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cIfioQVr0w

The Interactive Library Mod 1, 2nd post

For my second post  for this first module, I read three library blogs:  “The Adventures of a Library Girl: Science Fiction Renaissance,” Mighty Librarian: Spring Book Challenge”, and “Book Review from Denmark.”  All of these articles pertain to the nature of creative writing inside a technological library setting.   Some of these blogs are book reviews, examples of how to make a library blog, or simply creative stories that have been put to use in an academic setting.  By posting these blogs, the world now has an inside view of what these these teachers were thinking and how they approached tasks such as library utilization.  These articles are diverse in nature but all pertain to a similar theme.

In “The Adventures of a Library Girl”, the author goes on to describe how she is an English teacher who was encouraged to start blogging by another teacher at her school, who taught a different content area.  The other teacher’s name is Thomas, and the two are currently living in different parts of the country but still interacting with each other via blogs.   They share many of their teaching strategies  together and go on to have a extensive conversation about the Twilight series and the science fiction genre.  The practical nature of this cannot be overestimated.  I have always believed that teachers should share their thought s with their fellow colleagues all around the world.  Imagine if one teacher has a unique or novel idea about how to teach a certain lesson and educators everywhere could stand to benefit from it?  The possibilities are endless with regards to how far the creative realm can go.  I like how the author said at one point “Even though Thomas and I live “1000 miles away from each other, he is still teaching me stuff.”  The Library or as it should be called “the digital world,” makes things possible that would not have been only ten years earlier.  The advent of SKYPE, Twitter, Blogs, etc have come to define a new generation.

The second article, “Mighty Librarian: Spring Break Book Challenge”, details how a reading teacher encourages a competition among her students to see who read the most amount of books in a certain period of time.  As the author explains, there were “15 tasks” and “15 books” to cover.  However, the work load  was drastically reduced in order to make the task more achievable.  The author goes on to explain how she used her academic blog to monitor the students and receive feedback from them.  I am intrigued by this because this is the first time I am taking a class where I am doing the same thing.  I am still getting used to the idea of inquiring about assignments via telephone or email vs. posted questions on a blog.  I can see that this is probably the way of the future as technology becomes more and more viable.  When we speak of libraries we should think in terms of the entire world wide web.  After all, the internet is nothing but a huge library for the world to use.  If I were a teacher I would encourage all of my colleagues in whatever subject they may teach to arrange a setting like this for student inquiry.  It is a lot more practical than waiting to reach someone on the phone and the entire class can benefit from the question one student asks.  I have been told time and time again that if I have a question about something, somebody else probably does as well.

The Third article is mainly a book review wrapped into a series of lesson plans. In this forum, a teacher is using the process of reviewing multi-cultural genre to teach her class about different parts of the world.  At the same  time the class is essentially reading for the financial benefit of those in third world countries.  The goal here is to raise money to send books to children in impoverished parts of Africa.  Out of this competition comes a series of games and projects relating to diverse content areas.  Much of the beginning of the article  is dedicated to a review about a book that takes place in Denmark.  One of the kids was so enthusiastic about the story that he also wrote a “review” on his teacher’s”? blog”, explaining why he felt the way he did.  Keep in in mind this is not a required task but a voluntary one the student chose to do.  Judging from this behavior, it is impossible to overestimate how much can be accomplished when learning is an enjoyable activity. It is also important to keep in mind that the blogging played a key role in drumming up such support for the task.  Students enjoy sharing their thoughts with other members of the class and this should be encouraged by promoting the use of blogging.  By initiating projects such as these, teachers are encouraging students to do just that.  Imagine if every student in every school had their own blog that could be used for personal as well as academic means?  The sharing of information would be in high gear and there would be no limit to the amount of knowledge a student can gain. Professional blogs are also of great importance. Students as well as educators can use blogging a vehicle to promote not only their credentials, but display their talents as well.  A blog is an inside look at professional development even if it is not specifically designed to be such.  When you read a blog you are gaining a perspective insight into that persons thoughts and behaviors.  Education and professional development are of equal importance.

http://bellbulldogreaders.edublogs.org/   ” A Book Review from Denmark”

http://www.mightylittlelibrarian.com/  “Spring Book Challenge”

http://www.librarygirl.net/  “The Adventures of Library Girl”

Summmary

While reading the three articles listed above, I was impressed at the creative nature of assessment that can be brought into the classroom by the use of digital technology. In “The Nerdy Teacher” the author starts out by describing his love of teaching and the gift of gab.  He describes how he prefers story telling to lecturing, and that he believes it is the best way to reach students and maintain their attention.  He makes reference to the poet Maya Angelou and how upon hearing her speak, he felt as if she was talking directly to him.  He goes on to describe how he attended an national education meeting and collaborated with a group of teachers to create a blog that consisted of interesting stories pertaining to historical events.  The author even titles the blog “Nerdy Teacher” and it is in fact a place where students can go to learn about history via short stories.  This is an extremely creative idea that I wish I had thought of.  As a social studies teacher candidate, it is always important to find new ways of incorporating technology inside the classroom that will help gage student interests.  There is also a forum on this blog that allows educators to make additional posts for the purpose of aiding their students.  The author of this blog also went on to create a radio show for students to participate in and share their thoughts.

In “E Learnin for Life”, a teacher goes on to explain how she created a real life simulation for her students to participate in when studying various topics.  This teacher faced a unique challenge in that she was dealing with students at the bottom of the academic latter.  Many of them were repeating the fifth grade which they had failed to pass the year before.  The class was encouraged to perform several tasks such as movie making and using SKYPE for critiques of each others scripts as well as group conferencing outside the classroom.  The activities were broken up into five day modules and that stated goal was for the class to learn as much as possible about each other, their community, and students in other parts of the world.  The author makes particular mention of “SKYPING” with students in Australia and New Zealand.  Effective educators believe that it is important to constantly search for new and innovative ways of teaching material to children.  Simply lecturing to them and not even bothering to create a power point presentation with visual images has become outdated an unacceptable.  If I were a teacher right now I would want to learn exactly how to navigate through all of these various technological feats.  I am very familiar with power point but I have a lot to learn with regard to SKYPE, blogging, etc.

The Third Article “Teach Them English” is not all that different from the previous article in that the narrative  is closely linked.  In this packet, the author is a English teacher who encourages the use of games and activities to capitalize on student assessment.  He points out in detail how he made an activity to teach the class about prepositions.    One interesting task consists of locking yourself in a room and writing narratives about the objects that surround you. He also talks about more serious topics such as how to communicate about grief.  The author mentions a blogging task that would appropriately memorialize the death of student who committed suicide and links it back to English prose and grammar as an outlet to express their grief.

http://www.teachthemenglish.com

http://elearningr14.blogspot.co.nz/

http://www.thenerdytecher.com/

Teacher Blogs.

The three teacher blogs I have read for this posting are the following “The Nerdy Teacher”, E Learnin for Life, and “Teach Them English:  A year in the life of an English Teacher.  The common thread between these three articles is that they offer suggestions on how to use technology inside the classroom to make learning more effective and enjoyable.  Since this is my first blogging assignment I am only beginning to understand the wealth of information available on this subject.  I was happy to see that there were a list of suggested Teacher Blogs to review that had won national awards.  It is my hope to do justice to these three articles by briefly describing their content and I invite all members of SLM 508 to review my blog postings starting later today.  Wish me luck! – Bryan