Monday, August 9, 2010

Deep Thoughts (aka 11 Tools Reflection)

I was introduced to several of these tools last summer in the 23 Things To Do project, so it was good to get in and see how some of them have changed even in just a year (for instance, the avatars now have motion and sound capabilities). With webmastery being one of the main subjects I'll teach along with Dollars and Sense, I plan to have them utilize more video type projects and hopefully have some skype presentations about careers.

I've always felt that technology has a great impact on learning, and with the way the millenium generation (i.e. our current students) are so used to technology (that is the only way they know; they don't remember when there was no internet, or when everyone didn't have cell phones) we have to be willing to change our approach to meet them at their level. There was a good presentation at a conference I went to this summer saying that even email is out-dated to current generation. They are so used to texting and IMing and facebooking (in fact, most use facebook as their "email" program to send messages) that they don't use their email accounts as much). We have to find ways to use that in positive manner.

There were no unexpected outcomes for this 11 Tools program. It was fun (albeit a little repetitive since I'd done it already via the 23 Things program). I do think that this definitely was a good thing to have teachers do; being one of the techology "wizards" on campus, I am well aware that alot of the, ahem, more experienced (i.e. older) teachers still are wary of technology. So getting them to see the many different things available hopefully opened their eyes a little. [For the record, I used wizard above in quotes because even though I'm quite comfy on computers, I still subscribe to Emerson's statement that "The more you know, the more you know the less you know". In other words, I know there is alot out there I don't know about technology that can help!].

In the words of Dennis Miller's usual closing statement from his days doing the Saturday Night Live Weekend Update, "That's the news, and here!"

Tool 11

1. Responsibility
The students need to take responsibility for their actions online; make sure that they are visiting appropriate websites that are safe not only for them to use, but also safe for the technology itself (i.e. don't go to unknown websites that could simply be havens for viruses). They need to know when they are allowed to check email using school property that they should not open attachments that they don't know anything about.

2. Following the law
Students need to know what they can legally use in their presentations and documents. In other words, they need to be aware of fair usage laws and how it applies. (most of them probably think nothing of using one of their favorite songs as a background music for a presentation, but don't realize that when they do that, they could be violating copyright laws.

3. professionalism
The rise in usage of texting and instant messaging in current generation (i read somewhere its called the millennium generation) has inversely led to a decrease in professionalism as far as writing skills and presentations. Its amazing that students will hand in final drafts of work that have numerous spelling and grammar errors; they will use short-hand, or code, in school papers that they use online because they think that is how it is done everyone. I see their point, since that is all they know. However, they need to be aware that there is a higher level of professionalism expected.

Thusly, I would teach digital citizenship with a focus on the above three; before being aloud to get online, they will be made aware of what they can/can't do online, and that we aren't just getting online to "play." They will get a lesson on copyright and fair usage law and how it applies to them. They will also be held to higher standards as far as what/how they write their material; i plan to use a class blog to get them to practice and improve on their writing skills.

Tool 10

I am a huge Apple fan, and have always believed that they offer so much more than windows based pc's. They are simply easier to use and more fun, and offer so much to teachers (I'm still flabbergasted that our district switched from apples back to pc's a few years ago, so its good to see that the tide is somewhat changing back, but that's another topic).

So, I am already familiar with mobile devices and the fact that you can download apps to them. (I guess you could say my wow moment was back when I got an iphone a couple of months after they came out a couple of years ago). I think that the apps for teaching foreign languages or math concepts are great and could definitely be used in classrooms.

One app I found for iPad while searching around the app store in iTunes was on internet safety, called Professor Garfield Online Safety. Yes, as in Garfield the cat found in the comics. Its a humorous way to introduce safety concepts of being on the internet (there is another app by the same company but about cyberbullying, which also is a relevant topic). These might be too young for the high school set, but would be good tools nonetheless to teach students about being responsible when online.

Tool 9

I think Jing and Skype could both be good tools in the classroom. With Jing, they can get screenshots of different websites that they think have good/bad design, and then create a webpage to teach that lesson to others.

Skype is great for person to person communication through the computer. Alot of the students probably already use it or have heard of it. It is a great and cheap way to open the world up to them and allow them to see things that they might not be able to (due to, say, budgetary constraints preventing field trips). Skype could be used for presentations on different careers; the presenters wouldn't need to come to school. For instance, to find out about a job/career in another country, and what its like in a new culture, etc.

Tool 8

I do think videos can be great tools to enhance classroom learning. With as much time as students spend online browsing, alot of it involves watching videos anyway; they seem to be more enraptured watching videos and would pay attention more. If we choose good videos that grab their attention and make the subject interesting, they will get more out of it obviously.

This year I'll be teaching a class called Dollars and Sense, which basically is Personal Finance simplified. Part of the course involves career choices, and obviously we will use the internet to do searches. is a job search company that got lots of notice with its humorous tv ads played during the super bowl. This video below injects humor into different reasons why someone might be looking for another career, and would be a great way to start students off brainstorming reasons why people might switch jobs sometimes.

I will also be teaching webmastery. The video below is a very quick lesson on how to create a website using Notepad on a windows computer and typing the code for HTML, which for the unitiated among you is the program language behind every website (yes, including this one). It doesn't have an audio. The author is typing on a screen the steps, and then doing it. It would be a good intro to show them how easy it is to create a very simple webpage, and they would simply follow along. (I would pause the video to help them keep up and follow along).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tool 7

Video...Ah, this is definitely my favorite. I've actually been using iMovie to create videos for several years, whether it be for end-of-year highlight videos for sports teams, or a video for my brother's rehearsal dinner. Its really simple and easy to do (yes, I'm biased since i know how to do it, but I also am confident in saying that even the technologically-challenged can figure it out enough to do a very simple production).

Students today definitely are into making videos and showcasing their creativity, so this is definitely something that they would enjoy doing in my classes. For webmastery, they can do a show and tell on how to create certain tasks, etc., or maybe on the history of the internet that they must make as interesting as possible.

I used iMovie to put together an informational video about Odyssey of the Mind, using pics from the teams I've sponsored the last 3 years. The cool thing about iMovie is that it has built in sound effects and background music choices that you can use, along with the transitions and titles and what-not.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tool 6

Wikis...ah, such a great tool but at same time one that needs to be carefully monitored. I can't count how many times students have been looking up info on web, and quoted Wikipedia as their one and only source. Unfortunately, they take everything they see online as truth (where school research is concerned) without taking the time to look for more sources.

I think having a wiki that students of a class or subject can add to and work on together can be a great project. For instance, in a Career planning class, they can all research different potential jobs, and tie them all into a wiki (citing their sources of course!). As a bonus, a lesson could be tied in to show them the relation between the info they put on, and how its easy for anyone to add info to topics on Wikipedia (and other wikis of course).