Friday, September 26, 2008
Getting Our Stories Out: Going Digital
I have to say that I was a little intimidated by this week's lesson. I became a Mac person last year, and as a result, I haven't used a lot of the Windows applications lately. So, when I saw that we were going to create digital stories in Windows Movie Maker, in a half hour no less, I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. However, after going through the process myself, beginning with writing my own narrative about why I chose to become a teacher, I kind of got excited about this lesson. It wasn't that hard after all! The latest version of Windows Movie Maker seemed a lot more intuitive than when I had used it last. With a little guidance from some of the other lab instructors, I had it figured out in no time. I recorded my narration (using headphones - something else I learned this week!), found and imported some pictures, add a few transitions, titles, and effects, and presto - my one and a half minute digital story was complete.

So, during class, I briefly discussed what digital storytelling was and highlighted some educational uses, tools for creating digital stories, and potential topics for digital stories. Then, I showed the students my completed digital story and then recreated it in Windows Movie Maker so that they could see how I had done it. I then had the students read their narratives to a classmate so that they could hear how they sounded when spoken and revise as needed. They then spent the rest of class time constructing their digital stories. I had allotted an hour for this activity, half of which would be spent on creating the stories and the other half in sharing the stories. The creation process, however, took the entire hour. Some students had brought their pictures in Word documents and so had to spend some time copying and pasting them into Adobe Photoshop to create JPG files that would import into Windows Movie Maker. Most of the students were able to wrap up and publish their stories before class ended. A few were still working and planned to finish before next week. I was disappointed that we didn't get to the sharing part, but I plan to share a few at the start of next week's class. I think it would be helpful for next time I teach this lesson to create a handout with most of steps, from finding Windows Movie Maker in the Programs list to submitting the assignment on Oncourse.

The discussion went much better today. I tried out another strategy from Dr. Bonk's creative, critical thinking, and cooperative learning class I attended last spring - free writing. I modified the strategy slightly, as I gave the students the option to type instead of write on paper. I had the students write for two minutes anything they could remember from this week's lecture. They had to write whatever came to mind and if their mind was blank, they had to repeat what they had written until something else came to mind. I then had them share their writings with a partner and had a few students share with the entire class. This led into a pretty good discussion about technology use and current problems in their areas of focus. One student voiced her opinion that she is skeptical about using technology to teach kindergarten. We talked about grappling with this issue throughout the semester and how we will strive to learn the appropriateness of using technology in various settings.

We also created a concept map in Word on technology strategies/tools that correspond to each of the 3 e's. I demonstrated concept mapping using the free web-based tool Gliffy as well, but I chose to have the students use Word because they would have had to create accounts in Gliffy, which would have taken more time.

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posted by SG @ 12:29 PM   1 comments
Monday, September 22, 2008
Developing Young Professionals
I created a blog roll by adding all of the students' blog addresses to my Google Reader account, sharing their posts, and then publishing my shared items to a web page. I posted the link to this web page on the lab Oncourse home page. I began this week's class by having the students visit the blog roll and read and respond to at least two of their classmates' posts. In the mean time, I was able to pass out the blue and red cups and hand back their lecture worksheets. I have learned all of the students' names, which by having a smaller class was easier than in previous semesters.

After students had enough time for their blog comments, I explained to them why it might be helpful to do such an activity with their own students. I also mentioned that comments are motivating to bloggers, as they show that someone is actually reading their blogs. I then walked the students through the steps of creating their own blog roll through Google Reader to manage blogs that they might be reading. We used blog addresses from classmates as examples in this exercise. After class, I read through some of the comments they had posted, and I think they got the hang of commenting.

In the discussion time, I was surprised to find that most of the students were fuzzy on what the terms professional development and standards meant. I realize that these students are so new to the profession of teaching that they are still learning the jargon that goes with it. We talked about what these terms meant and then went through some of their answers from the lecture worksheets. We also discussed a few key terms from the readings. I then tried out a new technique - think, pair, share - to promote better discussion this week. I posed three questions - one for each row of students. After the students thought about their answers, they talked about their answers with the person sitting next to them. Then, each pair discussed their answer with the whole class. This activity did help in eliciting more discussion, and I think I will try it out again later on in the semester. I plan to try out different such discussion techniques that I learned in a critical thinking/creative thinking/cooperative learning class I took last Spring taught by Dr. Bonk, as this is an area of my teaching that I want to really improve in.

We proceeded to the professional development plan workout. The students had a half hour to work on their drafts. I provided them a variety of web resources to spur their thinking about areas or technologies they might want to learn about and ways that they could learn them. The students worked busily on this, and I am looking forward to reading what they wrote. As students finished, I had them take a look at some of the sample portfolios from MCOATT and Andrew Barrett's W200 example.

We finished out this week's lab session by working on the digital portfolios. We reviewed the information about the portfolios provided in the syllabus, and the students created the basic pages. They uploaded their professional development plans to their artifact pages. I wasn't sure exactly how they should link to their artifacts from this page, but I figured we could move the link later if we need to. I provided the students with the link to Chip Easterling's portfolio FAQ page, and I saw several refer to it in search of answers to their questions. They seemed to appreciate this resource, so thanks, Chip, for the time you invested in putting it together!

I plan to continue working on my discussion time, trying out new techniques to promote conversation and working to come up with questions that require some critical thinking in order to answer. I also am working on learning the features of Google Sites, so that I can be as helpful as I can to the students when we work on the portfolios in class (as well as assist them when they might come to the TTL).

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posted by SG @ 10:02 PM   0 comments
Friday, September 12, 2008
A Flat Discussion and Overview of Tools
I started class by distributing half sheets of paper and asking the students to write down two things that they learned last week - from lecture, lab, or the reading. I also said that they could think about and write down any questions that they had about this course as well. While they were writing, I distributed the cups and lecture worksheets and worked on learning all of their names. After a few minutes, I had them turn to their neighbor and share what they had written. Then, a few shared with the whole class. Only one question was raised relating to how to do the collage when someone from their group was not following through with contacting the others through Facebook like was promised. I suggested finding this person in the IU e-mail global address book or through Oncourse and sending her an e-mail. Without any other contact info, there wasn't much else I could think of that she could do.

I then took the discussion to what it meant to teach in a now flat world. On a PowerPoint slide, I displayed some phrases that I had copied from their lecture worksheet responses. I then tried to take the discussion a bit deeper. While there was much discussion when the students had paired up in the beginning of class, little was said in the whole group discussion arrangement. Only a few actually volunteered answers; I mostly had to call on students to voice their thoughts. Overall, the discussion did not last very long, so I decided to move on to reviewing some key terms and ideas from the reading. I encouraged the students to do their reading, though it might not explicitly correlate to what they hear and see in lecture. We talked about what cognitive load, educational technology, technology, and instructional design meant and how they might apply in various settings.

I was unsure about what direction to take this week's lab workout and so I queried other AI's to find out what they had planned or had done. One had the students review webquests and three others did an overview of some of the tools we would be using this semester. I decided to go with the overview of tools. We had only created the accounts last week, and I thought it would be good to talk about what they were and how they could be used instructionally and then have some hands-on time to learn how to use them. I provided an overview of Blogger, Delicious, and Google Sites, and the students just watched. Then, they had about an hour to post to their blog, bookmarks sites, and create a new Google site. This was just the right amount of time, and the students really participated well in this workout. I had them type their URLs to these three sites in an Oncourse assignment so that I could review their work. We reserved a few minutes at the end of class to debrief. Many said that they enjoyed having time to work on the tools, as some had experienced frustrations and were able to get problems resolved in class.

Overall, I think the discussion segment could use improvement, while the workout was just right. I plan to investigate and then incorporate some strategies to better facilitate the discussions.

I am appreciative of Chip, Clare, and Pratima for discussing with me their plans for this lab and Andrew for sharing his blog and adding me to his Oncourse site.

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posted by SG @ 5:45 PM   0 comments
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Back to School
I am excited about teaching the introductory educational technology course (W200) for pre-service teachers at IU this year. I am looking forward to seeing similarities and differences between my experience teaching it at IU and the past few years at KWC. So far, I have found that the students are of the same collegiate level - mostly freshmen and sophomores. With 14 students enrolled, my class is smaller than previous semesters, though it could be because I'm teaching this section on a Friday morning. I plan to take advantage of this small class size to really explore the content and skills deeply with the students this semester. Since I'll be teaching two sections in the spring, I want to make sure that I work out most of the kinks this semester.

Besides going over the syllabus and creating new Google,, and Blogger accounts, we spent some time this week getting to know one another. We used the ice breaker activity "When I went into my 28816 lab section...." This went really well, as the students seemed to enjoy it and actually started to learn each other's names. I brought packs of mini M&Ms and Reese's sticks to encourage participation and bring about smiles all around. In our class we have a twin, someone who spent the summer in Honduras, two student athletes (track/cross country and football), a member of the Marching Hundred, and someone who worked at a daycare all summer (who I may ask to babysit at some point!)

I decided not to do the wikispaces class profile this week in order to give the students ample time to complete the survey and not feel rushed doing it. I think many of them had difficulty with the questions about educational technology knowledge, but I had briefed them before they began the survey that some of the questions would be very hard and that they were not expected to know the answers at this time. Many finished in about 15 minutes, but some took a bit longer to complete it.

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posted by SG @ 10:58 PM   0 comments
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Location: Houston, TX, United States
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I am attempting to develop practical instructional applications of developing technologies and provide educators with tools to implementing instructional technologies effectively.
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MUVEs, Web 2.0, assistive technologies, digital video

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